Solutions Architect Associate Exam

  • Its multiple choice and multiple response questions.
  • 130 mins to complete the exam.
  • It contains 65 questions and costs $150 dollars.
  • It requires 720 in order to pass the exam.

Exam Domains

  • The Exam consists of following domains.
  • Design Resilient Architectures
    • Design a multi-tier architecture solution.
    • Design highly available or/ fault-tolerant architectures.
    • Design decoupling mechanisms using AWS services.
    • Choosing appropiate resilient storage.
  • Design High-Performing Architectures
    • Identify elastic and scalable compute solutions for the workload.
    • Selecting high performance and scalable storage solution for a workload.
    • Selecting high performance networking solutions for a workload.
    • Choosing high performance database solutions for the workload.
  • Design Secure Applications and Architectures
    • Designing secure access to AWS resources.
    • Designing secure applications tiers.
    • Selecting appropiate data security options
  • Design Cost-Optimized Architectures
    • Identify cost-effective storage solutions
    • Identify cost-effective compute and database services.
    • Design cost-optimized network architectures

IAM (Identity Access Management)

  • Its a service that provides users,groups,IAM policies.

  • IAM USER: Its an entity that represents a person or a service and you associate IAM Policy directly with the user and it defines its permissions and what the user is allowed to do within AWS environment. Furthermore, a user can be assigned the following.
    • An access key-pair that allows user programmatic access to the AWS API,CLI,SDK and other development tools.
    • A password for access to the management console.
    • By default users can’t do anything within their accounts.
    • the account user crendentials are usually the email address used to create the account and a password.
    • Root account has full admin priviledges and you can think of it as sudo.
    • The best practice is to not use the root crendentials instead create an IAM user assign admin priviledges
    • Never share root crendentials.
    • Make sure you enable MFA.
    • IAM users can be created to represent applications and these are known as service accounts
    • You can have upto 5000 users per AWS account.
    • Each user account has a friendly name and an ARN(Amazon Resource Name) which uniquely identifies the user across AWS.
    • You should always create individual IAM accounts for the users(Not to share them).
    • A password policy can be defined for users enforcing them to have stronger passwords (applies to all users)
  • IAM GROUP: Its a collection of users that have policies attached to them such as group for developers,sys-admins .
    • Its not an identity and cannot be identified as principal in an IAM policy.
    • use groups to assigns permissions to the users.
    • always assign the least priviledges when assigning permissions.
  • IAM ROLES: Think of it as assigning access to the AWS services such as you might set a role for DynamoDB to readonly.
    • They are created and then assumed by trusted entities and define a set of permissions for making AWS requests.
    • with roles you can delegate permissions to resources for users and services without using a permanent credentials.
    • AWS users or services can assume a role to obtain temporary security crendentials that can used to make aws api calls.
  • IAM Policies: They are documents that defines the permissions and can be applied to users,groups and roles.
    • Policy documents are written in json.
    • All permissions are implicitly denied by default.
    • the most restrictive policy is applied.
    • The IAM policy simulator is a tool that helps you understand,test and validate the effects of access controls policies.

IAM Authentication Methods.

  • You can use key-pair access keys and its used for programmatic access especially CLI (You can’t add MFA to this).
    • A combination of access key ID and secret key access.
    • this is used to make programmatic calls to aws when using the api. For example boto. Its also used to access AWS using CLI.
    • you can create,modify,view or rotate access keys.
    • When created IAM returns the access key ID and secret access key.
    • The secret access key is returned only at the creation time and if lost new key must be created.
    • Make sure access keys and secret access keys are stored securely.
    • Users can be given access to change their own keys through IAM policy(Not from console).
    • You can disable user’s access key which prevents it from being used for API calls.
  • Simple username and password method to access the management console.
    • The password that user uses to sign in into aws web console
  • Some AWS services uses signing certificate.
    • SSL/TLS certificates that can be used to authenticate with some AWS services.
    • AWS recommends that you use ACM(AWS Certificate Manager) to provision manage and deploy your server certificates.
    • You can also use IAM only when you need to support HTTPS connections in a region that is not supported by ACM.

MFA (MultiFactor Authentication)

  • Having physical token or soft token that will allow you to access the AWS
    • Soft token can be Google Authenticator
    • Hard Token can be YuBi Key.
    • AWS also provides soft token and physical access keys for MFA.
    • By having two factors of authentication it makes it very secure.

STS (AWS Security Token)

  • STS is a web service that enables you to request temporary, limited-priviledge crendentials for IAM users or for the users that you authenticate (federated users).
  • By default AWS STS is available as global service and all AWS STS requests go to a single endpoint at
  • All regions are enabled by default for STS but can be disabled.
  • The region in which temporary crendentials are requested must be enabled.

AWS Global Infrastructure Overview

  • Region: A geographical area with 2 or more AZs, isolated from other AWS regions. There are 23 regions around the world at the moment.
  • Availability Zone: One of more data centers that are physically separate and isolated from other AZs.
  • Edge Location: A location with Cache Content that can be delivered at low latency to the users. Mostly used by CloudFront for delivering content such as static files or video content.
  • Regional Edge Cache: Also part of the CloudFront network.These are larger caches that sit between AWS services and Edge Locations.
  • Global Network: Highly Available, low latency private global network interconnecting every data center, AZ and AWS region.

VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)

  • Its an isolated section of AWS where you can launch your own resources.
  • Within VPC you can create your own networks with your own IP ranges.
  • A VPC sits within a region and you create an VPC within that region and then you create subnets within that regions that sits within AZs. The subnets can public or private and then we launch resources within those subnets. You can have 5 VPCs within the region by default.
  • A VPC Router is used to communicate within subnets and availablity zones and it has a route table that we can configure and it has an IP address range. Basically every VPC has a CIDR(Classless Inter-Domain Routing) block.
  • You define the IP range for your VPC.
  • You can also attach internet gateway to your VPC that sends requests to the outside internet and for that we need igw-id and IP-ADDR as destination.
  • Internet Gateways allows you to make requests to the public internet and for that we have to add the entry to the route table.
  • Each VPC has its own CIDR block.

EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)

  • Its an elastic service that allows you to launch compute resources on the AWS cloud. In AWS context we call EC2 instances but you can think of them as virual machines.
  • Each instance has an operating system,storage and virtual hard drive.
  • When launching instances you can choose from AWS MarketPlace and Community AMIs.
  • You can connect to EC2 instances using ssh.

Security Groups.

  • These are firewalls that are applied at the instance level.
  • They monitor traffic going in and out of EC2 instances.
  • You can have multiple instances in a security group and you can have multipe security groups applied to the instances.
  • Security groups are stateful.
  • For example having a security group with port 22 access applied to the ec2 instances will allow you to launch secure shell.

Instance Metadata

Instance metadata is data about your instance that can be used to configure or manage the running instance. Its divided into categories and gives you the information about your instance such as hostname,ami-id and etc.

You can run this command within your ec2 in commandline to get the meta data


Instance Userdata

Its basically the information that you can pass into instance when it boots up.

Think of it as a bash script contains all the commands that you need to run when booting up the ec2 instance. This can be your regular ubuntu apt commands. For example

sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt install xyz

You can basically paste this into userdata located in advance details when launching an instance.

you can also make a request to userdata by following command.


Status Checks and Monitoring

You can setup cloudwatch alarms on ec2 instances to help monitor the instances effectively and futhermore you can also install stress tool to perform stress testing on the instances.

Public,Private and Elastic IP addresses.

  • Public IP Address:
    • Lost when the instance is stopped.
    • Used in public subnets.
    • No Charge
    • Associated with private IP address on the instance.
    • Cannot be moved between instances.
  • Private IP Address:
    • Retained when the instance is stopped.
    • Used in public and private subnets.
  • Elastic IP Address:
    • Static Public IP Address.
    • You are charged if not used.
    • Associated with a private IP address on the instance.
    • Note: Elastic Fabric Adapter is a network device that you can attach to reduce latency and increase throughput for distributed HPC(High Performance Computing)

Private Subnets and Bastion Hosts

  • Public Subnets are easily accessible through public internet
  • Private Subnet route table doesn’t have the igw route and its not configured to provide public ip addresses to the instances launched into this.
  • There’s no way to directly manage this instance through the internet.
  • A bastian host is a public instance that you used to jump to private instance and it is also known as jump host and through bastian host you will be able to ssh into your private instance.
  • We use agent forwarding and use the bastian host to connect to the private subnet instance.

NAT Instances and NAT Gateways

  • NAT Instance: Network Address Translation(NAT).Its basically a process of taking the private ip address and translating it to public ip address so it allows you to connect to the public internet.
    • It’s managed by you
    • The only way to scale this is to do it manually which means using a powerful and bigger instance with more resources and enhanced networking with additional bandwith.
    • There’s no high availability and it has to be done manually.
    • Need to assign security groups.
    • Can be used as bastion host.
    • You can use an Elastic IP address or a public address with a NAT instance.
    • Can implement port forwarding manually
  • NAT Gateway: A better version of NAT Instance.
    • Its managed by AWS
    • Its elastically scaled upto 45 GBps
    • Provides automatic high availability within an AZ and can be placed in multiple AZs.
    • No security groups
    • Cannot be accessed through ssh
    • Choose the Elastic IP address to associate with a NAT instance gateway at creation.
    • Doesn’t support port forwarding.
  • Lastly Private Subnet contains nat-gateway-id instead of igw-id and anything that isn’t defined within ip cidr block of private subnet route table is handled by the nat-gateway-id.

EC2 Placement Groups

  • Cluster: packs instances close together inside an Availability Zone. This strategy enables workloads to achieve the low latency network performance necessary for tightly coupled node to node communication that is typical of HPC applications.
    • WHAT: Instances are placed into a low latency group within a single AZ
    • WHEN: Need a low network latency or high network throughput.
    • Pros: Get most out of enhanced networking instances.
    • Cons: Finite capacity recommends launching all you might need upfront.
  • Partition: spreads your instances across logical partitions such that groups of instances in once partition do not share the underlying hardware with groups of instances in different partitions.This strategy is typically used by large distributed and replicated workloads such as Hadoop,Cassandra and Kafka.
    • WHAT: Instances are grouped into logical segments called partitions which use distinct hardware.
    • WHEN: Need control and visibility into instance placement.
    • Pros: Reduces likelihood of correlated failures for large workloads.
    • Cons: Partition placement groups are not supported for dedicated hosts.
  • Spread: strictly places a small group of instances across distinct underlying hardward to reduce correlated failures.
    • WHAT: Instances are spread across underlying hardware.
    • WHEN: Reduce the risk of simultaneous instance failure if underlying hardware fails.
    • Pros: Can span multiple AZs
    • Cons: Maximum upto 7 instances running per group,per AZ.

