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Whether you’re an experienced IT professional or new to the field, we have the training and certification path that will help lead you to success. Our classes are taught by Microsoft Certified Trainers, so you can be confident that the lesson material is accurate, complete, and up to date. Great training leads to Microsoft Certification—the premier credential of IT professionals worldwide. Certification is available for a diverse spectrum of job roles and responsibilities, and validates your ability to get the job done right.
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Dan Pilling our manager here on the DPE team has thrown down the gauntlet and has said that he can’t be beaten in the Windows Server 2012 Game! I told him not to be so silly and that this was a rash comment considering how awesome you folks are in the community and how clued up you all are on Windows Server 2012 and for some reason he doubted me! It’s time for us all to prove him wrong!
At the moment Dan has 2650 Points and rising… He’s a Tier 1 on the leader board!
Now it’s your turn to show him what you can do… Show him how pitiful his 2650 points are and let’s see how high up that leader board you can get!
If you do pass Dan then let me know! I’ve said to him that he’ll have to find something nice to give to the first person to beat him and he has agreed! So it’s GAME ON!!!!
Try Windows Server 2012 now
Find out more about Windows Server 2012
We are really pleased to announce the winner of the Windows Server Design Competition! It was a really tough call to decide who should win this one! I never realised we had such talented design lead IT Pro’s.
The Winner of the Windows Server 2012 Design Competition is….
The judging panel loved the clean simple design and the use of the Windows logo and colour which fitted really well with the Windows Server 2012 branding! Josiah will receive his very own MicroServer with his design on it very soon!
Which looks like this when it’s on the Server!!!!
We would also like to give an honourable mention to the following designs.
The inner workings of Server 2012 by D Bremner
Mayan Server by James Clarkson
And a late entry by Chintan Vashi
If you didn’t win this competiton but are attending the Windows Server 2012 launch event then you are still in with a chance of winning one of 29 MicroServers with Josiah Allen-Litchmore’s design on them! Make sure you turn up if you’ve registered to be in with a chance to win.
For a limited time, Microsoft is bringing back its popular Second Shot offer that gives you a free second chance to pass your certification exams. Microsoft has reinvented the IT industry’s most respected professional certification program to validate a deeper set of skills on the newest technologies. The new MCSE and MCSD certifications validate the ability to deploy, design, and optimize technologies for critical IT roles. Now you can sign up for that certification exam with confidence in knowing that if you don’t’ pass it the first time, you get a second chance at success.
You can follow Microsoft Learning in the UK as well as the latest offers from its partners on Twitter at @MSLearningUK.
Today marks a huge moment for Microsoft as Windows Server 2012 is made generally available today. The world of backend computing infrastructure has seen a transformational shift impacting the entire IT ecosystem. This transformation has been driven by the growth of devices used for smarter, more personalized applications, which in turn create an explosion of data and the need for more computing power. It is a new world of connected devices and continuous services, and it’s all powered by servers. To lead the transformation and help customers realize the opportunities of cloud computing, we are building what we refer to as the Cloud OS, an operating system that enables those smart, modern apps across a customer’s datacenter, a service provider datacenter, or the public cloud. As the cornerstone of the Cloud OS, Windows Server 2012 is the core offering for anyone building their own cloud. Windows Azure provides this same Cloud OS platform as a service. In combination we offer the most comprehensive and flexible backend platform that meets the needs of our customers and partners in their various deployment and application workload scenarios.
Built from the cloud up, Windows Server 2012 is a monumental release that is part of our company-wide effort to reimagine Windows. Here are some highlights:
1. It’s been broadly heralded as “game changer” and a major server release from press and pundits alike
2. Together with Windows Azure, it makes the hybrid cloud a reality for our customers
3. It offers disruptive advancements in networking and storage that will dramatically reduce costs and dramatically improve uptime
In the 1990s, Microsoft saw a need for a democratized server business to make client/server computing available at scale, to customers of all sizes. Today, our goal is to do the same for cloud computing. I hope you’ll join our digital launch experience to get more details on both our vision and the details of the technology.
Also launched today is the MVP YouTube Channel where you will find content created about Windows Server 2012 by our UK MVP’s Damian Flynn, Aidan Flynn Patrick Lonwds and Thomas Lee.
Simplify Windows Server 2012 deployments with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Update 1!
MDT 2012 Update 1 is now available! This release expands your deployment capabilities with support for the latest software releases, including Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Community Technology Preview.
Download MDT 2012 Update 1.
Learn more about MDT 2012.
Assess Windows Server 2012 readiness with MAP 7.0!
Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 7.0 is now available for download! MAP 7.0 assesses the readiness of your IT infrastructure for a Windows Server 2012 deployment. This feature includes detailed and actionable recommendations indicating the machines that meet Windows Server 2012 system requirements and which may require hardware updates. A comprehensive inventory of servers, operating systems, workloads, devices, and server roles is included to help in planning efforts.
· Download MAP Toolkit 7.0.
· Learn more about the MAP Toolkit.
Convert to Hyper-V with the new Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter tool!
The Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter provides a Microsoft-supported, freely available, stand-alone solution for converting VMware-based virtual machines and virtual disks to Hyper-V-based virtual machines and virtual hard drives (VHDs)—including conversion from VMware to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012. Because MVMC has a fully scriptable command-line interface (CLI), it integrates especially well with data center automation workflows such as those authored and run within Microsoft System Center 2012 - Orchestrator. It can also be invoked through Windows PowerShell.
MVMC simplifies low-cost, point-and-click migration of Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 R2 with SP2, and Windows Server 2003 with SP2 guest operating systems from VMware to Hyper-V.
Download Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter.
Learn more about the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter.
Paul Sanders was the very first person in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region to pass his Private Cloud MCSE and we thought it would be good to track him down and find out a bit about how he prepared for the exams and the work environment that supported him in his learning and certification. Feel Free to follow Paul on Twitter or follow his blog.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Hi, I’m Paul Sanders and I’m a Technical Consultant for ANS Group, a leading technology solutions, managed services and cloud provider based in Manchester UK.
Congratulations on becoming the very first Private Cloud MCSE in the EMEA region including the UK!!!
Thank you, I’m incredibly pleased and proud to be the first in the UK and that all my hard work paid off.
Who do you work for and what do they do?
I work for the award-winning cloud expert ANS Group in their Manchester head office. Since joining the company they have given me a platform and great level of support to build my skills. It’s an exciting and fast paced environment and ANS Group has experienced 80% year-on-year growth since 2009, currently turning over £45m we are on course for continued growth. We specialise in providing managed compute, storage and network infrastructures that can either be built on-premise or as a cloud-based solution.
With over 16 years’ experience in building, installing and managing complex technologies, ANS Group are considered as experts in the data centre and the provision of managed services. Our fully managed services are in addition to our substantial enhanced services and mean that we control and manage our client’s infrastructure, providing enterprise class SLAs ensuring our client’s infrastructure is safe and secure. By selecting ANS Group our customers are accessing our wealth of experience, freeing them from the hassle of having to maintain and update their infrastructures, giving them time to focus on and grow their businesses.
As part of our significant planned growth we are building and investing massively in Microsoft as part of our cloud and we have an amazing team of consultants that work with all the leading edge technology. I’d urge any strong Microsoft guys looking to work with the best, to come and apply for a job at ANS it’s always exciting and they let talent flourish.
Ps. You can follow ANS Group on Twitter and Facebook.
How did ANS Group support you in getting your certification?
ANS Group deals with all the Bleeding edge technology and I have been given the ability to work with all the newest Microsoft products in conjunction with ANS Group’s i3.0 (FlexPod) infrastructure. Not many people get this level of exposure and support, and working in the team that I do means failure is not an option!
How does your certification benefit ANS Group as a whole and more specifically help you with your day to day work?
ANS Group is at the absolute forefront of Private and Public cloud, so being the first MCSE in Private Cloud means we continue to have the edge on design and delivery of our cloud solutions.
What does your certification mean to you?
With the IT landscape constantly changing, together with the significant growth and awareness around the ‘Cloud’ buzz, it’s vital to adapt my skillset both on a personal level and as an ANS employee, in order to meet the current and future needs of business’s IT systems. I have found the new MCSE path offers a greater outlook on hybrid systems that other certifications do not offer.
