Review of Train Signal’s Exchange 2010 Video Training

Product: Train Signal Exchange Server 2010 Video Training

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I first started working with Exchange Server back in the mid 1990s with version 4.0. Over all of these years, I do not recall another version having as steep of a learning curve as Exchange 2010. Sure, there are some Exchange 2010 features that work the same way that they did in Exchange 2007, and some of the new features are relatively intuitive, but the product as a whole is far more complex than any of the previous Exchange versions. This is a big statement when you consider that prior to the release of Office Communications Server, Exchange had a reputation for being the most complex server product that Microsoft made.

Given Exchange 2010’s complexity, training is going to be essential for the IT staff in any organization that plans on deploying it. This is true even for organizations that plan to run Exchange 2010 in the cloud.

As you can imagine, I have tried out many different forms of training over the years. My favorite training method has always been to attend a class that is being presented by a Microsoft Certified Trainer. However, anyone who has ever attended such a class knows that live training classes can break the bank.

That being the case, video based training has become one of the hottest trends in IT training. As such, I decided to take a look at the video based training class that J. Peter Bruzzese recently recorded for Train Signal Inc.

If Peter Bruzzese’s name sounds vaguely familiar to you, it is probably because he is consistently voted to be one of the best presenters at TechEd year after year. Bruzzese also speaks at other IT conferences throughout the year, and he brings his trademark style to Train Signal’s Exchange 2010 training videos.

Of course anyone who is about to invest in Exchange Server training is probably more interested in substance than style, and I can tell you that there is no shortage of substance in these videos. In fact, the course contains over 20 hours of video! By way of comparison, one of the competing Exchange 2010 video training courses that I recently heard about only contains about eight hours of video.

The training course is divided into 40 separate lessons. Here is a breakdown of what is actually covered in the videos:

Lesson 1 – Getting Started with Exchange Server 2010 Training

Lesson 2 – An Overview of Exchange Server 2010

Lesson 3 – Your Globomantics Scenario

Lesson 4 – Lab Setup

Lesson 5 – System Requirements and Prerequisites

Lesson 6 – Exchange 2010 Installations

Lesson 7 – Working With the Exchange Management Console and Shell

Lesson 8 – Transitioning to Exchange 2010

Lesson 9 – An Overview of the Mailbox Server Role

Lesson 10 – Understanding and Managing Databases

Lesson 11 – Working With Public Folders

Lesson 12 – Address Lists and the Offline Address Book

Lesson 13 – Creating Recipient Types

Lesson 14 – An Overview of the CAS Server Role

Lesson 15 – Understanding and Managing Outlook Web App and ActiveSync

Lesson 16 – Understanding and Managing Outlook Anywhere and POP / IMAP

Lesson 17 – CAS Security and SSL Certificates

Lesson 18 – An Overview of the Hub and Edge Transport Server Rules

Lesson 19 – Send / Receive Connectors and Accepted Domains

Lesson 20 – Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam Features

Lesson 21 – Working with Transport Rules

Lesson 22 – Configuring the Edge and Transport Security

Lesson 23 – Federation Trust and Organization Relationships

Lesson 24 – Configuring Mailbox Settings

Lesson 25 – Messaging Policy and Compliance

Lesson 26 – Journaling and Personal Archiving

Lesson 27 – Messaging Records Management

Lesson 28 – Permissions and Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

Lesson 29 – An Overview of the Unified Messaging Role

Lesson 30 – Configuring Unified Messaging

Lesson 31 – Configuring Database Availability Groups

Lesson 32 – Disaster Recovery Solutions for Data

Lesson 33 – Configuring High Availability for Non-Mailbox Servers

Lesson 34 – Virtualizing Your Exchange Server Environment

Lesson 35 – Working with the Exchange Toolbox

Lesson 36 – Monitoring Tools in the Exchange Management Shell (EMS)

Lesson 37 – Configuring Reports and Logging

Lesson 38 – Going Live

Lesson 39 – Preparing for Your TS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring (70-662) Certification Exam

Lesson 40 – Next Steps

Of course quantity is nothing without quality. Anyone can make a long video. Making the content worthwhile is another issue altogether.

