Archive for the ‘.NET’ Category

Free Training, Labs, Videos and more from Microsoft, VMware and @TrainSignal!

January 28th, 2013

From 2001 until 2006 I would regularly do presentations on OMG THERE’S FREE TRAINING OUT THERE WHY AREN’T YOU USING IT. Which even culminated in the release of a Technical Offerings training deck as noted in this blog post I published in 2006 (Yes, Seriously, in 2006) Well, guess what. A lot of that data is STILL highly relevant even today! So… Let’s get started! :)

Training Videos


Kicking off the realm of training videos I’d like to highlight our good friends at Microsoft with their release of the Microsoft Virtual Academy!

Microsoft Virtual Academy - Learn about Windows 8

The MVA has a LOAD and I mean a serious LOAD of information, from Training Videos, Courses, Tutorials, Walkthroughs, even Tests and points and contests to increase not only the ‘fun factor’ but provide additional context in your education.   For those of you VMwarriors out there who will discard this and say BLAH, SHOW ME THE VMware STUFF.   I even did a little search for VMware in the “Quick Search” button and lo and behold lookie at the results!

Microsoft gets serious with VMware Virtualization solutions in Microsoft Virtual Academy 

So whether you are a rockstar, a seasoned professional or someone looking to get started and want to know where to get some good and valuable information without spending hours and $$$ in a classroom, this is definitely an excellent way to get started, so jump on in!


I know some of you are fighting the constant battle of “Damnit, can I attend Microsoft TechEd or not…” And with TechEd 2013 going to be in New Orleans I cannot blame you in the LEAST! But for those of you who just truly cannot find the time, the ability and are able to get away… something you should know.


Yea. Seriously. It is.  It actually has been for like the last… Oh I don’t know… since 2004 I believe? And all of that past-content since they started posting and making it available online has been posted online.   For some reason I’m only able to find the 2012 content and the 2011 Archive but who really needs access to material on product versions which may not even exist or are supported anymore, if you truly need that let me know and I’ll find the link!

The Microsoft TechEd 2012 Content Catalog (and prior) are freeeeeeee!


A lot of you are familiar with TrainSignal and the loads of great content they create, produce and respectively sell out there (You can get access to their paid training video series and content on their website,  But when I reached out to their President asking, “Hey, you have any freeeeeee stuff!?!?!?” He pointed me over by here!  So here is a whole bunch of videos freeeeeeeeeeeee of charge!  And of course, don’t hesitate to check out the amazing content produced by the likes of Scott Lowe and David Davis and others!

OMG TrainSignal does Free Training Videos too?! Available on Youtube? Booyah!

Ya know… as an example here! :)

That should get you going on quite a load of stuff from Microsoft, to VMware, to Citrix and Cisco and beyond!   But let’s drill down a bit into VMware now…


When it comes to VMware there are loads and loads (and loads) of information in the world, and often we never really know where to start… Well, here is a place to start and it’s home is in YouTube!

OMG VMware has a LOT of Channels on YouTube!

Yea, that’s lame right? I mean on YouTube there’s like a dozen channels?!?! Well, there are. Just go and use them. BAM, and BOOYAH.

VMworld Presentations are FREE TOO LIKE TECHED?!?!?

Well, no. Not exactly. Sorry!   Although this last year VMUG Advantage did have a brief offer for free access to the VMworld content if you signed up for that…  I’m unable to find any data on it at the moment, so that may have expired, but it’s still worth checking out!


You asked for Labs and here they are! More labs than you can shake a stick at!

This picture 'borrowed' from !

Err, okay, maybe that was a little too literal!   Let’s get on with our labs though!

FREE Hands On Labs from Microsoft!

The thing about Microsoft is… for 8+ years they’ve had FREE access to all of their products in a Try-Before-You-Buy model where you can DOWNLOAD any Product and play with it (okay, seriously that’s been around for going on 20 years) but they also instituted the Hands On Labs where the lab environments would BUILD themselves, provide you with a Lab guide to follow (or ignore) and learn and play with it that way.   Not to mention all of the content they’d have in the Hands on Labs at TechEd would be POSTED and made available for you to go in and learn, explore and beyond!

This isn’t something new, it’s been around FOREVER, Here are links to where you can access it (as it’s actually available in several places).

Disclaimer: When I wanted to test something out, I’d spin up a lab which was designed to ‘best practice’ and go in and do whatever I wanted, I mean it was a lab environment available in minutes. Why not? 

