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Key DevOps skills people are learning at A Cloud Guru right now

Matthew Lynley
Matthew Lynley

When you look at the cloud, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud aren’t the final train stop. They usually aren’t even where the train departs in the first place! That, instead, starts with the tools that power them, some of which are even older than the cloud itself. And many of those tools, such as Python and Linux, are finding refreshed or increasing importance as the world shifts to an increasingly bespoke approach to powering cloud operations.

We analyzed a corpus of more than 1 million course completions across more than 100 courses to assess where learners focus their time on developer tools. We excluded tools explicitly focused on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud to get a sense of the interest in the baseline developer tools that power each of those services.


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Our analysis is based on how our learners use the ACG platform, and it is not meant to be the final word in demand for skills in developer operations and cloud computing. We intend for it to be a snapshot of what that interest looks like as time goes on, looking to help inform—but not dictate—the decisions our learners make in how they grow.

Here are some of the key trends we found, which we’ll dive into below:

  • Greetings, earthlings: While our analysis involved segmentation into specific developer tools, our introduction to cloud computing course was—by itself alone—far and away our most popular vendor-independent course by completion.
  • Containing the cloud: Container tools, particularly Docker and Kubernetes, ruled the majority of our completion data and ranked consistently.
  • Artificially intelligent: Machine learning, as a niche category, was one of our faster-growing segments. That, of course, is powered by Python, our top language.
  • Fetch me a drink, Jenkins: Among our niche tools, we saw Jenkins quickly becoming an essential part of the DevOps swiss-army knife.

All this is just scratching the surface of the complexity of the cloud.

Top DevOps Container Skills and Courses

About one-third of our DevOps learners are choosing Kubernetes and Docker courses in the top categories we analyzed. Linux and Python made up a quarter, and our introduction to cloud computing made up almost one-fifth of our total completions in our top DevOps categories. Last year, we combined the ACG platform with Linux Academy.

Top DevOps Container Skills and Courses

Still, amid all those categories, our Introduction to Cloud Computing course was so large in Q1 that it pretty much merited its own category. This course, too, is cloud agnostic and focuses on the fundamentals. It just goes to show how important it is to build the foundational skills in cloud computing before even proceeding to some of the guts that make up how the cloud works.

When you dive into our top searches in February—and the months prior—we see many similarities. Our top-searched term in February was Python, followed by Kubernetes and Terraform. While Terraform was outside of our top five categories, it was the second-largest subcategory after Ansible. 

You can find more detail on our top ten searched cloud topics in our complete analysis, but for now, here’s how those top rankings tracked up to February (including some vendors).

key cloud skills and topics of 2021

Cloud Introductions matter, but aren’t everything

The world is, indeed, still not fully fluent in speaking cloud. When we looked at our top 10 developer courses by completions, we found that our Introduction to Cloud Computing course was far and away the largest. And, of course, it makes sense! The cloud is still finding new ways every day to power the tools that we use and deploy, even though some services are more than a decade old.

But right after our introduction course came—you guessed it—courses focused on Kubernetes and Linux. And Docker also took a small share of our top courses, which, along with Kubernetes, again shows the critical importance of containers in modern cloud applications.

Again, when you compare it to our top searches, there’s a lot that lines right up—Python’s there, Terraform’s there, Ansible, and so on.

When comparing Q1 2021 to Q1 2020, we saw another increasing shift toward a more significant focus on Kubernetes and Machine Learning tools, particularly Python. We also saw a change in the share of completions away from our Introduction to Cloud Computing course, which may be just an indicator that our learners are increasingly fluent in the basic tenets of the cloud.

It is, however, hard to separate these tools from the vendors they are built to power. But it is essential to track how these tools evolve as companies increasingly shift to a multi-cloud strategy beyond using just AWS. When looking at a sample of companies consuming both Azure and AWS focus courses, Azure’s share has risen by more than ten percent when comparing 2019 to 2020. (You can find a full analysis of companies shifting to multi-cloud in our Road to Multi-cloud deep dive.)

As we said earlier, we aim to contribute a small snapshot of the trends in the developer community. While some may stick around for a long time (looking at you, Python), we may end up also seeing turnover on a yearly basis as the speed of innovation seems to only increase. So while it’s important to stay up to date on in-demand skills, it’s also important to focus your learning on areas that excite you—even if they don’t necessarily have widespread adoption… yet.

Learn hard. Deploy smart. Don’t import numpy as pd.

CLOUD LEARNING METHODOLOGY

We reviewed more than 1 million course completions across a subset of more than 100 courses that focus on developer tools deployed outside of the realm of specific vendors, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. Our analysis focused on the first quarter of 2021 and compared it to the first quarter of 2020. For example, when reviewing Serverless courses, Lambda-specific and Azure Functions-specific courses were excluded and we focused on more general skills around deploying serverless tools.

As one exception, we included our most popular course for Terraform and Ansible—which while focused on deploying on AWS represented our best snapshot for Terraform’s emergence as a quickly-growing field.

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