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  • Building a Private Cloud VM Compute Foundation with the FREE Hyper-V Server 2012

    When designing your virtualization host framework for your Private Cloud, it's important to select platforms that use widely supported standards and provide cost-effective solutions for elastically scaling a resilient compute foundation.  With this criteria in check, you'll be able to grow your compute foundation to support additional capacity as needed while taking advantage of the latest advancements in hypervisor technologies ... AND without risk of being locked in to a single-vendor solution.  Virtualization and private cloud capabilities are expanding rapidly, and you definitely want to be sure that your ability to capitalize on new impactful features isn't being "boxed in".

    For these reasons, a ton of IT Pros that I speak with are experiencing great success today by expanding their compute capacity with the FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 product, regardless of their current "incumbent" hypervisor. As an enterprise-grade, bare-metal hypervisor solution, Hyper-V Server 2012 offers the same level of scale, clustering, live migration and DR-replication capabilities as the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012, but at an unmatched feature/cost pricepoint in the industry -  an enterprise hypervisor feature set for FREE.  In terms of widely supported standards, Hyper-V uses the VHD virtual hard disk standard for broad industry compatibility - so there's no risk that your data will be locked inside a proprietary disk format. This provides unprecedented flexibility for growing your Private Cloud compute foundation via a hybrid mix of on-premise hypervisor hosts, public cloud fabric ( Windows Azure VMs also support VHDs ) and/or third-party service providers/hosting partners ... all of which empowers us to select the options which best support each of our individual application workloads.

    In this article, I'll walk through the resources you'll need to get started with Hyper-V Server 2012, and I'll also include more advanced resources for building a scalable and highly-available clustered compute foundation for FREE!

  • Step-by-Step: Build a FREE SharePoint 2013 Dev/Test Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services


    • This Step-by-Step Guide has been leveraged to define a new Windows Azure Deployment Planning Service ( AZDPS ) for Microsoft Partners and Customers: Implementing Develop and Test Scenarios on Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Customers can now engage authorized partners for planning and delivery of this solution AND customers with Software Assurance ( SA ) benefits attached to a Volume Licensing ( VL ) agreement can leverage SA to pay for all or part of this partner engagement. 
    • At the end of this step-by-step article, I've also included a downloadable lab guide and130-line PowerShell script for initial provisioning.  The PowerShell script helps to reduce the initial configuration time by automating the provisioning of a new Windows Azure Storage account, Virtual Network and Virtual Machines - after running the script, you'll just need to Remote Desktop into each VM to finish the OS and application-level configuration tasks. 

    Hope you enjoy!

    Now that SharePoint Server 2013 has been released, I frequently get asked about ways in which a SharePoint 2013 lab environment can be easily built for studying, testing, development, demos and/or performing a proof-of-concept.  You could certainly build this lab environment on your own hardware, but due to the level of SharePoint 2013 hardware requirements, a lot of us may not have sufficient spare hardware to implement an on-premise lab environment.

    This makes a great scenario for leveraging our Windows Azure FREE Trial Offer to build a free Dev/Test lab environment for SharePoint 2013 in the cloud.  Using the process outlined in this article, you’ll be able to build a basic functional farm environment for SharePoint 2013 with your free trial subscription for Windows Azure ...

  • Installing the NEW Office 2013 Customer Preview - Step-by-Step

    Today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Corporate Vice President Kirk Koenigsbauer announced the immediate availability of the Customer Preview of the NEW Office suite - Office 2013!  This latest version of Office provides new support for Touch Input, Cloud services integration and Social collaboration, powering new usage scenarios around digital note-taking, document reading and markup, meetings and presentations. View full details and step-by-step installation instructions ...

  • Tip-of-the-Day - Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise Activation #ITPro #Windows8

    Did you download Windows 8 Enterprise using your MSDN or TechNet subscription?  As a the full-feature "business edition" of Windows 8, the Enterprise SKU defaults to using corporate Volume License activation on a business network.  On a business network, this process provides a simplified end-user activation process, as Windows 8 Enterprise automatically determines which servers to activate against using DNS without you needing to manage individual activation keys for each PC.  But how do you activate Windows 8 Enterprise if you're not connected to a business network, perhaps when you are testing Windows 8 in an isolated lab environment?

