Podcast - AWS Series 'Cloud Academy Parking Lot' Episode #2
Pi Day, Networking certs, and IoT Twin Maker

In this episode of our Cloud Academy Parking Lot podcast, you will follow along with our AWS team, including Stuart Scott, Danny Jessee, Jorge Negrón, and Will Meadows, as they discuss topics including AWS Pi Day, the AWS Networking Specialty Exam, and AWS IoT Twin Maker.


- So hello and welcome to today's chat between myself, Stuart Scott, and the rest of my team here. We have Will Jorge and also newest member of the team who joins us as our AWS Certification Specialist, which is Danny Jessee. So welcome to the team, Danny.

- Thank you very much.

- Yeah, so over the coming weeks you'll certainly be hearing a lot more from Danny as he goes through and reviews and updates our AWS certification learning path. So, that'll soon be updated across all the different certs, hopefully. So it's quite a big task, but we'll get there as a team, and we'll fill it with the latest and greatest content. Now, before I let Danny introduce himself to everyone, we're going to be talking about a couple of things today. We're going to be highlighting the AWS Pi Day with S3, that's coming up. We're gonna touch on the networking specialty exam as well. And then also, I think Jorge's gonna jump in with some info relating to digital twins. So, Danny, welcome to the team. You've only been here a week or so. Not much more than that. It's great to have you on board. So, do you wanna give us a quick introduction and let everyone know who you are, and what you're about?

- Sure, thank you Stuart. As Stuart said, my name is Danny Jessee, I just joined Cloud Academy last week as the AWS Certification Specialist. And in this role I'm going to be creating content and curating and keeping our certification-related learning paths up to date and the best in the industry. So I look forward to working with of this team, working with all of you, working with the learners out there. So to make sure that your certification prep experience goes smoothly and that you attain all of these certs that you are looking for.

- Awesome. And you've been creating content for quite a while now, is that right? So you've created content on other AWS services and kind of technologies before as a trainer?

- I have, yes. So I've delivered both in-person and virtual training, as well as developing video courses for other online training providers in the past, yes.

- Nice, and you've got, is it six AWS certs at the moment of spanning associate.

- Six currently, yes.

- Specialty and professional levels?

- Yes, security specialty, the hardest one was definitely the DevOps Engineer Professional. I have all the associates and look to expand that as part of this role as well.

- Nice, so, basically people are in good hands if they're learning from your content then. I mentioned earlier about the AWS Pi Day, does anyone kind of know what this is or familiar with the AWS Pi Day that happens?

- Is this something happens next month on the 14th?

- It's related to Amazon S3. So Pi Day been March the 14th, three 14th, AWS is gonna be celebrating 16 years of innovation with Amazon S3. So last year they done the first kind of Pi Day celebration where they focused on everything and everything Amazon S3 related. It's been alive for 15 years, it was first announced in 2006. That's a long time ago. That's even before I was married, which feels like a lifetime ago now. And it was certainly before I knew anything about cloud technology. So this will be the second one they're doing. I think it's gonna be streamed on Twitch to view. I think last year it was a weeklong event. Did anyone attend any of the sessions last year?

- No, no.

- No, I'm afraid not.

- Well, I'll have to make sure we attend the Pi Day this year then. So it's running from, lemme just double check the times, from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM Pacific Time, which is 12:30 PM to 7:00 PM Eastern Time. So it's just for the one day, like I said, it's gonna be streamed on Twitch, all the different sessions, they'll be looking at all things S3 related, new innovations, security, best practices, optimization, basically everything you need to know about S3. So if you wanna position where you are focusing on storage, especially object storage and S3 in particular, then be sure to register for the event and check it out. We'll put the link on screen and make it easier for you to find. So yeah, that's worth something to listen out for and look out for in the next couple of weeks. The AWS events are usually pretty cool, usually lots of useful information, kind of listening to SMEs in those particular areas. So, like I say, if you are in the storage space, then do check it out. And if you want to as well, we've also got a deep dive learning path on S3 here at Cloud Academy. So if you wanna get some insight into S3 before you attend that session, just get some more information then feel free to check that out as well.

- That's good if you wanna ask pertinent questions to the moderators in the chat and the instructors too.

- Yeah, definitely. It's just having that ability to kind of reach out to the SMEs in that kind of area. It is a really good opportunity to look at. I tried to get to as many S3 events as possible, not so much in person the past couple of years for obvious reasons, but I will look forward to getting back to some of those in person AWS one events, they're usually pretty good. Like the summits, I dunno if you guys have done any of the summits, if they've been in your areas.

