New Year Means New Changes

Everybody does it. The New Year drives changes they want to make. New Year's Resolutions. Gyms get a large push of visitors. Home stores have higher sales. The New Year causes people to want to effect change in their lives. Some industries have sprung up around these changes. Many of you might be wondering where I am going with this. Well, I am about to go through my own New Year change.

As of January 24th, I will no longer be the Director of IT Services for Radia Inc., PS. I have spent almost 4 years with Radia since leaving Microsoft in January of 2010. Over those 4 years, I have worked with good people who have a single driven goal to patient care. I was able to bring some new ideas to the IT Operations and help Radia get into a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement to help manage our software needs. Many folks have told me how I have changed how IT engaged with them to get their needs met. The best thing I was told was how I had a great laugh. At the same time, I was able to grow, learn, and mature. While I have enjoyed the people and where we were going as a team and company, I was approached with a great offer.

Starting on January 27th, I will be returning back to Microsoft. Not only will I be returning to Microsoft, I will be returning as a "Blue Badge", or full-time employee. Instead of going back in as a manager, I will be returning back as a Senior Service Engineer. My return will be back into Microsoft IT but I am coming back to the SharePoint team. While I am joining a new team, my manager and director are people I know and have worked with/for before. I hope to go more into my return to Microsoft on this blog as well as what I can about my projects. Some of you may wonder if I am going to be attending conferences like MS TechEd. I have been fortunate enough to have permission to attend conferences. So, expect to see me out and about this year.

Wrapping this us, I want thank my manager and the folks at Radia for the trust and collaboration I had with them while I was there. I also thank my new manager and director for the new opportunity ahead of me. I also thank all my friends that have believed in me and pushed me forward.

Onward and upward.

New Year, New Thoughts

So I post again to the blog. Many of you might be asking where I have been. Many of you might not care. I can accept both sides of the coin on that. It is something that I have been coming to terms with for a while now.

Before and after MS TechEd 2013 in New Orleans, I had a fire to get this blog up and rising. I thought I wanted to use this as a platform for my passion around technology and trying to energize people around me. I went to TechEd and learned a lot but also got to network with some of my "chosen tribe" of IT Professionals from around the world. Events like TechEd make me really sit back and acknowledge my spot in the world while enjoying myself. Many people disbelieve me when I say that I pay for it out of my own pocket and use PTO to attend. I feel that strongly about the experience you get there and the training offered through the sessions, labs, vendor discussions and testing opportunities. I came home excited and wanting to share that excitement with the world. Then, it happened.

At first, Microsoft pulled the TechNet subscriptions from IT Professionals. I understand that this is a way used by many pirates to get licenses to illegally sell but it is used by both IT Professionals and IT Departments to setup testing environments for the systems they have and future desired systems. If my company did not have our TechNet licensing, we would not have looked at SharePoint 2010 for some of our internal needs nor would we have done anything on Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2. Luckily, we made monies available to get a MSDN account for that work to continue but other companies may not. The response we get from Microsoft is to use the limited day demos. I am sorry Microsoft, those are not functional enough for companies to create testing environments to test integrations and patching. What became worse was the patching errors that started in August and September. Many products had patches that were rolled back because they damaged environments. If we all had proper testing environments, we could find that out before going to production.

If the TechNet wasn't enough, Microsoft Learning tried to slip out their cancellation of the MCM/MCA certifications on a Friday night before a 3-day holiday weekend. Much has been written about this and many MCM/MCA's are upset to say the least. While I do not hold a MCM or MCA, I was building an education track to get one in SharePoint. Some of you may know that SharePoint is near and dear to my heart. It is an underused technology that gets vilified quickly by users. Many times, the configuration and management of the SharePoint system is what the users hate, not the product itself. But I digress. With this announcement, I put my education and certification plans on hold. I am re-evaluating them as we speak but they are vastly different than when I started.

What I feel through these actions is much like what Rod Trent wrote in his September 2, 2013 piece, "Does Microsoft Hate IT Pros?" and Paul Thurrott wrote in his September 30, 2013 commentary "What's Next for IT Pros?", is Microsoft trying to kill the IT Professional. In a way, yes they are. Microsoft is seeing a new future in the cloud and that IT Professionals should embrace this. In some ways, they should become "cloud developers" using PowerShell to manage systems where the infrastructure is a black box layer they need not worry about. For startups and companies with minimal regulations, that is a wonderful story. But to companies with heavy regulations, like SoX, SEC, HIPAA, Hi-Tech, and such, cloud computing is something that just does not make sense today. I can see that they have something in mind for IT Professionals but they are not saying what and that is the key issue.

They need to communicate to their base users, the IT Professionals. Let us know what is going on, what is coming down the pipe other than just cloud computing. Give us more clarity for that higher level of education. One good thing they have done is things like the Microsoft Virtual Academy. This resource has been a boon for many IT Professionals and I do encourage everyone to run over and check it out. Also Microsoft, remember that while developers can expand your platforms, IT Professionals ensure they get deployed into companies. The free stuff at Build would be nice to see at MS TechEd as well. The Surface offer was a great one but then to see developers coming back with 2 free tablets, that did feel like a solid hit to the stomach. Who ensures that the developers have platforms to develop on? The IT Professionals, that's who.

Now, I have got my words out. It has been 6 months in coming. What I can tell those of you that like to read what I write is that I will be writing again. I hope to write one good article per month that has some length to it. At the same time, I plan to use my blog as a "cheat sheet" for me as well. When I hit a brick wall, I plan to blog how I either worked around or knocked it down. To that end, plan to see a lot of how-to's and reviews as well. I have gotten some fun stuff since July and plan to get more. If you have any ideas, do not hesitate to let me know. I am open for just about anything.