Interesting Fact, some of the types of labs and solutions available out there which you can play and learn from:

  • How to setup a product from scratch, like Sharepoint, Microsoft Exchange, SQL
  • How to MIGRATE a product from one version to another (like those products mentioned above and more)
  • How to Develop in a language like C#, Visual Studio, Azure, PowerShell and more
  • How to do other advanced types of things
  • Alllllllllllll the labs that were available at TechEd, so you know what that means… and if not, check it out!
  • You can find TechEd Labs in the Additional Content section here with this Microsoft TechEd Virtual Labs flask icon next to it!
  • Here at the MSEvents site there are a number of Virtual Labs on the “Virtual Labs” tab to choose and play from!
  • At the TechNet Virtual Labs site you can dive a little deeper on more Microsoft Technologies…
  • Looking to dive even deeper, the MSDN Virtual Labs site will take you there.

So if for a minute you thought this was going to be easy, or a single click site with all the answers. HAH.


Well, not exactly.. I mean, sort of, kind of… but, well, let me explain.   VMware recently announced “Project Nee” my dear friend Simon Seagrave talks about about it here at his blog.  But ultimately, what Project Nee is intended to be is… VMware Hands On Labs publicly available online.  However it is still in Beta at the moment.   You can follow details of the VMware Hands On Labs by going here to the VMware Hands On Labs community!


Some additional places not even mentioned but you should check out, and all of the cited links for easy access and consumption:


So hopefully those of you out there who are looking to stay relevant, continue educating yourselves, maybe even heading down the certification track and whatnot will find this of benefit.   I won’t lie to you, I’ve used these resources countless times over the years and I encourage others to.   If you have any other sites to suggest, toss em into the comment section… This is an epic resources to reference from here until well.. until I write another one ;)

Educate and Enjoy!

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Posted in .NET, Careers, Certification, Cloud, Education, Evangelist, Exchange, Free, Hyper-V, Informational, Licensing, MCT, Microsoft, Sharepoint, SQL, TechEd, Technology, Virtualization, vmware, VMworld, Windows Server | Comments (6)

Top Paying IT Certifications, Skills and Capabilities

March 1st, 2012

The other day or so, I came across this article:

15 Top Paying IT Certifications for 2012 by Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST

And it got me thinking, other than the clear difference of opinion MANY of the readers had to feel about it, and the subjective thoughts around how much money people we’re being paid (Is that reflective of specific markets?)  As someone who regularly hires, recruits, and mentors for others I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring around what I see are the Top Paying Certs and Skills as I’m hit up regularly by recruiters (internal and external) looking for candidates.  I’ll try to break this up by section and I won’t go into the details of money because frankly I have deep insight into what people get paid, so I know just how relative it all is :)

Disclaimer: You may feel there is vendor bias in a lot of the choices of Certifications to be included, Let me just tell you, this isn’t just ME saying this.  This is countless hiring managers inside and outside of the industry looking for these certifications, so I want it to be clear if you have THESE Certs, your LinkedIn will EXPLODE with Job Opportunities. Seriously.

Top Certifications for the low-mid levels

  • MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional)
  • CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician)
  • VCP (VMware Certified Professional)
  • A+, Network+, Security+ (Okay, seriously, ANY CompTIA Certification)
  • EMCISM (EMC Information Storage and Management)

If you’re just getting started in IT depending upon the cross section you’re focused on, these certifications help build some credibility and skill-sets which are definitely to be required as you move up the stack.    For the most part, short of being “Product” specific in some sense, they each provide a decent “Administrative” foundation for the Microsoft, Networking, VMware Virtualization, etc.   Oh yea, and in light of NOT having these certifications, having an adequate foundation to fall back on of these skill sets work as well.    FYI: If you have the skills, just go take the test so you won’t have to prove yourself at every avenue.

