| certifications | cloud - Josh Burnett
Is the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate Worth It?
As the global leader in cloud providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) imparts instant value with any of its certifications. Amazon offers 11 different certifications at four levels: Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty. Arguably the most broad-based and certainly one of the most popular, the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is one that many IT professionals should seriously consider.
What is the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate?
One of three Associate level certifications, the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate, is regarded as the most challenging at that level. It has a broad focus and is intended to validate the knowledge and skills that anyone who has "technical expertise in deployment, management, and operations on AWS" utilizes on a regular basis.
Amazon has six specific validation goals with this certification, including:
- Deploy, manage, and operate scalable, highly available, and fault tolerant systems on AWS.
- Implement and control the flow of data to and from AWS.
- Select the appropriate AWS service based on compute, data, or security requirements.
- Identify appropriate use of AWS operational best practices.
- Estimate AWS usage costs and identify operational cost control mechanisms.
- Migrate on-premises workloads to AWS.
What Does the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate Test?
The AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate exam is divided into seven distinct domains with the following weighting:
- Monitoring and Reporting (22 percent)
- High Availability (8 percent)
- Deployment and Provisioning (14 percent)
- Storage and Data Management (12 percent)
- Security and Compliance (18 percent)
- Networking (14 percent)
- Automation and Optimization (12 percent)
Each of the domains has very clear task-based divisions that primarily focus on your ability to operate within the AWS environment.
Domain 1: Monitoring and Reporting
- Create and maintain metrics and alarms utilizing AWS monitoring services.
- Recognize and differentiate performance and availability metrics.
- Perform the steps necessary to remediate based on performance and availability metrics.
Domain 2: High Availability
- 2.1 Implement scalability and elasticity based on use case.
- 2.2 Recognize and differentiate highly available and resilient environments on AWS.
Domain 3: Deployment and Provisioning
- 3.1 Identify and execute steps required to provision cloud resources.
- 3.2 Identify and remediate deployment issues.
Domain 4: Storage and Data Management
- 4.1 Create and manage data retention.
- 4.2 Identify and implement data protection, encryption, and capacity planning needs.
Domain 5: Security and Compliance
- 5.1 Implement and manage security policies on AWS.
- 5.2 Implement access controls when using AWS.
- 5.3 Differentiate between the roles and responsibility within the shared responsibility model.
Domain 6: Networking
- 6.1 Apply AWS networking features.
- 6.2 Implement connectivity services of AWS.
- 6.3 Gather and interpret relevant information for network troubleshooting.
Domain 7: Automation and Optimization
- 7.1 Use AWS services and features to manage and assess resource utilization.
- 7.2 Employ cost-optimization strategies for efficient resource utilization.
- 7.3 Automate manual or repeatable processes to minimize management overhead.
It’s important to note that AWS uses its live exams to run beta tests on new questions as well as items used to gather statistical information. If you encounter an item on the exam that seems odd, don’t let it throw you; answer to the best of your ability, forget it, and move on to the next question.
How Much Does the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate Exam Cost?
The Aws SysOps Administrator – Associate exam costs $150 per attempt. Amazon provides practice exams for $20, and you should take at least one of these to gauge your preparation before signing up for the real deal.
The SOA-C01 exam consists of 65 questions, all of which are either multiple-choice, single answer, or multiple-choice, multiple answer. You’ll have 130 minutes to complete the exam or approximately two minutes per question.
What Experience Do You Need for the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate?
AWS Associate exams have no formal prerequisites, and the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate cert is no exception. The AWS Cloud Practitioner certification is a lower-level cert than the Associate ones; however, it is optional and geared toward individuals who need a high-level understanding of what cloud technology is in general and how Amazon Web Services works on a broad scale. If you've worked with the cloud before, you can generally skip the Cloud Practitioner cert.
However, just because you don't have to check any boxes to sit for the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate exam doesn't mean you can go in unprepared. To earn the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification, Amazon recommends that you have the following AWS-specific knowledge, skills, and abilities:
- Minimum of 1 year of hands-on experience with AWS.
- Experience managing/operating systems on AWS.
- Understanding of the AWS tenets – architecting for the cloud.
- Hands-on experience with the AWS CLI and SDKs/API tools.
- Understanding of network technologies as they relate to AWS.
- Understanding of security concepts with hands-on experience in implementing security controls and compliance requirements.
Although AWS certifications validate knowledge specific to their products and services, they also provide employers with a general indication of your experience as an IT professional. In addition to expertise related explicitly to Amazon, you should be familiar with various general IT concepts. These include:
- 1–2 years of experience as a systems administrator in a systems operations role.
- Understanding of virtualization technology.
- Monitoring and auditing systems experience.
- Knowledge of networking concepts (e.g., DNS, TCP/IP, and firewalls).
- Ability to translate architectural requirements.
Having the experience listed above doesn't guarantee you'll know everything you need to pass the SOA-C01 exam. Still, it does indicate that you have the foundation necessary to grasp all of the concepts and specific information you'll need to earn the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate cert.
Who Should Take the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate?
You should consider earning the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification for three reasons. If any one of these applies to you, start studying. First, if you are someone who has "technical expertise in deployment, management, and operations on AWS," you'll likely find that the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification will benefit you. This is a pretty broad categorization and can be more aptly summarized as "if you regularly work within AWS."
Second, if you’re planning on earning one of the five AWS specialty certifications (Advanced Networking, Machine Learning, Security, Data Analytics, or Database), you’ll need at least one Associate-level cert. Because the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification covers such a broad spectrum, it’s ideal preparation for more specialized areas.
Finally, if you're targeting either of the Professional-level AWS certifications (DevOps Engineer or Solutions Architect), you'll want to earn each of the three Associate-level certs first. To be a certified AWS Professional, you're expected to be a genuine expert across the board.
AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate for Systems Administrators
The AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is an ideal fit for sysadmins who deal with AWS. If you're a brand-new systems administrator, use the exam guide to target specific knowledge areas during your first 1-2 years on the job. Even if your job doesn’t involve Amazon Web Services at the moment, you can be confident that it will touch AWS eventually.
AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate for Network Administrators
Most networks today involve the cloud to some degree, and having a certification from the world’s largest public cloud provider can only do you good. Regardless of whether you choose to pursue other AWS certifications, the AWS SysOps Administrator covers such a broad spectrum of cloud capabilities that it's worth earning.
AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate for Systems Engineers
The AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate is an excellent certification to earn for a young systems engineer. As your career progresses, you will likely consider moving up to the Professional level or earning one or more AWS Specialty certifications; putting the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate cert on your resume is an excellent way to prepare for that.
Is the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate Worth It?
Although the more targeted, the better, all AWS certifications generally carry value regardless of your role in IT. The AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate is arguably the most flexible and central of the AWS certifications. Even if your current position isn’t specifically targeted by the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate cert, you’ll almost certainly find that you’ll use the skills it validates down the line.
Using the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate to Learn Skills
Working your way through all seven AWS Administrator – Associate domains is an excellent way to review what areas your on-the-job experience might have missed. Because the domains are broken down into such specific task-based divisions, you’ll find they will guide your development as you learn new skills.
Using the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate to Validate Skills
There's no doubt that the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate certification validates a broad range of knowledge and skills. The domains that the SOA-C01 exam evaluates are your ability to deploy, manage, and operate systems in AWS, with specific tasks that range from choosing the right services to migrating on-premise workloads to the cloud and managing data use. The AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate is a high-value certification that will set you up for continued success in your IT career.