Hands-On Software Education with Self-Directed Learning at CA Technologies
I relish any opportunity I receive to interview customers, whether in person at an event or on a phone call—receiving their feedback is very useful, and certainly rewarding when it’s positive. This is the case with CA Technologies. In a recent interview, Stephen Carlino, director, CA Education, gave insight into CA Technologies’ use of Skytap’s training solutions.
As background, CA Technologies is one of the largest independent software corporations in the world and creates software that enables companies to drive enterprise-wide productivity, offer differentiated user experiences, and open new growth opportunities. With an extensive portfolio of solutions supporting a global base of enterprise customers in their own technology planning, development, management, and security functions, delivering hands-on user education on CA software is critical to a successful program.
During our conversation, Carlino explained, “In CA Education, we offer both instructor-led, hands-on product training, and self-directed training using audio and video to guide students using locally installed software. One of the more recent projects we wanted to undertake was the concept of automating the provisioning of labs for self-directed learning. Our goal was to allow customers to easily consume live, hands-on labs for training when it made the most sense to them.”
However, the path to this goal was not without challenges, and CA Technologies encountered three notable issues:
- Meeting the self-service software training demands of a global user-base without the limitations of on-premises labs.
- Allowing remote users to interface with lab clients without complicated installations of Java or other local software.
- Improving the performance and value of class delivery infrastructure investments for both peak and low demand times.
To resolve these challenges, Skytap integrated its cloud-based services with CA’s corporate learning management system (LMS). The CA Education team created a portal that uses Skytap APIs to pull student enrollment information from the LMS, and then calls Skytap to quickly provision a virtual training lab for that customer.
CA Education customers now receive an e-mail with a link to their own personal training portal from CA Education via Skytap’s “Published URL” feature, giving them access to a running virtual lab through any browser. “The HTML 5 UI now available in Skytap means one less thing our customers have to do. That’s our goal—to always improve the customer experience,” said Carlino.
Lab resources then launched are from the nearest Skytap datacenter, so the user experience is more responsive due to lower latency. Also, CA Education is able to schedule specific times for the launch and shutdown of virtual lab resources in Skytap, and can suspend labs when not in use to conserve training capacity and costs.
CA Education has seen substantial benefits so far:
- Class enrollment and capacity for virtual training labs has increased by 300 percent over the last two years.
- Complex lab setups now take three minutes instead of several hours without local computer issues.
- Idle time for abandoned or unused infrastructure is eliminated, which tripled utilization of purchased virtual lab capacity.
“Within three minutes, we now can provision up a lab and automate the delivery of that lab environment to the customer,” Carlino noted. “For us, the benefits are less operational efforts, and being able to allow the students to take that piece on themselves.”
Noel Wurst is managing editor at Skytap, where he is responsible for setting and executing the company’s content marketing strategy. That includes overseeing the creation and distribution of high-quality, targeted content, and managing the team and external resources associated with those efforts. By leveraging deep online marketing, project management, and editorial experience, Wurst plays a crucial role in helping generate and nurture leads with compelling content. Follow Noel on Twitter, @NoelWurst, along with Skytap, @Skytap.