Last year VMware started offering VMware Learning Zone: “24/7 access to cloud-based VMware Training and Certification Exam Prep videos delivered by VMware Certified Instructors and experts.”
Initially it was offered at the whopping price point of a cool $1,000. At that price I wasn’t interested. Shortly after getting my first email notification, I received another one telling me that “early subscribers would get a discounted price of $500 if you act now!”… Having a few PS credits that I *had* to use, I decided nothing ventured nothing gained.
I spent the 5 credits (1 credit = $100) and got my confirmation that my subscription was processing… please wait 2 business days to access your content… (!?!?!?!)
*3* business days later I got my confirmation email, excitedly I tried to log in & got an “account not recognized” error from Panopto (the site hosting the videos). After calling into VMware to get this sorted out, 2 hours later I was finally able to log in to see what was being offered. At the time I saw a grand total of SIXTY VIDEOS. I thought it was a joke. I thought something was broken. I submitted a ticket to VMware because clearly something was wrong, my account didn’t have the correct access or something.
I was told “Please follow this link https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=51506&ui=www_edu. In Video Titles tab you can see all the available videos and we will continue to add videos every time the video is production.” I.E. “That’s it buttercup.”
Let that sink in: FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR SIXTY VIDEOS.
I know what you must be thinking. “Chris, surely the quality of these videos is so great as to warrant this price tag? These videos clearly were wrought by angles and delivered to you along with a superb back massage?”
More on that in a minute.
So I’ve had the VMware Learning Zone account since April. Recently company asked me if I wanted to get a site license for Pluralsight. So our training coordinator has excellent taste in training materials/ideas (hi Sarah!) and 2) I’m a learning media omnivore… so I said “hell yeah”. I got 2 emails from our training coordinator, 1 saying welcome to Pluralsight and another with my username & password. I clicked on the link, submitted my info & saved my login creds to my browser & I was up and running. I just spent the weekend using both VMware Learning Zone and Pluralsight & this is what prompted me to create this review. I’ve broken down my findings into 3 categories, 1) Accessibility, 2) Quality, and 3) Value:
Ease of access
VMware Learning Zone (after the above said issues):
- Go to https://mylearn.vmware.com
- Log in using your mylearn account
- Click on myEnrollments
- Here’s where it gets dicey, I have a merged account from Panopto… so I have a couple of options:
- What I’ve been doing is clicking “continue” because I’m afraid that if I click “finish” my subscription will end… Just like every other VMware Education offering in this window if you click finish.
- Once you are into the interface, there still aren’t enough videos (and they are too short). The GUI is *awful*: there is no back button, you can’t browse the offerings without constantly needing to click the “home” button to start over. There are several duplicates of the same videos in some areas (Paul McSharry’s NSX section has the same video THREE times).
Pluralsight (after initial setup):
Go to www.pluralsight.com. That’s pretty much it. The classes you are looking at show up at the top and you can browse or save the content to look at offline:
- Once you are in the GUI is excellent. The classes are easy to find (both in the “old” GUI and the new “beta” that I was asked if I wanted to participate in) and you can save for offline viewing, create a playlist for technologies you want to look at collectively & a number of features I didn’t even know I’d need but can appreciate, like being able to review/rate each section of a class individually (because some sections are better than others).
Variety of learning
VMware Learning Zone
7 Technical Areas (82 Videos total, each one approx. 10-30 minutes in length)
- General (8 Videos)
- Desktop and App Virtualization (5 Videos – Hi Linus!!!!) *For some reason I still can’t get into these videos
- Data Center and Cloud Management (9 Videos) – The vROps custom dashboards videos are excellent
- Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure (30 Videos) *For some reason I still can’t get into these videos
- Storage and Availability (23 Videos)
- Networking and Security (9 Videos, but 4 are duplicates… so 5 Videos) Paul McSharry is a great teacher, but these videos are too short to really get into anything substantive.
- Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (2 Videos). One is a presentation on EVO RAIL, the other is how to demo it! Basically marketing videos.
- For the complete list go here, click the “Video Training” button, then see what they have available and coming up.
- Go here and try to find something IT or IS related that *isn’t* there. I couldn’t find a class on vRealize Orchestrator… but it might be under a different name as VMware changes product names often. Each class is several hours long & you can watch them as many times as you like & even download for offline viewing. Currently they have 4467 classes in the following areas:
VMware Learning Zone
I just checked the VMware Learning Zone price, they now have two offerings the “Standard” subscription is now down to $400. The “Premium” offering ($800) gives you access to Certification Exam Prep material, but you still have to attend the class for your first VCP. There is no “try before you buy” option.
Pluralsight has monthly & yearly plans and includes a 7 day trial period with no restrictions:
I think it’s clear that, based upon the lack of content, I can’t in good conscience recommend VMware’s Learning Zone.
I know some of the guys who created those VMware videos. I know them to be excellent teachers as I’ve sat with some of them and read most of their work (the published ones). I was really excited when I heard about the lineup, and tremendously let down when I saw the actual product. That being said, if someone told me to explain a technology in 30 minutes then I would have created the exact same high level videos. Some of these videos are good, but the whole offering is nowhere near $500 good.
My level of expectation, based up on the price I paid, is to have Pluralsight level quality product drilling down specifically into VMware products. ALL VMware products and I would want hours and hours of material on EACH product.
Whoever greenlighted the VMware Learning Zones go-live with such a sparse offering should be embarrassed, and I feel like I was shorted $500 dollars.