Interview with a Forefront Identity Manager MVP: Peter Geelen - Wiki tips, experiences, & tips on becoming an MVP

This week's Monday Interview is with...

 Peter Geelen, FIM MVP:

Peter Geelen's avatar

Who are you, where are you, and what do you do?

I’ve been working in ICT since 1997, with a solid experience on the Microsoft Windows Server platform, running IT & network projects, Microsoft server management and network support, 2nd & 3rd line troubleshooting, presales, enterprise architecture, and more.

Since 2005, I’ve been a consultant in Identity & Access Management, mainly handling Microsoft product support with various Microsoft platforms like Windows Server, SQL Server, AD, MIIS (Microsoft Identity Integration Server), ILM (Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager), FIM 2010 (Forefront Identity Manager), PKI, ISA/TMG, IAG/UAG, ADFS, and other IDM systems, RBAC, single sign-on & security solutions, including Omada Identity Manager, the Sentillion Expresso & Vergence product suite, Identity Forge solutions, BHOLD, and more. But Identity & Access Management by nature covers a lot more, like setting up interactions with all kinds of data systems (HR, CRM, SAP, … just name it), process remodeling, and so on.  
I've been certified as CISSP, CISA, MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer), PRINCE2, MCSE:Security, and MCSA:Security (and currently studying to get that upgraded to the Windows 2008 track).

I’m the co-founder and community lead of the Belgian Microsoft Security User Group (

Since 2008, I’ve been awarded as an MVP for Identity Lifecycle Manager, now rebranded to MVP Forefront Identity Manager (my MVP profile page).
You’ll find my blog at
And if time allows, I try to post some tweets too. (Find me at @geelenp).

How did you become an MVP of Forefront Identity Manager? Do you have any suggestions for other community members who hope to eventually become MVPs?

Professionally, I’m mainly focused on Identity & Access Management, more specifically on the Microsoft platform.
Building on that experience, I started blogging, and I actively participated in the TechNet forums for Identity Lifecycle Manager and later on Forefront Identity Manager to help out others and to share knowledge.

As I mentioned earlier, I started an off-line Microsoft Security user group in Belgium, in 2007. At least every quarter we organize events covering various topics on infrastructure security.
Additionally we organize joint events with other user groups (See the Belgian Communityday), with Microsoft (such as TechDays), and with other technology partners.

In 2008 I got nominated for the MVP award and since then I received the award for ILM/FIM each year.

Becoming and staying an MVP is more than just building and maintaining an online presence.
Being very active online through the TechNet Forums, TechNet Wiki, and blogs does help. But it’s just a part of the bigger picture ( - copy and paste if the linnkn doesn't work).

You must deliver your expertise and want to share your knowledge in an open way. You're sort of evangelizing the platform.
I can assure it’s more than a full-time job.

And don’t forget that the award is re-evaluated every year.
But, IMHO the MVP award is not a target in itself.
I do appreciate that I’ve received the award, it’s an important acknowledgement of the effort you’ve put in the community.
But it’s far more important to just have fun in what you do. 

What do you do with TechNet Wiki, and how does that fit into the rest of your job?

I use TechNet Wiki to share knowledge, putting together less volatile, more stable content (in comparison to the forums).

Initially, before the Wiki was available, the ILM/FIM experts used the TechNet forum to post (some large) Wiki-like articles on specific topics.
But it was nearly impossible for the community to maintain the article, because only the author could edit the post. It required quite some offline revision before it could be posted.
As soon as the Wiki became available, we switched from the forum to Wiki. But we still do announce the publication of Wiki articles on the applicable forum.

It partially fits in the rest of my job. Writing articles and participating in the Wiki and forum usually happens after hours…

ILM/FIM and other Microsoft security products are an important part of my job; I do refer quite frequently to Wiki articles.
Frequently my students ask for starter guides, training materials, and online multimedia to get acquainted with the product, and a one-stop-shop resource page (on TechNet Wiki) is a blessing in that sense.
It never got easier than referring to:, right?

What is it about TechNet Wiki that interests you?

I really like the free, natural, and unforced way of collaboration on the Wiki.
Sharing experience, learning by doing.
It’s a positive community that's helping each other, constantly improving the content.
That’s a community I want to be part of.

