A Cloud Guru rides industry trends to meet growing demand for tech skills training
When Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg were struggling to find affordable learning resources for cloud application development, they created their first class in 2015.
What began as a single cloud certification course has since expanded to include training for Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services Inc. In the 12 months prior to the coronavirus pandemic, ACG quadrupled in size, growing from 100 to 400 employees through new funding and the acquisition of Linux Academy.
The onset of COVID-19 has fueled ACG’s business further, according to the firm’s president.
“What we’re seeing is an increase in our beginner or fundamental courses,” said Katie Bullard (pictured), president of A Cloud Guru, who indicated that introductory courses for the three major cloud providers were the most in demand. “I think that is a direct reflection of people who are looking at this as an opportunity to reskill and set themselves up for a new career.”
Bullard spoke with Stu Miniman, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio. They discussed growth in the cloud space that has fueled interest in the company’s courses, trends in multicloud and serverless computing, ACG’s rapid expansion and steps the firm is taking during the global pandemic.
Increased move to cloud
ACG’s appeal extends far beyond an audience of people who are already technically skilled. Last year, two coal miners in a small West Virginia community were among the 1 million students worldwide who completed training with the firm.
The online learning company has also taken advantage of the fact that cloud is a growth industry. According to Forrester, 65% of North American enterprises depend on public cloud platforms, and that number is expected rise significantly as remote work skyrocketed after the pandemic closed offices around the world. This has also led to greater interest in learning new cloud skills among ACG’s customers.
“What we are hearing from our customers and from the market is that a move to the cloud is even more important now,” Bullard said. “We’ve seen the percentage of our users that are logging in on a daily basis go up about 30%. People are taking advantage of a little bit of extra time to accelerate their learning.”
Training platforms can often provide insight into tech trends and direction. One such trend has been the migration of enterprise workloads to multicloud platforms. The information-technology analytics firm Flexera Software LLC recently released its cloud report for 2020 and found that 93% of firms surveyed had a multicloud strategy. ACG has seen this reflected in its own numbers, along with rising interest in Azure.
“We were seeing a pretty significant consumption across multicloud skills,” Bullard noted. “Azure in particular is seeing about a three times higher increase in consumption than the other two cloud service providers, although all three are increasing rapidly.”
Interest in serverless
The cloud training firm has also been at the forefront of another trend: serverless computing. ACG hosted the first-ever serverless conference in 2016 and built its online course delivery model using AWS Lambda. Perhaps more notably, both ACG and its newly acquired Linux Academy offer multiple hours of training in the serverless field.
“We think we’re the world’s first serverless startup,” said Ryan Kroonenburg, during an interview with theCUBE in 2017. “We’re certainly the world’s first serverless learning management system.”
Bullard came to ACG after previously serving as president of DiscoverOrg/Zoominfo where she led the company’s growth from $60 million to $400 million in less than four years. She may be headed on the same trajectory now with ACG.
The company closed a growth equity round of $33 million in April 2019 and filed for a $257 million round in December, which was connected to the Linux Academy acquisition. The result has been that the firm Bullard joined over a year ago has become significantly larger. The sales staff alone had six people in January 2019. Now it has over 100.
“It’s been amazing to see this company essentially quadruple in size over the last six months,” Bullard said. “By the end of December, we were a 400-person company.”
While managing that growth may be a challenge, it comes at a time when many enterprises are confronted with a fluid business picture and significant disruption in the global economy. ACG has recently adjusted its pricing structure as a reflection of the current situation.
“Across both the Linux Academy and ACG platforms, we have permanently lowered the price of our individual membership,” Bullard said. “That has helped enable people who otherwise couldn’t afford it to afford it.”
In addition, the company launched a free education program for those impacted by COVID-19. ACG will give away 1,000 annual subscriptions through an application process.
“I know we already have hundreds of applications, so we’re really excited to offer that,” Bullard said. “Everything is very unpredictable in this environment, but we do feel that our fundamental mission is to help customers get through this.”
Here’s the complete video interview, one of many CUBE Conversations from SiliconANGLE and theCUBE:
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