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Amazon Seeks Next Generation Of Cloud Users

AWS has launched AWS Educate, an online service with self-paced labs, tutorials, and best practices for educators and students.

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Amazon wants to educate us on how to use the cloud. And several major educational institutions -- including Carnegie Mellon -- are on board to help.

Amazon Web Services, the current dominant cloud vendor, launched AWS Educate on May 14. The Web portal offers a variety of resources for developing cloud skills, including how to make use of AWS EC2, S3, and other core services. It will also aggregate coursework from university computer science professors and host virtual educational events. Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Los Angeles High Impact Information Technology, Entertainment & Entrepreneurship, and Communications Hubs (a consortium of eight community colleges) are among the member organizations participating in the project.

The goal is to make it possible for educators to quickly and easily find cloud-related course content, incorporate cloud technology into their teaching curriculum, and provide students with hands-on experience with cloud technology. The company is sweetening the pot with the offer of AWS credits for those who use the AWS Educate materials.

"When we travel around the world, customers tell us they need more job skills in cloud computing," Teresa Carlson, AWS VP, worldwide public sector, said in an interview. Carlson pointed to, a nonprofit encouraging computer education in public schools. The organization projects that, by 2020, there will be 400,000 students in college computer science courses in the US, and 1.4 million jobs waiting to be filled.

[Want to see why Amazon thinks it's going to be around for as a cloud supplier for a while? See AWS Revenue Reveals Cloud Powerhouse.]

"We want this to be available to everyone, from community college programs up through the Ivy League. We want as deep and broad a set of students as possible," said Carlson.

In addition to basic compute and storage, AWS Educate users may access Relational Database Service, DynamoDB, Elastic MapReduce, the Cloudfront content distribution system, Redshift data warehouse, and Glacier long-term storage. Educators at member institutions are entitled to $200 worth of AWS credit, while their students get $100 in credit. Educators at non-member institutions can earn $75 in AWS credit, and students can earn $35 in credit. The credits can be used to redeem eligible AWS services such as those listed above.'s first headquarters in 1994

(Image: Amazon)

Amazon.comís first headquarters in 1994

(Image: Amazon)

AWS Educate will feature self-paced labs for hands-on experience with cloud services. Educators receive access to AWS Essentials courses, which offer an in-depth technical look at various services and ways to use them.

Among the resources that will be available through the site will be Amazon webinars and instructional videos on best practices, along with customer case studies. Carlson said AWS Educate plans to stage virtual events for educators and in-person events on the campuses of member colleges and universities.

Educators will be able to upload and share programs materials they have created to teach cloud computing, according to a statement from Amazon. The portal will include a forum where educators can discuss issues in their work and how they created coursework. The portal already houses educator-uploaded materials from the likes of Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Cornell. AWS CTO Werner Vogel taught and conducted research at Cornell before joining AWS.

Available courses include: Scalable and Cloud Computing, taught by Prof. Zack Ives at the University of Pennsylvania; Introduction to Cloud Computing, taught by Eyal de Lara at the University of Toronto; and Introduction to Data Management by Magdalena Balazinska at the University of Washington.

In the Amazon Educate announcement, Prof. Majd Sakr, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, said that he gives students "1.2 TB of Twitter data and asks them to compete against other students by building a Tweet query Web service that meets correctness, budget, and throughput requirements." He said he's had 770 students take on the problem so far, and he'd like to expand his use of AWS in the classroom over the new few years.

Ives, at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the Amazon Educate announcement that it's important to give students "realistic projects … such as building a Web crawler and search engine," and also to "demystify the popular services they use every day."

Patricia Ramos, dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Santa Monica College, a member of the LA HI-TECH consortium, said in the Amazon statement that the course work available through AWS Educate was important for "equipping our students with the skills needed to succeed in a competitive workforce."

"We're trying to create crowd sourcing" for cloud-computing content, Carlson told InformationWeek. In addition to computer science departments, where she thinks the program will have its first appeal, she expects to try to engage business schools, medical institutions, among other schools, in the coursework available. "There will be very few jobs that don't require some skills in coding and computer science," she said.

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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2015 | 3:45:12 AM
Cloud Professional Certificate from Amazon
"Amazon wants to educate us on how to use the cloud. And several major educational institutions -- including Carnegie Mellon -- are on board to help. Amazon Web Services, the current dominant cloud vendor, launched AWS Educate on May 14. The Web portal offers a variety of resources for developing cloud skills, including how to make use of AWS EC2, S3, and other core services."

Charles, in Asian countries, Amazon has made tie up with various universities to offer cloud certification courses. They keep all the material in cloud and finally exams also through cloud set up, everything with cloud!!!. 
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2015 | 1:26:57 AM
Re: Amazon like Apple in moving into education early
They say that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. If they cut their teeth on AWS, it's more likely that they'll stay with AWS when they get to choose.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2015 | 12:23:38 AM
Business, science, medical students expected to show up
Although Amazon officials think computer science students will be the first to tap into free or low cost cloud education, Carlson said she expects some business and medical students and students from other schools will make use of it as well. And did I forget to say those credits renew annually? They strike me as just enough time on Amazon to satisfy a one-semester project or course.
User Rank: Apprentice
5/19/2015 | 11:20:27 PM
Another Brilliant Move by Amazon
Once I relalized that UC San Diego was hosting its intranet ("blink") on the AWS cloud, it was clear to me that cloud adoption had officially become "mainstream". It's a brilliant move for Amazon to educate the next generation of IT professionals on how best to configure and deploy to their best-of-breed cloud services!
User Rank: Author
5/19/2015 | 9:46:17 AM
Re: Amazon like Apple in moving into education early
Interesting observaction, Charlie. You're right about Apple computers. I still remember the ones my school brought in back in the day.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/18/2015 | 7:02:08 PM
Amazon like Apple in moving into education early
Apple got its foot in the door with schools as a  first mover in personal computers. It's a special status that buys you entree with academia. Amazon is doing something similar with AWS Educate and cloud computing.
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