Introducing Our Newest Lab Environments: Lab Playgrounds

Want to train in a real cloud environment, but feel slowed down by spinning up your own deployments? When you consider security or pricing costs, it can be costly and challenging to get up to speed quickly for self-training. To solve this problem, Cloud Academy created a new suite of lab-based practical environments: Lab Playgrounds.

These playground labs are a series of longer duration, low-friction sandbox environments. They’re like normal labs but with a generally quicker start-up time and an average duration of four hours. They offer the ability to get started without any third-party tools. For instances where SSH or RDP is required, we offer completely in-browser solutions for those as well. They feature environments for working with all kinds of platforms including operating systems, coding languages, DevOps tools, and more.

The goal is to provide you with sandbox environments where you feel free to run any command and experiment any way you like, without the guidelines of a typical lab. The end goal is to increase the amount of practical, real-world experience you gain in some of our most popular areas. You can also use these playgrounds to follow along with many of our learning paths and courses.

We even made it easier to find these newest lab playgrounds.

Lab Playgrounds: Get up to speed faster

Previously, we offered playgrounds for Kubernetes and Sagemaker Notebook. As of today, we now also offer playground labs for multiple distributions of Linux, Docker for Linux and Windows, Python, and Java. We’ll continue to look for opportunities to expand these and create more playground environments.

You do not need your own account credentials to use the playground labs. When you start a playground lab, the system launches all the necessary resources and starts the timer. The technology you are learning about appears on your screen.

We now have eight lab playgrounds where you can learn freely without concern for any of your real environments.

Amazon Linux 2 Playground

This playground lab provides you with an Amazon Linux 2 host running in AWS. The instructions allow you to connect to the Linux host using an in-browser SSH session. Once connected, you can explore Amazon Linux 2 for four hours until the lab time expires.

Ubuntu Playground

This playground lab provides you with a Ubuntu host running in AWS. EC2 Instance Connect allows you to connect to the instance over SSH using your web browser. With EC2 Instance Connect, a new browser window opens with an SSH shell ready for you to use. Once connected, you can explore for four hours until the lab time expires.

Docker Playground

This playground supplements your learning by providing you with a ready-to-use Docker installation. The playground provides full access to an instance with dockerdocker-compose, and relevant command-line completions already installed and running.

Docker Windows Containers Playground

This lab playground is intended for anyone working with Docker Windows containers or interested in getting started. You’ll get instructions that allow you to connect to the Docker host using an in-browser RDP session. Once connected you have two hours to explore, test, build, and play with Docker until the lab time expires.

Java Development Playground

This Java development playground supplements Cloud Academy content by providing you with a ready-to-use Java integrated development environment (IDE). In addition to Java, the host has common development tools such as jshell and git installed and ready for you to play with.

Python Development Playground

This lab playground is intended for anyone learning Python or interested in getting started. It provides you with a web browser integrated development environment (IDE). The host has Python as well as common development tools such as pip and git installed and ready for you to play with.

Amazon SageMaker Notebook Playground

This lab playground experience involves Amazon Web Services (AWS), and you will use the AWS Management Console to complete all the steps. The console enables cloud management for all aspects of the AWS account, including managing security credentials and even setting up new IAM Users.

Introduction to Kubernetes Playground

The lab creates a Kubernetes cluster for you to use as you progress through the course. All of the commands that are used in the course are included in the lab to make it easy for you to follow along. You can also use the lab to experiment and try out different exercises in addition to what is explained in the course.

How to use Lab Playgrounds

You can find playground labs as you discover labs on topics that you want to learn about. Tip: When you search for a lab on a topic, you can use the filters on the left side of the screen to limit the results to hands-on labs.

Use the following steps to start a playground lab:

  1. Click the playground lab that you want to start. A page appears with detailed information about the playground lab.
  2. Click on the Start Lab button. The lab appears and the timer begins.
  3. When you finish experimenting in the lab, you can return to the labs list.

Other labs

Cloud Academy is constantly growing the number of hands-on labs to guide you in active learning, plus lab challenges to test you in real deployments without (too much) hand-holding.

What’s the difference between hands-on labs, lab challenges, and lab playgrounds?

