As all of you no doubt agree, ongoing training is a constant in our world. If we don’t move forward with our learning and abilities, we get left in the proverbial dust. Thus, it was with great enthusiasm that I began reviewing TrainSignal’s latest VMware training series: VMWare vSphere Pro Series Vol. 1: View, ThinApp, Nexus 1000V, and PowerCLI. For myself, this is the second series of Train Signal videos I have had the pleasure to use in my ongoing training. My first review was regarding their series on vSphere/ESX. From the outset, I was extremely impressed by what I experienced. In particular, the ability to load training videos on my iPod was of tremendous benefit, as it allowed me to learn while training at the gym, and even while waiting to have the emissions tested on my vehicle — for those of you unfamiliar with this Colorado requirement, it is akin to waiting at the DMV with your car idling.
So, would TrainSignal’s newest release meet the high bar that they set with their previous training videos? Granted, I am an incorrigible optimist, but have been around the training block enough times to know what is good and what isn’t. So, the short answer is: YES! Allow me to explain some of the pros of thevSphere Pro Series training:
1. TrainSignal has really stepped up to the plate to address what I consider some gaping holes in available training. Server virtualization and VMware ESX have an abundance of published resources to help you learn how to use and implement the technology. What about some of the other, perhaps less pervasive or established aspects of virtualization, such as virtual desktops, virtual applications and virtual networking? That is where training resources start to thin out considerably in comparison with server virtualization, yet the potential impact is even greater. The fact that Train Signal recognized this and addressed it is a major plus.
2. During the 90’s, training seemed to be more about “Click here to do this, fill in this field to do that,” etc. The focus was on getting the technology to work, not whether it made business sense or not. David Davis, the instructor for View, appears to realize that such implementation models no longer work. If it isn’t making us money, or at least saving money, we need to get rid of it.
In the beginning of his training about VMware View, Mr. Davis makes this statement: “Most likely the primary reason you are interested in VDI is to save your company money.” What a refreshing change – technology with a clearly stated business goal! I dare say the majority of us are concerned with budgets, return on investment (ROI) and quarterly earnings. Addressing these topics as a principal reason to evaluate and implement a particular technology, rather than an afterthought to get capital approval, is a very good premise for TrainSignal’s approach on implementing new technologies.
3. The series also recognizes that all the knowledge about a product doesn’t do you or your employer much good if it never gets implemented correctly. Again, from David Davis during the View training session on DVD: “The return on investment is going to be different from one company to another, and its going to be based on how well you implement that technology.” Hey, personal responsibility – what a novel concept! He goes on to show how to implement it to get the most bang for the buck.
4. Besides View, the other topics such as the Cisco Nexus 1000V by Rick Scherer and PowerCLI by Hal Rottenberg are taught by experts in their respective fields. All of the instructors speak to you in a way that is easy to understand at the conceptual level — a very good thing when trying to learn multiple subjects simultaneously. I also appreciated their use of comparisons to existing technologies to help me understand how the new tools can be used.
So, the pro side is full of good things. What are the cons?
It was pretty hard to come up with anything, but I would not consider a review beneficial if it didn’t list at least one possible improvement to be made.
I noticed that the MPEG files for transfer to the iPod all have the same names, regardless of what the training subject is. For example, I ended up with multiple Video01 files on my iPod, all for different training topics such as View, PowerCLI or Nexus 100v, which obviously leads to some confusion. To resolve this, I renamed all the videos to reflect the subject of the training, i.e. TrainViewThinApp(1…) and TrainNexus(1…). This improved the iPod sorting and ease of use when studying multiple topics in parallel. Overall, a very minor inconvenience, and one you will not encounter if you simply reload your iPod after completing each topic in the series.
Having used the TrainSignal videos for several months now, I can highly recommend them as a useful tool for learning about the latest in VMware products as well as how to implement them in your own environment. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a set — you’ll be glad you did.