In my opinion, Bruzzese did a great job on this video series. Near the beginning of the series, Bruzzese introduces a fictitious company called Globomantics, and then proceeds to describe the company’s requirements for an Exchange 2010 deployment. It doesn’t feel as though the requirements were made up specifically to fit the training agenda. Instead, Bruzzese chose to use realistic business requirements that would be plausible for any medium to large sized business, and then based the lessons around achieving the stated business goals.

Unlike some of the other video based training that is available, Train Signal’s Exchange 2010 training course has a very hands on feeling to it. Anyone who watches the video should be able to take the concepts that were discussed and demonstrated, and apply those concepts in their own organization.

Although the training course is designed to help viewers to pass Microsoft’s 70-662 exam, the video doesn’t feel like an exam preparation tool. In my opinion, this is a good thing. I have seen some exam prep tools that will help you to pass an exam without actually teaching you any practical knowledge in the process. These videos take the opposite approach. Rather than focusing on Exam specific training, Bruzzese takes the time to actually teach you about Exchange, and then dedicates one lesson near the end of the course to helping you to prepare for the exam. As such, those who watch this training series should be able to pass the exam, but they will also gain the practical, hands on knowledge required for deploying and managing Exchange Server 2010.

Another thing that I really liked about this course is that it is taught in such a way that only a minimal amount of prior knowledge is required. Bruzzese starts at the very beginning and explains all of the Exchange Server basics for the benefit of anyone who may have never used Exchange before. He then gradually builds on those skills until he is eventually teaching expert level material.

Video Training vs. Live Training

OK, so obviously Train Signal’s Exchange 2010 course contains a lot of material, but I am sure that many of you are wondering how the video based training compares to the live training that you would receive at a Microsoft Authorized Training Center.

As I am sure you know, all of the classes that are taught at Microsoft Authorized Training Centers are led by Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs). It is worth noting that Peter Bruzzese is an MCT, so you can rest assured that you get the same quality of training in this video as you would receive if you attended a live training course. There are however, a few differences between live training and the Train Signal course.

If you have considered a live Exchange 2010 training class, then you might have noticed that the live classes tend to be longer than the Train Signal course. For example, I looked up a comparable course that one of the Microsoft Authorized Training Centers was offering, and the course was 40 hours in duration, whereas the Train Signal course is just over 20 hours.

Although I have not taken that particular live course, I would venture to say that the Train Signal course probably includes just as much actual instruction as the live course does, if not a little bit more. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to attend many courses at Microsoft Authorized Training Signals, and I can tell you that many of the class hours are spent doing hands on labs. The Train Signal course is shorter than comparable live courses because the course duration does not include lab time.

This is not to say that Train Signal does not provide any hands on labs. The entire video series is designed so that the techniques that Bruzzese demonstrates are repeatable. In fact, Lesson 4 is dedicated to showing you how you can set up your own lab environment that you can use when working through the training course. I especially liked the fact that Bruzzese showed a few different options for setting up a lab deployment, so as not to alienate those who are on a tight budget.

So how does the Train Signal course compare to a live course? In my opinion, the Train Signal course is every bit as good as what you would get if you attended an Exchange training course at a Microsoft Authorized Training Center.

The only real difference between the video based training and the live training is that when you attend a live training class, you have the opportunity to ask the instructor questions. You simply do not get that with a training video. At the same time however, the Train Signal course costs a lot less than an instructor led course. The 40 hour course that I looked up on the Internet costs $2,495. The Train Signal course retails for only $397!

The Verdict

As many of you know, I work with Exchange Server extensively. I have written countless articles and even a few books about Exchange Server. I was an Exchange Server MVP for a few years, and last year, I even produced my own series of training videos on Exchange Server 2007. My point is that I am considered by many to be an Exchange Server expert.

When I was asked to write this review, I initially planned on watching the videos and making sure that the most important topics were covered, and that there were no technical errors. When I watched the videos however, I ended up learning so much that I decided to watch the entire 20+ hour course again a second time to see what else I could pick up on. It is for this reason that I have given Train Signal’s Exchange 2010 training video a clear 5 star rating!

The videos are extremely well done, and I would highly recommend them to anyone who wants to learn about Exchange Server 2010. The fact that beginners and experts alike can learn from these videos is a true testament to Bruzzese’s presentation skills.

For more information about Train Signal’s Exchange Server 2010 video training course, visit their website at Rating 5/5

For more information about Train Signal’s Exchange 2010 Video Training, click here.

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