With 2015 just around the corner, you've probably read a stack of technology predictions already. We've even supplied quite a few here on WindowsITPro. But, I've yet to see or read anything pertaining to suggestive guidance for those expected to implement technologies. Its one thing to read about potentially hot technology for the coming year, but quite another to understand what it will take to deal with them. And, more importantly, what are the areas of focus that will be important to those wanting to extend their life in IT?

So, here's my top three technologies to invest time into learning and mastering in 2015. I believe these represent areas that can't fail.

PowerShell

I've been saying for years (along with a multitude of others) that PowerShell is a must-learn technology. I know there are still some holdouts, but for Pete's sake, isn't it time to finally meander down this road? Even a small amount of knowledge of PowerShell will go a long way, seeing that the scripting language is integrated with just about every product Microsoft produces today. PowerShell is powerful (pun intended), for sure, but even the simplest cmdlets can save time and help automate mundane tasks.

PowerShell is like Christmas cookies. You promise to only eat a couple, hoping to stave off the holiday weight, but you end up eating a stack because they're so addictive. Once you realize the power of just simple PowerShell commands you'll be driven to learn more and more. I have some very good friends whose mastering of PowerShell has opened up hugely satisfying professional careers.

Disclaimer: PowerShell, by itself, does not cause weight gain.

The other truly important thing about learning PowerShell is in the aforementioned fact that it is integrated into everything. All of the hot products can be managed using PowerShell, so by learning this simple scripting language you become master of many.

What are you waiting for? It's not too late to set this as a goal. 2015 could be the year you finally learn PowerShell. Can I get an 'Amen'?

Microsoft Intune

Microsoft is steadily building its next juggernaut management system in the Cloud. In the vestiges of 2014 Microsoft removed some of the inhibitors holding back Intune development, ensuring that future feature releases can happen at any time by taking advantage of Azure services. Intune now has the ability to be updated like Office 365, so we can expect a massive number of updates to the service in 2015.

And, this seems to be where Microsoft's focus is right now and similarly where your focus should also be. Intune is a key piece in the Mobile First/Cloud First dream professed by CEO, Satya Nadella, so Intune will only become more and more important. There's only very few differentiators between Intune and System Center Configuration Manager right now, and that tide is turning quickly.

Intune is disguised as a Mobile Device Management product (or per Microsoft, the Enterprise Mobility Suite – EMS), providing management of BYOD devices for multiple platforms. But, don't be fooled. Its quickly becoming a full-on management system.

As my good friend and MVP, Kim Oppalfens, recently stated, the only pieces missing from Intune are:

  1. OS Deployment
  2. Software distribution
  3. License management
  4. Server Management

Piecing through those four, Microsoft is working this year to solve the top three with Windows 10. Obviously, not every organization will deploy Windows 10 en masse on launch day, but if Windows 10 does achieve success, Intune will be that much more favorable as a single management tool for a multitude of companies.

Dig in and learn this thing in 2015.

Hybrid Cloud

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud, and Cloud. It's not just a drinking game operated during keynotes at Microsoft conferences anymore. The Cloud is here to stay, for sure, but as we've seen over the last couple years, it’s a very different type than vendors originally proposed. No, companies have finally become much smarter about what the Cloud is and does, and what value it can actually provide.

All major Cloud vendors are promoting Hybrid Clouds because customers have pushed back on the Public-Cloud-or-nothing mentality. Full-on Public Cloud just doesn't work for businesses, but there are valuable pieces of the Public Cloud offerings that can be integrated with on-premises to provide for backup, redundancy, and disaster recovery and even email services in some cases.

Don't be afraid in 2015 to think outside the datacenter and invent ways to use AWS, Azure, or Google to supply value to the organization. IT folks that understand where a Hybrid Cloud makes sense, but especially where it doesn’t, will be ahead of the game for years to come.

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So, that's my top three. You might already have a good handle on a couple of these, but you should make it a goal to invest time in mastering each topic. Obviously, there are others and that will depend on the situation and the working environment. If you have some of your own you believe are important to share with others, drop a note in the comments.

Have a wonderful 2015! I'll see you on the other side.