Cloud Journey I, Associate Trifecta+

Jul 4, 2021

Last June I completed the AWS Associate Trifecta (SAA, SOA, DVA) and the Google Professional Cloud Architect (PCA). It's been quite a journey. But like Aristotle once said, "The more you know the more you realize you don't know."

I have just a little over a decade's worth of software development experience. I have been designing and building solutions in GCP for three years and AWS for at least a year. I've been part of large enterprise teams and have helped build small start up teams.

It took me more than a year to complete the 4 certifications from March 2020 to June 2021. In truth most of the preparations lasted 4-6 weeks. I spent most of the year working on both cloud platforms and gaining actual experience.

Exam CodeExam NameScorePreparation
SAA-C01AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate958/10006 weeks
GCC-PCAGoogle Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud ArchitectPASSED8 weeks
SOA-C01AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate884/10004 weeks
DVA-C01AWS Certified Developer - Associate959/10004 weeks

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

February 2020

I've worked with GCP on my side projects for close to 2 years when my previous company decided to start migrating our projects to the cloud. Unfortunately (or fortunately) AWS was the vendor of choice. This meant I had to learn. And I had to learn fast if I wanted to be part of this process.

I enrolled in CAMP8 which was a six week in-class learning that had an eight-hour on-site session every Saturday. I didn't plan to take any certification but the class came with an exam voucher. The first thing we did was schedule for the SAA-C01. This allowed us to set a clear goal for the class and kept everyone on their toes.

I wanted to make the most of the class. Since my company had a free Udemy Business subscription for each employee, I enrolled the course by Stephane Maarek so I could go through the topics in advance. When I encountered anything complicated I would discuss them with the instructor during the Saturday class.

For the practice exams I took the AWS Practice Exam and additional practice exams through the Udemy Course by Neal Davis. By the end of the six weeks, I was scoring above 85% and felt confident in sitting for the actual exam.


Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect

March 2021

A year after passing the SAA-C01, I decided to sit for the PCA exam. I've had more than three years of experience working with GCP. And my new role in my new company has allowed me to work with both GCP and AWS environments for the past year.

Google provides a well defined learning path for each of their certifications so there was no need to enroll in class or other on-demand courses. For PCA, this includes 5 courses and 33 labs. I booked the exam six weeks in advance then created a plan and schedule where I would go through the courses and labs for two hours every night until my exam week.

For the practice exams, there is one offered by Google for free but it's not as comprehensive compared to the available resources for the AWS exams. Additional time was spent going through the Case Studies which was something I didn’t have to do for SAA.


AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate

May 2021

Immediately after passing GCC-PCA, I booked the SOA-C01 for the end of the month giving me around 4 weeks of preparation time. By this time I had discovered the /AWSCertifications subreddit and had some idea on what training resources people were using.

Funny enough Stephane Maarek which I used for my SAA-C01 preparation came highly recommended. I enrolled in his course and reviewed the AWS White Papers and Service FAQ pages as part of my preparations.

For the practice exams, I used Jon Bonso's course in Udemy. I’ve read good reviews for his courses and they did not disappoint.

The exam covered a lot of the services that I rarely used. Among the three associate exams this one was personally the hardest.


AWS Certified Developer - Associate

June 2021

To maintain the momentum, I booked the DVA-C01 for the end of the month giving me the same 4 weeks of preparation time.

Satisfied with the previous results I again enrolled for Stephane Maarek’s course in Udemy. There is an overlap with the SysOps exam so I was able to cut the preparation needed by skipping on the sections covered in the previous course. There is a lot more hands-on experience included with this course which I found to be most helpful for this exam.

For the practice exams, I again used Jon Bonso’s course in Udemy. I have belatedly found that these are also offered in their TutorialsDojo website for a fraction of the price and more testing modes. If you plan to but have not yet purchased their exams, I would advise going through their site instead of Udemy.

Maybe due to my developer background or the compounding experience of preparing for the three associate exams, I’ve found DVA-C01 to be the easiest of the three.


Next Steps

July 2021

At the end of the day, the certificates are only worth the knowledge you acquire as part of the learning process. My preparations for the three associate exams have allowed me to fill a lot of gaps in my AWS knowledge.

Achieving the last three certificates in the last three months has also put me on a one certificate per month streak. I'm currently preparing to sit for the Security Specialty (SCS-C01) at the end of July to keep the momentum going. The final goal is to knock down the two professional exams (DOP-C01, SAP-C01) before the year ends.