My Alibaba Cloud ACE Experience: Part 1

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By Wenson Ding, Alibaba Cloud Certified Expert (ACE)

This article is the first edition in the My Alibaba Cloud ACE Experience series, where I share my experience of completing the Alibaba Cloud Expert (ACE) certification. I recently passed the ACE Cloud Computing exam, and I am very excited to share my learning experience with everyone. I have compiled my ACE certification journey in a three-part blog series, and this is the first part of the series. Let’s take a quick look at short synopsis of all the parts in this series:

  • Part 1: It provides an overview of the ACE exam and answers questions such as:

a) What is the ACE exam?
b) How to apply for ACE certification?

  • Part 2: The second part is based on my personal experience and describes the technical key points of Alibaba Cloud computing service and its functions. It has several key takeaways for all those who want to prepare for the ACE exam.
  • Part 3: The last part of the series helps to level up preparation for the ACE exam and answers the following frequently asked questions:

a) What is an ideal preparation regime?
b) How to improve the understanding and knowledge of the Alibaba Cloud technologies?
c) How to choose the right learning course and exam that suits your requirements?

Now, let’s dive straight into Part 1.

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What is the ACE Exam?

Unlike other cloud providers, who provide just two levels of certifications, Alibaba Cloud Expert certification offers more comprehensive content and covers extensive knowledge requirements. It requires multifaceted capabilities and is undoubtedly worth the effort. It’s important to note that the ACE certification does not just include Alibaba Cloud technologies but also enhances your knowledge about the whole gamut of cloud technologies.

How Much Is the ACE Exam Fee?

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What Are the Prerequisites for the ACE Exam?

What Is the ACE Exam Duration and Score Criteria?

The ACE certification is designed to test your knowledge thoroughly and thus structures the exam into single choice and multiple-choice questions, and every question carries 2 points each. The following table shows further details about the exam structure:

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How Do I Plan the Exam Location and Time?

I would recommend you apply for the exam one month in advance, and regarding the location, just follow the steps below to find an exam center in your city easily.

1) Click on this link and select Take the Exam.

2) Register an account, if you don’t have an existing Alibaba Cloud account and click View Exams.

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3) Choose the right exam code i.e., ACE-Cloud1.

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4) Next, find the nearest exam center. For example, I am in Hong Kong, so I could see the 5 exam center near my location, as shown below.

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5) Choose the preferred exam center and click Next.

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6) Now choose the date for the exam. Usually, the available time slots are for the next month from the current date, so I suggest you plan one month in advance. After selecting the date, choose the morning or afternoon time slot.

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7) Review your information and click Proceed to Checkout.

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8) Lastly, use Buy Now option and take the exam code and avail of the discount, otherwise, it will be USD 280.

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ACE Exam Content and Sample Q&A with Explanation

The exam content is divided into two parts; let’s take a quick look at the content outline.

1) Knowledge: The course content not only covers Alibaba Cloud know-how but also encompasses common IT concepts.

  • Alibaba Cloud Knowledge (ECS, SLB, OSS, CDN, VPC, Cloud Security and more)
  • Common IT Knowledge (Network Protocols such as HTTP, FTP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, Software Development Lifecycle, Large-scale Distributed System Architecture, etc.)

To ensure you answer all the questions in the exam, I recommend brushing up cloud computing concepts during exam preparation.

2) Capacity: The exam includes several scenario-based questions and hence it’s imperative to understand the concepts such as:

  • Selecting optimal architectures and evaluating their impacts.
  • Diagnosing common issues and finding effective solutions.
  • Providing the best practices and architecture guidance during the project lifecycle.

Now let’s take a look at some sample questions.

Single-Selection Questions

a) How many customers the company now has (which is critical to understanding the company’s customer base over the past two years).
b) Whether the amount of OSS storage is sufficient for an appropriate space design of the application architecture.
c) Size of a single object being written to OSS (which allows for appropriate adjustments to the application architecture).
d) The total number of OSS requests per second at peak times.

