You might not remember, but to finish out 2014 I submitted three specific technologies that will be important to the IT career in 2015. With 2015 almost half over, a thousand new product announcements and alignments, and a couple big Microsoft conferences under our belts, I thought it would be good to see how those I submitted are holding up. Has anything changed or replaced my submissions, or only served to solidify my suggestions?

PowerShell

There's a seemingly never ending supply of content, both online and offline in articles and code, for PowerShell. PowerShell can do massive, complex tasks in a few lines of code. But, there are also those that developed thousands of lines of code, spending weeks or months to complete. PowerShell fits any scenario.

But, is PowerShell gasping for air? Not on your life. New announcements around things like Nano Server, Office 365 integrations, SharePoint, Azure, and System Center show that PowerShell is only becoming even more important and more deeply integrated with all the products you are required to manage. In many cases, like with Nano Server (the headless server option for the forthcoming Windows Server 2016), Microsoft opts to infuse PowerShell management first and deliver a GUI second.

Bottom Line: This prognostication holds true.

Microsoft Intune

Microsoft Intune, of course, is Microsoft's Cloud-based management tool for PCs and devices for all the major platforms (OSX, iOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone). Each month the software company releases updates to the service that extend its capabilities and improve its management abilities. Microsoft is vested in being a leader in this space. It already owns the market for on-premises management with System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr), and when ConfigMgr 2016 releases this year, there will be even bigger integrations with Intune. Top that off with a Windows 10 release which will have instant connections to Intune built in and Intune is not going away anytime soon. In fact, the more you know about Microsoft Intune, the better prepared you'll be as a technologist looking to extend a career in IT.

Now, look back over the past few months of announcements and realize that there's also a strong push to infuse Intune features into Office 365 for document protection and application management and you have a combination that you can't ignore.

Bottom Line: I'm 2 for 2.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud is the catchall term for integrating your on-premises datacenter with a hosted datacenter, but only where it makes sense. Hybrid Cloud gives customers choices, whereas a Public Cloud is an all-or-nothing scenario. You use as little or as much as you need, and pay as you go. And, you get to decide what happens with your company's data. It's all completely under your control and a great way to test the waters to see if value exists.

There's a lot of noise about Hybrid Cloud, with many vendors are now rushing to join the band through acquisitions and revamped services. Noisy technologies generally mean you can ignore them, writing them off as marketing fluff.

But, what's the truth?

When I wrote my original article in December, the onramp for the Hybrid Cloud was more difficult. But, if you've been following along, vendors like Amazon and Microsoft have worked to make it extremely easy.  Google seems to have been left in the dust by the Big Two, but is still in the game somewhat.

Take Microsoft as the example. SQL Server 2016 will release with deep threads directly into Azure services. Data will be "always encrypted," databases will be able to be "stretched" automatically between on-premises and Azure, it will provide real-time operational analytics for both on-premises and Azure storage, and on-premises and Azure will be managed through a single console (single pane of glass). Additionally, Microsoft will provide…

  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Supports petabytes of data storage which can scale as necessary to save money on storage costs and produce valuable data analytics for insight towards business decisions.

  • Azure SQL Data elastic database pools. Allows developers and ISVs to manage the performance, scale and cost across a larger number of databases as a single pool of capacity.

Bottom Line: My cognitive skills know no bounds.

Get on Board

So, my reasoning was sound. If you invest time in learning PowerShell, Microsoft Intune, and Hybrid Cloud this year, you'll be strategically aligned for a long life in IT. Learning on your own can be tough, and there are many ways to accumulate good information.

If you attended Microsoft Ignite this year you may have left with a head full of knowledge about Microsoft's future product line, but not much else. Getting deep learning and technical knowledge was tough due to over-booked session rooms, a massive 23,000 in attendance leaving little opportunity for networking, and staged community events with the masses strewn across downtown Chicago. Ignite was a great event for planning. Microsoft successfully delivered its future and the future we'll need to heed. But, now it's time to dig deeper, learn about these upcoming technologies, but at the same time resolve the burning issues that exist today.

IT/Dev Connections 2015 is just around the corner. It's not a massive event like Ignite, but tailored to give you the ability to get the most value from a week's worth of in-depth training. It's a conference, for sure, but engineered to feel more like a User Group meeting where you have all the time in the world to ask questions, get answers, and solve your most difficult problems. If you take a look at the session catalog you'll clearly see that we have you covered with expert advice from your peers. PowerShell, Microsoft Intune, Hybrid Cloud, and more – we have you covered. These aren't high-level overviews or roadmap announcements, but each session is a deep-dive learning event. And, you can stick around after each session to ask questions directly to the speakers instead of feeling like the event is being run by stopwatch and you have to rush to get a seat in the next session. It's a stress-free learning opportunity. You are in control.

Recently, I wrote up a brief on what IT/Dev Connections is intended to provide. In IT/Dev Connections 2015: The Right-sized, Highly Engaged, Deeply Personal, IT Technology Conference, you'll read how we've taken the best pieces of events like this and created something extremely worthwhile. A couple years back we took attendee feedback and completely revamped the event and we've improved it each year since then. This year we've even added a new component called Executive Insights. Executive Insights is a 2-day track (in the middle of the IT/Dev Connections week) designed specifically for executives to understand the technologies you are learning about. Our intent with this is to help build a strong relationship bridge between IT and decision makers to help ensure a frictionless environment. The integration of the two events is a first. So, if you like your boss, bring him/her along to enjoy Vegas and learn something to boot. If you don't like your boss, bring them anyway. We'll teach them how to be kinder technology citizens.

We hope you'll join us.

Register: IT/Dev Connections 2015 – September 14-17, 2015

Register: Executive Insights – September 15-16, 2015