Hands-on Labs

Hands-on labs are guided experiences to learn in live cloud environments. Build and validate practical experience directly on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Docker, Kubernetes, and much more.

  • Get step-by-step guidance to practice your skills without getting stuck
  • Solidify practical knowledge in a short amount of time
  • Facilitate knowledge retention and enable experimentation

Lab Challenges

Lab challenges are non-guided skill validation to demonstrate problem-solving skills — basically, hands-on labs with the gloves off. You jump into an auto-provisioned cloud environment and are given a goal to accomplish. No instructions, no hints. To pass, you’ll have a limited amount of time to complete the checks that inspect the state of your lab environment.
  • Validate your technical problem-solving skills in a real environment
  • Troubleshoot complex scenarios to practice what you learned
  • Develop production experience that translates into real-world expertise

Lab Playgrounds

Lab playgrounds provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to install any software on your local machine. You should feel free to take risks and try unfamiliar tools and commands to learn more about working in a live environment — even if it means running into a dead end and needing to start the lab over.

  • Explore and experiment in live environments without a set of objectives or checks to complete
  • No software installations or account credentials needed — the system automatically launches all the necessary resources
  • Use for an extended duration with an average duration of four hours

Go ahead, take a guided, hands-on lab, a non-guided lab challenge, or explore a lab playground, and tell us what you think in the comments below.

Alisha Reyes

Written by

Alisha Reyes

Alisha is a Navy Veteran with 20+ years of experience in the mass communications field, including technical writing, journalism, photography, and graphic design. She is passionate about learning new technologies and researching best practices to save time and resources. In her free time, she enjoys working out with friends and traveling around the world with family.


Related Posts

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— January 7, 2021

New Content: AWS Terraform, Java Programming Lab Challenges, Azure DP-900 & DP-300 Certification Exam Prep, Plus Plenty More Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Big Data Courses

This month our Content Team continues building the catalog of courses for everyone learning about AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. In addition, this month’s updates include several Java programming lab challenges and a couple of courses on big data. In total, we released five new learning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— December 17, 2020

Where Should You Be Focusing Your AWS Security Efforts?

Another day, another re:Invent session! This time I listened to Stephen Schmidt’s session, “AWS Security: Where we've been, where we're going.” Amongst covering the highlights of AWS security during 2020, a number of newly added AWS features/services were discussed, including: AWS Audit...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS re:Invent
  • cloud security
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— December 4, 2020

AWS re:Invent: 2020 Keynote Top Highlights and More

We’ve gotten through the first five days of the special all-virtual 2020 edition of AWS re:Invent. It’s always a really exciting time for practitioners in the field to see what features and services AWS has cooked up for the year ahead.  This year’s conference is a marathon and not a...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Glue Elastic Views
  • AWS re:Invent
Bryony Harrower
Bryony Harrower
— November 6, 2020

WARNING: Great Cloud Content Ahead

At Cloud Academy, content is at the heart of what we do. We work with the world’s leading cloud and operations teams to develop video courses and learning paths that accelerate teams and drive digital transformation. First and foremost, we listen to our customers’ needs and we stay ahea...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • GCP
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 25, 2020

Excelling in AWS, Azure, and Beyond – How Danut Prisacaru Prepares for the Future

Meet Danut Prisacaru. Danut has been a Software Architect for the past 10 years and has been involved in Software Engineering for 30 years. He’s passionate about software and learning, and jokes that coding is basically the only thing he can do well (!). We think his enthusiasm shines t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • careers
  • champions
  • upskilling
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 14, 2020

New Content: AWS Data Analytics – Specialty Certification, Azure AI-900 Certification, Plus New Learning Paths, Courses, Labs, and More

This month our Content Team released two big certification Learning Paths: the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Speciality, and the Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900. In total, we released four new Learning Paths, 16 courses, 24 assessments, and 11 labs.  New content on Cloud Academy At any ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 15, 2020

New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More

This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 28, 2020

AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions

If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— August 25, 2020

Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS

From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day —  cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital transformation
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 18, 2020

Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap

Hello —  Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Content updates
  • DevOps
  • GCP
  • Google Cloud
  • New content
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs