About AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate Exam
One of the mid-level exams that will teach you to deal with varied systems on AWS is the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate. This test has the code SOA-C01 and it will expand and reinforce your knowledge of systems operations within AWS systems. So, if you are a systems administrator looking to expand your knowledge and sink your teeth into AWS systems by earning the namesake certification, this is a great first step towards that goal.
Who’s This for?
As mentioned above, this test is ideal for systems administrators and AWS recommends having at least one year of experience in implementing, managing, and operating on AWS systems. If you’re just starting out, attempting the SOA-C01 exam after completing the foundational certification, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, is advised. However, these are not official requirements and anyone can attempt the actual evaluation.
Overall, the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate exam includes 65 questions, varying from multiple-choice to multiple-response items. The exam fee is $150 and it can be taken at a testing center or through an online portal, where the official test will be proctored. All in all, you will have 130 minutes to complete SOA-C01 and you will need to achieve a minimum score of 720 to pass the final exam. Finally, it is also available in English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.
The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate test requires you to focus on a variety of AWS services. In particular, you will need a good understanding of how these services operate, including some hands-on experience. In all, AWS recommended knowledge experience is as follows:
- Architecting for the cloud.
- AWS CLI and SDKs/API tools.
- AWS-related network technologies.
- Deploying security controls and applying compliance requirements.
- Virtualization technology.
- Monitoring and auditing systems.
- Networking concepts such as Firewalls, TCP/IP, etc.
- Translating architectural requirements.
Besides, there are seven main modules present in the actual exam. These are:
- Monitoring and reporting;
- High availability;
- Deployment & provisioning;
- Storage and data management;
- Security alongside compliance;
- Automation and optimization.
Monitoring and Reporting
AWS CloudWatch provides monitoring and reporting capability to cloud platforms. As this is a vital part of any infrastructure as a service in cloud platforms, a solid understanding of CloudWatch will be immensely beneficial in the exam and beyond. To know more, CloudWatch has multiple features in its toolkit and the most important ones for this test are CloudWatch Metrics, Custom Metrics for EC2, Alarms, Dashboard, and logs & events. Two more services that are vital in this aspect are AWS CloudTail and Health Dashboard. These services provide extensive audit logs and dashboards for personal and service health, respectively.
Overall, AWS Autoscaling and Load Balancers utilize a 3-tier application model to achieve high availability. Thus, within Autoscaling, policies such as target tracking and step scaling will be prominent. The types of load balancing such as target groups, health checks, listeners’ priorities, and host-based & path-based routing will be present in the subject matter.
Deployment and Provisioning
Generally, there are a few services that will be the primary focus within this domain. They are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS SSM, AWS OpsWorks, and Elastic Container Services (ECS). In Elastic Beanstalk, you will have to be aware of deployment options, supported languages, and when to utilize them. As for ECS, docker concepts, container registry, task definition, service, cluster, and fargate are the most important subjects. What is more, a deep understanding of AWS SSM is essential as it is rather complex with multiple services that offer automation to multiple aspects within AWS. So, system manager automation and inventory, parameter score, run command, and patch manager are all important concepts to learn.
Storage and Data Management
The main topics discussed here are AWS Storage Gateway, AWS Snowball, Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Block Store (EBS), Elastic File System (EFS), and Relational Database Service (RDS). In more detail, ACLs and S3 Bucket Policy are the most important aspects when it comes to S3. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with scenario-based storage class selection, pricing criteria, data availability, and data replication will also be useful. Then, AWS Snowball and related services are used to migrate large amounts of data to S3. This is an important topic along with AWS Storage Gateway, which is used to connect cloud-based storage to local data centers. Finally, CloudWatch Metrics for both EBS and EFS, performance, data types, advantages over one another, and life cycle management are the significant areas discussed here.
Security and Compliance
AWS security services are an integral part of this exam. Thus, the whitepaper for AWS security best practices will be an extremely valuable resource to you. To add more, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service is one of the crucial topics in this module and you will need a good understanding of its policies, users, roles, multi-factor authentication, and best practices. The aforementioned S3 Bucket Policy will also be important here along with data integrity, Amazon VPC, and NACL. Additionally, other AWS security services like Inspector, Key Management Service, Certificate Manager, WAF, and Trusted Advisor will also appear in this section.
The main services discussed here are AWS CloudFront and VPC. In particular, you will need to understand VPC configurations, services, flow logs, and public subnets along with the CloudFront CDN. Besides, AWS VPN is another important service that falls under this module.
Automation and Optimization
AWS OpsWorks and CloudFormation are the main services discussed in this tested part. While OpsWorks provides flexibility in creating and deploying resources for applications, CloudFormation helps you to generate infrastructure as a code, also allowing it to be implemented multiple times. Another service discussed here is AWS Lambda, which supports computing architecture in a serverless environment.
This AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate exam, in particular, prepares you for the job roles as a SysOps administrator, developer, software engineer, solutions architect, and the like. And when it comes to the annual pay received by certified specialists, Payscale.com estimates it at $109k per year.
After mastering the aforementioned concepts and passing the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate exam, your value as a specialist in the cloud computing industry is substantial. Thus, you can advance through the learning path and attempt the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional next, which is a professional-level exam. Additionally, AWS also has specialty exams in five domains namely, Advanced Networking, Data Analytics, Database, Machine Learning, and Security. You can choose to pursue any of these depending on your long-term career goals.