There have been a number of updates of which examinees need to be aware.
Ten years of Architecting for the Cloud
Republished these days as the Well-Architected Framework, the original “Architecting for the Cloud: Best Practices” by Jinesh Varia was published in January 2011; it remains incredibly relevant & insightful today, even though the number of services available at that time was miniscule (I make it fifteen… what’s your tally?) compared to the mind-boggling ecosystem of infinitely customisable tools we enjoy in 2021.
The multiple areas of expertise needed by a AWS certified solutions architect, can be seen as fundamental principles, pillars, concepts… whatever metaphor helps hammer home the fact they’re each well-defined and indispensable.
This year the split of Domain weightings has been updated, with AWS adding a 5th category as follows:
- Design Resilient Architectures increased its weighting, from 30% to 34%
- Design Performant Architectures: down, from 28% to 24%
- Design Secure Applications & Architectures: up, from 24% to 26%
- Design Cost-Optimised Architectures: down, from 18% to 10%
- [NEW] Define Operationally Excellent Architectures is introduced, at 6%
It’s important to note that distinction between Resilience and Security — we’re talking about resilience to disaster in the face of infrastructure & related failures, vs security to defend against malicious steps taken by bad actors.
To me this is an indication of Amazon’s increasing worries about, and ability to deal with, incidents (inevitable e.g. Solar Flares as well as low-likelihood e.g. an earthquake hitting the UK). Perhaps some day they will grow to encompass roles as a utility provider, to have better control & predictability as to electrical outages and backup power sources for use in either case. Indeed the word “utility” features four times in the white paper (for link see intro, above); thrice as the root of the term “utility-style” used to describe pricing of cloud services, and once in this science-fiction sounding (but completely true-to-life!) paragraph that has proved the author’s foresight:
The day is not too far when applications will cease to be aware of physical hardware. Much like plugging in a microwave in order to power it doesn’t require any knowledge of electricity, one should be able to plug in an application to the cloud in order to receive the power it needs to run, just like a utility. As an architect, you will manage abstract compute, storage and network resources instead of physical servers. Applications will continue to function even if the underlying physical hardware fails or is removed or replaced. Applications will adapt themselves to fluctuating demand patterns by deploying resources instantaneously and automatically, thereby achieving highest utilization levels at all times. Scalability, Security, High availability, Fault-tolerance, Testability and Elasticity will be configurable properties of the application architecture and will be an automated and intrinsic part of the platform on which they are built.
Amazon EC2 R5B Instances certified for SAP
R5B instances can utilize up to 60 Gbps of Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) bandwidth and 260K IOPS (I/O operations per second), when you need to run those large relational database workloads. That means significantly higher EBS performance (10 Gbps EBS bandwidth on small instances up to 60 Gbps on large). Based on the “next generation” AWS Nitro System, R5Bs deliver that bandwidth capability without your having to resort to using custom drivers or recompiling your applications. So, finally, AWS is performant on large/demanding SAP Netweaver/HANA database workloads.
Increased support Oracle
Amazon RDS for Oracle now supports the Oct-2020 Patch Set Updates (PSU) for Oracle Database 22.214.171.124 Enterprise Edition (PSUs contain bug fixes and other critical security updates, so the news is hugely welcome).
It also now allows you to set system events using the rdsadmin.rdsadmin_util.set_system_event procedure. Check out the docs for Common DBA system tasks for Oracle DB instances.
It never seems a month goes by without some enhancement in the console, whether that’s an improved Search experience or Redshift enjoying a flashy new, increasingly navigable, sidebar and dashboard view… before taking the exam, ensure you’re up-to-date with each service as it appears in the browser.
If you’re taking the exam this year, best of luck! To keep abreast of changes be sure to check the official maintained list at whats-new/2021.