The SQLHA University Backstory
Hello everyone! Long time no speak. Now that I’m back from Chicago and delivering my last class for the year, I can catch up on quite a bit – including working on the book. I know I’m a little behind on that but I promise it will be done soon. I’ll give more updates on that soon in another blog post; this one is about something completely different.
It’s no secret I do a lot of training and public speaking; I always have. I wanted to get into the online side of things but because my training is not your garden variety stuff, I did not just want to do something quick, down, and dirty only to regret the results later. There is a lot of great SQL Server training out there, and I definitely did not want a “me too” kind of thing, either. The genesis of SQLHA University, also known as SQLHAU, started in the fall of 2012. I had just converted my 3-day Mission Critical SQL Server class to a 4-day with labs. Not just any labs, mind you – I went for broke and did something stupid. I crafted it so that one of the labs (the one for clustered instances of SQL Server) had three different levels – Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Everyone I’ve talked to over the past year has said to me I’m crazy for doing it, but think it’s cool.
Why did I put all of that extra work on myself? Well, if you’ve ever taken some classes there is just one lab for everyone. Yet within one class, everyone is at a different spot. Advanced users may be bored, and newbies overwhelmed. So I came up with a way to get students to the same point but taking different paths. I’m really proud of that work. The problem, however, is that it depended on physical hardware. That has been the crux of my pain for the past year – everywhere I’d deliver it despite giving out minimum requirements, the experience was always different. Setup sometimes was a nightmare. I needed to find a better way, which is how all of this started.
The logical step was to find somewhere online to host the VMs. Azure or Amazon EC2 are not the answer; I needed somewhere that got the ‘training’ side of things for labs. Lo and behold I found a company who specialized in this in the springtime of 2013. I only initially looked at it as for my labs, but it was a platform that could do more. I was impressed with the demos I saw, but timing was not right to go forward then. I wanted to get the work done by the Melbourne and Sydney classes in October and November but that also wasn’t meant to be. I finally got things all squared away for the delivery of Mission Critical SQL Server last week in Chicago. Before unleashing this on the world and as part of a bigger initiative, I wanted to use it in a real setting with students to see how they would like it; they loved it. I also needed to get the branding just right (see the logo below). Needless to say, here we are with the announcement of SQLHAU.
Why do I care so much? First of all, the training platform I chose will allow us to deliver not only labs, but on-demand as well as live training or seminars. We own all of our own IP (which is important to me), and there are lots of things the platform gives us that we can grow into and expand our offerings. One of the key differentiators with the platform we chose is that the labs for most – but not all classes depending on how complex they are – can be made available to students after they walk out. That is a huge advantage. Potentially labs could be available for up to six (6) months after the class. I can also provide students with ongoing learning such as new labs and scenarios we could never cover in a 4-day class. We’re sorting out how all of that will look like for our classes and what those types of options will cost (and trust me, they’ll be reasonably cheap), but imagine starting out as Beginner and over time working your way up to Advanced. Also, forget about setting up your own virtual environment – this one is done for you already. It’s an incredible advantage. The possibilities are nearly endless with this capability available to us. Heck, I can do a hybrid in-class and online delivery. Look for a lot of innovative hopefully coming from us through SQLHAU.
As we were developing the SQLHAU concept, I thought, “Why not let others be part of it, too?” We’re not territorial over here at SQLHA; there’s plenty of room for everyone out there since people learn differently. I figured why not start by inviting others who want to put great stuff out there and love to teach. Hence us inviting our friends Denny Cherry (blog | Twitter) and Grant Fritchey (blog | Twitter) who most of you know and love already. We’re also working with others to get them on board as well, but I think that’s a pretty fantastic start. It’s not going to be all high availability classes, either 🙂 First up will be Grant’s course on backups which we’re planning on having labs as well. I can’t wait to see what he does!
If you couldn’t tell, I’m thrilled to finally let the cat out of the bag. We almost did it at PASS Summit in October, but everything didn’t line up right for that to happen. Good things come to those who wait.
What classes would you like to see at SQLHA University? Who else would you like to see under our SQLHA University banner? Let us know either by contacting us or in the comments below.