Alibaba Cloud is the top cloud platform in Mainland China and its is having huge presence in China and expanding in APAC, Middle East and US regions quickly.
I got to know about Double 11 which is like Black Friday in Mainland China so I attended couple of webinars and one In person Fireside chat in which the VP of Alibaba Group, Dr Li Fei Fei shared how Alibaba team was able to handle the massive scale of their eCommerce and other technical details. I was really impressed by hearing the whole talk and he shared not only about the success but about the challanges which they faced in the prepration of Double 11.
So I planned to explore about Ali Cloud or Alibaba Cloud. I signed up for the account which is something like mix of Dollar’s credits as well free tier services for a year but this trial is bit different than other cloud platform as Alicloud offered different type of pricing which is (Subscription and Pay as you go) so trial offering are covered by Subscription model, I will cover about Ali cloud pricing model in differnt post in detail but lets focus on what cloud certification they have to offer.
I was playing with Ali cloud platform for 2-3 weeks and then decided to prepare for its entry level certificaiton exam which is ” ACA Cloud Computing Certification“, you can say it is similar to GCP Associate Engineer and AWS Solutions Architect Associate but not that much tough than AWS Exams.
So after playing with all the basic major services I appeared for exam and I can say it seems like easy at first because of True/False kind of question but after 12 question I found some challenging one on which I really need to use my brain. I will share the tips below in this post. But After going through 50 question in approx an hour I submit the exam and got my result as Passed. Below is the Badge I got in 24 hours after my exam
ACA Exam Prepration and Tips
If you are planning to start your Alicloud Journey then I would suggest to open the Ali cloud console and play with it. This exam is not covering too many services but all the basics for any cloud platform is covered better. Below is the services you really need to know for passing this exam
1. ECS- Its not AWS ECS containers its Elastic Compute Server which is IAAS virtual Machines so this is the biggest topic covered in the exam. Start creating small machine and understand the each options from the console. Small machines are dirt cheap so you can spin multiple to get a flavour how alicloud is pitching its IAAS Services. You will find it will be bit different that other cloud platform from the console experience but let me tell you its about terminology different rest naming convention of instances, login methods etc are the same basics.
2. OSS- This is Object Storage Service which is like AWS S3, GCP Cloud Storage. if you ever played with AWS S3 then you will find the similarity in this and its easy to use.
One tip I can share that OSS can support 48.8TB size of a single Object or file.
3. RDS- This is relation Database service which is Managed by Ali Cloud and they are offering covering 3 Database engines (MySql, PostgreSQL, MSSQL) so have a look at its different pricing which will suit for HA purposes and which engine support Read Replica. You are expected to know about these for exam.
4. SLB- This is Server Load Balancer which comes in 2 different flavor i.e TCP/L4 and HTTP/S/L7 so have a look at documentation to know the features comparision.
One tip for exam is that SLB doesn’t support Cross Region load balancing at this point of time but it support Cross zone Load Balancing inside a Region.
5. Auto Scaling- You will see lot of question covering the Auto scaling scenarios so really you need to know about its basics, different steps and types like On demand scaling, Schedule Scaling etc. The best way to learn is to get your hands dirty in console.
6. Security: Without any Security topic there is not cloud and there is no cloud certification so learn about how Ali cloud is protecting data in transit and rest. How different kind of Anti DDos Services work. this can be good scoring topic but question comes with a trick so better you prepare by playing in console.
One Tips Anti DDOS basic version can handle the Data Rate of 5Gb/s so if the attack is bigger then Pro or premium version is required. Keep remember which version works in Mainland China and which is for other regions.
7. VPC- Thsi provide the isolated network area in your account to host your infrastructure but I found its not covered that much in this exam even I don’t think any single question related directly to VPC but just know that vSwitch is Sub nets and vRouter is internet gateway.
8.General Cloud Computing: Few question will cover the basic of Cloud computing concepts which you can prepare easily and these question are good scoring one so have a look on how Alicloud build its Infrastructure.
One Unique thing about Alibaba Cloud is if you are planning to start your business in Mainland China so they will help you to get ICP Filing which is required to host your website in any Chinese region so you can get benefits. Expect some question around that also which is very straight forward.
You can watch my exam tips video also which is below. I usually share my experience after the exam.
In Exam you will see first 15 mins a tutorials to use the exam portal which is really unique I found than other exams portal. You can switch to any question at any time. so total 90 mins is allowed for this exam and You can mark questions for review. One thing which Alibaba made public about exam is that weighteg of question from each section which you can refer their official documentation here
You can use the official training for which you need to pay some small fees but personally I used documentation as I feel this is not hard exam so I was going to all the Major topics mentioned in the exam outline and started playing inside console. Even I spend around $30 for services which is optional if you don’t want to spin the big size instances and RDS etc.
Once you submit the exam you will get you result immediately and you have to use two Info i.e CandidiateID and Registration no from the Person portal to download your Badge and Certificate like below. It took around 24 hours after I was able to connect my alibaba academy account with the pearson account to get the certificate, score card and badge.
Alibaba cloud is its own market share and it is expending at faster pace so if you planning to deal with Mainland China Market then you can explore Alibaba Services also. On the Cloud Services side they have big no of services ranging all kind of databases, Compute, Big Data, AI/ML, IOT, Security which can be helpful to know if you are going to use the platform for production environment. In the Professional and Expert Level exams I feel they are covering it well. I will surely learn more about Alibaba Cloud Platform and sit for Professional exam near future.
All the best and do share your experience in comments one you appear for the exam.