Few Notes

  • Amazon EC2:
    • Its a compute cloud basically a web service that provides resizeable compute capacity in the cloud.
    • With EC2 you have full control of the operating system layer.
    • You use key-pair to securely connect to ec2 instances using ssh.
    • A keypair consists of public key that AWS stores and private key that we store on our local machine.
    • user-data is a script that you provide when starting an instance.
    • meta-data is the data of your instance that you can use to configure the instance.
  • EC2 Pricing Models:
    • On Demand:
      • No upfront fee.
      • Charged per hour or second
      • No Commitment
      • Ideal for short term needs or unpredictable workloads
    • Reserved:
      • Options: No Upfront,Partial Upfront or all Upfront.
      • Charged by hour or second.
      • 1year or 3year commitment.
      • Ideal for steady-state workloads and predictable usage.
    • Spot:
      • No upfront fee
      • Charged by hour or second
      • No commitment
      • Ideal for cost sensitive, compute sensitive use cases that can withstand interruption. (Batch Processing)
    • Dedicated Hosts:
      • Good for enterprise customers who are looking for isolated environments
  • Amazon EC2 AMIs:
    • An Amazon Machine Image provides the information required to launch an instance
    • An AMI includes the following
      • A template for the root volume for the instance (OS,system,an application server and applications).
      • Launch permissions that control which AWS accounts can use the AMI to launch instances.
      • A block device mapping that specifies the volumes to attach to the instance when its launched (which EBS to attach to the instance).
    • Volumes attached to the instances are either EBS or Instance store.
      • Amazon EBS provided persistent store.EBS snapshots resides on Amazon S3 are used to create the volume.
      • Instance store volumes are ephermeral(non-persistent).this means data is lost when the instance is shut down/
    • AMIs are regional.You can only launch an AMI from the region in which it is stored. However you can copy AMI’s to other regions using console,CLS or API.
  • Elastic Network Interface (ENI):
    • A logical networking component in a VPC that represents a virtual network card.
    • Can include attributes such as IP addresses,security groups,MAC addresses, source/destination check flag,description.
    • You can create and configure network interfaces in your account and attach them to your instances in VPC.
    • eth0 is the primary network interface and cannot be moved or detached.
    • An ENI is bound to an availability zone and you can specify which subnet/AZ you want the ENI to be loaded in.
  • Elastic Fabric Adapter (EFA):
    • An AWS Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) with added capabilities.
    • Enables customers to run applications requiring high levels of internode communications at scale on AWS.
    • With EFA, High Performance Computing (HPC) applications using the Message Passing Interface (MPI) and Machine Learning (ML) applications using NVIDIA Collective Communications Library (NCCL) can scale upto thousands of CPUs or GPUs.
  • ENI vs ENA vs EFA:
    • When to use ENI: This is the basic adapter type for when you don’t have any high performance requirements. Can use with all instance types.
    • When to use ENA: Good for use cases that require higher bandwidth and lower inter-instance latency. Supported for limited instance types (HVM only).

Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling.

Elastic Load Balancing

Load Balancing refers to efficiently distributing incoming network traffic across a group of backend servers.

Application Load Balancer

  • Operates at the request level.
  • Routes based on the content of request (Layer 7)
  • Supports path based routing,host based routing,query string parameter based routing and source IP address based routing.
  • Supports IP addresses, Lambda Functions and containers as targets.
  • Network Load Balancer

  • Operates at the connection level.
  • Routes connections based on IP protocol Data (layer 4)
  • Offers ultra high performance,low latency,and TLS offloading at scale.
  • Can have static IP / Elastic IP
  • Supports UDP and static IP addresses as targets.

Classic Load Balancer

  • Old generation; not recommended for new applications.
  • Performs routing at Layer 4 and Layer 7
  • Use for existing applications running on EC2-Classic instance

Internet Facing VS Internal

  • Internet Facing:
    • ELB nodes have public IPs.
    • Routes traffic to the private IP addresses of the EC2 instances.
    • Need one public subnet in each AZ where ELB is defined.
    • ELB dns name format <name>-<id-number>.<region>
  • Internal only ELB:
    • ELB nodes have private IPs.
    • Routes traffic to the private IPs of the EC2 instances.
    • ELB dns name format internal-<name>-<id-number>.<region>

Elastic Load Balancing

  • EC2 instances and containers can be registered against an ELB
  • ELB nodes use IP addresses within your subnets, ensure at least a /27 subnet and make sure there are at least 8 IP addresses available in that order for the ELB to scale.
  • An ELB forwards traffic to eth0 (primary IP address).
  • An ELB listener is the process that checks for the connection requests:
    • Listeners for CLB provide options for TCP and HTTP/HTTPS.
    • Listeners for ALB only provide options for HTTPS and HTTP
    • Listeners for NLB only provide only TCP as an option

      ELB Security Groups

  • Security Groups control the ports and protocols that can reach the front-end listener.
  • You must assign a security group for the ports and the protocols on the front end listener.

ELB Monitoring

  • CloudWatch every 1 min.
  • ELB service sends information when requests are active.
  • Access Logs:
    • Disabled by Default.
    • Includes information about the client(not included in the Cloud Watch Metrics)
    • Can identify requester IP,request type etc.
    • Can be optionally stored and retained in S3.

