Steve Miles is the author of Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification and Beyond. We got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?
Steve: Cloud Computing, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Cloud Security, Cloud Networking
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Steve: Through my career I have achieved almost 30 Microsoft certs and 15 of those in Azure, as well as other public cloud provider and vendor certs, and was looking of a way to share my knowledge from my own journey and contribute back to a wider audience, helping people on their own Certification and Learning Journey, and hopefully inspire others to want to learn more about Azure and Cloud; so when I was approached by Packt through my LinkedIn profile it wasm as many maybe, a case of perfect timing.
My back-story is that I have been working for Global Telco/Hosters, Managed Hosting, Datacenter, Colocation and Networking Services providers, with Microsoft based hosted services for the last 20+ years, after spending 9 years serving with the British Army in satelite and digital communications. Initially I was working on the design, implementation, delivery and support of private data center hosted services, and for the last 10 or so with Microsoft Public Cloud Computing based services; as far back as when Office 365 was known as ‘BPOS Business Productivity Online Suite’ and when ‘Red Dog’ became Azure.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Steve: There was no additional research I needed to carry out apart from call on my real-world day to day experience of working with Azure and Cloud Computing for the last 10 years; so you could say I have spent 10 years + researching (calling on a previous 10 years of on-prem hosted data center services experience), and now was the time to take it out of my brain and put it on paper as it were.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Steve: The biggest challenge, is probably the same many first time authors face and that is of ‘too much to say’, and not enough space in the book page count that needed to keep within. And then the realization that writing too much is simple, but needing to get across the same information in less pages is far harder than would have imagined; but thanks to the great support and guidance form the Packt team, I overcome this.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Steve: The technologies covered by Cloud Computing as outlined in the book are that of a continual evolution of how IT delivers business outcomes and value to a business. Cloud Computing at its heart delivers the abiluty to provide choice for where and how technology is used is to best meet a desired outcome; it is a core enabler for Digital Transformation, and adopting a Digital Operating Model.
Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Steve: There are many Azure Fundamentals exam cert guides published, but many now map to older skills outlines; this books content maps to the latest exam skills outlines. This books USP that differentiates it from the competition is its goal to also take your knowledge beyond the exam content, so you are prepared for a real-world, day-to-day Azure-focused role; this is demonstrated by the real-world hands-on exercies that support each chapters theory content to ensure skills are not only ‘read’ but can also be re-enforced and applied by ‘doing’.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
Steve: That Cloud Computing and Azure whilst on the service may appear complex and a lot to comprehend, through the use of some simple language, gradually building on examples and strong visual representation of concepts; with the use of analoogies the challenges of learning these skills can be broken down and understood more clearly.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Steve: Re-enforce any reading by getting involved wherever possible with ‘doing’ through the use of exercises, labs, and as much hands-on activities as possible; nothing beats real-world on the job learning; its ok to fail some times in trying to grasp a new concept, as they say “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Steve: “The Future is… Cloudy” – stevemiles70.wordpress.com
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Steve: This is my first book written and would definitely recommend Pack for the support, assistance and guidance along the way.
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Steve: Too many to list, but mainly Microsoft and cloud computing groups
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Steve: Most is now digital engagement through LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as following the likes of John Savill and Dean Cefola (from Azure Academy) through their Azure Focus You Tube Channel subscriptions; links included in a previous question.
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Steve: I worked on this book soley in my own personal time outside of my day Job as an Azure Practice Partner Technical Lead in the Value-Add Microsoft Cloud Distributor space; this took some organizing and scheduling with work/personal/book writing space being a real challenge some times. Typically I had scheduled min 4 hours a night after work (often through when got ‘in the zone’ may have been much more), and min 8 hour days at a weekend.
Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Steve: The best thing I read, and I found it to be so true was…. get it written first, then spend time to get it right. And that editing is the toughest job, when you have written content for 70 or more pages but the page count is say 30; but without sacrificing the message and skills that are vital to get across and the one skill is being concise, using the writing language and visualization that allows a complex concept that you have written in 500 words to be conveyed with the same impact but in 50 words.