Episode 090: Cloud & DevOps with Bart Castle | CloudSkills.fm

In this episode I catch up with Bart Castle, an Expert Trainer at CBT Nuggets where he spends his days making training content while consulting on the side. Though Bart began in the blue-collar sector, he quickly found his way into DevOps which led him into the consulting side of the Cloud-computing world. Now, he is in the position to shape the content that those in the cloud and DevOps sector want to consume!

Bart Castle is an IT professional with over eighteen years of experience, Bart has become a trusted leader and subject matter expert in the Cloud Computing arena.

Bart teaches a variety of DevOps, Networking, Telephony, and traditional enterprise technology courses. He also assists organizations of all sizes by providing cloud-migration strategy and support through Castle IT Consulting.

In this episode, we talk about…

  • Bart’s background and how he got into cloud computing
  • Behavioral problems are difficult to fix with technology
  • A light bulb went off in Bart’s head that led him to the training space
  • The Cloud Credential Council gave Bart the knowledge to create effective training content
  • Certifications are where the real-world implementation can get lost
  • This multimedia world has created innovative and unique ways to learn
  • Content that Bart is working on right now that act as a holistic approach to learn those skills
  • Cloud is only going to continue to grow, so there is plenty of content opportunity
  • Holistic learning might be a better way to go than the certification route
  • AWS is putting out exciting framework and server lenses that drive businesses
  • There are plenty of opportunities to add extra income streams right now
  • Network-compute infrastructure driven areas that hold hidden opportunity
  • COVID has changed the world of virtual training forever

Resources from this episode:

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Full Transcript:

Mike Pfeiffer:
Hey, what’s up everybody. It’s Mike Pfeiffer and you’re listening to the Cloud Skills FM Podcast. So Bart, it’s good to meet you. How’s it going, man?

Bart Castle:
I’m doing great Mike, I appreciate you having me on the show today. Just enjoying some time actually prepping for another AWS certification. I got to go and re-certify on here soon. So just constantly digging through the Cloud information.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Never a dull moment, right. So I have something to do. Yeah, that’s cool, man. So maybe for everybody listening that doesn’t know who you are, maybe share who you are, what’s your background, how you got into this Cloud thing.

Bart Castle:
Sure, absolutely. You know, for me, just starting out Cloud computing is really all of the things technology-based. So I think all paths end up leading here and certainly that’s the adventure that happened for me as well. I spent time in my career starting out like working regular blue collar jobs, but then moved into the computing space and got an accelerated network technology degree. Big role of behind certifications, got a couple of gigs out West working on enterprise networks and then worked my way up to being a network administrator for a software development company. Fell in love with Open source Linux, supporting developers, supporting the DevOps world. Doing DevOps before it was dev ops and scripting and automating all of the things. Fast forward a few years later, and I got into being a technical trainer where I had a chance to go and work with learners, help them get certified.

Bart Castle:
And of course be evangelist for all things technical. It was really networking first that started for me. And then that got me into app support, app design. And then once you get into the consulting space, which I was doing along the side there, I started doing security consulting and doing app design consulting and reporting, and really all of the things that fit under that Cloud umbrella. And so now I am an AWS expert trainer here at CBT Nuggets and I spend my days making training content and then also running a consulting business on the side where I get to selectively pick clients that I want to work with based on their size, the type of work that they do, my interest level and what they’re doing as well.

Bart Castle:
So it’s a good spot for me to be in right now. And again, Cloud computing is the key thing that made that possible. For me, being able to work across different arenas, different technologies, and really focus on tools, driving business value and solving, helping you alleviate human problems because ultimately I think the humans are the biggest issue behind most of the technical things that we really struggle with.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, it really is.

Bart Castle:
It is a big passion for me.

Mike Pfeiffer:
It’s hard to fix behavior problems with technology, it’s insanely hard, but that’s an awesome backstory dude. Very similar in a lot of ways to my backstory as well. And there’s probably a lot of people out there listening. That’s a good gig. Do some training, stay on top of all this new sexy stuff, work with customers on the side. How long did it take you to work into that situation where you’re training online, doing some stuff with customers on the side was it a long evolution over five/ten years or how did it play out?

