Virtualization Pro

Sep 18 2009   2:21PM GMT

Goodbye pink highlighter, hello iPod Touch: VMware training in the 21st century

Makking Mak King Profile: Makking

The high-flying days of pre-Y2K seem a distant, fairy-tale like memory. IT has gotten far more complex. Capital budgets continue to shrink, corporate greed continues unabated, shareholder gain is as strong as ever, and the demands on IT have naturally increased to meet such demands. The demands on our time are ever greater. Yet we must still make time for training on new products and technologies, for how else are we to continue to dream about the IT glory days of the 90’s?

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

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.


Mak King

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