Next stage of the Microsoft Virtual Academy challenge: learning more on Hyper-V

The latest stage of the MVA Challenge has been handicapped by poor broadband but there's still richness to explore.


Who needs a clock? I can tell when people start waking up as my broadband starts limping along like Darren Anderton after a warm-up routine and watching video becomes a painful process. I have measured out my life in "buffering" messages.

The inadequacies of the British broadband network have been particularly relevant for me this week as I try to catch up with the next module in the Microsoft Virtual Academy challenge.

Because I had a couple of days off this week, I've been watching the latest bunch of Microsoft Virtual Academy videos on my home PC. I have a home broadband connection of, supposedly, 20Mbps although tests show that it more often delivers between 2Mbps and 8Mbps. The faster speeds are delivered around daybreak, so I've been receiving some Microsoft instruction to the accompaniment of the dawn chorus which at least makes for pleasant background noise as I grapple with the intricacies of Hyper-V.

Don't forget that you can take this course along with me and we're offering prizes for the best scores too.

This week, I've been tackling a big chunk of the Virtualisation Platform the Data Centre Planning and Architecture, the Introduction to Hyper-V and Hyper-V management. It's a strange way round the introduction to Hyper-V is after the datacentre architecture, although a knowledge of Hyper-V is essential for this.

For the first time, we get some real demos of the software being talked about. That's something that's lacking from the first two modules and this time we get to see something of what Hyper-V is like. To my mind, there could have been a bit more about the differences between Hyper-V and VMware (an earlier module looked at this but that emphasised the differences in nomenclature more than anything else).

The introduction to Hyper-V also gave us our first taste of PowerShell scripting and an introduction to WMI. It must be hard to determine how much detail to give when it comes to scripting. Too much, and it becomes a programming exercise more than a guide to virtualisation, too little and a major part of the subject is omitted. I think the tutors get it about right touching on the subject and pointing students in the right direction if they want to go further down this route.

One interesting aspect of the MVA is the way that participants are prevented from taking the self-assessment tests before all the modules have been completed it's a device that would be helpful for students of many other courses who may be tempted to jump the gun and take exams before they're 100 percent ready. The MVA approach is like having a strict personal tutor, but a virtual one.

There are also a lot more videos to watch in this module: the first module had just one video, as did the second. The third module has five to plough through and they go into much more detail too. There's a lot of detail in these and I watch all videos two or three times to make sure that I take everything in. This module has a few more slides than the first two modules so the data is a bit easier to take in. The amount of material emphasises how comprehensive this course is - Microsoft is certainly not make life easy for its students and nor should it.

One of the differences that we're going to see between the Microsoft and VMware approaches is in the use of Virtual Machine Manager and we're now seeing some of the key elements of the 2012 beta. The downloads come with a lot of supporting materials invaluable for taking a deep dive into the subject.

This coming week should see me take another test to check on my progress - there's a lot more revision to do beforehand. Let's hope my broadband is up to it.

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