YOLO! You only lab once

Question: Why can I only take a lab once?

We hear this question on a pretty regular basis. “I paid for credits, spent the credits on a lab, took the lab, and you’re telling me I have to spend more credits to take the lab a second time?” It’s a valid question, and the answer is worth exploring (TLDR: subscribe to qwikLABS and take a lab as many times as you want!). 

The hands-on qwikLABS approach is dramatically different from other sources of online training. A lab is not like a book that you buy and read over and over. A lab is more like a sandwich – you only eat it once. 

qwikLABS for lunch

A lab is like a sandwich…

Every time you start an AWS lab, we (qwikLABS) spin up an AWS account for you, plus whatever resources you need to complete the lab. This is because you take your lab with a real account in the real AWS Console. No simulations, no fakes. The same is true for NVIDIA labs. You perform real tasks using real tools. 

For example, if you take the Working with DynamoDB lab, we create an Amazon EC2 instance. If you take the Working with Amazon Redshift lab, we launch an Amazon Redshift cluster. Each lab has a nuanced list of requirements. Multiply that by a bunch of people and you have quite a load. Every time you take a lab, you consume all of these resources. That’s why payment is by lab session.


Every time an instance comes up, the meter starts ticking.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Scaling: When load is high, we scale up. When we don’t have as much going on, we scale down. This helps us control costs and only consume the services we actually need to deliver labs to you.

  • Distributing the load: We split up labs amongst geographic regions based on popularity, whether or not labs are in a Quest, and what types of resources the lab needs. Call us paranoid, and some do because there are built-in tools that manage this automatically, but we wanted to spread activity out through multiple regions.

  • Monitoring: At any point in time, at least four eyes are watching for spikes, system messages, and requests for assistance from students.

  • Lean lab development: This one’s a little on the abstract side. As with any product, a lot of work goes into creating a lab (cloud formation templates, process documentation, sample data, manuals, videos, the list goes on). The qwikLABS approach to creating a lab wraps all of this into the agile development process. We run fast and lean, with daily standups, weekly sprints, and iterative releases designed to put labs into your hands as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

…and that’s how the magic happens!

Get the most out of your lab

We economize where we can, but we commit to delivering a truly hands-on, immersive experience. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your lab experience:

  1. You can save a lot of time by reading (okay skimming) the lab manual ahead of time. Is there a video? Watch that too, before you click the Start Lab button.

    qwikLABS start button

  2. Stack the deck in your favor. If you read ahead, you’ll know if you need to download a tool (like PuTTY).

  3. Open your Command Reference TXT file (if your lab has one). Many labs instruct you to copy and paste code, commands, and other data from here. Have this ready to go so as you’re taking the lab, you don’t have to spend time going back and finding this file. (It also helps to copy/paste rather than try to re-type commands – one fat finger can mean 10 minutes of troubleshooting.)

    Command Reference TXT

  4. Subscribe! If you purchase an Advantage subscription, you have access to all the labs in the catalog, and you can take a lab as many times as you want. This is a new option, so you can read more about it here, and check out our pricing page to sign up.

Do you have any other tips for maximizing your lab experience? We’d love to hear them!

1 thought on “YOLO! You only lab once”

  1. Why not make the lab manuals available for download? I would like to peruse the manual outside of the browser as I believe it makes the process more efficient.

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