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Working in IT means having little free time (what's a 9-5?). So when you finally find time to figure out how to migrate that last legacy server off rickety, 20-year-old hardware, the last thing you want is to suffer through is useless content. And that's perfect, because we don't do useless. What we do is help with that legacy server problem, as well as many of the other challenges you face.

In our previous post, we presented some of our favorite ways to quickly get up to speed on the latest technology. But everyone who works in IT knows this: progress does not happen quickly, and major changes like server upgrades, software migrations, and deploying device management require some serious knowledge. The good news is, we provide that. To make sure our content is valuable, we turn to the technical experts who build the products, not someone reciting a script.

If you're not quite sure what that means, check out the video below with David Tesar and our friends from Chef, where they demonstrate how IT and developers can work together to simplify, automate and migrate their existing environments.

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA)

MVA offers an enjoyable way to learn, as you kick back and watch Microsoft engineers, technical experts, and other rock stars take you quickly from the high level down to the nuts and bolts with real-time demos. Because these are the people who understand the technology best, they'll be able to give you valuable advice and other critical information to help you transform your business. Here are some of our favorite series:

  • Azure, Azure, Azure. We're sure you hear the word a ton, and it may be quite overwhelming to understand how to get started or why you would even want to with a perfectly good local DC, DR'd across campus. The good news is, during the Azure IaaS event, Rick Claus, Mark Russinovich, and a whole bunch of engineers put together a week-long deep dive to show you how you can get started with Azure. And don't worry, they're not telling you to uproot your entire infrastructure into Azure. Rather, they focus on the most practical and beneficial scenarios you can begin taking advantage of today, like enabling scaled services at peak times, spinning up VMs, and maybe finally moving away from backing up to tape.
  • Similar to the Azure series (but over the span of a few months rather than days) is our Enterprise Mobility Core Skills series in which Brad Anderson, Simon May, and a different set of engineers (we have so many!) take you through each of the core components of Enterprise Mobility Management, enabling you to do all sorts of things you've always wanted, like enabling single sign-on, self-service, legacy app migration, file control on email, and a whole bunch more, both across mobile devices and Windows 10 endpoints.
  • In this series, Matt McSpirit (he's so awesome, he doesn't need any executive back-up), the product team, and other technical experts dive into some of the best features for you to look forward to in Windows Server 2016 Preview. Learn about software-defined everything and new virt features in WS 2016, how containers can help standardize and simplify your workflow, and how the super lightweight Nano Server can help reduce your compute overhead.
  • And we can't forget about DevOps. We haven't created a cool series page for this like the others yet, but on that page you'll find all of our DevOps-related courses, covering topics like Continuous Delivery/Integration, Azure Resource Manager, Automation, and how DevOps fits in with ITIL.


Hands-on Labs

In the previous post of this series, we highlighted some demos we've built based on the labs from our in-person IT Innovation Series event (spoiler alert! We'll get to that one in a second). Well, if you enjoyed those and would like to try them yourself but don't want to install anything or even leave your browser, then you're in luck! Check out some of our favorite TechNet Virtual Labs, which allow you to do exactly that:

  • Since we already mentioned them, it's best to start with the labs from our What's new in Enterprise Mobility series that our resident mobility expert Simon May created, where you'll learn how to increase security beyond one simple password (possibly on a sticky on someone's monitor), how to control email access and applications on mobile phones, and how you can use those same tools to also manage traditional Windows 10 machines.
  • If you enjoyed those courses, then you'll love the Windows Server 2016 Virtual Labs, created by our "Infravangelist" Matt McSpirit (title coined by Matt), where you'll cover many of the topics listed above as well as managing containers with Docker and PowerShell, centralizing reporting and analytics with Operations Management Suite, and replicating storage.
  • We weren't sure if we should add this one here or to the evaluations section below, but we think the Windows 10 Deployment and Management Lab Kit is most appropriate here. Download this test environment so that you can prepare for your own Windows 10 deployment, with step-by-step guides walking you through in-place upgrades (seriously!), creating images, and managing Windows 10 with Configuration Manager.
  • The DevOps team has been traveling around the world putting on hackathons to help IT and developers collaborate to implement the core DevOps practices in their environment, like automation and continuous delivery. During these events, one option is to try out these scenarios on the Parts Unlimited app, based on The Phoenix Project. (Warning: GitHub alert.)


In-person Events

We get around. Not only that, but we're everywhere. This may sound like the setup to a horrifying movie, but it's true. The people making all of this amazing content love few things more than getting to meet all of you in person. To make sure we don't miss you, here are some of the events at which you'll find us, hopefully in a city near you.

  • Really excellent segue from the virtual labs, considering we also offer in-person events as part of the IT Innovation Series where one of our global Ops Team members will spend a day with you lending their expertise as you dive deep into Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility, or Hybrid IT Management (i.e., simplifying infrastructure management between diverse on premises and cloud-based solutions). That may not have made things much clearer, but did we mention everything is free, including lunch, and who doesn't love a good free lunch?
  • Microsoft Ignite is sort of like our Super Bowl for IT people. We plan to make the trip and hope to see you there, too. If you mention this post, we'll even buy you a beer!
  • If you aren't near any of the other events, The Cloud Roadshow may be coming to a city near you, covering topics similar to the IT Innovation Series. And for our Bay Area friends, we've recently launched the Microsoft Reactor, so make sure to swing by when you're in town.
  • Finally, it's 2016, which means "in-person" events don't really need to be in person. And as The Ops Team travels around the globe putting on conferences, The Channel 9 team is often right there behind them, bringing the event to everyone unable to make it in person or if you just want to relive the memory.


Trial Software

After all of the knowledge you've accumulated between this and the last blog post, it's time to put it all to good use and get your hands dirty. You know, in a nice, safe, free environment:

  • The Evaluation Center is the best resource you'll find for trial software, including Windows Server 2016 Preview, Windows 10, System Center 2016 Preview and a whole bunch more.
  • While the Eval Center has the majority of evaluations you'd consider, you can find the Enterprise Mobility Suite right there. And if you'd like some personal attention as you're getting up to speed, you can even request a 1:1 demo.
  • The cloud, we mean, Azure. A free $200 to go wild with.
  • We can't believe this is our final link, but we live in a crazy world these days. IT people are expected to understand foundational coding skills and the key underlying tools to operate in this DevOps world, so here it is: Visual Studio.


All right, hopefully that keeps you busy for a while. One thing worth mentioning is that some of the products and solutions highlighted here most likely look vastly different today than they did when originally captured, with a variety of new and improved features. We suppose quickly improving products is the cruel reality of these newfangled, constantly evolving cloud solutions. While we're working on some great new ways to bring you the latest information even more quickly (hint: check out our previous post), the good news is the underlying principles and key information should still be applicable. And now you'll always have this blog to find latest content as quickly as possible. Just click here for reminders.

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