Key skills for an IT Professional

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If you are an IT professional working in with Microsoft 365 then I would suggest the following are the top five skills that you need to have to be successful going forward. My pick, in order is:

1. PowerShell

2. Azure AD

3. Security

4. Intune

5. SharePoint

and here’s why:

PowerShell

PowerShell gives you the ability to script commands for both cloud and on premises Microsoft services. There are many things you can also only do using PowerShell, however more importantly, you can begin to automate what you do. This reduces the time it takes to complete processes as well as giving more consistent results. It also means that you can potentially offload these tasks to others who only need to know how to run the scripts you have created not understand what they entail.

I also find that understanding the PowerShell side of a process gives you a a much deeper understanding of that process and what is possible. I also think that having to do a bit of coding is a benefit to everyone. It helps you to think more logically, plan and structure what you want to achieve. You however don’t need to become a developer, it is easy to CTL-C and CTRL-V good scripts from various places and integrate them into your processes while making a few changes along the way. You can go as deep as you wish and create really amazing scripts that really make life in IT so much easier, while allowing you to do your job faster.

Remember, software will eat the world.

Azure AD

Identity is key to our modern world. You don’t get access to “stuff” until you prove who you are. Importantly, Azure AD is not the same a traditional on premises Active Directory. It is a subset, where the additional options can be added as needed. However, you need a good understanding of where a user’s primary identity is and how it is managed and secured in the cloud. Without this fundamental knowledge you are really going to struggle to understand things like modern device management and security.

All Microsoft services are underpinned by identity and Microsoft cloud services are underpinned by Azure AD. Thus, to administer, configure, troubleshoot these you need a good understanding of Azure AD.

Security

With so much of our assets now being digital, protecting them is paramount. We need to do this in a way that doesn’t inhibit productivity and that is a real challenge. Poor security to me indicates a fundamental lack of knowledge about the products in question. It also demonstrates a lack of discipline and consistency which are the hallmarks of your adversaries out there trying to gain access to systems you protect.

Security will never be an absolute and that makes it hard for many “IT types” to deal with who like to have a tangible end goal. There is not a finite end point with security, there is simply an ongoing challenge to stay one step ahead of the bad actors. Some see that as a burden while the true security professional sees it as a challenge. The protection of our future lies with good security and the challenges that brings. It therefore, will be a skill that will be in continuing high demand.

Intune

As mentioned, Azure AD doesn’t contain the same resources that on premises Active Directory did. The best example of this is probably Group Policy, which is something that Azure AD does not incorporate. To a large extent, that is now handled by Intune and this why it is such an important skill going forward for IT Professionals to become skilled with. It can also be implemented using things like PowerShell, which again goes to the point of how important this list of skills is across all Microsoft services today.

A key factor with Intune is its ability to configure mobile devices. This is something traditionally IT Professionals have not been able to do. However, with the growing numbers of mobile devices in use and their criticality to businesses of every size, it is now more important than ever to be able to easily configure and secure them directly from the Internet.

SharePoint

Most IT Professionals have some skill or familiarity with Exchange and emails which easily translates to services like Exchange Online. However, when it comes to files and folders in the cloud the service of choice is going to be SharePoint, for which there are a decided lack of skills even though SharePoint has been with us for many years now. As I have spoken about many, many time here, SharePoint is more than just simple storage, it is a collaboration system and needs to be approached in that manner to get the most from it. Not doing so results in lots of pain for both administrators and end users.


So there you have it. If I had to pick five skills in order that characterise a modern IT Professional, these would be they. You don’t need to be an elite ninja in each but likewise you can’t remain ignorant of them. if you work with Microsoft cloud technologies you should be familiar and comfortable with them all. If not, then you need to start investing some time and learning them because they will serve you well now and into the future.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 200

Well we made it! 200 episodes are now done and dusted. We thanks our special guests for attending this episode live, Mark O’Shea and Marc Kean.  Of we can’t forget the co-host Brenton Johnson, who helped make this episode special. We’d also like to thank everyone who shared best wishes and congratulations. It is fantastic to know that people are out there and enjoying what we put together.

This of course is only the beginning of the march towards our next 200 episodes and we hope you’ll all join us for the journey. We’ve come a long way in around 10 years of podcasting and so too has the Microsoft Cloud. What’s it going to be like in another 10 years? Join us on the journey.

Thanks again to both Mark O’Shea and Marc Kean for being part of our special episode and supporting the podcast over the years.

Take a listen and let us know what you think – feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-200-lets-celebrate/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@intunedin

@marckean

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

Microsoft Ignite sessions on YouTube

CIAOPS Techwerks whiteboard training–Sydney 31 January

I’ll be hosting an all day focused, hands on, technical whiteboard training session on Microsoft Cloud technologies (Office 365, Microsoft 365, Azure, etc) in Sydney on Thursday January the 31st 2019. The course is limited to 15 people and there are still a few places available if you wish to attend.

The content of these events is driven by the attendees. That means we cover exactly what people want to see and focus on doing hands on, real world scenarios. Attendees can vote on topics they’d like to see covered prior to the day and we continue to target exactly what the small group of attendees wants to see. Thus, this is an excellent way to get really deep into the technology and have all the questions you’ve been dying to know answered. Typically, the event produces a number of best practice take aways for each attendee. So far, the greatest votes are for deeper dives into Intune, security and PowerShell configuration and scripts, however that isn’t finalised until the day.

The CIAOPS Techwerks events are run regularly in major Australian capital cities, so if you can’t make this one or you aren’t in Sydney on that date, stay tuned for more details and announcements soon. If you are interested in signing up please contact me via emails (director@ciaops.com) and I can let you know all the details as well as answer any questions you may have about the event.

