Podcast - AWS Series 'Cloud Academy Parking Lot' Episode #1


Cloud Academy Parking Lot

The course is part of this learning path

How to Move Into the Cloud

In this episode of our Cloud Academy Parking Lot podcast, you will follow along as our AWS team, including Stuart Scott, Jorge Negrón, and Will Meadows, answer a common question: How do you move into the cloud, and more specifically AWS, especially when starting from a non-technical background?

They will share their thoughts on the best ways to start working with the cloud, as well as some hints and tips for anyone thinking of making that move.


- Welcome to this episode where we're going to be discussing how to move into the cloud, and specifically AWS, if you come from a non-technical background. I get approached quite a lot on social media with questions like this, I'm sure you guys do as well. And where people are just kind of curious how to move in into this field of technology and just kind of getting their feet off the ground on where to start. So a quick introduction, I'm Stuart Scott working for Cloud Academy also have with me Will and Jorge, if you guys wanna say hello.

- Hi.

- Hi there.

- So like I say, I get asked this question quite a lot by people. Does this come about in your kind of day to day or week to week operation as well where people reach out to you looking for that help, where they might be looking for a change of job role where not necessarily from an IT background, but looking to move into the cloud.

- Yeah, I think it's gonna happen and come up a lot more, 'cause we're in the great resignation phase as they call it, at least on LinkedIn of people who are looking for something different, right. And what I would say these people who are looking to move into tech, IT, the cloud in general is I personally think it's very important to start with learning how our computer actually works as silly as that sounds, if you wanna get into IT, try to understand what is a CPU? How does it function? What is a GPU graphics card and then the central processing unit, what is memory? What is a hard drive and how do all these pieces actually work together within a computer to actually function and to run applications? I think by at least starting at that level, it will tell you if this is for you or not. Because everything in tech is sort of built off these fundamental principles. And there's a lot of great videos out there that can help drive those specific points, and you'll learn how the components actually function together happily, and they become married together in a computer.

- Absolutely, I have to agree with Will as well, the amount of resources that are available out there, and without mentioning too many of them, YouTube is a primary example of free courses

- Yeah. on Cloud Academy, free courses on other online training providers, there's even individuals that have taken to their own channel on Vimeo or YouTube explaining this type of thing. And the ramp up

- Definitely. to cloud computing, once you have the background that will recommend the ramp up to cloud computing is very effective. Cloud computing in general simplifies the deployment of IT to a level that it doesn't matter that you were doing this or not 10 years ago. Things have changed significantly and you're basically learning fresh what other folks are actually having to relearn because of the conveniences prefabricated functionality, you don't have to have now deep subject matter expertise to be able to leverage perhaps a machine learning module or a security analysis module.

- That's right, I think when I kind of started moving into cloud computing, you kind of hit one of the nails on the head, there is that my previous IT knowledge was bit of a hindrance in a way when I started looking at cloud computing, 'cause it's a totally different way of implementing tech, deploying applications, architecting a network and design from your traditional on-premise environment, which is what I was used to. So you not having some of that background existing knowledge, it can be quite helpful because you're not having to retrain your brain on how you think it should work, it's just when you're learning it from scratch, that's just the way it is, and your brain isn't kind of having this internal fight saying, no, that's not how it's would be that, how can that possibly work like that, it's just how it is. I often ask people why they're looking to move into the cloud, is it simply that the curiosity behind it, obviously it's widely known now, is it like the kind of backs by hype? Is it because someone's told you it's the way forward, you know everything's moving to the cloud so get in on that industry and you'll have a job for life they say.

- You'll get paid more, that's the common one.

