This morning, a friend of mine asked me: “I would like to become an AWS Enterprise Solution Architect, what do you think are the most relevant AWS Solution Architect Interview questions that I will have to answer during the interview?” I decided to answer this question during this article. First, I’ll be sharing a common job description related to an AWS Solution Architect, that includes their relevant skills and knowledge required. After that, I will share some tips around answering typical questions during the AWS Solution Architect interview.
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Based on several job descriptions found at Amazon Jobs site, we can describe an AWS Solution Architect as a professional that fulfill the following unified job description:
AWS Enterprise Solution Architect
The AWS Solution Architect engage with customers to understand their business drivers, assess application portfolios, design reliable, and cost-effective cloud-native architectures. The Solution Architect is a very technical role: broadly competent across many areas of technology. The AWS Solution Architect will spend most of their day interacting with several customers and stakeholders, including developers, team leads, engineering directors, and CxOs.
As an AWS Solution Architect, you will form partnerships with customers, AWS Sales and several other AWS teams to create highly scalable, flexible, and resilient cloud architectures that address customers’ business problems, accelerate the adoption of AWS services, and assist in driving revenue growth across a broad set of customers.
As a trusted advisor and customer advocate, the AWS Solution Architect will help organizations understand best practices around advanced cloud-based solutions, and how to migrate existing workloads to the cloud.
Also, this role can help shape and execute a strategy to build mindshare and broad use of AWS within enterprise customers. The ideal candidate must be self-motivated with a proven track record in software/technology sales or consult. The ability to connect technology with measurable business value is critical to an AWS Solution Architect. The candidate on the post of AWS Solution Architect has a demonstrated ability to think strategically about business, products, and technical challenges.
Roles and Responsibilities
- In partnership with the sales team, create and execute a sales strategy to exceed revenue objectives through the adoption of AWS
- Engage with opportunities to help a customer to successfully deploy a new workload onto AWS by developing relationships with customers, understanding their technology roadmap and strategic IT direction. Help to ensure success in building and migrating applications, software, and services on the AWS platform
- Understand the use case of customer’s workloads and its long-term roadmap
- Regularly review customer core/foundational/mission-critical workloads for compliance with best practices using the Well Architected Framework
- Assist in defining migration roadmaps to AWS and driving buy-in across complex organizational structures
- Maintain a broad technical knowledge of the AWS Cloud Platform while developing an Area of Depth/Specialization
- Deliver Thought Leadership through speaking engagements and creation of deep technical content
- Solicit feedback from customers and influence future iterations of the AWS platform
- Assist with cost/benefit modeling and create compelling business cases/total cost of ownership studies for migration
- Lead regular self-development and mentor new members of the team
- Take part in deep-dive education and design exercises to create world-class solutions built on AWS
- Educate customers of all sizes on the value proposition of AWS, and participate in deep architectural discussions to ensure solutions are designed for successful deployment in the cloud
- Conduct one-to-few and one-to-many training sessions to transfer knowledge to customers considering or already using AWS
- Capture and share best-practice knowledge among AWS Solution Architect Community
- Author and/or otherwise contribute to AWS customer-facing publications such as white papers
- Build deep relationships with senior technical individuals within customers to enable them to be cloud advocates
- Act as a technology advocate and liaison between customers, service engineers, and support teams.
- 7+ years of design/implementation/consulting experience with distributed applications
- 5+ years experience in infrastructure architecture, database architecture, and networking
- 3+ years relevant experience in technology/software sales
- Working knowledge of software development tools and methodologies
- Technical degree or equivalent experience required; Computer Science or Mathematics background highly desired
- Strong written communication skills; ability to deliver high-quality documents, and paying attention to detail
- Presentation skills with a high degree of comfort speaking with executives, IT Management, and developers
- Elevated level of comfort communicating effectively across internal and external organizations
- Demonstrated ability to learn quickly and adopt innovative technologies
- Experience in migrating or transforming legacy customer solutions to the cloud
- Professional experience in architecting/operating solutions built on AWS
- Familiarity with common enterprise services, products, enterprise architecture, and management frameworks
- Experience in working within software development or Internet-related industries
- Willingness to travel up to 25%
Obviously, it is recommended that an AWS Solution Architect candidate has a relative AWS certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional. According to the AWS Certification website, an experimented Solution Architect is required to have:
- Two or more years hands-on experience in designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS
- Abilities to evaluate cloud application requirements and make architectural recommendations for implementation, deployment, and provisioning applications on AWS
- Capabilities to provide best practices guidance on the architectural design across multiple applications, projects, and the enterprise
Also, the candidate should have a deep understanding of:
- Designing and deploying dynamically scalable, highly available, fault-tolerant, and reliable applications on AWS
- Selecting appropriate AWS services to design and deploy an application based on given requirements
- Migrating complex, multi-tier applications on AWS
- Designing and deploying enterprise-wide scalable operations on AWS
- Implementing cost control strategies
Based on information and previous requirements, during the AWS Solution Architect Interview, the interviewer company is going to verify if you are an ideal candidate that possesses following characteristics:
- An IT Leader that can transform how an enterprise uses the public Cloud
- One who works equally well with executives and technologists
- Someone who is a technology evangelist
- A professional who is interested in joining a highly technical team that invests in your success by providing a comprehensive learning program
- A professional that has a passion for helping customers and design large distributed systems
- A person who enjoys doing architecture using the world’s most advanced cloud computing technologies
- An Architect that has a knack for helping organizations, understand application architectures and integration approaches, architecting advanced cloud-based solutions, and launching the build-out of those systems
- One of those rare technologists with the consultative leadership skills to help guide major projects to success
Some questions that you’ll find during a job interview, are focused to describe the person and professional beyond his resume, revealing the job candidate’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, skills, and abilities as mentioned before.
Others focus on the skills and qualifications that the hiring company wants in the candidates and the contributions that they expect the candidate will make to their company. Those questions assess the prospective employee’s work experience and his approach for architecting enterprise solutions will determine how the candidate interacts with people and their future work environment.
These are some common AWS Solution Architect Interview Questions to be answered by an AWS Enterprise Solution Architect, without order predefined:
|Interview Questions: Business Perspective||
If an organization is facing a major change, what is your approach as AWS Solution Architect to suggest to face it?
What steps will you perform to resolve this situation?
|This reveals if the candidate for AWS Solution Architect position possesses an open interest in a future customer, understand their business model, and recognize actual changes and challenges.|
From your point of view, what are the relevant responsibilities of an AWS Solution Architect?
Describe relevant responsibilities, duties, and challenges for an AWS Solution Architect.
Refer to above job description.
How do you normally take AWS architecture requirements to design?
|Describe your procedures and methodology for establishing relationships and how to understand business requirements from customer.|
What are key considerations/guidelines when you’re going to make some AWS Architecture recommendations?
|Demonstrate with some examples, how you make decisions and recommendations about AWS Architecture topics.|
|How do you approach a pre-sales engagement as AWS Solution Architect? How do you establish a relationship with AWS salespeople? Please describe…||It makes interviewers understand how the candidate creates a relationship and collaborate with other AWS work teams.|
|What challenges are you looking for the position as an AWS Solution Architect?||Discover and explain what is the candidate/job purpose and objective into the company on this role.|
How do you share (describe) your ideas and knowledge about AWS services/products to customers or other people of your team? Please describe…
Could you please show us?
This will reveal if the candidate has excellent communication and presentation skills and really enjoy sharing his/her expertise and knowledge as an advocate.
|Could you please describe a situation, where you interacted with CxOs people or other business leaders?||Understand if the candidate has had communication and relationship with C-level people, and how has managed those relationships.|
|Please describe a successful project that reflects your design/ implementation/ consulting experience about AWS Solution Architecture?||Discover practical experience based at project executed before around AWS Solution Architecture.|
|What enterprise architecture and management frameworks do you know? And how you have used them?||Reveal the knowledge of candidate about enterprise architecture, business architecture, architecture, and management frameworks. Also, reveals how the candidate has used them based on the experience.|
|Please describe a problem or issue during your career as an AWS Solution Architect? How did you handle them?||Understand how the candidate handles issues and problems.|
|What have you done to improve your AWS knowledge within last year?||Discover if the candidate has invested into his/her personal and professional growth by himself/herself.|
|What are most important characteristics of an AWS Cloud solution that you need to take into account when you design it?||Understand if the candidate uses the AWS well-Architected framework and has a holistic view of a business solution.|
|Please describe or tell us about a special contribution you have made to your last employer?
|Explain clearly what contributions you did in the past, which was his contribution to the success of the previous company and satisfaction of its customers. Share some past experiences.|
|Who are you? Please tell us about yourself?||Describe your principal values and characteristics as a human being. Explain why you’re the best candidate for that job position and what differentiates you from others.|
Table #1 Typical general AWS Solution Architect Interview Questions
Normally, the above questions are complemented with specific AWS technical questions that evaluate if the candidate has required qualifications from the AWS services and technology perspective like following:
|Interview Questions: Technical Perspective||Recommended Answer|
|What is Cloud Computing?