Bart Castle:
There was like one key pivotal point where I made that cut. But at that point I was the network administrator for that software development shop. So I was doing all the things, production support, the windows domain, supporting all the developer tools, running the testing infrastructure, the virtual infrastructure. So just touching all the things and it’s a great story because we took a training class through an online provider a light bulb went off as I was sitting in class. It’s like, Oh, like I had no idea that people did this as a job in the IT space teaching online like this. So I hit up the trainer after class and I was like, Hey, I’m interested. How did you get this job? And he said, honestly, you were sharp in class. If you’re interested in it, send me your resume, I’d be down for it.

Bart Castle:
And in the end it was that reach out and express interest part of it that really landed me that gig. And they said, you’ve got the technical chops, you’re a people person, you’re outgoing. I think you could be a good trainer and we would love to help you do that. So I jumped in with global knowledge quite a few years ago and they brought me in, I started training for them and really that was the cut over. It was realizing that I could offer something to other learners and to technical folks. And really importantly, being able to bridge technical and people skill gaps there. And I thought that was the big differentiator and GK was cool about recognizing that. Fast forward I’m not with them anymore, but now I make training videos instead of delivering other people’s content. Now I help shape the content again, thinking about what a technical person might want to consume.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. That’s a different level too because now you’re becoming more of an author and building a video course is so much like writing a book in my experience, but going back to what you just said, I had pretty much a very similar experience there as well. I started in consulting for the most part. I started help desk and call centers, but went into consulting. And after about a decade of doing that, I never went to a class for a whole decade because I was always running around trying to fill in where I could, put out fires, do the Jack of all trades thing. And so I went 10 years of IT without ever go into a class. And I had the same experience. I sat in a class, I was watching a guy write on the whiteboard and I said, man, I can do that. I should be doing that. Why am I not up there? So anyways, it’s really cool. So what kind of classes do you teach right now over at CBT? You’re doing a lot of AWS stuff right now?

Bart Castle:
Yeah. They brought me in as an AWS specialist before that though I was teaching for the Cloud Credential Council as well. And the cool thing about what they were doing is it was non-vendor specific. So we’re talking about the Cloud arena as the general architect or being a security specialist or being a Cloud developer. And it gave me a great chance to home the dialogue around talking about cloud, without talking about AWS, or talking about Azure, talking about Google, or talking about Alibaba. And I thought that was really valuable and thinking more about the business process, part of it, and the business value. So when I come into my AWS training at CBT, they give me this like open door that says, well, we want you to make the training the way you think it should be made.

Bart Castle:
And so I had this great to dip into what I’d seen work well and what I’d seen in live classrooms and what I’d seen go wrong in data centers and in meetings and in planning operations, and really put all of that into my training content and think about it. Like you said, honestly, I didn’t do video training. I didn’t do a lot of that. I’d read the manuals. I hit the command line. I implemented these things and I realized that if I was going to make a training video that I’d want to watch.

Bart Castle:
It had to be something that I would be really interested in. So that gave me a chance to think about how I would approach it. And when I got to AWS, you’re talking about not a service, you’re talking about an ecosystem of interconnected products, which is a really interesting logistical problem to train on. I could repeat dozens of things in six different courses or I could come up with a streamlined way to cut across all of them. And so for me, I went back to saying, okay, well, how would I use this? How would I implement this? And what is the problems that it solves? And then show labs and walk through how to do that. And then, pull out little tidbits and come up with interesting ways to pull out the documentation or the API references and really pull those real world pieces together, plus narrative.

Bart Castle:
And a lot of dinosaurs, admittedly, I draw a lot of pictures and they really gave me the chance to make training content that was fun and interesting, which I definitely didn’t want to make anything boring. So those were good opportunities for me. In AWS is no shortage of things to train on and learn about from infrastructure development to Ops to security. And it just constantly is rewarding to work in that space and to help learners get on a path that’s going to take them through hopefully exciting careers like what I had and I’m still working through.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. Well I think a lot of people, I mean, gosh man, the variety of things you could get into with this Cloud conversation is just crazy. So that sounds really cool. I haven’t watched any CBT Nuggets stuff in years, but I used to watch a lot back in the old days. I remember the diagramming onscreen and all that stuff. That’s really cool. You guys are, sounds like you’re still doing that. Those are always fun. Different things that you don’t always see everywhere and you guys have your own signature way of doing things. Is the content aimed more at certification or is it just that’s an extra added benefit and you’re just trying to help people learn these fundamental concepts or what’s that all about?

