Author: Antonio Angelino, Labs Product Manager
May, 27th 2015

Learn Cloud Computing with Cloud Academy Labs, and launch your first Amazon EC2 instance

In this Webinar Product Manager & Senior DevOps Engineer Antonio Angelino will show you how to use Cloud Academy Labs to learn Cloud Computing, benefits you can get, and interactive hands-on live demo on AWS.

Antonio will guide you to launch and configure your first Amazon EC2 instance using AWS Management Console.

Use our Hands-on Labs to achieve the practical knowledge that you need through practice and self-perfection. The lab will guide you through the whole process and will notify you for every successful step.

Learn Cloud Computing: introduction

Hi and welcome to this webinar about how to learn Cloud Computing and boost your skills using Cloud Academy Labs. I'm going to talk about the learning model that we adopted here at Cloud Academy and I will explain why getting your hands dirty is so important for any aspiring cloud architect, SysOps or DevOps engineer. I am Antonio Angelino, Labs Product Manager and senior DevOps engineer at Cloud Academy. I have 15 years' experience designing and developing software, 10 years architecting IT infrastructures, and I've also been using and designing cloud infrastructures for five years, using both public and private cloud services.

Cloud Academy was founded in 2013, by a group of cloud-computing experts. Almost all my colleagues and I are cloud-computing experts and engineers, with worldwide-recognized certifications, like the AWS certifications, Cisco, Linux certifications, and so on. Nowadays, we are glad to educate IT professionals, from more than 140 countries around the world. Cloud Academy offers a wide range of solutions for learning how to use cloud-computing technologies and services and get certified.

Cloud Academy Learning Model

We analyzed a lot of cognitive science papers about how people learn, adopting the best learning models and adapting them for the IT world. Our hybrid learning platform uses both interactive and non-interactive learning approaches, in order to maximize the efficiency of the learning process. So we combined the challenge-based learning approach with a passive one and with experiential learning (or learn-by-doing). We're gonna talk about that last approach.

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience. I like to describe myself as a learn-by-doing evangelist, because experiential learning made me who I am today, and I also use my past experience for improving our lab's product, day by day. Learn-by-doing is also even easier for SysOps and DevOps nowadays, because you don't need to buy servers, routers or switches for practicing. You should not be scared to break the hardware due to wrong configurations, because everything is virtualized.

Cloud Academy allows to learn cloud computing with a full hands-on experience, basically because every time we need to learn something new, we need also to put our knowledge into practice, in order to help our brain to assimilate and memorize it. So, thanks to Cloud Academy Labs, our customers are able to configure and provision cloud infrastructures, using step-by-step guidance and using real-world tools, because each lab experience temporarily provides exclusive access to a specific cloud provider console. Hands-on experience are also highly recommended by Amazon itself, for passing the AWS certifications. There is a specific page inside the AWS website, the "Prepare for AWS Certification" page, where you can find the list of all recommended self-paced labs topics. By opening the index page of our labs product, we provide all lab experiences in order to be prepared for passing the AWS Solutions Architect Certification.

Learn Cloud Computing: How Cloud Academy's Labs Work

Labs are available at, there's a list of all available labs experiences. They are grouped in several sections, and each lab box has a specific image, a title, the provider logo that we will use during the lab experience, the difficulty level of the lab experience, and also the indicator that shows us our progress during the previous lab sessions. If we click on the box, we will open the landing page of the laboratory.

There is a detailed description of the laboratory experience, the list of all steps that we need to complete in order to complete the laboratory experience, and a list of courses that we suggest in order to pass the lab. If you want to start the laboratory, you need to click on the big green button, "Start Laboratory". In a few seconds, the labs platform chooses one of our free lab environments, sets up any needed resource, and creates a student account that we will use for log-in to the provider management console.

Once the lab has loaded there is the title of the lab, the difficulty level, and there are also two important counters. The first one indicates the number of completed steps inside this laboratory experience. The other one is a countdown that indicates how long the session will live. We have over 10,000 users. So we cannot provide unlimited and exclusive access to any member for a specific cloud environment. That's why we limit the access for a specific amount of time.

The lab page is divided into three sections: a step list on the left,  the step documentation (i.e. a detailed documentation, with also some images, screenshots, data-flow diagrams, etc) and the environment info box on the right part. It contains the user name and password that we need to use in order to log into the AWS Management Console. Now you're finally ready to learn cloud computing getting your hands dirty.

How to Create your first Amazon EC2 Instance (Linux)

The goal of the laboratory that I started is create an Amazon EC2 instance, using the Linux AMI, the AWS Linux Operating System image. Let's start by opening the management console of Amazon by clicking the blue button "Open Management Console". A new browser tab appears and we need to provide the same user name and password that we can find in the environment info box. So let's copy the AWS password of our student account and then click on sign-in. We are inside a real AWS account, and we are ready to start our lab.

