I had a great opportunity to do a lot of content development to provide real hands-on-experience, through Hands-on-Labs and Virtual Machines.
Mostly, this has been experienced as a great way to Learn new products, or learn how to implement features and Technology.
A couple of events (conferences) ago, Kevin Ashby introduced me to the concept of “BareMetal”, one of the lab ideas he had around building out an environment from scratch. For a BI environment, with installing a domain controller, SQL Server 2008, SharePoint 2010 , Office 2010, this is “a heck of a job” … However, that effort resulted in a over 130 pages Lab Manual with about 10 hours of lab time, to include:
PART 1 – Installation
After this part, you will be able to install and configure a domain controller, install SQL Server Analysis Services (PowerPivot), SharePoint 2010 for PowerPivot, SQL Server Reporting Services with PowerPoint Integration, Visual Studio 2010, Office 2010, and all the sample databases, datasets.
Part 1 is central to the lab but allows, and allows you to go through the entire installation scenario, including some fancy features such as Powershell to create user accounts, unattended installations of SQL Server Instances.
PART 2 – Configuration
In the configuration section of this lab, you will configure SharePoint 2010, set document libraries, and enable a Business Intelligence Center. This is in general, the configuration portion that is finalized after the software installation, and an important step in successfully deploying a BI infrastructure.
PART 3 – Consuming a BI Platform
In Part 3, the majority of the configuration is done, and you will start to deploy solutions, work with PowerPivot, Data Tier applications, and even SQL Azure databases as part of your integrated BI platform solution. You’ll learn on how to create fancy reports with Bing Maps as part of the lab environment.
The BareMetal lab environment, puts all pieces together, and for the majority does reflect real-life configuration scenarios. Of course you have to understand that there is “only so much you can do” to provide a consistent learning experience, and will not always reflect best practices.
Guidance on how to implement the best practices / usage in your environment is provided through links to existing whitepapers or videos.
Instructor-Led Lab or Self-Paced…
BareMetal is build entirely to support to build it out as both an instructor-led lab, or a self-paced lab, that you can complete at your own time and pace.
Future plans to bake this into a 1 or 2 day workshops do exist, and I’ll update you on that status as soon as I have an ETA.
Why should I take this lab?
The lab allows you to get a great look and feel on the ‘behind the scenes’ on how to build out the environment. It is valuable, not only from the learning aspect, but definitely could reinforce your knowledge, or provide you with some smart configuration steps. The labs have a received a GREAT FEEDBACK and score at our internal conferences, and are now partner and customer ready.
Where can I take this lab?
The lab will be available in the Hands-on-Labs section at SQL Pass, and will run as a full instructor-led Hands-on-Experience at TechED Emea.
After the delivery at SQLPass and TechED Emea, we will plan to make this lab available through TechNet or MSDN Virtual Labs, as well as all the components needed to install the environment, within both a virtual as non-virtualized environment.
More to come!