- Yeah, that's also another one. Or is it because you want to get into the world of IT just 'cause you've always kind of had that initial interest in the cloud is a good starting place. It's certainly a good place to begin anyway. So where would you say you should kind of start? I know you said learn about the fundamentals of a PC and kind of got those core concepts. And I think it's kind of building on top of that, it's just easing slow to it 'cause cloud computing is a massive field of topic, it's a massive topic, there's no one size fits all to learning it. I think it's starting slow looking at just some of the fundamentals and the concepts and also the terminology as well. 'Cause that's the one of the big things is understanding the terminology of cloud computing. There's a whole array of different elements out there that are different to your traditional computing, and it's understanding some of those, I think some of those initial principles, and concepts that will really help you and probably guide you in the direction you want to go as well 'cause once you've got that basis of understanding of cloud computing, it is then, okay, I've got my foot in the door, I kind of know what it is now, I know that the main principles and the benefits of cloud computing, but now which door do I take because there's tons of different tools. Do I go security? Do I go architect? Do I go machine learning? DevOps developer, SysAdmin, how would you help someone to kind of pick a field as such when they don't have that prior knowledge of kind of being in that industry before? How do they identify what's right for them? What kind of guidance would you give on that?

- This one's gonna be kind of like a one size fits all, 'cause I think it's applicable for any sort of part of cloud you wanna go into, which is how do I build a website and how do I put it online for other people to view. Just trying this basic exercise will help you broaden your understanding of how the AWS ecosystem works together. This is coming from a very architect's point of view, but this takes a lot of components to get working. Either you're gonna do this in a server way, or you're gonna do this in a serverless way. Both of these options have different routes and mechanisms, but also still use a lot of the same things like getting route 53 working, make sure it's propagating out to the internet correctly. Making sure DNS is resolving, understanding how to build an index like an HTML file and just popping that either in an S3 bucket, so that way it's static or putting it on an EC2 instance that way it's actually being served. So I think just putting a fundamental website up there that says, this is my website. Will teach you so much about AWS because you have a project to learn through, that it will really push you the direction you want to go. What do you think, Jorge?

- Yeah.

- I like your hands on approach, and a lot of folks actually learn that way the best simply by experimenting with the tools. And you could double down on that particular approach if you don't have one already soliciting and obtaining an AWS account, because if you are a first time customer and all you need is unique email address and a credit card, you will get 12 months of access to a non-trivial catalog of services and features that provided your experiments stay within those limits, they're free of charge. So if you are in the process where you have the knowledge of what is cloud computing, perhaps a technical background as Will mentioned in terms of what is a machine, you have a generalized IT knowledge, then getting yourself an account, AWS free tier and experimenting there's plenty of tutorials, plenty of how do's available even code in GitHub that will permit you to learn through experiment.

- Yeah, definitely. And I think having that hands on experience as you both said, really does help you to guide what direction you are kind of interested in as a person. If you are doing something like trying to build that website that you said Will, and I think people that are listening who don't have a background in IT, a lot of those words used might have kind of gone over their head regards to EC2 and all the rest of it, but all this will become familiar. But like you say, it enables them to get an understanding of what kind of floats their boat, what interests them, oh, I really enjoyed kind of doing the provisioning of that instance, of that server and getting it up and running and kind of managing that, or was it the fact that you had to implement an element of security and kind of, oh, how does that security work? How is it protecting that device? How is that network talking to that network? Is it that element you know, so that's a really great idea, and I think that kind of leads onto how do you get to that stage, so the resources, I know we touched on some of the resources like YouTubes out there that's a great way that I hear a lot of people just kind of searching some of those concepts and understanding and insight into what cloud computing is, and there's thousands of videos out there that can help you kind of get that initial understanding to see if this industry is the right thing for you. And then when you start to hone in on vendors a bit more, for example, AWS which we all love, we're AWS guys, so there's a ton of documentation on the AWS website that will give you kind of intros to a lot of the different services, and again, some of the different technologies that are out there, I know Will mentioned serverless earlier, so you get an understanding of those kind of technologies. And also white papers, which are basically quite thorough and deep, guides and best practices on how to run and implement different solutions and services. So the white papers are a really good resource on the best way on how to do something essentially. What other resources would you guys suggest for someone that is totally new to this that are trying to get a real good understanding and grips with things. Obviously we have Cloud Academy as well, where we kind of take people from beginners all the way through to advanced. But other resources out there on the internet, have you guys used any yourself?

