Review of Train Signal’s “Exchange Server 2010 Training” Set

In this blog post I am going to review Train Signal’s “Exchange Server 2010 Training” DVDs, but before I do I would like to make a disclaimer:

Begin Full Disclosure:

I received the title “Exchange Server 2010 Training” for free from Train Signal as part of their effort to get real-world reviews of their products from technologists in the field. There has been no incentive given to me to review the product or provide a favorable review. The only thing that I received out of this is an expensive set of training for free. Train Signal and I have not even had direct contact concerning this Exchange Server 2010 Training review other than that they shipped the product directly to me. I was contacted through my blog by a third party that Train Signal has contracted to garner community reviews and asked if I would be willing to review the product. All of the communication was professional and completely dispassionate. At no time have I felt that I was being influenced in one direction or another concerning my opinion.

The only affiliation I have with Train signal is that I have in times past included an affiliate link on the side of my blog through the Share-A-Sale affiliate marketing website. That is entirely voluntary and I chose to use that link because of my previous favorable experience with their training. I included that advertisement because I believe that their products have been of good quality in the past and want other people in my profession to benefit from the good training. I have removed that affiliate link temporarily while this blog entry is the main story in an effort to be as detached as possible and provide a completely unbiased review.

End Full Disclosure.

I have sectioned this post off into five main areas. You can jump to them here. There’s a TL;DR summary for those of you who have a server migration to get to and just want the Cliff notes.

  • Disclaimer
  • My Expectations. Here I explain what my preconceived notions are about the training and what I hope from it. Most of their thoughts were gathered before I experienced the training.
  • My Judging Categories. Based on the expectations I have, these are the categories that I will be judging by.
  • The Review. Time to put the shoulder-length rubber gloves on because this could to get messy.
  • TL;DR. Synopsis.
  • The Judgment. I judge the training on a scale of five based on several categories that I made for video training.

My Expectations

  • Lots of PowerShell information! Gritty, grimy real-world PowerShell knowledge. Exchange is increasingly causing administrators to need to know PowerShell and no training these days is complete without significant instruction in it. I’d like to see some “gotchas” or some information given that you would only find out the hard way after having worked with the product. Exchange 2007’s EMC had a number of those.
  • I want Real-World material. I don’t want a verbal rehash of the Exchange 2010 TechNet articles. If I wanted that I’d record myself reciting articles about DAGs. If it sounds like the trainer is just reading from TechNet, then it’s not worth it. I’d like to hear some in-the-trenches style information being given. That’s where real value is found.
  • In reference to the above, I want to see some problems in the environment that the trainer has to work through. I get suspicious when I see everything work perfectly in a training environment. It doesn’t happen like that in the real world and seeing someone that knows a product as they troubleshoot an issue can be very instructive. The videos need to be professional, but “professional” doesn’t mean that you have to cover up all errors. “Professional” means disclosing the errors and showing how you worked through them.
  • I want a comparison of what Exchange 2010 is now, compared to previous versions. Most people will be coming to 2010 from previous versions and will not be just freshers starting from scratch. There are still a lot of 2003 installations out there due to 2007’s hardware requirements and a bumpy economy.
  • I want to see information about the possibility of operating Exchange 2010 in a hosted environment. The 2010 version of Exchange marks the departure from using HMC to operate Exchange in a multi-tenancy environment. Now, the ability to run Exchange in a hosted environment is “baked in” using the /hosted switch. I realize that not a lot of people will be using it, so Train Signal might be saving their effort and catering to a broader audience, but I think it’s a disservice to Exchange and techs if there isn’t some time given to it. I’d like to see a whole video about it, but might have to settle for just a few minutes. If there’s no mention at all I will be sorely disappointed.
  • I want good quality audio and video! No popping P’s or sizzling S’s. I do not want to listen for hours on end to someone that is using a headset microphone. For $397 USD, this kind of training should be done in an insulated booth with a stellar microphone. The video should be big and crisp. No fuzzy downstepped flash files.
  • I want the trainer to have decent speaking skills. If you’re going to do video training or in any way be verbally training people, you should have a decent ability to orate. I don’t mean to say that the person needs to be the next William Jennings Bryan, but at least have some ability to communicate effectively.
  • I am hoping that this training will not be purely a certification course. Yes, the training is marketed as aiding you in passing the 70-662 exam for Exchange Server 2010. However, that’s not the main thrust of the marketing. The product is marketed as an Exchange Server 2010 training course that also preps you for an exam. If this is just about passing the certification exam then it’s not as useful as it could be.

