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Beginners Guide to AWS - Part 1

Before We Begin

So I recently took the AWS SysOps Certification back in March of this year. A tough test, but one I was well prepared for. One of the biggest parts of the test was on Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud, which is just a fancy name for the virtual network that AWS allows you to set up under your account. Just keep in mind that it would really help to have some previous knowledge of basic networking before reading on. This is geared towards newer people, just to get a taste of AWS.

If you are planning on learning how to make use of AWS and its insane number of features, understanding how to use, configure, and deploy a VPC is key. In a way its almost like the backbone of your AWS operation. To help you out, I’m going to do my best to give you clear and concise information. The other part of this article will be explaining CloudFormation and how to deploy your own VPC’s with it. This is going to be a two part series. Buckle in for Part I.

The Backbone

Everything in AWS depends on the existence of one or more of this virtual networks existing in order to make things happen. Now by default you have one that AWS will auto generate for you after you end up creating your account. You can make one for free, which for the sake of running labs and tutorials is a HUGE benefit. Eventually we will see how to make our own. After we answer the following question: What is a VPC?

A VPC is a virtual network that is separate from other virtual networks that exist in the AWS infrastructure. There are regions, which help to divide different sections of the infrastructure. Within these regions exist physical locations known as availability zones, which are connected together by a low-latency connection. Keep in mind that all regions work isolated from each other.

Within each availability zone, you define a subnet, either public or private. Within those subnets reside your EC2 Instances, which you can think of as virtual machines. For security purposes, you will also need a NAT Gateway, which will allow your private subnet to communicate with the Internet without being freely accessible by anyone outside of your network. If you want to get a better idea of how the VPC is structured, take a look at the diagram below. I find visual aids to always be useful, especially if you are learning a new concept.

This isn't meant to be a full writeup of AWS, which is MASSIVE. If you're hungry for more information, definitely take a look at the official AWS Docs. I suggest you get in the habit of bookmarking pages and sites that you visit often, save yourself some typing. The main page for the docs resides HERE.

Thank you for taking the time to read through the first part of this writeup. I hope I was able to offer you some sort of assistance, and look forward to having you back for part 2, where we will get to take a hands on look at CloudFormation. If you would like to reach out to me for questions or comments, check out @CyberQuixote on Twitter. See you in Part II!

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