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Following the success for “Security Bulletins for the Regular IT Guy”, I’ve been toying with the idea of expanding on the concept of frank and matter of fact talks on a variety of subjects that are relevant to Technical Professionals across the board. When I was in Seattle recently, I decided to get off my butt and actually record something that fits the bill. I completed some audio editing last night and produced the first episode of an ongoing new podcast that launches today.
The Goal is to have short, “tell it like it is” conversations with a wide mix of people focusing on topics related to ways you can invest in your career. Sometimes they will be technology focused, other times they will focus on personal/professional development.
In this first episode – i talk with Jeff Woolsey, Group Program Manager on the Virtualization team in Redmond. I ask him about skills and resources for IT Professionals related to Virtualization and Private Clouds. Its an area all IT Professionals should be spending time investigating their options from ALL vendors and how they fit in their organization. It doesn’t matter if you manage a small server environment for multiple customers or if you work in a large organization with raised floor server datacenters or somewhere in between. Virtualization technologies, how to manage them and how to work in Mixed Virtualization environments efficiently is an essential skill every technical professional should have in their tool belt.
As this is a work in progress – I am eager to get your feedback and suggestions on topics and ways to make this better. Please pass on your comments (good and bad) directly to me – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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[transcript of podcast]
[Rick] Hi, this is Rick Claus, Senior Technology Evangelist with Microsoft Canada. I’m sitting here at an internal training conference called TechReady 12 and I managed to corner one of my favourite speakers for the session – Jeff Woolsey, who is here and I would call you the Virtualization Guy at Microsoft but I probably think you have a more official title. Can you give us a little bit of a breakdown on what it is that you do.
[Jeff] I’m Jeff Woolsey, group program manager for Hyper-V and Windows Server. I appreciate you giving me “The Guy” title – it’s hard for me to take that because there are so many people working on virtualization throughout Microsoft – it’s such a hot technology and we are invested in so many areas of Virtualization – Hyper-V and Windows Server is one of them, we have App-V we have a lot more technologies going on in terms of Virtualization – Hyper-V is simply one of these technologies – it’s a pleasure to be here.
[Rick] ok. Great! For this I wanted to ask you a question around the Careers aspect and stuff. You just mentioned and called out a wide range of products and technologies and what I am seeing right now in the marketplace in Canada – Infrastructure Professionals and IT Professionals that are the “rank and file” guys that keep the servers running and keep the systems working, do support desk calls and keep the lights on in the server room – they are faced at a turning point right now. They have a variety of forces being placed upon them to be more efficient with the stuff that they have – Virtualization is one of those tools but from a career aspect, where do you see would be a good area they could invest in besides a specific technology or a specific feature set - whatever that would happen to be – what would you say?
[Jeff] Virtualization continues to be an area that continues to be an area that is growing like crazy – it’s blossoming a lot of technologies because virtualization touches so many technologies – weather it storage, network or management or applications or workloads – and there’s different types of virtualization – weather it’s machine based virtualization, whether it’s App-V based virtualization – where you are doing application virtualization or using something like presentation virtualization and so – YES, Virtualization continues to be red hot. I know there’s a lot of VMware IT Pros out there – that’s great. One thing I would tell them is – be very aware that Hyper-V is growing in a very big way and in fact most of the analysts agree that we are seeing a shift now – moving to heterogeneous virtualization – where quite honestly people are saying it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to deploy an extremely expensive virtualization everywhere in my infrastructure when Hyper-V does exactly what I need it to do and more. In fact people are saying it makes a lot of sense now to be certified and be able to deploy, manage and understand VMware Virtualization as well as Hyper-V and we are seeing more and more heterogeneous virtualization – it is becoming a lot more important and quite honestly we have a very capable feature set in Hyper-V, we’re doing really great with things like LiveMigration, Clustering capabilities, High availability – things like that are simply baked into the product and are included and now with the R2 SP1 release, we’ve added even more capabilities like Dynamic Memory, so we’re getting a lot more proof of concepts then ever. We’re getting a lot more deployments then ever and quite honestly we’ve got a lot of happy customers out there running Hyper-V R2 so it’s a great opportunity for guys that are already IT Pro trained – make sure you are adding Hyper-V to your stable of certifications.
[Rick] it’s one of a number of different tools to bring in to solve the overall problem. What would you suggest people should start to look at or how to start if they are new to this? Again, maybe this is a VMware Admin that’s there and all they know is the ESX world and how they work with vSphere and how they work in that kind of environment. Where would they start to be able to find out more information about the Hyper-V pieces and how we integrate and play with the different VMware technologies?
[Jeff] A great way – a great thing is – the barrier to entry is extremely low. If you are an IT Pro, a serious IT Pro, more than likely you already have an MSDN/TechNet account – you can download Server 2008 R2, you can start playing with it because Hyper-V is simply a role, just like File and Print, Web, Terminal Services – I should say Remote Desktop Virtualization – but it’s simply another role. If you know how to deploy those – you know how to deploy Hyper-V. You can immediately start creating virtual machines and spending time with Hyper-V very quickly. Then I would start to look at other things and more broadly or more larger deployments – things like Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 as well as other products we have in the system center family such as Configurations Manager and Operations Manager.
[Rick] What would you say would be representative of the target market – is Hyper-V targeted at the small and medium shop? Is it targeted at the big huge massive hosters? Is it somewhere in between?
[Rick] (laughs) there is no… it fits in all of those?
[Jeff] The answer is yes – it does fit them all. We found in many cases in small environments where quite honestly people are extremely price sensitive, they are looking at virtualization, they just want to get in there… they may have 8 or 10 servers in a very small shop and they would like to virtualize them down. Guess what? I can virtualize them down to two nodes, create a small cluster, using inexpensive iSCSI storage for example and very quickly have a highly available virtualized environment that is easy to use with Hyper-V. In a mid-market, you can run a lot more, you can scale up and start to look at things like Virtual Machine Manager where you manage a full cluster of servers running dozens if not more virtual machines and of course, we certainly plug into the Enterprise and Data Center space as well and at that point you are probably using something like Windows 2008 R2 DataCenter edition to give you unlimited VMs running atop Hyper-V and you are probably using System Center and through the ECI you’re probably using the entire suite – you’d get opps manager, config manager, datacenter protection manager, VMM as well as our new Opalis automation which is extremely important when you start to talk about really building up saleable large clouds. It’s an area.. it’s one of the reasons we purchased Opalis and we made it part of the System Center suite because when you start to talk about Clouds At Scale – I mean really Clouds at Scale, you’re starting to talk about a different type of management. Managing two nodes, five nodes, twenty nodes – that’s one thing. When you start managing one hundred nodes or a thousand nodes or ten thousand nodes – your management has to scale in a different way. You are not just going to walk up to a console, scroll through all these hosts and look for alerts and things like that. You expect the system itself to be self-healing. You expect it to do the right thing. Automation is a key fundamental component to make that successful. If there is a real problem and it does require intervention – you expect to be notified – but automation is the way to do it and Opalis is a fundamental way to do it and I would also say: If you are an IT Pro and you haven’t seen Opalis, if you haven’t looked at Opalis, if you haven’t started to evaluate it – there’s another area of deep investment because for an IT Pro – your position is going to get more challenging – in a good way. Honestly, I think it means more mature IT Pros and you are going to have to develop scripts or workflows and automation to manage more and more resources on a per IT Pro individual. Instead of one IT Pro managing ten servers or twenty servers, maybe they are managing fifty or one hundred servers. To do that and actually scale – you gotta have the knowledge and the ability to handle automation. Opalis is a great way to do that.
[Rick] this is an obvious perfect bridge perspective to look at it from a skills… starting off small, if it’s new to you or if you’ve started to work with virtualization already – how to integrate and interoperate with existing incumbents that are inside your shop. This is also a natural transition over to the Private Cloud Environment – is that really where this is going from a skills perspective? The stuff you are going to be learning from the scale side – that makes private cloud a reality for an individual inside their own environment so that they don’t have to necessarily go off an follow someone else’s guidance on what Private Cloud is. They can come actively to the table with “look, we can do this kind of stuff now.” That’s available now?
[Jeff] Absolutely. When it comes to Cloud – we’ve been very vocal at Microsoft that we are absolutely investing in every… in providing multiple ways to deliver solutions to our customers. Whether it’s Azure and providing an awesome Public Cloud experience or for customers who say “I’m not sure I’m ready to do that yet, but guess what – I want to build my private cloud and I want to treat my resources more. Basically outsource to my internal customers and be able to provide. My IT really becomes a utility model of computing.” Absolutely you can do that with System Center and Windows Server today.
[Rick] Fantastic. Well I wanted to say Thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedule from speaking today…
[Jeff] My pleasure!
[Rick]…to come and talk with us… You know… Awesome! Thanks!
[Jeff] Thank you.