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Consumer Camp: Your chance to ask the REAL experts!

The MVPs are coming! Yes, on May 29th there will be a plethora of Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) congregating at the Microsoft Store in Square One, Mississauga.  Some of us will be there to answer your questions, some will be giving presentations on topics of interest. The rest of us will be there to heckle the other MVPs, so if you don’t have any questions it will still be entertaining Smile

MVP_Horizontal_FullColorThe event is called the MVP Consumer Camp, and it’s a really big deal.  Why? Because most of us will speak to IT Pro audiences most of the time, and do not come out of our castles to speak to consumers and consumer issues.  There will be MVPs from across Canada, and they want to meet you.  In fact, they want to meet you so badly that Simran Chaudhry and Joel Langford, MVP Leads for Microsoft Canada, will be buying everyone who signs up and attends a steak and lobster dinner after the event**

So click on this link and register today…  we would love to see you out there, and bring your questions… whether they be on Windows, Office, Xbox, or just about any other Microsoft technology, the experts will be in the house!

When: Thursday, May 29th, 4:00pm – 9:00pm
Where: Microsoft Store, Square One Mall, Mississauga
Registration Link: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032587467&Culture=en-CA&community=0

**Our lawyers want to be clear that nobody will actually be buying you anything, and that you should be buying us drinks.

Thanks for your support!

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Over the past few days I have received an incredible number of you asking what happened, if I am okay, and if I will be alright.  I can assure you I am.  Let me explain.

A great many of you have known me as a Microsoft contractor.  I have been for quite some time, first as a Virtual Partner Technology Advisor, then as a Virtual Technical Evangelist, and most recently as a member of the Server and Tools Business.  So when e-mails to my @microsoft.com account started to bounce (Tuesday this week) a lot of people expressed their concern.  I am quite touched by the outpouring of support!

I have always contracted to Microsoft through its Canadian subsidiary, Microsoft Canada.  In September of this year I accepted a contract with Rakuten, Inc – a Japanese company – that would see me spending most of my time in Tokyo.  Although we tried, there was no good way for Microsoft Canada to keep me on.  It was not done maliciously – in fact, my skip-level (my manager’s manager) did everything he could to a) keep me on, b) communicate the issues with me, and then c) accommodate my request for a timeline extension.

So let me answer some of the ‘Best Of’ questions… the ones that seem to be coing up most often.

1. Did your decision to leave Microsoft have to do with being turned down for a particular position?

No. Although over the past year I have indeed been turned down for a position, it has worked out very well for me in almost every way imaginable.  While taking that role would have been good for me, I have been able to grow in the direction I have wanted to grow.  Because of my independence I have been able to accept the consulting project I am currently working on, which is one of the mot exciting projects I have worked on in years.

2. Did you leave Microsoft because of a disagreement?

No… and yes.  I suppose in the end we disagreed on geography – my consulting role needed me to be in Japan, and Microsoft Canada would have needed me to be in Canada.  Other than that there was no disagreement whatsoever.

3. Did you leave because you did not like the direction in which the company was heading?

Not at all.  In the army I topped out at Staff Sergeant, and as such I learned quickly that some things were above my pay grade.  At Microsoft that was the case as well – I know that a lot of things are out of my control, but I also knew that whatever direction the company would take, my position (should I have elected to keep it) was safe.  Whatever decisions the company made, as a VMware Compete expert I was reasonably safe 🙂

4. Do you feel any disdain toward Microsoft, Microsoft Canada, or anyone you worked for or with?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I loved working there, and while I may have had the occasional issue with someone they were always resolved.

5. Did you leave Microsoft to work with competing technologies?

NO.  Although over the past couple of weeks I have made a habit to wear my non-Microsoft branded shirts more than usual, I have not ‘gone over’ to any other competing technology.  With that being said, I am carrying an iPhone now not because I left Microsoft… because Windows Phone 8 is not available in Japan, and this is what the company I am working for gave me.

6. Will you be going back to Microsoft?

That is a very good question. What I once thought of as my dream job no longer holds the same appeal to me.  With that being said, there are a lot of jobs at Microsoft, and should the right opportunity present itself I would be glad to go back, either for the right contract or for the right full time position.  However one thing is for certain: I no longer view Microsoft as the Holy Grail of companies.  I think they are a great company to work for, but there are a lot of other great companies out there.