- Absolutely. One of the questions that I personally get a lot having dealt with colleges is the generalized question, what kind of education can I get this cloud computing knowledge from my local community college? And the answer is absolutely yes, if that is your preferred modality and you do have the time to invest. There's a number of educational programs now at local community college and universities, it will be a matter of looking at your closest educational institution for what type of cloud computing program do they offer. But the more important aspect here to make sure that is clear, even bigger question which is, can I get into this cloud IT space without having a college degree? And the answer is absolutely yes, this is a field that continues to evolve in the United States has a particular maturity and the motivation to get into it actually is sound. The job growth according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is, measuring IT and computer information occupations growing over 10%, decade to decade. That is a faster growth than most other industries. And I think people see this when every two years you have bigger, better, more powerful equipment. And of course the average salary of a cloud computing career is over 110,000, so that's motivation in us. The field is growing and positions within the field are solid positions in terms of income and in terms of job skills. So there's a number of boot camps that you can actually do a little research, local community college, as well as local programs, perhaps continuing education programs in the region that you live are much more the traditional format of preparing for this type of career.

- And you got the local meetups as well, that's kind of regional global AWS meetups that are kind of occurring all the time that if you can just sign up so many in your local town or city, you'll probably find one fairly local to yourself, just head along, go and kind of listen, ask questions that's one big thing I would say, is just ask questions. Where you are the minute you might not be in a technical role at the minute, but you might have an IT team who are likely using the cloud in one form or another. Just meet them, ask them questions, just say look I wanna get into this field, do you have any hints and tips? They might have some great resources readily available to you that you can use. Just answer that burning question that might not be quite understanding, you just wanna talk to someone face to face and say, hey man, can you help me with this 'cause I just don't understand this concept. And you might have people right on your doorstep that will happily show you and help you and kind of lead you through that. So always ask questions to anyone in the industry. You can reach out out to any of us, we'll happily help you and guide you any way we can, you can reach us on LinkedIn, Twitter, email, anything we're always kind of there to help you guys get to where you need to be in the cloud. And another point that you said as well, Jorge is about not having a degree, you know people think you need a degree or some kind of certification or something to get you through this, but you don't, anyone can pick up cloud computing it's just having some time, some dedication and just a drive and a want to learn something new. For those people that obviously already have a full time job and are perhaps looking to move into a new role. They might have families as well, so learning something new like this can be really difficult at times. I know from my own experience, and it's finding a way to manage your time effectively to enable you to pick up the new concepts, giving you time to learn, giving you time to kind of review stuff that you you want to learn about. And for me personally, I'd say just try and grab a small amount each day. It could be in your lunch break, it could be in the evening, even if it's just 30 minutes to an hour. But 30 minutes was a fast to start with just to reading those materials, watching those videos, just getting an understanding of it, but try not to give it too much a break if you just do it, say on a Monday, then you don't get around to it again on until a Thursday, and then the following Tuesday. You're gonna kind of lose those elements that you kind of learnt before. You need to be hitting it almost daily or every other day for it to kind of sink initially. From my personal experience, I'm not saying that's the same for everyone, but for me, if I start learning something new, perhaps a new service in AWS and I use it one day and then I don't go back to it until the following week, I'm kind of like, I can't remember what I was doing here, I've lost it. So you need to keep repeating the cadence of your learning, try and keep it up. So like I say if you've got a busy life, you've got a full time job, you've got family and children at home, just try and grab 30 minutes a day and try not to leave too much of a gap, try and make it a bit more of a routine in your day to day life, and I think that'll really help. That certainly helped me when I was trying to change roles and whatnot. Have you guys got any other tips like that when you are just first starting out something new. I mean, it might not be about just getting into IT, but learning anything new. Do you have any tips yourself that you would suggest?

- I generally like to go with the immersion route. Like I'll dive into something pretty happy for one day and that'll be like, no, we're not going talking crazy, like a four hour session of like dedicated learning. And then from there on, I will usually in as far as at least, three times a week watching some lectures or getting back into it for about an hour. My pro tip, while you're doing the dishes, or if you're cooking something simple, you can put your laptop next to you and you can run one of like the AWS random lectures. I think anything that has a story built into the lecture is very easy to digest even while you're multitasking. So that's my pro tip.

- Yeah, that's a really good tip.

- Outstanding. I have to admit that the approach that you suggest is actually the one that I personally follow and resonated with me. When cloud computing was being introduced, you can only learn it from people that were doing it, people that were involved with the products and services that have translated it into what we have today, multiple major vendors, multiple platforms. So absolutely, I joined my local meetup and there you'll be surprised you meet a significant amount of AWS employees, as well as practicing professionals, consultants.

