This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.
Remember trial software? It was great for two things. You could attempt to see if a piece of software would work for what you needed, or you could use it to boost your skills. You could download an evaluation copy of Windows Server and, for six months, deploy it on as many bits of hardware as you could find, in as many complex scenarios as you could find, and use it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you had an adequate supply of Red Bull. Learning was free.
Cloud changes this. Sure, there are trial accounts, but those trial accounts are limited in both time and ‘money’. Additionally, not all capabilities and features are exposed to trial accounts. Some features require a pay-as-you-go model. Additionally, restrictions such as requiring a credit card and limiting each credit card to only one trial creates additional friction.
Paying to use a platform for learning that platform is a model that many individuals and organisations are struggling to adopt. Significant opportunity exists for those innovative companies who can simplify both the process and cost of learning. Learning may not be free anymore, but we can do things to remove the barriers to learning and make the platform more accessible at a predictable and fixed cost.
Cloud providers can also take steps to make learning easier and ultimately drive adoption. The ability to clearly define spending limits for users, groups or subscriptions while retaining the ability to perform administrator level tasks along with the separation of billing controls from administrative controls is key.
Additionally, better controls on the types and quantity of cloud objects that can be created are needed.
Finally, some simple controls that indicate a given subscription is a training subscription and more aggressively preventing unneeded spending by pausing or stopping key resources at the end of day, or after a set period, would vastly extend the life of a trial or training account, enabling more effective learning over a longer period. Native implementations of these capabilities in cloud platforms is sporadic and incomplete when evaluated from the viewpoint of learning.
Where there is challenge, there is opportunity. Innovative companies who can create a learning interface for the cloud, which pairs custom resource management with learning focused tools and controls, can not only drive cloud adoption, but make it cheaper and easier for both consumers and business to learn in a world where learning is no longer free.
Corey Hynes is CEO and chief product architect at Learn on Demand Systems
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