      EC2 Auto Scaling

  • You can attach one or more classic ELBs to your existing Auto Scaling Groups.
  • You can attach one or more Target Groups to your ASG to include instances behind an ALB.
  • The ELBs must be in same region.
  • Launch configuration is the template used to create new EC2 instances and includes parameters such as instance family, instance type,AMI,keypair and security groups.
Scaling Option What is it? When to use?
Maintain Ensures the required number of instances are running Use when you always need a known number of instances running at all times
Manual Manually change the desired capacity via console or CLI Use when your needs change rarely enough that you are Ok! to make manual changes.
Schedule Adjust Min/Max instances on specific dates/times or recurring time periods Use when you know you are busy and quiet times are. Useful for ensuring enough instances are available before busy times
Dynamic Scale in response to a system load or other triggers using metrics Useful for changing capacity based on system usage eg if cpu hits 80%

EC2 Autoscaling - Scaling Types

Scaling What is it? When to use?
Target Tracking Policy The scaling adds or removes capacity as required to keep the metric at or close to the specified target value A use case,when you want to keep the aggregate CPU usage of your ASG at 70%
Simple Scaling Policy Waits until health check and cool down period expires before revaluating This is more conservative way to add/remove instances.Useful when load is eratic.AWS recommend step scaling instead of simple in most cases
Step Scaling Policy Increase or decrease the current capacity of your Auto Scaling group based on a set of scaling adjustments known as step adjustments Useful when you want to vary adjustments based on the size of the alarm breach
  • Can also scale based on AWS SQS.
  • Uses a custom metric that’s sent to Amazon Cloud Watch that measures the number of messages in the queue per EC2 instance in the auto scaling group.
  • Then use a target tracking policy that configures your ASG to scale based on the custom metric and a set target value. Cloud watch alarms invoke the scaling policy.
  • Use a custom backlog per instance metric to track not just the number of messages in the queue but the number available for retrieval.

EC2 Autoscaling - Termination Policy

  • Termination policies control which instances are terminated first when scale in event occurs.
  • There is default termination policy and options for configuring your own customized termination policies.
  • The default termination policy is designed to help ensure that instances span AZs evenly for High Availability Zones.
  • The default policy is kept generic and flexible to cover a range of scenarios.

Virtual Private Cloud

  • A Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is logically isolated from other VPCs on AWS.
  • VPCs are regions specific
  • A default VPC is created in each region with a subnet in each AZ.
  • You can define dedicated tenancy for a VPC to ensure instances are launched on a dedicated hardware.
  • The default VPC has all public subnets.
  • Public Subnets:
    • Auto Assign public IPv4 address set to Yes
    • The subnet route table has an attached Internet Gateway.
  • Instances in the default VPC always have both a public and private IP addresses.
  • AZ names are mapped to different zones for different users.

Amazon VPC Components.

  • VPC: A logically isolated virtual network in the AWS cloud. You define VPC’s IP address space from ranges you select.
  • Subnet: A segment of a VPC’s IP address range where you can place groups of isolated resources (maps to sinlge AZ).
  • Internet Gateway: The Amazon VPC side of a connection to the public internet.
  • NAT Gateway: A highly available,managed Network Address Translation (NAT) service for your resources in a private subnet to access the internet.
  • Hardware VPN Connection: A hardware based VPN connection between your AWS VPC and your data center,home network, or co location facility.
  • Virtual Private Gateway: The VPC side of an VPN Connection.
  • Customer Gateway: Our side of a VPN Connection.
  • Router: Routers interconnect subnets and direct traffic between Internet gateways,virtual private gateways, NAT gateways and subnets.
  • Peering Connection: A peering connection allows you to route traffic via private IP addresses between two peered VPCs
  • VPC Endpoints: Enables private connectivity to services hosted in AWS from within VPC without using an Internet Gateway,VPN,NAT Devices or firewall proxies.
  • Egress-only Internet Gateway: A stateful gateway to provide egress only access for IPv6 traffic from the VPC to the internet.

Amazon VPC - Routing

  • The VPC router performs routing between AZs within a region.
  • The VPC router connects different AZs together and connects the VPC to the internet Gateway.
  • Each subnet has a route table the router uses to forward traffic withing the VPC.
  • Route tables also have entries to external destinations.

Amazon VPC - Subnets

  • Types of subnets:
    • If a subnet’s traffic is routed to an internet gateway the subnet is known as a public subnet.
    • If a subnet doesn’t have a route to the internet gateway the subnet is known as private subnet.
    • The VPC is created with a master address range(CIDR block,can be anywhere from 16-28 bits) and subnet ranges are created within that range.
    • New subnets are always associated with the default route table
    • Once VPC is created you cannot change the CIDR block.
    • You cannot created additional CIDR blocks that overlap with existing CIDR blocks
    • You cannot create additional CIDR blocks in a different RFC 1918 range.
    • Subnets with overlapping IP address ranges cannot be created
    • The first 4 and last 1 IP address in a subnet are reserved.
    • Subnets are created within AZs
    • Subnets map 1:1 to AZs and cannot span AZs.

Amazon VPC - Internet Gateways.

  • An Internet Gateway serves two purposes:
    • To provide a target in your vpc route tables for internet routable traffic.
    • To perform network address translation(NAT) for instances that have been assigned public IPv4 addresses.
  • Internet Gateways must be created and then attached to a VPC, be added to a route table and then associated with the relevant subnets.
  • No availability risk or bandwidth constraints.
  • You cannot have multiple Internet Gateways in a VPC
  • Egress-Only internet Gateway provides outbound Internet Access for IPv6 addressed instances.

