What Is AWS? A Guide for Learners and Leaders

January 22, 2024 | Activate Learning | 9 min read

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revolutionized how businesses approach technology and cloud computing. Understanding AWS's potential can be transformative for your team and organization. This guide delves into what AWS is, how it can benefit your organization, and why AWS certification training could be a pivotal step for your team.

What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services, or just AWS, offers cloud computing services and resources on a pay-as-you-go basis, including computing power, storage options, networking, and databases. AWS enables businesses and individuals to build and run applications and services in the cloud, offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.

This comprehensive and evolving platform includes services like Amazon EC2 for virtualized computing power and S3 for scalable storage solutions, positioning itself as a blend of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).

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What’s AWS Used For?

AWS is a powerhouse in the cloud computing realm, offering an extensive range of services that cater to many use cases across various industries. Whether you're in IT, running a large enterprise, or part of a growing startup, AWS has the tools and resources to serve you with a suite of tools and resources tailored to various applications:

  • Web Hosting: Scalable, reliable, and cost-effective solutions for hosting web applications.
  • Data Storage and Backup: Services like Amazon S3 and Glacier offer unparalleled durability and security for data storage needs.
  • Disaster Recovery: Tools for backing up critical data and ensuring business continuity.
  • Big Data Analytics: Analyze large datasets efficiently with Amazon EMR and Redshift.
  • Application Hosting: Deploy various applications using AWS Elastic Beanstalk and EC2.
  • Machine Learning and AI: Build and deploy ML models with Amazon SageMaker.
  • IoT: Connect and manage IoT devices with AWS IoT Core.
  • Mobile and Web Development: Develop and scale applications with AWS Amplify and related services.
  • Serverless Computing: Run code without server management using AWS Lambda.
  • DevOps and CI/CD: Automate software delivery with tools like AWS CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, and CodePipeline.

Key AWS Services

Various AWS services cater to different organizational needs, offering specialized solutions that align with specific aspects of business operations.

  • Compute: AWS offers compute services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), and Amazon Lightsail.
  • Storage: AWS provides storage services, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon Glacier.
  • Databases: AWS database services include Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Aurora.
  • Networking: AWS offers networking services like Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Route 53.
  • Analytics: AWS services include Amazon Redshift, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon Athena.
  • Machine learning: AWS offers machine learning services, which include Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Rekognition, and Amazon Polly.

What Are the Benefits of AWS for Your Organization?

AWS offers essential scalability, cost-effectiveness, reliability, security, and innovation.

  • Scalability: Adjust resources easily to match business demands.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Reduce expenses associated with on-premises infrastructure.
  • Reliability: High uptime for consistent service availability.
  • Security: Advanced features to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance.
  • Innovation: Deploy new solutions quickly, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Headwinds in Cloud: Skills Remain in Short Supply

According to the IT Skills and Salary report, over half of IT leaders say their team's networking skills fall between medium and low. Relatively few feel confident in their team's abilities in this area (only 7% say they have "high" confidence).

While adopting AWS, your organization may face challenges like skill gaps, cost management, and security concerns. By addressing these effectively through precise planning and skill assessments, your organization can begin leveraging AWS's resources and best practices.

With two-thirds of IT leaders facing a cloud skills gap, upskilling in-house teams becomes crucial. Certifications can bridge this gap, as shown in Skillsoft's IT Skills and Salary Report.

Investing in AWS Certification Training

AWS certification training provides comprehensive resources, hands-on learning, recognized certifications and access to a global community. For IT leaders, this translates to increased team engagement, enhanced customer satisfaction, and better efforts in meeting regulatory compliance.

Certifications make a difference in other ways, too. They lead to shorter resolution times, help projects move faster, make deployments smoother, and ensure employee retention edges up as well.

Why pursue AWS certification?

AWS provides several benefits to IT leaders looking to upskill and train their teams. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Access to a wide range of training resources: AWS offers a comprehensive suite of training resources, including instructor-led courses, self-paced labs, and online tutorials, allowing IT leaders to tailor their training programs to their team's needs.
  2. Hands-on learning opportunities: AWS provides various hands-on learning opportunities, such as AWS Free Tier and AWS Partner Network (APN) sandboxes, so that IT professionals can gain practical experience with AWS products and services.
  3. Industry-recognized certifications: AWS offers a variety of industry-recognized certifications, such as the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional certification, helping IT professionals advance their careers and earn higher salaries.
  4. Access to a global community of experts: AWS has a large and active community of experts, including AWS certified instructors, partners (like Skillsoft), and customers, allowing IT professionals to connect with others and learn from their experiences.
  5. Reduced time to market: IT leaders can use AWS to deploy new applications and services quickly and easily, helping businesses to innovate and gain a competitive advantage.