What are their principal characteristics and benefits?
|Explain the meaning of cloud computing, talk about characteristics as flexibility, elasticity, pay on demand. Describe each different cloud models as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Reflect on the benefits and myths of the cloud.|
|What is AWS?||Highlight AWS leadership in the cloud. Describe briefly some of the AWS services with which you feel at ease, for example, EC2, RDS, DynamoDB, Cloudformation etc…
Note that AWS has comprehensive security capabilities that support virtually any cloud workload.
|What is the AWS free tier?
What is included in it?
|Explain how the AWS Free Tier is designed to enable you to get hands-on experience with AWS cloud services; and what AWS services are freely available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date, as well as additional service offers that do not automatically expire at the end of your 12-month AWS Free Tier term.|
|What is an EC2 instance? How to protect and reuse it?||Explain that EC2 is a web service that provides resizable computing capacity in the cloud. Describe how to create an AMI, taking EC2 snapshot to backup, and reuse EC2 instance|
|What kind of instances does AWS offer?||Describe all EC2 instance types. Each EC2 instance type comprises varying combinations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity giving you the flexibility to choose the appropriate mix of resources for your applications. For more information refers to https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/instance-types/|
|How to increase the availability of your applications? How to avoid bottlenecks in the performance of your applications?||Describe AWS load balancing solutions. Remember that services like Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple Amazon EC2 instances in the cloud. It enables you to achieve greater levels of fault tolerance in your applications, seamlessly providing the required amount of load balancing capacity required to distribute application traffic.
Describe ELB services, the difference between application and classic load balancing service.
|How to enable an automatic scaling solution according to the user demand?||Explain about Auto scaling features of AWS. Remember that Auto Scaling allows you to scale your Amazon EC2 capacity up or down automatically according to conditions you define, and it is particularly well suited for applications that experience hourly, daily, or weekly variability in usage.
Describe how to create a launch configuration, an auto-scaling group including common limits and how to monitor it using Cloudwatch and how to establish automatic alerts and actions.
|How to create your own resources into the AWS Cloud?||Describe Amazon VPC service. Notice that Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets you provision a logically isolated section of the AWS Cloud, where you can launch AWS resources in a virtual network that you define. You have complete control over your virtual networking environment, including the selection of your own IP address range, the creation of subnets, and the configuration of route tables and network gateways.
Highlight VPC security settings using security groups and ACLs for subnets.
|How cloud you implement a DNS service in AWS? How could you register a new domain name? How could you implement a low-latency, fault-tolerant architectures managing Web application traffic?||Explain services like Amazon Route 53, a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) web service. You can use Amazon Route 53 to configure DNS health checks to route traffic to healthy endpoints or to independently monitor the health of your application and its endpoints. Amazon Route 53 makes it possible for you to manage traffic globally through a variety of routing types, including Latency Based Routing, Geo DNS, and Weighted Round Robin—all of which can be combined with DNS Failover to enable a variety of low-latency, fault-tolerant architectures. Don’t forget that Amazon Route 53 also offers Domain Name Registration – you can purchase and manage domain names such as example.com and Amazon Route 53 will automatically configure DNS settings for your domains.|
|How to implement a private connection to AWS Services?||AWS offers a service called AWS Direct Connect that lets you establish a dedicated network connection between your network and one of the AWS Direct Connect locations. This dedicated connection can be partitioned into multiple virtual interfaces as a VLAN. This allows you to use the same connection to access public resources using public IP address space, and private resources using private IP space while maintaining network separation between the public and private environments.
Describe advantages and disadvantages of using private network connections.
|What do you know about the Shared Responsibility Model established with AWS?
Could you please explain more about what is the responsibility of a customer?
|Because you’re building systems on top of the AWS platform, the security responsibilities will be shared. While AWS manages the security of the cloud, security in the cloud is the responsibility of the customer. Customers retain control of the security they choose to implement to protect their own content, platform, applications, systems, and networks, no differently than they would have for the applications in an on-site datacenter.|
|How to control the access to your resources located at AWS?
How could you protect your data at rest?
|There is a service called AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) that enables you to securely control access to AWS services and resources for your users. Using IAM, you can create and manage AWS users and groups and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources.
