When the Coronavirus pandemic brought face-to-face training to a screeching halt, organizations of all kinds scrambled to adapt. Virtual meetings and remote access have proven invaluable, but is there anything out there that can truly replicate hands-on, technical training?
HP Inc. found themselves wrestling with this question when the company was forced to cancel a major technology consultant (TC) training — hundreds of consultants worldwide were left without the firsthand experience they needed to do their jobs. These TCs advise their clients on how to securely integrate HP multi-function printers (MFPs), HP software solutions, and other products into the clients’ network architecture and workflow processes, and then facilitate proof of concept.
Simply replacing the cancelled event with remote training wasn’t a viable solution – the TCs needed to interact with the MFPs, walking through the kinds of scenarios they would encounter in the field. HP turned to Intracon for help and by the following month, we were ready for the first training session. Our team developed new, custom tools and combined them with the best existing technology to create a one-of-a-kind Virtual Training Environment (VTE).
How did we make it happen? Intracon set up a lab with MFPs, servers, and strategically positioned web cams. Each student had access to their own network, a physical MFP to work with remotely, and a hands-on lab guide. This one-of-a-kind environment married real-life hardware with a virtual environment, effectively recreating the experience of working on a local network – the kind of infrastructure many of their clients utilized. The in-house VTE also eliminated numerous connectivity issues we would have encountered if we had tried to connect dozens of MFPs to a public cloud.
This new way of training has proven to be much more than a stopgap solution. We’ve continued to refine and expand the product and today, almost 200 students per month are learning with our VTE. It can be used for a large class or to run concurrent smaller classes.
As VTE usage has grown, the Intracon team has become quite adept at working with a variety of clients and their security settings, policies, and firewall configurations so that logging students in for training is a smooth experience. These clients have included corporations, IT resellers, and local and federal government agencies.
When HP’s face-to-face training events come back, they’ll be better than ever thanks to VTE. In a unique mix of the virtual and physical, students and instructors will work in person on an actual MFP. However, their network/server infrastructure will be hosted virtually by Intracon. Because students will each receive event-prep instructions and a personal VPN client prior to the event, VTE will slash set-up time and equipment costs. Gone are the days of renting and configuring 100+ high-end laptops. After the event, the training can be easily augmented by shorter sessions throughout the year – no travel required.
We are fortunate to have helped HP with their training needs, and we’re excited by the endless possibilities our VTE has to offer!
For more details on how a VTE training works, take a look at the following blog. A Closer Look at our Virtual Training Environment (VTE).