So you’re on the path to migrating from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2 and know that you need to get your team skilled up so that they are knowledgeable about the new operating system. It’s been said that if a person doesn’t know a feature is in a product, from a functional perspective, the feature is not in the product. To get the most out of Windows Server 2012 R2, your team is going to have to know what the operating system can and cannot do. Luckily there are a plethora of resources you can utilize to learn about all the ins and outs of Windows Server 2012 R2.
The resources you use depend on the leaning style of the people in your team. It’s quite likely that members of your team have different learning styles. Resources that work for one set of people may not turn out to be all that informative for others.
Some of the most popular resources include:
- Instructor led training using Microsoft Official Curriculum. These are 3 or 5 day long classes designed by Microsoft and taught by independent certified trainers. They are eminently suitable for people that need to be away from the office to learn and who prefer an instructor led approach. I’ve worked on authoring a number of the Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 courses and feel that they provide a good introduction to the important roles and features.
- Self-paced training using books like the Microsoft Press Training Guides. Again I’m a little biased here, having written several of the Training Guides for the core Microsoft Server 2012 R2 MCSA exams. These books are job related lab manuals. Whereas in a MOC you use the labs built by Microsoft Learning in a classroom environment, with a Training Guide, you learn using a lab you build yourself in your own virtual environment. It’s suitable for learners who are self motivated and learn through performing hands on tasks. You’ll need to be able to find your own time and equipment to do the exercises.
- Studying for Microsoft exams. There’s the Exam Ref books (again I’ve written a few) as well as third party exam practice test products. It’s important to remember that the exams are testing you based on the assumption that you have hands on experience with the product. While you’ll definitely learn about a product by studying for an exam on the product, it’s not the same as studying the product to learn the product. Generally it’s a good idea to learn the product before you start thinking about whether or not you want to take the related exam.
- Online video based training. Companies such as PluralSight offer video based training on Windows Server 2012 R2 (again I’ve done one or two courses for them, so don’t assume complete impartiality). There are also Microsoft Virtual Academy courses that can teach you about Windows Server 2012 R2. This type of training is suitable for motivated people who might be travelling to work on public transport where concentrating on a book is a bit of a challenge, but watching a video is fairly straightforward. Generally I find that you’ll learn more reading a book for an hour than watching a video for an hour, but that’s because text tends to be able to get across more information more quickly than a video can.
- TechEd sessions on Channel9.msdn.com. Pretty much every session at TechEd (or Ignite from next year) is recorded. These breakout sessions tend to be focused deeply on a specific topic and tend to be most useful when you have a general level of understanding prior to accessing the material. You’ll have to know what you’re looking for when searching through the available content. Unlike a library, there isn’t librarians who show you which sessions you should access, so it might take you a while to figure out which sessions you should watch. Alas few of us have enough time to work through every possible session at an event.
- TechNet documentation and blogs. You can also search around the TechNet documentation and product team blogs for information about Windows Server 2012 R2 technologies. Some parts of the documentation are deep and informative. Other parts are, to put it charitably, a little sparse. Wading through TechNet can be a bit like wading through the stacks at a large library. You might find exactly what you’re looking for or you may miss it completely. I’ve certainly had the experience of researching a topic for a few weeks and then stumbling upon something through luck that would have been invaluable if I’d found it first. Suitable for extremely patient and motivated people. As I’ve said to a few readers, I fossick about in TechNet for months to write a book that you can consume in a week or so, saving you from having to search about yourself for the same information.