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Series Overview
AWS Basic Services
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AWS Administration Services
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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.


Storage and Content Delivery offerings make up some of the most used AWS Services today. The combination of cost and reliability make them attractive to companies of all sizes.

Let's start with the most popular of these services, S3.

Simple Storage Service or S3 is a managed storage service capable of 11 nines [sic, 99.999999999] of durability. It is built into many other AWS Services because of its High Availability and incredible performance. You can easily secure S3 Buckets with policies and encrypt what you store in S3. It supports Versioning of files for which you can retrieve previous versions if you need to and can prevent the accidental deletion of files by using Multi-Factor Authentication.

You can use lifecycle policies to archive older data to Glacier or just completely remove it. S3 is perfect for almost any storage need whether primary or backup. You can host a static or backup website by making your S3 Bucket publicly accessible. S3 is a cost-effective origin for your CloudFront content such as images, CSS files, videos and more. It makes sense the store objects in S3 for access to any Internet-connected device.

Pricing for S3 is based on three factors. First you are charged per gigabyte of storage in terabyte tiers. This will vary based on region and whether or not you want standard or Reduced Redundancy Storage. Second you are charged per 1,000 requests for PUT, COPY, POST, and LIST requests and per 10,000 GET, requests. Lastly you are charged for data transfers. Data into S3 is not charged. Transfer out of S3 is based on whether or not the destination is within AWS or out to the Internet.

Glacier serves as a low-cost archival storage solution. It has tight integration with S3 through lifecycle policies. Glacier is slow; it can take up to five hours to retrieve objects back into S3. Once your data is retrieved, you have up to 24 hours to move it before it becomes unavailable. You can partially retrieve objects from Glacier. By default, all items are encrypted.

The best cases for using Glacier are for off-site archives that replace or supplement on-premises backups. If you need to find an inexpensive solution for regulatory and corporate multi-year backup requirements then Glacier can easily meet your needs.

The Glacier pricing model is the same model used by S3. Storage pricing is per gigabyte. Request pricing is per 1,000 requests on upload and retrieval, other requests are free.

Finally data transfers into Glacier are free. Data transfers out of Glacier are charged based on if the traffic is headed out to the Internet or within AWS.

CloudFront is a Content Delivery Network offered by AWS with Edge Locations all over the world. It supports both static and dynamic content served from various origins including EC2 and S3. Since it has Edge Locations all around the world, it promises low-latency delivery to your end users based on their location.

You can deliver secure, private content, to your users using AWS Access Control. It works with a variety of streaming servers to let you stream your content. If anything goes wrong, you have detailed logs and reporting tools to help you improve your content delivery.

The most common use-case for CloudFront is in the delivery of static content to your end-users especially for images, CSS, JavaScript, and videos. You can use CloudFront to deliver your entire application.

Streaming live or pre-recorded audio video is just as easily handled by CloudFront. If you distribute large files to end-users CloudFront can make delivery fast and reliable, no matter where your end users are located.

Pricing for CloudFront starts with data transfers. You are charged per gigabyte in terabyte tiers if the destination is out to the Internet. If the destination is to the origin, the data transfer is a flat rate per gigabyte. In addition to data transfers, you are charged per 1,000 requests. In both cases each region has its own pricing. You can also reserve capacity which will lower your overall spend.

Elastic Block Storage is persistent storage that is attached to EC2 Instances versus Instance Storage which is attached to EC2 Instances but not persisted. You can choose from General Purpose Solid-State Drives, Provisioned IOPS (SSD) and magnetic volume types. Snapshots of EBS volumes are stored in S3. EBS storage is replicated across multiple servers within an Availability Zone giving you 99.999 percent availability. Built-in encryption is available with keys provided by AWS or managed by you.

EBS is a no-brainer for EC2 Instances where you need to persist storage such as Relational or NoSQL databases and local file storage. All types of environments need EBS storage including development and test environments. Applications need EBS storage to keep persisted changes.

EBS pricing is per gigabyte based on the storage type. If you're using the Provisioned IOPS (SSD) storage type, there's an additional charge per Provisioned IOPS.

Magnetic storage is charged per million I/O requests in addition to the storage amount. Snapshots of EBS volumes are billed under S3 storage rates.

The import/export service from AWS is for migrating large amounts of data into and out of cloud storage. You send Amazon a storage device that meets their device requirements, for data going in, it will include your data and it will be pushed into EBS S3 or Glacier.

For data leaving your cloud environment, you specify a S3 Bucket and it will be saved to the device and shipped back to you. The service is useful when migrating to the cloud and you have a significant amount of data to transfer that cannot be done reliably or in a cost effective manner over the Internet. It also works as an offsite backup solution. If you need to distribute a large amount of data that you have stored in S3, the export service can help.

For import/export you are charged per storage device that AWS must handle. For each hour it takes to load the data and any return shipping cost incurred, if that return rate is not considered a reasonable amount you'll need to contact AWS to know what constitutes a reasonable amount.

Storage Gateway connects your on-premise storage appliance to cloud-based storage, securely, and reliably. There are three modes supported. Gateway-Cached means primary data is stored in S3 and frequently accessed data is stored locally. In Gateway Storage, primary data is stored locally with S3 snapshots.

The final mode, Gateway VTL involves virtual tapes backed by S3 or Glacier. This service is ideal when transitioning from the traditional tape-based offsite backup to cloud-based backup solutions; it can play a role in your disaster recovery approach protecting against on-premise failures.

You can also benefit from low-latency file access with synchronization to all your remote office locations. Pricing for the storage Gateway has three factors. Each appliance has a monthly charge. Additionally you are charged per gigabyte depending on the Gateway mode. The last factor is data transfers. Transfers in are free. Transfers out are charged per gigabyte in terabyte tiers.

AWS has many offerings around Storage and Content Delivery. You need to understand what each one does and how it benefits a given solution.

The exam will expect you to know these points and when to use each storage method. Pricing is also a factor to consider.

You should spend some time playing with each service so you can gain an appreciation of what they can do.

Next up in our AWS Service Discovery are the AWS Database offerings.


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.