Amazon VPC - Secuirty Groups

  • Security Group act like a firewall at the instance level (network interface) level.
  • Can only assign permit rules in a security group, cannot assign deny rules.
  • All rules are evaluated until a permit is encountered or continues until the implicit deny.
  • Can control ingress and egress traffic.
  • Security groups are stateful
  • By default, custom security groups do not have inbound allow rules (all inbound traffic is denied by default).
  • By defualt, default security groups do have inbound allow rules (allowing traffic from within the group).
  • All outbound traffic is allowed by default in custom abd default security groups.
  • You cannot delete the security group that’s created by default within a VPC.
  • You can use security group names as the source of destination in other security groups.
  • You can use the security group name as a source in its own inbound rules.
  • Secuirty group membership can be changed whilst instances are running.
  • Any changes made will take effect immediately.
  • You cannot block specific ip addresses using the security groups use NACLs instead.

Amazon VPC - Network ACLs

  • Network ACLs function at the subnet level.
  • With NACLs you can have permit and deny rules.
  • Network ACLs contain a numbered list of rules that are evaluated in order from the lowest number until the explicit deny.
  • Network ACLs have separate inbound and outbound rules and each rule can allow or deny traffic.
  • Network ACLs are stateless so responses are subject to the rules for the direction of traffic.
  • NACLs only apply to traffic that is ingress or egress to the subnet not to traffic within the subnet.
  • A VPC automatically comes with a default network ACL which allows all inbound/outbound traffic.
  • A custom NACL denies all traffic both inbound and outbound by default.
  • All subnets must be associated with a network ACL.
  • You can create custom network ACLs. By default each custom network ACL denies all the inbound and outbound traffic until you add rules.
  • You can associate a network ACL with multiple subnets; however a subnet can only be associated with one network ACL at a time.
  • Network ACLs do not filter traffic between instances in the same subnet.
  • NACLs are preffered option when it comes to blocking specific IPs or ranges.
  • Security groups cannot be used to block specific ranges of IPs.
  • NACL is the first line of defence, the secuirty group is the second.
  • Changes to NACL take immediately.
Security Group Network ACL
Operates at the instance level Operates at the subnet level
Support allow rules only Supports allow and deby rules only
Stateful Stateless
Evaluates all rules Processes rules in order
Applies to an instance only if associated with a group Automatically applies to all instances in the subnets its associated with

Amazon VPC - Connectivity

  • There are several methods of connecting to a vpc and these include
  • AWS Managed VPN
    • What: AWS Managed IPSec VPN Connection over your existing internet.
    • When: Quick and usually simple way to establish a secure tunnelled connection to a vpc; Redundant link for direct connect or other VPC VPN
    • Pros: Supports static routes or BGP peering and routing
    • Cons: Dependant on your internet connection.
    • How: Create a virtual private gateway on AWS and Customer gateway on the on premise.
  • AWS Direct Connect
    • What: Dedicated network connection over private lines straight into AWS backbone.
    • When: Requires a large network link into AWS; lots of resources and services being provided on AWS to your coporate users
    • Pros: More predictable network performance; potential bandwidth cost reduction; upto 10 GBps provisioned connections; supports BGP peering and routing.
    • Cons: May require additional telecom and hosting provider relationships and /or network circuits; costly;takes time to provision.
    • How: Work with your existing data networking provider;create virtual interfaces (VIFs) to connect to VPCs (Private VIFs) or other AWS services like s3 or glacier (public VIFs).
  • AWS Direct Connect plus a VPN
    • What: IPSec VPN connection over private lines (DirectConnect).
    • When: Need the added security of encrypted tunnels over direct connect.
    • Pros: More secure (in-theory) than Direct Connect Alone.
    • Cons: More complexity introduced by VPN Layer
  • AWS VPN CloudHub
    • What: Connect location in the hub and spoke manner using AWSs VPC.
    • When: Link remote offices for backup or primary WAN access to AWS resources.
    • Pros: Reuses existing Internet Connections;supports BGP routes to direct traffic
    • Cons: Dependant on Internet Connection; No inherent redundacny
    • How: Assign multiple Customer Gateways to Virtual Private Gateway, each with their own BGP ASN and unique IP ranges.
  • Software VPN
    • What: You provide your own VPN endpoint and software
    • When: You must manage both ends of the vpn connection for compliance reasons or you want to use a VPN option not supported by AWS
    • Pros: Ultimate flexibility and manageability
    • Cons: You must design for an needed redundancy across the whole chain
    • How: Install VPN software via marketplace appliance of on an EC2 instance.
  • Transit VPC
    • What: Common strategy for connecting geographically dispersed VPCs and locations in order to create a global network transit center.
    • When: Locations and VPC-deployed assests across multiple regions that need to communicate with one another.
    • Pros: Ultimate flexibility and manageability but also AWS-managed VPN hub-and-spoke between VPCs
    • Cons: You must design for any needed redundancy across the whole chain
    • How: Providers like cisco,juniper networks and riverbed have offerings that work with their equipment and AWS VPC
  • VPC Peering:
    • What: AWS provided network connectivity between two VPCs
    • When: Multiple VPCs need to communicate or access each others resources.
    • Pros: Uses AWS Backbone without traversing the internet.
    • Cons: Transitive peering is not supported
    • How: VPC peering request made; accepter accepts the request (either within or across the accounts)
  • AWS Private Link:
    • What: AWS provided network connectivity between VPCs and or AWS services using interface endpoints.
    • When: Keep private Subnets truly private by using AWS backbone to reach other AWS or Marketplace services rather than the public internet.
    • Pros: Redundant;uses AWS backbone
    • How : Create endpoint for required AWS or Marketplace service in all required subnets;access via provided DNS hostname.
  • VPC Endpoints:
Interface Endpoint Gateway Endpoint
What Elastic Network Interface with a private IP A gateway that is a target for a specific route
How Uses DNS entries to redirect traffic Uses prefix lists in the route table to redirect traffic
Which services API Gateway,CloudFormation,CloudWatch Amazon S3,DynamoDB
Security Security Groups VPC Endpoint Policies

