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12 New Year's Resolutions for Windows IT Pros in 2012

The year 2012 should be a banner year for Microsoft. With what seems like every product going through a major revision, this year means more changes for the Information Technology industry than any year in recent memory.

But it's not just the version updates that are changing the IT landscape. Also in turmoil is the entire focus of our industry. Like at no point in its past, Information IT as a business practice is at the cusp of redefining itself. Automation technologies are coming to the forefront. The GUI is moving into the background. The activities we prioritize are themselves rearranging to put our customers actually -- and honestly -- first.

These are all good things.

With the turn of the New Year, and all these changes afoot, I offer 12 resolutions for Windows IT pros. See if any of these are on your personal task list:

  1. Learn Windows PowerShell. And I Mean Really Learn It. I said it with the release of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. But with Windows 8 soon upon us, this time I really, really mean it. If the sum total of your contribution to your employer today is clicking the Next button, then start getting ready for a new line of work. Get on the Windows PowerShell train now before the Windows OS leaves you behind.
  2. In Fact, Stop Clicking Next. Make the resolution now to begin automating everything you do. If you find yourself clicking buttons, checking boxes or doing anything more than once in a row, then resolve to automate that process instead of doing it again. Hate the command line? Teach yourself to touch type.
  3. Embrace Windows 8 Early. This new OS is so much more than its beautiful graphical facelift. If it's Windows XP you're still running, this new OS is your lifeline to a more secure operating environment. Get in early.
  4. Say "Enough" to Legacy Applications. Too many organizations get dragged down by their legacy applications. It's high time IT made the stand that those legacy beasts must go away. Whether they support minor fiefdoms or they're a major business player, there's far greater risk in coyly watching them age than keeping them around. Humbug.
  5. Stop Saying VDI When You Mean RDS. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) as "the answer" is so 2009. VDI as "an answer" is absolutely 2012. Lose the blinders. When an application makes sense for hosting atop VDI, absolutely do so, but only after exploring its feasibility atop the vast array of lighter alternatives.
  6. Prioritize Application Delivery. Long past are the days when managing Active Directory was one of our biggest tasks. The year 2012 must become The Year of Application Delivery, where we finally right-size our application delivery approach to the needs of our users.
  7. Resolve to Reject the Security Boogeyman. Our industry has for far too long leaned on the specter of security as a boogeyman for not doing things. In today's world of iPads and always-on VPNs, security is already baked into plenty we do. And our users are more knowledgeable than ever before. They know when we're blowing smoke.
  8. Make Computing Personal Again. In cahoots with the security "no" is its younger brother "lockdown." Locking down the desktop is a remnant of a security model long past its relevance. Every lockdown you implement just drives users to another Internet service they use as a sidestep. Embrace your users' needs for personality and free them from draconian ridiculousness.
  9. Stop Debating the Cloud and Get on One. Let me clue you in on the cloud's elephant in the room: Yes, you're going to lose your job. Now, you might not necessarily lose your employment status, but the job you do today will be far different in the years to come.
  10. and 11, and 12! Think Like the CEO, Think Like the CEO and Think Like the CEO. For every IT professional who does this and succeeds at delivering perfectly tuned IT services, 10 others won't and will complain when the industry passes them by. The days of IT professionals locked in dimly lit rooms behind closed doors are gone. It's high time we started thinking like everyone else in our line of business.

About the Author

Greg Shields is a senior partner and principal technologist with Concentrated Technology. He also serves as a contributing editor and columnist for TechNet Magazine and Redmond magazine, and is a highly sought-after and top-ranked speaker for live and recorded events. Greg can be found at numerous IT conferences such as TechEd, MMS and VMworld, among others, and has served as conference chair for 1105 Media’s TechMentor Conference since 2005. Greg has been a multiple recipient of both the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and VMware vExpert award.

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