Free or Close to I.T. Part Two
Last week’s “Free or Close to I.T.” featured the sometimes-deep discounts students can receive in technology products and services. This week it’s only fair to go over some of the best free software and services out there for technology-focused students. As with last week, it doesn’t matter whether the student is in high school, vocational, college, or graduate school. The deals start flowing only if they have a school issued email address that ends in “.edu.” Students can visit these websites to save hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of their enrollment.
My favorite one stop shop, currently featuring a wide variety of software titles, is SUNY Poly’s own online store, hosted for us by OnTheHub. Due to the widespread use of virtualization in laboratory work, one of the most important software vendors for information technology students is VMWare and our online store has it.
Another site for a wide variety of free software, and services, is GitHub Education. Their offering features both free and trial accounts on several industry leading programmer, coder, and developer oriented sites. GitHub Education even comes with a coupon for services from AWS Educate. Once signed up with GitHub, the user can use a special sign-up link to create a free AWS Educate account, which itself comes with a surprising number of free options. I myself signed up for AWS Cloud9 via this account creation process, and now I can code in C, C# and Java almost anywhere I have a browser and Internet connection.
For our technically oriented design students, the de-facto industry leader in computer aided design, AutoDesk, has their entire portfolio of AutoCAD software available for free to students. Learning this software is crucial to today’s design students who wants to stand out in a highly competitive market of design firms. The tools found here can help a student grasp industrial design, materials engineering, and even architectural and physical concepts that would otherwise be very difficult to conceptualize with paper sketches.
Back to information technology and networking students, Cisco offers their Cisco Networking Academy and official network virtualization software Packet Tracer. Though other solutions exist, there’s nothing like working with Packet Tracer to study network design and administration. It’s also the recommended tool for studying for their industry standard networking exams, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate Exam.
Palo Alto Networks Learning Center comes in a close second to the Cisco Network Academy site, if only for their smaller market share when compared to Cisco. Though their product line is relegated solely to firewall and security products, their learning catalog is extensive, and entirely free. Once a student completes some basic training, they also offer a free entry level certification exam. After passing the exam, the student earns the title of Accredited Configuration Engineer, or ACE.