(this is a guest post by Tenox)
Jason’s post on VMware reminded me of something that I wanted to post a while back. Not widely known, both VMware and Microsoft offer free and available to anyone, virtualized “hands on labs” on some or most of their products. Don’t think of them as videos or scripted presentations. They are in fact real virtual machines with real software you can play with. VMware HOLs for instance include putty.exe that allows you to SSH to the ESXi host to hack it.
If you don’t want to spend hours installing and configuring all this stuff and just want to learn the essence or gain some experience with enterprise technologies without breaking a bank I highly suggest to check them out. Also VMware labs let you preview upcoming technologies which are not yet available on the market!
Microsoft, TechEd 2013 HOLs: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013?y=Hands-on+Lab&t=available-online (I think you need Internet Explorer to launch them)