VMware training at a discount: Is all-access eLearning worth it?

Formal VMware training is notoriously expensive. With many organizations slashing training budgets, find out if $500 for an all-access eLearning subscription is worth the money.

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The pace of change in the virtualization field is blistering, to put it mildly, and keeping up with current trends and new technologies can be a real challenge. When you're fighting fires, it can be hard spending your precious little free time studying or attending VMware training classes. If that describes you, VMware’s eLearning classes could be a fast and economical way to learn about VMware's products.

VMware’s eLearning has been around for several years, but a lot of people don’t know about it or use it. Despite being a VMware Certified Professional (VCP), I myself had never even heard about eLearning until signing up for the VMware User Group Advantage membership. But I found that the eLearning classes can be a good alternative to a traditional VMware training program.

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VMware's all-access eLearning
VMware describes the self-paced eLearning format as a complement to classroom training experience. It is designed to provide a quick overview of a product so that you can understand its capabilities and have a basic understanding of how it can fit into your organization’s environment. These classes are not meant to replace the intensive courses offered by VMware Training such as the VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage or VMware vSphere: Fast Track courses. Rather, it can help broaden our overall knowledge of VMware products (of which there are dozens), and open up potential ways to solve problems with them. Also, it’s worth noting that the eLearning courses don't count towards a VCP certification, which is what a lot of people want from VMware training.

 VMware’s eLearning is an online, browser-based, subscription training program, with courses listed by product/technology. Here is an incomplete list of some of the available courses:

Following the links for each course takes you to a detailed description that provides a summary, target course completion time, intended audience and an outline. I really appreciated knowing an approximate time it would take to complete the course -- remember, we are looking make the best use of our limited training time.

Taking eLearning out for a test drive
Nobler pens than mine have written, “Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch.” With that scratched out note pasted over my desk, I figured the best way to find out what eLearning was all about was to take a course. I chose VMware vCenter AppSpeed Fundamentals, as I had no experience with the product, and did not even know what it was. From this vantage point, I will give you an unbiased review of the VMware training program.

I completed the AppSpeed Fundamentals course over a period of two days. Overall, I was very satisfied with the training program, keeping in mind that it is designed to complement deeper training. Based on my experience with eLearning, here is what I considered the hits and misses of the VMware training:

Hits:

  • A $500 subscription gets you access to all of the different courses for an entire year. Compared to the cost of formal VMware training courses, that is a lot of training for a small amount of money. The price is low enough that even those of us who have to shell out the training money ourselves can probably afford this.
  • With eLearing, you can get an overview of a VMware product and find out how it fits into the enterprise in a just a few hours.
  • Each course is broken down into modules, which helps you understand what you will learn in the lesson.
  • The user interface. The eLearning presentation navigation bar includes tabs that provide a wealth of information. The Outline tab displays the time in seconds to complete each slide if you are listening to the audio, as well as a countdown timer to complete the module (this is useful for knowing how long you need to hold out until your next mocha). The Thumb tab displays a thumbnail of each slide; the Notes features a transcript of the audio portion and the Search tab allows you to search for keywords.

Misses:

  • Some of the eLearning courses are not for the latest product offerings. For example, the Workstation classes are for versions 6 and 7, even though version 8 has been available since 2011.
  • The eLearning course requires a separate login (myLearn.vmware.com) from the regular account that is used for downloads and managing licenses (my.vmware.com). I spoke to a VMware customer service rep about this, who told me that there were no plans to merge the two accounts. This is not a big deal, by any stretch, but it is one more login account for most customers to maintain.
  • There was no clear way to bookmark your progress within a module, which would be useful if you have to interrupt a training session. Once, during the training course my Internet connection froze. The training did not remember how far I had gone, so I had to start the module from the beginning and fast-forward to where the session had terminated.

Overall, I believe VMware's all-access eLearning online training is a great bargain if you need high-level training on the plethora of products that VMware currently offers. It is yet another arrow that you can add to the quiver of your VMware training arsenal.

This was first published in July 2012

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