AWS Bites Podcast

9. How do you get started with AWS?

Published 2021-11-04 - Listen on your favourite podcast player

In this episode, Eoin and Luciano try to answer a beginner question: how to get started with AWS. Special thanks to Adam Mann for suggesting this question!

AWS is so big that it doesn’t make any sense to try to learn it all! It’s better to learn the fundamentals and then focus on specific areas of interest to get the best out of AWS.

But what are these fundamentals and where do I start if I have a background as a web developer? Check out this episode to find out!

In this episode we mentioned the following resources:

Let's talk!

Do you agree with our opinions? Do you have interesting AWS questions you'd like us to chat about? Leave a comment on YouTube or connect with us on Twitter: @eoins, @loige.

Help us to make this transcription better! If you find an error, please submit a PR with your corrections.

Luciano: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of AWS Bites, the weekly show where we answer questions about AWS in more or less five minutes. My name is Luciano and today I'm joined by Eoin, but before we get started I want to ask you to make sure you give us a follow and subscribe so you can be notified every time we publish a new episode. This question is, how do you get started with AWS? It's a very exciting question and I have to thank Adam Mann for suggesting that question on LinkedIn. So, Eoin, what do you think? How would you get started with AWS?

Eoin: Yeah, well, first things first, I think one of the things you do need to get started with is a credit card. And you know, that's not really great because if you're a student or if you're someone coming from a less privileged background, that's not a simple thing to make sure you have. And then also you need to be aware of your cost because there's no way to cap your cost and have guarantees. So that's the first thing and you need to get that out of the way first because right now that is the only way you can get started and create an AWS account. What do you think yourself, what would you recommend for somebody who's coming to you saying, I want to get into AWS, where do I start? Yes, I think the problem with AWS is that it's incredibly big.

Luciano: Like there is so much you could possibly learn that I think it's not humanly possible for one person to know everything that there is to know in AWS. So with that being said, of course you need to pick an area of interest. So I would probably ask somebody like, what do you already know? What are your skills that maybe you can learn something in AWS to try to amplify those skills? And I think that the very common use case that I'm seeing is you maybe are a full stack web developer, you never use AWS, maybe learning how do you deploy a full stack web application in AWS can be useful because at that point you are kind of expanding your skills and also learning how to ship your code to production. So that's maybe one angle you could take when approaching AWS. And yeah, but at the same time, there are maybe things you cannot escape, right? How do you feel about that? Yeah.

Eoin: Okay. You've got probably around 200 services. You have to focus on something. There's always going to be the fundamental services that you can't escape. And while you don't have to learn them completely when you start off, you have to be aware of them. I am, I am is one of them. So you need to understand how to manage roles and policies and what the essential details are around that. There can be a lot of complexity to it, but it's good to get started with that pretty early.

Also understanding users and security and how they relate to roles and policies is important because you need to know when you're doing something that isn't secure from the start, especially when your credit card is behind it again, right? So IAM is another one. S3 is a service you probably you're not going to avoid for long. And it's also quite simple to get started with. So much, much more understandable and very useful and broadly, broadly applicable across lots of different things.

So those are the, those are a couple of fundamentals. And I'd say that when you're starting to learn about services, there's a couple of different ways of doing it. You can use the web console, the AWS management console. It's quite a good way to visually create resources and understand how they work. But I would say as early as possible, you should try and think about getting into creating resources as code and using infrastructure as code.

So cloud formation or Terraform are good tools for that. And the reason I'd recommend those, even when you're getting started pretty early on, is that they're very good for helping you understand how these services are actually configured under the hood, what their properties are and how they relate to each other. So it helps you to build a good mental model. And it's also just a good practice to build up anyway. But the other fundamental that of course is important relating to cost is to understand billing and cost and usage reports, or to have some way of getting insight into your costs, because it's always something you have to be aware of. It's a tool you need in your developer toolkit on AWS. What do you think? Have I missed anything there?

Luciano: I think you gave a pretty comprehensive idea on things you're definitely going to bump into. So it's better to approach them early and also that they can help you to learn faster all the different concepts in AWS. One thing that I want to add is that probably after everything we just said, you still might not know where to start, because again, it's kind of a jump in the dark. It's very hard to pick an area and just start.

So if that's the case, I'm going to give you an opinionated recommendation. Just start with the serverless framework and try to build an API. There is plenty of tutorials out there. So just pick whatever seems the most comprehensive or easier to you. And the interesting thing is that you're probably going to learn about how to build an API, how to configure API gateway and Lambda and use maybe DynamoDB as a back end to store the data.

And all these things are core competencies that are going to be very valuable for you. One reason is because they are very on demand in the market. They are growing a lot in popularity. So definitely there is going to be a lot of adoption in the future. And the other thing is that with those skillset, as somebody that is just studying or maybe starting to build some products, it's something that can allow you to build different things very quickly.

So you can easily put things in production without having to learn. I don't know. How do you manage an EC2 instance or a server? How do you put those things in production? How do you maintain them? You don't need to worry about all this stuff. You just learn the minimum required to ship code to production and run it, which I think is something very useful to have in your skillset if you're starting as a web developer especially. Okay. So with that being said, I think that's all we have for today. So thank you very much for listening and definitely let us know what you think in the comments. If you started using AWS in a different way, we are really curious to know what was your path. So definitely share that with us. And if you enjoyed this episode, please give us a thumbs up and remember to follow and subscribe. With that, we'll see you next time. Bye. And we'll see you next time.