Posted by: Vikas Sahni | July 19, 2013

My first AWS Boot Camp

I got an opportunity to learn about the Amazon offerings in the Cloud Computing arena from an Amazon architect recently. As many of you know, I love to share what I have learned. Therefore, having delivered a number of Windows Azure boot camps in Dublin, Cork and Galway during the past year, I decided to do one on AWS last month.

Over 40 people turned up on Saturday 22nd June at the National College of Ireland in Dublin to learn about AWS and do some hands-on work.
I divided the day into three sessions, starting off with an overview lecture, the second one was a whistle stop demo, and then the hands-on lab.
For the overview session, I used the Overview document available at http://awsdocs.s3.amazonaws.com/gettingstarted/latest/awsgsg-intro.pdf.

The breadth of the AWS offerings is so vast that most of this 90 minute session was spent just describing the graphic on Page 2 of this document, reproduced below for your convenience:

AWS Overview

After a well-deserved coffee break, I logged into the AWS Management Console at https://console.aws.amazon.com and gave a quick demo of EC2, S3, RDS and CloudWatch.  Oh yes…before starting the demo, I requested the attendees to just watch, and not try to do the steps at the same time – that was for the afternoon hands-on session.  Some of the participants were more management and less hands-on, so this format of the boot camp allowed such people to get the knowledge they were looking for and leave during the lunch break.

After lunch, I was pleasantly surprised by the attendance – only a couple of people excused themselves, the rest were all there!  In the morning, I had asked people as to what they were looking to get out of the day.  Based on their responses, I had identified three distinct areas of interest – spinning up Virtual Machines in EC2, creating static web sites in Amazon S3 and using AWS Elastic Beanstalk for development work.  Therefore, the participants split into three groups and started off using AWS.

Within a couple of minutes, the developers were the first ones to call me over – they were evenly split between PHP and .Net!  The solution was simple, I just asked the group to split into two!!!

The rest of the afternoon went smoothly.  By 4 pm, a number of different instances using different AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) were up and running, two static web sites had been deployed, and one PHP and another .Net application was live.

At this point, I asked people to share their learning experience with the other teams.  Before I could put some structure to this, the participants decided that the best way was for them to take turns going over to other tables.

By the end of the day, everybody had done some hands-on work on AWS and had learnt from each other how easy it was to use Amazon in other areas.

A Saturday well-spent getting over forty people started doing hands-on with AWS!  There may be more events in the near future, so follow me (@sahnivi) on twitter if you are interested.

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