What’s required to begin learning Cloud Computing?

The very first things you need to know to start learning cloud computing. All the steps to start learning cloud without being an IT professional.

Many Cloud Academy members ask us what they have to know before they can begin learning Cloud Computing.

You certainly don’t need a degree in Computer Science or Computer Engineering. All you need to get started are a few basic skills and a general working knowledge of the various Operating Systems (Windows, Linux, etc.)

While a degree in Computer Engineering and Computer Science is certainly a great place to start learning without any barriers, we have thousands of members who learn how to use Cloud Computing without these specific types of degrees and even some who have degrees in fields totally unrelated to IT.

Here are some other common misconceptions about learning cloud computing:

  1. You need to be able to code. FALSE. Coding ability is NOT required.
  2. You need to be an IT professional. FALSE. Cloud computing is rapidly becoming a technology used in all global industries and not just by technical people. Chances are that you are already working at a company that uses cloud systems.
  3. Cloud computing is only for technical people and developers. FALSE. Check out our cloud computing career paths to understand how cloud is impacting more and more industries.

The Basics

The term “Cloud Computing” refers to a large area of Information Technology that involves hardware infrastructure, software infrastructure, data center facilities, virtualization technologies, and software engineering concepts.

All somewhat connected, these five areas are the starting point for learning how to use and work with Cloud Computing platforms.

IaaS and PaaS

Our focus in this article will be on two things

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and those cloud companies that provide it (Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and Rackspace Cloud)
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS) and its providers (Salesforce.com, Microsoft Azure, and Google App Engine)


Once you are confident working with operating systems, the next thing to grasp is Virtualization Technology, which plays a large role in cloud computing. Virtualization Technology is simply a way to house and operate many operating systems (virtual machines) inside one single physical machine. Each virtual machine runs its own operating system and is assigned specific CPU, RAM, and disk space capacities. Thus, virtual machines share the same physical hardware and all the same network equipment; they are only virtually separated from one another. You can easily try this out by building a virtual machine of your own at VirtualBox.

One of the pioneers in Virtualization Technology is a company called VMware. Virtualization was a well known technology before VMware came along, but the company radically increased its usage in the IT field through widespread distribution and effective optimization to the point where it is now being used by small, medium, and large companies alike.

In the process, Virtualization introduced a valuable economic and strategic concept called “Consolidation.” This revolutionary idea means that now companies around the world no longer have to allocate a single, physical server for each and every application and workload process they run. Instead, they can share their resources across many virtual machines.

Here’s a summary of the basic concepts of virtualization:

  • Hipervisor: the Virtualization Core that runs all the virtual machines (VMs). Examples are VMware, KVM, Xen, and OpenVZ. All cloud environments use a (usually well modified) hypervisor. Amazon Web Services uses Xen, for instance;
  • Virtual Machine: defined and explained above, this is the basic building block having its own operating system, CPU, RAM, and disk space allocations, all of which can have a more articulated configuration on the networking side;
  • Consolidation: the ability to move VMs among different physical nodes and the flexibility to add new resources to an existing virtual machine. These are distinct advantages that were hitherto unavailable.


With a basic knowledge of both Virtualization Technology and Operating Systems, you then are ready to take introductory courses in Networking.

Networking can be a difficult topic requiring certain key skills that you will need time to understand. Please refer to the networking section of this article to understand the prerequisites.

Public vs. Private Cloud Computing

Last but not least, let’s go over the difference between Public Cloud Computing and Private Cloud Computing. It’s simple.

A Public Cloud refers to publicly accessible infrastructure where you can store data, virtual machines, and any other kind of cloud resources. This can be done anonymously.

A Private Cloud refers to a company’s own private data center, where you still have all the flexibility and advantages of Cloud Computing but everything is securely housed within your own infrastructure which you manage privately.

Starting out -- Linux

It’s likely that your first cloud computing experience will be within a Linux environment. This is not due to the single cloud computing platform, for when you use a cloud computing IaaS you can pick many different operating systems, but rather because nowadays, most workloads are on Linux servers. Therefore, you’ll need at least some basic understanding of Linux distribution and know the most common commands used in the operating system.

If you need some tutorials, go to Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, where there are thousands of instance images and templates to start with.

Coding skills

Cloud Computing and services like Amazon Web Services are particularly appreciated by developers and DevOps.

All the most important cloud computing platforms have API sets to automate all the operations and orchestrate all the resources of the platform with your software.


All operations in the cloud computing platform involve networking. Each cloud instance, for example, must be connected to the Internet.

Therefore, you need to know at least how IP addresses work and understand what public and private networks are.

Now you know. See you on the cloud.