The time has come for me to retire this blog. I'm writing this post to let you know what's going to happen to Practical 365 going forward, and to say thank you to everyone in the community who has supported me over the years.
If you'll indulge me a for a few minutes I want to take a step back to the beginning. I started blogging back in 2006 to share a few random thoughts and my experiences in IT. After a few years of blogging my career was starting to focus on Microsoft Exchange Server. That's when I made the decision to focus on Exchange, and renamed my blog to Exchange Server Pro.
In a lot of ways I was in the right place at the right time. I happened to be working with Exchange Server when it was going through some big changes. The new server roles architecture, the variety of new features emerging, and the PowerShell integration provided endless opportunities to share my experiences in blog posts.
The Tipping Point
Exchange Server Pro took on a life of its own. Traffic started doubling. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the site each month. My inbox was overflowing with comments and questions. Twitter was taking off as well, and I was having a lot of fun getting involved in the Exchange community online.
The success of Exchange Server Pro opened up a world of new opportunities for me. I've travelled to different countries, spoken at events, written books and training courses, and been offered jobs, all because of my blog. One of the highlights was travelling to Austin, Texas for the MEC conference in 2014. Of all the events I've been to, MEC stands out as the one that I enjoyed the most.
I'll always have that connection to Exchange Server and the Exchange community. I'm looking forward to seeing what Exchange 2019 delivers later this year. Maybe I'll write a book or a course about it. Time will tell.
Along Came The Cloud
I've been in the IT industry for 20 years. A lot changed before I started blogging, and a lot has changed since then. The most impactful has been the emergence of Office 365.
Most of my IT work has moved away from Exchange Server and towards Office 365 over the last few years. It's one of the reasons Exchange Server Pro evolved to become Practical 365.
Office 365 and the cloud in general have opened up a whole new world of opportunity. A lot of those opportunities just don't suit where my family and I are in life right now. Speaking at international events, travelling around the country for customer projects, or even working for a vendor, are all things that would take me away from the things that I value the most.
Where to Now?
Every aspect of my life is different today than it was when I started blogging. When opportunities are plentiful but time is limited, it forces you to decide what the most important things in your life are. For me it is my family, my health, and the flexibility to enjoy our lives.
Over the last few months I've thought long and hard about where Practical 365 fits in to my future. I've come to the realization that as much as I enjoy running the site, the time I spend here is better spent on other things. Things that are more beneficial to what's important in my life.
I'll still be working with Office 365, and more books and training courses are very much a part of my future plans. You might still see me pop up in technical discussions on Reddit or other forums now and then. I will also very likely still be blogging somewhere about something, because writing is a big part of who I am. I just won't be blogging here, and not about Office 365.
As I was writing this post I took a look at the traffic stats over the life of my blog. It still blows my mind that my little blog that I started in 2006 with a silly domain name and some free web hosting has been read by more than 13 million people almost 40 million times. As you can see below I blogged for several years with fairly modest traffic. I was quite happy with that. Writing useful content that someone would read is all I wanted to achieve. The last few years certainly exceeded my expectations, and I'm grateful for everything that came from it.
To everyone in the community who read my blog posts, left comments and feedback, attended my conference talks, learned from my books and training courses, or engaged in discussions in forums and social media, I want to say thank you. I wouldn't be where I am today without you.
Here's some quick answers to questions that you might have. If there's something not answered here, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Q: What will happen to the Practical 365 site?
A: The site receives a lot of traffic from Google and other search engines, so it would be bad form for me to erase it from the internet. I will be leaving the site online for people to continue finding answers to their problems, but there are no plans to add more articles or content. The store will also stay online for at least the rest of this year to allow people to download any ebook files that have lost.
Q: Have you considered selling the site?
A: Yes, but discussions with a few potential buyers didn't progress to a sale. If the right company with the right community mindset comes along, that might change. What's important to me is that the content on this site remains online for as long as it is still useful to readers.
Q: What will you be doing instead?
A: Mostly focusing on growing our business. I'll still be writing books and training courses for the foreseeable future. I'm working on a book right now (sign up to the mailing list for updates), as well as another Pluralsight course that is due for release next month. I have some other opportunities to explore as well, but no details to share yet.
Q: What about your MVP award?
A: My MVP award was renewed on July 1st, making it the 7th time I have been awarded. I'm honoured to be recognized again by the Microsoft MVP program. Obviously my blog is a big part of the contributions that I am recognized for. But MVPs are awarded for all kinds of contributions, not just blogging. Next year we will see whether my ongoing contributions are enough for renewal. If not, then I'm happy with what the MVP award has provided to me, and will continue giving to the community in whatever capacity I can.
Q: Where can we follow you online?