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A Cloud Guru’s New Cloud Training Integrates Linux Academy Catalog

‘Now all the courses have hands-on labs, and we also offer cloud playgrounds and cloud sandboxes for AWS, Azure and Google Cloud,’ says Katie Bullard, president of A Cloud Guru.

A Cloud Guru launched its new cloud training platform Thursday with an online upskilling and certification course catalog that’s 300 percent larger thanks to its December acquisition of Linux Academy.

The new offering combines the best of both technology e-learning companies, according to Katie Bullard, president of Austin, Texas-based A Cloud Guru (ACG). The new platform integrates A Cloud Guru’s method of teaching focused on cloud providers Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with Linux Academy’s hands-on learning approach that includes embedded labs, “cloud playgrounds” and cloud sandboxes, and its wider breadth of courses on technologies including Linux, Kubernetes, containers and security.

“The two products did different things really, really well, and what we heard from students and from businesses was that they often would use both platforms for each of those different strengths,” Bullard said. “What we brought together was this very engaging approach that made everything super consumable and very simple—whether you were a beginner or an advanced student—from the ACG approach, with this very deep technical, hands-on learning approach from Linux Academy. That‘s a real differentiator for this new combined platform.”

Those taking any of the combined company’s approximately 300 online courses—which include the major cloud certification courses—now will have access to 1,500 hands-on labs conducted in real-world cloud environments, and users taking AWS, Microsoft Azure and GCP courses have access to the cloud playgrounds and sandboxes.

“Whether you‘re an individual student or whether you’re a business, you want to assess where your gaps are in your skills,” Bullard said. “You want to be able to then create a learning path or a learning journey that’s going to help you progress and fill those gaps. And then you want to use all of those skills to innovate. And that’s where the cloud playgrounds really come into play. You have these real-world, multi-cloud sandbox environments, no risk of cost overruns, and you can go in and play and innovate.”

The updated ACG for Business platform has enterprise features including programmatic learning paths with specialized training curriculum based on desired outcomes and career tracks; certification accelerators; cloud playgrounds in real-world, multi-cloud sandbox environments and servers; and multi-specialty assessments to identify skills gaps.

A Cloud Guru said it’s continuing to support its Linux Academy solution for existing Linux Academy customers until it migrates them to the new ACG platform over the next year. Any new customers will use the newly launched ACG platform.

ACG Growth

Founded by brothers Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg, ACG got its start in 2015 by offering just one cloud certification course for individual users. It now has more than 400 employees and just eclipsed $80 million in annual recurring revenue, according to Bullard. Sam Kroonenburg leads the company as CEO.

Bain Capital Tech Opportunities—Boston-based Bain Capital’s new fund focused on midmarket technology deals—led what was termed a “significant” investment to help fund ACG’s acquisition of Linux Academy for undisclosed terms. Existing ACG investors Elephant, Summit Partners and AirTree Ventures also participated.

“We now have more than 2 million people who, individually, have learned the cloud through ACG, but we also have more than 4,000 businesses that have also learned to use those technologies—from big brands like Accenture, Capital One, Thomson Reuters down to small businesses, schools and universities and public sector orgs,” Bullard said.

The company’s growth speaks to the growing adoption of the cloud and fast growth of the cloud services market. ACG saw a nearly 400 percent increase in business between March 2019 and March 2020. It’s seen an approximately 30 percent increase in its user base since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic took hold.

That increase is being driven by two factors, according to Bullard.

“All learning is being done remotely and online right now, and whether you‘re in a business or you’re an individual learner, you’re looking to skill up … so the online learning need has accelerated,” she said. “And then businesses are really speeding up their timelines for moving to the cloud and upskilling their workforces as well. Clearly cloud adoption was already on the upswing, but what we’ve found is that this has just accelerated the need for businesses to get there even faster to retain that competitive edge.”

Microsoft Azure Course Surge

ACG is seeing rapidly increasing content consumption across the three major cloud computing providers, but there’s been a marked surge in demand for Microsoft Azure courses.

“For our user base, specifically, Azure is seeing the biggest increase,” Bullard said.

Through 2019, ACG’s Azure content consumption was growing about twice as fast as that for AWS and GCP.

And in the first quarter of this year, ACG saw a 48 percent increase in the number of Azure course minutes logged by individuals and businesses—for a total of 2.3 million minutes—compared with the fourth quarter. The Linux Academy saw a 32 percent increase to 4.59 million minutes.

AWS minutes increased 8 percent to 29.55 million on ACG and 7 percent to 21.6 million on Linux Academy from the fourth to first quarter, while GCP minutes jumped 11 percent to 1.19 million on ACG and declined 1 percent to 3.69 million on Linux Academy.

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