By Brian Buckeye, Cloud Engineer, Velosio
It is almost a cliché to say that “technology changes at a rapid pace”, but such sayings become clichés for a reason. This one happens to be true: there are tools that didn’t exist five years ago that I now use as an intricate part of my daily job duties after moving to cloud.
One way to keep up on the latest breaking technology are technical group meetings. With the right speaker they can be a fascinating window to see what is currently happening, what is approaching, and to get information that will help you plan accordingly. And sometimes I discover that the right speaker isn’t necessarily the one at the podium.
Overheard at a cloud conference
At one such gathering I was speaking to some people while we were on break, and one casually mentioned that he didn’t want his company to move to the Cloud because “once they do, I’m out of a job.”
A bit more prodding helped me discover that he was a system administrator and was concerned there would be nothing to do once everything got moved to the Cloud, since his job would become obsolete. Several other members agreed and said they too were dreading the day when their systems became Cloud based.
As we dispersed from the break area and returned to the lecture, I found myself wishing we had more time, or that I was able to gather my thoughts more quickly to speak to him. I’ve been in the field for a number of years and have worn a lot of hats, including system administrator. I felt bad because I know how wrong that idea is, and I was taken aback at how prevalent this concern among current system administrators.
Since then I have had time to gather my thoughts, and this is what I wish I would have said.
Advice for systems administrators moving to cloud
Moving to the Cloud isn’t something you need to be concerned about, this is something that should get you excited. Systems administrators are deluged with a huge number of issues that are eliminated once the company is in Azure, and that’s not a bad thing. It will allow you to implement changes that you’ve been wanting to implement.
No longer needed are the binders full of licenses and where they are assigned; this is all handled in an intuitive O365 interface. And licenses are easily moved between users. Licensing audits becomes a simple matter of pulling up the Office 365 administration URL in a browser.
Physical machine maintenance is no longer needed since there are no physical machines to maintain. You can quickly create virtual machines, and these systems can be accessible from anywhere there is an Internet connection. You can then use firewalls and conditional formatting to restrict who can gain access, and where they can gain that access from. Combine this with Azure Active Directory and you will be maintaining a system that utilizes familiar concepts on leading edge systems.
Trying to track down all the compatible prerequisites to set up items like spam scanning, retention periods and antivirus is a thing of the past. All of these items are already in Azure, and all of them can be easily set up and maintained remotely.
Moving to cloud increases productivity and helps to create focus on higher value work.
System Administrators can now spend their time doing what their name implies; administrating systems. Setting up all the stronger security items that have been on the project board for years.
As an example, in Exchange online most things have been streamlined. Adding users and email addresses is only a few minutes worth of work. Setting up rules is a snap. Simple SPAM checks can be configured with ease.
Office 365 is incredibly popular worldwide, so if you do find yourself in a situation where you need assistance the community is robust and often helpful. While I share your pain in trying to filter the many non-helpful answers when searching for a solution, in the end you can usually find what you’re looking for.
No matter the platform, there will always be emergencies.
As a system administrator you will be responsible for setting up Azure backups, but once created you will find restores have been simplified to a few clicks. If a user loses a file, file retrieval in Azure is a very straightforward process.
There are also more challenging items. With its layered approach Azure allows you to start quickly, but as you get deeper you will discover more intricate configurations to challenge you. As an example, look at Intune, an Azure feature that where new systems can be automatically configured by simply signing into Azure. Setting up an maintaining such a system can be extremely rewarding every time you see it work.
New possibilities with an Azure Cloud platform
Moving to the Cloud isn’t going to take your job, it’s going to make your journey to the newest technology easier. It removes a number of barriers that have held system administrators back from making significant changes, and removing frustration is never a bad thing.
Technology does move at a rapid pace, and since we’re in the field our jobs will change to adapt. Moving to cloud with Microsoft Azure is simply another tool to be utilized to get your users safely & reliably connected.