Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • Learn Microsoft Virtualization in Your Own Easy-to-Build Virtual Lab

    Virtualization Lab Build Guide

    Many of you in the U.S. may be familiar with the Microsoft “IT Camps” that we host now and then, where we teach you some great stuff and then give you the opportunity to work with the technology through hosted hands-on lab exercises.  These free in-person events have become very popular.  They’re so popular, in fact, that our next of IT Camps (kicking off this week) are pretty much all filled to capacity!  (This is why I don’t have a link to share on where to go to register. We’re all full!) 

    The labs we’re doing this time involve configuring and driving a highly available virtualization and private cloud platform using Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.  Our IT Campers will configure storage pools, networking, virtualization hosts, a highly available host cluster, and even virtual machine templates and service templates.  All-in-all there are about four hours of really rich lab work awaiting our IT Camp attendees.

    Beyond the fact that these labs were only for our IT Camp attendees, a sad limitation in the timing of the lab.  We could only make the online versions available to you for the day of the event only, and no more.  So invariably at every IT Camp I get comments that go something like this:

    “Hey Kevin.. I love these labs, and I’d love to be able to do them again.” 

    - OR -

    “Hey Kevin, I have other people at my company that would learn so much from these labs.” 

    - OR -

    “Gosh, Kevin, I wish I could have access to these labs for more than just today.”

    And each of these are usually followed by the big question:

    “Do you have any instructions on how to build these lab virtual machines so that I can run them on my own hardware?”

    Well.. you’re in luck!  For this new set of IT Camps, and even for those of you who are unable to attend, I’ve created a Virtualization Lab Build Guide.

    “A Virtualization Lab Build Guide?”

    Virtualization Lab Build GuideYes.  I provide easy instructions and PowerShell scripts to help you quickly spin up and configure the 5 virtual machines that are used in the Virtualization lab; the same lab that we’re doing at our IT Camps.  And of course I’m also including the original lab manual; the same one that we’re handing out at our events.  So once you have the machines built, you can go through the labs over and over again to your heart’s content, or quickly spin up training environments for your other co-workers.

    “But, what will I need to have to do this?”

    For the software on your host machine, you’ll have to be running Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Hyper-V role installed.  The free evaluation installation works just fine. 

    In order to be able to run all 5 virtual machines on the same physical box, your server (or like in my case, a Hyper-V-capable spare laptop) will have to have at least 16GB of RAM and at least 200GB of free disk space

    The software required to build the virtual machines is all evaluation or free software:

    Once downloaded, you just extract the “Virtualization Lab Build Guide.zip” file containing the resources, put the above software installations into the .\Base folder, and run the script that creates the virtual machines. 

    But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Full instructions are included in the guide.  Download the Lab Manuals and .ZIP file from my SkyDrive here: Virtualization Lab Build Guide

    Virtualization Lab Build Guide

    Feel free to send me any feedback or questions, either in the comments on this blog post, or through the contact function (“E-mail Blog Author”) on this blog.  This is version 1.1, so I definitely expect to be fixing and improving things as I hear from you all.  I sincerely hope you will make good use of these resources!

    And if it is useful to you, then I’ll be doing more of these in future.

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 3) Virtualization: Did You Know...

    In Part 3 of our “Virtualization: Did you Know…” series, Jeff Woolsey and I conclude our Top 10 list of Virtualization solution facts.

    Download

    Missed Part 1 or Part 2  in this series? Click the links and get caught up!

    __________________________

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
     Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012 R2System Center 2012 R2 and  Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and get the best virtualization platform and private cloud management solution on the market. Try it FREE now!

     Don't Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Try Windows Azure for free with no cost or obligations, and use any OS, language, database or tool. FREE Trial

    __________________________

    If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

    Websites & Blogs:

    More Videos:

    clip_image005622Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
    clip_image0061122Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro

    clip_image005922Connect with Kevin @KevinRemde
    clip_image0061222Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeisFullofIT

    clip_image008322Subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 2) Virtualization: Did You Know...

    In this episode I welcome back Jeff Woolsey to the show for Part 2 of our three part “Virtualization: Did you Know…” series, where we cover four more quick facts about Microsoft’s Virtualization solution.

    Download

    __________________________

    If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
    clip_image00232Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012 R2System Center 2012 R2and  Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and get the best virtualization platform and private cloud management solution on the market. Try it FREE now!

    clip_image00432Don't Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Try Windows Azure for free with no cost or obligations, and use any OS, language, database or tool. FREE Trial

    Websites & Blogs:

    clip_image00562Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
    clip_image006112Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro

    clip_image00592Connect with Kevin @KevinRemde
    clip_image006122Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeisFullofIT

    clip_image00832Subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 1) Virtualization: Did You Know...

    Today I welcome Varun Chhabra to the show as we kick off our three part “Virtualization: Did you Know…” series. 

    In this series we will discuss facts and facets of Microsoft’s Virtualization solution that, if you are currently using some other virtualization platform, you probably didn’t know but definitely should.

