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Top 10 ACG Hands-On Labs of 2022

Looking for hands-on learning? We’ve created a list of all the best hands-on labs in 2022, according to the people who took them. Check it out!

Nov 15, 2023 • 8 Minute Read

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Looking for hands-on learning instead of just suffering through another instructional video, or worse, reading text (yes, I see the irony). We’ve created a list of all the best hands-on labs Pluralsight Skills and A Cloud Guru offered in 2022, according to you, our learners! 

(If you’re interested in checking out what our most popular courses were this year, check out our other article: Top 10 ACG Cloud Courses of 2022)

1. Introduction to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Our most taken lab this year! This lab walks you through the foundations of AWS IAM, and focuses on user and group management, as well as how to assign access to specific resources using IAM-managed policies. You also learn to find the login URL where AWS users can log into their account, and explore this from a real-world perspective.

Average completion time: 45 minutes

2. Create and Assume Roles in AWS

Another IAM-based lab, this one walks through how security policies affect IAM users and groups, and goes further into how you can implement your own policies. You also learn what a role is, how to create a role, and how to assume a role as a different user.

Average completion time: 1 hour

Check out this hands-on lab: Create and Assume Roles in AWS

3. Create a Static Website Using Amazon S3

Who loves S3? A lot of people, that’s who. That’s why this S3 lab was (appropriately) our third most popular in 2022. This handy lab teaches you how to create and configure a simple static website, allowing you to create a cost-efficient website hosting for sites that consist of files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, font, and images.

Average completion time: 30 minutes

Check out this hands-on lab: Create a Static Website Using Amazon S3

4. Creating a Simple AWS Lambda Function

Lambda is an amazing service — it allows you to run code without thinking of servers or clusters, runs with minimal operating costs, and handles spiky workloads like a boss. Unsurprisingly, learning how to create simple AWS Lambda functions was our fourth top lab in 2022.

We predict Lambda (and this lab) is about to get a whole lot more popular in 2023, given AWS announced at re:Invent that they’ve practically eliminated Lambda cold starts, which was the biggest pain point and disincentive for people moving to Lambda.

This lab provides hands-on experience creating a customized Python3-based Lambda function within the console, showing you how easy it is to get started.

Average completion time: 30 minutes

Check out this hands-on lab: Creating a Simple AWS Lambda Function

5. Launch an EC2 Instance in a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

In this lab, Alfredo of Alfredo's Pizza is looking to set up a website to advertise his pizza shop. You help him by getting the server primed and ready to host his website. It walks you through creating a virtual private cloud (VPC), subnets across multiple Availability Zones (AZs), routes, an internet gateway, and more.

After this lab, when someone asks you how hard it is to launch an EC2 instance, you’ll be saying it’s “easy to.” (Yes, I made that pun, and I have no regrets.)

Average completion time: 45 minutes

6. Getting Started with CloudFormation

CloudFormation is a powerful automation service within AWS. It can be used to create simple or complex sets of infrastructure any number of times. Our learners loved this lab because it provided a gentle introduction to the service, and how to use it to create and update a number of S3 buckets.

Average completion time: 1 hour

Check out this hands-on lab: Getting Started with CloudFormation

7. Using EC2 Roles and Instance Profiles in AWS

Once people had taken the labs on the basics of AWS IAM, creating roles within AWS, and how to launch an EC2 instance, the next step was to combine all their knowledge and learn how to create IAM roles for EC2. 

This popular lab is longer than the rest but quite in depth, teaching you how to create a trust policy and role using the AWS CLI, test S3 permissions within the CLI, attach IAM roles to EC2 instances using the AWS management console, and more.

Average completion time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Check out this hands-on lab: Using EC2 Roles and Instance Profiles

8. Building a Kubernetes 1.27 Cluster with kubeadm

In 2022, Kubernetes continued to surge in popularity, so it’s no surprise that this hands-on lab was one of the most popular with our learners. This lab teaches you how to build a new Kubernetes cluster. You’re given a set of Linux servers, and have the opportunity to turn these into a functioning Kubernetes cluster.

If you’re looking to learn more about Kubernetes, we also highly recommend checking out the Certified Kubernetes Administrator cert prep course. It’s a great opportunity even if you don’t end up sitting the exam. The course is 25 hours well spent, and there are 32 hands-on labs incorporated into it, should you choose to take them.

Average completion time: 1 hour 15 minutes

9. Creating Amazon S3 Buckets, Managing Objects, and Enabling Versioning

Coming in as our ninth most popular course: Amazon S3 buckets! This hands-on lab teaches you to create two S3 buckets and verify public versus non-public access to the buckets. You also learn how to enable and validate versioning based on uploaded objects.

Average completion time: 30 minutes

10. Set up Cross-Region S3 Bucket Replication

Yes, more buckets! This lab teaches you how to create S3 buckets and enable automatic replication to back up files in a different physical location. This lab is exactly what it says on the tin (or in this case, bucket).

Average completion time: 30 minutes

Check out this hands-on lab: Set up Cross-Region S3 Bucket Replication

Advanced custom learning paths

Now you can quickly select from ACG’s entire library of courses, lessons, hands-on labs, and practice exams to build learning experiences tailored to your specific environment—in a matter of minutes! This new feature is easy to use and designed to help you: 

  • Create internal training certifications
  • Get new hires quickly up to speed on your tech stack 
  • Keep employees actively engaged and learning new technologies

Custom Cloud Sandboxes

Custom Cloud Sandboxes give your teams a safe, risk-free way to experiment with new cloud services and practice configuring them in an environment customized to your cloud infrastructure—without fear of breaking something in your live production environment. 

Whether you use AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or a combination of all three, we make it easy to build one-of-a-kind sandbox experiences unique to your organization. 

  • Seamlessly integrates with ACG’s existing Cloud Playground
  • Allows you to build a one-of-a-kind experience according to your actual cloud architecture
  • Gives your teams the ability to practice and perfect their cloud skills in a real cloud environment for up to 8 hours

Learn more about Custom Cloud Sandboxes.

Extended Time Limit

Unlike the industry-standard time limit of four hours, we’re adding an extended time limit option to cloud sandboxes to allow your teams to deepen their cloud expertise. With a full eight hours, they’ll have sufficient time to master their skills for your environment.

Challenge Mode Labs

Challenge Mode allows you to test your knowledge and apply your skills in hands-on labs without instructional videos and guides. You cannot check your work until you submit your lab. Once the lab is submitted, you'll see a results page showing your score overall as well as your pass/fail status by objective.

Click Show Explanation for any failed objectives to see a brief explanation of why the objective wasn’t passed. Challenge Mode is currently available for our most popular labs, and we continue to add more to our library.

  • Non-guided challenge mode labs to validate hands-on expertise
  • No video guidance or progress checks
  • Once complete, learners receive a pass-fail score to validate their hands-on knowledge. The score is based upon the number of tasks that were completed correctly (i.e. 3 out of 5 tasks)
  • Real-world scenario 

Cloud Adventures

While this was a late addition in 2022, Pluralsight and A Cloud Guru started publishing Cloud Adventures, a series of fun cloud computing courses that use cartoons and animations to liven things up. 

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If you’re looking for a series of 20+ highly original courses that explain everything from AWS and Azure to Linux, Terraform, Kubernetes, and more, check out our comprehensive blog post on all the Cloud Adventures courses on offer.