Amazon’s AWS is introducing premium paid subscriptions for individuals and teams looking to bolster their cloud computing skills.
Amazon announced a bunch of free cloud skills training products last November, one of which was AWS Skill Builder, an online learning center featuring hundreds of free cloud computing courses. With AWS Skill Builder subscriptions, the tech giant is now looking to monetize the offering through monthly subscriptions that usher in a bunch of extra features and services on top of the basic free training plan.
Individual subscriptions are priced at $29 per month or $299 for the year, and they offer three practice exams for those looking to pass an official AWS Certification program, which the company has offered for the past decade. On top of that, subscribers are offered tools such as “builder labs,” which are basically practical guided exercises spanning some of the more common cloud situations — users are given a sandboxed AWS account for the exercise.
Team subscriptions, meanwhile, weigh in at $449 per learner each year, though high-volume discounts are available. This plan includes a bunch of enterprise-focused features such as the ability to assign training exercises, progress reports and integration with a company’s single sign-on (SSO) provider.
It’s worth noting that each of the so-called “big three” cloud companies have introduced all manner of training courses through the years as they try to sway developers and companies over to their respective ecosystems. For the most part, they’ve largely been free (though there are many premium courses available through third-party partnerships) or come with a one-off fee, but we are starting to see a push toward cloud companies charging their existing customers recurring fees for skilling up, which is what Amazon’s latest program is all about. With a monthly subscription, this may encourage users to place a greater value on the courses and ensure that they keep up with their learning — while simultaneously giving AWS a small revenue boost.
Last year Google introduced Google Cloud Skills Boost with the goal of training 40 million people how to use various facets of its cloud platform. This was powered by its 2016 acquisition of Qwiklabs, and similar to Amazon’s new effort, it charges $29 or $299 depending on whether the user wants to commit to a monthly or annual subscription. There is also a team subscription option that’s apparently available upon request.
If nothing else, all this helps to highlight how pivotal the cloud has become in the fortunes of Big Tech. Despite the global economic climate and a $2 billion loss, Amazon last week reported continued strong cloud growth, with AWS revenues jumping 33% year on year to $19.74 billion in Q2.
But while cloud spending is clearly going up, the IT skills gap isn’t getting any smaller, and addressing this disparity is something that Amazon hopes its customers will be willing to pay for.