    Download

    __________________________

    If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
    clip_image0023Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012 R2System Center 2012 R2and  Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and get the best virtualization platform and private cloud management solution on the market. Try it FREE now!

    clip_image0043Don't Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Try Windows Azure for free with no cost or obligations, and use any OS, language, database or tool. FREE Trial

    Websites & Blogs:

    clip_image0056Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
    clip_image00611Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro

    clip_image0059Connect with Kevin @KevinRemde
    clip_image00612Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeisFullofIT

    clip_image0083Subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • Webcast: Microsoft Virtualization – Important Things You Didn’t Know

    Today (just a few minutes ago, in fact) I had the honor of presenting a webcast entitled “Microsoft Virtualization – Important Things You Didn’t Know” on BrightTALK

    The recording is now available, and viewable here:

    (click to go to the recording)
    Kevin's Webcast hosted on BrightTALK

    Let me know if you have any questions…

  • TechNet Radio - Understanding BYOD: What it Means for My Company (Part 1)

    In this two part series with Sr. Knowledge Engineer Yuri Diogenes, we explore the world of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) scenarios and how more IT organizations are trying to support it.

    In part one we try to help explain the benefits, challenges and considerations that need to be made around BYOD.

    Download

    Download the “BYOD Survival Guide” Here!

    __________________________

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
     Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012 R2System Center 2012 R2 and  Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and get the best virtualization platform and private cloud management solution on the market. Try it FREE now!

     Don't Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Try Windows Azure for free with no cost or obligations, and use any OS, language, database or tool. FREE TRIAL

    __________________________

    If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

    Websites & Blogs:

    Videos:

    clip_image005622Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
    clip_image0061122Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro

    clip_image005922Connect with Kevin @KevinRemde
    clip_image0061222Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeisFullofIT

    clip_image008322Subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • TechNet Radio - Understanding BYOD: How to Make it Happen (Part 2)

    Yuri Diogenes and I are back for Part 2 of our BYOD solution series.  In today’s episode we explore some of the technologies from Microsoft and how you can implement them into your organization’s BYOD strategy.

    Download

    Download the “BYOD Survival Guide” Here!

    __________________________

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
     Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012 R2System Center 2012 R2 and  Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and get the best virtualization platform and private cloud management solution on the market. Try it FREE now!

     Don't Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Try Windows Azure for free with no cost or obligations, and use any OS, language, database or tool. FREE TRIAL

    __________________________

    If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

    Websites & Blogs:

    Videos:

    clip_image005622Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
    clip_image0061122Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro

    clip_image005922Connect with Kevin @KevinRemde
    clip_image0061222Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeisFullofIT

    clip_image008322Subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • Welcome Back!

    Happy Monday!

    “Monday?  It’s Thursday, dummy.”

    What better way to start the new year than by evaluating some great solutions from Microsoft?Right.  But it feels like Monday.  Today is the dreaded first day back to work after a nice long Christmas and New Year vacation.  For many (like me), it’s the most difficult-to-get-out-of-bed morning there is. 

    So this note to you (in the form of a blog article) is just my way welcoming you back, and  wishing you all a productive return to your normal routines. 

    I sincerely hope you all had as nice a Christmas break as I did.  And you can all un-decorate the house and toss out the tree on Saturday, but for today and tomorrow, let’s kick some serious I.T. butt.

    …once we get caught up on e-mail, that is.

  • What’s New for Active Directory in Server 2012 R2?

    Active Directory.  You know it.  You love it.  You’ve loved it since it made its introduction back in Windows 2000 Server.  Over 90 percent of the world’s business IT relies on Active Directory for local user and machine management, authentication, policy application, and directory services. 

    Contoso.com's ADAnd with every new version of a Windows Server product, we make improvements and add new functionality that either directly impacts Active Directory, or indirectly impacts (read: enables) other new functionality on behalf of your users, applications, and managed resources.  So naturally we couldn’t do a series of “Why Windows Server 2012 R2” articles without discussing it.

    If there were an overall theme on top of the updates in Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 R2, I would have to say it’s the new capabilities to support the “Consumerization of IT” and “BYOD”. 

    From this TechNet Document:

    “One of the most prevalent IT industry trends at the moment is the proliferation of consumer devices in the workplace.  Employees and partners want to access protected corporate data from their personal devices, from checking email to the consumption of advanced business applications.  IT administrators in organizations, while wanting to enable this level of productivity, would like to continue to ensure that they can manage risk and govern the use of corporate resources.”

    To support this notion of giving our employees the ability to get their work done from their personal devices, of course there has been new functionality added to Active Directory to support it.  But before I get ahead of myself, why don’t I list out the 4 key value propositions – the main things you get that are new, and enabled by new capabilities in Active Directory:

    1. Workplace Join – Allow a user to associate their personal device with the company directory
    2. Single Sign-On from those devices now associated with the directory, granting them access to corporate data and applications
    3. Securely authenticate for and connect to company applications and data from anywhere (with an Internet connection), and
    4. Manage the risk of those users who work from and access data from anywhere.

    NOTE: These each are very big topics in their own right.  So, rather than doing an exhaustive write-up on each one, I’ll summarize the capabilities and benefits here, point out what specifically has changed in Active Directory to support it, and then point you to more complete documentation and user guides for further study if you wish.

    Join the Workplace

    What is it?

    clip_image002As a company employee who has his/her own device, and with the blessing of the company I work for (who is really interested in allowing me to be mobile and productive on whatever device I have), I want to be able to get stuff done.  So I will “join” my device to the “workplace”.

    “Isn’t that like joining the domain?”

    Yes.  Well, sort of.  But more correctly, NO.  It’s not going to be a domain-joined device in the way that we’ve been managing devices since Windows NT.  In this case, we’re registering the device with the domain so that it (and its owner) will be trusted when requesting and running company-secured applications, accessing company-secured data, or otherwise accessing company-secured resources.  When you join a device to the workplace, it becomes “a known device and will provide seamless second factor authentication and single-sign-on to workplace resources and applications.”  And once the device is “known”, IT can leverage that knowledge to also apply additional configurations (example: pushing company VPN connection settings to the device).

