AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Associate)

Starting from today I am one of the AWS CSA(A) certified professionals. The license number is generated sequentially so it is easy to infer that I am the the 16.891st person on this planet holding the title, but given the 2 year recertification cycle I assume that many of those who were certified before may not have renewed their certification status.

Starting on the path

I have registered my own private AWS account in the second part of 2014, around the time when I was assigned to the project I have talked about in the previous text. I did not make much of that account and still do not use it for more than cloud backups; without a professional motivator, getting on this path will not truly bring anyone very far.

The game changer was the DevOps work I have started doing for a customer of my employer: they had a fully configured AWS environment I was given access to. The year Amazon suggests you to spend in a professional environment before trying to get certified is by no means a spurious requirement; there is an entire ecosystem that needs to be mastered in order to make the best use of it.

Preparation

The certification adventure started about a month ago by reading this Reddit post. I didn’t get the free full month of study on offer due to the timezone difference but the seed got planted. What happened next?

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A lesson on failure: “Going Cloud”

More than a year ago, during a time when I barely knew anything about Cloud Computing or AWS, I was assigned along with a couple of colleagues on bringing an existing code base from “alpha” to “production” and ensure a smooth deployment to the Amazon Cloud. The customer wanted to “go live” in less than 3 months and be able to handle tens of thousands of visitors that would click on banners and fill their bank accounts; well, most likely they were just wishing for a good exit.

Starting the project

Things initially went to some direction – we dealt with many functionality issues, being able to fix and test more than 100 bugs and glitches; after all, this was the thing we knew best how to do and we also put in the long hours required for getting things done. We weren’t bothered by the cloud setup issues – the customer fiercely guarded the “keys to the kingdom” and agreed on instance and resource set-ups on a case-by-case basis only, all with the desire of keeping the Amazon bill as low as possible. We thought this is fine – it was their home, they knew best what they needed.

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How much does a server in AWS cost?

The quick answer is “it cannot be precisely determined”; AWS charges by the hour and keeping a server up the whole month incurs a lot of variable costs.

Nevertheless, for some usual LAMP installation with a single domain hosted by Amazon through Route 53, the lowest monthly cost one can get (using on-demand) is:

Fixed Part:

  • EC2 cost (t2.nano): $5 (approx)

  • EBS cost (8Gb default storage): $1 (approx)

  • Route 53 (1 domain): $0.5

Total: $6.5

Variable Part:

  • Route 53 queries: usually no more than a few cents, depending on the number of visits the site receives and the TTL values.

  • EC2 traffic: there are some free allowances, most likely less than $1

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