Bart Castle:
Sure. Yeah. Well, with certifications, there’s often a set of objectives and things that we need to teach towards. And while I love iterating against things like that, it’s where stuff gets dry and stuff gets boring and stuff diverges from the real world implementation of it. So for me, it really is standing in between the two. Now for CBT, we made a great history in networking training and the Cisco world and the Comp TIA world and really bringing learners into the networking space, which is an incredibly technical arena to be working in and the whiteboard aspect, but ultimately it’s the trainers personalities I think that came through as much in the things that people are left with as a watermark for what CBT does there.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, definitely true.

Bart Castle:
Yeah. And for me, part of it is the visualization part of it. I’m an artist and I’ve been in theater, I’m a musician. So when it comes to how we can present this now, they’ve got us on camera and we get to…

Bart Castle:
… To how we can present this. Now they’ve got us on camera and we get a chance to interact with it, and that gives me a chance to bring energy out. And a lot of the other trainers really just rose up to it. And with YouTube out there, we really are competing in a multimedia world, where whiteboards are amazing, but live video is amazing, and animations are amazing, and the combination of those things, I think is the sweet spot for training right now to keep your attention, keep you excited. Of course, instill knowledge and mnemonic tricks. That stuff, you never know what’s going to stick with somebody. They could end up thinking about it later on, and it could make the difference between passing the exam. But yeah, largely it’s certification-based.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Cool.

Bart Castle:
But here of late, as we’ve diversified the developer portfolio, when you start teaching software development, I think it gets, it immediately the breakdown is very real when you think about certification objectives. Working with a language or trying to understand the variety of CDKs or SDKs that are available out there, you can’t just bullet point this stuff out. You have to go into these lab-oriented scenarios and building the use case behind it. So those are new struggles that we’re working through. But, I shouldn’t say struggles. Opportunities that we’re working through there. And that’s what the team’s working on right now, it’s really diversifying that and staying true to what we do, which is personality first and training right along with it.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Got it. Yeah, that’s awesome. So, it sounds like you guys are bringing the right idea, in my opinion. I think that it gets dry real quick when you don’t have live video and you don’t have honest conversations and looking at stuff maybe in a little bit of a different way. And also think hands-on is so important, but as long as you can get somebody to fall along with, that’s the key. And so, is the CBT stuff that you’re doing or the YouTube stuff that you’re doing, is it pretty much like the person could kick the ball along with you in their own account, type of thing?

Bart Castle:
Yeah. So we certainly encourage that and any time that I’m teaching a lesson, it’s always like, “Oh, this is how you would do this thing in your lab, if you wanted to follow along.” And most recently, I just came up with a set of free tools that you can deploy in your own AWS account, that checks off five of the best, best practices out there, like billing alerts, having limited permissions users. These are things that we hear people talking about when you first get started. But, if you don’t know how to do that from day one, you get overages, you get security problems and leave things running in other regions you didn’t expect. And suddenly you’re learning those lessons. But we were like, I was thinking, “What would be a good, easy way to get people jump-started from day one with a safe learning environment?”

Bart Castle:
Another one on there, the command line is automatically deployed as a part of it as well with Cloud9 and getting some of the command completion parts in there. So just a real quick cloud formation deployment, and you’re up to all these great best practices that you have, and you can start your learning experience from there. So for me, I wanted to get a tool like that available to learners so that when I’m doing a lesson and walking through stuff, I know that they have a good starting point, that they’re not going to get out of the free tier too badly. And if they do, the billing alerts are going to save them and help protect them, pride and visibility there as well.

Bart Castle:
So yeah, I definitely encourage them to follow along and I try to get those tools available to them. And of course, so things like cloud formation, infrastructure as code is so easy for me to say, “Hey, Mike. Try this out, run it in your account, and we’re going to do these things to it. We’re going to make these transformations and you should have these experiences.” Another one that’s fun is to create problems like, “Here’s a problem. It’s broken, I want you to get in there and troubleshoot it and try to figure out what the problem is,” and challenge students too, because I think there’s as much a value in evaluating where you are, and being able to do those milestone parts of it. So I try to lean on the labs a lot to really help check parts on the way through it.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s pretty cool. So you’re basically for some labs giving them some automation so they can spin up a cloud formation template, go play around with it, and then delete the stack when they’re done, walk away without any big issues. But they’re doing that in their own account, like free tier account or something like that?

