Take Five With Tom Fenton

5 Ways To Get VMware Training

There are options for every need and budget.

I often get asked about the best ways to get up to speed on VMware technology. The truth is that there are many ways, and deciding which way is best really depends on factors such as personal needs, preferences, and circumstances. Luckily, there are a wide range of resources currently available to learn and acquire new VMware technology skills, and it should be relatively simple to narrow down which option is the best fit for you. Here are five approaches to keeping up-to-speed on VMware technology that I've used, and some of the benefits and potential drawbacks of each.

  1. Take a class from VMware. I'm biased as I work for VMware education, but I feel the best way to quickly come up to speed on VMware technologies is to attend a VMware Education Services training class. What’s great about these classes? They're taught by VMware certified instructors, based on the latest material, fulfill the training requirements for VMware’s certification, and  most are offered online or live. They typically can be completed in a week or less, so you can come up to speed as quickly as possible. As an added bonus, most VMware classes have labs that give you actual hands-on experience with the products. A list of currently available VMware training classes can be found here.
  2. Community college training. Many community colleges offer VMware-sanctioned training taught by local professors. This training fulfills the requirements necessary to obtain your VCP in Data Center Virtualization. These classes are only on Data Center Virtualization, and are spaced out over the duration of a semester, so if you're in a rush to complete the course, this option might not be the optimal choice. However, if you have the time to spread your training over several months, check with an admissions counselor for your local community college or technical school to see if their institution participates in the VMware IT Academy Program.
  3. Take a third-party course. There are a few third-party companies that offer courses on VMware technologies, but be sure look into them carefully as they are often dated and don't qualify you to take the VMware certification exams. I'm not opposed to third-party training, but the reality is that creating and maintaining quality training takes an enormous amount of time and effort, and most third-party companies simply don't have same depth of resources that VMware does to create, maintain and update courses.
  4. DIY. If formal training doesn't fit your needs, you can always just jump in and train yourself. VMware has some excellent documentation on installing and using their products (I especially like the VMware reviewer's guides.) Some of the disadvantages to learning a new technology on your own: you'll need to set up your own lab; you won't have anyone to bounce questions and ideas off of; you won't have anyone to offer best practices or advice; it won't qualify you for the certification exams; and you may need to dig through a bunch of different whitepapers and documentation to get the information you're looking for. VMware documentation can be found here.
  5. Read a book. If you need to learn about a specific product, but don't need to be officially certified, can't afford formal training, or can't find a class that addresses the particular subject you're interested in, there may be a book that you can learn from. For example, Cormac Hogan and Duncan Epping wrote an excellent guide to VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) and released it shortly after the product hit general availability; this allowed many users to come up to speed on VSAN in short order. But technology moves fast, and book publishing moves relatively slow, so make sure the book you're considering is current and up-to-date with the technology.

One of the best ways to keep relevant in the job market is by staying sharp and up-to-date on the latest technology. Yes, learning new skills is time-consuming and sometimes it's painful to keep up with the latest trends, but sooner or later all technology gets replaced; if you let your skills lag behind, you may find your skills less desirable in the job marketplace.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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