Route 53

According to wikipedia, Amazon Route 53 is a scalable and highly available Domain Name System. It was lauched in December 2010 and has been part AWS since then. Route 53 allows you register domain name for your service and it offers following functions:

  • Domain Name Registry.
  • DNS Resolution
  • Health Checks of the resources

Route 53 is located alongside of all edge locations and when you register a domain with Route 53 it becomes the authoritative DNS server for that domain and creates a public hosted zone.

Route 53 also you to transfer your domains to it as long as it supports TLD(Top Level Domain) is supported and you can even transfer to another registrar by contacting aws support.

You can also transfer a domain to another account in AWS however it does not migrate the hosted by default(optional) and its also possible to have domain registered in one aws account and hosted zone in the other aws account

Route 53 also allows you have to private DNS which lets you have authoritative DNS within your VPCs without exposing DNS records to the public internet.

Lastly you can use AWS Management Console or API to register new domain names with route 53

Route 53 Hosted Zones

  • A hosted zone is a collection of records for a specified domain.
  • A hosted zone is analogous to a traditional DNS zone file; it represents a collection of records that can be managed together.
  • There are two types of zones
    • Public Hosted Zone: Determines how much traffic is routed on the internet
    • Private Hosted Zone for VPC: Determines how traffic is routed within VPC (Not accessible outside of VPC).
  • For Private hosted zones you must set the following VPC settings to true
    • enableDnsHostname
    • enableDnsSupport You also need to create a DHCP options set.

Route 53 Health Checks

  • Health checks ensures the instance health by connecting to it.
  • Health can be pointed at:
    • Endpoints (IP addresses or Domain Names)
    • Status of other health checks
    • Status of cloudwatch alarm

Route 53 supports most of the DNS record types; Alias record is specific to Route 53 and its pointed to DNS name of the service.

CNAME vs Alias

Route 53 charges for CNAME queries Route 53 doesn't charge for alias queries to AWS resources
You cannot create a CNAME record at the top of a DNS namespace (zone apex) You can create ALIAS record at the zone apex (You cannot route to a CNAME at the zone apex)
A CNAME can point to any DNS record that is hosted anywhere An alias record can only point to a CLoudFront distribution,Elastic BeanStalk,ELB,S3 bucket as a static site or to another record in the same hosted zone that you are creating the alias record in

Route 53 Routing Policies

Policy What it does
Simple Simple DNS response by providing the IP address associated with a name
Failover If primary is down(based on health checks) routes to secondary destination
Geolocation Uses geographic location you are in (eg US) routes to closest location
Geoproximity Routes you to the closest region within geographic area
Latency Directs you based on the lowest latency routes
Multivalue answer Returns several IP addresses and functions as a basic load balancer
Weighted Uses the relative weights assigned to resources to determine which route to
  • Simple
    • An A record is mapped to one or more IP addresses.
    • Uses round robin
    • Does not support health checks.
  • Failover:
    • Failover to a secondary IP address.
    • Associated with a health check
    • Used for active-passive
    • Can be used with an ELB.
  • Geolocation:
    • Caters to different users in different countries and different languages.
    • Contains users within a specific geography and offers them a customized version of the workloads based on their specific needs.
    • Geolocation can be used for localizing the content and presenting some or all of your website in the language of the users.
    • Can also protect distribution rights.
    • Can be used for spreading load evenly between regions.
    • If you have multiple records for overlapping regions,Route 53 will route to the smallest geographic region.
  • Geoproximity:
    • Use for routing the traffic based on the location of resources and optionally shift traffic from resources in one location to resources in another.
  • Latency Based Routing:
    • AWS maintains a database of latency from different parts of the world.
    • Focused on improving performance by routing to the region with the lowest latency.
  • Multi-value answer:
    • Use for responding to the DNS queries with upto 8 healthy records selected at random.
  • Weighted:
    • Similar to simple but you can specify a weight per IP address.
      • You create records that have same name and type and assign each record a relative weight.

Route 53 Traffic Flow

  • Route 53 traffic flow provides Global Traffic Management services.
  • Traffic flow policies allow you to create routing configurations for resources using routing types such as failover and geolocation.
  • Create policies that route traffic based on specific constraints,including latency,endpoint health,load,geo-proximity and geography.
  • Scenarios:
    • A backup page in Amazon S3 for a website.
    • Building routing policies that consider an end users geographic location,proximity to an AWS region,and the health of each of your endpoints.

