If you’ve ever engaged with the training modules on Microsoft Learn or explored the official documentation, it's highly likely that the material you utilized was written or co-authored by dedicated contributors. These contributors, often volunteers, generously offer their time and expertise to fill knowledge gaps within our portfolio and ensure the content remains up to date.
In this interview series, we aim to acquaint ourselves with some of these valuable contributors to the Microsoft Learn platform. Through these conversations, we seek to understand their motivations for continued contributions and gain insights into their experiences.
Today, we’re pleased to introduce one of our recently recognized contributors, Emad Al-Mousa. Emad is based in Saudi Arabia and has 17+ years’ experience in the IT and Data Platform fields at the largest energy company in the world, Saudi Aramco. He has extensive experience in multiple domains such as Cloud Computing, Database Systems, and Cybersecurity and has been recognized by several tech companies for his security vulnerability findings that helped to improve the security of software products.
Megan: Hi Emad! It’s great to finally meet you and spend some time with you today. Can you begin by telling us about your background and experience?
Emad: Hey Megan! Sure! My experience is in Cloud Computing, Database Systems, and Cybersecurity and this is my 17th year working at Saudi Aramco, the largest energy company in the world. Throughout my career, I’ve led many IT and Digital Transformation initiatives and projects. I pioneered and built Saudi Aramco’s first PowerBI Infrastructure landscape that had many corporate level impacts on data insight and use case analyses. I also used my in-depth experience of multiple Microsoft technologies to build high scale, critical database systems, including SQL Server technology.
Recently, I’ve been focused on developing skills in Cloud ecosystems, such as Microsoft Azure, where data platform technologies are unique and continuously being improved with new features. In addition, I’m heavily engaged in the development of the Microsoft SQL Server cybersecurity benchmark, a globally used benchmark with high security and configuration implementations, with CIS (Center for Internet Security). My expertise in both database security and SQL Server technology has enabled me play a crucial role in the continuous improvement of the SQL Server benchmark. In fact, I was recently credited as being one of the main contributors of the CIS benchmark for the SQL Server 2022 initial release (latest SQL Server release)!
Megan: Quite an impressive background you have there, Emad! Your experience and achievements in both information security and database systems are fascinating. What inspired you to start contributing to Microsoft Learn and what motivates you to continue?
Emad: I realized the importance of documentation many years ago when I started my career as a junior technical analyst. As part of my position, I would frequently meet with senior subject matter experts to discuss the project I was working on. Although they willingly shared their extensive, valuable knowledge with me about installation and setup guidelines, most of it wasn’t actually documented. It was just their own knowledge, in their own brains, based on their experience. So, I began jotting down anything and everything they told me – their best practices, expert tips, troubleshooting steps, and much more! I’ve continued this practice throughout my entire career. I’ve never stopped recognizing and appreciating the vital importance of documentation in my work!
The Microsoft Learn platform is great, and I see all the effort that’s exerted to continuously improve the content in it. I’m inspired to contribute whenever I see a section that I can enhance, whether it be a typo, unclear information, or a confusing step. It’s exciting to pin-point the problem and then provide suggested enhancements to ensure the millions of Learn users have documentation that’s accurate, detailed, and easy-to-understand. I believe that documentation should be written for all levels of IT professionals because without well-written documentation, no one would be able to learn technology correctly.
Megan: How interesting that you experienced the need for and appreciation of documentation so early on in your career! Makes sense why you’re a documentation enthusiast and frequent contributor! And I love your excitement for figuring out ways to enhance our content. Great job! Is there any advice you have for folks who want to start contributing to the Microsoft Learn platform?
Emad: Great question, Megan. I actually have two I’d like to share. First, if you have great hands-on technical experience with a product or service on the Microsoft Learn platform, you’re the perfect candidate to start contributing to that product’s or service’s Learn content! It’s a great way to use your knowledge and expertise to help add concrete value to Learn.
The other advice I have for someone who wants to start contributing is to always keep an open mind when discussing your proposed ideas and enhancements with others. Remember that the foundation of Microsoft Learn is learning and sharing.
Megan: Wonderful! Good advice for new contributors, thanks! I hope it inspires others to follow in your footsteps and share their knowledge by contributing to Microsoft Learn. One final question for you. One purpose of this interview is to get to know a little about the person behind the contributions, so anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself? For example, do you have any hobbies?
Emad: I do! In my spare time I like to watch movies and I also like to exercise. I believe exercising improves both physical and mental health.
Megan: Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more about the exercise. It was lovely speaking with you today, Emad. Thanks so much!