Category: Community

1 year in…


Just before covid started I applied for a new job at a company called Intercept in the Netherlands, I had previously only met one of their employees Wesley Haakman whilst at Ignite in Orlando in 2019 I think it was. I spoke to him asking about what they were up to and then spoke to Holly Lehman and asked her opinion on the company, and by this time I was swaying towards accepting the position offered, after I spoke to Holly I was convinced it was the right move for me.

I joined Intercept later that year on September 1st, 2020. 1 year today.

Intercept isn’t like any other company I had worked for before, other companies were good for different reasons, but where I work now is different, more on that later.

During my time here at Intercept I reckon I have worked on at the very least, 26 different projects in the last 12 months using a large variety of Azure services. My background was as a developer, devops, sre and then a development team manager.


I chose Intercept mainly for my love of Azure and wanting to work on it day to day.

I have worked with the following Azure technologies thus far:-

Azure Networking, Azure Data Factory, Databricks, Event Hubs, Synapse Analytics, App Service, Azure Functions, Container Registry, Virtual Machines, Azure DevOps, Cosmos DB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Azure SQL, Azure Active Directory, Azure AD B2C, Azure Key Vault, Security Centre, Azure Api Management, Azure API for FIHR, Azure Event Grid, Logic Apps, Noification Hubs, Service Bus, Automation, Azure Backup, Azure Lighthouse, Azure Monitor, Azure Policy, Azure Portal, Cloud Shell, Cost Management, Azure CDN, Communication Services, Azure Migrate, Site Recovery, Application Gateway, Azure Bastion, Azure DNS, Azure Firewall, Azure Front Door, ExpressRoute, Load Balancer, Traffic Manager, VPN Gateway, Azure Storage, Azure Data Lake Storage and more.


I have presented 15 or more workshops covering Azure DevOps, Github Action, Azure Fundamentals and Cost Management. During covid we have done them all remotely, cannot wait until we deliver them in person at Microsoft offices around Europe – really looking forward to that.


The culture at Intercept is simply awesome, you’ll have to take my word for it, I don’t want to go on about it but I thank my lucky stars I work here regularly. We have a lot of fun and have what we call the Intercept Cafe 3 times a week where you can drop in and shoot the breeze with anyone who joins (i love this idea!).

Days off are encouraged, we work flexible hours, everyone speaks English very well (except me of course) and we win as a team, lose as a team, but we mainly kick butt as a team.

Day to Day

Day to day we create designs for customer all around Europe and then we implement the design. We also help customers with improving existing solutions and have teams of people in what we call the continous improvement teams. We only do Azure at Intercept and we work mainly with ISV’s (Independent Software Vendors).

Intercept are Hiring

I would never normally write a blog post about work, and mention were hiring, but things are different at Intercept. I went on holiday and had ZERO stress or feeling in my stomach about returning to work and that was a first.

We have colleagues in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany and South Africa and had a recent colleague join from South America who moved to the Netherlands – we chat, play bingo, play xbox, and more.

Take a look at our vacancies page

Other Stuff

This summer I decided to down tools and stop studying for exams, stop blogging, stop recording content and just enjoy the summer, thankfully its been the best summer I can remember. I have enjoyed golfing and still doing my bit in the community helping people but havent been sat at my laptop anywhere near as much as I have in the past.

I was renewed as an MCT and MVP and auditioned for being a trainer on LinkedIn Learning. The training part has been something have been thinking about doing for a while now, finding the time was impossible but not I think I may have decided thats the way I want to go.

I realise I love helping people, and whatever that entails, helping people get a leg up, bevoming MVP’s, helping people by mentoring them etc is what I love doing.


People still ask me what I want to do, do I have any career goals? – I can honestly say at this moment I am enjoying life at Intercept. I love working with Azure, I love learning hence why I do so many exams, I have a passion for learning and a passion for helping people which will never leave me. If you’re not currently learning something you’re going backwards.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

People Networking

I got some great advice from my sister when I was younger regarding networking with people and it stayed with me.

I get people saying to me that I know everyone, I smile at that because that means my hard work is paying off, what do I mean by hard work?

