One of the best ways to capitalize on cloud computing’s growth from a career standpoint is to constantly be learning and gaining new knowledge.
Being able to apply the technological aspects of cloud computing to business problems quickly, combined with constantly developing expertise on how to manage legacy systems and cloud platforms is a very valuable, marketable skill.
Many manufacturers I meet with are grappling with the high maintenance costs and time latency of legacy systems when their business models are accelerating faster than ever. Helping these enterprises bridge the gap between legacy systems and the urgent need for more accurate customer, supplier, pricing, and quality data creates many opportunities for career growth.
Free Cloud Computing Courses
The number and quality of free online cloud computing courses continues to grow, and lately the prices of fee-based online programs are dropping. Not across the board, but clearly the competition of online education programs is changing in favor of the student.
The table below profiles free online cloud computing certificate and degree programs. You can download a PDF of the full roundup of cloud computing courses here that also includes fee-based online programs. Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.
Key take-aways from the roundup of cloud computing courses include the following:
- Coursera and Vanderbilt University are offering Programming Cloud Services for Android Handheld Systems. This class signifies a broader trend by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) where cloud computing and mobility are often being included in the same course. This course includes instruction on how to apply patterns and frameworks to develop scalable and secure cloud services. Included is coverage of mobile and cloud communication, data persistence, concurrency and synchronization, synchronous and asynchronous event handling, and security. The bulk of the examples are in Java using the Spring Framework and Jetty middleware platform. The examples will be run on Google App Engine and Amazon EC2. This course is free.
- Google Developer Academy – Self-based e-learning site that has an excellent overview of Google AppEngine, Python App Engine and Google+ APIs.
- Microsoft Research Windows Azure for Research Training – An innovative training program aimed at academicians and researchers, this is going to be an excellent learning platform regarding the Microsoft Windows Azure Platform. Best of all, the course sessions and eventual online content are free.
- MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) - One of the most comprehensive collections of courseware available globally today, OCW is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
The value and variety of online cloud computing programs being offered by leading colleges and universities is proliferating.
Focusing on the learning needs of IT professionals who need to apply cloud technologies to solve complex business problems, many of these programs and courses sell out before classes begin. This is because CIOs’ career paths are increasingly defined by how well they apply cloud technologies to the unique challenges and problems their businesses face. For CIOs and other members of senior management, getting a solid education on cloud computing’s business benefits is essential for managing effectively today, increasing their long-term marketability and career growth.
These programs are designed for C-level executives and senior managers to get up to speed quickly, often including guest CEOs of prominent software companies as part of the curriculum. Stanford’s course offered this fall online and on campus has five different CEO guest speakers including Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.net for example. These programs have an entirely different set of learning objectives versus certifications. For an excellent analysis of cloud certifications please see David Linthicum’s recent post Are you on the right cloud computing career path? Also excluded are vendor-sponsored certification programs as the intent of many of these is to promote a very specific view of cloud computing that aligns with their product and service strategies.
Here are key take-aways from following this area:
- Georgia Institute of Technology is partnering with Coursera, offering Health Informatics in the Cloud, beginning on September 16th for free. Coursera is an education company that partners with many of the worlds’ leading colleges and universities to offer free online courses to anyone, anywhere. They have partnered with 62 universities in 16 countries and offer over 300 courses as of today.
- University of California, Berkeley is partnering with EdX offering Software as a Service (CS169.2X) beginning August 13th for free. MIT and Harvard partnered to create EdX, a non-profit organization that is committed to bringing the best of higher education to students around the world. EdX offers MOOCs (massive open online courses) in addition to interactive online courses in the subject areas of law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence (AI).
- Stanford University’s CS309A looks like one of the best being offered this fall, with five different CEO guest speakers including Hamish Brewer, JDA Software; Godfrey Sulliva, Splunk; Bob Beardon, Horton Works; and Aaron Levie, Box.net. Dr. Timothy Chou, former president of Oracle OnDemand and Lecturer at Stanford University for over three decades is teaching the course.
- The following is a comparison of the cloud computing courses and programs designed for senior management starting this fall. Those entries in green are the free courses that take just minutes to enroll in. Please click on the image to expand it for easier reading.
One of the most interesting and intriguing companies that are quickly gaining enterprise customers is Box.net.
In speaking with friends who are directors of IT and a few CIOs, the buzz on Box.net has grown so fast that they are looking at enterprise licensing for it. They’re also saying it is becoming the portal of choice for highly distributed teams that have already logged hundreds of hours using it globally.
In the following video clip CEO and Co-Founder Aaron Levie explains how his company has been able to out-innovate larger competitors in the enterprise market by relying on what appears to be Agile-based development methods and the SaaS platform to launch applications faster than entrenched competitors. His insights into competing on speed using the SaaS platform while outflanking larger, and slower moving competitors is worth listening to.
The full talk this clip is taken from is 59 minutes long and titled Delivering Innovation for the Enterprise. The video content at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) Entrepreneurship Corner is also worth subscribing to as the center periodically brings in excellent speakers and records them for the public’s benefit.
The following presentation from Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Jinesh Varia includes an update on the Alexa GrepTheWeb Service and an excellent overview of AWS components. There is also an update on the AWS cloud architecture and definition of the Compute (EC2), messaging (SQS) and Storage (S3, Simple DB, and EC2-EBS) component integration.
Finally there are an interesting series of slides explaining courses at University of California, Santa Barbara and Stanford University on how AWS is being used to teach data mining and related topics.
This presentation also provides insights into how configurations of AWS can be customized for data mining and content management.
Disclaimer: Amazon and AWS are not clients of mine by the way. When I write about vendors who are, I will be sure to mention it.
Stanford’s Center for Professional Development does an outstanding job with its programs, I have attended them in the past and they are excellent. Be sure to check out Dr. Tim Chou’s book on cloud computing. It is free and is a fast, highly informative read about cloud computing.
On May 12, Marc Andreessen presented on the topic A Panorama of Venture Capital and Beyond (61 min). During that discussion, he made several points about how entrepreneurs who seek out his venture fund, Andreessen Horowitz, rely heavily on Cloud Computing to alleviate infrastructure and hardware start-up costs. He mentions that 96% of firms seeking funding are running on Amazon Web Services and just a few on RackSpace. He also mentions that few are running Google AppsEngine or Microsoft Azure now.
Bottom line: Most refreshing about this book is that Mr. Chou is striving to explain each of the seven business models with an unbiased analysis supported with company examples. He is on Twitter (@timothychou) and back in January asked for feedback on this book. If you have a passion for this area you might want to follow him on Twitter and see about helping out with the next edition.
For many enterprise software companies this is a very difficult subject as the control of the sales cycle is tantamount. Opponents argue that free software trials potentially derail sales cycles and give them less control.
Tien Tzuo, Chief Strategy Officer of Salesforce.com, explains how quickly the company learned that the sales cycles of SaaS-based applications required a much greater sense of urgency, a much more distributed workforce, and much more attention to lead nurturing than had been the case with sales cycles of enterprise applications.
Bottom line: The goal of these webinars is often to recruit students for certificate and degree programs, so the content often over-the-top in terms of quality. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are interested in cloud computing.