You know you want to get your hands dirty. Well as dirty as us geeks can get them in this increasingly virtual world. As you know, I am spending a lot of time right now talking about Private Cloud. I want to make you have as much information and all the right tools at your disposal to ensure you can stay current with your skills. Below you will find a collection of link to free training, free software, and preview releases of upcoming Microsoft IT software. All of which are designed to make managing your on-premise infrastructure and private cloud implementations easier to install, manage and maintain as well as get you connected to “the cloud” with Windows Azure.

 

Free Training and Learning

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Not sure how Office 365 fits into you IT Management plans? Maybe you are a VMWare administrator and you need to know how Microsoft’s Hyper-V solutions can help you? Or, maybe you need to know more about Windows Azure and how it may benefit your organization? Check out the Microsoft Virtual Academy for self-paced training on all of these and more.

Deploying and Managing Windows Azure Applications Evaluation

System Center enables IT Professionals to use existing skills and tools to monitor and manage applications on Windows Azure without purchasing additional hardware or software. The Windows Azure Application Monitoring Management Pack bridges the gap between System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and applications running on Windows Azure, enabling IT Pros to use System Center Operations Manager to manage applications on Windows Azure. In this evaluation, you will follow a step-by-step guide to deploy a sample application to Windows Azure and then use System Center Operations Manager to monitor and manage that application.

 

Free Software

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 with SP1

You say you already have enough full Windows Servers? You just want a Hyper-Visor to deploy? Then this is the product for you! This is a Hyper-Visor only product that installs to bare metal and is managed remotely. Best of all, it is FREE!

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is the hypervisor-based server virtualization product that allows you to consolidate workloads onto a single physical server. It is a stand-alone product that provides a reliable and optimized virtualization solution enabling organizations to improve server utilization and reduce costs. Since Hyper-V Server is a dedicated stand-alone product which contains only the Windows Hypervisor, Windows Server driver model, and virtualization components, it provides a small footprint and minimal overhead.

 

Current Release Evaluations

Windows 2008 R2 with SP1 Evaluation

This is the foundation upon which your Microsoft Private Cloud gets built. You know the operating system. You know the use interface. But did you know the Hyper-V Virtualization is built in? It is! Download it and check it out!

You are regularly challenged by the growing needs of the business. Operations demand around the clock availability and the need for heightened security and compliance has never been greater. These pressures all converge with the day to day challenges of maintaining control of ever-increasing server sprawl, resources, and budgets. Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 is designed to help you increase control, availability, and flexibility of your datacenter and desktop infrastructure while helping reduce costs

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 with SP1 Evaluation

This is our current version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager. System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 helps enable centralized management of physical and virtual IT infrastructure, increased server utilization, and dynamic resource optimization across multiple virtualization platforms. It includes end-to-end capabilities such as planning, deploying, managing, and optimizing the virtual infrastructure. This product give you a single interface from which to manage your entire virtual infrastructure – including your VMWare ESX Servers!

System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 Evaluation

If you manage a large physical and virtual infrastructure, you need to know what each and every server and client is doing and what resources are consumed making it all happen. You also want to be as proactive as possible when resolving problematic issues. System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, Microsoft’s end-to-end service-management product, is your best choice for Windows environments. It works seamlessly with Microsoft infrastructure servers, such as Windows Server, and application servers, such as Microsoft Exchange, helping you to increase efficiency while enabling greater control of the IT environment. As a significant step towards fulfilling Microsoft’s common management vision, Operations Manager 2007 R2 also helps you monitor Windows Azure applications, thus allowing you to extend your familiar on-premises monitoring solution to public cloud scenarios

System Center Configuration Manager R3 Evaluation

Did you know? - System Center Configuration Manager 2007 is used by more enterprises than any other client management solution. It comprehensively assesses, deploys, and updates your servers, client computers, and devices across physical, virtual, and mobile environments. Optimized for Windows, it is the best choice for gaining enhanced insight into and control over your IT systems.

 

Betas and Release Candidates

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Release Candidate

Almost there folks! System Center 2012 cloud and datacenter management solutions empower you with a common management toolset for your private and public cloud applications and services. System Center helps you confidently deliver IT as a Service for your business. If you have not yet downloaded this latest version or even if you downloaded the previous beta release, I encourage you to take a look at and provide feedback on the Release Candidate. We are close to wrapping this on up and putting a bow on it so this is your last chance to let us know what you think and find any of this last minute bugs to report.

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Beta 2

Consumerization of IT is a growing challenge for tech heavy organizations. The boundaries between work and life have blurred, and people expect consistent access to corporate services from wherever they are, on any device they’re using—desktops, laptops, smart phones and slates.

Configuration Manager helps you to empower people to use the devices and applications they need to be productive, while maintaining corporate compliance and control. As consumerization becomes a reality, you face the challenge of delivering a rich experience to users across multiple devices without giving up the control needed to protect corporate assets. Configuration Manager provides a unified infrastructure for mobile, physical and virtual environments that allows you to deliver and manage user experiences based on identity, connectivity, and device. Configuration Manager also helps you to be more efficient with simplified administrative tools and improved compliance enforcement.

 

MCP Exams and Certification

Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization – Exam 70-659

Think you know Hyper-V Virtualization?  Prove it!

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, Configuring – Exam 70-400

Think you know how to manage your system with SCOM?  Prove it!

Note – I will be taking (and passing!) both of these exams in the coming months. So consider this a public challenge!  Maybe I will come up with some sort of incentive on this. Keep tabs on this blog!

 

Cheers!