Route 53 Resolver

  • It’s a set of features that enable bi-directional querying between on-premise and AWS other private connections.
  • Used for enabling DNS resolution for hybrid clouds.
  • Route 53 Resolver Endpoints.
    • Inbound query capability is provided by Route 53 Resolver Endpoints,allowing DNS queries that originate on-premises to resolve AWS hosted domains.
    • Connectivity needs to be established between your on-premise DNS infrastructure and AWS through a DirectConnect or a VPN.
    • Endpoints are configured through IP address assignment in each subnet for you would like to provide a resolver.
  • Conditional Forwarding Rules:
    • Outbound DNS queries are enabled through the use of Conditional Forwarding Rules.
    • Domains hosted within your on-premise DNS infrastructure can be configured as forwarding rules in Route 53 Resolver.
    • Rules will trigger when a query is made to one of those domains and will attempt to forward DNS requests to your DNS servers that were configured along with the rules.
    • Like the inbound queries,this requires a private connection over DX or VPN.

AWS Global Accelarator

  • AWS Global Accelarator is a service that improves the availability and performance of applications with local or global users.
  • It provides static IP addresses that act as a fixed entry point to application endpoints in a single or multiple AWS Regions, such as ALB,NLB or EC2 instances.
  • Uses AWS Global Network to optimize the path from users to applications,improving the performance of TCP and UDP traffic.
  • AWS Global Accelarator continually monitors the health of the application endpoints and will detect an unhealthy endpoint and redirect traffic to healthy endpoints in less than 1 minute.
  • Uses Redundant (two) static anycast IP addresses in different network Zones (A & B).
  • The redundant pair are globally advertized.
  • Uses AWS Edge Locations - addresses are announced from multiple edge locations at the same time.
  • Addresses are associated to regional AWS resources or endpoints.
  • AWS Global Accelarator IP addresses serve as the frontend interface of the applications.
  • Intelligent traffic distribution: Routes connections to the closest point of presence for applications.

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service is a object storage service built to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere in the internet.

  • Amazon S3 is a distributed architecture and objects are redundantly stored on multiple devices across multiple facilities (AZs) in an Amazon S3 region.
  • Amazon S3 is a simple key-based object store.
  • Amazon S3 provides a simple ,standard-based REST web services interface that is designed to work with any Internet-Development toolkit.
  • Files can be from 0TB to 5TB.
  • The largest object that can be uploaded in a single PUT is 5 gigabytes.
  • For objects larger than 100 MegaBytes use the Multipart Upload capability.
  • Event notifications for specific actions, can send alerts or trigger actions.
  • Notifications can be sent to:
    • SNS Topics
    • SQS Queues
    • Lambda functions
    • Need to configure SNS/SQS/Lambda before S3
    • No extra charges from S3 but you pay for SNS,SQS and Lambda.
  • Provides read after write consistency for PUTS for new objects.
  • Provides eventual consistency for overwrite PUTS and DELETES(Takes time to propogate).
  • S3 is made up of the following:
    • Key (name)
    • Value (data)
    • Version ID
    • MetaData
    • Access Control Lists
S3 Capability How it works?
Transfer Accelaration Speed up data uploads using CloudFront in reverse
Requester Pays The requester rather than the bucket owner pays for the requests and data transfer
Tags Assign tags to objects to use in costing,billing,security and etc
Events Trigger notifications to SNS,SQS,or lambda when certain events happen in your bucket
Static Web Hosting Simple and massively scalable website hosting
BitTorrent Use the BitTorrent protocol to retrieve any publicly available object by automatically generating a .torrent file
  • You can use S3 for following:
    • Backup and Storage: Providing data backup and storage services for others
    • Application Hosting: Provides services that deploy,install,and manage web applications.
    • Media Hosting: Building a redudant,scalable,and highly available insfrastrucute that hosts video,photo,or music uploads and downloads.
    • Software Delivery: Hosting software applications that customers can download.
    • Static Website: Hosting static sites such as html pages or blogsite.

Amazon S3 Buckets

  • Files are stored in the bucket:
    • A bucket can be viewed as a container for objects.
    • A bucket is a flat container of objects.
    • It doesn’t provide a hiearchy of objects.
    • You can use an object key name(prefix) to mimic folders.
  • 100 buckets per account by default.
  • You can store unlimited objects in your buckets.
  • You can create folders in your buckets
  • You cannot create nested buckets.
  • An S3 Bucket is region specific.

Amazon S3 Objects:

  • Each object is stored and retrieved by a unique key (ID or name).
  • An object in S3 is uniquely identified and addressed through:
    • Service end point.
    • Bucket Name
    • Object Key
    • Optionally an object version
  • Objects stored in a bucket will never leave the region in which they are stored unless you move them to another region or enable cross-region replication.
  • You can define permissions on objects when uploading and at any time afterwards using the AWS management console.

Amazon S3 Sub-resources

  • Sub resources (configuration containers) associated with the buckets include:
    • Lifecycle - define an object’s lifecyle.
    • Website - configuration for hosting static sites.
    • Versioning - retain multiple versions of objects as they are changed
    • Access Control Lists (ACLs) - control permissions access to the bucket.
    • Bucket Policies - control access to the bucket.
    • CORs (Cross Origin Sharing Resources).
    • Logging

Amazon S3 Storage Classes

  • Storage classes include:
    • S3 Standard (durable,immediately available,frequent access)
    • S3 Intelligent-Tiering (automatically moves data to the most cost effective tiering)
    • S3 Standard-IA (durable,immediately-available,infrequent access)
    • S3 One Zone-IA (lower cost for infrequently accessed data with less resilience)
    • S3 Glacier (archieved data,longer retrieval times)
    • S3 Glacier Deep Archive (lowest cost storage class for long term retention).

