Online Courses Open Doors for Hybrid Cloud Careers

Curious about the fusion between the public and private cloud, Rahul Singh turned to online courses to develop hybrid cloud skills he can use to drive digital transformation.

By Calvin Hennick

By Calvin Hennick December 08, 2020

At 24, Rahul Singh is just beginning his career in information technology. But even when he was much younger, the IT world inspired him to learn new skills that would open doors to a fruitful future.

Singh, originally from the state of Gujarat in India, moved nearly 2,000 kilometers to the south to attend university in Bangalore. While he was still completing his undergraduate degree, he also enrolled in a machine learning course offered by the online learning platform Udacity. Singh initially took the class to help him with a project for his university coursework, but he was impressed by the extent to which the online course content addressed real-world business problems.

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Today, Singh is an engineer for a large IT consulting company, and he continues to look for opportunities to learn more and advance in his field. This dedication to lifelong learning led him to apply for the Nutanix Hybrid Cloud Scholarship.

“I was already working on public cloud infrastructure, and I knew a few things about private clouds,” said Singh. “I wanted to explore this fusion between the public and private cloud.”

Essential Skills

The Hybrid Cloud Nanodegree is a three-course program, offered in partnership between Nutanix and Udacity, which gives students access to real-world Nutanix infrastructure to allow them to complete a series of practical projects. Working at their own pace, students put in between 60 and 80 hours of learning time project work, and they emerge with concrete skills that are in increasingly high demand among employers. 

The first course teaches students how to set up and run a private cloud, the second covers how to layer in automation, and the third teaches students how to incorporate the public cloud to create a true hybrid cloud environment.

Mark Lavi, principal DevOps advocate at Nutanix, authored two of the courses for the Nanodegree. He said that employers are scrambling for cloud talent, and that programs such as the Hybrid Cloud Nanodegree give students a rapid way to gain skills that will help them add value to their companies.

“Every business knows they need cloud skills,” Lavi said. “The demand is there. The goal of the course is to upskill the students to be empowered to drive all of those outcomes. It’s really about having those skills, but more importantly being able to demonstrate those skills. I can get certified on infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean I actually did anything. Here, the students have an artifact of their work.”

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The disruption caused by the coronavirus and expanded remote work programs are leading organizations to accelerate their hybrid cloud efforts, Lavi noted.

“It’s very hard to change with no impetus,” he says. “But things like COVID-19 are forcing us to transform. Anything can be virtualized; anything can have an application programming interface; anything can be automated. That’s a huge journey that hybrid cloud engineers can help accelerate.”

Looking Ahead

The Nutanix Cloud Scholarship was the first scholarship for an online course that Singh ever applied for. He says he was attracted to the opportunity due to the industry’s ongoing shift toward a hybrid cloud computing model, and he also recognized that there may be an opportunity for his current employer to reduce the cost of some of its projects by adopting a hybrid approach. 

“It did cross my mind that, currently, the projects we do are pretty costly,” Singh said. “I did think that switching to hybrid cloud might benefit my employer.”

“A year back, I heard about hybrid cloud for the first time, for a project we were doing for a large tech company,” he added. “That piqued my interest, that there was something that could combine resources from public and private clouds. But I did not have a lot of learning resources. That’s when I came across the scholarship announcement from Udacity.”

Beyond his specific interest in learning more about the hybrid cloud, Singh said he saw the scholarship as an opportunity to simply keep advancing his industry knowledge – an activity he views as critically important in the ever-changing field of technology. 

“I think it’s important to keep refining yourself,” he said. “Technology is evolving continuously. Yesterday, we had a version of something, and two days later we have a new version. If you’re not updated, you might miss out. So I think learning new things is very important.”

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Singh said he was “pretty happy” to learn he was selected for the scholarship. He is currently starting work on his first major project for the Nanodegree, building a hybrid cloud revenue management system for an e-commerce application. He says he appreciates the practical, hands-on nature of the program.

“That does help, especially with technologies like this – the hybrid cloud – which are not accessible publicly,” he said. “If I were just learning from lectures, that wouldn’t help me a lot. This actually helps me.”

For Singh, another highlight of the program was the professional community that has formed among students who are taking the courses together. 

“I made a few very good friends,” Singh said. “Collaborative learning has helped me, and I have made friends that I still keep in touch with. We still talk about the courses, and what we are planning for the future – not just related to the course, but about everything.”

“The journey has been great so far, both with Udacity in general and with this foundational course,” Singh added. “The learning community is beyond amazing. I will be cherishing this experience forever.”

Calvin Hennick is a contributing writer. His work appears in BizTech, Engineering Inc., The Boston Globe Magazine and elsewhere. He is also the author of Once More to the Rodeo: A Memoir. Follow him on Twitter @CalvinHennick.

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