The right answer is C

Important Notes

a) The capacity of OSS is unlimited. Hence, we do not care how many customers are there in total; we could hold the whole world as a customer. Wrong
b) Alibaba OSS service is auto sufficient. Hence, there is no need to choose or select the amount. Wrong
c) The size of a single object being written to OSS is critical. If a file is bigger than 5G, it has a limit for the direct upload; thus, you need to use multiple uploads. It will impact the upload method and efficiency. Right
d) The capacity is unlimited. Therefore, no need to worry about it. Wrong

2) As its business and customer base keep growing, a company needs to transform itself digitally. The original online trading system uses a chimney-style architecture that has become incapable of dealing with the increasing number of requests. Given this, the company executives decide to upgrade the original system with the help of Alibaba Cloud to solve the problem. They want the new system to go online as soon as possible. As an architect, how do you design the most appropriate upgrade solution?

a) Without any reconstruction, upgrade the original system to a high-performance host system to improve performance.
b) Without any reconstruction, upgrade the original system by building a load balancing cluster to improve performance.
c) Upgrade the original system by building a load balancing cluster, reconstructing the original system into a stateless application, and separating the application and database.
d) Reconstruct the original system into a distributed microservice architecture in which database and table shards are used for distributed processing.

The right answer is B

Important Notes

a) Option ‘a’ signifies a traditional approach and is not efficient. Wrong
b) The load balancing solves the concerned problem and the key requirement of ‘as soon as possible’ solution. It meets all requirements. Right
c) It will be a good solution if the scenario doesn’t have the ‘as soon as possible’ requirement. But it is not a suitable option for this question. Wrong
d) it also doesn’t meet the ‘as soon as possible’ requirement. Wrong

Multiple-Selection Questions

a) Enable Alibaba Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) and separate the details pages of hot-selling products from those of general products in the business system. Statically process the details pages of hot-selling products to allow servers to dynamically determine only the user clicks for buying products, and cache other static data on CDN.
b) Use the data control module of the business system to cache the data of hot-selling products in advance on ApsaraDB for Redis, implementing high concurrency and relieving the RDS access pressure.
c) Change the instance type to upgrade the configuration of SLB instances and increase the bandwidth to handle the traffic surge.
d) Configure existing RDS instances as single RDS instances to improve database performance.

The right answer is A&B

Important Notes

In the given scenario, the key problem is either hot-selling products are loading slowly or even not opening in some cases. Usually, such a problem could be addressed on the following 2 fronts:

  • Client-side: CDN is the best choice; the network will not impact the cache. Option ‘a’ is Right
  • Server-side: There is ECS for computing, RDS for Database, and SLB for load balancing. SLB just balances the load, so if there is CDN, the bandwidth will not be the main cause. Option ‘c’ is Wrong

Option ‘d’ is not recommended as RDS needs to communicate and synchronize. Furthermore, to make improvements on the RDS side, there are several ways For example, using Redis as a cache, using DRDS, or adding read-only RDS instances. Option ‘b’ is Right

2) An Internet finance company has deployed its official website on Elastic Compute Service (ECS) based on Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). For security reasons, the company did not configure any public IP addresses for ECS when purchasing ECS instances. In the meantime, the company deployed the official website on multiple ECS instances to guarantee the concurrency and performance of frontend access. To give users of this enterprise access to services on ECS over the Internet, which of the following methods are correct for establishing a cloud architecture? (Two correct answers)

a) Create a Server Load Balancer (SLB) instance on VPC, and add multiple ECS instances to the backend of the SLB instance. Then, users can send requests to the SLB instance, and the SLB instance will forward the requests to backend ECS instances for processing.
b) Create a Network Address Translation (NAT) gateway on VPC and configure destination NAT (DNAT) entries to map a public IP address to ECS instances on VPC, so that users can have access to ECS over the Internet.
c) Create a NAT gateway on VPC and configure source NAT (SNAT) entries to map a public IP address to ECS instances on VPC, so that users can have access to ECS over the Internet.
d) Create an SLB instance on VPC, add multiple ECS instances to the backend of the SLB instance, and bind an Elastic IP Address (EIP) to this SLB instance. Then, users can send requests to the EIP bound to the SLB instance, and the SLB instance will forward the requests to backend ECS instances for processing.

The right answer is B&D

Important Notes

According to the question, the user needs access to services on ECS over the Internet. Since the company did not configure any public IP for ECS, we can connect to the Internet in three ways:

  • EIP on ECS (This is not applicable as per the given scenario)
  • NAT Gateway. NAT Gateway has two functions, SNAT and DNAT. SNAT from ECS to connect to outside internet and DNAT from outside internet to access to ECS. (For the given scenario, users need to access ECS over the internet. Hence, it is the DNAT function. Option ‘b’ is Right and Option ‘c’ is Wrong
  • EIP on SLB (Option ‘d’ fulfills this criterion, but option ‘a’ doesn’t mention binding the EIP to SLB instance.) A is wrong. Option ‘d’ is Right and Option ‘a’ is Wrong

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