Earlier this year we certified our 500th Verimatrix Certified Engineer!
This is a major milestone for a product training program that was only launched three years ago in response to customer and partner requests to be better trained on how to use the Verimatrix VCAS platform. Led by our Technical Trainer Fredy Zuercher, Verimatrix University offers programs to train engineers, systems architects and project managers around the world on the VCAS product platform, including, but not limited to, VCAS for IPTV, VCAS for Internet TV, VCAS for DVB Hybrid, VCAS for DVB and MultiRights OTT. We were able to catch up with Fredy between training sessions … and flights!
Q: 500 Verimatrix Certified Engineers ... that’s quite an achievement. How do you do it?
Fredy: The metrics are pretty impressive when you stop to think about it. We’ve enrolled 1,500 students to start their Verimatrix training online, then have 550 who have participated in our hands-on courses around the world, and that’s led to us surpassing the 500th Verimatrix Certified Engineer mark earlier this year. I’ve traveled more than 420,000 miles in the last three years and was on the road 250 days last year. It’s a lot of travel, but I enjoy meeting our clients, learning about their companies and helping them ensure their operations are secure.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Fredy: I grew up in Switzerland and studied electronic engineering. Prior to coming to the United States, I worked in VoIP on the customer-facing side of the business in both pre-sales and customer support. When the opportunity arose to move to a warmer climate in San Diego, I grabbed it. I came to the United States for a year and am still here – 20 years later!
I started with Verimatrix as a Global Services Engineer in 2007. After a few years, I was managing the Customer Care team for two years and then moved into training where I created Verimatrix University and all of the coursework our clients take today. Having been “that guy” on the front lines for many years, I have the unique ability to bring those lessons learned back into the program, and to also use the training sessions as opportunities to learn about the new challenges and trends customers are seeing to continue to tailor and tweak the materials.
Q: For people who may not be familiar with VCAS training, what’s involved?
Fredy: There are two parts – online study and hands-on training. The online portion is designed to bring everyone up to the same base level of technical understanding on Enterprise Linux, databases, high-availability, and networking before exposing them to the VCAS applications; it is learned at the student’s own pace and schedule. Every student must pass various quizzes and exams in each section online before they can progress to the next, ensuring that the student fully understands the concepts as they’re going along.
Everyone who completes the pre-requisite online portion is then eligible to attend the hands-on training, which is a full day for each product line. It includes building a VCAS system from scratch, configuring it to work with partner equipment, and then my favorite part … I find ways to break the system! It’s up to the students to use what they’ve learned to troubleshoot and resolve it before they can go home. They then select a path for the rest of their VCAS training: IPTV, Internet TV, DVB Hybrid and/or MultiRights OTT – whatever they need for their operations.
Q: Why should someone become a Verimatrix Certified Engineer?
Fredy: This program is exactly what a customer needs to learn how to efficiently operate and maximize the performance of their VCAS system and get the most out of their investment. Anyone attending will find it time well spent. As one attendee described the class, “I really enjoyed the labs on virtual machines, running VCAS. The great knowledge of the instructor and his ability to explain issues generated excellent interaction during the course. It allowed me to understand very well every topic on the agenda, with clear and very didactic examples. Without a doubt, the best.”
Q: Who should get trained?
Fredy: It’s well worth it for every engineer, technician and systems architect who works with the VCAS system to take the training – whether they are directly operating a pay-TV network or reselling our products and services. In addition to training customers and partners, we use the online portion to help onboard new employees quickly, and require our Global Services team members to be fully certified.
Q: What’s changed over the years?
Fredy: There’s been a lot more activity lately. As Verimatrix and the number of operators and secured clients have grown, so have the number of people who want to be certified. And, since certification is valid for two years, many people are now being recertified on new versions of a product on which they were originally certified. As well, some people are coming back to get certified on a new solution that they are looking to deploy, such as a cable or satellite operator who once got trained in VCAS for DVB, now coming back to launch an adjacent OTT solution. Due to the increased requests, both in the number of students and the number of locations per year, we have also added additional trainers to the team so that we can provide the capacity to meet the demand.
Q: What’s new in training?
Fredy: We’re getting ready to offer hands-on VCAS Ultra training. The online training is already available. The first hands-on class will be August 1-5, 2016 in San Diego. We are also in the process of developing a program for Verspective Analytics.
Q: What differentiates Verimatrix University training?
Fredy: It’s a small class and I focus on what an operator really needs by having them explain their unique business models and customer use cases. This translates into each person building their own VCAS server from scratch and dealing with real-world troubleshooting. It’s an interactive, fast-moving class with everyone graduating with the knowledge required to install, configure and operate the VCAS platform. As one attendee said, “ This has been the best training since … (pause) … the beginning of training!”
Q: One last question before you head out, Fredy. With all your travels, any special restaurant recommendations?
Fredy: Well, airport restaurants are airport restaurants…. But when leaving from Munich, I always stop at the Airbrau Restaurant at the Munich airport, for a Weisswurst (traditional Bavarian veal sausage with sweet mustard), a Bretzen (Pretzel) and a Bavarian Hefeweizen (wheat beer). One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Salathip, at the Shangri-La in Bangkok, where I love their 10-course Thai dinner by the river.
Thank you, Fredy. Don’t miss your flight!
For more information about Verimatrix University, visit www.verimatrix.com/verimatrix-university