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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! :)
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!
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!
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!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE FROM MICROSOFT?!?!
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.
ALL MICROSOFT TECHED CONTENT IS AVAILABLE FREE WHETHER YOU ATTEND OR NOT.
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!
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, Trainsignal.com) 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!
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!
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!
SHOW ME THE LABS BABY!
You asked for Labs and here they are! More labs than you can shake a stick at!
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 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!
So if for a minute you thought this was going to be easy, or a single click site with all the answers. HAH.
FREE HANDS ON LABS FROM VMware?!??!
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 ;)
Learning Snacks are short, interactive learning presentations about Microsoft technologies and include various media, such as animations and recorded demos. Are you an expert? Be part of this growing and vibrant community – create your own Learning Snack and share it with the world here!
Well, that’s a verbatim explanation taken from the site, but what does that really mean?
Provides an easy way to browse and find Microsoft Learning and community- created snacks.
Enables the Microsoft Learning Community to easily create snacks using the LCDS and Snack Converter tool.
Distinguishes between community produced and Microsoft produced Snacks
Allows users to rate snacks
Allows us to highlight top community contributors
Alright, enough copy and paste. Are you seriously telling me that Microsoft has created a simple way to not only create content using LCDS to share with the Learning and Education community, but respectively they have also created a venue for sharing this information with the world, including featured content? If that is the case, woohoo! :)
Though seriously, I highly encourage you to check this out, whether you’re a creator, learner or looking to be a creator/learner/educator/trainer and beyond :)
The question on the table at the moment is, “Why am I passionate about Microsoft training and certification?” And I feel that this question is actually very easy for me to not only explain and articulate but to discuss in great length! ;) The key word specifically is my passion around this. This is no area I am one to shy away from, nor one which I have not done my best to cover in earnest time and time again both in this blog, but also in presentations to large groups and individuals while trying to raise the bar around what educational opportunities exist.
To discuss a bit about me, I am a founding member and currently an elected chair of the Chicago Windows Users Group, an organization founded on the premise of not only helping raise awareness and education within the Microsoft Community, but on that very point of increasing community within those of us Technical as well. Whether I am at our meetings discussing what Free opportunities exist in a downturn economy, talking about the merits of MCP certification and availability of training courses or even offering up random marriage proposals to Trika in her Certification hey-day; I’m always looking out for the folks around me making sure they know what exists and what is available!
I get asked quite often what the current state, merit and benefits of certification are, especially for those who get overly concerned over the expiration, lack of, and re-instatement at times (deja-vu!) And I take those comments not only in stride but also in the effort of educating the individuals so we all come out stronger and can walk away knowing what it takes to become a master! But it takes more than some Technical Offerings and a little education to really set a precedent for what Certification really means. It is about showing the promise, the possibility and exuding my own passion for Certification, Education and Learning as an Evangelist moreso than an enthusiast.
Define: Enthusiast v Evangelist
The difference between an enthusiast and an evangelist, is an enthusiast tells you how excited they are about something. An evangelist tells you how excited YOU are about something.
Yea, I am an evangelist, and I promote education, certification and more in this blog and through direct one-on-one communication, large group education sessions, presentations, livemeetings, webex’s, creating Post-Mortems after taking Beta Exams (within the confines of NDA’s ;)). I even comment excessively on the Beta Exams and have participated in the creation of a number of test questions and exams (Hey, I like to make sure I don’t have to make comments by fixing some things in the beginning!)
Am I passionate about Education and Certification? You better believe it! I’ve been told, if there were an MVP option for Certification I would have received it – Which is honorable indeed to be told that by many people (Multiple Microsoft Employees and many third party) though sadly that option does not exist in the MVP community, so sad :) I treat my sharing of this information like I am getting paid to deliver it! But I am not getting paid for it, and I’m not so sure I’d do the job quite so passionately if I were actually paid – The satisfaction is in knowing that people are actually benefitting!
Wow, this almost sounds sappy, but it’s sincere and true and I enjoy and appreciate knowing that people I help, whether through a blog post, a presentation, or direct mentoring has a very tangible impact not only in their careers but also in their lives.
This brings me an absolute level of satisfaction, the likes of which I reap the rewards every time I get the comments, compliments and hear from people who have walked away with new jobs, promotions and salary increases, or just all around a better understanding of their environments and their lives.
Given the chance to compete for this opportunity to be on the bus, it will be a great boon for the technical community, user groups, twitter and more so :) I love to meet people who have an interest in these very topics, whether it being around wanting to learn, or wanting to help ensure others are learning – This will be an experience like no other while leveraging technology like it is second nature :)
And the worst case, is I have an enjoyable time giving it a try, making sure that others are aware of their opportunity to compete in this as well, but above all – I’ll carry on sharing the educational love and making sure that there is no technologist left behind – And with Microsoft Funding (Often $$ Free) That’s a promise we can all agree to!