Directory Services and Advanced System Administration: The T3

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I'm back from the Chicagoland area, and It's good to be back home.  The trip home was mostly without incident, with both planes actually arriving on time (or earlier).  The trip was pleasant, and I made some really great friends with other instructors and developers out there within the ranks of the Apple Certified Instructor network.  So, what about the training?  Directory Services:  The Directory Services class was phenomenal.  It focused on connecting to various directory systems out there (both Active Directory and OpenLDAP), using the built in GUI tools, third party tools, and using the command line utility.  We spent a lot of time demoting and promoting our servers to Open Directory Masters, while connecting to another directory system and making an Open Directory Replica.  I learned a lot of new things at the training, mostly on how to replicate and create backup Directory systems for failover.  I'll start covering each chapter in more detail as time permits, but needless to say it was a very useful class.  Overall the flow was well designed.  The material was a little lacking in that some work in the workbook was not available or mentioned in the reference guide.  But other than that, it was well done.  The cognitive load was well managed with the timing of the class, and the constructivist method was well represented in this material.  Arek Dreyer, who wrote the reference guide, did a great job with the work.  I hope he works on the material again with the new 10.6 materials for which Apple Training is already planning.  Advanced System Administration:  I want to preface this review by mentioning how this class was originally conceived.  When 10.5 came out, Apple Training looked at the existing certification and noticed that an Apple Certified Systems Administrator could go the whole certification process without once taking anything more than Server Essentials.  Apple wanted to make the certification more meaningful, and so decided that knowing how to set up the environment was more important than knowing how to manage an Xsan or Podcast Producer.  And, quite honestly, they were right.  A Systems Administrator needed to focus on the core system that allows for Xsan and Podcast Producer to work well with the rest of the system, and not just the peripheral systems.  So, basically, anything that didn't fit into Deployment (system imaging and image maintenance) and Directory Services needed to be dumped into this class.  As such, the class is 5 days long and still too short for the material.  It's also a fairly new class, as it is the only class that was not recreated from Tiger classes.So, what do I think of it?  It definitely shows the signs of a kitchen sink class.  If you don't have experience in the Command Line and didn't take any of the other classes, you would be totally lost on this one.  It is completely designed to be a capstone course, and allow the student to design their own solution while completing the class.  But there are problems:  If you don't focus on the on-going narration (which the instructor had better be creating along the way for the sanity of the learners), then you can easily get lost in the details.  There is a lot of focus on current UNIX solutions, potential issues, tools that are still in development, and proprietary command line tools that Apple has created to manage their utilities.  All this is thrown at the student in four pillars:  Planning and Implementation, Networking, Administration (monitoring, security, and automation), and Troubleshooting.  The narration is thus:  You have just been hired as the new PretendCo Systems Administrator, and the company is on the cusp of huge growth.  You find out that the company, up to now, has been running on one server, set up as a Standard configuration system for convenience.  You now have to do some real management to scale up the system you put in place in order to cope with the new growth expectations.  For me, it's going to be a challenge to teach this in a For-Credit schedule, if just because the course narration will be really difficult to keep in the student's mind.  When I offer this class, I'll be spending a lot of time focusing on the instructor notes, so that I can keep that narration flowing.  I may need to build the narration into some online exercises as well.  So, overall, Directory Services was a hit, and a blast to teach.  Advanced System Administration was great, but I was honestly only able to keep up because of what I had already known having both taken all the previous Apple classes, and my experience with Linux.  I'm thinking that I may make the Linux Fundamentals a prerequisite for taking this class.  That way I can know that my students have had time to whet their experience on a UNIX environment in the command line.