Open Cloud Academy: Making Geeks In San Antonio For One Year

Last week, I attended the one year anniversary party of the Open Cloud Academy, a Rackspace-sponsored educational organization designed to arm students with affordable IT training and industry standard certifications. Tucked away in the same building as Geekdom in downtown San Antonio, this hands-on program is the perfect solution for people who love technology but are unsure how to acquire the skills needed for entry-level IT roles.

Too Little and Too Much Information
Let me take you back to the 1990s, when life wasn’t easy for a would-be geek. The web was still in its 1.0 infancy, and Google was not yet considered one of the Internet’s cartographers and intergalactic transporters. At the time, I was enamored with Linux and the open source movement. I was inspired by the free exchange of ideas and knowledge that the Internet promised. I knew I wanted to be involved with technology in some way, preferably sitting in front of a terminal, building sites and making it all work, but alas, Linux was still a murky concept that was primarily accessible to the old school Alpha Geeks already familiar with the Unix machines of the 70s and 80s. The information available to a *nix novice was sparse, and the documentation I could find was often inaccurate or incomplete. Suffice it to say that my path to geekhood was fraught with many late nights, dog-eared O’Reilly manuals and countless reformatted hard disk drives.

Fast forward to today and up-and-coming technophiles have an entirely inverse problem: Too much information. The Internet is swarming with technical material on sites like Stack Exchange, Quora and Codecademy, but as the amount of information has increased, so has the complexity of the landscape. Technology has found a way to influence almost every facet of our lives. The problem is this: The available options have become so immensely vast that many people don’t know where to start or what path will get them where they want to be.

The Open Cloud Academy provides an elegant and effective solution to this problem by meticulously curating a technical path. This reduces the signal-to-noise ratio most young technologists encounter, allowing them to focus on building new skills on a foundation of real world applications and problem solving.

A Different Kind of Accelerator
Tech incubators and accelerators like Techstars and Y Combinator are well known for helping some of the Internet’s pioneers find their footing and direction. They are successful because they invest in the potential of passionate “doers.” By this, I mean that these incubators find passionate people and help them turn big ideas into big actions by providing mentorship and an innovative environment.

The Open Cloud Academy has adopted a similarly effective equation to help re-energize San Antonio’s technical community. The program enables people interested in technology to gain the skills needed to start contributing to technical projects at a high level immediately following graduation.

And the other great thing about the Open Cloud Academy is that it challenges students to solve real-world problems using their skills on a simulated support floor. The program incorporates things like mock tickets, which simulates the daily challenges real businesses face with their technical infrastructure. This experience is valuable because it allows students to better understand the quality of work that future employers will expect from them.

Join the OCA Community
The Open Cloud Academy is a great way to build a marketable career as an IT professional. Interested in learning more about the curriculum? Join the training team for an information session, which takes place at 6:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month at the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio. Or, make sure you follow the Open Cloud Academy on Twitter at @RackspaceOCA.

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