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.
Perhaps you have also noticed as well that budget constraints are causing us to rethink how we get training on the latest technologies. It is not always possible to take a week off work to take a class each time a new OS version is released, and additional weeks to receive instruction on all the individual components. Now it is expected that we somehow become proficient in dozens of applications from a score of vendors and implement the latest technologies while continuing to support legacy systems and contribute to the IT community.
This spring VMware announced the GA release of vSphere. Hey, something new and exciting to learn! This will be great – I can take a class, spend my evenings getting familiar with the product, test it in the lab, and come up with a business case for it with my employer. However, scheduling a week for a systematic training class in the immediate future seems less likely than discovering the remains of Atlantis in my backyard.
To this end, I needed to rethink my training on the latest VMware offering. As my mind drifted back to my first real IT training (IPX/SPX was king of the workgroup at the time) it occured to me to try some self-paced training once again. Certainly things have changed since the days of 10 MB networks and hot new technologies like PointCast, and hopefully advances in training have kept up.
Enter TrainSignal. Having benefitted from David Davis’ insightful tech articles in the past, seeing his name as the instructor on the vSphere DVD-based program instantly gave me a positive feeling about heading down this distantly familiar route of ordering up a self-paced video training course.
Within the hour, my VMware vSphere Training was on its way. A few days later, a smallish-looking box arrived. Upon opening it, I was a bit surprised – the entire program was housed in a nice and tidy box with fold-out DVD holders. Compared to the size of my first IT training program (20+ VHS tapes, plastic bags full of floppy disks, plus several books measured more in pounds than pages), this seemed so… small. Could it really be enough?
Not to be put off, I popped the first disk in my PC and was presented with a clean-looking interface and instructions on how to copy various lessons to my iPod Touch. Hey, now this is what I was looking for! Being able to watch, listen and learn while burning calories on the elliptical machine and stationary bike at the gym during lunch is much more in line with the realities of my life (both in IT and personally) as compared to countless hours spent in the easy chair with a pink highlighter and a cup of tea.
Granted, VMware has not relaxed its requirement to take an official class to become VCP-certified, so I will still need to find the time to enroll in an official VMware class at some point in the near future. However, I believe that the TrainSignal program will certainly help with becoming more familiar with the intricacies of the product, as well as prepare me to get the most from the class when the time comes to take it. As I learn more about practical ways (the good, bad and ugly) to use vSphere in the enterprise, I look forward to sharing them with you on SearchVMware.com.
Yes, times have changed since the 90′s. Yet the lessons we have learned on how to get by with less and using our time to the fullest will always be valid, especially as we work to keep our skills and knowledge current with VMware’s continually changing products and technologies.