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AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Study for and pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate level exam
Linux Academy
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Pass the 2018 version of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect (associate) level exam.

Welcome to Linux Academy’s AWS Certified Solutions Architect (associate level) course.  This course has been developed to provide you with the requisite knowledge to not only pass the current version of the AWS CSA certification exam but also gain the hands-on experience required become a qualified AWS Solutions architect working in a real-world environment.

As part of this course, we are happy to introduce “The Orion Papers“, which is an innovative new teaching tool that we have created specifically for this course. The Orion Papers is a visual, interactive guide filled with live diagrams and AWS knowledge that you can use as your own personal study resource. 

As an added bonus to all who enroll, we have made a select group of Linux Academy’s Hands-On Labs and flashcards available for free to all students who wish to take advantage of them.  Instructions on how to access these bonus features will be provided during the course.  (NOTE: These bonus features are not a required part of the course. they are an addition you can choose if you so wish).


Welcome to the AWS CSA - Associate Level Course

Welcome to the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate level course. This is to prepare you to take the 2018 version of the AWS Solutions Architect Associate level certification. In this introduction video, we discuss the recommended prerequisites and ways to get the hands-on experience that AWS is looking for.

About the Author

This is a short video about me, your author, Wayde Gilchrist. Throughout this course, I will endeavor to impart wisdom from my years of experience using AWS.

Introduction to the Orion Papers

In this video, we introduce the Orion Papers; your interactive course manual and study guide.

The link to the Orion Papers: https://interactive.linuxacademy.com/diagrams/TheOrionPapers.html

About the Exam

In this video, we talk about the exam itself: The format, logistics, and how the questions break down by domain

What is a Solutions Architect?

In this lesson, we will review what it means to be a solutions architect. We'll list the foundational areas of competence that every AWS solutions architect must have.

Introduction to the Well Architected Framework

In this lesson, we introduce the five pillars of the Well Architected Framework: Operational Excellence, Reliability, Security, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization.

AWS Free Tier: Usage Tracking and Billing Widget

This video gives you a walkthrough on how to use the AWS Free Tier Tracking and Billing Widget for you own AWS Account!

Free Linux Academy Community Account (required for bonus labs and flashcards)

AWS Structure and Organization

Exploring the AWS Account and Services Layer

This covers the organization of AWS from an account and services perspective and how it is represented in the Orion Papers.

Exploring the AWS Physical and Networking Layer

This covers the organization of AWS from a physical and networking perspective and how they are represented in the Orion Papers.

Essential CSA Terminology

In this lesson, we discuss key terminology that is required for the AWS exam, and that you will need to know to be an AWS Solutions Architect.

Shared Security Responsibility Model and Attributes

In this lesson, we discuss how security on AWS is a shared responsibility between AWS and you, the customer.

Access Management

Console Tour and Navigation: Settings and Account Management

In this lesson, we will take a look at how to navigate around the AWS console to find important items; such as account settings, AWS support, and AWS documentation.

IAM (Identity and Access Management)

IAM Essentials

This lesson is an introduction to IAM as an access management service; covering common uses of IAM and how it is structured.

IAM Policies

This lesson covers the ins-and-outs of IAM permissions and policies. This is how you grant access to your AWS users to your AWS resources.

IAM Users

Exploring more of IAM, here we learn about IAM users, including how they are created and how policies are used to grant users access to AWS resources.

IAM Groups

Moving from users to groups, here we explore how groups are used to manage the application of policies to IAM users.

IAM Roles

IAM roles allow us to grant permissions to our services without using permanent credentials, which run the risk of compromise. IAM roles are preferred for cross-account access and applications running on EC2.


API Access Keys are used to grant access to AWS Services programmatically. IAM Users receive permanent access keys, while STS can provide keys with a shorter lifetime.

Identity Federation

AWS offers easy ways to authenticate users outside of AWS using the Identity Federation. In this lesson, we will look at using Web Identities, SAML, and custom Identity Providers.

