By Jeffrey Snover
Many people talk about the cloud as though it is made of pixie dust. Toss a few clever phrases around, write a check, and life is as easy as sipping margaritas on the beach. If that sounds like a pile of manure, it’s because it is.
The authors of Office 365 for IT Pros write “the Cloud is a Journey.” That’s why I love this book. Tony Redmond and his fellow authors have been around the block enough times to know manure from masterpieces. They deliver a clear-eyed view of the issues you need to think through moving to the cloud and what to do once you are there. There will be plenty of time for margaritas on the beach, but first, you must use this book to apprentice yourself to masters and learn the art and science of being an Office 365 IT Pro.
Office 365 and Administrators
Office 365 relieves you from solving hundreds if not thousands of extremely difficult problems. You don’t have to plan, size, purchase, and deploy the right server, power, storage, and network systems. You don’t have to provision the OS, storage, security, networking, monitoring, management, backup, and other software stacks. You don’t have to run the infrastructure 24×7, patch everything on a timely basis, verify that everything continues to work after the patches, and update the systems to take advantage of the latest and greatest set of features. Office 365 does all that for you.
But if Office 365 does all that, do we need IT Pros anymore?
Having spent over four decades in the computer industry, I’ve lived through, and led through, several major technology transitions. At each of these transitions, some IT Pros fear that their jobs will go away. Jobs change but they rarely go away.
IT Pros used to walk around with an unfolded paper clip in their pocket to toggle dip-switches to configure CD-ROM readers to work on PCs. Then plug-n-play was invented. We got rid of a lot of unfolded paper clips but not many IT Pros. Most learned new skills and prospered.
As soon as one problem goes away, IT Pros move on to work on the next set of issues to help move the business forward. And they became more valuable in the process. There wasn’t much business value generated in flipping dip switches.
So it is with Office 365. IT Pros no longer plan, deploy, and operate the infrastructure to run Office applications. That frees them up to focus on things like managing Data Governance and Compliance, eDiscovery, Information Protection, and Data Loss Prevention, all of which are covered in chapters in this book. It should be readily obvious that those topics are far more important and valuable to a business than monitoring disk usage on a server.
Technology transitions like the cloud are not easy. You spend your time becoming really good at something. Perhaps you are the company’s go-to person for a certain technology. And then a technology transition comes along, and you must start all over. It’s hard, but that is our way. When you choose a career as an IT Pro, you signed up for walking the path of lifelong learning. This book is an excellent companion for that journey.
In this book, you will find many PowerShell examples. PowerShell is a must-have skill for any serious IT Pro. GUIs are pretty and often easy, but they limit your ability to be a highly effective IT Pro. You can’t cut and paste mouse clicks. You can’t code review mouse clicks. You can’t rerun a set of mouse clicks on five thousand user accounts. You can’t share your mouse clicks with other people. With PowerShell, you can plan your work, get it reviewed by others, and then perfectly repeat it over and over again. Not with a GUI. With PowerShell, you are part of a community where members help each other. With a GUI, you are on your own.
Information Expands, Expertise Narrows
Lastly, as information expands, expertise narrows. As paradigms shift, expertise expires. Therefore, IT Pros need to be generalists and exhibit a growth mindset. That includes the ability to learn, collaborate, detect, and apply patterns. PowerShell was designed with this in mind. It has a single parser for all cmdlets, so you don’t have to relearn how to type a command. It provides a regular verb-noun syntax with the goal of enabling you to think about what you want, type it and get it. You can run interactive commands, simple scripts, or complex scripts. You can run them on Windows, Linux, macOS, and even from the Azure Portal. And it is fun.
Best wishes with your journey to the cloud and Office 365, and congratulations to Tony Redmond, Paul Robichaux, Christina Wheeler, Brian Desmond, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Ben Lee, and Gareth Gudger for bringing clarity and a wealth of good advice to help you on your way.
Technical Fellow and Inventor of PowerShell, Microsoft Corporation