Bart Castle:
Yeah, exactly. And you know, a lot of learning providers have the same questions like, “Well, what do we do? Do we buy them an account? Do we let them use our accounts?” and in the end, we were thinking like, “Okay, well, if I’m an AWS learner and I don’t have an AWS account, all right, I’m already in trouble.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Totally true, man. I’ve been saying that from the beginning. What you said earlier about learning how to manage your spend and learn how to manage the sprawl of infrastructure, that’s a core skill. And so, I’m a fan of pre-provision lab environments and black boxes just to get a hello world going. But if you’re really going to learn this stuff, man, you got to, to your point, you got to have an account and learn how to manage the cost control and all that kind of stuff. That’s my opinion anyways.

Bart Castle:
Yeah. And the other thing, too is this cloud formation template that I built. I teach three different sets of lessons on how I built the tools. Because that’s a great learning opportunity on how you might build your own sandboxes, or how you might implement those pieces for your own company.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, I love that, man. So, what kind of content are you working on right now? Have you been going down the path of all the certifications and try to create storylines that map to all of them? Is that what you’re doing now?

Bart Castle:
Yeah. One of the big things that we’ve piloted here at CBT was when I came on I was like, “Well, if you guys want to know how I would really do it. I would not just make a course for solutions architect and another for CIS Ops, and another for developer, and just make new videos for each one.” Instead, I would say, “Okay, if you want to learn S3 at the associate level, you need to know these 25 key items and principles.” And what I would do is make those skills, and then I would have the skills fit in each one of the courses, depending on the audience and the topic at hand.

Bart Castle:
So, that’s where we are now. We’re taking skills that are reusable across courses, and I’m designing them based on what the principle is that I want to teach and how applicable it is to these different topics. I was an AAI authorized instructor before I started at CBT, so I was delivering AWS’ training material that they were giving us. So I had insights into what they did, how they built their labs, how quick labs worked, and how those pieces worked in the class. And, I’ve been certified across all the pro and associate search for quite a few years now. So when I think about it, they really aren’t topics anymore they’re like, this is all the associate tier information. And I present it that way now.

Bart Castle:
And it means too that if Mike’s going through our catalog and he takes one of my courses, and he moves on to developer or CIS Ops, he’s probably two-thirds of the way through these other courses, because in the end, there’s so much overlap between them, that I can save Mike a lot of time if he really wants to go and diversify. And I also want to incentivize Mike to go and do that because I think that a holistic approach to doing this is the DevOps way. I don’t want you to just think like an architect or developer or an administrator, I want you to have all of those aspects there, and the proficiency to work with the skills at that level, and the ability to work with your teams in those conversations.

Bart Castle:
Because in the end, I think those are going to be bigger skills than just learning what S3 does right now, or what this oneAPI call does right now. But rather how to approach the team and figure out what’s important. Bring them the knowledge back. Identify the right champions. Build communities where you’re sharing knowledge internally. So I’m a big evangelist for those sorts of changes for companies. I think they’re going to get as much traction out of that as they would a well-certified team.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. I agree. Yeah, you got to have some practical experience and basically a frame of mind going into this stuff. I agree on the duplication of content though. That’s a side effect with role-based certs. It wasn’t designed to send you down every role path, but people do a lot. A lot of people do that, and then they ended up teaching and learning the same thing over and over again. So I liked that, modularizing it. So it’s like, "I already know S3. I need to know that at the associate level for these X amount of certs. It makes a lot of sense.

Mike Pfeiffer:
And I think that we’re going to see more from the vendors. We’re already seeing that these vendors are putting out training for free. So it’s really interesting where you have a YouTube channel, there’s tons of free content coming from things like Microsoft Learn. AWS has got their own digital content that they give out for free. And so, it’s like people just need to find their preferred way of learning, and then just see what’s out there. And it’s a big opportunity for all of us, to just put stuff out and try to add value and help people ramp up. Because it’s not going anywhere. Cloud is here to stay. It’s going to be a ramp up for a long, frigging time, don’t you think?

Bart Castle:
No, absolutely. And you know, a large thing that I really try to differentiate myself too, is that when you look at all the big accounts, especially in the DevRel world right now, which is a very exciting rockstar-ish sort of thing that’s happening. I want to be someone who you can DM me, or you can find me on LinkedIn and I’ll answer some of your questions for you. And I know that I get wonderful feedback from people when you take that small smidgen of personal time just to answer a question, even if it’s a redundant question.

