Home > cisco, UCS > The High and Lows of Cisco UCS Training

The High and Lows of Cisco UCS Training

I recently took an official class on Cisco UCS and have a few observations I would like to share with you.

The high point:

First, the people – The class was mostly made up of  gov’t types like me, but there were some private sector folks too.  Swapped some good war stories, got some good tech info, and so on.

Second…second….second.., well there is no second (the section heading says “high point”, not “high points”)  I hate to say it, but this class was not good at all.   I would say a waste of time and money.   Here’s my reasons why:

We had already done so much research, seen a number of videos, read the manuals, etc that most of the content was not new and/or in depth enough.  I’d really like to say that it was because we did so much up front, but given that the class is supposed to be from 9am-5pm and the instructor says that he likes to start late and end real early tells you that there is spare time.

While on the topic of time wasting, one the things that made this class such a waste of time was the manner in which it was delivered.  Rather than have equipment on-site, the provider had us VPN into their remote facility to access the UCS systems.  Therein lies a problem: The VPN itself had a number of problems.  We easily spent at least one hour a day troubleshooting connectivity problems.  The problems varied from issues with the Active X control to the VPN appliance itself.  It really became annoying when the problems occurred in the middle of a lab.  If you were one of the unlucky ones, it meant starting the lab over from the beginning.

Also, the labs literally had us installing operating systems just so we could verify things such as booting from local disk and booting from SAN.  We easily burned over an hour doing this.  Maybe next time the disks can be pre-configured with bootable O/Ses so we don’t have to wast time installing them.

Another knock on the labs was that many of them seemed more intent on proving that a feature works than actually showing us how to use the features.  There were too many “Monkey Scripts” and not enough “figure it out yourself” type labs.  Come to think of it, they were all monkey scripts.  BTW, “monkey scripts ” is the term I use to describe step-by-step instructions that leave no room for thought because you follow the instructions to a T with no deviation.  So simple, even a monkey could succeed.

Let’s get back to content.  Can you believe this course had no chapters and labs on troubleshooting?  I have never taken a class that didn’t have at least some troubleshooting content.

Another knock on the content is that it wasn’t up-to-date.  If this were a Microsoft class I wouldn’t be so critical, but in this class where every firmware update brings new features, changes screen layouts, and such updated content is key.  We are going to be implementing a number of the Palo adapters, but they only got an honorable mention in the materials.  No labs on them whatsoever.  Granted, they have only been out three months or so, but again, this is one of those products that changes with every firmware revision.  Course content is going to have to stay current.

While I am it, here’s another knock on content – the entire last day of class was spent on the Nexus 1000v.  This means the lab had us installing and configuring ESX and the 1000v just so that we could see that it worked.  I fail to see the specific tie-in to UCS since the 1000v is pretty much universal to any server hardware.  Maybe the tie-in is the usage of VLANs…  So was this last bit just to make the class go a fifth day?  The instructor didn’t know why it was in there either.

The only redeeming value for the class is that it was a good overview.  If you have not had any exposure to UCS, then this class would be decent.  Maybe I am fussy, but I just expected more.

I talked to my Cisco rep this morning and she was appalled at what I told her.  Rightfully so.  Cisco is putting a lot of money and effort into this rollout.  I am pretty sure that when they signed up their training partners, substandard was not part of the deal.  We’ll see what happens.

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