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Phaustin Karani
Phaustin Karani

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How I cracked the AWS solution architect cloud quest.

The AWS Solutions Architect Cloud Quest is the best hands-on skill builder solution architect course by AWS in the market. I recently completed my cloud quest and enjoyed building and learning AWS in an interactive way without worrying about billing.

What's the AWS solutions architect cloud quest?

This cloud quest is for anyone who wants to get practical hands-on experience with AWS services and implement awesome solutions while at it. The Cloud Quest is made up of 26 hands-on labs that test your knowledge on databases, Apis, security, compute, networking, charges, etc you however need knowledge on basic AWS to start this course I will suggest you start with the free Cloud Practitioner cloud quest if you have no prior AWS experience.

How is the Cloud Quest structured

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The cloud quest courses are structured like an interactive game where your character avatar takes the role of a solution architect and goes around the city solving different people's & organizations' problems and in turn, they get rewarded after they successfully solve a task.

You move around the city with a hoverboard or paper plane and can also adopt pets to make your experience more intuitive and fun.

the graphics in the game are more like Play Station 1 era so even a computer with no graphics card or with even the minimalist setting will work just fine.

When you accept to provide the solution that you have been given by a city resident you are redirected to a sample AWS console where you will first follow a guided practice of how the solution should be structured in a step-by-step format then after completing the step-by-step instructions you are supposed to attempt a DIY part of the lab by yourself as this is what will actually give you points for the lab.

As I said earlier the labs are meant for practice in a live environment so features not necessary for the lab are abstracted so be careful not to deviate from the lab instructions as this can cause you to be blocked.

Solutions architect list of labs

  1. Cloud First Steps- Summarize AWS Infrastructure benefits. Describe AWS Regions and Availability Zones. Deploy Amazon EC2 instances into multiple Availability Zones.

  2. Serverless Foundations - Describe the principles of serverless computingDescribe AWS Lambda and detail its uses and benefits create and deploy an AWS Lambda function

  3. Computing Solutions - Describe Amazon EC2 instance families and instance types. Describe horizontal and vertical scaling. Recognize options for connecting to Amazon EC2 instances.

  4. Deploying RESTful APIs - Create and deploy a REST API that integrates with AWS LambdaExplain the link between Amazon API Gateway and AWS LambdaDescribe how API Gateway utilizes REST APIsDescribe API Gateway uses and benefits understand the core concepts of microservices

  5. Networking Concepts -Define key features of VPCs, subnets, internet gateways, and route tables. Describe the benefits of using Amazon VPCs.State the basics of CIDR block notation and IP addressing. Explain how VPC traffic is routed and secured using gateways, network access control lists, and security groups.

  6. DNS - Create locally hosted domain names for your Amazon VPC servers using Route 53. Attach A records to your local domain name. Attach a CNAME record within your local domain name.

  7. Databases in Practice - Review the features, benefits, and database types available with Amazon RDS. Describe vertical and horizontal scaling on Amazon RDS.Use Amazon RDS read replicas to increase database performance. Implement multi-AZ deployments of Amazon RDS to increase availability.

  8. API with Database - Describe the features and benefits of Amazon DynamoDBSummarize key components of a DynamoDB table create a table on Amazon DynamoDBUnderstand how to create, update and retrieve items from DynamoDB

  9. Core Security Concepts- Describe the creation process and differences between AWS IAM users, roles, and groups. Review the structure and components of AWS IAM Policies. Summarize the AWS Shared Responsibility Model and compliance programs.

  10. Content Delivery Networks- Understand the value of the Amazon CloudFront content delivery networkConfigure Amazon CloudFront forAmazon EC2 instanceConfigure Amazon CloudFront for Amazon S3 static website

  11. Data Ingestion Methods- Create an Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose delivery streamCreate an Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics applicationConfigure data pre-processing using AWS LambdaConfigure real-time analytics of data in your application and send real-time analytics to an Amazon DynamoDB table

  12. Connecting VPCs- Summarize how VPC peering works with Amazon VPC. Explain the steps for establishing a VPC peering connection. Create a peering connection between two Amazon VPCs.Establish a peering connection between Amazon VPCs using a specific subnet.

  13. First NoSQL Database - Summarize the different uses of common purpose-built databases. Describe the features and benefits of Amazon DynamoDB.Interact with the elements and attributes of an Amazon DynamoDB database. Set Up a NoSQL database with Amazon DynamoDB.

  14. File Systems in the Cloud- Summarize the different storage options available on AWS. Summarize the key features and benefits of Amazon EFS. Identify business use cases for Amazon EFS. Configure Amazon EFS endpoints to access centralized storage.

