To remain competitive during these challenging times, tech providers need to enhance their skills. One way to do this is with training.
And one way to get trained is with the Competencies on Intel Partner University (IPU). Competencies are deeper training curriculums that can help you build expertise in a specific product, technology or business segment.
At least, that’s the theory. How about in practice?
To find out, we spoke recently with Jas Batra. He’s VP of New Technologies at MJP Technologies, an IT services provider in Ventura, Calif. Jas is a good person to ask; he recently completed over a half-dozen IPU Competencies. What follows is an edited version of our conversation.
Jas Batra, VP of new technologies, MJP Technologies
What’s been the main benefit you’ve received from training with IPU Competencies?
The Intel trainings are short and sweet. That’s great. They go directly to what we need. For each technology, there are a half-dozen or so training modules—it varies by competency—they cover everything you need to know. You do it, you learn it, you take the test, and you’re done.
The Competencies are highly focused, and they get straight to the nitty-gritty. They avoid the basic stuff we covered years ago and don’t need to hear again. I hate sitting through an all-day class when I need just one component that they’re not going to cover until the end of the day.
With so many people now working from home, how do IPU Competencies fit in?
That’s another great thing about the short modules. When do you have time? I’m working from home, I’ve got so many things going on, and I can’t sit for an hour straight. Especially with a kid in the house. Shorter modules make that so much more convenient. Yet you’re still getting all the information you need.
Do Competencies help you serve your customers? If so, how?
Absolutely. I’m going to easily turn around the technology into something we can sell to our customers. Our customers don’t speak technology. They speak ROI. They want to know, “What’s it going to do for my business?”
Also, because the modules are so short—some are just 10 minutes—the information is easy to retain. When you have a two-hour class, it can be hard to remember the first 30 minutes, especially if some parts aren’t relevant to your needs. But with these short and to-the-point modules, retaining the information is easy.
For example, I took the Gaming Systems Competency training and was pleased to see that a course addressed overclocking some of Intel’s high-end processors with details on how to get the best tuning, rather than by trial and error. That’s exactly what I need to know.
How detailed are the IPU Competency trainings?
In the technical competencies, they get quite detailed. For example, in the Intel Optane Technology Data Center Technical competency, they have you go through the command-line details. That’s to make sure you understand which commands you have to run, and what the command will do. These are the details we’ll need to actually implement.
Can you give an example of how information from an IPU Competency training helped you serve or influence a customer?
Sure. I completed the Intel Optane Technology Data Center Solution and Technology Competencies, and I earned the badges. Then I realized that with VMware vSAN—we do a lot of VMware-based solutions—one customer’s implementation would actually be much different when using Intel Optane technology.
Compared with a regular 3D NAND, this would give the customer higher IOPS [input-output operations/sec.] with fewer drives. Their cost would be about the same, maybe even a little less. But the main benefit would be the speed with which they could get the VMs fired up. So now that I understand Intel Optane technology, I can offer not only this customer a better solution, but other customers as well, both now and in the future.
That also helped with the customer’s VMware vSAN solution, which we’re basing on Intel Optane technology. There were a couple commands in the training that we were able to use with the customer, too. Given how quick the modules are, they cover a lot of detail, which was a pleasant surprise.
For this customer, what’s been the main benefit?
We actually did a proof-of-concept for them. It was completed a few weeks ago, and now we’re waiting for the customer’s approval. We’re going with Intel Optane DC SSDs, rather than with 3D NAND SSDs as we’d have done in the past.
This customer serves K-12 students, and they have a VMware environment. So we used the same exact hardware; all we did was swap out the drives. When they saw how much faster things would fire up and respond with Intel Optane DC SSDs, they realized this solution could deliver results in a lot less time.
Also, we’ve done the testing, and we’ve had some calls with our Intel sales rep and technology leads to validate the solution. We wouldn’t have done that without the Intel Optane DC Technology training.
How important to customers are the Competency badges?
With new customers, someone you’re presenting to for the first time, it’s important. New customers want to know your background, your competencies, your areas of experience. This is where the badges really make a difference.
Have other MJP employees taken the trainings?
Yes, a few others have. Within just minutes, they had ideas about something new we could offer our customers. It’s a good use of our time, as it produces a return that’s almost immediate.