7. What will you miss most about it?

I had to give this question a little thought.  My first knee-jerk reaction was the people, but then I realized that the people I got to know are still there, and are still available to me.  I am still a Microsoft MVP, a Microsoft Certified Trainer, and an influencer.  My friends are still my friends.  When it comes down to it, I suppose what I will miss most is having Lync… having the ability to call my family from Japan was a great tool!

8. Any regrets?

None at all… for the remainder of my time in Japan I will continue to work closely with Microsoft, but not with the Canadian team.  It is a really exciting project, and I would not trade it for anything.

I want to thank you all again for your concern and support, and hope to be able to continue working with you in the future!

Thank you for your support!

What a year it’s been.

That’s right, it’s been a year since I joined the DPE Team at Microsoft Canada as a Virtual Technical Evangelist.  I blogged about it here and I was as excited as could be.  I can assure you that the excitement has not waned for one minute during my tenure here.

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of doing countless presentations and IT Camps across the country.  I have met with hundreds if not thousands of IT Pros from sea to shining sea, and have gotten to know a few of you.  It is has been commonplace to get emails from community members asking me when I will be back in their city, from Victoria to Halifax and all points in between.  Over the past couple of months the pace of those request has increased as I traditionally do not do a lot of events during the summer months.  My response has always been ‘Stay tuned!’

I have known probably since the beginning of the summer that today was coming, and now that it is here I am sad to announce that effective Friday the 6th of September I am no longer with the DPE Team.  I am, for the time being, with the Canadian Server Marketing group.  I say for the time being for a reason… stay tuned to this space for some really exciting news!

So what does my departure from DPE mean to you?  Not much, because I am leaving a team of very capable evangelists.  Ryan Storgaard has a vision for evangelism that is really forward-thinking, and Pierre Roman and Anthony Bartolo are both incredible evangelists, and will still be bringing you IT Camps and everything else I did.  I know both of them have been hard at work getting ready for the upcoming camps based on Windows Server, System Center, and Windows client.  Feel free to reach out to them just like you did with me.

Of course, I am not abandoning the Canadian IT Pro community… I am just going to be doing different things.  So feel free to reach out to me if you like as well!  I can always be reached via my blog, or on Twitter @MGarvis.

To those of you that I have connected with over the past years, I want to thank you all.  Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Windsor, Sarnia, London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Halton, Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Moncton, and Sydney.  Eight provinces, twenty cities, two languages, three islands, two oceans, and dozens of MVPs.  Every user group across the country, a bunch of schools, and more than my fair share of pubs.  I stopped counting events a long time ago, but a lot.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!


MCT Regional Lead

Today a new program was announced by Microsoft Learning.  The MCT Regional Leads will be a liaison between the Microsoft Certified Trainers in their region and MSL.  a call for applications went out in August, and the Leads were announced today.  Melissa Bathum and Veronica Sopher asked me to record a short video for the conference call.  Unfortunately that video was corrupted in transit, so they asked me to post the text of that video.  I am not editing the original text, what you are reading is the original text as I intended to deliver it to the call today.

Hi. My name is Mitch Garvis, and I am the MCT Regional Lead for Eastern Canada. I am a trainer and IT Pro consultant with SWMI Consulting Group, as well as a Virtual Technical Evangelist with Microsoft Canada.

When I first heard about the role of Regional Lead I tried to imagine what the needs and requests of a typical MCT in Canada would be. After a great deal of trying I came to the conclusion that you cannot generalize; an MCT in Halifax could not have the same type of career as one in Calgary, Montreal, or Toronto, or in any of the other cities across this great land.

In the same way that the career of MCTs could vary greatly across geography, so too were they likely to differ across technical areas of specialization and many other factors. I decided that if any one MCT truly wanted to represent the entirety of the MCT community across the country he would best be served by creating a national council consisting of trainers from different regions, from different technical specialties. It is the only way that I felt that any one person could truly represent the needs of an entire nation and do so equitably.

As the Regional Lead for Canada it is my intent to create such a council; I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to visit different regions across the country, and will try to meet with as many of my fellow MCTs as I can, and will choose one or two from different regions. This is not to say that any MCT cannot reach out to me, for if it is my goal to represent their voice to Microsoft Learning, I must be willing to listen to everyone. I hope that my fellow trainers will be comfortable enough to reach out to me and discuss any issues that they feel are important to them.

