The VMGuru guys have been around. In fact, we are running this blog for more than 10 years now! You would think we’ve seen and written about everything there is to see and write about in virtualization. But we all tend to forget that every day there are people starting with virtualization who are new to the whole concept of it. Also, the IT train is rolling faster than ever before. Cloud native apps, containers, self-healing infrastructures, it’s not easy to keep up.
And what about all those people from the first hour? They need to stay up to date as well. Products change, new products arise, new trends enter the market. If we look back, probably none of the people that work in tech still have the same job they had ten or fifteen years ago. But how do you stay up to date and keep your knowledge relevant?
Company versus Private
There is a big difference between the enthousiast, like most of us when we started and the company employee who needs to manage something new. If you are an enthousiast, you spend your evenings digging through websites and howto’s, YouTube videos and other online resources until you figure out how something works and fits together with the pieces of the puzzle you already know.
If you are a company employee who needs to manage this new infrastructure and needs structured training on a short term, it’s a different story. You expect your employer to come up with a plan and a budget to get appropriate trainings and as you all know, those do not come cheap. On average, a technical training day costs between $1.000 and $1.500 per day per student. On average, a basic training course takes three to five days, so you can imagine the cost involved to train a team on a new solution.
And there is also that third option: you are the manager who will deliver a brand new piece of IT to an infrastructure management team. You know you should plan for training, but what? And how? Keep on reading because I will get back to that scenario.
Many companies even forget to plan a training part when they plan a new infrastructure. Is that bad? Well it depends on the sort of change, but if you confront your workers with a brand new infrastructure based on a solution they have never seen before, you should also help them manage it. In the end, it will benefit everyone.
Imagine your company bought a Formula 1 racing car but nobody in the company has a racing license to drive it or a mechanic degree to maintain it. It will stay in the box forever. That’s probably more expensive than training the people to make use of it. And it will make for happier employees too.
Gaining Knowledge Changed
The evangelists and enthousiasts usually know where to get their knowledge, so I want to focus on the company employee for now. Also because the structured education of people has changed a lot over the years. In the past, when you took a course, you went to a training location where a trainer was set up with a big whiteboard and a lot of computers and as a student you went along with the program from the ‘Getting to know’-chapter up to the ‘Advanced’-chapters. That still is offered and very popular.
This training method also changed quite a bit over time. In the past a training company had to provide a training room with computers and a local test environment to do the training on. Every student received (a stack of) books to work through during the training. Nowadays students bring their own laptop, log onto the training cloud provided by the training company and get an ebook or an interactive website with training content to work through. It’s the old classroom training with modern means. But there is much more.
First of all, there is the option that was born out of the need for more training and the lack of trainers. Classrooms were fitted with cameras so people could attend the training from remote location, like from home or a company meetingroom. The advantage is that the trainer is much more effective in training the amount of people. In some trainings the remote audience was larger than the amount of students on site with the trainer. A lot of people are not a fan of this method as the interaction with the trainer usually is much less for the remote audience.
There also is the next step to this training method. The trainer is not in a classroom being recorded by cameras but he’s actually in a studio with no local audience, being recorded. The complete student audience logs on from remote locations to attend. The trainer interacts with the students via a chat window or an audio/video link. This training method is getting more popular as it is cheaper to organise and can also be recorded for self-paced trainings.
The VMware Educations LiveFire team is currently experimenting in this area with 360 degree video. If you do not know the LiveFire trainings, they are quite unique in the landscape as they train in a fully configured environment with multiple products in interaction, rather than training one product. This way you get to work with a complete solution and see the different parts of a solution like Horizon work together. LiveFire training seats are available regularly, try to attend one if you can.
In the 360 degree video you see the trainer center stage with on one side the presentation deck with the training subject and on the other side a digital whiteboard where the trainer can go into details explaining while whiteboarding. All this sits around you where, depending on where you look, you see the actions of the trainer and the whiteboard or the presentation moving in and out of view. Last but not least, a information box can be added to host links to additional content like release notes and documentation pages.
