How not to learn AWS

There is so much information out there available from official sources, both in the AWS Docs and on the AWS Youtube Channel, that could easily bewilder even the most motivated student.

​​As in many fields, the best place to start is to follow the advice of an experienced professional. I’m writing this article to spare you some hours of painful digging of the internet. Today I am going to focus on what is available for FREE, so you can get a quick kickstart. At a later stage you can always choose to subscribe to a paid course.

Seven AWS Services you MUST Know

Let’s start with a short list of services you need to know to have a basic AWS knowledge and a relevant quick explanation of each:
  1. VPC: the network on the AWS cloud
  2. EC2: virtual machines, security group, autoscaling, balancer
  3. IAM: ​how permissions and rights work
  4. RDS: relational database as a service
  5. S3: the object storage
  6. CloudWatch: the log system
  7. Route53 the public or private DNS system Security on AWS

Although a link to the official docs is provided, as stated above this is not necessarily the best place to start.

How to learn AWS for free through Video Courses

You can find many FREE learning resources on YouTube, BrightTalk and Udemy. These are my favourite “how to” video courses, pruned from a list of hundreds.

The course duration indicates the level of in-depth analysis.

AWS Concepts by LinuxAcademy

Total time: 1 hour 6 minutes. It is also published on Udemy

Here a summary from the YouTube presentation:

“This course is for the absolute beginner. Have you ever wanted to know, in very simple terms, the answer to the following questions?: What is the cloud? What is AWS? What are AWS’s core services? Why do we use AWS? If you answered yes to any of these, then this course is for you. Our goal with this course is to provide a simple, conceptual introduction to the concepts of Cloud Computing, Amazon Web Services, and its core services. There are no technical explanations or definitions to memorize — this course is visual, and strictly conceptual. When you are done with this course, you will have the conceptual foundation to move forward onto more advanced AWS courses. By having the frame-of-reference understanding from this course, you will be more prepared to tackle the more complex technical concepts and terminology.”


AWS Essentials by LinuxAcademy

Total time: 7 hours 7 minutes. It is also published on Udemy

“This course is for those who are completely new to AWS.  No prior AWS experience is required.  We will introduce you to AWS, walk you through the process of setting up your own AWS account, and teach you the essentials to get you using AWS’s core services.”

AWS Solution Architect Associate by LinuxAcademy

it is on Udemy, in order to access you need to register for free.

Total time: 12 hours and 30 minutes.

“This course has been developed to provide you with the requisite knowledge to not only pass the AWS CSA certification exam but also gain the hands-on experience required become a qualified AWS Solutions architect working in a real-world environment.”

AWS Master Class

A collection of official videos , you need to register to Bringtalk but the registration is free.

AWS Official Training Page

In the official Page you need to search for Free | Online Course

How to learn AWS for free through Written Resources

Amazon in Plain English

They explain in plain English what is the purpose of each service. Here an extract from their page:

“With 50 plus opaquely named services, we decided that enough was enough and that some plain english descriptions were needed.”

Getting Started from the Official documentation

In my opinion a video course is always better than written documentation because it allows you to have a personal” instructor and see how that person actually uses the tools instead of seeing a framed screenshot.  Be aware that reading and studying the full service documentation is time consuming and sometimes dispersive. Inside each official documentation section a “Getting Started” is available part. Here the link to these subsections for the most important services.

AWS Blog by Category

The blog is a wonderful source of inspiration because​ there are plenty of POCs, examples and possible implementations. It is possible to read the home page day to day to search for news but the most efficient way to benefit from the material is probably to browse by category.

Keep in mind that some articles belong to more than one service category:

Service Category

Advanced Blog/Category

This is only a starting point but you can always find many other blogs by category and subcategory in aws.amazon.com/blogs .

Random Tips

After you have acquired some knowledge BUT BEFORE you start, it is worth reading this page and I quote the author to explain what it is exactly:

“A collection of random tips for Amazon Web Services (AWS) that I wish I’d been told a few years ago, based on what I’ve learned by building and deploying various applications on AWS.”


As mentioned in the article, the best approach is in my opinion starting a video course and I strongly suggest you to follow it from the beginning to the end.

I understand that in a work environment you may be required to know and use a specific service, in that case you can jump to the relevant videos and the specific “Getting Started” tutorials. However, whenever possible, I recommend acquiring a general idea of how different services work with an in-depth analysis.

Editor: Lorenza Fattor