Just as Alberta is different from Ontario, Canada will be different from Ireland; the model that I plan to follow for Canada will not necessarily be right for other lands, and I expect that each Regional Lead will have to give a lot of thought to how their region can best be served. What we will all have in common though is a desire to represent our communities fairly and proudly.

I am honoured to have been selected from the many qualified candidates, and will do my best to deserve this honour by listening to my fellow trainers from across this great land, and representing their opinions and positions truly to Microsoft Learning throughout the year. I am excited for this opportunity and challenge, and know that in order to succeed I must know and listen to my peers, for this position is not for myself but for them, and thus my duty is ultimately to them.

On behalf of the Canadian MCT community I want to wish my fellow inaugural class of MCT Regional Leads the best of luck and success. As Microsoft Learning celebrates its 20th year we have heard loud and clear from our fellows that there are many things that they are doing right, and there are likewise things that can be improved upon. I hope that our communal goal is to achieve that – to improve the system for us all – for the trainers, for Microsoft, and for our students.

I look forward to working with you all to make that a reality.

The Shoemaker is No Longer Barefoot!

This post was originally written for the Canadian IT Pro Connection blog, and can be seen there at http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/archive/2012/09/13/the-shoemaker-is-no-longer-barefoot.aspx.

For years I have been espousing the need to and value of locking down client workstations in a corporate environment.  Part of the SWMI Story – the secure, well-managed IT infrastructure for which I named my company – is that every user in the organization should have the rights and permissions to do their job… and nothing more.

Most corporate users are issued a computer that they use in the office (and at home or on the road) that are domain-joined, and because of all of the security threats out there the SWMI Story is very clear that they should be locked down.  If they want a computer to surf websites that are not business-related, play games, watch movies or anything else then they should invest in a home computer (or laptop).  I know that it is not fun to travel with multiple laptops (better than most!) but the bottom line is that unsecure client workstations are a stepping stone on the path to compromised server infrastructures… and that is bad news for everyone but the hackers.

One of the reasons that client machines have to be locked down is because most people do not think about IT security during the course of regular computer use.  Because I am always thinking about security, coupled with the fact that if something goes wrong I am pretty good at fixing it, I have been quite lax with my own laptops over the years.  After all, I own them and the servers; I built and maintain the infrastructure, and of course I am in charge of IT security.  So for the last few years, as I have been advocating otherwise, I have been logging on as the Domain Administrator on every laptop I have carried.

Last week I joined Microsoft Canada’s DPE Team as a Virtual Technical Evangelist.  Although it wasn’t actually a requirement, there were real advantages to reimaging my primary laptop (an HP EliteBook 2740p) with the Microsoft corporate image.  I was all happy once it was done… until I went to perform a simple operation and got a UAC window asking me for administrative credentials.  I entered my corporate credentials… and had a sinking feeling in my stomach when it came back with a DENIED message.

Fortunately the internal image allows you to install Windows with a local Administrator account; I was able to add my corporate account to the Local Administrators group so I don’t have to keep going into that account to make changes.

For the first time in many years I am not an exception to the rule… and rather than trying to find a way around it, I accept that while I need to be a local administrator, there is no way that anyone is going to make me a domain admin.  However this means that I am exactly in line with the statement I made in the opening paragraph… I have the permissions to do my job, and nothing else.  In order to do my job I need to be a local administrator… and nothing more!

Virtual Technical Evangelist

As I told you on Monday, I have a new role at Microsoft Canada.  As a Virtual Technical Evangelist (Windows Infrastructure) I will be working very closely with the DPE (Developer Platform Evangelism) team on events such as the Windows Server 2012 Launch Tour that we kicked off yesterday in Toronto.

I was introduced to the Evangelism team back before we founded the Montreal IT Professionals Community (MITPro).  They have influenced so many IT professionals over the years, and it is an honour to now be part of that team.

I cannot imagine that there are too many people whose career paths have been changed so acutely as mine because of DPE, and that is why I am so glad to be on board.  While I am sure I would have done well, I cannot imagine that I would be where I am today were it not for their influence.  That is just one of the reasons why I am so thrilled to be here… the chance to give to others what I have gotten from them.

