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SaaS-Based Cloud Courses Offer Hands-on Training for Enterprises

Cloud courses on training platforms such as Cloud Academy help managers see where there are skills gaps, while bringing hands-on experience to employees.

Enterprises that prioritize cloud migration as part of their digital transformation strategy must consider which cloud courses and training are worth the investment. Important criteria include how easy a training platform is to use for both managers and employees, and whether the training can keep up with the rapid pace of technology advancement.

“Cloud vendors are moving quickly … You’ve got people considering multi-cloud, and that creates complexity,” Cloud Academy Randy Streu, VP of global partners and alliances said. “What we hear from our customers when we’re in the marketplace talking to them is that they have a skills gap, and part of their concern is they actually don’t know how big it is.”

Founded in 2014, Cloud Academy is a SaaS platform that runs on AWS, with 1000s of hours of content, including training on processes related to DevOps. It provides cloud courses on AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, as well as training around cloud security, big data and machine learning, growing areas of demand for employers.

“It’s not just a technical change, there’s a cultural shift – we see it all the time,” he said. The changes in an organization go beyond adopting cloud technology and refactoring applications, adopting containers and microservices, into developing an “agile, DevOps state of mind.”

Streu joined Cloud Academy earlier this year to bring technology into the training platform through partnerships. (Spotinst, a cloud startup ITPro Today covered recently, is one of those technology partners.) His role also involves working with channel partners on the go-to-market side of the business.

Streu said that Cloud Academy can help managers identify skills gaps in their teams, as well as spot rising talent by being able to view which employees are taking specific learning paths or extra cloud courses beyond those assigned to them. A leaderboard lets managers compare teams and people, while users can see what their peers are doing.

“If you’re going through digital transformation, really must go through a digital skills transformation,” he said. “You have to take the key people that are fantastic with your on-premises technology, VMware and all the things they’ve been doing for many years now, and essentially upskill them to the way cloud does things.”

While Cloud Academy targets large enterprises with thousands of employees on its platform, it is available to organizations of all sizes.

Recent research from Global Markets Insights said that large enterprises are driving growth in e-learning because of demand for SaaS platforms that can be accessed by employees in offices and remote workers around the world. Cloud Academy is just one of the training platforms that enterprises can choose from. Others include Lynda.com, Coursera, and Pluralsight.

Unlike some enterprise training platforms which are staffed by contract instructors, Cloud Academy relies on full-time staff to develop cloud courses and other content. The platform also offers a sandbox environment for users to get hands-on experience, a key part of the training experience with Cloud Academy, Streu said.

“We really focus on labs, [they are] a key part of what we do,” Streu said. “One of the things we want when people come out of our courseware is to be true practitioners. If you were to look at a certification path as an example on AWS from us and then one of our competitors, you may find a couple of labs, but we have 13.”

Cloud Academy recommends courses based on a users’ role with help from its content engine, and these courses are rolled up into learning paths or can be taken individually.

“Everything we have in this system, the courses, labs, learning paths, it’s all customizable,” Streu said. Enterprises can even bring in their own training or course material specific to their environments or processes into the system through a drag-and-drop interface.

“If I teach five companies Kubernetes, all five of them will implement it in a unique way,” Streu said. While this information used to exist off in someone’s head, the platform allows companies to capture that knowledge and retain that information, even if the people working on the team move on.

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