My Judging Categories:

  • Thoroughness of the topic. Does it include information for large as well as small installations? Does it include information concerning operating Exchange in a hosted environment? Does it offer ideas and support for people who might be using all the various parts of Excahnge?
  • Real World: Is it just a rehash of Microsoft Technet? Does the trainer work through problems that happen as the training is going? It will count against the training if there are no problems at all with the scenarios. Is this just a Microsoft brochure that does not mention any third-party possibilities to supplement various features?
  • Relevancy to the Microsoft exam: Yes, the training is also geared to helping you pass the 70-662. Does it map to the official Microsoft “Skills Measured” sheet for the 70-662 exam?
  • Physical Packaging and Presentation: Does it look good or like someone used Walmart DVD+Rs and printed labels on their deskjet?
  • Virtual Packaging and presentation: Is it just a bunch of files dropped onto a DVD or is it presented well with a launcher? What extra goodies are there, if any, besides just the videos themselves?
  • Audio Quality: For the price people are paying, the audio ought to be studio quality.
  • Video Quality: If I’m going to be watching 20 hours’ worth of videos, I don’t want to be squinting or looking at fuzzy on-screen text. The training environment needs to be big and bold!

The Review:

As I sit in my home office typing this, I have written most of the text that you see above without having looked at the training that I am about to review. I wanted to create my expectations and judging criterion without seeing the training beforehand. I have used Train Signal training in the past and have had a mostly favorable experience. I say mostly because I have taken exception to the quality of the audio in at least one training series as well as the size of the screen recordings in all of their videos. The recorded area on the trainer’s computer has, in my experience, always been distractingly small (800 x 600).

There are three Exchange 2010 training packages that are currently available from Train Signal (as of November 2010). The first is simply known as “Exchange Server 2010 Training”. That is the title that I will be reviewing in this blog post. The second title is known as “Exchange Server 2010 Design and Deployment Training”. The third and final title is known as “Exchange Server 2010 MCITP Training Package” and it includes both titles.

“Exchange Server 2010 Training”, has a total of 40 videos spread out over 10 sections and costs $397 USD. You can see the entire synopsis at Train Signal’s page for the Exchange 2010 Training series. Like all of Train Signal’s videos, when purchasing the video series you can have instant access to them via the Train Signal website and they also ship the DVDs to you free of charge. That’s right, shipping is free… worldwide.  Boo-yah!

According to the Train Signal website, each customer will receive a free code for a Transcender practice exam of their choice. I did not receive the Transcender practice exam code in my evaluation copy of the training, however I have a lot of experience with Transcender exams and know that they are of high quality.

The packaging that the training comes in is a standard DVD case. There are three DVDs in the case. Two of them contain the videos themselves and a third disc has additional content, iPod, mp3 and wmv files. The packaging is well done, orderly and of standard quality for a set of DVDs that you’d buy in a store. I liked the fact that contact information for Train Signal was printed prominently on each disc and a business card was slipped into the case with a “Thank You” printed on it as well as more contact information.

To use the contents of the DVD you can use the Flash based Train Signal menu to browse and select videos or simply browse the DVD’s file system to choose the lessons you want to watch. If you use the Flash menu to select a lesson, the video will be opened up in your default web browser within a simple but elegant web page located on the DVD.

The Flash Menu:

The Local Web Page:

I find the flash player menu to be too small which cuts off the full lesson names. You can expand the window, but the flash contents simply resize to fill the window in the same proportion as before which defeats the one of the purposes of expanding the window.

Furthermore, playing videos in your web browser uses the Windows Media Player Plugin which has slightly different features from the full-featured Media Player. When I watch or listen to training I speed it up because no one ever talks fast enough for me to learn well. Depending on the speaker I move it from 1.6 to 2.0 times normal speed. However with the media player plugin it only has three speeds, Fast (1.4 speed), Normal and Slow (0.5 speed). Thus, I prefer to browse the DVD’s folder hierarchy and open the AVI files directly.

To play the videos you need the TechSmith Screen Capture Codec (TSCC). You will most likely not have those on your computer. Links to download the codecs are included in the Flash menu program and the web page that each video is opened up in. The codec installers are included on the video discs or you can download the latest version from the web. The codecs support Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and Windows.

The trainer in this video series is J. Peter Bruzzese. He’s definitely got a passion for Exchange. He’s a Microsoft certified trainer who has taught Exchange for a number of years. He’s had a hand in writing several Exchange books including the Exchange 2007 SP1: How-To by Sams. He also writes Seems like the kinda guy you want to teach an Exchange course.

When it came to to launch my first video I was greeted by an 800×600, 15 fps recording. Unfortunately Train Signal (TS) has still not increased the size of the trainer’s recording area so many of the windows that the trainer works with are cramped. The trainer is constantly resizing windows and panes and in one case had to make the Windows taskbar auto hide to be able to click the buttons on a window. I know that increasing the size of the recording area would make the recordings larger and probably necessitate more DVDs per package, but in my view: “Oh well!” It’s unnecessarily distracting throughout the whole series of videos. DVDs are cheap in bulk, DVD cases with the same form factor but holding 4 (or even 5) DVDs are mere pennies more in wholesale quantities and from my research, bulk DVD duplication and printing services would only add just a bit more than a dollar per boxed set. Make the vids bigger, TS!

Just a Wee Bit Cramped:

The trainer, J. Peter Bruzzese, was obviously in a studio setting. No headset mics here! Or if there were, it was the greatest headset mic EVAR. It was great audio that was easy to listen to. Good job!

J. Peter makes the claim that the video series is not about “which buttons to push to make things happen” but rather making an Exchange 2010 organization “from scratch” (I’m quoting the introductory video in the series). He specifically stated that he wants to give his audience the “why factor” so that you can think on your own and understand the information because you have a “why” or a reason for what you’re doing. (After watching the videos, the claim held true for the most part.)

The scenario presented in the series is to take a fictional company, Globomantics, and move them from a hosted Exchange solution to an in-house installation of Exchange 2010. Also, Globomantics acquired a Brazilian company that has an Exchange 2007 organization that will need to be brought into the mix.

The deployment scenario is large enough to where multiple roles must be installed multiple times across multiple sites. Each time Exchange is installed he shows a slightly different way of doing it which is nice and thorough. All the separated roles make for a very engaging environment that requires you to stop and think as new requirements introduced into the scenario and implemented.

I was excited to hear that the training included a hosted Exchange scenario! However, as the videos progressed I grew more and more disappointed when I began to realize that there was not going to be any specific mention of how to migrate off of hosted Exchange to in-house Exchange. That scenario was only mentioned to make it feasible for a portion of the training to be about building a medium sized Exchange organization from scratch for an already established company. There was no mention of migrating data from a cloud to on-premise Exchange servers. I do realize that the video series is primarily about Exchange in-house, but still found that the mention of hosted Exchange in the scenario ended up being a tad bit misleading.

This video series is not for total administrative noobs. You must have some kind of preexisting understanding of TCP/IP, Active Directory (including AD site topology and groups), and DNS. Basic understanding of Windows Server 2008 will greatly help you as well. You are expected to have at least some familiarity with concepts like certificates and the basic administrative tools.

While you should know something about basic network and server administration, you don’t have to know anything about Exchange. The course is designed to teach people in a manner that best suits a person with no Exchange experience.

In the introductory video, J. Peter speaks concerning the 70-662 exam. He specifically states that while the video course will cover the topics in the exam objective list, the teaching is not in the exact order of the exam objectives. That is because the order in the objectives sheet is not the logical order to learn Exchange from the ground up. I was encouraged by J. Peter pointing that out since it deprecated the importance of merely learning for the sake of passing the exam in favor of genuinely mastering the subject.

In an early video, J Peter shows how he set up the lab that he will be working with. That way anyone can duplicate the lab themselves for hands on experimentation. However, if you don’t have the hardware to create the relatively extensive lab (at least seven virtual servers), there is an example of a simple lab that you can create. Think of it as a “shoe-string budget” lab. There is even a lab setup PDF that you can read.

There’s also a PDF of the slides that are used in the teaching videos as well as a place for notes on those slides. I’m not sure what exactly they’re good for, but hey… it’s nice to have if you’re into that sort of thing.

Speaking of slides, each video relies heavily on bulleted slides as well as slides that have network maps of the latest iteration of the Exchange network as it is being built out. The bulleted slides are meticulously talked through and are very good at reinforcing what is being learned. The network maps are a bit cheesy looking, with some of the representations of servers still with the white rectangular outline around them and others with a proper transparency. Okay, so no big deal, but c’mon. This stuff ain’t cheap and piddly mistakes like that add up and sully the product’s overall appeal.


Also, some of the more complex network maps are not laid out well enough to show which servers are virtual and which servers are physical. An example is video 33’s network diagram. It would have been nice to see which servers were in what DAG groups (in the high availability videos) and what databases are replicated with which servers. Sure, the specific section on DAGs shows the server/DAG breakdown, but a larger pull-back of the network map didn’t. As a result it wasn’t clear which servers were holding what groups and databases across multiple sites.

Speaking of the network maps and servers, the servers were named in a way that was a fair characterization of how they would be in a real business environment (“EX2K10CHMB1, EX2K1PRIME, EX2K10MB2”), but it was a hindrance to keeping track of what was being done on which server as the network and scenario got more and more complex in the later videos. The complexity itself was great! The server names could have been more helpful. J. Peter himself made reference to it in a later video by saying that they might be confusing to the viewers, but he was used to it because he had worked with them and built the network.

Indeed, there are many servers in this lab, however the lab’s setup and the trainer’s care both combine to do an admirable job of making sure the viewer knows which server they’re on at all times (even if it takes a few seconds to visually parse the confusing server names). The lab uses BGInfo on all servers so that the server name and domain are imprinted on the desktop for all to see. J. Peter frequently points out which server he’s working on as he switches back and forth between machines. Very well done.

PowerShell’s dominance in the video series is established early on. For example, in video 5 J. Peter shows how to add Windows features using PowerShell and mentions that it’s actually easier to use PowerShell than the Server Manager GUI. Also, he shows that TechNet has cmdlet snippets that you can copy and paste to get more familiar with the scripting language. I liked those encouragements to use PowerShell. He mentions several times that in many instances it’s easier to work from PowerShell (which was nice to hear someone say). Too many people think that the command line is the harder way of doing things. This quote from the video was also excellent: “It’s important to start getting comfortable with PowerShell. Whether we like the idea of doing things from the command line or not, it’s really part of the future of Windows Server, part of the future of Exchange and this has been the case for a few years now. So if you haven’t really embraced PowerShell just yet, well, let’s work through that slowly. […] You’ll see that it’s really not that bad.” SWEET!!

As for the “real-worldness” of the videos, there were a few instances of in-video errors that had to be handled. Most of them were PowerShell mistypes. Video 7 had an error in a PowerShell script that he worked through. There was a mistake in typing out a command in the video about edge server subscriptions that was worked through. Some other little mis-typed commands existed as well, but there were no major issues that had to be troubleshot. You could see that as a good thing or a bad thing. I see it ever so slightly as a bad thing. I definitely felt like it was a sterilized lab environment. I was especially suspicious of a few areas in a video where a quick cut was made in which you could see a few windows had slightly changed. I wondered what had to be done behind the scenes and if there was some quick hacking that was performed to get something to work. To be fair, that’s merely my suspicious mind at work. Perhaps J. Peter had to make a quick phone call in the middle of a video and paused the recording.

In many instances, J. Peter pointed out certain options, features or cmdlets that were not working very well in the SP0 version of Exchange 2010 that he was working on. Some of the features seemed rather obscure so that showed me that he was definitely an in-the-trenches Exchange admin. One example involved manipulating an SSL certificate in PowerShell. He explained that he tried it once, then a second time and then finally with the “–verbose” switch which inexplicably caused the cmdlet to work. Another example was pointing out that when running Exchange’s setup.exe, you should run it from an elevated command prompt and not PowerShell because launching via PowerShell doesn’t work too well when setup.exe has to make Active Directory schema changes. Wow. Glad I found out about that issue now and not later.

Adding to the real-world feel of the videos was J. Peter’s willingness to frequently talk about third party solutions to various problems. Examples include showing the limitations of Exchange’s built in archiving, journaling and general MRM features and when you might need a third-party solution to supplement the built-in features. Limitations with the built-in Windows Server backup were addresses as well as network load balancing. He suggested when you might want to look into third-party anti-spam solutions in the form of software or even hardware appliances. This is not Microsoft-centric training and J. Peter is not afraid to show when the built-in tools might not be enough based on certain scenarios.

The trainer does not just rely on “lore” and experiential knowledge when teaching. He shows where you can go on TechNet to find information straight from Microsoft. He also encourages the use of community forums. In my opinion, he was not using TechNet as a crutch to help teach for him, but was using it in a “teach a man to fish” sense to foster self-sufficiency in the viewer. In several places the viewer is encouraged to dig into PowerShell for themselves, look at the get-help output and find out the nuances of various cmdlets.

Public folders, in spite of their deprecated status, were given some fairly in-depth treatment. The PowerShell cmdlets necessary to administer the public folder infrastructure were given prominence. I was surprised at how little information was given about public folder replication. There seemed to be an assumption that the viewer either knew about it already or would find out more from other sources as necessary. I recall Train Signal’s Exchange 2007 video training going into more detail and was, in fact, where I picked up a majority of my understanding of public folders.

Outlook Anywhere, one of the greatest Exchange features ever, was explained but lacked troubleshooting guidance. I felt there could have been a lot more scenario-based training using the Test-OutlookConnectivity cmdlet as well as the use of the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer. He criticized ERCA slightly when it came to Outlook Anywhere troubleshooting, but didn’t go into any detail (or use the tool to demonstrate troubleshooting).

There was no mention at all of Exchange in a hosted environment. I’ll let this one slide, for the most part, since so few people will be installing Exchange with the intention of making a multi-tenant environment. I’m still a tad bit disappointed.

I noticed an unfortunate trend, however, that started as I made my way through the videos on the second DVD. As the topics become more complex, the demonstrations became less in-depth and there was a lot more theory discussed in the slides. There became more and more topics where no work was done in the lab at all. For example, the Unified Messaging portion of the training was contained in two videos and they seemed to be merely a discussion of theory and some hurried run-throughs of each checkbox and input on the dialog boxes involved in setting up UM. I realize that UM is a massive topic, however there were no examples given of dialing into an Exchange mailbox or calendar or leaving voicemails for people. No proof that the UM server was functioning properly was given. Sure, it would have taken a larger lab in the Train Signal offices… but isn’t that just the cost of doing business? The UM section felt very surface-level.

By far the biggest disappointment involved the topics of backup, restoration and high availability. Backing up with the built-in windows backup tools was shown briefly. However, there were no examples of restoring messages from the dumpster. No examples of restoring messages from a backed up database after the dumpster time period had expired. There were no examples of restoring databases. No examples of restoring servers. It was all theory. That is, in my opinion, inexcusable. I would have felt very unhappy about spending $397 on training that did not show examples of multiple restoration scenarios. It was all dealt with in conversation while looking at slides. Anyone who knows about the various possible restoration scenarios knows that they are not trivial and merely conversing about them left me confused and frustrated.  There was a much more thorough and hands-on treatment of data restoration in the Exchange 2007 video series from Train Signal.

High availability for two of the Exchange 2010 roles was only addressed in theory as well. Edge, hub transport and mailbox server HA was addressed by example in several videos. However the UM and CAS roles were only dealt with in theory on slides. Leaving out the UM role could be excused since it’s as simple as installing another UM role and sharing the same dial plan among them (as well as tweaking your PBX to know about both UM servers). However the section on CAS server redundancy was a disappointment. CAS server redundancy was lightly and confusingly addressed. Admittedly, it requires third party load balancers on the front end (oddly, Microsoft’s own NLB is not supported) but that could have been handled by some “hand waving”. It would have been just fine to say “Okay, pretend we have a f5 load balancer on the network…” before configuring multiple CAS servers. Virtually No mention of MAPI A records in DNS were made except for a split second mention of “Once you’ve got your DNS setting configured properly, then you need to…”. No mention of load balancing MAPI RPC ports was made. The PowerShell cmdlets necessary to make a CAS array were touched on however it was only on the slides; no real-world examples pertaining to the lab itself were given.

I checked to see if a more in-depth coverage of those topics would be included in the second series of Exchange 2010 videos that Train Signal offers. According to Train Signal’s website, the “Exchange 2010 Design and Deployment Training” series does indeed delve into the topic of high availability for CAS servers however I was surprised to see very minimal mention of backups and the word “restore” was not on the webpage. I have not evaluated that video series so cannot say for sure if it does or does not go more in-depth into the topics that were ignored in this video series, however if the website’s description is any indicator, it appears that there is minimal coverage in the second series as well. Possibly even less than is in this series.

No doubt adding in-depth training about restoration and Unified Message and CAS role high availability would have extended the training onto a third DVD, but again, is this about keeping production costs down or training someone thoroughly on a topic? I admit that I am making a complete assumption that the training was left out due to production costs which might not be the case at all. Nonetheless, this was a gaping hole in the training and very disappointing. Backup restoration is not a topic that should ever be treated sparingly. Major points deducted.

The last videos in the training address checklists to go over before taking Exchange 2010 live, prepping for the 70-662 exam and where you can move on from there to learn more about the expansive topic of Exchange 2010 administration.

I should mention that I did load both the videos and MP3s onto my iphone. The MP3s are of limited use just because this training is, by nature, visual. I tried to listen to a lesson while taking my morning walk and it just didn’t work out. The topic was one that I was familiar with so I thought I could get away with it, but frequently I found myself unable to follow the lesson because it relied on visual input. That’s not a problem at all, since this is, after all, video training and not audio training. It’s a nice gesture that the MP3s are included, though.

After watching the approximately 40 hours worth of training (condensed into probably 20-something hours since I watch them at 2x speed) I was impressed with J. Peter’s speaking skills. He delivers the information in a very good manner, with even speaking and a good pace. He is obviously an experienced trainer and not just a technologists who landed a deal to make some training videos.


The first DVD is a great introduction to the banality of Exchange administration. The second DVD takes a sharp downturn in topical quality, however. There was a superficial treatment of the Unified Messaging role that did not include any examples of the role functioning properly. I did not see any troubleshooting for Outlook Anywhere except a few brief mentions of a tool that you could use to help out (no examples given). However the inexcusable sin was that lack of backup restoration examples. None! No mail message restores, no database restores… nothing! It was all theory that was discussed while looking at slides.

The information that was present was given in a very practical manner. J. Peter is not a Microsoft fanboy and is not afraid to show where Microsoft’s built-in features either in Windows Server or Exchange itself might not cut it for an organization. He frequently suggests third-party solutions that he has experience with. He briefly demonstrates PowerGUI as a means of manipulating PowerShell. He talks about what configurations of Microsoft are supported and which ones aren’t, but has no problem saying that in spite of a configuration not being supported (the UM role being virtualized, for instance) that doesn’t mean that it won’t work just fine if you do it. He also points out buggy “gotchas” that only experience can teach.

Train Signal thoughtfully provides iPod versions of the video, MP3s, videos explaining how to use the iPod files, PDFs of the slides and lab design. However you have to dig through the CD’s folder structure to find some of them. The Flash based menu that first launches is just shy of useless. There’s not, to my knowledge, a good single point of reference for everything that’s available to you on the discs. I had to go exploring to find what was available to me. Should video training feel like an Easter egg hunt?

The quality of the video itself, from a visual standpoint, is great. It’s not blurry. However there’s very little use of pan and zoom and no “callouts” to point out what the trainer is speaking about if there is a mention of a specific visual item. Once in a very great while a zoom is used to show that a small icon has changed, but those seemed to be ill framed, a bit rushed and I still wasn’t immediately sure what I was supposed to be looking at as a result of the zoom. I’ve done video editing for commercial training before and know that it’s time consuming, but it’s necessary and is a help to students. The 800 x 600 resolution on the trainer’s computer has got to go. It’s distractingly small and even the trainer struggles with it in his environment.

Overall, the training is well produced and decently presented. I’d prefer there to be a more comprehensive menu that shows what all is on the disc. It would be better if the menu wasn’t based on flash. The virtual death blow to the video series is the absence of thorough training for the topic of backing up and restoring data. Other topical absences nickled and dimed the training even further. Is it worth the $397? If I had paid that amount for it I would have felt disappointed. In my experience, this is not Train Signal’s norm. Their topics are usually much more thoroughly addressed. I recall their Exchange 2007 training addressing the topic of data restoration much better.

If you have an abundance of money, are an extremely visual learner or have the ability to draw on a corporate training budget… go for it! You’ll definitely learn useful information and have a great base of understanding to move onward and upward in your Exchange 2010 knowledge. If you’re on a tight budget or have a decent amount of experience with previous versions of Exchange, I’d recommend passing this title by and selecting a few good books or hanging out at some Exchange communities online.

The Judgement:

  • Thoroughness of the topic. 3/5 (lack of backup restoration shaves a full point off. Superficial treatment of the UM role as a whole with no usage examples takes a half point off. The other half point is for the remaining faults such as the superficial treatment of the CAS and UM high availability topic, no Outlook Anywhere troubleshooting and no mention the ability to install Exchange in a multi-tenant environment. The second DVD felt to me like I was just being read to out of a training manual… because that’s pretty much what was going on.)
  • Real World: 4.5/5
  • Relevancy to the Microsoft exam: I’ll fill this back in if I take the 70-662
  • Physical Packaging and Presentation: 4/5 (It’s not trendy kewl like an Apple product and doesn’t feel like a warm hug from a suspiciously outgoing office manager [you know the one I’m talking about…], but it’s sharp looking and does the job. I’d be proud to have it on my shelf of books and training miscellany.)
  • Virtual Packaging and presentation: Is it just a bunch of files dropped onto a DVD or is it presented well with a launcher? Are there more items than just the training videos? 3/5
  • Audio Quality: 4.5 (Perhaps the midrange was slightly too harsh. 1K and 4K frequencies might have been a tad high)
  • Video Quality: 3.5/5 (So cramped! No post-production learning aids.)
  • Overall: 3.5/5


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  2. Biggles77

    December 31, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Regarding the “disliked” 800 x 600 resolution. I have a 17″ laptop and even on that 1024 x 768 requires ME to do the scrolling. So, there is a reason for the 800 x 600 res. If you are running the Lab on a 19 or 22″ screen then 1024 x 768 or perhaps even 1280 x 1024 could be a strong possibility HOWEVER, (IMO) the Labs have to be created to cater for the lowest common denominator (this being the only real math terminology phrase that I know) that will fit on all screens. Even on a 14″ laptop screen the 800 x 600 is a bit of a squeeze.