AWS Organizations

Many AWS Customers have multiple AWS accounts which can be difficult to control. AWS has a feature called AWS Organizations that allows you to group AWS Accounts into Organizational Units (OUs) and apply service control policies at the OU or account level, which restricts the use of specific AWS Service APIs.

QUIZ: AWS IAM Fundamentals for the Solutions Architect
Hands-On Lab "Introduction to AWS Identity and Access Management" (optional)

Server Based Compute Services

EC2 Essentials

Welcome to the start of the EC2 section of the CSA course. This lesson will introduce you to the essentials topics for EC2 and outline what you will learn in this section.

EC2 AMIs and Virtualization

The first step when provisioning an on-demand EC2 instance is to choose the Amazon Machine Image (AMI). This lesson reviews what an AMI is and discusses its various components.

EC2 Instance Types

In step two of the instance creation process, you need to select an appropriate instance type. This lesson reviews what an instance type is and what its components are.

Instance Details and Bootstrapping

In this lesson, we configure EC2 instance details such as networking options, IP addressing, and bootstrapping.

EC2 Storage Options

In this lesson, we explore EBS and Instance store options for your EC2 instance and the use cases for each.

Security Groups and Key Pairs

In this lesson, we'll create a security group and assign it to an EC2 instance. We'll then launch an instance and connect it with an SSH key pair.

EBS Snapshots

Backups are an essential part of maintaining a durable application. This lesson will teach you about snapshots, which are an easy and scalable way to create backups of EBS volumes.

EC2 Placement Groups

In this lesson, we will learn about EC2 placement groups, including what they are, why they exist, and some important troubleshooting tips.

EC2 Purchasing Options

EC2 is very versatile in that there are several different ways to purchase instances, all based on your needs. In this lesson, we review the three main EC2 purchasing options that you need to know.

Hands-On Lab "Provisioning a Linux EC2 Instance in AWS" (optional)

Elastic File System (EFS)

EFS Essentials

In this lesson, we will learn the essentials of AWS Elastic File System (EFS), including what it is and its benefits.


QUIZ: AWS EC2 Fundamentals for the Solutions Architect

Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

VPC Essentials
VPC Network Routing Basics

How does data travel in and out of the AWS VPC? If you have customers access your web application, what are all the components you need in place to make sure the traffic is routed properly? Well, hit that play button and learn all about AWS VPC routing.

VPC Security Basics

Security is something you always need to be thinking about when setting up your networking architecture. This lesson covers AWS's two core networking security features: network access control lists and security groups

QUIZ: AWS VPC Fundamentals for the Solutions Architect
Hands-On Lab "Building an AWS VPC from Scratch" (optional)

High Availablity

Elastic Load Balancing

AWS provides three types of Elastic Load Balancer services. In this lesson, we contrast their features and use cases.

Serving Traffic To and From Private Subnets

In this lesson, we introduce the use and purpose of a Bastion Host and NAT Gateway. Both are key elements in creating a more secure architecture.

VPC Endpoints

Sometimes our instances in a VPC need to communicate with services with public endpoints, such as S3 and DynamoDB. In this lesson, we learn how to create VPC endpoints for these services so that our data does not go over a public network.


Autoscaling is one of the compelling reasons to migrate to the cloud. In this lesson, we will show how to configure your environment to automatically scale.

Making your Applications Stateless

A stateful application can limit the effectiveness of autoscaling and load distribution. It can also cause problems for your users if instances are terminated. In this lesson, we discuss how to make your applications stateless.

High Availability versus Fault Tolerance

You should always architect for High Availability, which means launching resources in multiple AZs. However, a special case of High Availability is Fault Tolerance, which requires additional resources.

QUIZ: High Availability on AWS for the Solutions Architect

DNS, CDN and Failover Networking

Route 53 Essentials

In this lesson, we introduce AWS's DNS service, Route 53, which has some special features for AWS workloads.

Route 53 DNS Failover

In this lesson, we review the process for configuring Route 53 for DNS failover to an S3 bucket.

QUIZ: AWS Route 53 and CloudFront Concepts for the Solutions Architect

Database Services

Database Terminology

In this lesson, we cover some basic database terminology in addition to the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases. We also introduce several managed database services from AWs.

Relational Database Services

RDS Essentials

RDS is a popular managed service option for launching relational databases on AWS. In this lesson, we discuss the features and advantages of RDS and also discuss AWS's own database engine, Aurora.


DynamoDB Essentials

In this lesson, we describe the Document NoSQL service, DynamoDB, and show how to create and populate a simple table.


Neptune Essentials

In this lesson, we introduce AWS's graph database service, Neptune, and present a social network as an example use case.


ElastiCache Essentials

In this lesson, we introduce ElastiCache, a managed service for deploying and operating Memcached and Redis clusters.


Redshift Essentials

In this lesson, we discuss the managed data warehouse service Redshift and its features and services. We also introduce Redshift Spectrum, which allows you to query exabytes of data in an S3 bucket.

Database Quiz

QUIZ: Databases on AWS for the Solutions Architect

Storage Services

S3 Essentials

Simple Storage Service (S3) is a form of Internet object storage that can be used for backups, documents, streaming, and complete static websites. In this video, we present a high-level overview of some key features of S3 such as its very high durability.

S3 Components

In this lesson, we discuss the features and properties of buckets, objects, and folders in S3.

S3 Features

In this lesson, we discuss key S3 features including:

  • Versioning

  • Storage Classes

  • Lifecycle Policies

  • Event Notifications

  • Permissions

Website Hosting with S3

In this lesson, we show how to setup S3 to host a static website and to use S3 to serve content that can be executed by a different domain.


In this lesson, we discuss the features of Amazon Glacier and how to use it for archival storage.

Transferring Data into S3

In this lesson, we talk about several options for transferring data into S3 buckets including: Single PUT operationMultipart UploadS3 Transfer AccelerationSnowball, Snowball EdgeSnowmobileStorage Gateway

In this lesson, we talk about several options for transferring data into S3 buckets including:

  • Single PUT operation

  • Multipart Upload

  • S3 Transfer Acceleration

  • Snowball, Snowball Edge

  • Snowmobile

  • Storage Gateway

QUIZ: Amazon Storage Service Concepts for the Solutions Architect

Hybrid Environments

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

In this lesson, we discuss the concept of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and the various components required to make a VPN connection work.

AWS Direct Connect

This lesson focuses on AWS Direct Connect, including its components and benefits.

VPC Peering

This lesson introduces the concept of VPC peering and demonstrates the steps for peering two VPCs.

QUIZ: AWS Hybrid Environments for the Solutions Architect

Application and Messaging Services

SNS Essentials

In this lesson, we cover how to use the Simple Notification Service by creating a topic, adding subscribers, and adding a message to the topic.

Simple Queue Services

SQS Essentials

In this lesson, we focus on Simple Queue Service (SQS) and how it can be used to loosely couple application components to make the overall application more fault tolerant.

Amazon MQ

Amazon MQ Essentials

In this lesson, we discuss Amazon MQ; a managed message broker on AWS that uses opensource APIs and protocols. We demonstrate creating a broker and using the ActiveMQ console.

Simple Workflow Services (SWF)

SWF Essentials

In this lesson, we talk about Simple Workflow (SWF); a service that you can use to orchestrate the components of your application. We describe some use cases for SWF and what you have to do to set up a workflow that is orchestrated by SWF.

API Gateway

API Gateway Essentials

In this lesson, we discuss API Gateway, a service that allows you to front backend API services.

Application Services Quiz

QUIZ: AWS Application Services for the Solutions Architect
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