I am different to a lot of people – a lot of people look at things like Twitter and see numbers of followers, etc and they say they don’t care about numbers, I believe them, I really do. I on the other hand think of it differently, I see social media as a way to people network. If I have the opportunity to engage with people who I can help or they can help me then I am going to grab that opportunity always.

If you walked into a conference and you know people and people know you, there is an ice breaker for starters, but not everyone is a social butterfly, trust me neither am I, but I am working on it.

Imagine you could find all of the like-minded people who can help you day to day with questions you may have and explanations without ever leaving your seat or having to troll through wrong stack overflow answers.

Going back to the whole everyone knows you, I took some time to find the people I want to connect with, I work with Azure daily, I looked for all the people who work at Microsoft and are Azure minded people – I follow them and that way I learn more than you would think.

When I went to Ignite 2019 I recognized a lot of people and that was amazing, I spoke to people I had interacted with a little bit on Twitter and now I chat with them regularly.


There is no ego here, If you have an ego then we can’t be friends. I don’t follow people to get numbers up, although the image below does crack me up, I follow people so that I can network, as networking brings opportunities, wide-ranging opportunities at that.

I have had more opportunities than I could ever imagine, I’ve spent the Covid time saying mostly no to people. Networking has meant I have been able to help a lot of people with the Azure exams and also get started learning Azure.

My 2 cents is to network your backside off.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Azure Certification Prep

Hi folks, this blog post comes to you as part of the Azure Back to School community event ran by Dwayne Natwick.

Many thanks to Dwayne for allowing me to take part.

You can read more about the event on the official website

I am talking to you today about Azure Certification Prep, let’s not waste any more time and dive right in.

Whether your starting your Azure certification journey or along ways down the road the first thing you need to do is some homework on the exams:-

  • Which exam is the right one for you at this time?
  • Have you read the official exam page from Microsoft?
  • Have you read up on any changes about the exam that may have taken place?

I always suggest people start with the AZ-900 Azure fundamentals exam and this is for everyone, including experienced Azure users. This exam will set you up for the following if you are new to the exams or haven’t done any exams in a while:-

  • Learn to study (learn to take notes and try to remember the content you’ve read)
  • Get you into the habit of reading, trying to recall information, sitting practice tests.
  • There is also the no small feat of booking the actual exam and sitting it, lots of people put this off and dread exams.

Skills Measured
This area is key to your success in the actual exam, the content in this section is in essence what Microsoft will be testing you on, ensure you are comfortable with all of this content before taking the exam. Exams are usually broken down into 4 maybe areas and you’ll see a percentage scoring next to each section. An example of this would be the AZ-900 exam which has the following:-

Describe Cloud Concepts (15-20%)

This means that 15-20% of your exam will be on this subject area, some exams have areas as much as 35-45% so this is the area you want to be very sharp on as lots of questions will be around this area.

Whilst studying you tend to get a feel for how it is going, I would advise you try some practice tests and try to gauge from them if your ready or not. Book your exam as this will then help concentrate your mind and ensure you study, nothing like an exam deadline coming up to make you want to read the content, learn and pass your exam.

So a this point we have checked out the official exam guide, we know what topics we are going to be tested on, lets assume we are sitting the exams at home, we have to know what to expect when sitting an exam from home.

Sitting an exam in your house

There are some rules which you need to adhere to when taking an exam from your office / home and some of these are as follows: –

  • There is no bit of paper allowed for taking notes so if you need to take notes then there is a way to do this on-screen within the test, get familiar as you may need this.
  • No one is allowed to enter the room at any time during your exam, and you cant leave either.
  • You’re not allowed to read the exam questions out loud, cover your face or leave the webcam perimeter box for any reason, if you do you’re very likely to fail.
  • You have to take photos of your identification and the desk your siting at, behind where you are sitting, to the left, and to the right of where you are sitting.
  • The rules are there for people to read so be sure you know what you can and cannot do otherwise you run the risk of an instant failure which would not be fun.

Ensure your pc / laptop is charged, arrive 30 minutes early and go through your identification steps as soon as you can as it can be a little unsettling at times and you don’t want to be flustered before the exam begins.

