So, it’s the beginning of a new chapter with Practical 365, with myself and Sigi joining the team to take forward what is undoubtedly one of the go-to websites for Microsoft 365 and – traditionally – Exchange Server content.
After Quadrotech asked Paul if they could keep the site alive, they reached out to a few fellow MVPs to lead this, and I had no hesitation coming on board. I’ve known Paul for quite a few years. Long-time readers will know Paul was part of the UC Architects podcast back in when it started in 2012, and I’ve joined podcasts on Practical 365 as well. To have the opportunity to help keep the site going from strength to strength will be a privilege.
For those of you that don’t know me, I have been a Microsoft MVP since 2012, and blogging about Exchange and Office 365 since 2010. In that time I’ve authored a few books about Exchange and Office 365 – including co-authoring Deploying and Managing Exchange Server 2013 High Availability (available for free on this site), along with books for Microsoft Press and elsewhere.
However, the reason why I jumped at the opportunity to become Chief Editor for Practical 365 was due to the fun I had writing for similar popular sites. Whilst the depth of content available on those sites diminished, Practical 365 has continued to provide great content. I spend my time in my day job, as a lead consultant at a Microsoft Partner working with IT pros who are trying to make sense of the new world they find themselves in.
Deploying and managing Microsoft cloud services means as an IT professional you are at the end of the proverbial firehose – new technology launching, and you need to be able to not only find out what is new, but also find out how to use it in a practical sense. What you need is a great resource for real-world, practical advice for the actual doing. What really works? What are the gotchas? How can you avoid the mistakes others made – or learn about how to successfully deploy it, once you move past the basics.
Microsoft provides fantastic content for understanding their services. However, they know it from the inside out – MVPs and other people who deploy this in the real world learn about it from the outside in – not just how it should work but how it really works in organizations with their own history and unusual configurations; and that is what you need to know yourself if you are to be able to successfully do this in the wild.
The world I live in today is no longer the siloed one of the past, where Exchange, SharePoint, Skype and other technologies were looked after by different groups of people. Today, when you buy Office 365, you buy these services pre-integrated and when you deploy them, they have dependencies on one another – and include a plethora of additional tools, like Teams, Planner, StaffHub and much more. When you buy the Microsoft 365 suite – you not only get Office 365, but you get Windows 10 – including management and security capabilities, InTune for device management, premium security functionality with Azure AD Premium, Cloud App Security, and Azure Information Protection. When you buy the top-end E5 licensing, you get a phone system replacement, advanced threat protection capabilities and much more.
On Practical 365, you should expect to see deep dives into all these areas. Perhaps you’ll be tasked with understanding Windows Autopilot? Or maybe , you’ll need to use Advanced Threat Protection to secure Exchange, files in SharePoint and provide coverage for Windows devices. Or you’ll need to get a good understanding of how you can use Teams as your phone system – then next week you might get tasked with understanding how to use Bots within the organization.
Whether you are a generalist looking to make sense of it all, or specialising in a particular area, I’ll be working to bring you great guides on how to do this. And it goes without saying that I’ll be writing for the site too – with guides to help you understand the basics and deep dives in areas I specialise in to help share what I’ve learnt with you.
Additionally, we're keen to meet and hear from other IT pros who would be interested in writing insightful articles packed with actionable advice. If this sounds like you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org outlining your thoughts. As mentioned above, I'll also be at Ignite next week, so if you're going to be there and would like to have a chat about becoming a contributor, come find me at the event or at the MVP Pre-day.
Steve is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He enjoys getting hands-on, solving some of the more complex problems associated with migrating to the cloud or to newer versions of Exchange Server.