  • Step-by-Step: Migrating to FREE Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 Servers AND Clusters from 2008 R2 and VMware

    UPDATE: I'm updating this article to also include a new Step-by-Step video and migration guide that was recently released by our Cluster team to provide guidance for using the Migrate a Cluster Wizard to migrate CLUSTERS of Hyper-V Server hosts from 2008 R2 to 2012, in addition to the other migration scenarios previously included in this article below.

    - - - - - - - - - - -

    Recently, I was involved in a project that was migrating from Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 to Hyper-V Server 2012.  Due to architectural changes involved in implementing the new features in Hyper-V Server 2012, a direct in-place upgrade is not possible.  However, the across-the-wire migration process we used below was straight-forward and worked very well.  A ton of work has been done by the product team on improving the virtual machine export/import process, and we definitely saw this area shine during our project. Here's the migration steps we used ...

  • Step-by-Step: Building a FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 Cluster - Part 1 of 2

    Leverage the FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 to provide an Enterprise-ready Private Cloud Foundation!

    Configuring our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 in a highly available cluster can be really easy.  In this article, I’ll step through the configuration of a Hyper-V host cluster configuration that uses Hyper-V Server 2012 so that you'll have the details to step through this process in your own lab environment.

    In Part 2 of this article series, I’ll finish up with the steps needed to provision and test a highly available virtual machine within your new cluster ...

  • NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 - Do I Need to Configure My Switch?

    One of the common questions on NIC teaming is whether special network switches and/or customized switch configurations are needed to fully support NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012.  And, the answer is ... it depends!  Read this article to find our when and how you may need to configure network switches to participate in a NIC team ...

  • Step-by-Step: Scoping out the NEW DHCP Failover in Windows Server 2012 - 31 Days of Favorite Features ( Part 28 of 31 )

    The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol ( DHCP ) is a core network service in most IT shops for providing IP Address lease information to client devices, and potentially, to servers.  In this article, we’ll step through the new DHCP Failover capability in Windows Server 2012 as a cost-effective option that can provide High Availability ( HA ) for this important service ...

  • FREE Technical eBook for IT Pros on Windows Server 2012 and Private Cloud

    This week, Mitch Tulloch and the Windows Server team have released a new updated version of the FREE e-Book for IT professionals: Introducing Windows Server 2012 RTM Edition. This book is a great way to get quickly skilled up on all the new improvements in the latest Windows Server - one of the most impressive releases of Windows Server since Active Directory was released in Windows Server 2000!  In this 256-page eBook, you'll find 5 chapters of detailed technical content covering the following key improvements to building a Private Cloud at your shop with Windows Server 2012 ...

  • Step-by-Step: Hyper-V Network Virtualization - 31 Days of Favorite Features in #WinServ 2012 ( Part 8 of 31 )

    Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 include a new network virtualization feature that permits the definition of "software-defined networking (SDN)" within the native Hyper-V hypervisor.  Hyper-V Network Virtualization extends the virtualization benefits we've realized when virtualizing server workloads into the network layer to decouple our physical network infrastructure from logical layer-2 and layer-3 subnets.  In this article, I'll explain how Hyper-V Network Virtualization works and provide a step-by-step example of implementing ...

  • FREE MCSE Private Cloud Exam Study Guide for Exam 70-246

    UPDATE: New Resources Included for System Center 2012 SP1

    This month, I spent a fair amount of time preparing for the new Microsoft Private Cloud Certification Exam 70-246, Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 and I saved links to all the study resources that I used to study and pass this exam as a step-by-step Exam Study Guide for anyone else who may be interested in targeting this exam.  Download my FREE Study Guide for this Exam here ...

