Vendor-Neutral or Vendor-Specific Certs? Here’s How to Choose.

With dozens of certifications available for the Cloud, it can be difficult for people to know where to start. Many platforms like AWS offer their own vendor-specific courses, such as AWS Certified Security Specialty. These qualifications prove that successful applicants have the relevant skills to maintain and secure data systems on the platform.

Vendor-neutral organizations, such as (ISC)², offer certifications like the CCSP to establish a professional’s skills that could apply to a variety of platforms. While either path can be beneficial, people newer to the field often have to select which one to do first.

Vendor-Neutral

  • Pros: More applicable to different platforms, which is good for people still settling on a specific career path

  • Cons: May not offer the kind of in-depth knowledge needed to do higher-level work on certain platforms

Vendor-Specific

  • Pros: Establishes deeper understanding of an individual platform, and may meet more requirements for jobs in that niche

  • Cons: May narrow your focus and available jobs, especially if the technology becomes obsolete

As a general rule, technology professionals are not limited to a particular path once they begin. Most people find that it is best to get certifications in both categories, especially in the first few years. They can decide later on if they want to maintain a particular certification as it applies to their career path.

AWS Rolls Out Solutions Architect Pro Exam, Surprising Changes to Recert Program

With the release of the latest updated exam, AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional, AWS is continuing the trend established last year, changing the ways individuals take and score exams. The recertification program is also receiving an overhaul you will be sure to notice.

In line with updates to a few other exams in the past year, the Arch Pro certification features radically different question domain percentages and a new scoring model. Specifically, AWS no longer publishes the number of unscored questions in each section, which may make it harder to game the exam. Test results will not indicate scores in each area, instead simply showing a pass or fail.

The new recertification policies apply to all current and incoming AWS Certified Individuals. Instead of two years, you now have three before you need to recertify. Rather than sit a recertification test tailored to people who have already passed, you will take the latest version of the full exam. AWS offers discounts to qualified applicants. The standalone recert versions are set to retire March 3, 2019.

AWS 2018 Growth Blows Away the Competition

In business, we all know that it’s easy to hate the big guns, especially when they’re doing so well. Microsoft had a turn, and so did Google. When you look at the numbers, you see that 2018 was definitely Amazon’s time to shine.

But as much as you’d assume that Alexa and her suite of services became the bell of Bezos’ ballroom, you’d be wrong. In fact, it was the shocking quarter-after-quarter growth of AWS that took the limelight. Here’s why you can be confident that this is not a fluke.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Amazon noted that AWS services expanded by 45%. That alone is pretty impressive, but then add this in. AWS grew 46% in q3, 49% in q2, and 49% in q1. All proving that it’s OK to back a winner if you can see they’re going to keep winning.

Microsoft and Google, Amazon’s major competitors for the Cloud, often tout their services as equal. But when you start following the money, you see that they’re padded with revenues from products like Google Docs or Office 365. Amazon invests much of its profits back into the business, providing the support needed to keep making AWS the best choice.

Streamline your backups into one easy console with the new AWS Backup

Managing a complex series of data backups can create unnecessary backlogging of tasks and difficulty replicating work across various parts of your team. AWS introduces a new service that helps you streamline and manage your backups from one console. With AWS Backup, you can:

·      centralize backup management across individual services

·      monitor, search and restore backups from the same place

·      continue to tailor individual backups

·      quickly create plans on an as-needed basis

·      take advantage of unlimited storage

·      ensure compliance with business and regulatory standards

Since the system puts control in one place, you can avoid lapses in management when individual members of your team aren’t there to monitor it. The service also saves your team time writing custom scripts for separate backups.

This reflects an improvement to the way organizations using AWS create and manage backups, but we’re still waiting for them to address a particular need. At present, if you want to use AWS to snapshot an EBS volume, you have to quiesce the volume as a separate step. There’s no way to automate that step within AWS Backup, at least not yet.

Visit the link above for step-by-step instructions to create your own backup plan.

Secure Your AWS Account with CIS Benchmark

In the Cloud, security should be your top concern.  If your company is using AWS, you’re probably aware of the endless possibilities for implementing security controls.  With these possibilities, there is a lot of room for gaps and mistakes.

One of the most important areas to secure is the AWS account itself.  Is is also important to ensure that changes made in the account meet security controls with a compliance dashboard.  Many customers choose to implement security monitoring and mitigation manually, which is time consuming and error-prone.

There is a better way.  AWS provides an automated implementation of the CIS Benchmark (https://www.cisecurity.org/cis-benchmarks/).  This combination of monitoring and dashboards can be deployed using a CloudFormation template, and can be launched directly from the AWS documentation found here: https://aws.amazon.com/quickstart/architecture/compliance-cis-benchmark/.  Click on “How to Deploy” and select your region (either GovCloud or other regions), and follow the directions.

What resources are created by deploying this template?

  • AWS Config Rules

  • CloudWatch Alarms

  • CloudWatch Events

  • Customizable Lambda functions

In addition, AWS provides a security controls matrix (as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet) that maps the deployed resources to specific CIS controls.

By deploying this benchmark using automated methods, you can test this in your own account, and remove all of the above resources with a few mouse clicks if required.  We recommend that every AWS account have security controls implemented and monitored, and enabling termination protection on the deployed CloudFormation template will help protect these resources.

Happy deploying!

Upcoming Class: AWS Monitoring Strategies on October 29!

Monitoring in AWS can lead to a complicated web of resources and workflows. Maximizing coverage of availability metrics, performance indicators, and security requires knowledge of several services and integration techniques. Log monitoring presents cost, storage, and retention challenges. This course is designed to shed light on monitoring strategies in AWS to eliminate gaps in monitoring, as well as explain differences between traditional monitoring choices and those available as part of the AWS ecosystem.

Sign up here!

Upcoming class: Introduction to GCP Oct 15-16, 2018

Sign up here!

Google Cloud Platform is a rich suite of cloud computing services that works with a set of management tools to provide modular cloud services for computing, data storage, data analytics, machine learning, and more. It is important to understand how to properly evaluate and adopt cloud infrastructure because if done poorly, it can wreak havoc on the operations and security of sensitive resources. Migrating to the cloud should be measured and deliberate, based on a solid understanding of the effort involved, and a clear vision for the outcome.This training will provide a solid understanding of Google Cloud Platform. We will start with the basics before moving on to security and monitoring. We will then explore how to create a network, launch compute resources, and create storage resources before ending with operations and automation. You will get to see firsthand the various services that make up the GCP ecosystem along with their relationships to each other. The training will cover benefits of a cloud-based infrastructure and starting points for how these benefits can be achieved in GCP.

Upcoming Class: AWS Monitoring Strategies on August 31, 2018

Monitoring in AWS can lead to a complicated web of resources and workflows. Maximizing coverage of availability metrics, performance indicators, and security requires knowledge of several services and integration techniques. Log monitoring presents cost, storage, and retention challenges. This course is designed to shed light on monitoring strategies in AWS to eliminate gaps in monitoring, as well as explain differences between traditional monitoring choices and those available as part of the AWS ecosystem.

Sign up here!