Tony Redmond and team provide an unparalleled level of depth in a book that makes essential reading for anyone managing Office 365 for their company
Sitting down to read a Tony Redmond led book is pleasure many IT professionals over the years will have enjoyed as they embark upon learning about the latest technology they need to understand before implementation.
In an era where it’s not possible to know everything, Tony is joined by a stellar list of fellow MVPs and authors including his long-term writing partner, Paul Robichaux, alongside Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Brian Reid, Stale Hansen, Brian Desmond and Gustavo Velez – with Vasil Michev acting as technical editor.
If those names are familiar to you then you’ll know this book breaks free from its Exchange-focus in the earliest editions with potential to provide a wide, yet deep level of content that truly explores Office 365 in all its glory. And it’s important to note that Office 365 today is very different from Office 365 back in 2015.
As is clear in the title – this is a book aimed squarely at both Office 365 and IT Professionals. Whilst a few years ago that would potentially cover everything, in modern times it’s almost a niche in itself – as professionals focused on end-user computing, business change, architecture, security, networking, business systems, and developers have a stake in various Microsoft 365 offerings and different goals to fulfill.
Therefore the title has a lot of promise in it, offers what those in the know is a vast topic but still needs to walk a fine line between deep-dive content and avoiding falling foul of getting side-tracked into topics that may deserve chapters or even books dedicated to those topics.
With the above in mind does Office 365 for IT Pros (2020 / 6th Edition) deliver?
Surprisingly deep and up-to-date content that you’ll keep coming back to
Within the first few pages, reading Office 365 for IT Pros feels like you’ve been taken behind the curtain at Microsoft and been given an insider’s view of how the service has been put together. If you’ve never really understood the vastness of what Microsoft have built, how Office 365 has grown over the relatively few years and the breadth of services and underlying security and architecture underpinning it, you’ll find the first chapter a real eye-opener.
Even if you’ve got a good idea from various conferences – or even been on a physical datacentre tour – then you will wonder how Tony and team have been able to find out this information and if you are a bit of an infrastructure geek then you’ll relish every juicy detail. When you see how up-to-date that information is, you’ll realise pretty quickly that the subscription model of the book – with monthly updates – means that you’ll be revisiting chapters repeatedly to update your knowledge.
Reading through the subsequent chapters – that explore each service, how they work and can be configured – along with call-outs to real-world experience and pitfalls to avoid, the detail is a common theme. The depth of information provided, along with diagrams and screenshots to explain, goes far beyond almost all Microsoft documentation.
Whilst Microsoft documentation has improved since the days of TechNet, only MVPs and experts on the outside can provide that mix of real-world current knowledge combined with sanctioned insider-information provided by Microsoft to help explain the areas only those outside Microsoft will typically wonder about and benefit from additional knowledge. When you look at the book’s acknowledgments, you’ll see that the writing team have every nugget of hard-to-find detail on good authority.
Reading through the book a recurring question for me was “where do sites like Practical 365 fit in alongside books like Office 365 for IT Pros?”
A blog or website as a source of information keeps you updated as new things come along and give practical guidance as to how to accomplish something. However, what is difficult if you are relying on articles alone is a reference book that brings it all together. This is where the book fits in and really provides immeasurable value well beyond the cover price. If you start with Office 365 today, then you really need a book like this to bring your level of knowledge up to a level point before you can then go off and learn more.
The book is separated into various chapters, focused on Office 365 services – like SharePoint, Exchange, Teams, Office 365 Client, Office 365 Groups, Stream and so on – along with chapters on DLP, governance, mail flow, MDM and other architecture-wide topics.
It is obvious when you read through the book that each chapter is meticulously updated and current, and a one-time read through isn’t how you should approach this book. There are areas you’ll be focused on more than others. Rather than monitor various Microsoft channels to understand changes, you’ll re-read those sections in subsequent updates to gain both knowledge of the change and the context for it.
What this book isn’t is a guide on how to architect Office 365 to meet the needs of your business or industry. You will need to bring those skills and apply what you learn from the book. In the same vein, you won’t learn how to be an adoption specialist, trainer or security professional. And, whilst if you are one of those this book will provide you with an understanding of all the terminology and technology you’ll encounter – an IT pro needs to understand that beyond the book there is still much to learn about when it comes to securing the enterprise or digital transformation with Office 365.
Like anything else, the book isn’t perfect. As you read through chapter-by-chapter the writing style remains consistent, but it is obvious multiple people approached their chapters separately. Some topics, like Office 365 clients cover some information about Teams that leave you wanting more or are lacking in enough detail. You’ll then read the Teams chapter and find that information you needed. If you jumped into a chapter to get a quick refresher then you would miss important information. This spans other chapters like SharePoint and Office 365 groups, or topics that are mentioned mid-chapter with a service-specific lens, like backups.
Should you buy Office 365 for IT Pros?
Whether you’ve been working with Office 365 since its launch in 2011 or are approaching it for the first time there is something you will learn from this book. Because of the book’s subscription model and regular updates, you’ll get recurring value with every update.
It is impossible to know everything about Office 365 and the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem, but the combined knowledge shared by the authors will get close. It isn’t a small book at over 1000 pages, but it’s a manageable read and with useful content and insights on nearly every page, it’s hard to put down once you pick it up.
To order Office 365 for IT Pros (2020 Edition) visit Office365itpros.com. The eBook is $49.99 (plus relevant sales taxes) and delivered electronically in ePub and PDF format.
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.