TrainSignal: Tooting the horn a little

I was a VMware Certified Professional for nearly a year when it was announced that current VCPs would have a six month window to upgrade their certification to VCP5 without having to take the required class.

I took the class once, and it was a great one, but I had no interest in doing it again.  The problem was, in order for me to take the exam I would have to know the material.  In order for that to happen, I would usually simply install it and use it for a few months, and then be ready.

Problem: The six months following the release of vSphere 5 I was otherwise occupied with projects, including System Center, Windows, Hyper-V, and all sorts of other things that meant a) a lot of travel, and b) my primary server environment needed to be running Microsoft.  I had to make a living of course.

On the other hand, the living I make is sometimes enhanced by and even reliant on my being certified in the latest technologies, including VMware.


That was about the size of it, and the Catch-22 was easy to see.  I had to find another way to prepare for the exam.

Now here’s the thing… I have said many times that I do not generally study for certification exams.  I prefer to know the material (Skills Measured- Improving your chances of passing certification exams).  Unfortunately in some cases (as was the case here) I would have to ‘hit the books’ as it were.

Ed… Ed Liberman… why was Ed Liberman’s name coming to mind?  He works for TrainSignal, and I met him a couple of years ago on an airport shuttle in (I believe) New Orleans as we were both arriving for TechEd 2010.  He had made his pitch – he creates content for TrainSignal – e-learning material type stuff.  I had used their material once before (in 2005 I needed to learn Microsoft’s ISA Server, and that was how I did it) and remembered that I appreciated the quality of the content.  I pinged Ed, and a few days later the VMware vSphere 5 Training kit arrived. 

It was three discs – two Video discs and one ‘additional content disc’ which included the appropriate files for iPod, mp3, and wmv files (should I want to learn how to architect and manage my enterprise-level datacentre from my Zune or iPod).  I appreciated the thought that went into that.

Right on the case the two instructors are named and their credentials are listed.  I really appreciated that, because it is easy to read words off a script (the instructors voices are heard throughout, but their faces are never seen).  David Davis and Elias Khnaser are both VMware Experts, VCPs, and have a host of other certs which are especially important in a course like this, because managing a VMware environment necessarily requires heterogeneous skillsets – David is a CCIE and CISSP and Linux+, while Elias is an MCSE, CCA, CCEA, and CCNA.  All relevant to the course.

The style and format of the course were demonstrative of a company that did not want to simply deliver a run of the mill product.  The quality of the videos, instruction, and format was all top notch, matching that of the instructors.  As well the .wmv files that I initially mocked came in handy when I started traveling (ok, when I resumed traveling) and realized that my primary laptop doesn’t have a DVD player.  I was able to copy the appropriate files onto my hard drive and continue my learning in hotel rooms and on airplanes without any concern.

While I wouldn’t say that I am a VCP5 because of TrainSignal, it is a safe bet that earning that credential would have been tough for me had I tried to do it without them.  The books I have are nice (and quite helpful!), as is the material from VMraining (for whom I have been teaching for several years), but those videos on the road really helped me pass the exam before (if only three days) the deadline.

Thanks Ed!


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