How hard can it be to write an educational course?

“How hard can it be to write an educational course?”, I thought. “After all, I’ve watched probably a hundred online courses across the last 7 years and 20 certifications”.

Much like a developer’s terror when asked, “how long will it take to implement technical feature X?”, it turned out it was 4 months rather than my initial estimate of 2 weeks, but it did finally go live on Udemy this week.

I’ve written an ultra-focused course Terraform AKS baseline clusters - deployment walkthrough where I’ve taken a reference architecture from the Azure Architecture Centre, and converted it from Azure Bicep, into Terraform, which I know very well and have spent the last 5 years working with.

The reasons behind writing the course were:

  • to get an appreciation of what’s involved in writing a course
  • to become at least somewhat familiar with the tools of creating video-based content (for this I used TechSmith’s SnagIt, Camtasia and Audiate), and while they’re expensive, I would recommend them.
  • to shorten the learning curve for others learning to operate Azure Kubernetes Service.

The last point was the primary one - when I took up a role implementing AKS, I already had hands-on experience with Amazon’s EKS, had the Certified Kubernetes Administrator and Certified Kubernetes Application Developer qualifications, and could install a bare metal cluster. And I still felt lost when it came to deploying a production-ready solution in Azure - there are so many options you could choose. How will you separate out your networking? Which policies will you apply? Ingress Controller - will you choose Application Gateway Ingress Controller, Traefik, Istio?

I answer none of these questions (!), but instead give the learner the “opinionated defaults” from the Azure Architecture Centre’s baseline.

As I point out in the course, the Azure Quickstart has you creating a simple cluster using all the defaults, which spins up around 7 Azure resources.

The Azure Architecture Centre’s “baseline” (baseline, remember) wants to create 140 resources using Azure Bicep, and uses Flux GitOps to deploy certain bootstrap components. And written all over their guide is how this is only a reference implementation, and you wouldn’t put it into production.

I’ve come across plenty of good AKS and Kubernetes courses which range between 9 and 27 hours in length, and I agree that the topic is so complex that we could spend weeks just scratching the surface.

My pitch in this 2.5-hour course is that you’ll learn how to use AKS fastest if you get your hands on a working cluster, and I believe that my course will get you a working cluster in just a couple of hours. Plus, you’ll have well-written Terraform and bash shell scripts to use as reference material.