ACloudGuru Review: AWS SysOps Exam Prep.

Have you thought about taking an AWS certification? If you have you might have stumbled across a learning platform called ACloudGuru?

I had thought about taking an exam for quite some time to help with various projects. But I finally got around to it and I’m currently about half way through my preparation for the AWS SysOps administrator exam using a site called ACloudGuru.

Today I wanted to talk you through some of my initial impressions using the ACloudGuru product and my motivations for taking an exam. Lastly I’ll give you some insight into the whole process to help you better understand if taking an AWS exam could be for you and whether ACloudGuru could help.

Today, I’ll we’ll cover: 

  • What ACloudGuru is (and why you should care).
  • Why you should consider an AWS certification (or at least, why I am).
  • What ACloudGuru is like (and my first impressions).

What is ACloudGuru? 

Firstly, let’s quickly cover what ACloudGuru is, just incase you’re not familiar.

ACloudGuru is an online learning platform focused on Cloud technologies.

ACloudGuru have online video-based courses that teach the main cloud platforms such as AWS, GCP and Azure. They cover varying disciplines such as: Architecture, Big Data etc. And to supplement the courses they have quite a large online community / forum and lots of supporting resources such as videos and articles on varying cloud-related topics.

Why I’m Taking An AWS Certification? 

Okay, that covers off what ACloudGuru is, the next question is: Why bother?

Firstly, there are many reasons that people might want to take a certification (such as the AWS ones). But rather than give you a big ol’ list of the reasons for taking a certification, I’ll explain my own personal motivations. And I’ll start by spoiling the ending!

The main reason I’m taking an AWS certification is: structure (of learning, that is).

If you’ve been (or thought about becoming) a software engineer you will know how much learning is involved. As Software Engineers, we’re constantly learning. So that means being efficient about how we spend our time can really make a difference. And if you’re anything like me, you do spend time learning.

but if we’re really honest, our learning can be (for lack of a better word) quite random.

After quite a few years now of sporadic learning, watching video’s and reading articles. I couldn’t help but feel that some of my knowledge had holes. And my thought process was: If I can go through a more structured learning process, I’ll be able to patch some of these knowledge gaps. And ultimately, that will give me greater confidence in my work life.

So by taking an AWS certification I’m now forcing myself to go back through the basics.

ACloudGuru Review

Okay — that’s enough pre-amble — let’s get to the good stuff.

The good and the bad of ACloudGuru (or what I’ve experienced so far).

How Good Is ACloudGuru For AWS Certifications Specifically?

I should say before I get into this question that ACloudGuru doesn’t only cover AWS. They also cover: GCP, Azure and other things like tools such as Serverless and Docker, etc. But, since I’ve been going through their AWS course let’s focus on that.

One of the cool things about ACloudGuru is how targeted it is for the AWS exams. I think pretty much from the start ACloudGuru was centred around building practical cloud skills. And mostly the courses are specifically designed to help you pass the different cloud exams. They even have a prep guide: Which is basically a meta course that teaches you about the AWS courses.

To make things even easier (in addition to the focused courses) ACloudGuru has learning paths. The learning paths essentially comprise multiple AWS exams and additional content all tied together with a pretty bow. They have a really cool overview page that shows your progress. Here is the AWS Architect learning path which is the one I’m loosely following — hello sweet structure, how I love thee!

I think the focus of the product is one of its biggest selling points. Especially when you compare ACloudGuru to other platforms like Pluralsight, for instance. Pluralsight can be quite overwhelming with its many courses, and it lacks the focus that ACloudGuru gives. The small focused feel also comes across in the way the courses are delivered. Most of the content is curated by a small team which makes the whole experience feel more inviting and less clinical. Sometimes the online learning platforms can feel like a content sausage factory.

How Are ACloudGuru Courses Structured?

Okay, so I said that structure was important. But there are lots of variables that go into it: How is the content sectioned? Is it all video content? How much is hands on?

Each video is very short, sometimes as little as a few minutes, and often no more than twenty minutes. The short video length means you can watch / take notes on video’s in small chunks like on the train doing a commute. Which, for me has also made a big difference for tracking my progress (and not feeling lost in it all). ACloudGuru provides some neat tooling that shows you how far you are through, and it’s nice to glance over the overview pages and watch all the modules get ticked off.

Should you sign up?

And, that’s it! I really just wanted to share a little about the platform and my experience, hopefully to make you sufficiently curious to check it out. Maybe in future when I’ve tried out other platforms I’ll do a comparison. I’ll also definitely come back once I’ve completed my exam to do a write up of how it went in the end! It seems so far, my experience has been pretty good. I’m already putting into practice a lot of what I’ve learned (which is the point, right?) and I’m excited to see where it leads!

If you’re keen to get started with AWS, check out this article on how to setup your AWS account (so that you don’t get hacked).

Have you taken an online course? How was your experience?