Learning Resources
I always go in search of good learning resources for an exam and I always start off with Microsoft Learn. Here you will find learning paths for your exam and you can go through them at your own pace, make sure not to miss these as they really are excellent.

My favorite Learning Resources

Practice Tests
Whilst studying I always think its a good idea to do some knowledge checks, you may read some content week 1 and forget it week 2, practice tests help reinforce my learning and help me recall things I need to know for each exam. I have used practice tests from several different places and here are some of the people who have good training as well as good practice tests:-


  • Don’t start studying and then put it off would be my advice, you’re likely to forget some of what you learned.
  • Book the exam 2 weeks out and then this will focus your mind.
  • Read the questions carefully even in the practice tests.
  • No exam question has answers which are wildly wrong, Microsoft don’t do this anymore so you wont be able to rule lets say 2 from 4 answers right away for being wildly wrong with regards to the question.
  • Take the exam once your fairly confident you know what the answers to most of the questions, you wont get them all right but try to wait till your at least some what confident in your knowledge.
  • ALWAYS check the official exam page in case the skills measure area has been updated – exams are updated regularly and you don’t want caught out.

Wrap Up
No one likes sitting exams, but just think of the amount of things you have learned, and don’t be afraid to fail an exam, I have failed 3 and it just made me more determined to pass the next time and learn what I didn’t know the first time around.

If you need advice about anything exam related, please do reach out on twitter.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

European Cloud Conference

The European Cloud Conference will take place on October 27-29, 2020 in Nice, France and is Europe’s leading Independent Microsoft Azure Conference.

Book your tickets for this amazing Azure conference and make sure to sign up for the mailing list so you don’t miss out on any news.

The conference will be Europe’s first annual conference dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Azure.

So who should attend? – If you’re a technology leader or have an interest across any area within Azure this is the go-to event for you. If your a Developer, work in Operations, Infrastructure or DevOps, manager, security expert or even at C-Level management then this is the conference you need to attend in 2020.

8 Full day Expert Azure Tutorials have been announced

Azure Security Best Practices

Mustafa Toroman, MVP, MCT
Authority Partners, Bosnia And Herzegovina

Top 3 Highlights of Attending your this Tutorial:

  • Learn about Identity in cloud
  • Network security
  • Data protection

Level: 400
Topic: Security
Category: IT Pro

Kubernetes on Azure

Vishwas Lele, MVP, Microsoft Regional Director
Ais, United States

Top 3 Highlights of Attending this European Cloud Conference 2020 Tutorial:

  • Learn about Key Kubernetes Concepts
  • Deep dive into AKS
  • Learn how AKS integrates with other Azure services

Level: 400
Topic: Azure Migrations
Category: Developers

Azure Messaging – From 0 to 100 in One Day

Sean Feldman, MVP
Particular Software, Canada

Top 3 Highlights of Attending this European Cloud Conference 2020 Tutorial:

  • Balanced tutorial between theory and hands on exercises
  • Practical Azure messaging knowledge distilled in one day
  • Learn from an Azure Messaging expert and MVP

Level: 400
Topic: Messaging
Category: Developers

Azure Virtual Machines 101

Vladimir Stefanovic,
Superadmins, Serbia

Aleksandar Nikolic, MVP
M.O.3.A.K. IT Consulting, Serbia

Top 3 Highlights of Attending this European Cloud Conference 2020 Tutorial:

  • Azure VM Deep Dive
  • Azure VMSS Deep Dive
  • Designing VMs Architecture

Level: 300
Topic: Cloud Compute
Category: IT Pro

Low-Code Cloud App Development and App Modernization

Paul Swider, AZURE MVP
Realactivity, LLC, United States

Top 3 Highlights of Attending this Tutorial:

  • Learn the value of low-code when migrating business apps to Azure
  • See how Power Apps can be used as part of an Azure App Modernization strategy
  • End to end demos of integration with Azure Services.