- I've easily gone to 12 summits and three re:Invents. So I've been to the conference scene.

- Nice, yeah, I wanna get back to re:Invent this year hopefully. I didn't manage to get there last year, but I should be back there this year probably with all you guys as well which would be good.

- Absolutely. Summits and major cities, Will, I think of West Coast, I mean Atlanta. In our cities there's a summit regularly which are great events to actually just build your network, meet peers, and you'd be surprised a lot of trainer opportunities, a lot of way to improve your knowledge, just learn from each other and develop the community.

- And I'm in the Washington DC area. So also in addition to the federal government base, there's a large presence there as well.

- The public sector Summit's over there.

- Absolutely.

- Yes.

- Nice. Being our AWS Certification Specialist then Danny, we have on the horizon, the new networking specialty exam coming up. I imagine a lot of people are quite interested in this. A lot of people find this one of the hardest specialties, because networking is quite a specific area. You have to kind of know a lot of underlying networking elements as well that kind of sit outside the realms of AWS when you start talking about BGP protocols and stuff like that. And I think that's why people who are kind of generally focused on AWS find this one of the more difficult exams to kind of undertake. And also it's not always easy to play with a lot of the networking components. I mean, it's not easy to set up a direct connection from your home or work, or set up a lot of those bridge connectivities. So having that hands-on experience can be quite difficult as well which is obviously a really good way to learn through hands-on. So with the new one coming up and the existing one that we currently have in place at the moment, can you give us an overview of some of the main differences between the kind of exam blueprints and some of the points that people should look out for.

- Sure, so one of the things that, one of my first tasks since I've been on board here is to actually go through both the old and the new blueprints. So the new exam is currently available to be sat in beta form as of earlier this week. And that's something that can be done now through April 4th. Of course when you take the beta exam, there is a discount on that, it's $150 instead of the typical $300. But you don't get your results until they're advertising the mid-June timeframe. But if you do pass the beta exam, it's still a valid cert just as if you took the regular exam, which also will continue to be available in GA until that new exam comes out to replace it, which should be happening around July, which is also gonna be around the time that you'll see our refreshed learning path in place to account for some of those differences. And typically as with most AWS exams, they're getting refreshed on roughly a three year cycle. And what you'll see in this one is going to just bring in some of the new concepts and technologies that have been introduced since the last refresh of this exam which was in 2019. So things you'd wanna brush up on would include things like the new gateway load balancers for your virtual appliances, things like multi account networking scenarios using organizations, the VPC reachability analyzer, things of that nature that may not have been covered explicitly on the older or the current version of the exam, expect those do things moving forward.

- Nice. So there's a few new elements for people to look out for then. With the beta currently open, I guess we should all be sitting at in the next couple of weeks, which will be good just to get an insight into some of the new continents out there and make sure that we can build the best continent available to support that. Did you say it's out in July?

- Should be in July. Yes.

- That kinda coincides, I think last year in July AWS also released a new version of the exam for SysOp. So we beginning to see a pattern, which is nice. You know, if you're preparing for any of these exams, beginning to see a little bit of a regularity, July appears to be released of new versions, but they announced that, you know, well ahead enough for you to know what the differences are and how they're well prepared.

- Yeah, definitely. And would you say if people are kind of halfway through studying for that certification at the moment, just to continue with whatever plan they're using, but just try and make sure they get to it before July, rather than holding off and starting again.

- Absolutely. If you have plans to set the exam between now and July, I would continue to focus on studying and taking that current version. That'll still be a valid certification. It'll still be good for the full three years even if you take it the last day that it's available.

- Nice, so you should be put off then if you already started studying for it.

- I definitely agree. And one more thing to add, the most recent version of the exam guides is significantly more useful as far as the clarity in terms of the exams code, services that are in game versus you could put these aside, above and beyond knowing what they are, not much questions come about them. So that's actually pretty good. If you're preparing, you can continue on the track, and you can rely on the published documentation. These exams are not there to trick you. So you will get a fair warning with ample time to be able to recalibrate.

