Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Computer Training for the IT Professional

I have been using TrainSignal for a couple of months now, and I find the content exceedingly beneficial. As a technical architect working for a systems integrator, it is a requirement to have a broad understanding of technical capabilities so I can assemble the infrastructure building blocks that provide business value for my clients. That can be extremely challenging, especially when you are not focused on a specific core competency every day. 

But let's face it, understanding the capabilities of technical solutions isn't just  the purview for IT professionals that work for system integrators and technology companies; it provides a tremendous amount of value for technical architects of Fortune 2000 companies and system engineers for SMB organizations. TrainSignal's content offers foresight into the solutions available from vendors like VMware, EMC, Microsoft, Citrix, and Veeam; before making the capital investment into the technology. It isn't a substitute for a solid proof of concept, instead it dovetails hands-on experience by providing the knowledge, skill, and best practices vital for deploying a successful IT solution such as desktop virtualization.

When you log into TrainSignal, you are provided with an easy to navigate dashboard that provides your Course Progress, New Courses, and Popular Courses.

The courses are broken out into several different lessons that typically range from 20 minutes to an hour. It makes the material easy to digest, provides for tangible reference points for specific topics and concepts, and keeps you progressing in the course material. For the VMware View 5 Essentials course, there are 15 lessons ranging in time from 5 minutes for the Lesson 2 - Course Scenario to 55 minutes for Lesson 8 - User Data and Profiles.

Even though I frequently work on VMware View designs and solutions for my customers, the material is a great reference for certain aspects I don't perform on a day-to-day basis.

To access a lesson, you simply click on the item and it lists the content for the course. Another key feature, you can download the lesson to your computer as an .mp3 file and transfer them to your mobile device so you can listen to them while you are traveling. I often listen to the material while I am driving to my client's office or on my way to work.

There are over 170 courses currently available; TrainSignal is developing content with an eye toward being the IT professional's go-to resource for how to do something, rather than just focusing on learning a new product or prepping for a certification. The course content is delivered by award winning instructors with expertise as Microsoft MVPs, VMware vExperts, Citrix CTPs, certified experts in Cisco and CompTIA.

Some of the most recent courses include:
  • Lync Server 2013 Core Solutions (70-336)
  • Managing vSphere Using System Center 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 High Availability
  • ITIL® Service Operation
  • CompTIA A+ (220-801)
  • EMC Storage Essentials
  • Administering Windows Server 2012
  • Lync Server 2013 Administration
  • Troubleshooting ACLs With Wireshark
  • SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions (70-331)
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
In the past, I had heard a lot of good things about TrainSignal through the user community, but I never had the opportunity to try it out.  First, TrainSignal delivers unlimited access to training material at a relatively low flat-rate fee. It is an investment in yourself to maintain, update, and upgrade your skills. As the IT ecosystem evolves and business organizations invest into cloud computing solutions, end user computing strategies, and big data; TrainSignal's online IT training gives IT professionals the resources needed to succeed.

Second, and more significantly, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity in the IT industry.

The shortage of talent and the job market is going to be very competitive over the next decade. The gap is widening between job openings that require STEM-related college degrees and job candidates with the requisite skills. A sense of urgency accompanies this dilemma since the U.S. is expected to add 120,000 computer-related jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees per year over the next decade. Unfortunately, our public universities and colleges produce only about 40,000 bachelor’s degrees annually.

Invest in yourself; you are your greatest asset. Training is a valuable commodity that, if viewed as an investment rather than an expense, can produce high returns. No matter what is going on in your job, relationships or financial life; the corner stone to success in your IT career is cross-functional training and advancing your skills.

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