This article is sponsored by Linode and was reviewed before publication.
If there’s any silver lining to this new remote work life caused by COVID-19, it’s the creative streak running through the Philly tech scene. To keep teams engaged as they work from home, companies have come up with some pretty clever ways to stay connected while forced apart.
A few months into the pandemic, the team at Linode — one of the world’s first and largest independent cloud providers — found itself missing the energy of the office and in-person events. Eager to resume its tradition of educating employees and the community, Linode launched an interactive, educational livestream series called Linode Live! in June.
“We knew our people couldn’t get enough of Kubernetes, so for our first series, we decided to offer free training,” said Jamie Zale, events manager at Linode.
But not every step was so simple. As it turned out, putting together a virtual learning experience was an entire learning experience in itself. Though Linode is full of experts in the cloud computing space, livestreams were another story. Team members from every department banded together, learning on the fly to bring the first series to fruition.
“Every person on the team contributed,” said Zale. “We needed someone for every element of production. Our designer made a video, something he’d never done before. Our social media team set up a live broadcast for the first time ever. We even had our influencer manager scour Twitter and YouTube for subject matter experts to bring the webinar content to life, while our own devs stepped up to the plate to represent Linode on camera and interview guests.”
The inaugural event kicked off with “Understanding Kubernetes,” a three-week, hands-on lab series led by Kubernetes trainer, author and speaker Nigel Poulton. Each week, the content increased in complexity, covering subject matter from “Creating and Managing Clusters” to “Exposing Services to the Internet Using an External Load Balancer” to “Working with Persistent Data and the Linode Storage Backend.” To help attendees apply what they’d learned, Poulton assigned work in between sessions and offered free access to his Kubernetes 101 course on Udemy.com.
But just because they built it, would people come?
“When we marketed our first event, we thought, ‘Let’s aim to register 50 people,’” said Zale. “We were overwhelmed by the numbers. Shocked. We had over 500 registrants and over 200 attendees. And each event just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Following the course, Linode brought in Kubernetes expert and the host of YouTube channel Docker & DevOps, Bret Fisher, to moderate a discussion on managed Kubernetes featuring Linode’s own product development team.
Creating a captivating live experience was a welcome challenge for everyone involved, including Daniele Polencic, an instructor at Learn Kubernetes who contributed to the “Understanding Kubernetes” course.
“Usually webinars are quite boring,” said Polencic. “When Linode reached out to us, we were keen on producing better content than we ever had before. We wanted it to be interactive — something people could engage with, learn from and practice.”
Polencic and his team went above and beyond, creating articles and supplemental content to help participants navigate the complexity of Kubernetes once the livestream ended.
“Kubernetes is complicated — but I don’t like easy things,” Polencic joked. “I enjoy the challenge of helping people understand it better.”
While COVID-19 wasn’t on anyone’s wishlist, Linode managed to turn lemons into pretty delicious digital lemonade.
“We had no idea this is what so many people wanted,” said Zale. “Everyone enjoyed learning something new, and we met some really great influencers and experts throughout the process. COVID opened up a whole new avenue for us.”
The next Linode Live! event — “Learnk8s Lab: Orchestrating microservices workflows in Kubernetes with Zeebe” — is scheduled for Oct. 29. Learn more about the upcoming series and check out videos from past events here.-30-
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