Let's check one more thing. We need to select the right AWS region, because the lab system assigns to us a specific AWS region. For completing this lab, we need to check if we are in the US West Oregon region. It's quite easy. There is a region drop-down menu on top right in the AWS console page. Right now, we are in the US West Oregon region. That's right. You can select another region if you need to, by simply clicking on the link inside the drop-down menu.

We completed the first step. So we can click on, "I did it. Take me to the next step" button. Here is the second step, where we should create an EC2 instance. Let's click on the EC2 service and we are ready to start. As you can see, we need to use the launch instance wizard, selecting the Amazon machine AMI that is a Linux image. We need to select the T2 micro instance. So let's do it. Let's click on "launch instance." Here is the Amazon Linux AMI. The T2 micro is already selected, so we can simply click on "Next, configure instance details" button.

We need to check the VPC ID and the subnet ID before starting the EC2 instance. There is only one VPC network, the default one. We can select one of the availably zones. So let's use the first availability zone by selecting the first subnet. As you can see, the documentation image reports different network VPC ID and also a different subnet ID. We cannot rely 100% on the documentation images, because all VPC IDs and also the subnet IDs change for every environment. So, be careful, read the text documentation and use the documentation images for understanding where is a specific button, menu, or data that is necessary for completing the step. We can now go to the next step of our creation wizard. We don't need to add more volumes, so we can directly click on "Review and Launch". Here we are. We only need to click on "Launch".

Amazon asks us which key pair we want to use in order to access the EC2 instance. We need to create a new key pair because there are no key pairs in our account. Let's select "Create a new key pair" and use "webinar" as the key pair name. We need to download the key pair file, and then we'll able to launch our instance. If we click on the instance ID, we can see the EC2 instances list and our new instance in pending state. So we need to wait a couple of minutes, and the status will become running. We completed this lab step, so we can click on "Take me to the next step".

The step three asks us to convert our key pair to a PPK key. The PPK key is useful if we are using Windows operating system, and we need to use PuTTY in order to connect to our Linux EC2 instance. I'm using Mac OS, so I can skip this step I can directly use the OS native SSH client. The step four asks us to connect to the remote server, using the SSH connection. As you can see, there is a detailed documentation for using the SSH client on Linux or Mac OS, but also a step-by-step documentation for connecting using Windows through PuTTY.

Let's check if our EC2 instance is ready. We can click on the reload button on the top right. The EC2 instance is up and running, so we can connect to it using our key pair and the SSH client. Open the terminal and issue the command ssh -i webinar.pem ec2-user@INSTANCE-IP. We need the IP address of our instance, and it's quite easy retrieving it because there is a description page inside the AWS console. Our public IP is here, on top right. So let's copy it and paste it in our terminal. Ok, there is an error message because our PEM key file is unprotected. If you read the note inside our step documentation, we need to use the "Change Mode" command  (chmod,)in order to change the permissions of our key pair file. So let's write "chmod 0600 webinar.pem". Now we are ready to connect to our EC2 instance. We are now connected to our EC2 instance., so we completed this step, and we can go to the fifth step.

There are a list of useful commands that we can use inside of our EC2 instance. So let's issue one of them, for example, this one. We'll output the instance ID inside our console. As you can see, it works. This is our instance ID. Those commands are also useful if you aren a DevOps Engineer, because you can use them for creating configuration scripts for your applications. We can go to next step. The last step asks us to terminate our EC2 instance. So let's go to the AWS console, click on "Actions," and select "Instance State" in the drop-down menu, and then terminate. Let's click on, "Yes, terminate" and the SSH connection will be closed by the remote host because the instance is shutting down, and it won't be available anymore.

We completed the last lab step and also the whole lab experience. So we can click on the big red button "All steps completed. Finish lab now". You can rate lab experience and also get a completion certificate. Here is our certificate, it has a unique ID, so you can also share it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

I'd like to invite you providing us feedback on our lab experiences, because we read them, and we update our labs, week by week, also following your feedback. You can also find your activity report by going to the user dashboard. On the right side, there is the recent activities box, where you can find all the lab steps and all the laboratories that you completed, failed, or started.

What's next in Cloud Academy?

We usually add new laboratory experiences every month. You can also take a look at our roadmap by going to

Labs are included in our PRO membership, and you don't need an AWS or Azure account because we provide it. You only need to click on a button and put the right credentials, and you will be able to use a real AWS account. That's a powerful way to learn cloud computing.

Thank you.