AWS certifications are de facto in the industry nowadays, and they set the benchmark that other cloud providers are following. However, with the maturity of services and adoption with different use cases, AWS is trying to update its exams.
In Jan’22, AWS announced that they would update one of its most challenging exams, i.e., AWS Networking Specialty, which tests a lot of core and advanced networking services of AWS.
I registered for the beta exam, and today 26th Mar’22, I sat for it. I want to share a bit about the purpose of a beta: “Beta exams are scheduled to collect the feedback of exam structure, topics and if there is any discrepancy in the content and to take feedback if the exam is fulfilling the AWS Standards.” A few new topics are included, and a few cases are tested with new features. Most of the time, there is no specific course and practice test as it is in the beta phase, and exam content is not finalized. Usually, beta exams are longer than the regular exam. I gave to date 8 Beta exams in the last 3-4 years (6 GCP and 2 AWS).
I am not in favor of the Practise test nowadays. I believe that certification exams are not academic exams and let it be on your experience basis rather than a just target to pass it.
Now coming to my exam experience, I would like to say that I will fail Beta this exam. It was in-depth on a few topics that I have not experienced yet in implementation.
I took the entire 220 mins for this exam, and there were 85 questions in the beta exam; usually, there will be around 75 questions in 180 mins. I took this exam from the center as it was lengthy, and in my experience, most of the time, pen and paper are allowed in centers which helped me draw some architecture diagrams and create scenarios of questions.
These are the topic I recommend preparing in detail.
1. Transit Gateway (Direct Connect, AWS VPN, VPC Attachment, TGW Peering, Security between different VPCs, Bandwidth Limit, Etc.)
2. Elastic Load Balancing (Application Load Balancer, Network Load Balancer, Gateway Load Balancer, gRPC, Etc.)
3. Route 53 (Public Hosted Zone, Private Hosted Zone, DNS Resolver, DNSSEC, Etc.)
4. AWS Firewall Manager
5. Cloudfront vs. Global Accelerator
6. VPC Flow Logs
7. Direct connect (BGP, MACsec, LAG, Public VIF, Private VIF, Direct Connect gateway, Multi-Account and Multi-Region Sharing, Etc)
8. Transit Gateway vs. Peering
9. Private Link/Interface Endpoint & Gateway Endpoint
10. API Gateway, Jumbo Frames (ENA), EKS/ECS Networking (AWS CNI Plugin)
11. KMS, ACM, AWS VPN, Transit VPC, SD-WAN, Etc. (Hint – AWS VPN only support IPSEC)
12. CloudFormation, Config, Lambda, Auto-scaling, AWS Organisation, IAM, SQS, Eventbridge, CloudWatch Log Group (These were present in the question as well options scenario) Knowing all these will be the critically important part to understanding the question.
All Questions were scenario-based, and few questions I can say that if you know the basics of AWS VPC, then it was straightforward, and you can find the correct options in 30 seconds as its length exam, so there was much reading. However, even I learned many new possibilities from the possibilities of which I was not aware.
In most of the questions, I was able to find two wrong options quickly, and another piece of info I can share is that 50% of the exam were asked to choose two or more options.
I recommend the below resources for the preparation
PAID Courses –
1. AWS Networking Specialty Course by Stephen M and Chetan A – I finished this course, and I like the way Chetan effortlessly explained the complex topics, especially Gateway LoadBalancer Demo and AWS VPN.
2. AWS Networking Specialty Course by Adrian Cantrill – I recently purchased this, and I followed his other courses, and he is one of the best instructors; I started his practice recently and will publish my detailed review in the future.
I suggest taking only one course and focusing more on practice in your AWS account.
Youtube videos I recommended to watch
1. AWS Networking Foundations re: invent 2021 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QoFt8so9hI
2. Advance VPC Design and New Capabilities – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi3vcenH6UY
Follow the below playlist to cover most of the above topics – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QoFt8so9hI&list=PL2yQDdvlhXf8LwUXEjfwfT9Yd0fFf4H-G
Topics which I see no coverage
1. AWS Cloud MAP
2. Control Tower
4. AWS Client VPN
At last, I would like to say that this exam is a bit hard, and the basis of Networking is a must. I don’t see too many questions on calculating the CIDR or Subnet ranges but knowing is essential for actual customer environment execution. If you are planning to appear for this exam, then I want to say that make the proper planning as its lengthy, expensive and in-depth exam. Passing an exam is one thing, but learning the understanding from your experience will make the exam an easy thing. I will work on most of the new services in the coming time and then will sit for again.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me or drop in a comment.
Take care and All the Best.