Skip to main content

AWS Sandbox Environments On Demand with Playground

Posted on February 19, 2019 by Christophe LimpalairChristophe Limpalair

Our Playground announcement mentioned the ability to launch AWS sandbox environments on demand. This feature was requested by multiple of our enterprise and individual customers, and within 3 months of the request, we launched the first beta version. Now, our Playground Cloud Sandboxes environments are out of beta and available for all of our individual and enterprise accounts!

The requests went like this: “We love your scenario-based labs, but some of our team members wish they could also launch sandbox environments with few restrictions to practice freely. Unfortunately, it takes us 6+ months to approve AWS environments for our employees. Could you create sandbox environments for our team members?”

Approving AWS (and Azure, Google Cloud, or Linux) environments for your employees can pose a few problems:

  1. Administrative overhead of managing individual environments
  2. Opening corporate environments to security vulnerabilities
  3. Additional costs of launching resources and expensing those costs

For individuals, there’s also the pain of having to create an account, configure the account, and clean up the account when you make mistakes or when you’re done. That’s assuming you can even log in to your own personal accounts while you’re at work.

When we saw these requests and the issues faced by our users, the solution and value became very clear. We needed an easy way for students to find and launch cloud sandbox environments. Combining this with upcoming upgrades to our Cloud Servers feature, we came up with the idea to launch Playground. This would replace Cloud Servers with Playground Servers, and introduce Playground Instant Terminals as well as Playground Cloud Sandboxes, which is where you can now launch AWS sandbox environments. (Google Cloud is coming soon, followed by Azure.)

Cloud Playground launch at Linux Academy

Playground and its features are easily accessible from our main menu

Secure AWS Sandbox Environments for Learning

There’s a good reason why test accounts at companies can take months to get approved. There’s administrative overhead, additional cost, and the very real threat of opening up corporate environments to security vulnerabilities.

Our Hands-on Labs and Playground Cloud Sandboxes are completely risk-free training environments for AWS. You or your team can launch them up as many times as needed, practice, and tear them down. Linux Academy manages all of the overhead associated with provisioning, securing, and tearing down the accounts. This means you are never exposing your company’s infrastructure, and your team members can focus entirely on learning.

Cloud Consoles gif

Accessing our sandbox environments is quick, easy, and secure

Real-World Training Environments

Beyond removing threats and overhead, sandbox environments provide a lot of practical value when it comes to building real-world skills.

Practice with Services You’ve Never Used Before

Cloud providers release feature updates and new services at a blistering pace. It’s impossible to truly keep up, but it’s important for you or your team to be able to quickly react to changes. For example, if your organization needs to use new technology in order to remain competitive, you don’t have time to wait a year (or more) for your team’s skills to catch up. You need to be able to upskill your team as quickly as possible.

Not only does our training content cover the most important cloud technology and tools of today and tomorrow, but our sandbox environments give you the ability to practice with services you’ve never used before. Want to learn how to use Kubernetes on EC2? Great, spin up an AWS Sandbox and have fun! Don’t get it right the first time and want to start over? Tear down that environment and start a brand new one by simply pressing a button.

Once you’ve got it figured out, you’re ready to apply what you’ve learned in your own corporate or personal environments, and you don’t have to worry about resource costs or mucking up your environments from all of that practice.

AWS Sandbox Environments at Linux Academy

Practice Any Configuration You Want

The best way to learn how a tool or service works is by using it. That’s why we created Hands-On Labs with scenarios that walk you through using those tools or services in different scenarios. Sometimes, however, it’s best to remove scenarios and let the user explore on their own.

That way, you can do things like launching resources, connecting those resources to each other, changing configurations, looking at error logs and troubleshooting issues, etc… This is how you learn the ins-and-outs, and that’s why we provide these sandbox environments with very few restrictions.

There’s another critical piece in making this happen: the user has to feel comfortable with the environment in which they’re experimenting. As you make mistakes, you need to know that there’s no harm being done and that you can always start over with the click of a button if you need to. That’s exactly what we provide.

Practice Different Architectures

Setting up simple or complex architectures requires a lot of planning, configuration, testing, and automation. Our sandbox environments make it very easy for you to practice those different steps from start to finish. Once you’ve figured out how it works, you can apply your new skills in your business environments and you will know exactly what to expect.

Think about it this way: would you rather your team practice in your business environments, or would you rather they practice in ours and then apply what they’ve learned to your business environments? There’s no more need to have “test_resource_14” still being cleaned up 3 months later in your business environments. We’ll handle cleaning up our environments so you can focus on what matters – building and deploying!

Built for Enterprise in Mind

Zero Administrative Overhead

It’s common for companies to take a long time to approve environments for team members. As our users have told us: “It takes weeks or months for us to get approval for AWS (Azure/Google Cloud/Linux) environments.”

Why? For great reasons:

  1. Who is in charge of managing personal accounts? They probably have other conflicting priorities
  2. Who manages expenses and approval for those expenses? Or how do you consolidate AWS bills?
  3. How much can team members spend in AWS before it becomes a problem? How do you monitor and enforce that?
  4. How do you make sure that you don’t open up your other AWS accounts or corporate environments to attack when letting your members roam free in AWS environments?
  5. How do you even manage permissions in personal accounts? Should they get full access? Partial access?
  6. …the list goes on

Instead of dealing with all of the above, why not just click a button? That’s what our Hands-On Labs offer, and now, that’s what our Playground Cloud Sandboxes also offer.

Don’t let administrative overhead get in the way of progress, or get in the way of training your team. Turn the constant cloud technology changes into a strength.

Playground Instant Terminal

Another common issue that teams face is corporate firewall restrictions which blog SSH access over port 22. This is a common restriction for security reasons, but it poses a problem for team members trying to SSH into servers. So, if you were to launch servers from our Playground Servers, or if you were to launch instances in an AWS Sandbox, how would you access those servers?

To solve this problem, we launched Playground with a feature called Instant Terminal. Playground Instant Terminal lets you click a button to open an in-browser terminal that allows you to connect via HTTPS (port 443), and from that terminal, you can then SSH to our Playground Servers or instances within lab environments, even behind enterprise firewalls! The best part is that these in-browser terminals are ready for use instantly so that you don’t have anything standing in the way of your learning.

Linux Academy Instant Terminal

Instant Terminal provides a safe way to log into our training servers from your browser

Instant Labs

Speaking of instant loading, our Playground Cloud Sandboxes also launch instantly. You press a button, and your credentials become available for you to log into the AWS console. As soon as you log in, your AWS environment is ready for use.

It really is that fast!

Included at no Additional Cost

The best part is that we’ve officially launched this functionality to all of our paid users at no additional cost. It doesn’t matter if you launch 1 or 10 EC2 instances with databases, Lambda functions, and store S3 files. We won’t transfer that cost to you so you never have to worry about forgetting to shut down resources and getting an unexpected AWS bill at the end of the month.

Focus on learning new skills, and we’ll handle the rest.

Happy learning!

Linux Academy team training

Ready to try our AWS Sandbox environments? Sign up for a 7-day free trial or request a demo and get access to the best cloud training.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *