Career break, what have I been up to?

My father was sadly diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and I decided to take a career break to both help care for my father and to spend time with my family, who live outside of London.

This was a very challenging time, both physically and mentally, looking after my father, who sadly in the end was unable to take care of himself at all. It was a very heartbreaking experience, and definitely was the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to overcome. With the COVID-19 pandemic having terrible timing.

Whilst looking after my father, it was important for me to continue to keep up my technical skill set however, as Cloud technologies especially, move very quickly, so if you’re not always at the top of your game, you can be left behind.

So, I continued to work on personal projects, becoming a Microsoft Partner (Cloud Solution Provider) and using the Microsoft Action Pack to provision personal Azure and Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

Creating my own home lab using Azure DevOps pipelines to execute Terraform to deploy Azure resources, as well as writing a lot of PowerShell code to wrap the Microsoft Graph API (used with Azure AD and Microsoft 365) to deploy resources such as Conditional Access policies and Azure AD groups, using Infrastructure as Code.

As well as this, I expanded out my personal Azure infrastructure, deploying a multi-region, hub-spoke architecture, with Pfsense firewalls. Domain Controllers with Microsoft Defender for Identity, Azure AD Password protection and Azure AD Pass-thru Authentication plus File Servers with Azure File Sync.

For management I deployed Windows Admin Center, I also deployed Azure AD App Proxy, for my personal Jira and Confluence servers, so I have no excuse not to keep my project tasks and documentation up-to-date from any location. For security, I made use of Cloud App Security and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

I try where possible to choose the best technology for the job, with Hybrid bringing the benefits of a Cloud first approach, without the sacrifices a Cloud native approach can often bring. By looking at the requirements, performing an analysis of the pros and cons, integrating the two approaches is often the best of both worlds.

I hope to write blog posts covering what I’ve achieved over the last couple years, covering the architecture, DevOps Pipelines and the code I’ve been writing in more detail. Hopefully others will find this useful, so stay tuned.