Both certifications and hands on experience go hand in hand in today’s industry. The MCSE certification guarantees both employers and customers that I am an expert in my field, with an extensive background for the key technologies required to successfully deploy and consult on the cloud.
The big question really is how did you do it? Let’s break that down into some bite sized chunks…
Where did you go to find the key information for learning the right things for the exams?
There is a considerable amount of information out there on the internet to help understand the subject and prepare for the exams. The first port of call will always be the Microsoft Learning & Certification pages. I spent a lot of time reviewing the ‘Skills Measured’ for the individual exams, focusing my efforts on the sections I hadn’t had the greatest exposure too. This made life considerably easier when writing my training plan as I knew exactly what to focus on and for how long.
I also found an online challenge called 60days2mcse which was a valuable resource. It has been set up by a number of Microsoft enthusiasts called ‘The Krewe’ who set a 60 day challenge to pass all 5 exams. The community started blogging about their experiences, giving each other a helping hand and pointing people to useful blogs and material. It’s a really great community and definitely worth joining in :)
Did you get any specific training? If so from where?
With the certification being so new, there weren’t many official courses. However, I did manage to get useful workshops from our ANS Group Microsoft Partner manager that went into great depth of System Centre and related technologies, which was a real help.
What books helped you out?
As the exam was new, training books were hard to come by. As most of the theory behind the products remain the same, I used the previous version material (SCOM 2007 R2 for example).
Did you use forums, Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites such as Quora? If yes how did you use them?
I’m amazed how people used to pass exams before the world of social media! It is all about setting up the searching for the right #tags. My twitter client is currently setup to search for #sysctr, #60Days2MCSE, #opsmgr, #scom, #sccm etc. These give you quick access to the latest information as soon as it is released. You find key members of the community will blog about the latest technology the moment it happens.
During my preparation, I also spent a lot of time on both System Center Central and the Microsoft Community Forums. Any issues or questions I had were answered quickly.
What key tips do you have for someone studying for their Private Cloud MCSE at the moment? (no giving out exam questions :P )
Hands on experience is key! There is only so much you can learn from a book. I would recommend setting yourself a mock business scenario (bring on contoso.com ;) ) and go through the building motions for building a full private cloud. As the certification requires 5 exams (3 of which revolve around core technologies) building from scratch will give you the exposure. My home lab is pretty complex, with 2 AD forests, a hyper-v and VMware clusters with System Centre on top.
What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?
Anything else you’d like to say?
The Microsoft certification landscape is changing dramatically. The exams are becoming more relevant with an emphasis on key skills. I now hope to pass my MCSE Server Infrastructure and get myself onto one of the new Microsoft Certified Solution Master rotations when they become available.
I realise this is shameless promotion… but check out the new ANS Group website www.ansgroup.co.uk You’ll see we’re a rapidly growing company and an amazing place to work, and we’re always looking for and passionate, energetic, self-motivated and driven people to join our team.
We also asked Paul’s boss about the experience and here’s what he had to say!
“Quote from Paul’s boss” – Paul Shannon – Head of Technical Services
Having the best quality consultants in the Managed Services team is absolutely essential for ANS. Running entire customer infrastructures within an ANS platform means that it has to be extremely robust, scalable and resilient. It’s only possible to ensure this if the best people are designing and implementing the foundations. Paul is an invaluable asset along with his colleagues in the Managed Services design team at ANS. Paul’s dedication is what ensured he was the first in EMEA to achieve the MCSE Private Cloud and ensures that ANS continues to be at the forefront of Managed Services solutions.
If you would like to know more about Certification and Training make sure you are subscribed to the TechNet Newsletter as the end of September edition is all about this subject!
In the meantime why not pop over to our learning pages to find out more.
Yes – we’re now looking after the IT Pro with Azure!
If you just want to register – go here:
If you want more info – have a read of the text below, or go to http://azurecampsuk.azurewebsites.net for the same.
Here is a video to give you a feel for what a camp is like.
We run 2 types of camp for Windows Azure; one aimed at the developer and one aimed at the IT Pro. The developer camp concentrates on the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) features of Windows Azure. Mostly this means Windows Azure Cloud Services, Windows Azure Storage, Windows Azure Active Directory Access Control Service, Windows Azure Service Bus and Windows Azure SQL DB, and Windows Azure Websites. The IT Pro camp concentrates on the Infrastructure-as-a-Service features; Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks.
09:00 – 09:30
09:30 – 10:30
Windows Azure Compute: Windows Azure Datacentres, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Web Role, Worker Role, Scalability, Service healing, Windows Azure Storage, App development.
10:45 – 12:15
Lab: Web, Worker and Storage
12:15 – 12:45
12:45 – 13:15
Windows Azure SQL DB
Lab: Windows Azure SQL DB
Access Control Service and Service Bus
Windows Azure Active Directory Access Control Service
16:45 – 17:00
Wrap-up and Review
Note: Because you can leave your Windows Azure service deployed and you will have all the code and projects etc. on your laptop when you leave the developer camp, any unfinished labs can be completed at home/in the office.
09:30 – 10:00
The Windows Azure Platform
10:00 – 10:30
Windows Azure Virtual Machines
10:30 – 10:45
10:45 – 11:15
Lab: Windows Azure Virtual Machines
11:15 – 11:45
Windows Azure Virtual Networks
11:45 – 12:15
Lab: Windows Azure Virtual Networks
Active Directory in the Cloud: Windows Azure Active Directory, Running a DC in Windows Azure
Lab: Running an Active Directory Domain Controller in Windows Azure
14:15 – 15:00
SQL Server and Sharepoint in the Cloud
15:00 – 15:15
15:15 – 16:45
Lab: Running a complete infrastructure in the cloud (Sharepoint, SQL Server, Active Directory)
Note: Because you can leave your Windows Azure service deployed and you will have all the configuration and projects etc. on your laptop when you leave the developer camp, any unfinished labs can be completed at home/in the office.
Depending on the venue, there are usually between 30 and 70 attendees. As an attendee, you are expected to bring a wireless-enabled laptop with certain pre-requisite software already installed. For the developer camp this includes Visual Studio, SQL Server and the Windows Azure Tools/SDK. For the IT Pro camp, this includes Powershell. You are expected to follow this set up before you arrive on the camp. Setup details are provided below. It cannot be stressed enough how poor an experience you will have if your laptop is not correctly configured when you arrive. If you tie-up the time of an instructor with questions about your machine setup, you are denying another delegate who has arrived with a correctly configured machine the help they need. Please be respectful of the other delegates who have followed these instructions.
Have you ever turned up to a training day/presentation where every delegate except you seemed to have done certain preparatory work in advance? Did there come a point at which all the eyes in the room were on you and you had to say “…well, err, ummm, I haven’t done that stuff…”? Was that the point you wished you had read the material before you’d turned up? Don’t be the one who has to create some last-minute excuse while the eyes of all the other delegates are on you – simply make sure you read this and follow the instructions. You will be expected to have installed and configured your machine to work on a Windows Azure Camp.
You will need a working Windows Azure subscription and you need to have applied for and successfully been granted access to:
· Windows Azure Web Sites - for the developer camp.
· Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks - for the IT Pro camp.
There is a video that describes how to apply for these features here.
Any working subscription is suitable; paid or free. You can get a free trial subscription. This grants you access to certain resources free for 90 days. You will need a Windows Live ID and a Credit Card to register. The spending limit on the free trial account is set at £0.00. When the free trial period of 90 days has passed you will be asked if you’d like to remove the spending limit and from that point on treat it as a standard paid subscription. If you use more than the free allocation of resources in a month, you will also be asked if you’d like to remove the spending limit. There is no perpetually free subscription available for Windows Azure. There are also free trial subscriptions available to certain MSDN subscribers, BizSpark partners and MPN members.
Details of the free trial accounts are here:
· To get a free trial subscription go to http://bit.ly/azureforfree. . To register for this offer, you need a credit card to activate it, but the spending limit on the subscription is set to £0.00 so you won’t be charged.