Bart Castle:
And the biggest thing that I constantly answer is, “Which cert is right for me, which one should I go for?” And I always come back to saying, “You really have to disconnect it from saying I’m going for a certification, to thinking I’m going for a position. Or I want to hone this skillset because it helps my career in this way.” And if you put that logic behind it, well then we can talk about certs that’ll help you get there. But pursuing certs for the purpose of just certification is of course maybe a fun headhunter-

Bart Castle:
The purpose of just certification is, of course, maybe a fun headhunter pastime, but I don’t know that it’s super lucrative from an employment perspective. And so I really encourage employees and employers to recognize what’s happening when we think about the job markets, and the job skill market, and what it means to actually be employable. And recognize that unless there’s a role that you need to go and have a certification for because it opens a door for you, certification isn’t always the best path. And having a chance to learn it holistically is going to do you as much good as the right cert. But, again, it’s all about leverage. We only have so much time and so much effort we can put into anything, so I really try to make sure that learners are applying leverage in the right places. That’s what I’m really passionate about, and I really try to differentiate that with others and just give them a chance to understand what that means.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, makes sense.

Bart Castle:
I just had someone talking to me today about a new gig that they got where they’re going to be deploying some hardware appliances and they’re like, “This doesn’t feel like cloud.” And I was like, “All right. Well, it might not at first, but your company works with large cloud vendors and they’re working with businesses who need cloud-based solution. So while you’re out there installing those hardware appliances, talk to them about how they’re using the cloud, how it’s shaping their business, and the problems they’re running into. And before you know it, you’re going to find yourself at a crossroads where you are suddenly working in the cloud and you’re not working on the hardware anymore. I guarantee it’s going to happen if you look for those opportunities as you”-

Mike Pfeiffer:
Right.

Bart Castle:
… “go through whatever those next six months, nine months one year will look like.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, kind of like slow down and let it happen. I think it goes back to patience and just thinking about the big picture. Not everybody’s going to move right into a cloud architect role overnight. I think there’s that too, right? Thinking, “I’m going to get the cert and then all of a sudden it’s going to light up these opportunities.” So that’s really good point there. Switching gears just a little bit, you’re watching AWS. What are you excited about that they’re working on or that they’ve released recently?

Bart Castle:
Well, serverless is all the rave, and I spend a lot of time talking about what serverless is and is not. And for me it’s always been about… I didn’t call it serverless, I always called it managed services because for me, that’s the real value angle that you’re talking about here, and it doesn’t belie the existence of CPU, RAM, and resources that exist in the background. But for me, some of the biggest, exciting things are about the best practice parts of what AWS is doing.

Bart Castle:
I was just listening to a couple of podcasts this morning while I was driving in about some of the frameworks that AWS has put out, and I just rave about the well-architected framework and the server lenses that they’re putting out there because, again, being in the industry long enough now, it’s easy to be excited about a product right now, but I’m more excited about the arc that these solutions are taking and the value that they drive for businesses. And seeing a well architected solution, and a guide, and the interactive tool that they have now as well, make it easier for people to self-evaluate. And IST self-service is one of the biggest value propositions in cloud, a defining characteristic.

Bart Castle:
So making value where it’s not just about how can I deploy it, but how can I optimize it in a self-service fashion? Those are really exciting things for me because it means that whatever comes ahead has now got a good metric to be evaluated by a good process through which we can understand what is good best practice, like their 80%, 20% rule. I think that’s really killer because they’re looking at a huge install base of people running these things in production. And if they can provide an easy way for Mike and his company to learn what they should use and what way they should try to use it, then this is where that democratic innovation really comes in, and it gives you a chance to shortcut your competition, or outperform a peer, or outperform a competitor, and hopefully solve business problems, which, in the end, that was what all this IT stuff was about. Solving business problems.

Mike Pfeiffer:
And talk about a great use case for building a self-service environment in Amazon, right? Like the kings of self-service. But yeah, I’m a huge fan of well-architected framework as well. Actually, a couple of years ago, I did a Pluralsight course on architecting for availability on AWS. It was insanely fun to do.

Bart Castle:
Nice.

