Keeping IT personnel up to speed with technology is a continuous process, and it comes with a price tag. It might be tempting to outsource VMware infrastructure maintenance to a third party rather than train internal staff, but neither option is perfect.
VMware shops can send IT administrators to in-person and online training courses that cover various virtualization topics. Organizations that train their staff can benefit from smoother operations, increased employee retention and decreased skill gaps.
Train your own staff
If you've standardized on VMware, that's the only platform staff needs to install, maintain and troubleshoot. This narrow focus enables your organization to quickly adopt new VMware products and versions as they're released.
The longer your staff works with the same infrastructure, the more efficient it -- and they -- will be. To that end, employee retention is key. A positive workplace environment and investment in training can keep employees on board.
When developing a training strategy, ensure overlap in terms of who can do what. The more specially trained administrators there are on staff, the harder it is for colleagues to take over their tasks when needed. Segregating skills and responsibilities also decreases collaboration and innovation among admins because there are fewer possibilities to reflect on each other's work or to request feedback, ideas and suggestions for improvement.
Many organizations can't send all their administrators to the same training at once. Some common training courses -- such as VMware's course on "VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage" -- have multiple sessions per year, so administrators can take turns attending them. The more specialized training courses have fewer sessions throughout the year, so the opportunities to take turns and still attend training in the necessary time frame might be difficult. Customized training might be a good option to solve that problem. An instructor can tailor the course to your organization's needs, and because the training can be done in-house, not all staff would be out of the office at the same time.
VMware On Demand Courses are another good option. These are interactive learning modules with instructional videos and online labs that are available for a 30-day period, so students can study the materials at their own pace. On Demand Courses are the same quality as instructor-led training, according to VMware, and they meet the course requirements for the VMware Certification tracks. This type of training isn't the best option for everyone because it requires dedication, planning and discipline. IT admins often start an On Demand training track together so they can help each other and discuss any topics they find difficult. They can also help each other remain focused on the training plan.
Pros and cons of outsourcing management to a third party
The VMware partner ecosystem is a large one, so there will always be companies to assist with deployments. But without in-house expertise, you might become dependent on a supplier -- and it often sounds simpler to switch service providers than is possible.
It can be a challenge to find a third-party management company that's proficient at managing your infrastructure, so get references from your colleagues. The opinions and experiences of other IT managers in your network are very valuable, especially to assess companies you might want to use. You can also ask a supplier for customer references. You can then speak tose current customers and compare your organization's needs with theirs to determine if the supplier is right for you.