Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Exchange 2016 courses on MVA, edX and their quality

Yesterday Tony Redmond published an article titled Virtual academies, odd questions, and MCSE recertification. In the post he shows numerous examples of bad worded questions and incorrect or outdated answers on Microsoft’s MVA platform. The Exchange 2013 and Exchange Online content on MVA could definitely use a thorough upgrade.

On May the 3rd the Exchange Team announced new Exchange 2016 material: Exchange Server 2016 Online Training Courses Now Available! Most notable was that the four courses were presented of the edX platform instead of their own MVA, not at least because the edX courses have cost $ 49 each.

Today I walked through the first course: Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 - 1: Infrastructure, which is free as long as you don’t require a certificate, to get an idea of the quality. My first impression is that the quality is not the worst I’ve ever seen, but there is a lot to improve. First let’s take a look at the first two modules and check for factual errors. Make sure to continue reading because there is more…

Module 1: Exchange Server 2016 Prerequisites and Requirements


This information seems to be taken from the Exchange 2007 documentation: Planning Processor Configurations. Both the 1.000 mailboxes per CPU core as well as the Average profile of 10 messages sent and 40 received are from the Exchange 2007 timeframe.



The Exchange 2016 sizing guidance refers to the article for Exchange 2013. There we can read that the per mailbox memory requirements for the 50 and 100 messages profile are 12 and 24 MB, not 3 and 6 MB as stated in the course.



This command is going to fail because of the dot after -Restart.



By al means, do not install any version of WMF later than 4.0. Recently WMF 5.0 was released but this new version is currently not supported with any version of Exchange. An no, the asterisk does not refer to anything.



This command is going to fail because of the space after RSAT.



Now this is an interesting question, the answer is ‘hidden’ in the title of the question.

Module 2: Exchange Server 2016 Deployment


The UM role was integrated with the Mailbox server role beginning with Exchange 2013, not 2016.



Single-server recommended to run in a VM? I fully agree, but never heard this recommendation form the Exchange team. And replicate the VM to another Hyper-V server? Hyper-V Replica is NOT supported for Exchange.



It’s not, by default there’s a V15 folder in that path under where Exchange is installed.



This command will fail because the /mode switch is missing.



The correct answer is EdgeTransport, no space between the words.



The correct name was Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE). I said was, because FOPE was replaced with Exchange Online Protection (EOP) a couple of years ago. Forefront Online Protection was never the name of a product or service.

Due to time constraints I decided to stop after the first two modules.

But wait, they are on MVA too!

Initially I wanted to explain how odd it is that Microsoft used the edX platform instead of their own MVA. But when researching for this article today I discovered that the exact same courses have been published on MVA just yesterday. And when I say ‘exact same courses’, I mean the same content but now presented in a video of two people reading the same course.


Different format, same content and same errors (WMF 4.0 or later):


For me personally this format of video learning does not work at all, because the pace is too slow. I prefer to read on my own pace and be able to skip some content when I’m already familiar with a topic. But if the video format works for you, use the MVA ones and save $ 49 per course.

In conclusion

The majority of the content in the first two modules of the first course was copy and pasted from the TechNet Library and did not add any value for experienced Exchange administrators. Paid courses in a better format are on edX, the free version is on MVA as a video. Pick one that works for you.

Be aware that the learning content contains errors and more authoritative information on the topics can be found in the TechNet Library as well on the Exchange Team Blog. As the guidance and features change with every CU or Exchange Team blog post, expect the quality of the learning content to get worse over time.


Todd said...

It seems apparent to me that MS is trying to offload some fairly important workloads to save money. However, in business there should be at least a cursory amount of quality control if you are going to put a "stamp of approval" on something. As in personal life, we perform due diligence so we don't look bad or sound like complete idiots. If this is the crap MS is endorsing, we as IT pros are in trouble.

Thanks for your due diligence, Jetze!

Richard said...

how disappointing... of course if your courses teach inaccurate information then your revenue for testing fees will go up. which is why certification is just a business venture.