Mike Pfeiffer:
And I spent a lot of time going through the high availability portion of that at the time. It’s changed a lot since then, but I love that guidance. And actually, Microsoft has recently put out a well-architected framework for Azure, which is the coolest-

Bart Castle:
That’s fantastic.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, it’s the cool side effect of these guys like pushing each other, right? These platforms, because they do something cool at AWS now Microsoft’s doing it over here and now they go back and forth. A huge fan of that as well. So anybody listening, that’s interested in AWS that hasn’t looked at the well-architected framework a really cool… You know, what’s another thing that I saw recently, kind of blew me away, was I think it’s AWS IQ, or IQ Expert or something like that where it’s kind of like Upwork, right? So you go in there and register as a practitioner and you can bid on projects. It’s like a whole marketplace. I was kind of shocked to see, that’s awesome.

Bart Castle:
Absolutely. Well described.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, and it’s kind of interesting. Like, people doing all these certs, they could just jump in there and create a profile and then start, eventually, doing some consulting that way, and Amazon is not going to have any shortage of people needing help, right? So that’s really interesting this. You could parlay this into some other way to add another income stream. I know for me and probably you’ve done the same thing, right? Like, you’re teaching over here, you’re consulting over here, maybe you’re getting paid to write over here. And now maybe some people listening that are getting certified can start looking at these marketplaces. I’m sure that, that’s going to be a pattern that explodes. [crosstalk 00:23:29]

Bart Castle:
Yeah and I’m about to do some YouTube videos that are specifically on some things that I’ve done just about finding clients, doing interviews-

Mike Pfeiffer:
Right.

Bart Castle:
… helping them through the process, writing up proposals. I mean, there were things that kind of realized the other day. I was like, “I don’t know. I didn’t know how to do that stuff when I first started in this.” I was imagining my dad who was a self-employed general contractor writing bids and things that when I was a kid, and I remember how that worked and I adapted a lot of those processes, and then I learned some things from other peers in the industry. And so I’m going to do some of that now too because I think it’s great to be diverse. And if you want to stay in the cloud computing space, you have to have that thirst for learning and I think you have to be multitalented. Or if you can be multitalented or multihoned, it’s definitely going to help you out in the long run. And the more you get invested in your own personal endeavors, I think, the more lucrative the results are for you too.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I agree, and for anybody listening then, obviously, certs will only get you so far. There’s a lot of other things that come into this. But what are some areas that you think that you’ve seen on the AWS side in your conversations with students, and customers, and stuff? Maybe opportunities to double down or areas where it may not be super obvious, like where a cert’s like, “Oh, it’s clear. I should go AWS solutions architect.” Is there any other like random areas where you think are a huge opportunity that might be not as visible for some people?

Bart Castle:
I think when I first got into IT, I was thinking about fixing computers and running networks. But later [inaudible 00:25:03], I think more about business process improvement, I think about more about the process parts of DevOps, I think more about the data analytics relationship, how we use logs and all the information that we’re generating with these systems and storing to drive further business value. So I think when I first started out, I wasn’t looking at those arenas, but they’ve become even more interesting to me once I got past the initial tooling parts, which really are very much network and compute infrastructure-driven.

Bart Castle:
So would really encourage folks to, first of all, consider the value that you have if you understand business processes, sales processes, operational delivery mechanisms, some of the liaison parts between making the business work and procuring technical services and managing technical teams. If you’re in those arenas already, and you’re considering getting into IT, you really do have a leg up on it. And I really think that some of the best data analysts that I’ve met, some of the best cloud operations folks and cloud champions, they’re people who already understood the business problems and then got into the IT tooling parts later on. I just think that they speak the right language and they can stand as a champion between teams, and that is really, I think, transformative for a lot of careers and a lot of businesses right now, and it’s something that’s very sought after cross-practice like that.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, man, I can echo that 100%. I’ve known a lot of people too, especially over the last two years, that were underestimating their current skill set and how that would translate into cloud. So many people are really set up for success and a lot of them just need to understand new definitions for things they already know. There’s a ton of people that I think right now are overthinking it a little bit, and I’ve seen it happen. They get into it and they start realizing, “Okay, this maps to something I already know.” So I think that it’s just maybe a little bit longer of a time for everybody to get comfortable, but I think that’s why it’s important, what you’re doing, putting stuff out to the community, it’s scale, YouTube, stuff like that. I know you’re sharing a lot on social media. Where are some other place-

Mike Pfeiffer:
I know you’re sharing a lot on social media, where are some other places that we could find you online? Is it just YouTube or…

Bart Castle:
Yeah, I’m on YouTube there. You can find me on Twitter at cloud Bart. And I also write on, or will be writing on the CBT Nuggets’ blog and some dev.to. I’m sort of start publishing some articles there.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Nice.

