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Series Overview
AWS Basic Services
13m 2s
9m 45s
6m 33s
AWS Administration Services
4m 35s
Start course
Duration1h 33m


With the AWS Solutions Architect Professional level certification, Amazon sought to identify individual administrators who are truly platform experts. Unless you've got some significant experience with AWS deployments and good familiarity with the full range of Amazon services, you probably won't have a chance at passing.

However, with this series of Cloud Academy courses, cloud expert Kevin Felichko is committed to making your learning process as smooth and productive as possible. Once complete, Kevin's guide to the Solutions Architect Professional level exam will lead you through the theoretical and practical skills you'll need to master this material.

This first course covers the key conceptual terminology and services that form the base for Amazon cloud architecting. The second course will guide you through fully-realized practical deployments, from start to finish. And the final course (late August, 2015) will focus on exam preparation and, in particular, strategies for confronting the particularly complicated style of question you'll face.

Do you have questions on this course? Contact our cloud experts in our community forum.


Databases are essential to many of today's applications.

AWS provides options for storing your important data in both relational and non-relational formats. Whether you are migrating your application to AWS or building something new, you have plenty of options.

AWS Relational Database Service is a managed database service that lets you focus on building your application storage by taking away the administrative components such as backups, patches, and replication. It supports a variety of different relational database vendors; it offers a reliable infrastructure for running your database in Multiple Availability Zones.

You can encrypt your data at rest through AWS Key Management Service or CloudHSM.

CloudWatch metrics offer detailed monitoring for RDS. RDS also makes Read Replicas possible meaning you can offload read operations from the primary instance. Your application can experience improved performance by doing this, along with selecting the right combination of instance types and IOPS for your primary instance and Read Replicas.

Just like other AWS services you can finely-tuned control over RDS through IAM. RDS is perfect for any application that requires relational database store, especially if you do not want to manage the infrastructure yourself.

With RDS you get a highly-available fault-tolerant database "out of the box.” Applications that perform intense read operations on relational datasets are perfect RDS candidates.

Pricing an RDS is based on the number of instances and instance types you are using. You can choose to use On-Demand or Reserved pricing. In addition to the instances, you are charged based on storage amount, IOPS, and how you are set up for availability zones. Data transfer rates apply as well with transfers in, to RDS being free, and transfers out, depending on the destination.

DynamoDB is a NoSQL offering from AWS. It is a key-value data store. You get fast and flexible storage with single-digit millisecond latency at scale. Table scanning is made possible using secondary indexes based on your application search parameters.

A new feature of the DynamoDB is update streams which allows you to hook into item-level changes. If you are looking for an "out of the box" NoSQL solution that requires no additional management on your part, DynamoDB is your service.

Another case to consider with this service is when your application model is schema-less and not relational. It can also serve as a persistent session storage mechanism for your applications.

DynamoDB pricing is based on the Throughput you choose to allocate for your table.

Throughput is determined in units per hour based on read and write capabilities. Storage for indexes is based on per gigabyte above the first 25 GBs. Lastly you are charged for Data Transfers out of DynamoDB per gigabyte in terabyte tiers.

Redshift is a fully managed petabyte-scale data warehouse residing on hardware, optimized for fast query performance with large datasets.

Using custom HSMs, CloudHSM and AWS Key Management Service, you can encrypt your data at rest. It is fully compliant with a variety of compliance standards, including SOC1, SOC2, SOC3 and PCI DSS Level 1, just to name a few. You can query your data using standard SQL commands through ODBC and JDBC connections.

Redshift integrates with other services including, AWS Data Pipeline and Kinesis. You can use Redshift to archive large amounts of infrequently used data. When you want to execute analytical queries on large datasets then Redshift is the service for you.

This is also an ideal case for Elastic Map Reduce jobs that convert unstructured data into structured data.

Redshift pricing is based on the underlying instance types, size, and purpose. You can use On-Demand or Reserved Price Instances.

ElastiCache is a managed in-memory cache service for fast, reliable, data access. The underlying engines behind ElastiCache are Memcached and Redis.

With the Redis engine, you can take advantage of Multiple Availability Zones for High Availability and Scaling to Read Replicas.

ElastiCache will automatically detect failed nodes and replaces them without manual intervention. A typical use-case of ElastiCache is low-latency access of frequently retrieved data. Think cache database results of data with infrequent changes for use in a heavily utilized web application. It can serve as temporary storage for compute-intensive workloads or when storing the results from I/O-intense queries or calculations.

Since ElastiCache runs on EC2 Instances you are charged per hour based on the instance size and pricing model of either On-Demand or Reserved. You are also charged for Data Transfers to the EC2 Instance or data going to the ElastiCache node in a different AZ.

The AWS Database offerings are vital to many applications and often attract new cloud customers. Before taking the exam, you should have a very strong understanding of each offering.

You need to get hands-on with them if you've not already done so.

In our next lesson, we will take a look at the Networking Services of AWS.


About the Author

Kevin is a seasoned technologist with 15+ years experience mostly in software development.Recently, he has led several migrations from traditional data centers to AWS resulting in over $100K a year in savings. His new projects take advantage of cloud computing from the start which enables a faster time to market.

He enjoys sharing his experience and knowledge with others while constantly learning new things. He has been building elegant, high-performing software across many industries since high school. He currently writes apps in node.js and iOS apps in Objective C and designs complex architectures for AWS deployments.

Kevin currently serves as Chief Technology Officer for PropertyRoom.com, where he leads a small, agile team.