The AWS Solutions Architecture team is a diverse group of technologists from a variety of backgrounds. AWS Solutions Architects work hand in hand with customers to help them make the most of the cloud. They are at the crossroads of business and technology and engage with organisations at all stages of cloud adoption.
During these virtual events, a panel of AWS Solutions Architects discuss their experience of being an SA at AWS, the impact their work has on their customers, and finally open up to the audience to answer your questions.
The panel will discuss the following:
- About our unique backgrounds and career paths
- Customer engagement examples
- SA driven initiatives, and the impact they have had on our customers
How is the work life balance of an SA?
Liz: For me I can work outside normal hours as I talk with the US team regularly but I also can take time back to do things that would be hard to fit in otherwise so I’d say that it’s up to the SA to make sure they manage the workload to still leave time for things outside of work and we are encouraged to do this by our leadership team.
What does career progression look like for an SA?
Liz: You can progress technically and stay as an Individual Contributor, or follow a Management path if that’s what you prefer but there are so many more routes for you. You can work with service teams or move into the support organisation.
What resources do you use to keep up to date with all the AWS services?
Liz: I use public resources like our docs and workshops but also we get to have internal training from experts in different areas when we want to dive deep on a subject. I also try things out to see how I can make things work.
How much coding skill is required to be an SA?
Emilia: Programming skills are not required to become an SA, however, an SA role often involves a high level understanding of code. Knowing at least one programming language will help to bring you up to speed while deploying workloads in AWS, as building is the best way to learn AWS services.
What is the path to take to become an SA?
Emilia: There is no single defined path to become an SA. If you are passionate about technology, love to learn new tech and enjoying problem solving you have already 3 main prerequisites needed for the role. As an SA, you will be looking at the bigger picture considering all components of the architecture; therefore, it is helpful to have some base understanding of all main technical stacks such as networking, databases, containers, web apps etc. It doesn’t mean you need to know all of them before applying; learning is a part of the role and you will have the time to acquire needed knowledge while transitioning into SA. You can also choose to become a Specialist SA, where you can focus only on one area of tech, where you feel most comfortable at, e.g. Networking Specialist SA, Databases Specialist SA etc.
What is the difference between an SA and TAM role?
Emilia: Solutions Architects work closely with customers on the “art of possible” and architectural improvements of their current workloads. SAs are helping customers to design the tech stack, suggesting correct services based on the workload requirements, making sure that customers are following best practices of Well Architected Framework and give general guidance when navigating on AWS. SAs can build demos for customers, deliver workshops to enable/unblock customer to progress with the project and bring specialised resources if further help is needed.
TAM comes with an Enterprise Support and is almost like a part of the customer team. TAM is a designated technical point of contact, that works closely with the customer, often attends ongoing meetings and planning activities. TAM proactively makes sure that customers operations and workloads are running smooth, helps in the onboarding process, may take part in internal customer meetings and supports long term projects from the operational perspective. In case of an incident, TAM is available for the customer at all times to help troubleshoot and bring the workload back to fully operational state. Following the incident, TAM works closely with the team to identify the issue and makes sure to eliminate the source of the incident and improve the workload to avoid it happening again in the future.
Which AWS certification do you find most applicable to your job?
Laura: I think all of them are closely related to my daily job - Most of the certifications have overlapping topics but each one of them adds an extra layer of information like SysOps goes into Cloud Watch in depth, so as SA it is still very relevant. However, if I have to choose one I would probably go with the Solutions Architect Associate and Professional.
Do you have any advice on how to get commercial experience?
Laura: Commercial experience is a very broad topic - I think one of the things technical people struggle the most is translating business problems into technical solutions and explaining the solution in simple words. Therefore, I would recommend reading about our working backwards methodology and challenge yourself about what the business reason behind technical solutions is and then try to explain it to a non-technical person.
How does a solutions architect associate differ from a solutions architect profession?
Laura: Professional, as its name suggests, goes more in depth and explores more specific challenges that customers may challenge in AWS, for example how to do a blue/green development with no down time. While the associate gives you all the foundations from networking, security and compute side in order to have an app running in the cloud.