On what articles have you collaborated with other community members on #TNWiki? What was that experience like?
To be honest, I barely can track the articles I've been authoring. I must admit that I lost track on the articles I’ve been contributing to (not originally authored myself).
There are 2 main topics I’ve been contributing to: Identity & Access (ILM, Wiki, CLM, ADFS, …)  and Wiki Article management.

“What was the experience like?” Well, … pure fun, very interesting and a nice learning experience.
It’s very nice to receive and give positive feedback, improving articles in a joint effort.

On the technical level, it has been hard. It hasn’t always been easy.
But the Wiki has been evolving continuously. The editor has been improved in important ways.
Still, there are some important features I would like to see implemented in order to get the best experience.
For example, exposure of the article statistics (like page views, referrals, …) would be nice.

What are your favorite articles you’ve contributed?

I can’t reference to my blog posts on the Wiki Ninja blog, right? :)

Number 1 for sure is the Forefront Identity Manager Resourceswiki article.
Initially it was put together as kind of one-stop-shop for all Forefront Identity Manager stuff.
But while I was researching the available resources on the internet, I found some pretty amazing stuff. For example, I never knew that there were some podcasts on FIM 2010.
So it almost became a continuous job to keep track of interesting resources and to put them in the resource page.

Later one some more of these resource pages were launched… 
Take a look at these: How to License FIM 2010, How to Use PowerShell to Create a Wiki Catalog Page, FIM 2010 Wiki Articles

Another favorite, actually a set of favorites, is the series of documents regarding to the management of Wiki articles that I started writing, because the Wiki has very interesting features, which are not always known…

So, whenever I find out or learn something about a Wiki feature that’s not yet documented or if it deserves more attention, I try to wrap it up in a Wiki article.
That way shared knowledge helps the community.

Some examples: How to Automatically Add a Table of Contents (TOC) to Your Wiki Article, Wiki Article Syntax

Who has impressed you in the Wiki community, and why?

That’s a hard question.

I could easily name a few that got me started on the Wiki, but every day people impress me again in the Wiki community.

From my own experience, I know it’s not easy to put time and effort in creating good Wiki articles with correct, up-to-date, and in-depth information.  
And later on, maintaining them to keep that high standard. It’s a time consuming job on itself.

And now and then I do like to take a look at the latest Wiki articles outside my comfort zone, discussing technology I do not know.
It's a different way of getting to know the world around you.

You've done fairly well on the Wiki. Do you have any tips or recommendations about editing or authoring articles?

Keep it simple.
First build an article with a basic layout, using the default universal styles of the Wiki editor.
Later on, when the basic content is OK, you could consider an advanced layout.
But the basic layout is usually already difficult enough.

Nevertheless, it’s very easy to add some pictures in your article to make it attractive.

And out-of-the-box the Wiki offers some interesting layout features, you shouldn’t put together yourself, like the TOC.
The Wiki does it for you.

Keep it clean. When you finish your article, take a good look at the HTML code.
Some tools add redundant layout tags to your code, when you copy/past content from an off-line editor into the Wiki editor.
If you stick to the bare necessities, you will not be surprised with your article misbehaving in a later stage, when you try to edit or update it.

Prepare off-line. Don’t start writing your article on the Wiki.
First draft it off-line. It allows you to put your ideas together in a consistent way.

(Note from Ed: but as Peter says above, try to keep it simple with styles, such as by using Windows Live Writer, an HTML editor, or Notepad. If you use Word and include a lot of styles or other changes, then you'll find that you need to make more tweaks in the Wiki editor. Another way to do this is to paste into the HTML tab, which removes all your styles.)

Mind the platformKeep in mind that the Wiki platform has its limits.
And the Wiki editor behaves differently from the Forum editor.
For different reasons, the Wiki platform strips certain HTML tags, doesn’t support active scripts, etc…
The forum editor does too, but it is even more aggressive on removing certain layout, content, tags, …
Just compare the buttons available in both editors.

If you copy/past offline-content into the editor, carefully check if everything is still in there.

ExperimentIn comparison to a blog, you can’t save a draft on the TechNet Wiki and Forums.
If you post, you’re public right away.
So you’ll need to work off-line as suggested earlier, or …

Did you know that TechNet has a test & development Forum environment: aka theForum Sandbox.
In some cases, you need to test something online… the QA is a good companion tool for that.  


Thank you, Peter! We'll see more from you later!

    - Ninja Ed (Blog, Twitter, Wiki, Profile)