UPDATED 03:37 EDT / NOVEMBER 22 2016


Google acquires cloud learning platform Qwiklabs

Google Inc. is furthering its cloud computing ambitions with the acquisition of Qwiklabs, which offers hands-on lab learning environments for training on major cloud and infrastructure software platforms. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Qwiklabs, which was launched in 2012, provides a virtual lab environment for developers to gain hands-on experience with Amazon Web Services. The company had planned to add similar functionality for Google’s Cloud prior to the acquisition, and that will likely appear very soon now that Google is on the verge of gobbling it up.

The acquisition is yet another sign of Google’s intention to become a force in cloud computing to challenge AWS and Microsoft Azure. In recent months, the company has unified its enterprise and cloud services and added new machine learning services to its cloud platform.

Developers can experience Qwiklabs virtual labs through authorized instructor-led training courses or through an extensive catalog of self-paced labs. The classes cover basic skills in using Amazon’s cloud platform, for example, how to create an EC2 instance, and how to use services like Auto Scaling, Elastic Block Store and Load Balancing. Qwiklabs also offers more advanced courses, such as using AWS RDS for applications, and CloudFormation. The site offers 13 courses in total, at the moment.

As well as AWS, Qwiklabs also has partnerships with Red Hat Inc. and Nvidia Corp.

“There’s no faster way to get hands-on experience with a cloud environment and to learn all the ins and outs of today’s modern cloud solutions than in a Qwiklabs lab,” Google Director of Professional Services Jason Martin wrote in a blog post. “Qwiklabs offers step-by-step instructions to learn a popular cloud service, test different use cases and train your teams to become cloud experts. With Qwiklabs, we’re closing the IP skills gap in the cloud.”

Martin explained that Google intends to use Qwiklabs so it can focus on offering “the most comprehensive, efficient, and fun way to train and onboard people across all our products on Google Cloud, including Google Cloud Platform and G Suite.”

What isn’t clear is if Google will continue to allow Qwiklabs to provide training for developers on its rival AWS once the acquisition has been completed. Qwiklabs didn’t provide a clear answer to this question either in its own blog post announcing the acquisition.

“We plan to continue to offer lab learning credits and subscriptions for sale on Qwiklabs.com,” the company said. “Owners of existing credits and subscriptions continue to enjoy the same access to our library of hands-on labs. Our partners who deliver instructor-led training sessions and events can continue to do so.”

Qwiklabs reckons more than a half-million developers have used its platform, racking up over 5 million hours of AWS training to date.

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