Shabaz Darr Interview

Shabaz Darr resides in Bradford, Yorkshire, within the UK. He is excited about starting his new venture with NetCompany based in Leeds as a Senior Infrastructure Consultant. He will be a great asset for his new employer and we wish him luck.

Shabaz was approached for an interview due to his engagement on Twitter and sharing blog posts to benefits others. His recent blog post was Azure WVD in a Pandemic which he was very proud of publishing after working on this article for a few weeks.

He is active on Twitter and easy to approach. For the record, Shabaz was the third person to provide us with an interview on AzureCrazy. He was very excited to take part and share his experience with us.

Note: If you have any questions or feedback, please use the comment box towards the end of the interview. All comments are reviewed before we approve and notify the interviewee. Thanks

Shabaz Darr Interview

Tell us about yourself?
I am Shabaz Darr and I was born and bred in the UK, Bradford in Yorkshire to be exact. I will be starting a new job in October 2020 with NetCompany based in Leeds as a Senior Infrastructure Consultant. I have worked in IT since I graduated from University (2006), so almost 15 years. My hobbies including playing football but I am a big sports fan so will watch pretty much any sport. I also enjoy learning Azure and getting involved with as much lab work possible. In recent years I have started blogging about Azure which has become a passion of mine. Some other tid bits are, that I have two wonderful children (my son Mikaeel (5) and my daughter (9). I support Manchester United (sorry) and I am the youngest of 5 siblings.

What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
Although I am proud of some of the things I have achieved (including certifications and promotions) I feel my greatest achievement is probably making the transition from a Support Engineer into Consultancy. Although both roles are within IT, they are very different and I felt this transition was the biggest challenge for me up to now.

How did you get into IT?
I started off by studying IT at University, and when I was convinced that I wanted to take on IT as a career, I completed my ‘Year in industry’ during my degree. I worked as a HelpDesk analyst at a company in Scarborough which was my first exposure to IT within a business and that did it for me. My journey into an IT career begun from there and onwards.

How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
I have always worked with Microsoft products since I started in IT, be it Windows Server or Exchange and so on. However, I started working with Microsoft Azure about 3-4 years ago. My initial experience was actually with Microsoft 365 and working with Exchange on premise migrations to Exchange Online. This transitioned into working more with Azure AD, and from there working with the Azure IaaS platform.

What are your areas of expertise? Are you still working with other Microsoft products apart from Microsoft Azure?
My areas of expertise are still Microsoft Azure, but also Microsoft 365 and Modern Desktop (Intune).  I have also started working with Windows Virtual Desktop.

What certifications have you achieved, or the certifications you are working towards?
I currently hold the Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900), Azure Associate Administrator (AZ-103) and I am currently working towards my Azure Security (AZ-500). I plan on studying for my Azure Expert certification (AZ-300 and 301) next year. Other certifications I have achieved include Modern Desktop Associate (MD-100 and MD-101).

What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure?
I think for anyone wanting to start learning Azure it’s important to understand the basics of a particular platform and then work on the services within that.  For example, because of my on premises Infrastructure background, Azure IaaS was a perfect fit and transition for me and it was much easier to learn the networking, storage and other aspects. Azure Windows Virtual Desktop is very hot right now so I would recommend this. Understanding Security within Azure would be essential as well. Finally an understanding of Identity management (Azure AD, Hybrid AD and Azure AD DS) would be very beneficial. Start with Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900), you’ll love it and it’s perfect for those who have never worked with Azure.

How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products?
I mainly use twitter and read other tech blog posts and allows me to gain knowledge on what the community is sharing. Social media is a great platform to share and learn.

What would you recommend for someone who wants to become Azure certified?
In my opinion, I would start off with the basic cert level which is Azure Fundamentals. Then decide what track you want to move onto (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS) and then study for the Associate level for that subject matter. Example, for the Azure IaaS I studied and achieved AZ-900 certification, and then the Azure Administrator Associate (AZ-103) certification. From here you can work on other Associate level certs (like Az-500 for security) and then move onto Expert level. This is what I am following and I would recommend the same approach to others starting out.

What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity recently to start my journey with presenting/public speaking. I initially started off by presenting for my colleagues at work. This was helpful as I was presenting to people I knew so it made it more comfortable for me. I then started presenting at different Azure user groups. Again the Azure user groups are another great platform because of the support and understanding provided for beginners (at least that was my experience). I have not delved into the world of YouTube or making video content yet and I am not sure this is something I will do. It is however an ambition of mine to present at a large conference one day.  The last piece of advice I would like to offer is that you need to ensure you enjoy the subject matter you are presenting. I find that if I enjoy a subject I am more passionate about it and it shows more in my approach and presentation talk, which gives the audience a great and engaging experience.

What’s next in your Microsoft Azure journey?
I would like to delve into the DevOps world as it is such a big part of Azure, and there are so many great services I would love to learn. Once I have my expert level Azure certification, this will most likely be the next part of my journey.

Do you have any final words of wisdom?
When I was hired for my first Consultancy role, which led me into learning Azure I was told the following:  ‘You can teach/learn technical skills…. But you cannot teach or learn a personality’. This has stuck with me for years and it means learning new skills and technical aspects will all come in time, but if you have the right personality and outlook on life you can make it anywhere.

The most important question of all 😊
From a scale from 1 – 10 how crazy are you about Microsoft Azure?

How is anyone doing this not going to put a 10!!? Ha 10 for me!

End of Interview

Name: Shabaz Darr
Website: I am IT Geek
Twitter: @shabazdarr



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