Book Review – The Phoenix Project

I recently finished this book since I started a new job back in June and it has had a big impact on my thought processes since then.

Before I delve much further into the book itself, I think this book should be required reading for anyone getting into the IT field. It definitely gives you some real to life (at least for me) examples and scenarios of what to expect and in some cases, how to overcome them. I cannot recommend this book enough just on the examples given of how projects are run and maintained in IT and in many businesses today.

For me personally, I definitely identified with many of the characters in the story as I have now been working in IT in some form or fashion since 2006. Some days are better when you can be leading a project to completion and getting high fives all around the office. Then, there are some days where its 3am and you don’t know when you or the folks you are working with will get to sleep again. It happens.

I think in order to get the most value out of this book though, the reader should be familiar with a business that makes a physical product from start to finish. Many of the comparisons this story makes are trying to bridge making widgets to making code or other resources that may not be as tangible.

I definitely get it now though, but I didn’t at first. A veteran IT worker will pick up on the story faster than a new person will, but I think a new IT worker will still get good advice from the story even if they may not understand everything in it.

One other helpful aspect I think this book gives insight into is the upper levels of a company. Many people like myself have been working in a job and spend their days chasing down problems or working on a new shiny feature or software program. But, how often do we know what decisions had to be made to get us to the point where we are at now?

I think that is one aspect I really enjoyed in the story is the battles and other things going on behind the scenes that few people rarely get to see or discuss. Plus it was great for both hero and villain development constantly throughout the story.

The Phoenix Project also introduces the reader to concepts of DevOps in order to understand how efforts to improve and streamline manufacturing processes can be translated to the IT world of today. No matter what kind of company you work for, I think the principles for this could be implemented in some form or fashion to help improve processes in IT.

It’s also one of those few books that is helpful to take out once in a while to reread and make sure that you are still following on the right path if you decide to follow the steps to try and implement DevOps in an organization.

Check it out over at the link here and pick up a copy. I think for me it has been well worth a re-read.

If you get a chance to read it yourself, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below and I look forward to seeing what others thought of it as well.

Thanks! -BJ

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Drinking from the firehose without drowning

It’s easy to be overwhelmed in the sea of information and constant changes that come out every month when trying to keep up to date on Microsoft products, not just SharePoint and Office 365. Since changes to each facet of the service are being released on a monthly basis, I thought I would include some helpful resources that I use to keep from being overwhelmed by all the changes.

First off, the office 365 roadmap is a very helpful one to glance at least on a monthly basis. This way you can see what they have planned to release and try to get ahead of it.

One area that Microsoft has really gotten better at with O365 is training. If you are a new user and want to learn about Flow or PowerApps or Stream or some other part of the 365 service that you haven’t touched yet, I encourage you to look under your tenant (Office 365 admin) settings for training videos as well as going to some of the links on the main pages of these to see some great content they have put together.

Some of my personal resources that I have used and continue to use to learn more about Office 365 are below:

Pluralsight – If you can afford the subscription, get it! The authors on here produce great content and the system to measure progress and learning here is second to none!

EDX – MOOC with a lot of great content from Microsoft and many other places where you can also take college courses. I like that this site offers a way to be officially recognized for passing a course (even though it costs money).

MVA – Microsoft Virtual Academy has a great amount of content and has good O365 and developer content as well as learning paths you can follow to achieve a certain level of expertise if you want to.

MAPA– Microsoft Association of Practicing Architects is a little less known site, but offers a great way for anyone who signs up to deepen their knowledge in many different areas and a great way to connect with other experts for advice. They even offer discounts and practice materials if you know the right places to look and the correct people to ask.

Opsgility – Subscription based site that you have to pay for (but if you have an msdn subscription, you get freebies). Great site to help learn more about Azure and the platform for Microsoft cloud for both development and admin purposes

LinkedIn Learning – a newer site to me, but I see more and more content being published here from MS experts lately. I hope since they are owned by MS at some point these places get aggregated somewhere to make it easier for someone to get the most content from one source

Microsoft Tech Community – This I think is probably the next generation of TechNet from MS. For each of the past two Ignite conferences I have been to, this site has been extremely helpful! The people that run this site really strive to post content from the events here as well as keep active discussions going on with users about new topics. Can recommend this one enough.

As you can see there’s no shortage of places to go to get your learn on. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of information though, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. 🙂

If you know of any other great places to learn like the ones I have mentioned today, feel free to add them to the comment section below.

Thanks and I hope this has been helpful!

BJ

Looking back…Looking forward

I know, I know.

Doing a year in review post when January is almost over seems kind of lame. Regardless, this post falls in line with a few of things I have done in 2010 and also ties into things that I want to do more in 2011. 2010 was a great year for me professionally. I was able to put my first SharePoint installation into production back in February 2010. It was a SharePoint Server 2007 instance with all the bells and whistles activated. This was the completion of work that started simply as research back in August of 2008. it was very satisfying to see this come to fruition.

The main reason I used the past tense with this is because the 2007 install didn’t last long. In August 2010, we upgraded all of our sites and our Business Intelligence rollout to a full blown SharePoint Server 2010 instance. I am still amazed at how much of an improvement that Microsoft has made in this new version from the 2007 version and I continue to learn new things about it every day.

In October and November I was fortunate enough to get enrolled at Dale Carnegie training at work. While in this I was able to meet a fantastic group of people and share many details about myself and learned that in order to communicate better, I needed t be myself more often. That may sound corny, but it worked and I was fortunate enough to be chosen by my peers to win the Dale Carnegie Excellence award.I was floored and very humbled to be chosen for it. I hear this award is the only thing that Warren Buffett has hung up in his office, so that makes it seem to me even more special.

So onto 2011. The year looks ripe with opportunities. I want to continue to make myself better each day so here are a few areas I want to improve on in 2011:

1. Blogging – yes, mainly why this post is so late. I want to write more in this new year to improve my communication skills. I also want to write more technically based articles and maybe even try to get published as well.

2. Speaking – I want to try and speak either at a user group or other technical gathering at least twice this year. I have one opportunity coming up soon and I hope to do another one as well this year. I would also like to make one of these engagements possibly a training event where I could train users on SharePoint or another topic I am familiar with.

3. Training/Certification – last year was good, but I did not meet my goal of trying for a certification and passing. So this year I want to not just go to training, but make it count by getting some more abbreviations to add to the end of my title… Smile

I think that’s a good place to start and are good solid specific goals that I can look back on and make sure that throughout this year I stick to.

So onward and upward…