There's an awful lot of time, money, and effort goes into building and running a VMware training lab, and this article is going to give you an insight into how we do things at Global Knowledge.
All VMware Authorized Training Centers (VATCs) like Global Knowledge have the option of either renting training kits/racks/equipment from VMware (known as the VMWare VDC), or using their own training kit. A lot of smaller VATCs, and VMware themselves use the VMware VDC, but at Global Knowledge we see real benefits in hosting and running our own equipment. It gives us ownership coupled with responsbility for providing equipment capable of running the labs used across all courses, and due to the volume of VMware training we do, it gives a more cost-effective way of doing things.
Running your own labs is a complex challenge - VMware dictate a minimum set of equipment and specification for any VATC using their own kit, we have to host it, provide connectivity, build it for any particular course that we might be running, and maintain and support it when things don't quite go to plan. As well as being better for a larger VATC financially, it also gives that VATC the opportunity to build out a lab that exceeds the required specification, and also to provide all the associated documentation for both instructors and most importantly of all, our delegates - they are our customers after all, and the hands-on element of any course is very important.
The actual equipment used depends on which particular course is being run, we have a flexible configuration that enables us to be able to run any official VMware course on any of our lab kits. The graphic below shows the equipment that we use at Global Knowledge when running a vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage course:
I was directly responsible for designing and running the training labs at my previous employer, another UK VATC, and always received excellent comments from both external instructors and course delegates about the very high quality of our labs. I perform a similar role for Global Knowledge - although we have a dedicated lab team I am heavily involved in the design of the labs, and producing the all-important supporting documentation. We pride ourselves at Global Knowledge on having equipment which is above the required specification, is reliable, has the backing of a lab support team, and our supporting documentation is second to none in the UK market.