AWS Birthday Treat – Free QwikLabs

Barry Stevens
April 18, 2016

Amazon Web Services have just turned 10 and they gave a present away. For about half of March, they made all of their QwikLabs free.
What is a QwikLab you ask? Who better to answer than AWS themselves (Thanks, QwikLab FAQs)

“A qwikLAB is an online learning environment along with a set of instructions to walk you through a live, real world and scenario-based use case. In a Lab, you will have access to the actual environment you want to learn about, not a simulation or demo environment. You can access the Lab environment from anywhere on the Internet using a standard browser. “

I have been on a couple of AWS courses and currently hold my “AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level” certification (due to expire in October 2016) however I thought it would be a good idea to take this opportunity to do a few QwikLabs while they were free. In my mind I think it was a good decision (others may disagree); I was able to look at some AWS services that we at OptimalBI have not used in anger before, I was able to see how some of the services worked together and last but not least they were good little refreshers for the services I have used in the past.
The individual labs generally consist of a Lab Guide, file with the txt commands required (saves typing), and an AWS environment configured for the lab (which means you don’t need an AWS account). A Lab Guide contains an Overview, Topics covered, a good summary and explanation of the services used, and a step by step guide through the tasks required to complete the lab.
One particular feature of the QwikLabs I liked was the concept of quests or badges. Again from the QlikLab FAQ’s

“qwikLABS Quests are introductory and advanced learning paths that consist of a collection of labs organized by technologies, specific services (e.g. Amazon Web Services) and practical use cases.”

Some of the quests I managed to complete were:

Compute & Networking

Working with services related to Compute and Networking, including Amazon EC2, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).

Deployment & Management

Working with services related to Deployment and Management, including AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS CloudFormation, and AWS OpsWorks.

Storage & CDN

Work with services related to Storage and Content Delivery Networks, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon CloudFront.

Solutions Architect – Associate – Exam Prep

Helps you get hands-on practice with several key services as you prepare for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam.

So by completing all these labs does that mean I am an expert in AWS services? Certainly not. However, it has given me a good high-level exposure to how all the services interact and has given me a level of hands-on experience on some of the services I haven’t used.
Would I say they are value for money? I am not sure about that like I said these were free for a few days so I took the opportunity; I am not sure I would have done them if they were not free. I personally think they should be free all the time (to enable people to get easy exposure to the AWS services). Note some intro Labs are free.
Would I recommend the labs to others? Well, that depends on what you want. I would definitely recommend them to someone who has very little exposure to the AWS Services, however, they are probably a little too basic for a black belt or someone who uses AWS in real anger every day.


Barry, Preventer of Chaos

Barry Stevens is part of our Data Ops team who specialises in SAS Administration, helping you prevent chaos.

Connect with Barry on LinkedIn or read some of his other blogs here.

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