My trilogy of AWS courses for Pluralsight is complete. I originally created AWS Developer Fundamentals, then added Architecting Highly Available Systems on AWS, and today released Optimizing and Managing Distributed Systems on AWS.
This course picks up from where we left off with the last one. By the end of the Architecting Highly Available Systems on AWS course, we had built a fault tolerant ASP.NET-based cloud system that used relational databases, NoSQL databases, queues, load balancers, auto scaling, and more. Now, we’re looking at what it takes to monitor the system, deploy code, add CDNs, and introduce application caching. All of this helps us create a truly high performing, self-healing environment in the cloud. This course has a total of four modules, and each one covers the relevant AWS service, how to consume it, and what the best practices are.
- Monitoring Cloud Systems with Amazon CloudWatch. Here we talk about the role of monitoring in distributed systems, and dig into CloudWatch. After inspecting the various metrics available to us, we test one and see how to send email-based alerts. We then jump into more complex scenarios and see how to configure Auto Scaling policies that alter the size of the cloud environment based on server CPU utilization.
- Deploying Web Application Stacks. Deploying apps to cloud servers often requires a new way of thinking. AWS provides three useful deployment frameworks, and this module goes over each one. We discuss the AWS Elastic Beanstalk and see how to push our web application to cloud servers directly from Visual Studio. Then to see how easy it is to change an application – and demonstrate the fun of custom CloudWatch metrics – we deploy a new version of the application that captures unique business metrics. We then look at CloudFormation and how to use the CloudFormer tool to generate comprehensive templates that can deploy an entire system. Finally, we review the new OpsWorks framework and where it’s the right fit.
- Placing Content Close to Users with CDNs. Content Delivery Networks are an awesome way to offload static content to edge locations that are closer to your users. This module talks about why CDNs matter in distributed systems and shows off Amazon CloudFront. We set up a CloudFront distribution, update our ASP.NET application to use it, and even try out the “invalidation” function to get rid of an old image.
- Improving Application Performance with ElastiCache. Application caching is super handy and ElastiCache gives you a managed, Memcached-compliant solution. Here we talk about when and what to cache, how Memcached works, what ElastiCache is, how to create and scale clusters, and how to use the cache from .NET code. There’s a handful of demos sprinkled in, and you should get a good sense of how to configure and test a cache.
It’s been fun crafting these two AWS courses over the summer and I hope you enjoy them!