I’m still thinking about whether I want to get AWS (Amazon”s cloud platform) certified.  But one question I had was about where I would have to go to take the exams.
In the past I’ve taken exams, and familiar with testing centers like Sylvan (Prometric), Vue, and 2Test and others.

Question: Are AWS exams online or at a testing center?
Answer: You go to a testing center to take the exam.

Question: How do you find the testing centers for AWS exams in your city?
Answer: Start the scshedule an exam process, identify the exam centers, then close the process if you just wanted to check the locations.

From this page: https://aws.amazon.com/certification/our-certifications/  click “Schedule an exam”.
You have to sign up with https://webassessor.com/wa.do?page=createAccount&branding=AMAZON and pretend you want to take an exam, just to see the exam locations and addresses.  You can then back out.

An example of Texas exam centers, such as Dallas And Austin can be seen in the image below (Dallas is highlighted). One of them is Sylvan, the other is “Business Communication Solutions”.  Those seem to be popular in major cities, along with many college campuses.

 

 

 

Here are the steps I used to setup GoDaddy to use my Amazon EC2 Instance (running Windows 2012 with IIS).

I first tested with an old domain that I was no longer using called Discount-Protein.com.

First I created a new “Elastic IP Address” and assigned it to my EC2 Instance.  After setting it up, it looked like this:

GoDaddyWithAmazonAWS_ElasticIPAddress

 

To get to the above, the steps are: 1) Click “Elastic IPS” on the left side of the EC2 dashboard, 2) Click Allocate New Address, and confirm that you really want to create a new one, 3) Click the select box to the left of it, then click the “Associate Address” button at the top.  From there, you get a screen like the one below, where you can select your instance name from a list of all your instances.  Note: The “Instance” textbox doesn’t look like a normal drop-down or combo-box, but when you click it, a list of your instances will appear below it.

 

GoDaddyWithAmazonAWS_ElasticIPAddressAssociate

The rest of the work is done in Godaddy.  Logon, and go to your domain. If your domain is not using GoDaddy as the DNS server, you might want to click “Setup Type” Standard, which means you will be able to setup the zone file in GoDaddy.  I think Amazon can also act as your DNS, but I haven’t tried that yet.  So earlier, I had GoDaddy posting to one of my shared hosted providers.  When I clicked the “standard” button below, that resets to GoDaddy, and a couple of “standard” GoDaddy Nameservers will automatically appear.  NOTE: There could be several GoDaddy Nameservers, yours may not be identical to mine.

 

GoDaddyWithAmazonAWS1

 

Then on GoDaddy, click on the “DNS ZONE FILE” tab.  Below I’m showing their new interface, if you click you can go back to their “classic DNS Manager Interface”.   Make sure you have two rows here, one with the @ sign and one with the www as the host, then sets the “Points to” address to your Amazon AWS Elastic IP Address and then click the button to save your changes.   As with any time you change GoDaddy, you might have to wait 5 minutes to an hour (or more) for the changes to propogate, then you can test.

 

GoDaddyWithAmazonAWS_ZoneFile

 

To test, I created a simple test.html page that just had <h1>Hello World</h1> in it. So I went to a browser and tested with http;//Discount-Protein/test1.html and made sure it was working.

 

 

Cannot connect to Amazon RDS with SSMS

Amazon allows you to run an Relational Database Server (RDS) that runs several of the common editions of Microsoft SQLServer. After setting up your RDS server/instance and launching it, you may have issues connecting to it.

Cannot connect to SQLServer – Error Message

Microsoft SQLServer has a very general message when you cannot connect.

SQLServer_Connection_Failure

It reads as follows:

A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. The server was not found or was not accessible…

Within the Amazon AWS console, there is a screen for setting up your Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Within that, one of the options is for the “Security Groups”. By default, you RDS SQLServer is open only to certain spaces within the Amazon world. To open it up to an external program, such as SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) on your PC, you will have to add a security group or change the existing one.

Amazon VPC Security Group Default

The screen shot below show the original value. The blue square “dot” at the top shows the security group that I currently have selected, and the bottom half of the screen gives the details on four different tabs. It’s the Inbound Rules that need to be adjusted. By default, the source, in my case, was sg-0ee39c6b which was the default security group. I’m still not 100% sure what it represents, but it definitely doesn’t include anything outside of the Amazon data centers. (By the way, in this screen shot I’m in “Edit” mode.)

AWS_VPC_SecurityGroup_Original

Amazon VPC Security Group Modified

The screen show below (not in edit mode), shows the change I made. I changed the “Source” from the security group-id to a CIDR of 0.0.0.0/0, which basically means any IP Address.  You are basically defining firewall rules here.  It would be best to only open port 1433, which is used by SQL, to avoid any other hackers trying to attack your server.  A common technique is to open everything first, make sure it works, then starting closing the doors to everything except the minimum that are needed to be left open.

AWS_VPC_SecurityGroup_Corrected

To open up for example, you home PC, use “What is my IP Address” in Google to get how the outside world views your IP Address, then convert it to a CIDR. Here is the URL of a handy online IP Address Range to CIDR converter. That utility only accepts a range of IDs (and the ending range has to be different from the starting range).