Level: 300
Topic: Cloud Compute
Category: Developers

A Day of Customer Identity Implementation with Azure Active Directory B2C

John Garland, MVP, MCT
Wintellect, United States

Top 3 Highlights of Attending this European Cloud Conference 2020 Tutorial:

  • Learn how to use Azure AD B2C to provide secure authentication for your application
  • Go beyond the basics and see how you can customize Azure AD B2C to match both your identity needs as well as your brand
  • Learn how to use Custom Policies in Azure AD B2C to enable advanced identity experiences

Level: 300
Topic: Identity & Access
Category: Developers

Getting Gremlins to Improve Your Data

Chad Green, MVP
Scholarrx, United States

Top 3 Highlights of Attending this European Cloud Conference 2020 Tutorial:

  • Understand the basics of graph databases
  • Get hands-on experience setting up, configuring, and optimizing a graph database
  • Get hands-on experience working with graph databases in your applications

Level: 300
Topic: AI
Category: Developers

Monitoring Solutions in Azure

Loftysoft, Sweden

Level: 300
Topic: Azure Management
Category: Developers & IT Professionals

Book your place now to attend.

You can find out more information about the venue and also make sure to check out the faqs.

Azure Weekly

Azure is an ever-changing platform, its amazing just how often its updated, it’s also really hard to stay up to date with the numerous new services and the changes to existing services.

It’s also very hard to keep abreast of all of the Azure news throughout the year, months and weeks.

Azure weekly is a great way to keep up to date with what’s new each and every week.

Azure weekly is brought to you by the folks from Endjin – they do a number of amazing things with Azure and are a company worth checking out.

They are up to week 264 at this time of writing this article, so what are you waiting for? – go find out what’s new recently, subscribe and don’t miss a thing going forward.

You can also contribute content to Azure Weekly, so if you have a blog post and have Azure content contact them and you may end up appearing in the weekly newsletter.

You can also follow Azure Weekly on twitter at @AzureWeekly

Please let me know what you think of Azure Weekly.


Azure Advent Calendar wrap-up

The #azureadventcalendar was a shared idea between myself and @pixel_robots

Some quick stats as I write this: –

15,800 thousand YouTube views
15,000 website views from over 120 countries
1,300 hours of videos watched
1,200 subscribers

We set out with the idea of asking the Azure community for 25 videos / blog posts with a Christmas theme, with the idea in mind that it would give people the chance to show off their skills, learn new skills and contribute back to the community over December.

We asked people via twitter who would like to contribute to this idea in the middle of September to give people time to decide if they could manage to contribute in December (a 20-30 minute video isn’t easy, especially towards that time of year).

Before we knew it we had more than 25 filled up and it was clear that this might be a bit more popular than first thought, we increased it to 50 and before you know it we had increased it to 75. In order to avoid too many duplicate subjects we decided to cap it at 75.

Wow! 75 videos/blog post contributions would be pretty amazing.

We considered several ideas but wanted to keep it simple: –

  • Anyone could contribute
  • We could have had advertisements but kept it without as it was a community project for the community by the community and this was important to us both.

I would create the website and keep that up to date daily, and chase people for content, Richard was looking after our YouTube channel and scheduling the videos to go out at midnight.

Richard also designed the logo which I loved the second I saw it and we decided to use this as the brand and he also created video thumbnails for each video for people to use on twitter, videos and blog posts.

Now the real reason this was successful was due to the contributors, we were both blown away by the quality of content from each contributor and the Christmas theme just made it pretty cool.

Richard and I both had our Twitter and LinkedIn full with tweets and articles with the above logo in it, very regularly throughout the month which was super cool to see.

The website was basic and I was updating it daily with links to blog posts and using a very simple .Net Web app, and using Azure DevOps to build and deploy the web app to Azure, I also made use of staging slots to deploy the changes, check the links etc worked and then swapped the staging slot for production – super easy to do and well worth it.

Richard had the YouTube channel setup with the logo and scheduled the videos to be released using a schedule which was pretty sweet. He also created a thumbnail for each video for the contributor to use as they saw fit.

The highlights for me were many, but one that stands out for me personally was seeing people who had never taken part in something like this, some had never created a blog post, many had never created a video before.

The hard part of the project was chasing people for content, especially when it was mid December and everyone is busy!

To end this post I want to mention the next project which you should keep your eye on by Joe Carlyle and Thomas Thornton called the #AzureSpringCleanup – personally looking forward to see more azure community coming together and creating awesome new content.

Please leave any feedback you have on the #azureadventcalendar below.