I hope to see you there.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 199

I speak with Program Manager Windows Defender ATP, Iaan Wiltshire, from Microsoft all about this security offering and how it fits into the market. We discuss what Defender ATP is and what it includes, so if you are keen to hear how Microsoft is integrating threat management from the desktop through to the cloud, listen along.

Brenton and I, of course, give you all the latest Microsoft Cloud news in this first episode for 2019. There is still lots happening so listen in to stay up to date.

Also, don’t forget our invite to join us during the live recording of episode 200 on the 21st of January 2019. Just sign up at http://bit.ly/n2k200

Take a listen and let us know what you think –feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-199-iaan-wiltshire/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

Iaan.Wiltshire@microsoft.com

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

MSP risks for clients

Questions to ask your MSP

Report into MSP hacking

Discounted cyber security for your client

December updates video

Ignite 2019 – Sydney agenda

Contextualizing Attacker Activity within Session in Exchange Online

MyAnalytics, the fitness tracker for work is now more broadly available

Watch Microsoft Stream on the go

SharePoint Roadmap Pitstop: December 2018

Introducing new advanced security and compliance offerings for Microsoft 365

Evaluating Windows Defender ATP

Windows defender Test Ground

Microsoft Security Blog

Defender ATP Overview

Microsoft Cloud service descriptions

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One of the common pain points that people are reporting in my recent Challenges with Microsoft Cloud survey here:

What is you biggest challenge with the Microsoft Cloud

is wanting a single location that compares all of the offerings side by side.

Unfortunately, given the huge number of options across different teams in Microsoft there really isn’t a single place. This stems back to an earlier article I wrote about

Why IT today is like coffee

which in short details how we live in a world were people want lots of choices rather than a single monolithic solution. This is so people can get EXACTLY what they want and not have to pay for things they don’t want or need. The price we pay for lots of choice is, lots of choice.

All is not lost however because there are few places you can go to get a pretty good overview what the Microsoft Cloud offers.

The first place to start is the Office 365 service descriptions. This will lay out in great detail all the plans side by side and features that each include. You can drill down beyond the suites into individual service like Exchange and SharePoint Online if you want.

Now for Azure the best option is probably Products by region. This will show you each Azure service as well the region that it is available in. To get an idea of all the abilities of Azure have a look at the list of Azure products as a reference guide.

If you are interested in what Microsoft 365 Business contains then look at the Microsoft 365 Business Service Description.

Of course, much of this gets updated regularly so how can you keep up with changes? Well, use the Recent services description changes to see what’s new in Office 365. There is also the new and updated Microsoft 365 Roadmap, which will help you plan what changes are down the pipe.

Azure has something similar over at Azure updates.

Many of these update locations have the ability for you to subscribe to via RSS or email so you can get prompted when things change. I have detailed previous how you can use Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and Yammer to stay up to date by pushing the change feeds into these services automatically.

With lots of options comes lots of detailed information. It is simply a fact of life these days. I would suggest that the services descriptions should be the source of truth for what is included in Office 365 and Microsoft 365. Everything else I have seen is a summary of this. Azure is a different kind of beast, so start with the list of Azure products and drill in from there.

Remember, as Clay Shirky says, it isn’t information overload, it is filter failure. You can’t ingest everything, so find the best stuff and consume that. Be selective with your information sources and always search for the highest quality. Hopefully, I’ve given you some quality places to start here.

What is your biggest challenge with the Microsoft Cloud

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Tis the season for a survey I think. What I’d like to do is start off with this one question:

What is the biggest challenge you face with the Microsoft Cloud?

That’s it. Just one question. You can answer the question here:

http://bit.ly/mscloudsurvey

I’ll collate all the answers and report back on the results. I’ll try and group the issues into categories so you get a better of idea of what generally are the major challenges a majority of people have.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an end user, business, IT resellers, IT professional, whatever, please take a moment to share what you find most challenging about the Microsoft Cloud (Office 365, Microsoft 365, Azure, etc)

The more people that take a moment to answer the more results and information we’ll have to share. The results are anonymous.

Thanks in advance for completing the survey.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 196

I am joined by a familiar guest to many, previous co-host of the Need to Know podcast, Marc Kean, who shares with us what he has been up to lately and his career journey to now being a full time Microsoft employee. Listen along and you’ll get some insight into one of the technical job roles at Microsoft.

Of course Brenton and I also bring you up to date with the latest Microsoft cloud news including recent a Azure AD multi factor outage and how Microsoft is now more valuable than Apple! Listen on for full details.

Take a listen and let us know what you think –feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-196-marc-kean/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@marckean

@askbrenton

@directorcia

Marc’s blog

Azure AD MFA outage analysis – look for event on 19th November

Microsoft now more valuable than Apple

Microsoft helps create a secure modern workplace

New management for Microsoft Teams

Windows 1809 rollout continues

Ignite 2018 sessions on YouTube

With Microsoft Ignite 2018 now over for 2018 I wanted to let people know that like last year:

Ignite 2017 sessions on YouTube

I’m maintaining a list of links directly to the sessions on Github.

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The list is maintained at:

https://github.com/directorcia/general/blob/master/ignite2018.txt

and I will be updating it throughout the year as I find links to new sessions.

Of course, if you have a link to a session that I don’t have up there yet, please send it along so I can add it and we can all benefit.

All the sessions are not there as yet. I add them when I find them and the update this file, so make sure you check back regularly to get the latest list.

Thanks again to Microsoft for doing this and uploading the sessions to YouTube. They are a great source of learning and allows people like me would couldn’t get to Ignite the ability to work through the content.