Practice makes Perfect, and I practice a LOT, in every scenario I can possibly test with. As a developer who forces himself to use a shoestring budget, if my test environments are not free, any Cloud lab cannot cost me more than one lunch per month, effectively planning for 13-18 bucks to make myself better.
Cloud Labs are awesome, because I can spin up instances without the admin overhead. yeah, they cost money though, even when shut down and idle, but they decently mirror work environments.
My big thing is that overused buzzword “automation”. Automation is just a script to easily execute repeatable steps. So what, big deal.
I don’t do things manually, via the GUI, I always do it via a PowerShell script that calls the Command Line Interface or executable whatever is required to do the work. That makes it repeatable, and can be challenging when you think about the if already exists scenario. Experiencing those problems and issues, and resolving them yourself, is the key to making yourself a better DBA and Developer.
Local Labs are better for me, they are literally free, get me more admin practice, and my only limitations are CPU and diskspace, which I have plenty of.
Here are screenshots of my seven different flavors of Lab Environments: