“See first with your mind, then with your eyes, and finally with your body.” — Yagyu Munenori

Over the past few years, I’ve worked my way across the flow of a large-scale enterprise adoption of cloud computing. During my journey, I discovered that the greatest barrier to cloud migrations isn’t the engineering challenges — it’s the short supply of developers with cloud-related skills.

Cloud computing has gone mainstream. Large companies are scrambling for talented developers, and cloud has become an essential skill for modern software shops. This article will show you the way of the cloud ninja, and show you a path toward enlightenment.

Your journey toward securing these sought-after skills begins where everyone starts — as a white belt in training. With patience and diligence, you can earn the ultimate black belt — the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certification — the hallmark of a cloud ninja, and highly sought-after by employers.


The White Belt signifies the birth of a seed as it lies beneath the snow in the winter.

The AWS Intro Series is a great place for the white belt student who is thirsting for knowledge and seeking the answers to “What is Cloud Computing?” and “What is Amazon Web Services?”

The short videos are full of excellent intro material to get you headed in the right direction. For starters, become familiar with the basics of their mainstream services:


The Yellow Belt signifies the first beams of sunlight which shine upon the seed giving it new strength.

Exploring AWS hands-on training labs will help the yellow belt student obtain the first ray of knowledge and open your mind.

    • Qwiklabs provides a low-cost approach for getting comfortable with AWS through live hands-on learning environment that walks you through specific use-cases.
  • Most of the labs require tokens to be purchased and range from $8 to $15 each — but they also offer a fair amount of introductory free labs as well.

These labs are a great opportunity to obtain hands-on experience with the core AWS cloud services while exploring the basic concepts.


The Orange Belt represents the growing power of the sun as it warms the earth to prepare for new growth.

As the orange belt student starts to feel the body and mind open and develop, you should sign-up for an AWS Free Tier account.

    • Once you register and create an AWS account, you can use any of the AWS services for free within certain usage limits.
    • The free tier offers hands-on experience with AWS Services, without the safety net of the lab environment or instruction.
  • Consider applying the learnings from the lab training to create your own personal website using multiple services.


The Green Belt signifies the growth of the seed as it sprouts from the earth reaching toward the sun.

To establish strong roots and a firm foundation, the green belt student should seek a training class that surveys the fundamentals.

    • AWS offers a one-day instructor-led Technical Essentials course that introduces users to their core services, plus includes hands-on labs.
  • In addition to being offered in most major cities, the AWS Technical Essentials course is also available as a virtual classroom.


The Blue Belt signifies the blue sky as the plant continues to grow upward. Just as a plant grows taller, a blue belt student moves up higher in rank as knowledge and experience grows.

    • For students interested in growing their knowledge of the cloud, several learning management systems offer economical options for continuous learning. The self-directed AWS learning paths usually include a series of video lectures, quizzes, and community discussions groups.
  • Most of the learning management systems are subscription-based platforms that provide access to video courses on the core services. Given the high rate of speed that AWS delivers new features and services, it’s important that the instructors are subject matter experts and keep their content up-to-date.


The Purple Belt represents the changing sky of dawn. As the student undergoes the transition to an advanced level, a purple belt begins to understand the meaning of the black belt.

For those seeking to expand their changing horizons, AWS offers a series of free webinars on a variety of cloud computing topics.

The purple belt student understands the importance of exploring the entire ecosystem of services in order to achieve a fuller appreciation of cloud computing.


The Brown Belt represents the ripening of the seed. A brown belt is an advanced student whose techniques are beginning to mature.

    • While making final preparations for the AWS Certification exam, the enlightened brown belt student will sign up for an online course offered by A Cloud Guru Ryan Kroonenburg.


The Red Belt signifies the red-hot heat of the Sun as the plant continues to thrive. Red is a sign of danger, and the red belt is starting to become dangerous with knowledge and abilities.

The AWS Whitepapers and AWS FAQs offer the red belt student an opportunity to fill in the details and solidify their knowledge before scheduling the exam. The ‘must read’ whitepapers include:


The Black Belt signifies the darkness beyond the Sun as the student seeks more profound knowledge. As the student begins to teach others, new seeds are planted to grow and mature.

After passing the AWS Certification exam, a cloud ninja is obliged to share learnings with others in the community. As cloud ninjas “pay it forward”, their students blossom and grow through the ranks.

Join an AWS User Group in your area to explain and explore emerging trends, while always seeking opportunities to mentor others in your local community.

At this stage of enlightenment, a cloud ninja continually thirsts for new knowledge and seeks to master the emerging practice of serverless architecture. This journey often leads to ServerlessConf.

“If you have attained mastery of swordlessness, you will never lack for a sword.” —Yagyu Munenori

The journey of a cloud ninja is a never-ending process of self-growth, knowledge, and enlightenment.


We help migrate talent to the cloud. Follow us on Twitter @dtechnetworks  or Facebook @dtechnetworks

standard disclaimer: This blog expresses my personal views, which implies I am responsible for them, not my employer or another agency. Any posts reflect my opinion and not an endorsement.

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