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How to Build a Successful Cloud Training Program

ACG Technical Editors Team
ACG Technical Editors Team

There’s more content available than any of us will be able to consume in our lifetimes. On the A Cloud Guru platform alone, there are more than 2,500 hours of cloud course material. Not to mention the courses available on other elearning platforms like Pluralsight and from the cloud providers themselves.
So if access to information isn’t a problem, why do only 8% of technologists feel they have extensive experience in the cloud? The top three reasons are:

  • Budget constraints
  • Not enough time
  • Emphasizing hiring over upskilling

Download the State of Cloud report for more upskilling insights


Why is it important to build a cloud training program?

With 64% of technologists saying they’re new to the cloud and looking for basic training, there’s not enough talent to execute efficiently or effectively on your 2023 cloud strategy plans. Cloud training programs help you build internal cloud skills pipelines for your immediate cloud needs and your needs in the future.

Your cloud training program should operate in tandem with your overall cloud strategy. If you’re looking to migrate to AWS for the first time, your training program will focus on online courses, in-person training, and other resources to prepare your employees for multiple AWS certifications based on their roles. 

But if you’re looking to build a multicloud strategy that uses all of the “Big 3,” your cloud training plan would shift to ensure all employees have at least a basic understanding of each platform.

The counterargument for investing in a cloud training program seems to be: What if we invest in training for our employees and they leave? And that might be a valuable argument if it were likely. In reality, employees are 94% more likely to stay with a company long-term when the organization invests in their skill development.

What resources are available to use in my cloud training program?

There are formal and informal tools organizations can use to build their cloud training program, like on-demand courses, podcasts, webinars or live events, and sandboxes. 

Informal tools— like podcasts, ebooks, live streams, and webinars—are usually free or low cost to organizations and individual technologists. The majority of this content are high level overviews of common topics with occasional deep-dives. They work well to build vocabulary and develop a basic understanding of the cloud.


Check out A Cloud Guru’s resource library for free content


And then there are more formalized tools like in-person training, on-demand courses, and sandboxes that technologists can use to progress their cloud skills. But not every tool works for every individual. Let’s go through the pros and cons of the top three:

In-person training

For those just starting their cloud journey, in-person sessions with local, non-profit organizations can help you get your feet wet. These sessions are usually low-cost and cover the basics of a given topic. And they allow for real-time feedback from presenters, who can answer questions specific to the organization.

However, for more advanced technologists, in-person sessions aren’t always practical. Depending on the subject, you could pay up to $4,000 per session. And that’s just for the information. There’s also the cost of travel, possible hotel stays, and other related expenses that need to be factored in. Some conferences, like AWS re:Invent, may be worth the cost to send representatives from your cloud team. 

Tl;dr: In-person training sessions are great for beginners to get their feet wet or, for more experienced cloud specialists, as part of larger conferences.

On-demand courses

On-demand courses are great for all levels of cloud talent. They’re available anytime and anywhere with a halfway-decent internet connection. 

Many cloud course providers like A Cloud Guru and Pluralsight offer learning paths that act as scaffolding technologists can use to quickly build their skills from the 101 to 401 level. These learning paths are also based on a goal: completing a certain certification, becoming fluent in a new feature, or building the skills for a specific job.

But these courses usually have a necessary visual element that makes it difficult to habit stack—developing a new habit by pairing it with one you’ve already adopted. As accessible as it is to access the information, it’s also very easy to get distracted from the material. So technologists have to be diligent about watching and completing courses.

Hands-on tools

According to the State of Cloud report, 64% of technologists prefer learning with hands-on tools and sandboxes. It reinforces information given in seminar-style learning sessions and gives technologists real-world experience in a controlled environment. 

There are several generic sandbox environments and workshops that walk technologists through the process of using the cloud service. Or there are custom cloud sandboxes that act as a duplicate of your real-life environment. Meaning technologists can learn in a mock environment exactly like the one they’ll use every day.

On the downside, these tools can be expensive. And it takes a bit of work to get them up, running and integrated into the learning tool. You also have to hope your sandbox doesn’t get blocked by corporate firewalls. If you can work through those obstacles, these tools are only beneficial for employees who already have a base-level understanding of how the platforms work and how they’re used within your organizational strategy.

ACG launches Custom Cloud Sandboxes. Click for more information.

The dos and don’ts of building a successful cloud training program

With so many tools available, covering so many different topics, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you sit down to develop a cloud training program. But there are some basic dos and don’ts to keep you headed in the right direction.

1. Do make it a business priority

These tools are an investment in your cloud strategy. Without the right talent, your strategies won’t get off the ground. And qualified talent is getting harder and harder to find. Instead, focus on building your cloud talent pipelines from within. 

Once you’ve given your team access to learning tools, incentivize them to use the tools. A Cloud Guru did this by setting aside dedicated learning time for the last two hours every Friday. More than 70% of technologists want daily or weekly learning opportunities to advance their skills and keep up with changing technologies, so investing in this kind of upskilling is a win-win.

Just like any other business priority, you should have a way to track your cloud training program for success. Tools like A Cloud Guru offer dashboards that let you know what employees are actually using the platform, what courses they’re consuming, and for how long.

2. Don’t limit your recruiting efforts to those with technical experience

The first place leaders will look to start cloud training is within their existing cloud talent. And that makes perfect sense. But what do you do when you’ve exhausted those resources? There are three other places you can look for opportunities to create new cloud talent: in non-cloud technical teams, in non-technical departments, and in non-technical industries.

The beauty of building a cloud training program is you don’t need to hire someone who already has cloud skills. Some of the best cloud talent comes from the unlikeliest of places. One of A Cloud Guru’s founders got his start as an immigration attorney. 

Start by looking in your IT department. There may be several low-level technicians interested in growing their cloud skills. 

You can also look in other departments for employees with the right critical thinking skills to be good at cloud computing. Giving non-technical employees an opportunity to learn new skills that have a growth path within the company can keep employees who might be looking for new positions outside of your organization.

The other option is to have HR keep their eye out for candidates with the right critical thinking skills or certifications who may not have a background in cloud computing. With all the free and low-cost tools available, many people are looking to shift careers into cloud computing. Focus on the potential of a candidate, instead of basing your decisions on their history.

3. Do make sure you have a way for them to use their new skills

The worst mistake you can make when building your cloud training program is not providing structure or guidance on which courses to take. You want to match your training program to your plans for the cloud so your employees can always be using their new skills within your organization. Because if they’re not using them for their role in your organization, they’ll find another one where they can.

Set goals for cloud certifications or specific skill building that help them move into new roles within your organization. Or provide training paths that build skills for an upcoming cloud initiative and let them take the lead. Giving employees the opportunity to grow their skills is one thing. Turning around and giving them the ability to use those skills generates even more goodwill and trust—which translates to higher retention rates and better cloud solutions.


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