    What changed in AD to support it?

    The main change here was the addition of the Device Registration Service.  The DRS, which is a new part of the Active Directory Federation (ADFS) role, creates a device object in Active Directory, and tracks the associated device’s certificate in order to represent the device’s identity.  

    For more information:

    The SSO (Single Sign-On)

    What is it?

    Here’s a simple scenario: You have a device that you’re using to connect to a company SharePoint server.  You’ve registered your device with the company (“workplace join”), so your device has a certificate that is known to the directory as being yours; an employee in good standing.  Without SSO, you would be prompted for a login with every application or company SharePoint server you try to access.  But with SSO, you will only be asked one time. 

    What changed in AD to support it?

    In addition to the Device Registration Service, the Active Directory Federation (ADFS) role allows claims-based authentication to occur based on trusted certificates.  Once the user is authenticated (username + password + trusted device + other factors as needed), the claim then is trusted and, while valid, can be used to launch company applications or access company data. 

    For more information:

    Authentication of users “Anywhere-and-on-Any-Device”

    What is it?

    Well.. it’s not just enough to be able to sign in once on my non-domain-joined, personal device.  I also want to be able to use it from anywhere.  With nothing more than an internet connection, I should be able to have authenticated, secured access to my company applications data; whether they’re hosted in public cloud locations or on the private corporate network.

    What changed in AD to support it?

    Web Application Proxy Topology

    The Web Application Proxy is a new role service; a new part of the Remote Access role.   Web Application Proxy “provides reverse proxy functionality for web applications inside your corporate network to allow users on any device to access them from outside the corporate network. Web Application Proxy preauthenticates access to web applications using Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), and also functions as an AD FS proxy.“

    So, now armed with SSO (facilitated through ADFS), the authenticated user + device can access applications on the corporate network without having to use a VPN connection

    For more information:

    Trusting your “Anywhere-and-on-Any-Device” Users

    What is it?

    In the end, who are we really trusting?  We have users who have user accounts with passwords in Active Directory.  They also registered their device in Active Directory so that we know we can trust it, and the user.  Hmm.. that’s two things that we’re trusting.  Is this what we might call “second factor authentication”?

    Yep.

    What changed in AD to support it?

    ADFS in Windows Server 2012 R2 supports more than just the permitted (or denied) user in ADFS claims.  We’ve added “multiple factors”, including user, device, location, and authentication data.  Authorization claim rules have a greater variety of claim types. 

    ”in AD FS in Windows Server® 2012 R2, you can enforce multi-factor access control based on user identity or group membership, network location, and device (whether it is workplace joined)”

    For more information:

    Summary

    The idea here is that Microsoft has expanded Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 R2 to support tracking devices that are “registered” (not joined) to the domain.  With those trusted devices we have further technology to grant authenticated access to our trusted users; even using multiple forms of information (multifactor authentication) to grant secured access to applications and data.  We allow users to sign-in one time and continue to have access to multiple apps and resources, from wherever they are (thank you ADFS).  And we even have a Web Application Proxy to allow that trusted access directly to internal resources as well.

    ---

    Here are some other topics relating to “What’s New” in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Active Directory:

    And of course, if you haven’t had a chance to try it out, you can download the evaluation of Windows Server 2012 R2 HERE.

    ---

    What do you think?  Is Microsoft doing the right thing to add support in Active Directory and supporting technologies to allow any user, any device, from anywhere to be able to get work done?  Please add to the comments if you have an opinion, a question, or any sort of off-the-wall comment.

  • Doesn’t Windows 8.1 require more hardware than Windows 7? (Series: Windows 8.1 for Business)

    Click here to find the Windows 8.1 Enterprise EvaluationLogically, it makes sense.  Forever it seems whenever any software company comes out with a new version of their product, the added features and functionality require extra hardware.  In the case of operating systems, that seems especially true.  Software vendors are always trying to build their solutions not to fit today’s hardware, but what hardware will be available tomorrow – trying to forecast what the hardware specs will look like for the mass market in order to take advantage of hardware “state of the art” when their software finally goes on sale.

    So it should follow that Windows 8.1 requires more hardware (memory/cpu/disk) to run than Windows 8.  And Windows 8 required more than Windows 7.  And Windows 7 required more than Windows Vista.  And… you get the idea.

    “And what if that’s what I believe?”

    You’d be wrong.  Sorry.

    For the purpose of this article and our comparison, we’ll just take the basic hardware aspects of a typical PC: Processor, Memory, Available Hard Disk Space, and Graphics Processor,

    Windows Vista*

    Windows 7

    Windows 8 & 8.1

    Processor

    1-GHz

    1-GHz

    1-GHz

    Memory

    1 GB System Memory

    1 GB System Memory

    1 GB System Memory

    Disk Space

    40GB + 15GB for install

    16GB (32bit) or 20GB (64bit)

    16GB (32bit) or 20GB (64bit)

    Graphics

    DirectX-9 & WDDM

    DirectX-9 & WDDM

    DirectX-9 & WDDM

    * Windows Vista Home Premium or better.

    There are of course other considerations that may require additional specialized hardware to support specific new functionality or features such as enterprise-class BitLocker or Client Hyper-V.  Click the OS Names in the table above to go to their respective hardware requirements pages.

