If your company is like many others these days they may have cut the training budget. However, you owe it to yourself to take ownership of your own professional development. Therefore you may need to be creative about inexpensive or Free sources of education to keep your skills sharp and continue to develop new skills as technology continues to evolve.
IT training doesn’t have to cost any money and there are many resources that you may or may not be aware of are available to you. The obvious source is to “harness the vast power of the Internet” and use online resources to help you. Virtually all vendors have great web sites with lots of product-specific information. While this tactical information is useful when it comes time to do something specific it doesn’t provide much in the way of high-level guidance for tougher IT decisions. There are also other industry groups that have valuable information online for guiding IT managers.
Like you, I like reading books on new networking technologies. I have averaged about a book a month for over 14 years. Buying new books can be very expensive and can really add up if you are footing the bill for those books yourself. Even with the professional educational tax deduction you will want to find cheaper sources for those books. Buying used books online can offer a huge discount over retail prices. If you are an avid reader Safari Books Online can actually save you money. I have to admit that Safari Books Online sure is easier to carry those books around when they are online.
Network World IT Roadmap
This week I attended the Network World IT Roadmap Conference and Expo . This is a free event that provides a wealth of information on how we can improve network infrastructure and operations to support communications ubiquity. This event provides guidance on issues that many other enterprises are struggling with and share information about solutions that exist. The infrastructure topics covered are data center design, virtualization, security, green IT, SaaS, cloud computing, mobility, and collaborative communications. It is also a great way to meet others in your area and to find out about some leading vendor’s products. I encourage you to sign up if you haven’t already.
Cisco User Groups
Cisco User Groups are also a great way to learn more about Cisco technologies and grow your “Human Network”. You can find a Cisco User Group (CUG) near you and start to find out about upcoming meetings. Meetings are typically monthly and a subject matter expert will present on a technical subject. Sometimes the presentations are on Cisco specific solutions or on other vendor’s related products. Sometimes the presenters are Cisco experts and other times the presentations are by other local experts. I have attended and presented at many CUG meetings and I really enjoy them. Even if you don’t attend you can download the presentations and review them afterwards.
There are several CUGs around the country that are very active. Most have monthly meetings from local or national networking experts that share their practical knowledge with the attendees. Occasionally there are drawings for Free Cisco Press books or discounts from local training companies and from the presenting vendor themselves. Here is a list of some of the more active Cisco User Groups.
Cisco also has their national Cisco IP Telecommunications User Group (CIPTUG) which also has certain regional chapters. I have heard that their virtual meetings are very good.
Other User Groups
There are also many other technology groups that you may want to join and become active. There are many Microsoft Windows user groups that discuss networking-relates subjects. Our local group is the RMWTUG. Let’s face it, virtualization I here to stay so we networking folks should learn as much as we can about it. VMWare also has a user group (VMUG). Oracle has many regional and industry/application-specific user groups. OWASP is another good security group you can join. There are even two different user groups here in the Colorado area with the same acronym: RMAUG (Adobe) and RMAUG (Avaya).
More of these groups are moving to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Groups, Meetup, and other social networks. Therefore, you must look in other areas for other opportunities to join these groups and collaborate with others in your geographic area and start to improve your learning.
I am curious if there are other groups that you are part of that provides inexpensive or free sources of learning and collaboration. Please let us know if that are other sources of free learning and networking.
If you want to keep your career on a fast track it would behoove you to learn about the IPv6 protocol. The migration to IPv6 has started and you wouldn’t want to miss this wave. I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you about the second annual Rocky Mountain IPv6 Summit at the University of Denver on April 21st and 22nd. This event is hosted by the University of Denver and the Rocky Mountain IPv6 Task Force.
This too is a FREE 2-day educational event on IPv6. The first day contains tutorials on the IPv6 protocol and technologies while the second day provides insight into the current reality of IPv6 deployments. The IPv6 Summit will have many internationally-known IPv6 experts to share their experience and insights. You can attend both days for FREE to learn the most about IPv6. You can register to attend this event (either or both days) and indicate your interest in attending an IPv6-focused social event the evening of April 21st.
The RMv6TF web page contains initial information about the event. There is an event flyer on the RMv6TF web page. More information is available on the Rocky Mountain IPv6 Task Force dual-protocol web site.
Happy Free Learning!