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Midlands Microsoft 365 and Azure User Group – January 2020

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Last night I went to the Midlands Microsoft 365 and Azure User Group. It was co-organised by Urfaan Azhar and Lee Thatcher from Pure Technology Group, and Adrian Newton from my company.

First up was Matt Fooks speaking about “Microsoft Cloud App Security”. Matt covered a number of use cases, including shadow IT detection, log collection, checking compliance of applications and using policies to protect systems. He demoed a few of these. The flexibility of the cloud is great, but it also allows you to create a security nightmare as your cloud estate grows. MCAS gives you visibility and control over that. I guess the value of this will depend how far down the cloud journey you are. If you’ve got a bit of IaaS that’s being managed centrally, this isn’t going to sounds too interesting. Once you open the gates and let other people/teams get involved in provisioning services, you are going to need something like this to keep some level of control over the sprawl.

I heard one of the attendees mention Snowflake, so I collared him during the break to discuss it. I’m not so interested in the headline stuff. I care more about the boring day-to-day stuff, as people tend not to talk about it. It was a really interesting. Networking is great.

Next up was Richard Harrison with “The Journey from being a DBA Guy for 20 years to becoming an Azure Guy”. Richard was a fellow Oracle ACE before he moved in a new direction, so it was good to see him again. We spent some time chatting before his session, and I kept him for ages after the session chatting about a bunch of cloud related stuff. As the name of the session suggests, this was about his transition. What made him decide to make the move. His first opening into the world of the cloud. Some of the steps along the way and the amount of work involved. Richard is a smart guy, so when he says it’s hard work to keep on top of things due to the rate of change in the cloud, that should be a warning sign for people who are focused on the status quo.

There were some pieces that related nicely to the first session. For example, he discussed the control/governance aspect. To paraphrase, some services like security, budget management and databases are kept under central control, because of the critical nature of them, but people are given pretty much a free reign with platforms within their resource group. Why? Because there are loads of services with loads of features and trying to manage them centrally is practically impossible. I think of this as a move to a high-trust culture. Of course, you have tools to monitor what’s going on to stop people doing crazy stuff, but ultimately you have to start releasing control (where it’s appropriate) or people will look elsewhere. </p />
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