    But.. do you notice something interesting in that table?  Other than the disk space requirements (which actually went DOWN when going from Windows Vista to Windows 7), the requirements are all exactly the same!  And considering the fact that Windows Vista was released to the world on January 30, 2007, we’re letting you run the latest and greatest PC operating system on hardware that could be 7 years old!

    So as you can see, the hardware that you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7 on very likely will run Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.  Myth = BUSTED

    “But wait a second… Doesn’t Windows 8.1 require a touch screen?”

    Nope.  In fact, my friend and coworker Keith Mayer addressed that very question just yesterday in his post for this series.

    “What about screen resolution?  What’s required?”

    That’s a valid point.  Minimal screen resolutions do differ a little.  That’s one of those “if you want to take full advantage of the capabilities of the OS” sorts of issues.  If you have a really old monitor that can’t do anything better than 800x600, then you’re probably already suffering with Windows Vista or Windows 7, and the Windows 8 won’t work with anything less than 1024x768.  Something to consider, for sure.

    “What about performance?  Can I expect my PC to be faster or slower with the newer operating system?”

    Ah.. that’s a very subjective topic.  “Your mileage may vary”, mainly because everyone has certain things that they wish would be faster, as well as various things that many of us unwittingly do to our systems that actually slow them down over time. 

    The good news is that there has actually been a lot to improve the performance of Windows and the things that we typically find we’re waiting for.  A perfect example is system startup or shutdown; one of the most obvious time-wasters in older operating systems.  Even with technologies such as sleep and hibernate available, the majority of people still prefer to shut their computers down completely at night or when they’re not using them.  So a lot of focus was given to improving this aspect of performance in Windows 8 and beyond. 
    For an exhaustive walk-thru of how this was done in Windows 8, check out this article on the Building Windows 8 blog: Delivering Faster Boot Times in Windows 8

    Bing it!For even more well-documented examples of performance improvements beyond Windows 7, check out all the great content via this bing search: “windows 8 performance improvements

    And for good tips and tricks on how to optimize your performance in general, check out this article: Optimize Windows for Better Performance

    ---

    So in conclusion – If you were thinking that you’ll need to buy new hardware to replace what you are already happily running Windows Vista or Windows 7 on in order to get most of the benefits of Windows 8.1, now you can hopefully see that a simple OS upgrade is another option.

    ---

    If you’re interested in evaluating Windows 8.1: http://aka.ms/Win81client

    If you’d like to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 (which includes the free upgrade to Windows 8.1), check out the Windows Store.

    And if you’d like to donate $1000 towards sending your favorite IT Pro Technology Evangelist to Microsoft TechEd , contact me through this blog and I’ll send you my mailing address. 
    (My Mom always said, “It never hurts to ask.”) Smile

    ---

    This article is part of our March 2014 series of blog articles entitled “Windows 8.1 for Business” by your Microsoft Technology Evangelists and guests. 
    For the full list of articles in this series please visit the series landing page:
    http://aka.ms/Win814Biz

  • Blog Series: Windows 8.1 for Business

    Windows 8.1 Powers BusinessWelcome to March!  And not that I mean to alarm you, but welcome to the final month before support ends on Windows XP.  I know that many of you supporting IT and devices for your businesses have known this for a while, and are either already done or continuing to work on migrating to Windows 7 or Windows 8But which one, and why?

    What’s interesting to me is that there is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding Windows 8.1 and whether or not there is any real benefit to providing and supporting it as the default, best-choice for business devices.  And while I know that most of you have indeed done proper due-diligence in order to come to the conclusion that Windows 7 is a better choice for your businesses, it just may be that not all of your information was based on fact, or was missing some very important beneficial tidbits which, if you had known, might very well have changed the equation.

    That’s the purpose of this March blog series: “Windows 8.1 for Business”We, the 9 Microsoft Technology (IT Pro) Evangelists in the US, plus a few special guest authors, want to take this month to help dispel some myths and provide some useful resources for you as you evaluate (and hopefully choose) Windows 8.1 as your business desktop/laptop/tablet/phablet platform of choice.

    Below is our schedule, which will be continually kept up-to-date with links to completed articles as they become available.  Stop back often, because we sincerely want you to benefit from this information.  And if you have any questions or comments, please please please post them in the comments either here, or at the articles themselves.

    UPDATE: Thank you for your patience!  Due to the importance of the topics we are going to cover, we’ve had to delay posting to this series.  We will continue soon (this week of March 17), and I’ll add items to  the schedule as soon as we’re sure of their availability.  Keep watching…

    All the best!
    Kevin Remde

    Date

    Article

    Author

    March 3

    Series Introduction (this article)

    Kevin Remde / @KevinRemde

    March 4

    Oh Start menu, how do I miss thee…or do I?

    Matt Hester / @MatthewHester

    March 5

    Beloved Desktop, Where Art Thou?

    Jennelle Crothers / @jkc137

    March 6

    Windows 8 works great without a touch screen

    Keith Mayer / @KeithMayer

    March 7

    Does Windows 8.1 require more hardware than Windows 7?