For protecting your data, there is AWS Key Management Service (KMS), it is a managed service that helps make it easy for you to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt your data.
|What are storage options provided by AWS?||Describe in detail all the storage options provided by AWS like EBS, S3, Glacier etc. Remember that AWS offers many different storage services, including Amazon S3, Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS, and Amazon Glacier. Amazon S3 is an object storage service, Amazon EBS is a block storage service, Amazon EFS is a file storage service, and Amazon Glacier is a long-term archive storage service.
Refer depending on scenario what is the best storage option.
|What is the AWS Storage Gateway?||The AWS Storage Gateway is a service connecting an on-premises software appliance with cloud-based storage, to provide seamless and secure integration between an organization’s on-premises IT environment and AWS storage infrastructure.
Notice when to use it, and how to use it for recovery or backup storage option.
|How to deliver content faster?||Describe in detail the service like Amazon CloudFront which is a content delivery web service. It integrates with other AWS services to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no minimum usage commitments.|
|What are the managed database services provided by AWS?
What kind of SQL databases are supported by AWS?
|Answer with the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). It is a web service that makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while managing time-consuming database management tasks, allowing you to focus on your applications and business.
It gives you access to the capabilities of a MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, or PostgreSQL database engines running on your own Amazon RDS cloud-based database instance with high availability configurations.
|What is the difference between SQL and NoSQL Database in AWS?||Explain about RDS options and DynamoDB characteristics, their differences, benefits, and purpose of each related to AWS service.|
|Which option exists to accelerate the performance of a web application?||Describe how to improve the performance of web applications by allowing you to retrieve information from a fast, managed, in-memory system, instead of relying entirely on slower disk-based databases. AWS offers a service called Amazon ElastiCache, it can not only improve load and response time to user actions and queries but also reduce the cost associated with scaling web applications.|
|Which AWS services are offered for business intelligence?||Describe each AWS related service, highlight Amazon Redshift as a fast, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse solution that makes it simple and cost-effective to efficiently analyze all your data using your existing business intelligence tools.
From the end-user analytic point of view, there exists a service named Amazon QuickSight which is a very fast, easy-to-use, and cloud-powered business intelligence (BI) service. It makes it easy for all employees within an organization to build visualizations, perform ad-hoc analysis, and quickly get business insights from their data. Amazon QuickSight integrates automatically with AWS data services, enables organizations to scale to hundreds of thousands of users, and delivers fast and responsive query performance to them via the SPICE engine.
|What other AWS services do you use at the application level?||Describe in detail all the application services provided by AWS like SNS, SES, SQS, and Workflow.
Remember that Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a highly scalable and cost-effective email-sending service for businesses and developers. On the other hand, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) is a web service that makes it easy to set up, operate, and send notifications from the cloud. It provides developers with a highly scalable, flexible, and cost-effective capability to publish messages from an application and immediately deliver them to subscribers or other applications. Finally, Amazon Simple Queue Service offers a reliable, highly scalable hosted queue for storing messages as they travel between computers. By using Amazon SQS, developers can simply move data between distributed application components performing different tasks, without losing messages or requiring each component to be always available. Amazon SQS makes it easy to build an automated workflow.
Don’t forget that Amazon Simple Workflow Service (Amazon SWF) is a web service that makes it easy to coordinate work across distributed application components. Amazon SWF enables applications for a range of use cases, including media processing, web application back-ends, business process workflows, and analytics pipelines, to be designed as a coordination of tasks.
|How will you improve the deployment and management of AWS services?||Describe how AWS services as AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS OpsWorks, and Cloudformation contribute to improving the deployment and management of AWS services?|
|As an AWS Solution Architect, how could you implement Disaster recovery on AWS?||If you want to enable faster disaster recovery of their critical IT systems without incurring the infrastructure expense of a second physical site, you should use AWS services. Remember, that the AWS platform supports many popular disaster recovery (DR) architectures, from “pilot light” environments that are ready to scale up at a moment’s notice, to “hot standby” environments that enable rapid failover and enable rapid recovery of your IT infrastructure and data.|
Table #2. Typical technical AWS Solution Architect Interview Questions
Tips for Answering
When you’re being interviewed, please avoid “Yes/No” type answers as the answer needs to be creative. Preferably, use a descriptive answer that shows that you are familiar with the concept and explains your behavior clearly in that situation.
Several interviewers’ companies develop a role play workshop or business case, it would help them to understand if the candidate located in front of them is the best AWS Solution Architect to be hired by their company. Such a technique would reveal the behavior of the candidate against a situation.
So, what are you waiting for to be prepared?
Note: You need to pass the AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate certification exam to become eligible for AWS Solution Architect Professional certification exam.
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