Preparing for AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional Level Certification Exam

January 18, 2015 | Comments(1) |

AWS recently announced their second Professional level certification exam that is little different from it’s previous professional level exam as the new one merges two certification tracks into one. Their Developer & SysOps Administrator exam at associate level converge into a single exam at professional level that is AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certification exam.
I appeared for the beta exam recently and would be sharing my experiences in this blog.

AWS Certification Exam Levels

Till this point only Solutions Architect track was available at the professional level. I & Bhavesh cleared that exam sometime back which I felt gave a good test to our AWS knowledge. We also shared our experiences on how to prepare for Solutions Architect – Professional Level. Now by announcing DevOps Engineer exam AWS has made the professional level complete. Below is the updated chart that AWS has shared for their current certification tracks. Although they have not provided any indication about their Master level certifications but I believe they might merge all three tracks at master level.

cert_roadmap_Q214_EN

Source: aws.amazon.com

About DevOps Engineer – Professional Level Certification Exam

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional level (beta) exam that I appeared for seemed to be a comprehensive exam focusing more on the automation part. The exam had a good mix of questions for both infrastructure provisioning automation and application deployment automation. Almost all the questions were scenario based and targeted to check your hands-on knowledge of using different services from AWS that can help an organization implement DevOps. In the sections below I’ll cover some more in-depth detail about the exam. But before you can appear for the exam, there are some pre-requisites.

Pre-requisite

The pre-requisite for appearing for this certification exam is that:

  1. You should already have cleared associate level certification for either of AWS SysOps Administrator or AWS Developer. Without that you can not appear for professional level DevOps exam
  2. AWS recommends that you should have minimum two years hands on experience but this is not a hard requirement. However I also feel practical experience will be really useful here as the kind of questions that get asked are majorly scenario based.

Exam Overview

  1. The cost for the beta certification is $150. As of date, the final exam is not yet released but it might have a price tag of $300 on lines with Solutions Architect professional level certification exam. You might also be able to find some discount coupons for certification exams at AWS public events.
  2. The beta exam had about about 105 multiple choice, multiple answer questions. There is no hands-on or writing needed as part of the exam. The duration of the exam is 170 minutes. I felt this was a very long exam as most of the questions were quite lengthy and in case you are not a fast reader, It’ll be difficult to attempt all the questions. But since this was the beta exam, more number of questions were expected. In final exam they might reduce down the number of questions
  3. Beta exam does not provide you result immediately as compared to all other full certification exams from AWS. They say it’ll take about 6-8 weeks before they can share the results. The passing percentage is not disclosed and Amazon might be trying to find the right cut off through this beta exam.

Exam Contents

Below are the exam domains and the extent to which they are represented in the exam.

1.0 Continuous Delivery and Process Automation (55%)

This is the area where you can score the most if you are well prepared otherwise the same topic will let you down. The questions were more centered around CloudFormation and Elastic Beanstalk and asked about wide variety of implementation level challenges when you have to automate the provisioning of infrastructure using CloudFormation, configuring it using bootstrap actions or deploy application using Elastic Beanstalk. You should read a lot about CloudFormation stack updates and how you can prevent certain resources inside your template from getting updated. Other area that was heavily dominated was rolling updates and rollback using Elastic Beanstalk with minimum or zero downtime. Also, how to use Route53 and Elastic Beanstalk together to perform A/B testing of environments/application versions. There were not many questions around CLI or SDK but if you have worked with either one of them briefly, you should be able to answer them.

All the new services like CodeCommit, CodeDeploy and CodePipeline were not part of the beta exam at least. However it is possible that they might get featured in the final exam.

2.0 Monitoring, Metrics and Logging (20%)

As the name suggests, this section had very standard questions around CloudWatch involving setting up of alerts, trigger actions, custom cloudwatch metrics etc. CloudWatch Logs which is one of the recent services from AWS was also part of the exam.

3.0 Security, Governance and Validation (10%)

This sectioned featured questions about different ways to keep your environments in isolation e.g. if it’s a good idea to use different VPCs under the same account or different AWS accounts altogether. Also if you are using the same account for different teams/environments, how to control the access to different resources. There were one or two questions about consolidated billing and tag based billing. Most of the questions around setting up security using VPC/Subnet/SecurityGroup/IAM Roles were in some way tied with the scenarios involving CloudFormation or Elastic Beanstalk or OpsWorks as well.

4.0 High Availability and Elasticity (15%)

This section as well carried standard questions related to fault tolerance and high availability. There were not many questions related to it but the ones which were part of the exam were related to standard 3-tier architecture involving Web, App and database tier with traffic flowing through Route 53 and ELB.

Summary

Overall the exam seems comprehensive and hands-on experience with AWS is a must. I found most use-cases centered around CloudFormation,Elastic Beanstalk and some around OpsWorks too. The focus was mainly on minimizing the downtime and make your delivery pipeline faster by automating almost everything from provisioning to configuration to application deployment.

Here is some additional information that can help while planning for this exam.

  • Here is the exam blueprint by AWS.
  • AWS recommends 2 years of hands-on AWS experience.
  • AWS whitepapers.
  • Reference architectures on AWS.

We are also planning to launch a course to help with preparation for this certification. If you would like us to contact you with more info, please fill out this form and we will get back to you.

If you have not already cleared Associate level certification, do it now. Check out our courses for AWS Developer Certification and AWS SysOps Administrator Certification

How to Register

To register, click this Kryterion testing center link. You will need to create an account before you register for the test.

Good luck!! If you have any questions, please mention them below and will try to answer them. Also if you like the article please share it with others.


One Response to “Preparing for AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional Level Certification Exam”

Leave a Reply