Top Certifications for the growth-mid levels

  • ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library )
  • MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) [Technically doesn’t exist anymore refer to next line]
  • MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional)
  • MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist)
  • CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)
  • VCAP (VMware Certified Advanced Professional)
  • EMC Specialist (EMC Certified Expert:Multiple Paths)
  • PMP (Project Management Professional)

So you’ve been in IT for awhile and you’re looking to go to the next level, or advance your career or want to focus maybe a little more in a different direction.   These certifications really give you that foundation to take the next step, further enhancing your credibility.   Some of you may be wondering “Why is the PMP included in this section?!” Honestly? The PMP is sort of the defacto standard for a Project Manager, and most PMs are in that growth-mid level.   If you want to find yourself evolving to the next level and moving up the chain to making more money, taking on more responsibility and potentially doing even less work [Read: Less Administrative, more strategic]  these are those foundations.   Oh, and I do want to call out ITIL Specifically for a moment.   Let the record show, I absolutely despise and HATE ITIL. (Yea, that’s going to be well received with a LOT of you! ;)) Okay. Let me clarify, I don’t hate ITIL per se, I am NOT an administrative/operational guy, thus I do not want to DO ITIL related activities.    I like the objective outcome when implemented correctly though.   That being said however, ITIL is a HOT BED of opportunity.  You want a job? Get ITIL Certified.  You want to always have jobs thrown at you? Tag some ITIL to that.  Okay I’ve said that particular piece because EVERY DAY I’m being asked “Do they have ITIL?” So take it as is ;)

Top Certifications for mid-architect levels

  • CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)
  • EMCCA (EMC Certified Cloud Architect)
  • EMC Expert (EMC Certified Expert:Multiple Paths)
  • What?! No VMware Certifications here?  Yea, we literally JUMP over this right into the next section! grin

Honestly, I originally didn’t even write this section in but felt it had to be broken out as there are numerous certifications which sit very clearly here in the middle which need to be called out.    I won’t go into too many specifics, but a lot of these sit in that odd space between clearly operational and clearly architectural.   Each of these certifications help further cement that foundation which solidifies your path up the stack and to the next levels.   Or to clarify, as a hiring manager I EXPECT you to have at a minimum the skill-sets in the previous 3 sections before I am confident you are the clear lead in the next section.

Top Certifications for Architect and above levels

  • MCM (Microsoft Certified Master)
  • MCA (Microsoft Certified Architect) [This Program started to be overshadowed by the MCM…]
  • CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert: Multiple Specialties something many don’t even realize!)
  • VCDX (VMware Certified Design Expert)
  • CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)

I chose to differentiate this area a little bit establishing Architect credentials because frankly that is what it is.   The first two sections were VERY tactical, operational, on-call 24×7 type of certifications and roles, the third section started to combine those roles a bit.  If you’re reaching this point, you’ve had some time in the game and you’re either looking to get paid VERY well, absolutely LOVE what you do, and want to advance up that stack.    A lot of these Certifications in fact do not have hard $$$ associated with them because they carry with them the ‘assurance’ of a level of expertise, years of experience, etc.  That being most of these are difficult to ‘fake’ there’s a pretty good chance if you hold one of these pedigree you MIGHT know what you’re talking about. :)

Certifications Summary

Certifications are not the end-all-be-all, and I know some of you are staunch certification opponents. “I KNOW EVERYTHING, AND I’M HAPPY WITH MY NON-EVOLVING JOB SO I DON’T EVER NEED TO CERTIFY”. yea guys, go back to your mainframes, but seriously.   Certifications do the work for you to help validate your capabilities and grow your potential salary.   Without them you may be fine, but if you are like me (and so many others) who do not do their job because it pays the bills, but because you enjoy it greatly and it takes you to the next level of your career and life evolution; well, certification should be PART of that transition.  Note: Part of that transition and not the only vehicle.   There comes a time when you don’t want to Certify anymore and you need to find other ways to differentiate yourself.   Which brings us to the next section!

Specialist Skills which are ripe with opportunity!

Note: I didn’t mention ANY Developer, Database specific or similar certifications in the previous sections for a few good reasons.    First of all, there really aren’t a whole lot of mature certifications out there worth mentioning, and secondly these are really entirely skills based.    However, when it comes to what skills people are CONSTANTLY hiring for that you should either have, further develop, or invest in for the first time?  Yea, I’ll call those out here.   Anything I mention here, there is DEMAND for.   Don’t phone it in certainly, but there are lots of companies and partners hiring for these skill-sets, period.