Bart Castle:
Kind of looking at the temperature for different publishing outlets right now and where the voice might be most well received. There’s so many of the communities that are overlapping and blurring together now, that for me getting into the social space was a little hard to identify where the best place was.

Bart Castle:
And I always enjoyed being in the classroom, but now it’s all about the online training. And after the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully clears up over here in the next months or so, I still think that we’re going to see a really interesting permanent change to the type of virtual training platforms and virtual classroom environments that are happening. So much inertia’s come out of this, that I think it’s going to be hard to put it all back in the box. And I know a lot of the other indicators that I see in the market is that classroom-based training. It’s already expensive, it’s cumbersome. There are going to be tricky things to navigate for learners and for businesses that are looking in that. I also am interested in making more tailored training content for companies that have specific needs internally. I think that’s an interesting space as well.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, man, I agree. The traditional training game is completely changed. It’s not going to be the same as it was. And I actually like doing multi-day classes and doing classroom training and stuff like that. I’ve been doing that for over 10 years.

Bart Castle:
Yeah, it’s fun.

Mike Pfeiffer:
It’s different. Yeah. It’s totally fun, it’s awesome. But at this point, I don’t know, it’s hard to get away. Obviously we got the pandemic, so that’s making it worse. But the other thing is, how do you absorb all this stuff in one week? That’s the one thing I think that a lot of people are challenged with. More modular, breaking it out slowly, I think, will be really good.

Mike Pfeiffer:
But one thing I want to ask you that kind of popped in my head, we were talking just there.

Bart Castle:
Sure.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Coming out of the classroom and now having to do all this stuff on video and doing YouTube and doing social, what was that like for you? Is that a huge departure for you? Was it really kind of a weird thing where you had to get on camera? Or were you already used to that because you were leading classes and stuff?

Bart Castle:
I think I was in a very fortunate place because I was one of the top-rated virtual trainers at Global Knowledge when I left there, which meant that I had really good class reviews and ratings based on doing virtual in-class training. And a lot of it really came down to comfort and energy. Just being able to keep people focused for an eight-hour session while they’re sitting at their desk at home falling asleep.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s hard to do, man. Yeah.

Bart Castle:
For me, the transition was a lot easier. But I saw a lot of trainers that did not do well at instructor-led training online and they just didn’t get the platform. I’m also being an artist and whatnot. Having the ability to draw and convey messages through multimedia, I think that was a big differentiator. And I think that I’ve seen that echoed in other people that I look to as real champions of that format.

Bart Castle:
I tend to think that, that makes a big difference. If you’re a multimedia person, you might be a better trainer than you think. And a lot of the people that we hire in out of YouTube and from that space, if they have that skill, the ability to edit, their voice presence, their video presence, the multimedia presence, those things seem to make the biggest difference in their successful conveyance of a lesson. You got to pair that up, too, with being able to understand the learner’s perspective at that point.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, that’s right.

Bart Castle:
If you can put those pieces together, I think it’s a good package.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, absolutely man. And so for anybody listening, I would encourage that too. I mean, there’s a lot of people listening that may not even realize they’ve got that ability. And it’s all about getting out there and sharing what you’re learning and continue to do that stuff.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Bart Castle, really enjoyed speaking with you today. Appreciate it. Keep doing the good work out there. We’ll leave some links in the show notes to your YouTube channel. Anything else that we should point people to that you’re working on?

Bart Castle:
You know, Mike, one thing that I do at CBT Nuggets is I do an AWS study group kind of to get back to what you were just mentioning there. And it is a chance for learners in the public, not just CBT subscribers, to get together with me every two weeks and you can come and just ask me questions and we get into whatever people want to talk about. Sometimes I’ll have a lesson prepared, but the whole point is to just kind of break away from only videos. Because so many people watching videos and reading white papers. This is a person to person interaction that we’re offering and it’s free and it’s fun. I really encourage people at any skill level. If you’re interested in getting on that, come in and join me. I’d love to rap about cloud, and I guarantee you we can help you understand a few things. And there’s a bunch of other learners that are in the similar position and they’re there. It’s a great welcoming audience and that’s all about that community.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s cool, man.

Bart Castle:
Thanks again, Mike. I really appreciate you having me.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, absolutely. I love the community stuff and I would highly encourage people to do that. You know, you can only watch so many videos by yourself until you start to get way too isolated. Awesome stuff. Bart Castle. Thank you so much.

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