    The above is my own personal deduction of why Train Signal use that resolution and I in no way speak or speculate about this on their behalf.

    Send me a PM at “you know where” and let me know what Lab you exception to the audio quality. I am curious as to which one it was. Bet is was one of the original series.

    If you want to see how an 800 x 600 resolution can be effectively used, watch one of Heather “sigh” Ackmann’s Labs and then dare critisise it (remember, I know where you live :) )

    Remember also that the Labs are not only geared to learning the application but also to passing the appropriate exam. With the comment about the second DVD being more about theory, I have seen from my reviews that somethimes it is very difficult to put some of the criteria required for the exam into the Lab senario.

    As to your other concerns, perhaps they will be covered in the later Labs. Compare Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 and you will find that although they are “mail machines”, they are two totally different animails (like the pun) with the complexity of Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2010 being like comparing a PIII CPU to an i7. Ok, I exagerate but you get my point.

    I am going to click SUBMIT now and if it crashes or locks up, I am going to be very upset with you Nubby. :-)


    • Wesley.Nonapeptide

      December 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      The point about the resolution is very well taken. I realized that perhaps my dual 1050 x 1680 monitors are the exception and not the rule. Over-privileged American, and all.

      The second DVD upset me, not just because it was pure theory, but because the theory discussed was spotty and left out some hugely important topics. I have yet to take the exam associated with this DVD set, so we’ll see how well it tracked to the topic.

      Oh, and before I submit anything that took longer than 30 seconds to write in a web form I control-A and control-V just to be safe. Like right now… =)


  3. TheFatGuy

    February 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Just came across this through google as I’m having a bit of a dilemma. My employer subscribes to CBT Nuggets and so I have access to there series for this but having used trainsignal in the past I decided to check that out.

    Looking at them the CBT series is only around 7 hours whereas the equivalent for the 662 is around 20 if I read correctly. I’m wondering whether the CBT series will be any good or not? I know quantity isn’t everything but almost triple the content makes me think it’s that CBT are lacking as opposed to Trainsignal being bloated.

    I have looked for a review of the CBT content but can’t find anything that isn’t clearly someone trying to get me to use their link! Any advice? It’s no cost to me either way as my employer will foot the bill if I go down the Trainsignal route, after much coaxing atleast.


    • Wesley David

      February 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      It was a while ago that I watched this set of Train Signal videos, so I’m going off of rusty memory. The first half of the content was good for someone learning from the ground up. The last half was lean on the complex topics. It really just gives you a dusting of the major features. However, 20 hours is 20 hours and they’re not just reading the phonebook so I imagine it would be better than 7 hours from CBT.

      It should also be noted that not long after this blog post, Train Signal announced the release of “Exchange Server 2010 Backup and Recovery Training” (No, that’s not an affiliate link =) ). I’m not sure if I had anything to do with that, but it seemed like coincidental timing. I haven’t tried that product so can’t vouch for its quality, but it’s the only product on the market with that focus.

      I’d say go with Train Signal for sheer bulk of information. As much as I complained about this series, it was still decent to get started and learn what you don’t know. Add on the backup training and then the Design and Deployment as well as Unified Messaging titles and you’ve got quite a bit of info there.

      If you want, here is an affiliate link that will toss a few shekels my way so long as you have cookies enabled, and buy on the same computer that you clicked the link on. =)


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