AWS GameDay - March 2022

AWS GameDay - March 2022

3 min read

This week I participated in an AWS GameDay, where up to 33 teams of AWS Partners (consisting of up to 3 players) from the Asia Pacific region competed to migrate servers for a fictional company, 'Unicorn Rentals'.

GameDay is a collaborative learning exercise that tests skills in implementing AWS solutions to solve real-world problems in a gamified, risk-free environment. This is a completely hands-on opportunity for technical professionals to explore AWS services, architecture patterns, best practices, and group cooperation.

GameDay Recap

Without giving too much away, we needed to migrate the company's servers to AWS. Our team was feeling very prepared with CloudFormation templates at the ready.

We were given access to a new AWS account at the start of the event, credentials for servers, SSH keys and 3 hours to complete the migration.

We began deploying our CloudFormation templates and setting up Database Migration Service (DMS).

The first issue we encountered was not having IAM permissions to create SSM using our CloudFormation templates. We added an IAM role and redeployed it.

Another team scored the first points, they must have been prepared with CloudFormation templates and scripts like we were!

While setting up the DMS endpoints, our newly created Aurora database had a password with an invalid character not suitable for DMS:

DMS Password Error

We weren't the only team that had this issue. After logging into the Bastion host, installing MySQL and changing the password, we were back on track!

In the GameDay scenario, the entire IT team had been fired but the Marketing team still had their jobs, continuing to make changes to the database. Because of this, we had to migrate the database allowing changes to continue during the process. The Migrate existing data and replicate ongoing changes in DMS Creation Task gave the warning, Your source database is MySQL. Replicating ongoing changes requires the MySQL binary log to be enabled and set to row.

MySQL Binary Log

Thinking this would be a simple configure change, we logged into the MySQL server and attempted to enable LOG_BIN in the MySQL config. We spent far too long trying to enable this. In the end, choosing to migrate with the default Migrate existing data option, knowing we'd lose points for the Marketing team not being able to make changes to the database after migrating.

To migrate the application, we set up EFS and manually copied the configuration files to our new instance. This was a more complicated method than the recommended Application Migration Service option. Our migrated app had a redirection in the config preventing our CloudFront from working.


We had reached the end of the competition in third place! Although we felt prepared for GameDay, you never know what challenges you'll be faced with and having a time limit adds to the pressure!

One of the GameDay highlights was the Live Scoreboard, which updated when changes were made within your AWS account.

Live Scoreboard Example

The scoreboard during the event. We were 1st place for some of it!

There were also AWS Solutions Architects available for help throughout the competition that could join your Chime meeting. If you have the opportunity to participate in a GameDay, it's a great way to develop your skills and cooperate as a team.

Thanks to AWS for organising this event and to my teammates Richard and Kieran who I learned a lot from throughout the GameDay.