  • vFabric, Spring Framework, CloudFoundry
  • Java Developer Space environments (Flexible enough to leverage the vFabric/Spring Framework)
  • SAP SAP SAP.   Seriously, you has SAP skillz, you has SAP Job. It’s as simple as that.
  • Vblock or similar *Storage, UCS, Cisco stack capabilities and offerings.
  • Orchestration tool and Workflow skills.  Don’t pigeon hole yourself into only knowing BMC, or CIAC, ITO; Learn them all and you are #win
  • I’d say Oracle, but seriously there are way too many damn DBAs out there who really don’t cross train, but that leads me in to
  • Hadoop skills.   If you can start to spell Big Data and everyone seems to be coining that from us these days, there be mad skillz and jobs y0! ;)
  • Scrum/Agile is really a foundation for any dev careers, so have/know that and you’re cool.
  • The “Year of Sharepoint” has been over for quite some time, sure there are jobs but I wouldn’t say you’d be unique if you pursued that path.

So that covers the bulk of general skills which hiring managers truly cannot find the right skill sets for.   A little investment goes a LONG way.

Top skills and capabilities for top paying jobs!

Whoa whoa whoa! What’s this?!? Skills?! Capabilities?!   What is this, the guidelines what separates a transition from Job to Career or from Customer to Partner/Vendor?   Hmm, maybe.

In most customer focused environments, unless you are an absolute rockstar who is also a master negotiator you are not very likely to be paid what you are worth.   I feel it fair to be honest with you because it’s just a fact, customers TYPICALLY don’t pay at the top of line, hell hardly the mid-line.   And while you’ll become an expert in your own environment it is just that.   So if you happen to love working on a single project which at completion will prepare you for the next project in your particular company which can often be ‘comfortable’ to ‘highly stressful’ depending upon where you transition throughout the stack and often ripe with reduced opportunities for advancement (entirely depending upon the business) let’s lay out some skills which are applicable in EVERY environment.  The true set of skills which differentiates you from your peers and the competition respectively.

  • Consulting Skills.   Whether you’re a consultant or not, being able to be ‘consultative’ will not only differentiate you, but also open the doors to more opportunities than you can imagine.    The only thing equally as valuable as that is …
  • Sales Skills.   I’m not saying you need to ‘be a sales guy’, I mean cmon, how many of us are? (Those of you who are, great for you!:))   But it takes a certain set of Sales type skills to be the ‘trusted advisor’ which earns you credibility in your business, in the industry and in your career.    Think of it like trying to give a child medicine they don’t want.   A lot of customers, business units, etc don’t WANT to do what you’re suggesting even though it NEEDS to be done, so your ability to make it palatable even with the objections can differentiate yourself.   Oh and that separates and Admin from becoming an Architect, and an Architect from becoming CIO.   
  • Project Management Skills.   I’m not saying OMG BECOME A PMP RULE THE WORLD. Quite the opposite.  The best projects are executed well because the entire team has a good foundation of how to manage a project and their portions of it.   A Project Managers job is to make sure you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, quite frankly few of them have a clue what the hell it is you do, it’s just that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do.   When I get a GC over to build a house, he’s not watching his guys to make sure they level an area before they pour concrete; you just expect it to be done.   Get your work done and your projects will run a lot smoother. ;)
  • Presentation & Speaking Skills.   Hey, have you heard of Toastmasters?   Do you say ‘uh’ ‘um’ ‘you know’ ‘like’ ‘so’ and many other things often in your presentations, speaking, etc?   Listen to your leadership, do they? (Often times they will)     What will differentiate you from your competition is the ability to cooly, calmly and collectively deliver your thoughts in a comprehensible fashion that is understood by your audience.    If you can do that and even avoid conflict.  Wow.   You’ll put yourself head and shoulders above the competition, your peers and even your leadership!
  • Confidence and ability to reach consensus.    Did you know that if you believe in what you’re saying, chances are others will too?   Oh and from a recent conversation at #VMwarePEX, the shared thought was, “It’s not what you know, it’s what other people think you know”.   It’s very true and can set you apart from others if you can share that knowledge in such a way others have confidence in you as well.    That eases reaching consensus, which is further compounded by one very poignant point.    Asking the ask moves things forward.   Meetings which end with no clear action items may as well not have happened.    So, always have something to walk out of the room with, off the call, oh whatever.  You’ll be seen as a leader because you’re taking charge, even if you’re not taking any of the action items yourself to work on; just asking is enough.

Take the skills above, combine them with the certifications relevant to your skills and your prospective career path and you can double your salary in 2-3 years.   Oh yea. I’m serious about that.   If it makes you feel any better a combination of the skills above across the spectrum result in salaries ranging from 30k-450k [NO THAT IS NOT A TYPO] (Oh and above, but you gotta have a little time invested to go above those numbers).

