A solid understanding of Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) architecture is central to just about everything connected to the Amazon Web Services universe. But if you’re thinking of taking the AWS Solutions Architect Associate level exam, it’s critical.
In this post, I will explain why I believe this to be true and specify which VPC elements will require your greatest focus if you’re serious about passing this exam.
Take a look at the AWS Solutions Architect exam blueprint. You will see a table breaking the exam material down into four areas:
|Designing highly available, cost-efficient, fault tolerant, scalable systems.||60%|
As you can see, 60% of the exam is specifically focused on Designing highly available, cost-efficient, fault tolerant, scalable systems. In my experience, what that really means is…understand the virtual private cloud.
So let’s outline the virtual private cloud elements I think are the most critical.
Critical Virtual Private Cloud Elements
1. Security Groups and Network ACLs
Amazon virtual private clouds come with two built-in security tools:
- Security groups work at the instance level to control all traffic into and out of associated Amazon EC2 instances.
- Network access control lists (ACLs) work at the subnet level to control all traffic into and out of associated subnets.
As a complete guide to VPC security is way beyond the scope of this post, be sure to read through the excellent Amazon documentation on the subject. A valid course to deep dive into AWS Networking is this Networking Fundamentals for AWS course in the Cloud Academy library.
For now, here’s an excellent illustrative diagram from Amazon’s documentation:
2. Public and Private IP Addresses
Make sure you understand the difference between public and private IP addresses. Simply put: private IP addresses are not accessible from the Internet but are used for communication between instances within your virtual private cloud. Public IP addresses, on the other hand, are accessible from the Internet and can be used for communication between your instances and the Internet, or with other AWS services that have public endpoints.
The Solutions Architect exam may contain some tricky IP-related questions. You might be expected to know how to connect a private IP to the internet or to understand how specific protocols can affect connectivity. You’ll also need to understand how public and private IP Addresses interact with Security Groups and Network ACLs.
Again, AWS documentation and the Cloud Academy’s Creating and Configuring Basics for Your EC2 Network course are your two best friends here.
3. NAT Instances
You are almost certain to see at least one Network Address Translation (NAT) question on the exam. How, for instance, can you connect an instance from a private subnet to the internet (to allow software updates)? You could create a special NAT instance in a public subnet in your virtual private cloud to provide controlled outbound connectivity to instances in the private subnet while restricting all inbound traffic.
If you’ve never set up a virtual private cloud on AWS, I suggest that you do it now. Play around with various VPC configuration profiles to see for yourself how your public and private networks interact between themselves and the outside world.
4. Virtual private cloud peering
A VPC peering connection is a networking connection between two virtual private clouds that enables you to route traffic between them using private IP addresses. This configuration scenario is important enough that you might face a related question on the exam. Again, the best option is to play around on the AWS console and try and set up 2 or more VPC’s and then play around with routing traffic between them using private IP addresses.
Conclusion and other virtual private cloud concepts
I cannot overstate the importance of fully understanding VPCs for passing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. This article obviously doesn’t cover the whole topic. You’ll still need to work on other pieces of the puzzle like Network Interfaces, Route tables, and Internet gateways, and how they all interact with each other.
The AWS exam is well designed as a challenging test of your practical skills. As there are very few obvious or easy answers, you should definitely not take passing for granted, and perhaps more than any other topic, you should focus your preparations on VPC.
New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More
This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...
Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More
This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...
Which Certifications Should I Get?
The old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and companies. With all that in mind, the s...
New Content: AWS, Azure, Typescript, Java, Docker, 13 New Labs, and Much More
This month, our Content Team released a whopping 13 new labs in real cloud environments! If you haven't tried out our labs, you might not understand why we think that number is so impressive. Our labs are not “simulated” experiences — they are real cloud environments using accounts on A...
Kickstart Your Tech Training With a Free Week on Cloud Academy
Are you looking to make a jump in your technical career? Want to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Kubernetes, Python, or another in-demand skill? Then you'll want to mark your calendar. Starting Monday, June 22 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), ...
New Content: AZ-500 and AZ-400 Updates, 3 Google Professional Exam Preps, Practical ML Learning Path, C# Programming, and More
This month, our Content Team released tons of new content and labs in real cloud environments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first highly interactive "Office Hours" webinar. This webinar, Acing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, started with a quick overvie...
Azure vs. AWS: Which Certification Provides the Brighter Future?
More and more companies are using cloud services, prompting more and more people to switch their current IT position to something cloud-related. The problem is most people only have that much time after work to learn new technologies, and there are plenty of cloud services that you can ...
Blog Digest: 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified, OWASP Top 10, Getting Started with VPCs, Top 10 Soft Skills, and More
Thank you for being a valued member of our community! We recently sent out a short survey to understand what type of content you would like us to add to Cloud Academy, and we want to thank everyone who gave us their input. If you would like to complete the survey, it's not too late. It ...
New Content: Alibaba, Azure Cert Prep: AI-100, AZ-104, AZ-204 & AZ-400, Amazon Athena Playground, Google Cloud Developer Challenge, and much more
This month, our Content Team released 8 new learning paths, 4 courses, 7 labs in real cloud environments, and 4 new knowledge check assessments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first course on Alibaba Cloud, and our expert instructors are working 'round the clock to create 6 n...
Top 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified Right Now
Cloud computing trends are on the rise and have been for some time already. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start learning cloud computing. Skills like AWS and others associated with cloud computing are in high demand because cloud technologies have become crucial for many businesse...
Introducing Our Newest Lab Environments: Lab Playgrounds
Want to train in a real cloud environment, but feel slowed down by spinning up your own deployments? When you consider security or pricing costs, it can be costly and challenging to get up to speed quickly for self-training. To solve this problem, Cloud Academy created a new suite of la...
Blog Digest: AWS Breaking News, Azure DevOps, AWS Study Guide, 8 Ways to Prevent a Ransomware Attack, and More
New articles by topic AWS Azure Data Science Google Cloud Cloud Adoption Platform Updates & New Content Security Women in Tech AWS Breaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online As an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, C...