Google: Learn cloud skills for free with our new training tracks

Google wants to teach you all about cloud, AI, BigQuery, Kubernetes, and containers.

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Google is offering a free course for people who are on the hunt for skills to use containers, big data and machine-learning models in Google Cloud.

The initial batch of courses consists of four tracks aimed at data analysts, cloud architects, data scientists and machine-learning engineers. 

The January 2021 course offers a fast track to understand key tools for engineers and architects to use in Google Cloud. It includes a series on getting started in Google Cloud, another focussing on its BigQuery data warehouse, one that delves into the Kubernetes engine for managing containers, another for the Anthos application management platform, and a final chapter on Google's standard interfaces for natural language processing and computer vision AI. 

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Participants need to sign up to Google's "skills challenge" and will be given 30 days' free access to Google Cloud labs. The free offer is aimed at people who are new to Google Cloud and helps them get their head around terminology and concepts behind core infrastructure, such as writing cloud shell commands, deploying virtual machines, and running applications on Kubernetes. 

The first part of the course takes an estimated five hours to complete and focuses on creating and managing cloud resources. Participants learn how to "write gcloud commands and use Cloud Shell, create and deploy virtual machines in Compute Engine, run containerized applications on Google Kubernetes Engine, and configure network and HTTP load balancers."

The courses are being run on Qwiklabs, a learning platform that Google Cloud acquired in 2016 to train people and help them get on board Google Cloud. It's meant to address the shortage of workers who have cloud skills. 

Participants get a 30 minute tour of Qwiklabs; a lesson on how to create a Google Compute Engine virtual machine or a Windows Server instance; an overview of how to use Google's Cloud Shell for accessing resource; and tips on how to set up network and web load balancers for an app running in a VM.

The next track explores cloud storage, access control and identity management, cloud monitoring, using the Google Cloud Platform Console, creating functions using Google's command line, and how to use messages for applications.

After completing a challenge lab at the end of each track, participants can earn Google Cloud "skill badges". 

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"Each track will give you a chance to earn different skill badges such as the Foundational Infrastructure skill badge or Foundational Data, ML, and AI skill badge, which you can share with your network," explains Murriel Perez McCabe, a customer engineer at Google Cloud

To earn a skill badge, students need to complete a series of hands-on labs on Google Cloud labs to learn new cloud skills and then confirm their newfound skills via a final challenge lab assessment.