Technical readiness: Warming up for the first client engagement

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Let's face it. Technology is changing at a rate faster than we can handle. As IT professionals, we must maintain a certain level of technical proficiency in order to keep up. This is something that has been ingrained into my head since my first day at Microsoft just over a month ago.

Now that the on-boarding and initial training has come and gone, it's time to buckle down, and focus on my core technical strengths. This is when the real fun begins because not only will I be forced to tap into my own skills, but I'll also have the opportunity to leverage insight from other experienced professionals.

I'm excited to dive deeper into the most important aspect of working for a tech company -- the technology it develops. While I'd like to be able to jump right in and work on engagements, I have to be practical and start somewhere. My journey into the world of consulting begins with technical readiness.

Let me begin by talking a little bit more about the area to which I've been assigned. I just started my role in Microsoft's newly established Private Cloud Center of Expertise (COE). The group consists of experienced architects, consultants, and pre-sales experts that focus solely on private cloud and datacenter technology deployments. I am one of three new hires to the team and am really excited to shadow some projects.

With an academic background in infrastructure and network engineering, this area is well-aligned with my skill set. Cloud computing is a hot topic in the IT community and one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry. It's also been one of the most tossed-around buzzwords used to talk about a diverse set of technologies. Fortunately, many companies have begun to define their versions of the cloud. My job will be to leverage Microsoft's suite of cloud-ready products -- Windows Azure, Server 2012, and System Center 2012 -- to deploy solutions for a multitude of customers.

Technical readiness involves a deep understanding of the products themselves. Since Microsoft is refreshing its entire product line, I must be technically sound in both existing products along with new and upcoming software. To do so, my team has provided me a set of roadmaps that include learning materials at incremental skill levels. The content ranges from new features developed into Windows Server 2012 to speaking with CXOs about Microsoft's private cloud. I also have access to quality assurance labs for research and testing purposes.

Over the next few weeks I'll have the opportunity to engage with the rest of the team. I'm looking forward to gaining more insight into the Private Cloud COE including some of the team's past successes and/or failures, future growth expectations, and goals for delivering the private cloud to enterprise customers. Continue to follow along with my posts as I learn more about Microsoft's goals with the cloud.

Read more of Andrew Weiss's "Launched!" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @Andrew_Weiss. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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