This method has a few significant advantages. First, it should be easier to maintain. If a new version of the product is released, only the relevant blocks of video have to be rerecorded. The interactive screens can be updated separately. Training for a new product should be available much faster than before. Second, using a VR headset, this really becomes an immersed experience, very different from any other form of training.
Would you like a sneak peek? There already is a 360 degree video available for free online. The subject is VMware’s Identity Manager presented by Reinhard Nel, well known to the VMGuru’s. Check it out the 360 degree training video here!
Where the TAM Helps
As many of you know, I work for VMware as a Technical Account Manager or TAM. As I work with my customers to help them move forward, we also take a closer look at the knowledge of their staf and if they are well-equipped to manage the environment. Check if they have their racing license and feel confident enough to go out on the track and race a lap, so to speak.
In my toolkit, I have a couple of tools that can help you help yourself if you need training or help you help others if you are the one who needs to organize trainings. I’m going to focus on the second scenario as this is the most common one TAMs face.
To start with, your TAM can facilitate a “Knowledge and Skills Assessment” or KSA. This KSA is not like a VCP exam. It is a questionaire that asks the employees (their manager or sponsor selects them) what they think their skillset is and how confident they are with it. Once done, we have an overview of the training needs and start developing a training plan.
Now, obviously this requires everyone who takes a KSA to be honest on their skillset. But if someone is not, this may be a dog that bites in the behind quite quickly. If you say you have certain skills, we (I as your TAM and your manager) assume you have those skills and will not schedule you for training, even though you may wanted it. You will miss out!
Training On Site or Online
Next a plan is created to train the people on the subjects they need training on. This can be done by the TAM with input from the manager, by the organization itself or together. This plan usually looks at the function someone has and the expected knowledge level. In the plan we identify the gaps and the training needed.
Next we can start planning for trainings. And obviously it can be one of the earlier mentioned:
- Classroom training at a training facility
- Remote classroom training where you view the training on a screen or on a personal device
- Self Paced training online
Those are the obvious ones. However, there also are some other options.
- On Site classroom training: this is the same training as you would get in a training center, just on your own location. This might be interesting if you have more than 6 people to train on the same subject and whish to train them all at once.
- On Site custom training: For this we sit down with the trainer(s) and project or department managers to compose a training program specifically on their wishes. This might incorporate merging modules from different courses into 1 training or skip modules if certain knowledge is already available.
- Purchase an Enterprise Learning Subscription: this is a program where the company buys access to the VMware’s online learning portal for a number of students. The company assignes a learning manager. This person can track what student is doing which course and how far along that student is. The manager can also assing trainings. Every student gets access to all recorded training material on every product that there is training material on and either picks on his/her own or gets trainings assigned.
So you see, there are a lot of possibilities that can benefit you, if you are the manager who needs to organize training or if you are the student who likes to have a training.
Free Training Options
Next to the standard or custom trainings, the internet is a large source of information and education. There is quite a lot of free training available. Here’s a short tip list to check:
- Blogs! This is a no-brainer for us, obviously. There are a lot of active bloggers out there like William Lam, Eric Sloof and Duncan Epping who explain, demonstrate and talk about virtual technology and innovations. Many of them work for a software company or a system integrator and have a lot to do with the subject every day. Check out the top 25 of blogs here and follow them to stay current!
- The VMware Learning Zone! Here you find all kinds of free training on almost all solutions VMware has. It gets updated quite often too so chances are the subject you look for, has some training. Check it out over here.
- YouTube! This may sound like the obvious choice but it has to be mentioned. A lot of sessions from VMworld are recorded and published, a lot of product training videos can be found here too. Check out this link to see a large selection of videos.
- HandsOn Labs! Many know the HandsOn Labs or HOL from VMworld, but the HOL page is actually available online and provides free access to a huge library of product trainings. And did I mention it is for free? New trainings are added frequently and trainings created for VMworld will be made available online in the months after VMworld too. So check the HOL page out over here and get labbin’.
So you see, there are a ton of options if you are looking for knowledge. And you will need that knowledge to stay current and relevant in your job in IT. A life long of learning is our destiny. So go out and talk to your TAM if you have access, go to the links above and of course stay tuned to VMGuru.com!