Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the backbone of a lot of the web we use today. AWS, along with Microsoft Azure, dominates enterprise use of the cloud. As a result, it’s one of the most sought-after and lucrative cloud platform skills you can learn today. Given their market share, AWS and Azure (along with Google Cloud Platform, which is trying hard for more commercial business) are safe from disruption and serious competition at the moment.
But what’s the best way to learn AWS? Do you need to master the entire platform to land a cloud-related job? We spoke with several experts to decode the ins and outs of AWS training.
Why should technologists choose to learn AWS?
“AWS is in demand, and so are technologists with AWS skills,” Drew Firment, Senior vice President of Cloud Transformation and A Cloud Guru, tells Dice. “AWS was recently rated the best cloud provider by Gartnerbased on their broad range of services that’s suitable for both startups and enterprises. Revenue for AWS in Q3 2021 was up 39 percent year-over-year, and they control over 30 percent of the entire [cloud] market.”
John Alcorcha, Department Chair of Technology at MTI College in Sacramento, California, reminds us AWS is prevalent. “Since AWS is the leading cloud provider, learning about their services can benefit anyone in tech even if they place their focus on Microsoft, Google, or other platforms,” he says. “It cannot be denied that the number of advantages offered by cloud computing will continue to push more enterprises to extend to AWS and other providers.”
Global Learning and Development Director at Revolent Group, Ami Noble-Newton, underscores the traditional IT infrastructure is vanishing. The cloud is the future:
“More and more businesses are moving away from traditional IT infrastructure and looking to migrate to the cloud. And where there’s increased enterprise migrations to the cloud, there’s increased demand for professionals who can carry out the necessary migrations in any chosen cloud platform. The demand for professionals that are competent in AWS and migrations means those working in AWS will have monetary benefits on their side, with many of the associated jobs paying top money for even the smallest of projects.”
Maureen Lonergan, Vice President of AWS Training and Certification at Amazon Web Services, might be a touch biased, but she’s not wrong in telling Dice: “For over 15 years, AWS has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offering. AWS has been continually expanding its services to support virtually any cloud workload, and it now has more than 200 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and much more.” Lonergan reminds us Airbnb, Zoom, Capital One, and Netflix all use AWS to deliver services every day.
How can technologists get started with AWS training?
Lonergan offers us the most direct avenue for AWS training:
“The best place to get started is to check out AWS Skill Builder, which has more than 500 free digital courses in 16 languages, and is available in more than 200 countries and territories. Courses are self-paced and range from foundational, intermediate, and advanced trainings. For someone new to cloud training, we recommend starting with AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials, which is our most popular course and is six-hours of self-paced content designed for anyone to learn the fundamentals of the AWS Cloud. We also offer 11 industry-recognized AWS Certifications for individuals who want to validate their knowledge.”
Alcorcha adds: “Once familiar with AWS as outlined by the introductory Cloud Practitioner certification, the remaining pathways can help frame training in a variety of specialties.”
Noble-Newton suggests hands-on experience is important—perhaps more important than passing courses. “Any good training program will be made up of a mix of written material you need to read and digest and practical exercises that demonstrate the way you could use AWS in a commercial environment. It will also give you the chance to get hands-on with the platform in a real-world environment,” she notes.
Should technologists pay for AWS training or supplemental courses?
Lonergan tells Dice: “Training isn’t a one-size-fits-all. For example, some individuals thrive in a classroom setting and learn better that way, while others may get what they need from a free livestreamed or on-demand course.”
Alchorna adds: “A self-aware independent learner could get a great start solely with a Free Tier account and the AWS documentation. A less experienced learner could benefit from a structured program that will likely require payment. Some students can be challenged with a virtualized environment. The lack of physical cabling and devices adds a good deal of abstraction that can hamper kinesthetic learners. A guided learning program with opportunities for instructor-guided assistance can offer a big help for those taking their first steps into AWS cloud computing.”
Firment reminds us time is valuable, too: “Free is expensive when you value your time. While AWS builds world-class cloud services, consider a subscription to a skills development platform that is focused on your individual success.”
Noble-Newton says: “Although there are plenty of free resources out there to learn AWS, it’s important to note that experts are not going to give all of their tricks of the trade for free. So while there’s some great information you can access online without paying, you simply won’t find the same level of expertise in those kinds of courses and training as you would on a paid training program—especially one which allows you to tailor your learning experience, work one-on-one with mentors and AWS experts, and also gives you access to their own contacts to give you the leg-up you need into the world of AWS.”
All great advice distilling to one conclusion: shop around. Find training that works best for your learning style and the time you can invest. If training happens on a schedule that doesn’t suit yours, it may not be the right course for you! If it’s a video-driven course and you are a hands-on learner, find training that offers real-world experience.
AWS Comes in Handy
When we prompted our panel to discuss why someone shouldn’t learn Amazon’s platform, none could offer a reasonable argument. Sure, you may need to focus on Azure or Google Cloud Platform, but AWS should be part of your skillset. Even if you’re just going to learn basics, it’ll come in handy.
Keep in mind the cloud is and always will be a series of connected services. Your platform may not be Amazon-dependent, but you can be sure a service or platform you want to work with down the line is. For that reason alone, AWS training (and familiarity) is right for all cloud professionals.