- Yeah, definitely. And just to highlight what you said about the exam guides as well Jorge is I know is recently the past few months, the exam guides now provide a ton more information than they did before. They used to break it down at the kind of the domain level. So each exam would've a bunch of different domains. Now give kind of high level bullet points as to what that domain encompasses to give you an idea of the different areas that you need to study for, but it was really up to a lot of your own interpretation as to what that would be, but now they break it down even further and start listing specific services and what element of that service that you need to understand, and what kind of component you need to be aware of how to configure or implement or optimize, for example. So in the new exam guides for the new exams that are coming out are much more detailed, which is really helpful if you... Definitely, because before you kind of had to just guess at what it might cover. I mean, it's still up to a certain element of interpretation, but it is a lot more refined and focused, which is good. A question for you, Danny. Obviously when the SysOps was updated, they started introducing the hands-on labs questions, like three questions in that. I remember doing those and they were really quite fun because it really tested your ability of your understanding and knowledge of using AWS and kind of building with AWS rather than just learning from theory. You had to demonstrate that you had good work and knowledge of the platform and you knew your way around, it's a real good test. Do you know if they're going to be introducing those labs to the networking specialty? Is there any reference to it anywhere at the moment?

- So not for the networking specialty, no. I do believe this is going to be something that you start to see incorporated into, especially at the associate level, those certifications. I think a comment critique of those certs and from industry has been, you know, you can pass those certifications without necessarily having enough of the requisite hands-on experience whereas these labs are gonna test your ability to either use the CLI or go in through the console and actually provision resources and actually make things happen beyond just that kind of rote memorization sometimes.

- Absolutely. And I think it's a welcome addition. This is not a new practice. This is actually something that has been done for over a decade. I particularly recall Cisco Academy and some of their exams had a hands-on show me how do you make this happen? And it actually makes the certification even better at being independent verification of your expertise. So it does make the preparation a little bit harder, but at the end of the day, when you obtain the certification, whoever sees that then can make certain assumptions about your skill, about your ability to produce, about your ability to manufacture results and deliver results for your customers. So, yeah, it's a little harder, but I welcome it. I think it's a great, great component. And we'll see how many other exams begin to borrow on that model.

- Yeah. I think it will going forward. I guess that's still kind of assessing it at the moment with the SysOps to see how it plays out for a while, but if it goes well, I imagine we'll start seeing it roll out, especially at the professional level as well. So it'll be interesting to see if the past rates maintain the levels they've been, or we start to see a bit of a fluctuation in how many people passed the AWS certs at that stage. But I thought it was good. Have you guys set the recent SysOps as yet to look at those lab questions?

- I performed the beta, so saw some of the items, but nothing that I can relate except the labs, you know, it's important that you get the hands-on experience to build some of the objectives that you see outlined in the study guide. You wanna be able to make that happen in the console. Basic stuff, you know, like.

- Definitely, yeah. With our SysOps certification learning path, we made sure we rebuilt it for the latest cert. And you guys have probably already seen that we have a lot more hands-on labs in that learning path than kind of others, because you really need, like Jorge said, that experience, that hands-on experience working knowledge of the UI of AWS and how to do stuff. So we really try to kind of hammer that point home in that learning path. So moving to...

- We get to see on the exam guide, and I'm sorry, go ahead please.

- No, no, sorry, go ahead Jorge.

- I said I was gonna make an observation on the exam guide. If you look at the example that is given, it's an example that it kind of highlights for you the type of depth, and the example is related to an RDS instance. So having being familiar with the gymnastics of VPC, of an RDS instance, of an EC2 instances, in practical fundamental stuff to the role of course, it's essential. So I think that's what the messaging is. You want to give yourself the opportunity to build an instance to actually manufacture, actually use this service to build the basic moving parts that then will permit you to make more complex solutions. And the fundamental blocks, I believe is what the exam will try to test. That you know how to operate each of these platforms, RDS, EC2, even fleets of EC2 with systems manager for example. That's becoming more and more essential for SysOps.

- Yeah, I agree.

- And just to build on what Jorge was saying, talking about the exam blueprints and how they're spelling out the list of services, they also incorporate now these task statements. And many of those, I think you could easily see translating into potential lab activities, even for exams that don't currently have labs in the future going forward, instead of just, you know, service A, service B, service C, the task statements actually talk about knowing how to combine these things and aggregate these things and build things with them.

- Yeah, that's a really good point. And also as well, just before we move on from the new certification, we also need to remember that there's another new certification coming out, another specialty which is the SAP specialty. So we're also busy working on the content for that learning path at the moment as well. So we all have the new networking specialty learning path out, and also the SAP specialty learning path. So we've got a lot of work to do really gents.

- Glad to have Danny here.

- Glad to be here. It's a good time to be on board.

- Definitely, definitely. I think we're all gonna be flat out with new courses and learning new things, which is awesome. So moving off from the certification points then, Jorge, I know you wanted to say a couple of things on digital twins. What have you got to tell us?

