What are the topics to focus on AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate certification exam preparation?

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate exam is comparatively toughest exam in the associate level exams. Other two exams Solutions Architect and Developer Associate exams are the most basic level and easy to pass. If you want to pass the SysOps Administrator exam, then you would require more planned study plan to pass the exam. In this article, I am going to write about the important topics to focus on preparing SysOps Administrator certification exam. Keep reading my blog for more articles on AWS certifications.
How I have arranged this article is that I have picked most important topics and whitepapers to be focused on every section in the exam blueprint. If you have any questions, please write it in the comments section.
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What are the topics/services to study for SysOps certification?

The AWS SysOps certification is driven towards ensuring an individual having the technical expertise in deployment, management and ensuring smooth delivery of operations on the AWS platform. The topics and distribution for the certification is given below

Topic
Distribution
Monitoring and Metrics
15%
High Availability
15%
Analysis
15%
Development and Provisioning
15%
Data Management
12%
Security
15%
Networking
13%

The key sub-topics that need focus on each topic are given below

Monitoring and Metrics

In the monitoring and metrics, a key learning topic is Cloudwatch alarms. One needs to understand the details of how to create and manage cloudwatch alarms both through the console and via the CLI. Also one needs to understand all the details of how to add custom metrics to cloudwatch.
Another key aspect of this topic is to understand the monitoring EC2, RDS, Elasticache and Elastic Load balancer for performance and availability based on the available metrics available for each aws service.
One example is given below for the Relational database metrics and dimensions available for cloudtwatch.
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonCloudWatch/latest/monitoring/rds-metricscollected.html
Some good links for reading documentation on aws for ensuring that you understand more on metrics and monitoring are shown below
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonCloudWatch/latest/monitoring/publishingMetrics.html
https://aws.amazon.com/cloudwatch/
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/using-cloudwatch.html

High Availability

There are multiple ways to ensure high availability for services in aws. One needs to understand the various options available such as
● Multi-AZ option for databases – This option allows one to have secondary failover databases available. So in case of a failover one can easily failover to the secondary database.
● Multiple Availability Zones and Regions – Deployment of EC2 instances in multiple Availability zones and ensuring AMI’s are available in other regions for failover.
● Elastic IP – These IP’s can be used to failover EC2 instances to secondary instances.
One needs to ensure that each option on high availability is explored and studied in detail.
Some good links for reading documentation on aws for ensuring that you understand more high availability are shown below
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonRDS/latest/UserGuide/Concepts.MultiAZ.html
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/cloudhsm/latest/userguide/ha-best-practices.html
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/quickstart/latest/exchange/design-ha.html

Analysis

The Analysis topics focus on working on issues encountered in the aws services. Some of the common subtopics to focus on are
● Understanding bottlenecks in the network
● Troubleshooting EC2 and Elastic Load balancing issue.
● EBS Volumes – Resizing, Initializing volumes
Some good links for reading documentation on aws for ensuring that you understand more Analysis are shown below
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/ec2-instance-troubleshoot.html
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/elasticloadbalancing/latest/classic/elb-troubleshooting.html
https://aws.amazon.com/ebs/
Deployment and Provisioning
A key aspect of this topic is a deep understanding of the Cloudformation service and an overall understanding on the Opswork service. Look at the aspect of creating stacks in Opswork and also looking at the key elements of a Cloudformation service.
Some good links for reading documentation on aws for ensuring that you understand more Deployment and provisioning are shown below
http://d0.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/overview-of-deployment-options-on-aws.pdf
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/gettingstarted/latest/deploy/resources.html

Security

The Shared responsibility model is an important aspect wherein one needs to understand the responsibility of aws and that of the customer. Next, the following aspects need to be understood in greater detail. And how these security aspects can be used across the various services in aws such as EC2, SQS, SNS and RDS.
● S3 IAM policies – http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/using-iam-policies.html
● Security groups – http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonVPC/latest/UserGuide/VPC_SecurityGroups.html
● NACL – http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonVPC/latest/UserGuide/VPC_ACLs.html
● IAM roles – http://docs.aws.amazon.com/IAM/latest/UserGuide/id_roles.html

Data Management

● One should know on key aspects as EBS snapshots which can be used to take care of EBS             volumes.
● Next RDS also the aspect of automated backup which can be used to restore databases at any point in time.
● All aspects related to disaster recovery using the above the key aspects need to be understood in great detail.
For greater detail on disaster recovery please find the below link for getting all the related information
https://aws.amazon.com/disaster-recovery/

Networking

One of the backbones of the aws offering is the entire network feature of AWS. The core service is the VPC or the Virtual private cloud where one can host the various resources using subnets. One needs to understand the following services in great details
● Subnets and Availability Zones – http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonVPC/latest/UserGuide/VPC_Subnets.html
● Route53 and DNS Failover – https://aws.amazon.com/route53/
● Different routing techniques in Route53 – http://docs.aws.amazon.com/Route53/latest/DeveloperGuide/routing-policy.html

Conclusion

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I hope this article is very useful for you to prepare for the SysOps Administrator certification exam. I have collected useful resources for the preparation from my experience and reading the experiences from the various exam takers. If there is any update on the exam, I would keep updating it here.
Good luck for your certification preparation. If you have any questions, please write it in the comments section.

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