In the past I’ve posted several times about training aids for learning Lync Server 2010 and 2013.

Some of these training aids help administrators prepare for the Microsoft certification exams. Like this recent one on downloadable images.

Another such certification training aid has become available. I took a look, and decided it was well worth a post!

But first, let me step back a moment and explain where I’m coming from.

How Do You Learn? Visually, By Listening, By Doing?

I’m a combination learner. By that I mean, I learn using a variety of ‘learning methods’ we’ve identified over the years. Here’s a list of all the learning styles (it’s long!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles

I typically learn in the following order: Read about the topic (text), examine designs and what-if scenarios (visual), and then test myself on the knowledge (kinesthetic/self-learning).

Everyone has a different process. What’s important is knowing how YOU learn best.

If you’re someone who learns best by going hands-on, then this new training aid should appeal. It’s a training lab environment – hosted on the cloud.

Training Labs for Lync, Made by Hatsize

Hatsize.com announced a training lab for Lync Server 2013 last month. They have several other labs available for training too, on Microsoft servers like Windows Server 2012 and System Center.

The full lab listing is here: http://hatsize.com/solutions/microsoft-training-labs/

What they’re offering is essentially a cloud-based version of the Lync “test drive” I mentioned in September. Only instead of setting up the pre-configured VHD images on servers in your office, you just connect to Hatsize’s ready-to-train lab environment.

Hatsize Cloud Training Lab

The labs contain full Lync Server 2013 server setups, including databases, firewalls and routing. (Which is a huge resource savings for businesses right there – that’s a lot of resources you don’t have to take away from other systems!)

It runs on a virtualized Windows Server 2008 R2, per Microsoft training specifications. They’re built to accommodate both Instructor-Led Training and Self-Paced Learning.

The Control Panel makes Instructor-Led Training nice and smooth. It lets the instructor watch and guide all trainees’ virtual machines. You can monitor what they’re doing in real time, and take control of their virtual keyboard if there’s a problem.

Instructor Control of Environment

What Hatsize Has Available: A Secure Platform for Training on Lync Server, Windows Server and a Few More

It’s important to note though, that Hatsize is an infrastructure provider only. They do not have instructors available for training; that’s up to New Horizons or other training organizations. Hatsize focuses on making the training infrastructure. And they’ve done a thorough job of it.

I spoke with Judy at Hatsize just before they’d announced the new Lync Server lab. She offered me a brief demo of the system on Monday. Of course I accepted, and I was impressed by two things:

  • It uses three layers of virtualization, both to keep systems stable and secure. Trainees work in a Hyper-V server manager, which is run by a virtualized Windows Server, which is run from an ESX server. Even if a trainee mangles the Lync environment somehow, they can restore from a save point in a few moments.
  • They’ve built a training environment which CAN be adapted quickly for custom needs. But it’s robust enough as it is that instructors can simply log in and start teaching. Or self-paced learners (like me) can dive right in!

Right now Hatsize has one lab directly relevant to Lync certification: “20336B: Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013 (for Exam 70-336)”. There is a second Lync Server 2013 exam – “Enterprise Voice & Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013 (Exam 70-337)” – for which they don’t have a lab yet. But I’m sure one will be assembled soon.

Hatsize also has a “10961A: Automating Administration with Windows PowerShell” lab. Handy if you want to learn PowerShell alongside the big ones.

Curious? Grab their Solution Overview PDF to learn more about their training program.

If you’re a business or organization who needs to train people on Lync, but don’t have the resources or budget right now for a full test environment? Head for Hatsize’s website.

PlanetMagpie wishes all our readers safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Labs to Learn Lync – Hatsize's Cloud-Based Training Environments Are a Big Help for Certification
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