At this time of year it’s traditional for everyone to start planning for next year but what are the most important things for an IT Professional to do in the coming year?  Next year is going to be the year when we start to see widespread cloud (both public and private) adoption now that some of the big players have proven the path.  It’s going to be a year where things need to be completed and where you get things ready to take on the next set of challenges.  You need to have your client and cloud in alignment and ready to work seamlessly together.  So here’s my top list of 10 new years resolutions for the IT Pro.

1. Complete (or start if you haven't) your Windows 7 upgrades

Lots and lots of people have already started on the path of upgrading their clients to Windows 7.  Tools like the WAIK, MDT and System Center make it easier than ever to migrate and technologies like XP Mode, App-V and Med-V and help from toolkits like ACT 5.5 take much of the pain out of ensuring application compatibility.  2011 though is the year you need to be running Windows 7 so that your users can have the best experience that you as an IT Pro can give them, better support, easier use and frankly it’s not fair to make them use an OS that had training materials distributed on VHS

2. Eradicate IE 6 from your company, replacing it with IE8

Internet Explorer 6 is the the scourge of web developers everywhere.  They need to develop separate fixes to make things run in IE6 that need to in other browsers, costing more in development, testing and management time.  Moving up to IE8 (which you can do on XP or along with your Windows 7 upgrade) is the way to go.  “Ahh but IE9 is on it’s way with all it’s beauty” you say.  This is true, 2011 will see IE9 land and yes, it’s true you’ll want to deploy that too, but the move to IE9 will be much easier from IE8 and besides IE8 is more manageable and more secure than any other browser(thanks to InPrivate Browsing and Filtering and being part of your regular patch infrastructure) .

A modern browser means you are protecting your customers, your company and your own reputation.

3. Start understanding and using cloud services like BPOS, Office 365, Windows Intune

2010 has definitely been a year of excitement about the cloud, it’s literally everywhere – even on a CNN panel debate a couple of days ago where they just used the term “cloud” because it was cool.  2011 will be the year that businesses start to derive value from cloud solutions, the fastest of which will be email and BPOS and Office 365 are poised to do that with true enterprise class email.  More over though the ability to manage your environment will start the move to the cloud with Windows Intune being a very good starting point. 

4. Learn new skills; upgrade your certifications

For lots of people “get a new job” will be top of their new years resolutions list.  Make it easier on yourself by upgrading your certifications.  It’s something I’m currently doing having just sat all the IT Pro entry level MTA exams.  Certifications might not mean that much to you in your current role but when you go looking having certifications on your CV gets you through that level of Recruitment consultants that are just looking for you to tick some boxes.  The most important thing though is the knowledge that you gain from doing the courses and that’s what helps you perform better in your current job.

5. Do your number one alpha geek project

It can’t all be about work.  Get your Media Center working at home.  Learn how to take great photo’s or make excellent videos with the camera you got for Christmas or in the sales.  Get yourself a Home Server to keep all your family memories safe or create your quadro-copter / UAV. 

6. Use free virtualisation solutions

Microsoft give you virtualisation for free in Windows Server 2008 R2.  Turn on the Hyper-V role and as long as you don’t install anything else on your Hyper-V server you can use your Windows 2008 R2 license again on that box.  That means you can get great density from that single bit of hardware and because it’s Windows – not some Lunix distro with hard to find drivers that needs specific hardware – you can use Hyper-V on almost any server made in the last few years.  And yes Hyper-V does the cool stuff like live migration too.

7. Build applications for the cloud

 Azure is a true cloud platform that uses almost any language that you want to build your application in so that you can architect a solution that really makes the best use of the clouds elasticity to grow and shrink and your applications and data needs.  Tim Anderson even thinks it’s ready to rock.  For a great example of an application built on Azure take a look at

8. Get Silverlight onto every corporate desktop

Silverlight is  bit of an unsung hero but it should be a part of your standard Windows 7 deployment.  It’s used by Office 2010 to make synchronising to the cloud (public and private) slicker and to train your users with free interactive training built into Office 2010.  SharePoint 2010 uses it to look even slicker and you can share corporate insights with simplicity with SharePoint and PowerPivot.  Not only that but your Developers can create super slick applications and reuse code simply thus reducing development time and costs.

9. Make sure you have good anti-malware protection

2010 saw us make Microsoft Security Essentials free for businesses of 10 computers or less and it has always been free for home use.  Install it on any machines without AV and make sure you keep it updated.

10. Get fit and loose weight

Come on you know you need to do this one too….

 

Whistler_2010_orginal_square_400x400 Simon May is an Evangelist for Microsoft specialising in Client and Cloud.  Simon’s blog covers Windows deployment and Microsoft Public Cloud, when he’s not writing for TechNet or explaining technology he’s normally playing with Media Center PCs, taking photos or renovating houses.