Working in the Information Technology sector means continuously updating your skills and adopting to new ways of working. If anything the pace of change is accelerating with new versions of existing server software and applications being released more often, and with new ways of working being continuously adopted. See the adoption of Cloud delivery models and DevOps organisational methods for two recent examples. Even when considering what would now be classed as standard business application platforms, like the Microsoft Server applications, the addition of new features and the changing delivery landscape can be hard to keep up with. Fortunately, Microsoft appreciates this fact and they provide lots of free resources for individuals and organisations to remain up to date with the changing technologies and trends.
Microsoft Press Books
Microsoft has operated a publishing division since 1984 when their first two published titles were The Apple Macintosh Book and Exploring the IBM PC. Blasts from the past! Thirty two years on and Microsoft Press publishes hundreds of titles by experts on Microsoft tools at all levels, from beginner guides up to detailed technical level expert books.
Microsoft Press produces free to download books that cover new software versions and releases. Two recent examples are Planning and Preparing for Microsoft SharePoint Hybrid, and Introducing Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview. As of April 2016 there are 36 freely downloadable books available from the Microsoft Virtual Academy site on topics such as:
- Windows Server
- Microsoft Azure
- System Centre
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Windows 10
- Visual Studio and other development topics
- Enterprise IT Infrastructure strategy
Microsoft Virtual Academy
That these books are grouped together on the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) site isn’t a mistake. The MVA site is the central hub for Microsoft’s educational initiatives. It includes courses with materials that cover the whole Microsoft technology stack for IT professionals whether they are in administration, development, data management, business strategy, or even students wishing to learn about any of those areas. All for free.
Anyone can design a personal learning plan on the MVA site, and take courses and self-assessment tests to learn about whatever topic interests them. Are you an IT Professional who wants to learn about Office 365 and how it could help your organisation? Or learn about how you can manage it within your current Infrastructure? There are over 50 instructional videos on Office 365 for IT Pros on MVA at beginner, Intermediate, and Expert levels for you to learn from today. Across all topics there are currently over 780 learning videos available for you to watch on the Microsoft technology you want to learn about. Either from a development, IT administration, or business productivity perspective. All Microsoft bases are covered. The videos can be watched outside of learning plans if you just want to get information about a specific topic.
In addition to the existing videos on MVA that can be viewed on demand, the site also hosts streaming of live Microsoft events and shows where the latest technologies are showcased and discussed. Another site that does this is the Channel 9 site on Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) where you can subscribe to video and audio podcasts on your favourite topics and get new technology shows to listen to every week. For example the Azure Friday HD video podcast about all things Azure. You can browse the other shows available here.
The world of IT is ever changing. But Microsoft does a good job of providing the information you need to help stay on top of this flood of information. Short of some future Matrix style direct data transfers into our brains, the Microsoft resources outlined here are the best way to stay current on the Microsoft technology stack. For free.