Clearly you can see why I was befuddled from the original post about the salary figures projected because WTF?! :)

As always, I am here for your commentary, any certifications I missed you’d like to share in the comments, and of course feel free to share job opportunities present in your own companies you’d like people to know about.    While researching this for anecdotal points, I noticed that EMC, that tiny little tech company has 1820 job postings. WTF? IT’S A RECESSION, HOW DARE YOU HAVE NEARLY 2000 JOBS POSTED!. Yea. Seriously.   We’re hiring like mad.  So let’s roll with this! ;)

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Posted in .NET, Careers, Certification, Community, emc, Jobs, Microsoft, Technology, Toastmasters, vmware | Comments (13)

Wiki Wiki get your Tech on with the Technet Wiki Beta!

June 9th, 2010

I feel like Alex Russo in that episode of “Wizards of Waverly place” talking about the lame DJ who made that song “wiki-wiki-pedia!” but no, this is not only NOT LAME, it’s complete rock star, and champion some might say! (I might say!)

Wiki-Wiki-Technet Wiki Beta! 

So, what’s the big deal about the TechNet Wiki? I mean, we have other Wiki’s out there right? so obviously it must be the same! (it is not!)

Cool Features in the TechNet Wiki Beta!

  • The ability to create content that you feel really need to exist when it doesn’t
  • The ability to SEARCH for CONTENT (indexed in your favorite search engine without login… so no need to login/etc) and thus determine whether you need to create new content
  • Integration with your LiveID so there’s no need to manage and maintain yet ANOTHER acct in order to do things – That’s something you can write home about!
  • Forums! Forums! Forums! (Yea, that feature has existed… but it’s EASY to get to using this vehicle!)

And I’m sure there are other reasons to use it, but if there is one thing I can encourage you to do now, instead of waiting for it… Just go Check it out!

Do it! (Do It! :))   It may be something helpful which will change your life, and if not.. at least you can feel well knowing that Microsoft has adopted a Wiki architecture to enable you (the community) to express and move forward with doing things! :)

So, get out there and wiki-wiki your wiki on!

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Posted in .NET, ASP, Azure, Education, Microsoft, TechEd | Comments (1)

I feel all scrummy, err Scrum for TFS v3 beta 2

December 8th, 2009

First of all, let me thank our good friends at EMC (Formerly Conchango )(This may even sound like a strange shill being that EMC acquired Conchango some time ago)  But the reality is, I really like SCRUM! (I’m more of an Scrum guy vs an Agile one – so it’s all relative, eh? ;))

There’s so much to say about this – but if you have any semblance of what Scrum is, I highly encourage you to check out Crispin Parker’s blog, and all will reveal itself :) Even if you’re an Agile guy, check it out! (Or if you’re an up and coming programmer :))


Important Reference Links:

SCRUM For Team System V3, Beta 2 released

Scrum for Team System – V3.x Beta 2 Discussions

Crispin Parker’s Blog

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Posted in .NET, emc, Microsoft | Comments (0)

Microsoft WebsiteSpark takes the web by storm

December 8th, 2009

You may remember me talking about two other programs that Microsoft has offered up in the past – BizSpark for Startup Businesses, and DreamSpark for for Education;  Now let me deliver to you (Yes I know this was launched in September, but the marketing machine is oblivious to many of us, myself included ;)) So, introducing WebSite Spark!

Microsoft WebSpark - A program that offers visibility, support and software for professional Web Developers and Designers

So, what exactly is WebSiteSpark?

Visibility, support and software for professional Web Developers and Designers – at no upfront cost!*

Does your company have 10 or fewer employees?
Receive Windows Web Server and SQL Server Web Edition at no cost to host new websites. Learn More

Finding an Expert, Training, Support, Software and Solutions

What does this mean for you? 

If you are a developer, designer or more and you need to take your business to a new level leveraging all that is the wonder of Microsoft technologies this gives you all of the tools to get your business off the ground with visibility in the internets! Check it out!

Do you provide services, support and hosting to businesses that develop web sites and applications? Sign up here
*A one-time $100 Program Offering Fee is due upon exit or at the end of the 3 year term.

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Posted in .NET, ASP, Informational, Microsoft | Comments (1)

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