  • Step-by-Step: Building a Windows Server 2012 Active Directory Forest in the Cloud with Windows Azure

    Often times, applications that we’re deploying to the cloud may expect Windows Server Active Directory to be present for authentication and identity management.  With Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks, we can deploy Windows Server Active Directory on the Windows Azure cloud platform to support these security needs.  Best of all, you can test and pilot this scenario for FREE by using our Windows Azure 90-Day Free Trial program.

    In this article, we’ll be working through the steps involved with provisioning a new Windows Server 2012 Active Directory Forest in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks ...

  • VLAN Tricks with NICs - Teaming & Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012

    After I wrote my prior post on our new natively supported NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 product, there’s been a ton of questions around how VLANs work with NIC Teaming and Hyper-V.  In this article, I’ll build upon my prior post and cover configuring VLAN traffic segregation for physical and virtualized workloads ...

  • FREE eBook: Windows 8 for IT Pros (Updated - Final Copy)

    UPDATE: The final copy of this eBook has been released and is now available for download at the links in this article!


    This week, we have released a new FREE preview e-Book for IT professionals: Introducing Windows 8 - An Overview for IT Professionals. Now that Windows 8 is generally available, this book is a great way to get quickly up-to-speed on all the new improvements in this latest Windows release.  In addition to a re-imagined user interface that provides an immersive experience across touch, pen, keyboard and mouse inputs, Windows 8 also includes significant updates across hardware support, management, security, networking, storage, virtualization, deployment, and recovery - all areas that are critically important to IT Pros!  

    In this 147-page eBook, you'll find 11 chapters of detailed technical content covering the following key improvements for supporting PCs with Windows ...

  • Server Core in Windows Server 2012 - Improved Taste, Less Filling, More Uptime - 31 Days of Favorite Features in #WinServ 2012 ( Part 19 of 31 )

    Would you like to reduce your patch maintenance requirements by over 1/3rd?

    Of course! Who wouldn't? 

    Server Core in Windows Server 2012 reduces the disk footprint of the operating system by approximately 4GB!  When using the Server Core installation option, the features related to the Server Graphical Shell ( ie., Explorer, Start Screen, and Internet Explorer ) and Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure are not installed - GUI features that are usually not required on a dedicated server, because we tend to do most of our IT management work from our admin workstation anyway, as a "best practice".  By not installing these features, we gain several advantages ...

  • Step-by-Step: Build Your Cloud with System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure

    April 11, 2014: Updated to include additional resources ...

    Now, take Build Your Cloud on-the-go with Windows Phone!

    My fellow Technical Evangelists and I have authored a content series that steps through building your very own Cloud by leveraging Windows Server 2012 R2, our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services ( IaaS ) and System Center 2012 R2.  Week-by-week, we walk through the steps to envision, plan and implement your very own Cloud to take your existing data center to the next level and give you the tools and time back in your day for improving IT services and being able to change and shift with your business / IT needs.

    In this article, I introduce this series and provide a weekly breakdown of each topic that we've written to help you build your own Cloud ...

  • Super-fast Failovers with VM Guest Clustering in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V - Become a Virtualization Expert in 20 Days! ( Part 14 of 20 )

    Virtual Machine Guest Clustering allows us to extend the high availability afforded to us by Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering directly to applications running inside a set of virtual machines that are hosted on a Hyper-V Host Cluster.  This allows us to support cluster-aware applications running as virtualized workloads.  In this article, I’ll walk through the advantages and implementation steps for Virtual Machine Guest Clustering.   Along the way, we’ll explore some new features in Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering that enhance Virtual Machine Guest Clustering: Virtual Fibre Channel SANs, Anti-Affinity and Virtual Machine Monitoring.


  • Automated Disaster Recovery Testing and Failover with Hyper-V Replica and PowerShell 3.0 for FREE!

    Hyper-V Replica is a new built-in feature of both Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 products.  Hyper-V Replica enables Hyper-V hosts or clusters to enable distance replication of running VMs to remote Hyper-V hosts over a standard IP WAN connection.  It provides a very cost-effective disaster recovery solution in the event of a primary data center outage. To get this feature in the VMware world, we'd pay gobs of extra money to license "Site Recovery Manager", but in Hyper-V it's just included as part of the core feature set - no extra cost.

