IT certification and training Web sites are as common these days as blockbuster movies. Unlike Spider-Man and Star Wars films, though, not every IT site leaves audiences cheering. In fact, many are downright bombs. Cruise through many certification and training sites and you’ll find that several are poorly organized, while others offer very little fresh content.

2000Trainers.com is a refreshing exception to this trend. While it’s an apparently low-budget effort—the site’s design is simple and the UI is anything but flashy—2000Trainers offers well-organized resources. You’ll even find that the site boasts some features missing at better-funded sites.

Who runs 2000Trainers.com?
2000Trainers.com is run by a group of IT trainers, consultants, and authors. Every staff writer or moderator has earned multiple certifications, and all are industry consultants. They’re also geographically dispersed; the consultants are spread out from the United States to Canada to Holland.

Team members who run the site are much like you and other IT pros. They’re out there in the field solving real-world problems day in and day out.

Site features
In all, you’ll find 2000Trainers.com covers 12 key subject categories:

  • Windows 2000
  • SQL 2000
  • Exchange 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Cisco CCNA
  • NetWare 6
  • Network security
  • Active Directory
  • Linux
  • Visual Basic
  • A+
  • XML

There’s also a General Interest category, but there’s not much information to be found there.

2000Trainers publishes feature articles and hosts separate interactive forums, moderated by a 2000Trainers editor, within each category. The articles are all authored by 2000Trainers staff and are essentially how-to pieces that walk you through various configuration and administration procedures.

Finding moderated learning forums on a free site surprised me, as the time and commitment it takes to host such interactive newsgroups is substantial. I spent some time browsing the learning forums and was impressed to see that the 2000Trainers moderators answer many visitors’ questions on the same day questions are posted, often within a few hours. 2000Trainers’ advertising page reveals that the site is growing quickly. (April was its busiest month with 275,000 page views.) It’ll be interesting to see if the 2000Trainers staff can maintain the high level of customer service as the site continues growing.

There’s more to the site. You’ll also find multimedia tutorials, resembling slide shows, for several of the 12 topical categories. These tutorials, like the feature articles, describe specific actions or administrative tasks. The multimedia presentations are simple Web-based presentations that include pointers, tips, and actual screen shots of menus and settings. You can see an example of one of the slide shows, complete with on-screen annotations, in Figure A.

Figure A
2000Trainers.com’s slide shows offer on-screen tips and let you flip through the presentation at your own pace.

The decidedly low-tech multimedia demonstrations—they offer no sound or video—aren’t available for all the site’s topical categories, but the slide shows do make more complex tasks easier to understand. Ultimately, that’s the goal of any certification or training Web site. 2000Trainers just gets the job done with a little less glitz.

2000Trainers also offers a weekly e-mail newsletter that visitors can opt into receiving, as well as links to other IT resources. But that’s not it.

With its focus on certification, 2000Trainers.com offers many practice exams. The site’s simulated tests are low-tech, just like the multimedia tutorials. They’re not flashy or fancy. In fact, they’re just straightforward multiple-choice questions that test your understanding and expertise.

You won’t find many complex exhibit questions, polished diagrams, or drag-and-drop simulations, but I’ve yet to come across an IT professional that has many complaints about free practice test software. Most are like me—they’re more than happy to try as many free exam sims as they can find. Every little bit of studying and review helps.

Eckel’s take
Not all certification and training sites need artistic design and exhaustive content to prove helpful. 2000Trainers.com is a good example of an IT site that certification candidates can access for additional information when preparing for exams. Considering the site is free, 2000Trainers.com offers another certification resource worthy of a bookmark.