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Hone your AWS expertise to adapt in an AppDev world

New and experienced IT pros alike struggle to gain the AWS know-how to stay relevant in an evolving space. These five tips highlight top technologies and skills you need in 2017.

AWS' oft-dizzying pace of service and feature releases leaves many cloud architects, administrators and developers scrambling to keep up. Waiting for services to move from beta to generally available can even delay adoption; IT teams want services that have been tested, are relatively bug-free and definitely fit their needs.

But what about companies that are new to public cloud and, specifically, to AWS? How can their IT staff maintain a base level of knowledge when more experienced counterparts struggle to keep up? And what technologies continue to up the ante on desirable skills?

Tips covering AWS expertise were particularly popular in the first half of 2017, as readers tried to determine how best to bolster their AWS education. Since the beginning of this year, SearchAWS has examined the value of certifications and other training methods, while offering step-by-step advice to implement advanced concepts or new features in a cloud deployment. Here are the five most popular resources on AWS skills -- so far.

1. Acquire the AWS expertise you need

Legacy IT professionals often struggle just to acclimate to the cloud. With so many AWS tools and services -- not to mention a plethora of companies that offer AWS training and certifications -- it's best to start with what you know before moving into new waters.

Some skills transfer to the cloud better than others, and using some tools or services can require more hands-on experience than others. The AWS expertise you need for security operations, or SecOps, methodologies vary greatly from those needed to implement or manage internet of things devices and networking. This tip explores ways that experienced job seekers can approach the cloud transition --such as setting up a sandbox environment -- and address the concept that most frightens them: automation.

2. Gain extra credibility with these certification types

It's never a bad idea to put in the work and obtain AWS or other cloud certifications.

It's never a bad idea to put in the work and obtain AWS or other cloud certifications. Beginners can aim for an associate-level certification, while more experienced IT pros can go after higher, professional-level certs. AWS even has separate tests for different types of professionals -- architects, developers, operations and other specialty categories.

But which certification types do enterprises value most? Each type opens up different career opportunities, with some more in demand -- and less attainable -- than others. In this tip, several executives advise on which certification is the truest test of mettle and know-how.

3. IT pros embrace automation as Big Three push container agenda

Once you have basic AWS expertise, it's time to gain an understanding of the emerging tools and technologies associated with its services. And containers should be on the top of the list.

Containers grew in popularity thanks, in part, to their ability to make multipart applications portable and shareable. But they're not intuitive to work with. As containers become the status quo in application development, developers need a container orchestration service to efficiently manage containerized apps. The Big Three cloud providers offer their own services for container workload management and scheduling. Contributor George Lawton compares Amazon EC2 Container Service to similar technologies from Google and Azure and gives advice on when to use -- or not use -- each option.

Even experienced IT teams can struggle to keep AppDev approaches in line with business objectives, especially when cloud providers offer services with similar features. The final decision often comes down to dollars and cents.

4. Serverless know-how enables dev teams to build multi-platform apps

AWS Lambda support for the C# programming language was a hit with developers at AWS re:Invent 2016. The multithreaded C# language helps dev teams create scripts for new APIs to integrate Lambda with other services, such as CloudFormation and DynamoDB. So, what does C# support mean for serverless developers?

Serverless computing will play a prominent role in the future of cloud computing, and enterprises already use it to replace standard VMs in many deployments. But AWS Lambda comes with caveats that require a skilled approach. C# scripts can help integrate Lambda with other services, but common Lambda issues, such as function timeouts, permissions issues and monitoring functions, can arise.

5. What it takes to avoid AWS performance bottlenecks

AWS provides companies with managed cloud services, lowering the learning curve on many IT processes. One example of this is Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), which enables an admin to define the order in which the system processes strings of data and other messages. Amazon SQS has taken on extra importance as distributed applications have grown in popularity, as those individual components need to keep humming along for the app to be healthy.

First-in, first-out (FIFO) queues work for a variety of specific use cases, including transactional processes. But while FIFO queues are an asset to developers who want to process tasks in sequential order, they have some tradeoffs. As SearchAWS expert Chris Moyer writes, developers must work to prevent bottleneck and retry issues with specific policies and API calls.

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