Developers November 28, 2020

Must know AWS

AnimalChin @animalchin

I was asked in an interview recently, and I've started seeing it on here ..

At my day job we basically have 1 DevOps employee for every 4 developers.. From what I see, these DevOps employees seem pretty busy "knowing AWS".

How much (and what) about AWS do you need to know before you can say you "know" it?

  1. 3

    I agree with Sean's comment. An AWS certificate will definitely give you the confidence to say "I know AWS"
    A word of advice going in, just remeber everything looks like gibberish until you understand it, then it comes to you naturally. Getting comfortable wth AWS's very function first interface is an important step. The certification will then also help you understand everything AWS offers and what are the right tools for the right jobs.

  2. 3

    A few years ago I was kinda in the same boat - I was a senior software engineer but we had a small DevOps team that historically had handled all of our AWS infrastructure. As an engineering org, we started moving to more of a "DevOps as a culture" type structure and a bunch of us took the AWS Solutions Architect certification. That was pretty eye opening to how absolutely vast the AWS ecosystem is and was actually really helpful in helping me learn the ins and outs of everything.

    If you want to learn AWS at a pretty deep level, I definitely recommend doing it. I ended up buying this course which I found really helpful since AWS doesn't really have a course to follow (to my knowledge at least).

    At this point, I would say that Im definitely proficient in AWS and know how to set up everything that I would need to save for any unique networking/VPC/IAM requirements.

    1. 1

      Hi Sean, do you possibly recall what the course cost at the time you bought it?

      1. 2

        Hi, you can get the same course in udemy for less than $10 with offers

        I bought it from udemy.

      2. 2

        Had to search my email for it, but it looks like I paid $70 back in 2017 for the course. It looks like they recently switched to a subscription model versus the package/course based model they had when I bought it.

  3. 2

    AWS is HUUUGE. I once saw an overview over all their different services, it was way over 100. but you only need some of them for the majority of companies. As sean mentioned, the certified solutions architect is a good start.

    From my personal experience:
    You should at least have used (and built) something using EC2, S3, Lambda, RDS, VPC, CloudWatch, DynamoDB. And I am probably forgetting 5 services already...

  4. 1


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  5. 1

    The best way to get to know AWS I find is using it to develop different things. Over the years, I’ve built multiple projects out of necessity and personal curiosity, and you learn a lot about the limitations of services that way. For example, for ingestion into a data warehouse you might look at kinesis and lambdas; for web apps, ecs, ecr, cloudfront, s3, rds, elasticache; for scraping, lambda and dynamo; for non-frequent database use, Aurora; for faceted search, managed elasticsearch.

    There’s a lot to AWS so there’s no knowing 100% of it (eg IoT, Rekognition). But for a vast majority of AWS use in jobs that relate to the web, the above covers a lot of ground. Great thing with knowing AWS is that it’s transferable; equivalent GCP services I’ve been able to pick up quickly.

    If your job doesn’t let you explore AWS as much as you’d like, you could consider jobs that do? Otherwise, it’s code at home, which requires a bit of spare time and curiosity. Curiosity will stretch you most. :)

    1. 1

      It’s ok to not use some AWS services too. This has been a learning in itself. Eg I would choose Firebase Auth over Inkognito any day but that’s because I evaluated both and found limitations in Inkognito I didn’t want to put up with

  6. 1

    Do you actually need to know AWS? The more you go with pure AWS offerings, the more you become AWS dependent. If you can limit your use of AWS, stay with EC2 and S3. They both have great compatible alternatives.

    What's your personal goal? Do you want to be a consultant for companies heavily invested in AWS? Or just feel you are failing developer interviews for not knowing "enough" AWS?

    1. 1

      I failed one interview, and then noticed that most job listings mention "AWS experience" as a requirement.

      My personal goal is to keep a job and stay marketable. I've been at the same job (maintaining a very old legacy product) for the last 6 years, and watched the industry seemingly pass me by..

      1. 2

        To me it's a little bit odd to require any specific AWS chops.

        I think reading something like The Good Parts of AWS[0] to get an overview of what's possible might be enough. And then simply make sure you already know what's behind of getting an application running (I write a book on this topic[1]).


  7. 1

    The AWS ecosystem is huge and how much of AWS you know ultimately depends on the scale of the company you're working for and how intriticate their systems are. I have worked for a few companies that utilise the most basic services (EC2, RDS and S3) whereas other ones make use of services like Kinesis and Glue.

    I have never taken a course, I found that simply by getting my hands dirty and reading through the AWS documentation depending on the solution I was implementing was sufficient for me.

    I recently have implemented DynamoDB for a new project I have been working on and going through some DynamoDB videos on Youtube also helped me a lot, especially the ones that are released by AWS themselves.

    I would recommend starting simple and just reading about the AWS services your current use case requires and try to implement that using best practices. If you try to focus on all services you will get overwhelmed and it's not point learning how to use a tool or service if you're not going to use it in the first place.

    Based on my experience and the people I have worked with, I don't think anyone can know all of AWS. Everyone specialises in something particular, e.g. solutions architect or security.

  8. 1

    Practically, I've used AWS almost entirely for my web apps specifically for serverless features they are offering - it revolved around that idea because it's cost saving for person like me who is just starting out.

    I think you have to start to what use case is most applicable to you and progress from there. AWS contains the best practices and will help you save a lot money if you choose to.

    Here are AWS services related to serverless and web app that helped me start: Lambda, S3, Cognito, Cloudfront, ACM, Dynamodb, Route53, and API Gateway

    There are tons of tutorials out there to help your team and it would be better to build and try it yourself. It's worth the effort.

    PS. Try to avoid server provisioning services (EC2, EBS) because it may incur charges when you forget to turn them off.

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