By Zachary Shess
Last month, Legato Systems became the first software provider to offer free, product-independent storage area network (SAN) training sessions via the Internet. SAN 101, the first course in the Legato SAN Academy, provided a two-hour introductory look at SANs and discussed issues such as associated costs. Attendees also received a primer on Fibre Channel technology, and information on how to build SANs.
The February 9 Webcast drew about 500 attendees, an indication that end users and storage vendors are both clamoring for a convenient and inexpensive outlet for SAN education. Approximately 2,500 additional participants downloaded the information and are taking the course at their own pace.
"Whenever we talk to customers, it's clear that there's still a lot of mystery surrounding SANs," says Katie Nelson, SAN product manager at Legato.
Legato contracted with Polaris Service Inc., a Marlborough, MA, integrator and training company, to teach the course. Ron Lovell, Polaris principal consultant and SAN 101 instructor, says he's seen the demand for Internet-based, product- specific training increase rapidly. However, with current Webcasting technology and the technical nature of SANs, both Lovell and Nelson view Internet-based training as a supplement rather than a replacement for regular classroom time.
There is also something to be said for human interaction. "What I've seen with this kind of training is that people want to be in a classroom setting. However, for this type of introductory presentation, you'll probably see more Webcasts because you don't necessarily need a hands-on lab," Lovell says.
Nelson says it's Legato's goal that attendees recognize the SAN Academy as a training center and not a new venue for sales pitches. More product-neutral SAN courses are being planned, and eventually other storage disciplines will be taught online. For more information, or to download the presentation and audio portion of the February 9 training session, visit www.sanacademy.com.