    Kevin Remde / @KevinRemde

    March 19 Getting started with Client Hyper-V Matt Hester / @MatthewHester
    March 20 Is the “Cloud” a really big deal? Blain Barton / @Blainbar 
    March 21 Remember Our Good Friend Group Policy Matt Hester / @MatthewHester
    March 28 Build No-code Business Apps with Windows 8.1, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure

    Keith Mayer / @KeithMayer

    March 31 Build No-Code Business Apps with Windows 8.1, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure (Part 2) Keith Mayer / @KeithMayer
    April 1 Build No-Code Business Apps with Windows 8.1, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure (Part 3) Keith Mayer / @KeithMayer
    April 8 Top 5 Key Security Improvements Anthony Bartolo / @WirelessLife
    April 10 XP EOS – Guidance for Small/Medium Businesses and Individual Consumers Pierre Roman / @PierreRoman
    April 14 Series Wrap-up and Resources Kevin Remde / @KevinRemde
  • How can Hyper-V Server be a member of a cluster? (So many questions. So little time. Part 54.)

    At our IT Camp in Minneapolis a few weeks ago, Kris asked me a valid question.

    “How does a Hyper-V Server (not the full windows install) do clustering if you can’t install the cluster role?”

    Kris’s question is a good one, because we had just been discussing how limited Hyper-v Server is in terms of what it can do, while at the same time supporting all of the same virtualization features and scale that a full Windows Server 2012 R2 machine with the Hyper-V Role installed does; including the ability to be joined to a Windows Failover Cluster.

    In fact, during the discussion of what roles are supported on Hyper-V Server, I showed this screenshot:

    Roles

    So if you thought Windows Failover Clustering was a role, you’d be scratching your head at this one.

    “Ah.. so what’s the catch?”

    No catch.  Windows Failover Clustering is not a role.  It’s a feature!

    Features

    It’s actually in the list of features rather than roles.  It’s not enabled by default, and the Create Cluster wizard actually enables it when needed.

    Pretty slick.

    ---

    PS – In case you missed it, we did a 6 week series of blog articles comparing VMware to Microsoft virtualization. 
    Check it out, here:
    http://aka.ms/VMWorMSFT.

  • Can I use Windows 8.1 without a touchscreen?

    Get the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation and others by clicking here.Even if you’ve never tried Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you may have seen the advertisements showing off the lovely colorful “touch-first” interface (previously known as the “Metro” UI).  Even some people using a traditional old non-touch laptop will reach out and touch the screen when they first encounter the start screen.  (And by “some people”, I mean my wife while using my old Lenovo laptop on vacation a couple of years ago.)  So, as lovely and colorful as the start screen is, it’s easy to assume that you might need – or at least be most happy with – a device with a screen you can touch in order to get the most out of the latest version of Windows.

    “Isn’t that the case?”

    I’m going to argue that it’s not.  Right this very minute, for example, I’m using my Surface Pro as my work device of choice…

    “Ha! Touchscreen!”

    Yes, a lovely touchscreen which is currently sitting flat and closed on top of my desk, while my Surface is plugged into my KVM switcher connecting me to my big Acer monitor and ultra-durable Microsoft MultiMedia Keyboard 1.0A and Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse 2.0.  (Gotta love that name.)  Can I touch my screen?  No.. I can’t even reach it from where I’m sitting.

    “And you’re just as happy using just your keyboard and mouse?”

    I’ll be honest.  When I’m using new Windows 8 apps, sometimes I’d rather touch them.  And some of those apps are really better suited for hands-on-navigation or gameplay anyway, which are great when I’m sitting in my TV chair or on an airplane.  And when simply browsing the Internet using IE 11 I do prefer to be able to swipe and pinch and zoom and touch with my fingers.  But for most of my work, I’m still on the desktop apps where typing and precision selections with my mouse are still the best way to get stuff done.

    “Okay, Kevin.. I’m almost convinced.  Show me how to work Windows 8.1 without a touchscreen.”

    That’s where my friend Keith comes in!  Keith Mayer is the author of today’s article in our “Windows 8.1 for Business” (or “Why you’re wrong about Windows 8.1”) series.  In his write-up, he goes further to prove, and gives real examples, tips, and tricks around how Windows 8.1 is the better choice for ALL devices, whether or not you put fingerprints on your screen.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    --

    This article is part of our March 2014 series of blog articles entitled “Windows 8.1 for Business” by your Microsoft Technology Evangelists and guests. 
    For the full list of articles in this series please visit the series landing page:
    http://aka.ms/Win814Biz

  • The “Replica Replica” in Hyper-V

    In today’s article in the “Why Windows Server 2012 R2” series, I’d like to show off a new feature in Hyper-V; something I like to call the “Replica Replica”.

    “Huh?”

    ReplicationAs many of you know, Microsoft introduced a new, powerful tool for your disaster recover (DR) tool belt called Hyper-V Replica back in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and Hyper-V Server 2012.  For those of you who are not yet familiar with it, a Hyper-V Replica is an easily created and up-to-date offline copy of a virtual machine.  On some other host – either in your local or in some remote datacenter – you have a copy of a virtual machine that can be available in case of disaster.  If something bad happens to the production machine, you can failover to the replica virtual machine very quickly. 

    For a most-excellent description of Hyper-V Replica is and how to set it up in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, check out this blog post from the series “31 Days of our Favorite Things” -

    Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Replica (Part 5 of 31) 

    “So, what’s new in R2?  What’s this ‘Replica Replica’ you talk about?”

