I've heard this question quite a few times over the last few years: "Why should I take classes on my products?" While my first impulse is to say, "why not," I understand where the question originates. As a former admin, I know time is a precious commodity.
We have an extensive knowledge base full of "How To" articles, manuals, quick-start guides, release notes, and all kinds of information, and then there's THWACK, a goldmine of data and knowledge. Besides, who reads manuals? You install the product and start poking around if you're anything like me. Need to learn about something? Do a key-term search of the manual or the knowledge base, read up on the feature, set it up, and move on—manual, shmanual.
But, if you've used our software, you know the features are highly configurable and have many options. There are many ways to slice the pie, such as when using flexible features and functions. It's one thing to learn the step-by-step process to build a feature; it's often quite another thing to apply the feature in a complex network practically. How does this feature work? That's one question, but an equally relevant question is: "How does this feature work best for my environment?" Sometimes, I think the latter is the question customers ask when they ask me how something works.
That's where the SolarWinds Academy classes come into the conversation. Sure, we'll show you how to build something, but we'll also discuss the different ways to use that feature to your best advantage. The flexibility of the SolarWinds Platform is a great advantage, but that flexibility can also create challenges.
There's nothing like having a tool such as Custom Properties, where you can do whatever you want with them-- to make a mess of long lists and duplicates if you're not careful. Therein lies the difference between knowing how to build a feature and knowing how best to use one. I frequently tell customers that the good news about our software is that it's highly customizable, and the bad news about our software is that it's highly customizable.
What about Alerts? Alerts are the feature I discuss with customers all the time. There is so much more to using alerts effectively than turning them on. Optimizing alerts involves more than just features within the alert. There are other features in the platform that contribute to alert effectiveness. How can you use alerting features along with views, limitations, and groups to cut back on alerting noise and customize the user's experience?
Do you have more devices you wish to monitor in your environment? You may know how to implement a polling engine, but is it necessary? Remember, "X" number of polled entities per poller is a guideline, not a hard number, so are your polling needs and current environment meeting the threshold for an additional poller? Where should you deploy it? What do you need to check on your SolarWinds server to determine if your polling load is higher than it needs to be?
SolarWinds Academy classes will take you beyond the step-by-step process and dive into the "why" and how best to use features and your software. Every network is different, so we'll give you other ideas and use cases for best practices. Hence, you have the context and information to make an intelligent decision on configuring a feature or component best for your needs.
SolarWinds Academy classes are available to any customer with an active maintenance contract for any product. Do you only own NPM? That doesn't matter. You can take courses on any product, including Hybrid Cloud Observability and SolarWinds Observability. You can access all classes, videos, features, and release training sessions across the platform.
Are you prepping for a SolarWinds Certified Professional exam? Our classes can help with that too.
"Okay!" you say, "I want to take the classes." Great, you have options, too. We have teams covering time zones across the globe and try to give our customers as many options as possible.
Do you want to interact with an instructor and other students, ask questions, and share ideas? The instructor-led courses are probably right for you. SolarWinds Academy trainers are experienced and knowledgeable about the products and features they teach. Many of us have been admins, so we can empathize with the challenges and practical scenarios you experience. We're collaborative too. In my classes, I've had one customer ask a question, and others in the class chime in with a solution that worked for them. Much like THWACK, there is often a sense of community and open sharing of ideas in live classes.
Live classes require a time commitment of at least a few hours, which may not work for you or your schedule. We understand. With the on-demand library, you can consume the same content, the same examples, and the same tips on usability in a chaptered video format. Every live class we offer also has an on-demand version. We also have an extensive library of short, topical videos called Quick Byte. These videos focus on one "byte size" topic in ten minutes or less. Be sure to check those out as well.
Finally, SolarWinds Academy trainers offer Office Hours as scheduled almost every week. Office Hours is your opportunity to interact with an Academy trainer, often in a small and informal format. There is no agenda to Office Hours; it's simply an open forum for you to ask questions. Have you taken a class and are trying to configure a particular feature but have some questions? Come to Office Hours and ask. Each instructor profile lists areas of expertise, so you can pick an instructor in a reasonable time slot and attend.
Who knew the SolarWinds Academy had so much to offer beyond the Success Center knowledgebase? If you did, kudos! Maybe you read something you didn't realize we could do and found a new learning path.
If you didn't know about us, then hopefully you look on the Customer Portal at what we offer. Chances are, you're missing a significant resource available to help you use your SolarWinds products to their maximum potential and, most important, benefit.