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Introducing Cloud Playground: Even More Hands-On Training Features

Posted on February 11, 2019 by Anthony James Founder/CEOAnthony James Founder/CEO

I’m happy to announce that Cloud Playground is now available on Linux Academy! Seven years ago we launched our first Cloud Servers interface providing the ability for Linux Academy students to spin up virtual machines on-demand as part of their membership. Since our Training Architects use the same toolset as our students when building courses, Cloud Servers helped reduce the barrier of entry for students while learning and reduced the need for corporate customers to require downloads or to have port 22 open to access our training. At any given time, our Cloud Servers platform managed 20,000+ virtual machines. However, technology has changed quite a bit over the last 7 years, and at Linux Academy, we like to be on the leading edge of those technologies. To reflect the changing demand of Cloud Native architectures in the common corporate environment, we are announcing an upgrade to Cloud Servers.

As of this month, Cloud Servers is now known as Cloud Playground Servers and has received a major upgrade with additional features: Playground Instant Terminal and Playground Cloud Sandboxes!

Major Upgrades Brought by Playground

New Interface and Longer Expiration Time

We’ve built a new interface that allows for additional features and more information about the servers. You’ll notice that server action logs detail everything that the platform is doing when spinning up your server. We also are moving away from our old 123456 temporary passwords and are randomly generating one on demand for additional security (you do have the ability to reset your password as well). IPv6 is another major addition to the platform, reflecting the next generation of networking.

Linux Academy Cloud Playground Server Logs Example

Upgraded interface and server logs

Ability to Launch Different Size Servers Through Units

Different software and different Linux Academy courses require different configurations on these servers. To reflect this and the students’ choice to play as they please, we have built in the ability to launch different virtual machine sizes. We measure this through units; each student has 9 units. The smallest launchable server is 1 unit which means that students can now launch up to 9 servers. You can also launch small, medium, and large sizes that use more units. We ensure enough units are available for students to successfully use the Cloud Playground for any course to learn anything within Linux Academy.

This means you can use Cloud Playground to practice configuring technologies like Chef, Ansible, Puppet, Kubernetes, and more. You’re able to set a master node with child nodes to see how they interact, and you’re able to configure container networking between different servers, to name a few examples.

All of this can be achieved in our own environment so that you don’t have to worry about introducing security vulnerabilities in your corporate environments, you don’t have to worry about management overhead, and you don’t have to worry about costs. Practice as much as you want, and start over if you make mistakes. That’s what a playground is for after all!

Linux Academy Cloud Playground example screenshot

Launch different distributions and server sizes

Ability to Launch Cloud Sandbox Environments for AWS

A Cloud revolution has occurred over the past 7 years, and while Linux is part of your cloud stack, it is no longer the start and finish of your stack. Linux has its role, but at Linux Academy, we train on everything that runs on Linux and everything Linux runs on. That means we train on all of the major cloud providers, not just Linux-focused cloud training, but core cloud training. To reflect the ever-changing nature of these cloud providers and the fact that they launch over 600 updates per year, we know how important it is to practice with these environments in order to stay up-to-date with these changes.

We have launched the ability to create a sandbox AWS environment (Azure and Google Cloud coming soon) to play with as you please. These environments have very few restrictions and empower you to use and learn in an AWS environment without worrying about shutting down resources, managing costs, or providing it to hundreds or thousands of your employees as part of a team training initiative. All of this is included in our individual and enterprise memberships!

Cloud Consoles gif

Launch sandbox AWS environments with Cloud Playground Sandboxes

Ability to use Cloud Playground in Corporate Environments with Instant Terminal

Many of our students and team accounts utilize Linux Academy training on a corporate network. Believing in hands-on training also means we need to provide ways for your team to train that doesn’t create compliance or security risks in your environment. This means labs cannot require downloads and cannot utilize port 22 for SSH. With Cloud Servers and our hands-on Linux/DevOps labs, they all have a web-based port 443 terminal provided with them.

However, what happens if you launch an instance in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud environments and want to connect to it? You need an SSH workstation that works as a proxy to connect to port 22 on those providers. To get around this, we created Instant Terminal! Instant Terminal launches a terminal instantly in the browser. There are no downloads needed, and only port 443 is required to be opened. From there you can SSH into any instance on any provider; meaning you can launch a Linux EC2 instance with port 22 open on AWS using Cloud Playground Sandboxes. If port 22 is closed on your corporate network (as it should be), you can use the instant terminal to SSH over port 22 while only exposing port 443 (HTTPS) on your corporate network.

Linux Academy Instant Terminal

Use Instant Terminal to SSH from your browser over port 443

Server Deletion Notifications & Tagging

We know you get busy and may not remember to log into an idle server, so we launched the Cloud Server deletion notification service to remind you. We delete a server when a student has not used it for 14 days. Our reminders will provide an opportunity to log back in, start the server, and reset the server inactivity counter to 14 days if still in use.

One of our biggest requests was the ability to tag/label a server instead of using a pre-built list of terms. This feature has also been added, and students can now create a custom tag when creating a server.

Additional features to expect

These are some of the features we’ve launched with Cloud Playground. Our team is actively developing a lot of functionality, and here are some of the other things you can look forward to later on:

  • More regions to deploy in (for example South Asia).
  • Backups to back up your work from one course to another.
  • Azure Sandbox.
  • Google Sandbox.
  • And a whole lot more!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog, Youtube channel, and you can follow me, Anthony, on Twitter for more Linux Academy announcements. We have a lot coming your way in 2019!

Ansible Quick Start course at Linux Academy

Learn a new technology like Ansible in minutes with a 7-day free trial and the Cloud Playground or request a demo!


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