    We’ve added the ability to create yet another replica.  It’s a replica of the replica.  It’s an additional offline copy of a virtual machine and its configuration, made available, synchronized and automatically kept up-to-date on yet another Hyper-V host.  Interestingly the request was from our many hosting providers, and it makes a great deal of sense in their scenario, where they are the ones hosting a replica on behalf of their customers.  It only makes sense that they would love to have a backup of the replica they’re hosting.. so why not make it a replica of the replica?

    “Brilliant!”

    Yeah, I thought so, too.

    “How does it work?”

    It’s very simple.  After you’ve created the first replica, you right-click on the replica machine and select “Extend Replication…”.  In my example, I have already set up a replica of my domain controller, and I’m going to extend the replication and put a replica of the replica on my Hyper-V Server named HVSR2-1

    image

    The wizard looks and works very much like setting up the initial replication does.  Once you get past the Before You Begin screen…

    image

    …you choose or browse to the server you want to put the replica on (the Replica server)…

    image

    You pick the type of authentication you want to use (based on what has been enabled in the Replication Settings on the Hyper-V Host settings)…

    image

    You pick a replication frequency. 

    image

    NOTICE that I have two choices here, because I had selected the primary replica as sending changes every 5 minutes.  Your choices will depend upon what you selected for the first replica frequency. 

    You may not know this (yet), but Hyper-V Replica in Server 2012 R2 allows for more than just the 5 minute intervals that were in the original Hyper-V Replica in Server 2012.  You can have replication send changes every 30 seconds, 5 minutes, or 15 minutes for the first replica.  For the extended replica, you must replicate at an interval that is less-or-equally-frequent to the first replica; with the exception being that you cannot replicate the to the extended replica at the 30 second interval. 

    Here’s a quick chart that shows the extended replication interval options available based on the first replica interval selected:

    Primary Replica interval selected Extended Replica intervals available
    30 seconds 5 minutes
    15 minutes
    5 minutes 5 minutes
    15 minutes
    15 minutes 15 minutes

    Getting back to our wizard; now we select how many recovery points we want to maintain of the extended replica…

    image

    We select an initial replication method, plus when to launch the initial replication if requested…

    image

    Check the summary…

    image

    And Finish.  We’re done.  And the first extended replication is now going over the wire.

    image

    Pretty cool, huh?

    “Pretty cool.  So now I can failover to either of my two replicas?”

    That’s right!

    Now, if I right-click on the first replica…

    image

    I see that I have similar options to what I had back in Hyper-V 2012.  But now I have an additional “Pause Extended Replication” option as well. 

    Here’s a failover scenario for you…

    Let’s say I have a virtual machine “DukeN” running on Host A, with replica on Host B and extended replica on Host C.

    Host A goes down.  So I right-click on the “DukeN” machine and select Failover…, and DukeN fires up and is now running on Host B.

    If I right click the newly running VM and look at the Replication options I have now on the failover machine, it’s pretty interesting…

    image

    I can “Reverse Replication”, which means I can now treat this running (but still considered a replica) machine as the primary machine, and begin replication back to what was the primary location.  Note: if you do this, it essential "orphans” the old extended replica.  You’ll have to re-extend the replication if you want to.

    I can “Remove Recovery Points..”, which does cleanup of this replica of any other points still saved.

    I can “Cancel Failover”, which will shut this replica down and assumes that the original machine is now available and can be started.

    I can “Resume Extended Replication”.  This one is interesting to me.  It assumes that Host C (containing the extended replica) is still available.  When selected from Host B, then Host B becomes the main VM and the copy on Host C becomes the first replica.  Once a synchronization process is completed, you can then go to the VM on Host C and Extend Replication to another host (Host D?). 

    ---

    Good stuff?  Try it out yourself by downloading the evaluations of either Windows Server 2012 R2 or Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.  And let me know if you have any comments or questions by posting them in the comments section.

  • Help Shape Microsoft’s Cloud Technologies: Join the IT Pro User Panel

    These are IT Pros?IT Professionals: Have you ever been deep in the guts of a gnarly infrastructure deployment, automation, configuration, trouble-shooting or similar task, and thought to yourself something like this:

    “Why didn’t that darn product team at Microsoft make this tool work better, more like what I need it to do?”

    If you see yourself in this story, we have an opportunity for you!

    The Windows Server System Center design and development team is looking for IT Pros with knowledge & experience in all aspects of infrastructure and services management. We need to know how to make Microsoft technologies supporting these scenarios work better for you.

    IT Pros like you with these specialized knowledge and skills are hard to find, so we’ll make it worth your while. Here’s what you get from participating in the panel:

    1. Opportunities to influence WSSC design and development in areas such as

    • Prioritizing tool capabilities (What do you need MOST in these tools and technologies?)
    • User interaction (How would you expect this to work?)
    • User interface design (Does this wording or picture, etc. make sense to you? Can you suggest something better?)

    2. A thank you gift!  After participating in a study, you’ll have the option of selecting from a list of Microsoft software, hardware, games, and more.  (And I’m told that since IT Pros are the hardest folks to find, you’ll get the best gifts!)

    If you’d like to be considered for the IT Pro User Panel, please complete this brief survey.

    If you want to know more about Microsoft User Research overall, see the Microsoft User Research page.

    Happy designers

    ---

    Note: Microsoft full or part-time employees, vendors, or contingent employees are not eligible.  Sorry.

  • Hey IT Campers! It’s time for an Azure IT Camp!

    Free training and hands-on-experience!

    Yes, in the U.S. we’re coming to a town near you with some free training and hands-on experiences again – this time covering Windows Azure and System Center 2012 R2 to support hybrid cloud scenarios.