Over the past few months several people have asked me how I have gotten to where I am; over the next few weeks I will be writing some articles about that for those of you who would be interested in helping the DPE team out.  The first step is volunteering at events, but I’ll go into more detail.

In the meantime as we prepare to take the Launch tour on the road, I am looking forward to coming out to see so many of you across Canada.  We are thrilled that the Launch events across the country are all sold out, and we are looking into what we can do to expand… which means you will probably see up again before the end of the year.  We are planning a bunch of Windows Server 2012 IT Camps across the country – we are currently preparing to go to thirteen cities across the country, and you can see which ones on Ruth’s post here.  If your city is not on the list but you would like for us to come out, the first step is to reach out to us… in order to do a Camp we need someone in that city to ‘take point’ for us.  If you are willing, then we just might be able to come to your city too!

…Come to think of it, that may just be the first step to becoming an influencer as well Winking smile

The Dawn of a New Day

As I sit in my office getting ready to close up, it is a little after 10pm, September 3rd, 2012.  That makes tomorrow a very important day in the world of IT.

Microsoft has announced that on September 4th, 2012 they will make Windows Server 2012, the newest generation of one of the most successful back-end software franchises in the world, available for purchase – in other words, GA (General Availability).  For those of us on the front line evangelizing the product, it is a very exciting time.

For myself it is doubly exciting, because as of September 4th, 2012 I am officially joining the Evangelism team at Microsoft Canada – albeit in a less direct way.  My new title is Virtual Technical Evangelist – Windows Infrastructure.  I have known about this for some time but have kept it quiet for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is superstition.

For the last year I have begun to work much closer with the Evangelism team, with presentations, tours, and blog articles on Server Virtualization, Windows, and many other topics.  I have surprised many people in the last few months when I told them that I do not actually work for Microsoft Canada, but with them.  My new title simply means that I will be doing more of the same – teaching people and groups about Windows (Server and Client), helping them dispel some of the myths, showing them how to use the technologies better.

It is a very exciting time to be a Technical Evangelist.

Because of the switch I want to put a few things straight.  Very little is actually going to change.  I will still be running SWMI Consulting Group, and will still be available for private engagements.  I will continue teaching both Microsoft and some non-Microsoft technologies in classroom settings.  I have spoken with Stephen Rose and Simran Chaudhry, and have assured them that I will still be a Microsoft MVP, and will continue to be an active member of the STEP (Springboard Technical Experts Panel) team, presenting on Windows 8 across the country and, when invited, around the world.  None of that is changing.

Something else that is not changing is probably what makes me the ideal candidate for this new (I am the first!) position: my passions.  If you have heard me speak or read my articles you know a lot of what I am passionate about, and none of that is changing.  I am still a passionate advocate of Hyper-V and the Microsoft Virtualization story, including the Private Cloud managed by System Center 2012.  I am still a passionate advocate of migrating clients and users off Windows XP, and will continue the countdown right through April 14, 2014 (by the time you read this the countdown will be to 580 days until #EndOfDaysXP!).  You can read it on my blog from time to time, or if you want a running countdown you can follow me on Twitter at @MGarvis.  These passions and focuses are not being redirected because of the position I am taking, rather I was selected for the position because my passions and focuses are exactly where a Technical Evangelist (Virtual or otherwise) for Microsoft should be.  I have not focused because I have been paid to.

Another passion of mine that will align me to the role is my passion and belief in the IT Pro (and other) technical communities around the country.  I will continue to support those communities – whether they are on-line or in person, user groups or otherwise – in the same manner and with the same passionate zeal that I have in the past, dating back nearly nine years.  I hope that going forward I will be able to do so from a more official position than I have, but even if that does not happen my support for user groups and their leaders (and aspiring leaders) will not change.

Over the next few weeks we will be crossing the nation with the launch of Windows Server 2012, and following that we will likely do the same with Windows 8.  Interspersed with both we will be bringing IT Boot Camps and user group events to you in your city, so stay tuned;  it may be an exciting time to be a Virtual Technical Evangelist, but it is a really exciting time to be an IT Pro and community member in the Microsoft ecosystem in Canada.  We look forward to helping you along the journey! 

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