    In this article, I'll step through the process of implementing an automated Disaster Recovery solution using Hyper-V Replica and PowerShell 3.0 in Windows Server 2012 ...

  • Over 100 TechEd 2012 Hands-On Labs are now available online #ws2012 #hyperv #sysctr

    Good news! Until September 30th, we are making available online over 100 of the most popular TechEd North America Hands-on Labs. Accessing the virtual environments and manuals is really easy ...

  • Want to get certified on Windows Server 2012? Join the "Early Experts" Peer Study Group! #itpro #winserver2012

    The new Microsoft certification exams for MCSA on Windows Server 2012 will be released over the upcoming weeks and to help you prepare early for certification on Windows Server 2012, we're launching a new "Early Experts" peer study group that is available online for FREE.  By joining and participating in this study group, you'll gain access to a monthly set of structured step-by-step study materials that align with the exam objectives for each of the new certification exams for Windows Server 2012 ...

  • 12 Steps to NTFS Shared Folders in Windows Server 2012

    In the past, managing and sharing NTFS folders could be a real ordeal – there were different tools for managing NTFS permissions vs shared folders and most IT Pros generally used these tools on a server-by-server basis from each server’s console. 

    Server Manager to the rescue!

    In Windows Server 2012, Server Manager provides a management facelift on top of the disconnected process that we’ve used in the past for sharing folders and setting NTFS permissions.  In addition, Server Manager can easily manage these folders on a local server or any remote servers that you’ve previously added to the Server Manager dashboard.  In this article, I step through the simplified process of using Server Manager to share and configure NTFS shared folders in Windows Server 2012  ...

  • Surface with Windows 8 Pro - Pricing Announced!

    Today, the Surface team announced pricing for Surface with Windows 8 Pro as follows:

    • $899 for the 64GB version
    • $999 for the 128GB version

    Both versions will be offered with a ...

  • Step-by-Step: Extending On-Premise Active Directory to the Cloud with Windows Azure - 31 Days of Servers in the Cloud - Part 20 of 31

    Extending an on-premise Windows Server Active Directory ( AD ) infrastructure into the cloud is an important topic to consider when planning the migration or implementation of cloud-based applications.  Many existing applications require Active Directory for authentication and identity management.  When migrating applications to the cloud, having a locally accessible Active Directory is an important factor to ensuring that AD authentication is fast and reliable.

    In this article, we’ll be stepping through the components involved with extending an on-premise Active Directory infrastructure into the Cloud using Windows Server Active Directory on Windows Azure VMs.

  • Backup and Recovery of Windows 8 & Windows 8.1 - Tip-of-the-Day

    Update for Windows 8.1: Note that System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 has been moved to the lower left corner of the File History tool in Control Panel as shown below. 

    File History tool in Windows 8.1

    In addition, the Windows 7 File Recovery tool in Control Panel has been renamed to the Recovery tool in Windows 8.1.

    Have you recently installed Windows 8?  In this article, we'll introduce you to the new options available for making Backup and Recovery in Windows 8 easier than ever, including Windows 8 File History, launching Windows System Backup and Windows 8 Refresh & Reset PC.

  • Best of TechEd 2013 – What’s New in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2

    Didn’t make it to TechEd this year? Don’t worry!  This month, we’ll be releasing a new article series that highlights the Best of TechEd announcements and technical information for IT Pros.  Today’s article focuses on enhancements in Hyper-V server virtualization in the upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2 release.

    Last week at TechEd 2013 North America, we announced Windows Server 2012 R2 – the next major release of Windows Server! We’ve already made significant virtualization improvements around Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 – across the board, including scale, availability, management, storage, networking – BUT there’s a TON of new and enhanced capabilities planned for Hyper-V in the forthcoming Windows Server 2012 R2 release. 

    In this article, we’ll provide an overview of these enhancements. After you review these new capabilities, I’m sure you’ll see why the R2 release is a MAJOR RELEASE – so MUCH MORE than “just another” Service Pack release!