    Here’s the description of the event from the registration pages:

    Build Hybrid Cloud Solutions with Windows Azure and System Center 2012 R2

    You CAN have the best of both worlds! With Windows Azure and System Center 2012 R2, IT Pros can easily extend an on-premises network to embrace the power and scale of the cloud – securely and seamlessly. These Hybrid Cloud scenarios present real solutions that you can implement today to solve pressing IT issues such as:

    • Managing more data without more hardware
    • Protecting Data with Off-site Backups
    • Business Continuance and Disaster Recovery
    • Cost-effective, on-demand access to Dev/Test Environments
    • Internet-scale Web Sites… And MORE!

    Join us at this FREE full-day hands-on event to experience the power of Hybrid Cloud. Our field-experienced Technical Evangelists will guide you through the process of jumpstarting your knowledge on Windows Azure Storage, Virtual Machines and Virtual Networking for key IT Pro scenarios. Complete all of the hands-on labs and you’ll walk away with a fully functional Windows Server 2012 R2 or Linux cloud-based test lab running Windows Azure!

    “Sounds great, Kevin!  Where are you going to be, and where can I sign up?”

    Here are the list of cities in the central part of the U.S.:

    ** I’ll personally be facilitating the events in Minneapolis (Edina) and Saint Louis (Creve Coeur)

    Don’t wait to register.  Seating is limited and these tend to fill up quickly. 
    For the full list of events throughout the U.S., go here: http://aka.ms/AzureITCamps

    See you there!

  • The Case for the Offline Backup

    To evaluate some of the software discussed in this article, click here.Over the past several weeks, my teammates have all contributed to a very valuable series of blog articles entitled “Disaster Recovery Planning for IT Pros”.  They’ve covered topics such as how to get started in planning, and Server Virtualization and how it applies to Disaster Recovery, and testing your recovery plans.  And they’ve discussed technologies that can help – the tools in your DR tool belt - such as Hyper-V Replica, Windows Azure, and the newer Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager

    For the full list of excellent articles, CLICK HERE.

    “What is an Offline Backup?”

    Before I dive in here, I want to be clear about what I’m covering.  For the purpose of this discussion, I’m not talking about tapes or off-site storage of backed up data.  That’s something more commonly called an archive.  Regular storage and archival for recovery from past history is an important (and big) topic in-and-of-itself; perhaps the topic of another blog series for another day.  For this article, however, I’m talking about having a copy of some important digital asset that was saved in a way that can safely and fully be recovered as a complete unit, in case the original location is unable to house that asset.  (Yeah.. a disaster.)  That digital asset could be a server OS installation, a directory, a database, a virtual machine, a desktop image, file storage, an application; really whatever you consider valuable and worth the effort (and cost) to have protected in a way that can be quickly restored if the worst should happen. 

    “Do I really need an offline copy these days?”

    That’s a fair question.  With all of the excellent (and many now built-in and included) technologies in modern operating systems such as Windows Server 2012 R2 , it could be argued that you don’t really need to create backups of some items.  A virtual machine will start running on another cluster node if the hosting node fails, and the storage supporting that machine could be on always-available file server cluster (Scale-Out File Server), with redundant paths to the storage, and supporting arrays of disks that, if they or the controllers that support them fail, are redundant and easily replaced even while the data continues to be available. (And I haven’t even touched on application availability within a virtual machine or the benefits of virtualization guest-clustering.) 

    But even with all of this great technology, not all data or files or applications are equally important, and not all are worth the same amount of investment to ensure their availability and – important to our DR topic – their recovery in case of a really bad thing (disaster) happening.

    The case for the offline backup will be determined by these factors:

    • The importance of that data (The RPO and RTO)
    • The technologies you’re willing to invest in to support continuous availability

    “How important is your data?”

    VirtualServerWomanAs part of the planning process (which Jennelle introduced to you early in our series), you’ll take an inventory of all of your digital assets, and then make a priority list of all of those items.  The priority should be in order of MOST critical (i.e. My business can’t function or survive without) , to LEAST critical (no big deal / can rebuild / etc) assets.  Now, going on the assumption that at some point your datacenter is turned into a “steaming pile”,  you’ll draw a line through your list.  Items above the line are critical to your business overcoming the disaster.  Items below the line.. not worth the investment in time or effort.  (Note: that line will shift up or down as you work through this, as you get into actually figuring out the costs associated with your plan, and importantly as you re-evaluate on a regular schedule your disaster preparedness.)

    For each of your inventoried and prioritized digital assets you’re also going to be defining a couple of objectives – the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

    The RPO is the answer to the question: “How much data can I afford to lose if I need to recovery from an offline copy of that data?”  In its simplest terms, it decides how often or how frequently I make a new offline copy of that asset.  An example in Hyper-V Replication would be the setting that determines how frequently a new set of changes are replicated to the virtual machine’s replica copy.  If I’m replicating changes every 5 minutes, then at most I could lose up to 5 minutes of changes should the worst happen, so my RPO is 5 minutes.  Is that good enough?  Maybe.  It depends on what that virtual machine is actually doing for you.

    The RTO describes how long you’re willing to wait to bring that digital asset back online.  If I’m still doing all of my backups to tape, and then shipping those tapes offsite, it’s going to take a lot longer to recover at a new location than it would, say, to take advantage of another site and/or Windows Azure to host your stored backups.  Can I afford to wait a day or two?  An hour?  A few minutes?  How critical that asset is to your business continuity will help you set a desired RTO for that item.

