Sunday, March 16, 2014

How do you learn and adopt new technology?

I have been an MVP for almost 3 years now. I remember how everything started.
It was back in 2010 and I wanted to get ahead and become certified on Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2.
It was this new exam, "Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2". Quite cool, but I was wondering how I should manage to learn all the required stuff. It was in total 3 exams, two MCTS exams and one MCITP.
The scope did also include stuff like Remote Desktop Services, Microsoft Desktop Optimization Toolkit, App-V and not just server virtualization with Hyper-V and VMM 2008 R2.

I searched through the internet and was hoping to find some official books from Microsoft Press about this exam, but no luck.
I had my own lab, containing two physical servers that I could play around with to simulate a Hyper-V cluster, running every workload as virtual machines. From there, I started to search for information and ended up in the TechNet forums.

- Yes, the TechNet forums should not only get me addicted, but also prove to be the best learning platform I've ever seen.
I started to participate in the Hyper-V forum and Clustering forum. Not 100 % sure on every answer I fired, but soon I began to harvest some points. It was almost like a game. I tested the challenges the forum users had submitted in my own lab, gave the result of my testing and recommendation on how to fix the issues. It was very valuable for me, and it still is.

This has evolved a bit, and I am now moderating over 10 forums, especially the Cloud and VMM forums, but also two new forums; Hyper-V Recovery Manager and Windows Azure Pack.
I consider this as key, since I am working exclusively with this technology and also have to take some responsibility to get back to the community with help, workarounds and important information, and of course - I learn a lot, each and every day.

When I meet my customers and start talking about all the new technologies from Microsoft, some of them are skeptic. "It has not been around for so long", "we don't know any other who's using this" and "we don't want to be the pioneers on this one". By showing them that there is a huge community out there (already) on the technology, is extremely important. I have shown customers both the HRM and the WAP forum, and they can see that it is already very active. This is important for Microsoft, customers, partners and the community. To be an early adopter, you must stay ahead and see the problems before you see it in a production environment, and this is why I am spending hours each week to try to track trends, known issues and pitfalls as well as try to explain how to fix them. I test and do a lot of research as part of my role, and the forums is crucial.

Anyhow, I was trying to explain how I learn new technology, and get experience beyond what's possible by just reading articles and blogs besides of testing. People do things in a very different way, and by seeing more ways of doing so, gives me a better understanding of practically everything.

To summarize, you don't need a Microsoft Press book that covers the basics for an exam. The information is most likely out there already, and it is your responsibility to get hands-on and the skills required in order to pass.

As a side note and also for inspiration: have you ever heard about Jack Andraka? If not, search for that name on the internet.
He was 15 years old when he was awarded (Gordon E. Moore Award) for his cancer research - using only the internet (Google and Wikipedia). .

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