"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything, without losing your temper or your self-confidence. "
- Robert Frost
EC2. RDS. VPC. S3. CloudWatch. SSL. IAM. TDE. EBS. SQL. ELB. DynamoDB. Give-me-one-more-three-letter-combination-and-I-will-walk-out-of-here.
That summarizes pretty well my first thoughts, when I read the course objectives for AWS Technical Essentials course, which was held by Nordcloud on 6th of February in Helsinki, Finland. As a marketer myself, and fairly newbie when it comes to Cloud business, I thought it would only be proper to educate myself on the topics that I am marketing.
First impression when I looked around in the classroom was pretty obvious - everyone here possesses a better technical skillset than I do. Brief introduction round strengthened this impression; developers, IT managers, system admins, cloud architects.. and me, a digital marketer. Like a wounded gazelle among a coalition of lions, who can smell your lack of technical certifications from a mile away.
But you got to begin from somewhere, right? So here we go. After the introduction round the class started off by going through the foundational services of Amazon Web Services, which can be thanked for my slowly building hatred towards two- or three-letter abbreviations and especially trying to memorize them. I completed AWS Business Professional certification online a few weeks ago, so I had read a good amount of these services - just never seen them in action yet.
This time though, when you got to watch the instructor going through these services, and showing how they are actually operated, it did make much more sense to me. After all, it's a quite simple puzzle where every piece has it's own purpose. I still don't get why they have to be named that way though, but slowly I started to understand a bit how they actually work and what each service does. Ok, perhaps I can hang on with the rest of the class. They certainly know technical IT stuff much better than I do, but I can see the underlying common thread there.
And step-by-step we went through different parts of the essential pieces of Amazon Web Services. The course consisted of different modules; foundational services, IAM (Yeah..another three-letter abbreviation. Stands for security, identity and access management), databases, and elasticity & management tools. Surprisingly, for the theoretical side of the course, I was able to understand what was going on for the most part.
Besides the theoretical modules of the course, the course involves labs where you get to gain some hands-on experience of AWS services. Besides the fact that the classes are instructor-led, labs are the thing that make you learn so much more in AWS training compared to just learning stuff on your own.
I was a bit frightened when we started doing lab exercises in the course. This must be it - the part when I am exposed, the part when the lions realize that there is a prey sitting in the classroom. A marketer who's once again doing nothing but waving his hands, only this time asking for help.
But actually, it wasn't like that.
In fact, the labs were the most fun part of the course.
The lab guides we were given were fool-proof. Whether you're a technical person or not, you can't really go much wrong if you just follow the instructions, use your logic, and have paid at least some attention during the theoretical part of the course. I was very excited when I realized that within a few minutes I was actually playing around with the same tools that these mystical Cloud Architects and Cloud Engineers operate on a daily basis. I followed a simple guideline:
1. Read the instructions
2. Do exactly as the instructions tell you to
3. Ask, if things still don't work the way they should. Instructors will help you.
And just like that I could watch my setting-up-amazon-virtual-private-cloud virginity fade away. There's always a first time for everything, and this actually wasn't that bad at all. Heck, in the second lab I was even able to get my virtual cloud to interact with a database! Not to mention some sweet Elastic Load Balancing I was able to sneak in there in the third one. And this whole beautiful triangle drama could be monitored using Amazon CloudWatch. Best of all, this soap opera acted out by ones and zeros was constructed and directed by me. If there is a Silicon Valley Hollywood one day, I am applying for a job there.
In other words, I was able to set up a VPC and launch an EC2 instance into it, configure RDS for my website, and manage and monitor my architecture using Amazon CloudWatch, Auto Scaling and ELB.
Ok, I still don't like these abbreviations.
Attending AWS Technical Essentials course as a marketer? Definitely worth it. I learned a lot, even though I had already completed the AWS Business Professional certificate. I got a much better picture of how AWS services are managed and operated, and my lack of technical knowledge compared to rest of the class did not stop me from completing the assignments. A day well spent!
Perhaps you should attend a class too?