5 Factors to Consider when Choosing a Cloud Based Virtual Training Provider
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Times are changing; it’s now a global economy. Your teams are scattered throughout the world, you have off-shore development teams in Asia, and employees are working remotely. It would be impossible to get all of these employees in one location for team-based training.
So you start searching for a cloud based training provider in order to shift your on-site training to a virtual classroom training solution. Soon you realize that the market is awash with numerous providers, which only makes you more confused on what is right for you and which provider best meets your needs.
Have no fear! For this exact reason we’ve compiled the below list of the top 5 factors you should consider when you’re out choosing your cloud based training provider:
1. Covers every configuration
You don’t need to rewrite or re-route anything, or change operating systems – Anyone who asks you to modify your existing enterprise application environment is making you do work to meet their needs, not yours. Your existing on premise software with exact IP addressing, protocols, storage connectivity and such should run as-is in their “cloud” – without recoding or architectural changes. Furthermore, to cut costs, many vendors will run only on open-source Linux hypervisors (such as Citrix Xen) and provide limited, if any, support for other operating systems or virtual machines.
Ask what’s required of you before you commit
2. Flexible, Scalable on-demand
Cloud based training solutions should be ready to scale from zero to ten to sixty students at a moments notice. To understand whether your virtual training provider can truly scale, consider
(1) how flexible, or elastic, server provisioning is
(2) whether software licensing is an additional headache, and
(3) if governance, access controls and tracking will scale.
For example, scaling might mean expanding from two Windows servers to seventy, granting sixty students access around the globe, and then allowing them to log in for various, controlled time periods following the class. A cloud virtual training provider with
(1) very elastic server provisioning will scale from two to seventy back to two in a few clicks.
(2) If software licensing is not covered, the virtual class might be blocked before it starts. And if
(3) the system can track, deprovision, and delete student lab training environments afterwards, your IP and budget are kept safe — no charges for unused servers and no live environments in the wild.
As you can scale up or scale down resources as needed, you should make sure that the provider has a usage-based billing model where you pay only for what you use.
3. Schedule courses for any length of time
Virtual classes can be one hour, one day, or one month. They can be planned a quarter ahead, spring up with only a few days notice, or be cancelled without much lead time. On-site solutions that require shipping servers force the trainer to shoulder all of this scheduling risk, and hold the inventory no matter how many students show. Likewise, a cloud based training solution that requires heavy-weight, pre-class IT administration doesn’t solve the problem, especially if it also requires up-front payments.
An ideal virtual training software lets trainers schedule and forget. The invitations are sent, the servers are prepared, and then deprovisioned afterwards. Servers are only provisioned for the students who show up, and there is no clean-up afterwards.
Moreover, as it’s cloud-based, the virtual IT training lab provider should allow instructors to rapidly make fully functional copies of enterprise application environments, instantly replicating and sharing these now online-accessible environments with students.
If they don’t allow this, drop them and search for someone who will.
4. Have a high level of control over the classroom and student experience
On-site classroom training with physical servers allow trainers to see their students, their laptops, and troubleshoot everything, case-by-case. Many cloud based training solutions only provision servers, offer no control over environment functionality and no visibility into student progress.
A Virtual IT training lab provider should allow you to have a high degree of control. This includes functionality such as reporting and analytics (you see what your students are doing so you can monitor progress, level of engagement, content effectiveness, and more). A provider also should support a granular hierarchy of permissions by student, group, business division, etc. (you can control access and views), as well as be able to provide private-label branding (your virtual training classroom is an extension of your organization).
5. You’re free to think about students, not machines or servers
Training organizations should be self-sufficient, independent from IT, and able to control their own reports and schedules. A virtual training lab provider should give you a point-and-click dashboard with detailed technical access so you have insight into usage in order to troubleshoot and monitor a student’s level of engagement and steer him toward successful class completion. This should be a given to all training solutions so that instructors have their own training infrastructure without relying on contractors or IT.
Also, make sure the virtual IT training provider has additional features such as “Over-the shoulder view”, which allows instructors to monitor student progress and easily take control of a student’s desktop, for times when a student requests assistance during the virtual classroom session. In this case, both student and instructor will be able to see the same view simultaneously.
These instructor features provide for an amazingly powerful cloud based remote classroom experience that mimics a real life training session as close as possible. Most importantly, class quality isn’t compromised by logistics wrangling or IT provisioning delays; each user receives a consistent and reliable environment,
Configuration, Scalability and a High Level of Control – Before you commit to any virtual training provider, do your homework and make sure you ask the right questions – and you can be confident that you are on your way to choosing the right training partner for your needs.
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