Active Directory warrants a melding of technical and business skills.

Business Sense

Active Directory warrants a melding of technical and business skills.

What’s the single biggest career opportunity I think Windows 2000 offers MCSEs? In two words, it’s Active Directory.

I’ve been thinking about Microsoft’s much-touted directory services offering after recently perusing a new book on AD by one of MCP Magazine’s columnists and contributing editors, Harry Brelsford (Active Directory Planning and Design, from IDG Books). What’s different from other books I’ve seen on Win2K is the emphasis on the link between technical and business skills that Win2K calls for—between MCSEs and MBAs, so to speak.

Perhaps adoption of Win2K, especially on the server side, isn’t proceeding at the pace that Microsoft might have hoped when it (precipitously, I still maintain) announced plans this year to kill off the NT 4.0 MCSE title at the end of 2001. But, remember—this is a product that’s been available for just eight months, and it’s a huge and complex operating system. As you know, server upgrade decisions aren’t made lightly nor done quickly. The wave is coming; it just isn’t here yet. For example, readers of MCP Magazine told us in a mid-year survey that 58 percent of you will be involved in an NT 4.0-to-Win2K operating systems migration in the next 12 months.

While the pace may be slow so far, the potential is huge. I’ve said before that I think there are lots of career opportunities in the sheer complexity of the product. But what’s intriguing about Win2K—and here’s where Harry’s book comes in—is the melding of technical and business talents that it warrants, particularly with Active Directory.

Many MCSEs out there have focused on technology to the exclusion of how business works. Here’s a chance for you to distinguish yourself by doing whatever you can to learn about the business side of your companies and clients. That’s because the very nature of what AD promises—a company-wide directory of all resources—will force MCSEs and MBAs to sit down at the table together.

In a Win2K migration, your initiation into the world of business might begin with the initial systems analysis. It continues through the design of AD, return-on-investment analyses, discussions of business goals, and on into project scheduling and implementation. If you have an understanding of both the technical and business sides, you’ll be a rarity—and you can really shine.

Believe me, that offshore Win2K wave is forming on the horizon. While you’re waiting for it to reach you, use the time to prepare by building up both your technical and business skills. Use classes, books like Harry’s, magazines, seminars and conferences, hands-on practice in labs, and getting your certification renewal behind you—all the resources you can find time and money for to get ready.

Your reward will come when you’re among the first to skillfully surf Win2K.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.

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