- Yeah.

- And there's no better way, if you have the proper background, there is no better way to learn than from your peers that applies to me in every aspect. So if your peers prefer a particular platform, guess what, you could see that as a sign of perhaps that material is more accessible to you. If you have perhaps a platform that is being used in your employment situation right now, then that may be good idea to consider simply to be able to advance within that organization, but I can assure you cloud computing knowledge continues to be in demand, the predictions are that they gonna continue to be in demand, and in my case, peer to peer training was priceless.

- Yeah, definitely, I agree. Another element as well, just thought of is to kind of give you some focus if those need that kind of sense of direction of where to go, maybe prepare yourself for a certification. If you are entry level there for AWS, you'd be looking at the AWS cloud practitioner. This is design for those who don't necessarily have a technical background, so it's the perfect certification to kind of start with. And that'll give you some guidance as to what to learn and where, if you have a look at the AWS website, we'll put a link on the screen, it'll take you to the cloud practitioner guide as to the requirements of the certification, the different topics. So you can start learning towards that and you'll get a good baseline of some of the core AWS services. You'll certainly pick up the terminology and some of the concepts as well. So that will give you a real good focus on where to put your energy into learning about AWS initially, so that's another good element to do.

- I think that's very valuable for people who don't have a traditional degree is look towards getting the certifications to prove you know the knowledge from a fundamentals point of view. And then build up a portfolio of projects that you've completed, they don't have to be large, but they have to have set goals that you did. So like the website project, for example, or if you did like a containers type project. These things along with the certification, I think can really help guide your learning as well as to help get your foot in the door for an interview for a career path change.

- Definitely.

- I have to agree.

- Yeah.

- I'm agreeing 100% that certification represents independent verification of your expertise. And to me that is the minimal document that you wanna show up with, especially the idea of certifications in cloud computing are now very well known, these are not easy exams. If you've been in IT for a little while, some exams are easier than others, some exams you can cram for a week and sit the exam and pass it. I assure you AWS cloud computing certification exams do not fit that category. There's a general saying, there's no compression algorithm for experience. You do need to give yourself the time to be able to play with these tools and digest them because the catalog of services is significant and the combinations are borderline infinite. So you will wanna know the service, you will wanna know the anatomy, you will wanna know how to assemble basic things by combining these different services. And in a way, the college degree is not required, but a certification will attest to your potential employer that you have the minimum required knowledge to perform the role that you're interested. So certifications are the way to go for sure.

- Good point. So I think from our kind of short conversation, that if you are in a non-tech background at the moment, looking to change your role, looking to move into cloud, looking to move into AWS, you don't have any prior experience, you don't have a prior degree then that shouldn't put you off. It's totally achievable, it's totally feasible, and with the right time and dedication and kind of guidance, you can certainly get a career within AWS for sure. You can achieve your certifications, you can go in the direction of a security specialist, a machine learning and AI specialist, DevOps and all the others that go with it. So don't feel like it's unachievable because it is totally not, it is definitely achievable with a bit of structure, a bit of dedication, and just that drive in wanting to learn and develop yourself I think. Any other points from you guys.

- I think it's totally doable, like you said, you can do it. This is a good chance to practice your Google through, I guess the big tech secret none of us really know anything, we just know how to Google things very well. Or practice like correctly search through Google to find your answers, and this will help a lot.

- Yeah, definitely, and what we'll do, we'll put some links up on the screen about some of the resources and references we've spoken about today just to make it easy for you guys, just to kind of go through those and take a look and just basically see what works for you. And like I say, if you need any more help, any more guidance, feel free to reach out to one of us and we'll be happy to help you and coach you along the way.

- Absolutely, stay connected, communities on LinkedIn, You can reach each of us, our first name, our last You can reach us through LinkedIn. The more connected you are, the better resources you're gonna have available, and there's always someone willing and able to assist. So you are not alone in this career pursuit, there's plenty of communities here to support you.

- Well said. Thank you guys.

- Thank you everybody.

- Great talking to you, well, and next month we'll be talking about something else, so please join us.

- Cheers.

- Cheers.

- Cheers.

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