- Well, I read the news and most recently I kind of keep track of what items from AWS, you know, are grabbing my attention, showing up in the news in general on, something I didn't have a lot of experience with that I learned about recently is this idea of digital twins. I mean, last time I dealt with anything related to computer aided design, it was with CAD programs, but these days of course, technology has evolved significantly, so with IOT sensors being able to give you data sometimes within a centimeter or millimeters of degrees of discernment in terms of location, in terms of height, cloud computing with elasticity. So services like TwinMaker. For example, when they were first introduced, but it's not obvious, how is this useful? And it's pretty...

- It was just introduced at re:Invent this year.

- Absolutely, re:Invent 2021. And this is an interesting platform to be able to manufacture digital equivalents of your plant, of your facilities. And with actual sensors, you have a real time digital simulation that is functioning with the actual physical data. And it permits you to deal with contingencies faster, better. I mean, the agility to be able to maintain a plant, it's just significant. So this is being applied to manufacturing, even sometimes medical facilities, military installations, you'd be surprised, I was so excited to see, it's like, wow, this is very interesting. You may wanna look at it. The concept of digital twins, their offer is on every cloud provider has an offer, AWS offering that space is called TwinMaker. But Microsoft has digital twins, Google has the Supply Chain Twin. So it's becoming a platform. I understand the space is gonna grow into double digit billion dollars in the next five years. So this is apparently one heavy emerging technologies. And if you're in that type of space, it's worth looking. I personally like to play with things become familiar. It's not exactly my area of specialty, but I found it very interesting, very powerful, and how useful is becoming for large organizations,

- Well, without you even realizing Jorge, I think you've just put your hand up to create a course on TwinMaker unfortunately.

- I would love to absolutely. It sounds like a good challenge. Especially because of the variety of services that will be involved in order to see a meaningful result. Interesting, interesting experiment. I'm up for it, I'm up for it, but not next week.

- A little bit busy at the minute with certification content and everything else going on, but I'm sure you'll get there. So yeah, we'll have to keep a look out for that one on our roadmap as well.

- Absolutely.

- Is there anything else that you wanna get off your chest about AWS at the minute? Anything that's come up in the news recently, or anything that you are working on, anything you'd like to share with anyone?

- Nothing comes to mind. Although we have been doing some learning on SAP, and it's a lot deeper than one would imagine, yet it's not impossible. So it's the bright side. That's what I've seen so far.

- Yeah, I agree. It's certainly some learning curve going on there, but it's good fun.

- Absolutely. Giant platform. The ecosystem is very complex, been around for decades, well established, so absolutely a whole new venture for cloud adoption, the whole integrating SAP technology is into it.

- And Danny, do you know when this certification is being released? Is it roughly the same time?

- It is, yes, this summer.

- Okay, cool. We've got time then, that's good. Okay. I think we should probably wrap it up there. It's been great kind of we talking about the Pi Day. So that's March the 14th. Make sure you check that out. Again, we'll put the link on the screen so you can find out more information about that event and register for that. Thank you Danny for giving us a rundown on the networking specialty and also the SAP specialty as well.

- You're welcome.

- So for those two learning parts that'll be coming on site very soon, and also to you Jorge for talking about the AWS TwinMaker, and for putting your hand up to create some course content on.

- Pleasure to be here. I think one of the missions Danny and I are gonna undertake is to see if we could get you on a podcast to shave your head and wear blue.

- I think out of everyone, I think Will's got more hair than all of us put together.

- It might be true at this point. Give it time though, of us all.

- Excellent. Thanks very much guys. And don't forget you can take a look at our existing podcast on our website. Feel free to reach out to any of us on social media.

- Somewhere down here, you're gonna see some titles and emails to reach up to us. And please do. We'll be glad to hear from you.

- Definitely yeah. We're always open to connecting with you guys and answering any questions. So thanks again. Thank you, Danny. Thank you, Jorge. Thank you, Will. And look forward to chatting to you again next month. Cheers.

- [All] Cheers.

About the Author
Learning Paths

Stuart has been working within the IT industry for two decades covering a huge range of topic areas and technologies, from data center and network infrastructure design, to cloud architecture and implementation.

To date, Stuart has created 150+ courses relating to Cloud reaching over 180,000 students, mostly within the AWS category and with a heavy focus on security and compliance.

Stuart is a member of the AWS Community Builders Program for his contributions towards AWS.

He is AWS certified and accredited in addition to being a published author covering topics across the AWS landscape.

In January 2016 Stuart was awarded ‘Expert of the Year Award 2015’ from Experts Exchange for his knowledge share within cloud services to the community.

Stuart enjoys writing about cloud technologies and you will find many of his articles within our blog pages.

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