What’s next for Hands-on Labs at Cloud Academy

It’s a pleasure for me to come back to our blog while I am traveling to the most important Cloud Computing conference in the world. There will be about 25,000 people at re:Invent in Las Vegas (Andrew, our AWS leader is giving us some suggestions here about reInvent), and like many attendees, we are expecting big news from AWS.

2016 has been a great year for our company. Today, Cloud Academy is training tens of thousands of companies in 100+ countries worldwide. AWS is still the public cloud leader in the market, but Microsoft Azure is really getting traction (we are building more and more certification paths for Azure) and Google Cloud Platform definitely has momentum. From our perspective, being vendor-independent allows us to see trends we couldn’t imagine a year ago, such as companies building their software across AWS and Azure, and developers using different services on all of the platforms.

Our Hands-on Labs

Hands-on labs are one of our most appreciated products. With Cloud Academy Hands-on Labs, you get access to a full, practical experience where you can learn how to build and interact with Amazon Web Services directly through our technology, following step-by-step labs. You don’t need an Amazon account, everything is included in your Cloud Academy membership, and you can complete an unlimited number of labs. People use labs to start from scratch (such as starting an EC2 instance in one of our most famous labs) or to tackle complex scenarios, like setting up CloudFront or using Lambda in production. We add between 5 and 10 new AWS Hands-on Labs each month, and we are now doubling down on our investment to help our customers stay up to date.


With hundreds of thousands of Hands-on Labs completed since 2014, we are now launching a new series of features for our labs. In this post, I’ll be sharing more information about our roadmap and the technology features we are building for our Enterprise and consumer customers. I will come back to you with more as our team releases new products in early 2017.

More than anything, with Hands-on Labs, we are committed to building technology that helps companies and individuals worldwide to learn how to build things with a variety of technologies.
Ready? Let’s get started.

Hands-on Labs go multiplatform

For companies and professionals getting into cloud computing, the field is as fascinating as it is confusing. It’s also not easy. There are so many cloud vendors and cloud platforms that it’s not always easy to understand what you need. It might be AWS or Azure, Digital Ocean or Google Cloud Platform, or your developers and tech leaders might decide to use a mix of them.We think that this is the future of cloud computing. At Cloud Academy, being vendor independent has been part of our vision since the beginning.

Hands-on Labs at Cloud Academy will be multiplatform for AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure

Similar to what you can find online today for our Quizzes and Courses, you will soon see the first multiplatform Hands-on Labs available in your accounts. We are expanding to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform and  also to technologies in the ecosystem that are now more and more part of our daily work. I am talking about Docker, Linux, Kubernetes, and others.

We believe that a solid understanding of the cloud platform is key for companies and professionals. Within this, there are several cases where you need to master a set of tools or areas (like Security), that are not easy to learn  without guidance or without a practical track to follow. We help you learn across platforms without the burden of setting up accounts, reading the documentation or learning from myriad tutorials. To make this possible, we will begin using a new platform that we have been developing which will allow us to internally to speed up the release and update of new labs.

Going Multiplatform will allow you to learn and get practical skills on several platforms at the same time. It will also help you understand the advantages of different architectures and services and compare them for the same scenarios or applications that you want to build in the cloud.

All of the new platforms will be available in your account at no additional cost, and they will be consistent with the style and experience you get at Cloud Academy. You will find them both as a single product (as our Hands-on Labs section is structured today) and included in our Learning Paths.

Technology and content: how we build our platform for Hands-on Labs

Everything we build at Cloud Academy is based on a technology and product vision. The mix of technology and product with content creates a unique experience for our customers. It’s not a secret that we invest a large part of our budget on building software and not only content. We invest in technology with two goals: to improve our internal operations and to create a unique user experience for our customers.

It’s the same with our Hands-on Labs. We started building them as a technology to make sure that we could rely on a solid platform to expand and control them. In 2017, we will double down on this effort by creating a few new features that will make our Hands-on Labs a great asset for our enterprise customers who are using a public and private cloud solution. Our team is focused on creating a set of technologies that will be available for the Enterprise and for our individual customers (with different features), with a particular focus on what we call “Scenarios”. The idea is for our customers to be able to take our practical approach even further to build something that is similar to what they are really doing in production, across several technologies.

Hands-on Labs for training and knowledge assessment

At Cloud Academy, our users spend hours learning how to use AWS through our Hands-on Labs. Some of them are doing it live and then replicating that on production; others are learning it to test their skills. In the coming months, we will release a few more versions of our Hands-on Labs. These new versions can be used for training purposes and also to test users’ practical skills for building software and infrastructure in the cloud.

Today, you can test your skills with our advanced Quiz Sessions, both with or without explanations. Soon, you will be able to test that with real, practical scenarios inside a learning path or in a stand-alone mode. Think about how you can use that for your team…
Unfortunately, this is all that I share for now. But trust me when I tell you that the final experience will be quite amazing for the end-user and for companies using it with their teams!

Enterprise Scenarios

Let’s talk about content. Content is king. Our technology and products are designed to ensure that your experience is as much fun and real as it should be while learning. We will also create even more content for our Hands-on Labs with a specific focus on the Enterprise and the challenges that large companies face in the cloud era.

I look forward to sharing more about the new features for our Hands-on Labs over the next few months. Also, I welcome your feedback and would like to learn more about how you are using our Hands-on Labs!


Written by

Stefano Bellasio

Stefano's a computer engineering guy that loves building products. He's the CEO and co-founder of CloudAcademy.com. All his experience is in the web hosting and cloud computing industry where he started other companies before. He loves talking with all readers of Cloud Academy blog, so feel free to email him at stefano@cloudacademy.com!

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