· To add Windows Azure benefits to your existing MSDN subscription, go to http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/msdn-benefits/
· To add Windows Azure benefits if you are a BizSpark customer, go to http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/bizspark-benefits/
· To add Windows Azure benefits if you are an MPN member go to http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/offers/ms-azr-0002p
It can’t be stressed enough how much of a dead-end it can be if you leave it till the last minute and attempt to activate a subscription while on the camp. A common example is the BizSpark delegate who tries to activate a subscription only to find a different employee has already activated the subscription. He/she wasn’t expecting that and it means they will be unable to complete the lab work. We will be entirely unable to help in situations such as this. Another example is the delegate who has an active subscription but hasn’t yet applied for access to the preview features such as Virtual Machines or Windows Azure Web Sites. As it may take several hours for the application to be processed, they will be unable to complete lab-work until the facilities are available.
Developer Camp pre-requisites If you're a developer who uses a laptop, you'll almost certainly have most of these development components already installed. Please pay particular attention to the SQL Server setup - you'll need to use the same account during the labs as the account that was used to install whichever version of SQL Server you decide on from the pre-requisites list.
· A working Windows Azure subscription – see details above.
· A wireless-enabled 64-bit laptop with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 8 RTM. The camp is written with Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 users in mind. If you are using Windows 8 there will be variations in the way the UI is described.
· Bring the power supply: you will be using the laptop all day.
· A basic knowledge of programming concepts and familiarity with Visual Studio
· A basic knowledge of web-programming and how Internet applications work
· An understanding of the Microsoft web-stack (Windows Server, IIS, .Net, basic security etc.)
· Perform the following software setup. Allow 1½ hours to complete the setup.
To check that you won’t have any time-consuming machine-set-up problems on the Windows Azure camp, perform the following steps to check the installed software works as advertised. This step is important because there isn’t enough time to do troubleshooting on the camp for a failing installation.
1. Right-click Visual Studio and select Run as administrator. If prompted click Yes at the UAC prompt.
a. Visual Studio opens.
2. Select File|New| Project.
a. The New Project dialogue opens.
3. In the frameworks dropdown list, ensure .NET Framework 4 is selected.
a. In the Installed Templates pane, select Visual C#|Cloud and click OK.
i. The New Windows Azure Project dialogue opens.
b. Select ASP.Net Web Role then click the “>” button. And click OK.
i. It takes a few seconds but eventually a Windows Azure ASP.Net project appears in the Solution Explorer.
c. Press the F5 key to run the naked Windows Azure ASP.Net solution in the local Compute and Storage Emulators.
i. After a short time the default ASP.Net template appears in the web browser.
d. If errors occur at this stage, fix them before you attend the Windows Azure Camp. Almost all problems with lab work on the Windows Azure Developer Campare related to laptop setup. It can take a long time to fix these errors and you will therefore lose useful coding time. It is therefore best to fix any setup errors before you attend the Windows Azure Camp. The most common errors are to do with the Storage Emulator and the SQL Server setup. SQL Server is used as the store for the Storage Emulator. The most likely errors are that the Storage Emulator is confused by which instance of SQL Server it should use. If there are multiple instances of SQL Server this is very common.
Try some of the following commands to fix the problem:
e. Open the Windows Azure Command Prompt by right-clicking and selecting run as administrator.
i. If you have multiple instances of SQL Server (including SQL Express) installed, the Storage Emulator needs to be initialised to use the correct instance of SQL Server. It is preferable to use SQL Server Express. The following commands are ways to set the Storage Emulator up to point to the correct instance. It is likely that the syntax of one of the following commands will fix the problem. Notice that you may need to provide your own SQL Server <instance_name>.
1. dsinit /sqlinstance:.\SQLEXPRESS
2. dsinit /sqlinstance:\SQLEXPRESS
3. dsinit /sqlinstance:.
4. dsinit /sqlinstance:
5. dsinit /sqlinstance:.\MSSQL
6. dsinit /sqlinstance:.\<instance_name>
7. dsinit /sqlinstance:<instance_name>
· The first two commands are syntactical variations that set SQL Express up as the database for the Windows Azure Storage emulator. In theory, either one should work, in practice, if one fails, try the other.