Amazon S3 Multipart upload

  • Multipart upload uploads objects in parts independently, in a parallel and in any order.
  • Performed using the S3 Multipart upload API.
  • It is recommended for objects larger than 100MB or 100MB
  • Can be used for objects from 5MB upto 5TB.
  • Must be used for objects larger than 5GB.

Amazon S3 Copy

  • You can create a copy of objects upto 5GB in size in a single atomic operation.
  • For files larger than 5GB you must use the multipart upload API.
  • Can be performed using the AWS SDKs or REST API.
  • The copy operation can be used to:
    • Generate additional copies of the objects.
    • Renaming the objects
    • Changing the copy’s storage class or encryption at rest status
    • Move objects across AWS locations/regions
    • Change object metadata.

Amazon S3 Transfer Accelaration

  • Amazon S3 Transfer Accelaration enables fast,easy,and secure transfers of files over long distances between your client and your S3 bucket.
  • S3 Transfer Accelaration leverages Amazon CloudFront’s globally distributed AWS Edge Locations.
  • Used to accelarate object uploads to S3 over long distances (latency)
  • Transfer accelaration is as secure as a direct upload to S3
  • You are charged only if there was a benefit in the transfer times
  • Need to enable transfer accelaration on S3 bucket.
  • Cannot be disabled, can only be suspended

Amazon S3 Encryption

Option How it works
SSE-S3 Use S3's existing encryption key for AES-256
SSE-C Upload your own AES-256 encryption key which uses S3 uses when it writes objects
SSE-KMS Use a key generated and managed by AWS KMS
Client-Side Encrypt objects using your own local encryption process before uploading to S3

Amazon S3 Performance

  • Measure Performance
  • Scale Storage Connections Horizontally
  • Use byte-range fetches
  • Retry Requests for Latency-Sensitive Applications
  • Combine Amazon S3 (Storage) and Amazon EC2 (Compute) in the Same AWS Region.
  • Use Amazon S3 Transfer accelaration to minimize Latency Caused by the distance.

Amazon CloudFront

Cloud front is web service that distributes content with low latency and high data transfer speeds. Its usually used for dynamic,static,streaming and interactive content. For instance Netflix might use this service to deliver their content globally.

  • CloudFront is Global Service:
    • Ingress to upload objects.
    • Egress to distribute the content
  • You can use a zone apex DNS name on cloudfront
  • CloudFront supports wildcard CNAME.
  • Supports SSL certificates, Dedicated IP, Custom SSL and SNI Custom SSL (Cheaper)
  • You can restrict access to the content using the following methods:
    • Restrict access to content using the signed cookies or signed URLs.
    • Restrict access to objects in your S3 bucket.
  • A special type of user called an Origin Access Identity (OAI) can be used to restrict access to content in an Amazon S3 bucket.
  • By using an OAI you can restrict users so they cannot access the content directly using the S3 url,they must connect via CloudFront.

Amazon CloudFront Edge Locations and Regional Edge Caches

  • An edge location is the location where the content is cached.
  • Requests are automatically routed to the nearest edge location
  • Edge locations are not tied to Availability Zones or Regions
  • Regional Edge caches are located between origin web servers and global edge locations and have a larger cache.
  • Regional Edge Caches have a larger cache-width than any individual edge location so your objects remain in cache longer at these locations.
  • Regional Edge caches aim to get content closer to users.

Amazon CloudFront Origins

  • An origin is the origin of the files that CDN will distribute.
  • Origins can be either an S3 bucket,an EC2 instance,an ELB,or Route 53 - can also be external.
  • A custom origin server is a HTTP server which can be an EC2 instance or an on-premise/non AWS web servers.
  • Amazon EC2 instances are considered custom origins.
  • Static sites on Amazon S3 are also considered custom origins.

Amazon CloudFront Distributions

  • There are two types of distribution.
  • Web:
    • Static and Dynamic content including .html,.js or .css.
    • Distributes files over HTTPS or HTTP
    • Add,update,or delete objects and data from submit forms.
    • Use live streaming to stream an event in realtime.
  • RMTP:
    • Distribute streaming media files using Adobe FLash Media Server’s RTMP protocol.
    • Allows an end user to begin playing a media file before the file has finished downloading from a CloudFront edge location
    • Files must be stored in an S3 bucket.

Amazon CloudFront Charges

  • You pay for:
    • Data Transfer out to Internet
    • Data Transfer out to Origin
    • Number of HTTP/HTTPS Requests
    • Invalidation Requests
    • Dedicated IP Custom SSL
    • Field Level encryption requests.
  • You don’t pay for:
    • Data transfer between AWS regions and Cloudfront
    • Regional Edge Cache
    • AWS ACM SSL/TLS Certificates
    • Shared Cloudfront certificates

Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store)

  • EBS volumes are network attached storage that can be attached to EC2 instances.
  • EBS volume data persists independently of the life of the instance.
  • EBS Volumes do not need to be attached to an instance.
  • You can attach multiple EBS volumes to an instance.
  • You cannot attach an EBS volume to multiple instances (Use EFS instead).
  • EBS volume data is replicated across multiple servers in AZ
  • EBS volumes must be in same AZ as the instances they are attached to
  • Root EBS volumes are deleted on termination by default.
  • Extra non-boot volumes are not deleted on termination by default.
  • The behavior can be changed by altering the DeleteOnTermination attribute.

Note: These are comprehensive and covers almost everything but if you like to add more to it feel free fork this and create a PR. I would be happy to add your new changes