AWS offers a valuable resource for leaders to upskill and train their teams. Upskilling can boost several aspects of a business's IT operations. Empowering team members to achieve AWS certifications benefits the organization through improved team competence, enhanced credibility, and staying current with the latest technology trends.

AWS certification has the following benefits for your organization:

  • Increased employee engagement and retention: Employees trained and certified in AWS are likelier to be engaged in their work and stay with their company.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: When IT professionals are trained and certified in AWS, they can better support customers and quickly resolve issues.
  • Reduced risk of outages and downtime: When IT professionals are trained and certified in AWS, they can better manage and maintain their infrastructure, which can help to reduce the risk of outages and downtime.

In addition to the benefits listed above, AWS training and certification can also help IT leaders to:

  • Build a pipeline of talent: AWS training and certification can help IT leaders identify and develop future leaders.
  • Attract and retain top talent: Investments in AWS training and professional development can help attract and retain top talent.
  • Meet regulatory compliance requirements: Some industries have regulatory compliance requirements that require training and certification.

Overall, AWS training and certification can provide many benefits to leaders. By investing in AWS training and certification, IT leaders can help their teams develop the skills they need to succeed in the cloud-native world.

How to Map Your Learning Journey

Everyone’s career takes twists and turns, so no two journeys will be the same. However, there are simplified paths that you can use as a guide or map for landing your ideal job or earning a certification. For an architect starting from the very beginning, it may look something like what’s illustrated below. You can find more examples here.

What this shows is a map to the finish line. It shows a starting point, the journey through the middle, and then the final stages before completion. But what does the end look like for you?

This is one of the best places to start. Ask yourself what you want to do or accomplish. What interests you? Are you after a certification or new skills? Answering questions like these can help bring clarity to what the journey ahead may look like — or at least the first few steps.

Keep reading to get more tips and guidance:

Step 1: Setting goals and assessing skills.

  • For learners, it’s important to have a goal to remain organized and motivated. Goals could be skills they want to build or a job they want to hold.
  • After setting their goals, the next step is to assess their knowledge and skills. This could be done through skills assessments. Knowing their strengths and gaps will help inform what training to take.
  • Next, delve into AWS-specific courses to gain in-depth knowledge of AWS services, best practices and roles. Consider training for industry-recognized certifications to validate your skills and stand out to potential employers.

Step 2: Gaining hands-on experience with AWS

  • Utilize AWS's Free Tier to experiment with AWS services and build practical projects without incurring costs.
  • Participate in hands-on AWS workshops and labs to gain practical experience deploying, managing, and troubleshooting AWS infrastructure.
  • Contribute to open-source projects on AWS to gain real-world experience and collaborate with experienced AWS professionals.

Step 3: Exploring Jobs You Aspire to

  • As mentioned, skilled professionals with expertise in AWS are in demand but short in supply. As learners work through their training, they should find opportunities to work with others who sit in the roles they want. This could be informative interviews or meetings, or it could be stretch projects that allow them to contribute to active projects while they learn.
  • Begin building a portfolio to showcase your skills and interests. And gather feedback from your network.
  • Finally, find resources to help you land the job. That could be resume building, interview prep, social networking and more. (See Codecademy’s Career Center to start.)

Step 4: Advancing to more senior AWS roles

  • With experience and expertise, you can progress to more specialty AWS roles.
  • In these roles, you will be responsible for designing, implementing, and managing complex AWS environments, ensuring their security, reliability, and scalability.
  • You will also have the opportunity to mentor and guide junior AWS professionals, contributing to the growth and development of the AWS community.

Step 5: Becoming an AWS expert and leader

  • As you gain experience and expertise, you can establish yourself as an AWS expert and leader in the field. You can contribute to AWS documentation, participate in open-source projects, and speak at AWS conferences to share your knowledge and insights.
  • You can pursue specialized AWS certifications, such as the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty or AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certifications, to demonstrate your expertise further.
  • With continued dedication and expertise, you can advance to senior leadership positions, such as principal engineer or director, overseeing the strategy for an organization and leading a team of highly skilled professionals.

Remember, this is just one potential career journey. You can take many different paths to achieve your goals in the AWS Cloud and AWS services field. The most important thing is to learn, grow and seek opportunities to gain experience.

Start Your Learning Journey Today

AWS offers tech professionals at all levels unprecedented opportunities to enhance skills, innovate, and drive organizational growth. Explore certification training options through Global Knowledge and Skillsoft for comprehensive cloud mastery.

Transform your team with AWS skills. Discover comprehensive AWS certification training at Global Knowledge and Skillsoft, and start your journey to cloud excellence today.