Karel De Winter is a Cloud Solution Architect, Microsoft Certified Trainer and a public speaker residing in Belgium. His current role involves working with strategic customer projects to ensure they are successful on the Azure platform. His core areas of expertise are Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Platform. You’ll find Karel De Winter hanging out on Twitter and always supporting the tech community posting tweets from his blog or retweeting other tech tweets. As a technology enthusiast and a community member, he frequently shares his knowledge about experiences with Azure and other Microsoft technologies. He is definitely one to connect with via his social media platforms which can be found towards the end of the post
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Karel De Winter Interview
Tell us about yourself?
Hi! My name is Karel De Winter. I am a Cloud Solution Architect at DexMach working with strategic customer projects to ensure they are successful on the Azure platform. We have a focus on Azure and recently won the Partner of the Year award in Belgium!
I am a proud dad of two awesome daughters and I have a lovely wife, with whom I live in Belgium. I am also a Microsoft Certified Trainer, and I love to share knowledge and teach customers to successfully migrate and adopt the Microsoft Azure platform within their organization.
I have worked in IT for over 14 years now, and don’t regret a second. Things are moving so fast you are never bored!
As an technology enthusiast and a community member, I frequently share my knowledge about experiences with Azure and other Microsoft technologies. Additionally I’m a board member of the Belgium TechNine IT Pro user group.
When offline and not working, I enjoy having family time and running into the wild.
What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
Becoming a Microsoft Certified Trainer was a real honour for me. I love to share what I’ve learned and teach other people. Because sharing is caring, I like to speak in public. I don’t see that as an achievement, just something I like to do.
How did you get into IT?
I was about 7 when I played around with some old 386 Computers. So the first things you learn were the commands “dir” and “cd”. From that moment, I just wanted to learn more about those computers and learn other things that you could do with it.
So getting in IT was all about doing what I loved to do, and that was playing around with hardware that was given away by friends, neighbours and family and looking to improve that hardware and let it work all together.
Then came the internet, and it’s crazy how fast things have changed 🙂
What would you recommend for someone wanting to start a career in IT?
In everything you do, you have to enjoy yourself. Enjoy your job and love what you do is the first step!
So make it up, and make it happen. Start building your first c# program, follow some youtube tutorial and see if you like it or not. If you are not into programming, just play around with some old hardware and try to make a network, or start your free Azure subscription and try to setup some network in the cloud.
It’s only by doing, that you will find out what you like.
The tip I always give if you want to start in Infrastructure, is start with the basics like compute, storage and networking. Those things are still relevant in the cloud ages today!
We noticed via your blog the tag line “We Must rethink, transform and share Azure Knowledge!”. Why is it important to share knowledge?
Today, we have too much of “experts” that are protecting their own knowledge. It will be all a lot easier for us IT guys, if we share our stories and experiences, so we learn from each other. We’ve come to an era that the amount of information we have to learn is too much to handle for one person. We have to share our knowledge and don’t be afraid to tell other people or even customers that we don’t know and have to look it up.
How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
In my 14 years of IT relevance, I’ve always worked for Microsoft partners. We had the possibility to try out new Microsoft products and start testing with it. The same happened with Microsoft Azure.
I got interested in Microsoft Azure by seeing some cool demo’s on a local Belgium User Group. It was in the early Azure days and the session was about Azure Storage and Web Apps. I immediately saw the benefit of that cloud product. But Azure at that time, was not the Microsoft Azure platform that we know of today.
So the next big step for me was (I think like many other IT persons) onboarding customers to Office365 and Exchange Online. From the Office365 tenant, you started to investigate in the other opportunities of the Azure platform.
I just kept learning new things in Azure and kept exploring those new things.
From then on it is history 🙂
What are your areas of expertise? Are you still working with other Microsoft products apart from Microsoft Azure?
For this moment, I mainly focus on IaaS and all management related things around it. But things are shifting to PaaS, as more and more customers are onboarding their applications to PaaS services and containers. I do a lot of Infrastructure as Code work and try to make some good governance landing zones with security in mind.
Important to know is that you can do a lot of management and automation tasks with a combination of Powershell and Azure Functions!
You wrote a recent article on your blog about The future of ARM Templates with Project Bicep. Could you explain what Project Bicep is and why it is beneficial?
Hah! Good question. Well, if you’ve ever worked with ARM Templates, you know it’s hard to learn the JSON language and maintain complex templates.
So Bicep is a transparent abstraction layer over ARM. It’s a Domain Specific Language (DSL) for deploying Azure resources declaratively. Just like you know HTML that is only used for building web pages, Bicep is designed to only make ARM Templates. Yes, the Bicep engine will compile a Bicep file into an ARM Template. The bicep file is more simpler and easy to use and it’s going to be closer to Powershell then ARM templates.
What certifications have you achieved, or the certifications you are working towards?
Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Azure Administrator Associate
And some old non-cloud certificates, not relevant anymore 😉
I’m currently studying for the MS-500 certificate and the AZ-400. Next up will be the AZ-500, but I have to buy some time from an online shop for that..
What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure?
Learning is important, it’s that important that you have to do it for the rest of your life!
If you want to start with Azure, just go with Microsoft Learn and discover your path! You have the ability to spin up a complete Azure environment in a sandbox, at no cost at all!
And that’s the second most important thing: practice! Just learn enough to practice and practice until you understand!
For me Microsoft Docs is like the bible, it has all your answers.
How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products?
I just learn enough to practice and I practice until I understand and can teach the materials to other people. That’s why I share my knowledge, because before you can explain it to someone else, you first have to understand it.
Keep in mind you cannot learn everything at the same time, start and focus on one topic. Concentrate for a couple of hours, weeks or even months if needed. And if you understand and have done some practice, go forward with the next topic.
What would you recommend for someone who wants to become Azure certified?
Just learn enough and practice till you understand.
When preparing for an exam, take a close look at the PDF of the “exam skills outline” that Microsoft puts on every official certification exam page.
All the topics that are included in the exam are listed with some % percentage at the end. You have to also learn by that percentage. The skills measured with the highest percentage, must be your highest learning priority and the biggest investment in time also!
What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
Just start doing it and enjoy the ride. If you do not have the confidence, try to engage with some other speaker, or speakers and present the session with that person. They can guide you while you practice and if you are stuck on a sentence slide or topic, they can take over and have your back.
Now is a good time to start engaging with online speaker sessions, and start building some online presentation skills. Start with community sessions, those are more relaxed then bigger conferences.
One tip here: the first minute of your session you need to know by heart. If you are past that first minute, then everything will relax by itself and you gain confidence along the way. Just enjoy doing it!
How did you become a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)?
Because of my interest in sharing knowledge, it was a good opportunity to become a Microsoft Certified Trainer.
To become an MCT, you have to follow an official MCT Trainers course and Microsoft will ask you to present for 20 minutes in front of a jury. It’s like going back to college and taking an exam all the way, but now it’s fun!
What’s next in your Microsoft Azure journey?
Trying to learn more about Kubernetes and all PaaS related stuff! Because Kubernetes is hot right now, No?
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Make it up, make it happen!
The most important question of all 😊
From a scale from 1 – 10 how crazy are you about Microsoft Azure? (10 being the highest)
End of interview