· Commands 3 and 4 are syntactical variations that set the default SQL instance up as the database for the Windows Azure Storage emulator. In theory, either one should work, in practice, if one fails, try the other.
· Command 5 should set up the default SQL instance named MSSQL as the database for the Windows Azure Storage emulator.
· Commands 6 and 7 are syntactical variations that set the <instance_name> (you need to provide the SQL Server instance name) up as the database for the Windows Azure Storage emulator. In theory, either one should work, in practice, if one fails, try the other.
Once the errors are fixed – your machine is ready for the Windows Azure Developer Camp. If as a result of step 1 you have had to fix the SQL Server setup, please go back to step 1 in “Checking the Setup” and retry the creation of a project to make sure you have no errors.
You will need administrative access to SQL Server.
Note: Of all the problems we get on this camp, delegates not having administrative access to the SQL Server they have installed on their laptop is the biggest. For example:
· If the laptop is domain-joined and an administrator from the domain installed it, that is a problem that is impossible to fix in the camp and you are guaranteed a wasted trip if you were hoping to complete hands-on labs on your laptop.
· If you are using a domain account (with cached credentials) that doesn’t have administrative access to the laptop, you will be unable to de-install/re-install SQL Server from your machine. Again, you are guaranteed a wasted trip if you were hoping to complete hands-on labs on your laptop.
· If you have no knowledge of the password for a local administrative account on your laptop, you will similarly be unable to de-install/re-install SQL Server and yet again, you are guaranteed a wasted trip if you were hoping to complete hands-on labs on your laptop.
It is not possible to stress enough how much of a dead-end it is to be a delegate on the camp who has a machine on which he/she cannot complete the lab work because of permission issues.
As an IT Pro who uses a laptop, you’ll almost certainly have the required software already installed. You will need:
· A working Windows Azure subscription – see details above. You need to have successfully applied and been granted access to the Windows Azure Virtual Machines preview.
· A basic knowledge of the Windows infrastructure stack (Windows, Windows Server, Active Directory, Web, Security, SQL Server etc) to the level required by an IT Pro.
· Perform the following software setup:
How much do I need to know about Windows Azure to attend this Camp? You don’t need any prior experience or knowledge about Windows Azure to attend this Camp. The purpose of the event is to provide you with the basic skills and knowledge to get started with learning about Windows Azure.
Who can attend the Camps? Students, developers, technologists, IT Pros, architects, hobbyist, technology enthusiasts. Everyone is welcome! All we ask is that you are ready and keen to learn about Windows Azure.
How much does it cost to attend this Camp? Your luck's in - it's free.
What do I need to prepare in advance to make the most of the Camp? There are a basic set of things you should prepare before attending the Camp, listed above. Please make sure you are prepared so you can make the most of your day at the Camp.
What if I have registered already and cannot make it on the day? Please let us know as soon as you can if you can’t make the camp as there’ll be plenty of people who are keen to take your spot. Please respect the trainers and your fellow delegates by turning up if you have registered and committed. Thanks!
Register at the event of your choice below. Go on. You know you want to
If you haven’t yet registered for one of our IT Camps now is the time to take a look at the content and register for one that is of interest to you. The first set of camps filled up really fast and have been full to the brim with jolly excited people! The key discussion topic for the camps at the moment is Windows Server 2012 – Virtualising Servers.
Why are they all excited… Well here’s what Reuben Cook had to say after attending the event and a picture he took there:
”A cracking day and an excellent break from the usual auditorium delivery method, or in previous years in a cinema in Hammersmith (for us at least), so a lot less people than a cinema full so registration went fast – if it is coming to a venue near you (see UK Tech Days Upcoming Events) get in quick!”
”A cracking day and an excellent break from the usual auditorium delivery method, or in previous years in a cinema in Hammersmith (for us at least), so a lot less people than a cinema full so registration went fast – if it is coming to a venue near you (see UK Tech Days Upcoming Events) get in quick!”
So what are you waiting for? Register now and get involved!