  15. Backing Up Data- Understand Recovery Time Objective vs Recovery Point Objective. Understand how AWS Backup facilitates storage backup. Build backup plans for EC2 instances, EBS storage, and databases.

  16. Auto-healing and Scaling Applications - Describe the auto-healing and scaling capabilities offered by Auto Scaling groups. Create an Auto Scaling group with strict resource boundaries. Configure an Auto Scaling group to respond to a time-based event.

  17. **Single Page app - Use Amazon CloudWatch Logs to troubleshoot AWS Lambda functions understand the common mistakes when configuring Amazon API Gateway understand access denied messages from AWS Lambda function logsBuild a single page app using Amazon S3, Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and Amazon DynamoDB

  18. Highly Available Web Applications- Describe the principles for architecting highly available applications. Summarize the benefits of using an AWS Application Load Balancer (ALB). Use Auto Scaling groups with load balancing and health monitoring.

  19. Automation with CloudFormation- Use CloudFormation to automate environment creation. Read and write basic CloudFormation stacks in YAML.Run the automation to create different environments.

  20. Decoupling Applications - Create an Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) topic create an Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) queueDecouple an application using Amazon SNS and Amazon SQSGenerate fan out messages from one Amazon SNS topic to multiple Amazon SQS queues

  21. Analyzing Network Traffic - Monitor VPC traffic using VPC Flow LogsUnderstand the basics of a network access control list (ACL)Accept/Reject network traffic using network ACLs

  22. Cloud Economics - Describe how pricing estimates are obtained. Use the AWS Pricing Calculator to estimate the price of an AWS architecture.

  23. *Resource Monitoring *- Monitor AWS resources using Amazon CloudWatch Metrics. Configure Amazon CloudWatch Dashboard.Configure Amazon CloudWatch Alarms and Actions.

  24. Resource Governance - Understand how AWS Config can enable resource governance. Create AWS Config rules for tagging resources. Create AWS Config rules for S3 versioning and encryption.

Why the Cloud Quest is not for everyone

I have been frustrated before when I took cloud computing labs I remember almost wanting to bang my computer on the ground because of a terraform challenge lab that was displaying an error when I typed the command terraform apply for 3 straight days only to be informed by support that I had missed one line of code in the terraform file that was causing the error.

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This cloud quest brought up those memories and multiplied them as some of the lab exercises are quite challenging and am not trying to scare you am just being honest.

There are labs that I did more than 10 times and still had to ask for help in order to complete.

The serverless foundation lab that involved invoking a lambda function was particularly challenging at the beginning but once I got the hang of it I was able to cruise easily.

 A JSON document will refuse to save because of improper indentation and this is what can frustrate you while trying to build so take your time whenever doing labs that involve code.

whenever stuck retrace your steps through the practice section as it has clues on how to solve your task.

My favourite labs on Cloud Quest

ut of the 25 labs on the solutions architect cloud quest I particularly enjoyed 3 labs that weren’t necessarily easy but those I felt aligned most with my interests.

Auto healing and scaling applications You are required to create a solution for a gaming company where you will create an EC-2 auto-scaling group, and assign EC2 instances to the auto-scaling group.

A beautiful thing about AWS auto-scaling that I learned in this lab is that it continually monitors your apps to make sure that they are operating at your desired performance levels. with auto-scaling, you maintain optimal app performance and availability even when workloads are periodic unpredictable, or continuously changing.

Another lab is resource monitoring with Cloud Watch- AWS Cloud Watch monitors your AWS resources in real-time. in the lab, you create a cloud watch alarm that watches metrics and sends notifications or automatically makes changes to the resources you are monitoring. this is the beauty of Cloud watch that I also learned you can automatically make changes to resources ie. scale up or down an EC 2 instance in seconds.

How to get started on Cloud Quest

if you are an AWS-certified solutions architect both associate level or professional and you feel that you need more hands to practice  I will strongly advise you to take this quest. you can buy a one-month AWS cloud skill builder subscription for about $40 a month which is enough time to complete the labs even with a busy schedule. you can also connect your AWS account to Skill Builder and the cost of the cloud quest will be added to your monthly AWS bill.

As I said earlier the course is built by AWS themselves so you get the advantage of getting the best practices from the source and after completing the labs you will get a valid badge that you can add to your CV or your LinkedIn profile.

Feel free to reach out to me either on my LinkedIn or personal website in case you are stuck as you undertake the course I will gladly assist.

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