Christopher Gill is the author of Configuring Windows Server Hybrid Advanced Services Exam Ref AZ-801, we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Christopher: I had always wanted to become a published author but never thought that I would be able to set aside the time to create a book with kids and life in general. I was able to set up a cadence with the Packt project team to ensure that we could deliver chapters on a regular basis even with all of the other life responsibilities, and were able to create a quality product in just a little over 9 months!
Q: What is the name of your book?
Christopher: Configuring Windows Server Hybrid Advanced Services Exam Ref AZ-801: Configure advanced Windows Server services for on-premises, hybrid, and cloud environments.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Christopher: Honestly, the research was on-going throughout the writing of this book. As the cloud features frequently change, so too did I need to ensure that both features and screenshots with documentation were on-par with what was currently available both on-premises and in the Microsoft cloud.
Q: Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Christopher: Yes, https://cfgcloud.io .
Q: What key takeaways do you want readers to come away with from the book?
Christopher: The key takeaways from this book should be a greater overall understanding of how on-premises, hybrid, and cloud technologies can be implemented harmoniously to achieve the results needed for any business or organization.
There are many ways to create and craft a solution – one just needs to identify the requirements up front to help guide the decision making process. In addition, the overall experiences from this book should help the reader be well equipped to take and pass the AZ-801 exam.
Q: Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
Christopher: Here you go: 1. https://cfgcloud.io
Q. Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Christopher: A lot of the challenges for me surrounded finding appropriate focused time to get the chapters done and ready for review. With my ADHD, I have moments where it’s really hard to focus and other moments where there is hyper focus. I found that super early mornings and really late nights gave me the edge and focus needed to complete the book. I was able to combine coffee and Lo-fi music to set my mind into a groove for writing, and feel that this was a great quality effort for the first edition of this guide!
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Christopher: The journey was an awesome experience for a first time writer. I had a great team of folks that handed off projects to others very well, kept our project on time with appropriate estimates for completion and delivery, and I loved the technical reviewers that were curated for the book. Would highly recommend other aspiring authors to consider working with Packt only if they are able to dedicate the time and efforts needed to complete this task. I would also recommend that first time authors consider working with another author to have an accountability partner as a co-author to get you through the tough times (as there are always tough times due to life events).
Q. Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Christopher: This book is unique in the fact that it crosses both deep details on topics, features and functionality while instructing users to really get their hands on the technology through lab exercises and walkthroughs.
I find that this is a very effective approach to these level of exams as it’s not just memorization, but true hands-on experience that makes the difference when sitting the AZ-801 Microsoft certification exam (or any Admin/Architect level exams, for that matter). This also can be used for day-to-day administrative efforts whether or not the reader is considering taking the exam.
Q. What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?
Christopher: My special tech areas would be Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Microsoft Azure.
Q. What advice would you give to readers jumping into this technology? Do you have any top tips?
Christopher: Crawl, walk, then run. A lot of this technology can be overwhelming at first, but taking things one step at a time helps to really understand each and every component, the role of the component, and the underlying features that make up these technologies.
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Christopher: Yes. Here they are: Microsoft Azure MVP, Come Cloud With Us, Pathfinders Power Platform Community, Dynamics User Group, VMware User Group, ROC Azure Users Group
Q. What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Christopher: The technologies throughout this book will continue to be a mainstream for many years to come. While many organizations may still utilize on-premises infrastructure to make workloads available, others will try to hybridize workloads into effective, performant, and cost efficient platforms that give the utmost security and feature-rich configurations without expensive time and overhead costs.
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Christopher: Typically, I would set aside nights and weekends to complete the work. I would first set up the labs for the chapters taking any necessary screenshots for the setup tasks. I would then back fill the exercises with text and supporting deep technical learning to complete the chapters. All labs, content, and screenshots were placed into a OneDrive folder structure broken down by chapter numbers as this would help to organize any revision work I needed to do on already completed chapters due to technical reviewer or editorial feedback.
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Christopher: For me, most of the content I consume is from YouTube videos that are 5-10 minutes long as they are easily consumed. I do read blogs and tech notifications on Twitter and LinkedIn, and when trying to learn something new, I typically turn to Microsoft Learn to navigate new learning paths and curated courses/content.
Q. Would you like to share your social handles? If so, mention them below.
Christopher: Of course. @cgill (Twitter);
Q: What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Christopher: I found it very important to try and do at least 30-60 minutes each day to keep the progress flowing. This sets a pace and keeps a rhythm to the content being written into the chapters and keeps you focused on completing the tasks on time and on target.
You can find Christopher’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here