    ...it's a hit.“How much are you willing to spend?”

    Again, there are expensive and there are cheaper options for addressing the RPO and RTO, and you’ll ultimately base how much you’re willing to invest by the relative importance of the digital assets in bringing your company back quickly (or as reasonably quickly) from disaster. 

    “And once I’ve implemented everything, I’m done?”

    Of course not.  You’ll regularly test your recovery.  And less frequently – but still critically – you’ll occasionally re-evaluate your priority list and the methods for meeting your objectives.  Of all people, IT Pros know how quickly technology evolves.  What seemed like a good, solid plan and a decent implementation of tools last year may not fit as well today now that newer/better/faster/cheaper options are available.  And that’s not even considering the shifting nature of your own environment, the servers, the applications, the growth of data.. all need to be re-considered on a regular basis.

    In conclusion…

    There is definitely a case for offline backup.  What and how you do that backup will be defined by you, based on priority, and adjusted by cost.  And making those decisions and implementing your plan isn’t the end of the process.  You must revisit, re-inventory, re-prioritize, adjust and test your plans on a regular schedule. 

    ---

    This is post part of a 15 part series on Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning by the US based Microsoft IT Evangelists.  For the full list of articles in this series see the intro post located here: http://mythoughtsonit.com/2014/02/intro-to-series-disaster-recovery-planning-for-i-t-pros/

  • SWMOAITP Charitable Downloads Terms and Conditions

    About

    For each member of the Southwest
    Missouri Chapter of the AITP (SWMOAITP) who downloads Window Server 2012 R2 or
    Hyper-V 2012 R2 from the below links between 11/4/13 and 11/30/13, Microsoft
    Corporation (“Microsoft”) will donate USD $2 to the Council of Churches of the
    Ozarks (a 501c3 organization; see http://www.ccozarks.org).

     

    Description

    When SWMOAITP members download Windows
    Server, we’ll point you to instructive videos, hands-on labs, and more available
    at http://aka.ms/SWMOAITPFor each completed download by registered SWMOAITP members
    during the promotional period, a USD $2 donation, up to a maximum USD $3,000,
    will be made to the Council of Churches of the Ozarks.  See the official
    terms and conditions at: http://aka.ms/SWMOAITP.

     

    Terms & Conditions

    Offer good only to legal residents of the 50 United States & D.C.
    aged 18 or older who are registered members of the Southwest Missouri Chapter
    of the AITP (SWMOAITP).  Offer is not valid where prohibited by law.

    Must complete full download from below links
    between November 4, 2013 and November 30, 2013.  Offer good only to the
    first 1,500 registered members who complete downloads of Windows Server 2012,
    Window Server 2012 R2 Preview, Hyper-V 2012 or Hyper-V 2012 R2 Preview until
    the end of the promotional period, whichever comes first.  Limit 1 download
    per member, and up to USD $3,000 for donation on behalf of SWMOAITP to the Council
    of Churches of the Ozarks. May not be combined with other offers. This offer
    will be fulfilled in the form of a monetary donation to the Council of Churches
    of the Ozarks charity within 90 days after the end of the promotional period.
    Microsoft reserves the right to modify or cancel the terms of this offer at any
    time.  Your download for the purpose of this offer does not create an
    employment relationship of any kind between you and Microsoft or otherwise
    entitle you to compensation or remuneration from Microsoft. Due to government
    ethics and procurement laws, employees of certain government agencies
    (including but not limited to military and public education institutions) may
    not be eligible to participate. It is your sole responsibility to review and
    understand your employer’s policies regarding your eligibility to participate
    in offers and promotions. Microsoft employees are not eligible to participate.
    Microsoft disclaims any and all liability or responsibility for violations of
    laws, or for disputes arising between an employee and their employer related to
    this offer. Microsoft reserves the right, as determined by Microsoft in its
    sole discretion, to disqualify any person not complying with these offer Terms
    and/or acting fraudulently with the intent to avoid offer restrictions or other
    limitations.

     

    Name

    FY14 EP URL

    Windows Server 2012 R2
      Download

    http://www.microsoft.com/click/services/Redirect2.ashx?CR_CC=200328027

    Hyper-V Server 2012 R2
      Download

    http://www.microsoft.com/click/services/Redirect2.ashx?CR_CC=200328028

  • How fast is fast? Virtual Machine Live Migration Improvements

    When you’re doing a Live Migration** of a virtual machine between hyper-v hosts, you want it to go quickly.  You may be doing the migration of one or several or dozens of virtual machines all at once, and the performance of the network and the network paths you choose are going to determine how quickly you can get the job done.  Yes, sure, in one sense it doesn’t matter how long it takes if the VMs will continue to run and provide service during the migration.  But if I’m doing, say, an automated update of all of the hosts in my cluster, and allowing it to drive the live migrations of machines among hosts, the speed with which those migrations complete will ultimately determine how long it takes to complete the updates of all of those hosts.  If I’m really maxing out the capabilities of Hyper-V in Server 2012 R2 or Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, that could mean as many as 8,000 virtual machines moving around and among 64 clustered hypervisor nodes.  So, speed is still important.

    In the past, memory of a running virtual machine was just sent over the wire (TCP/IP) as it was.  Nothing special was done to it.  But as hardware costs have improved to support larger and larger scale, and as we’re afforded the ability to run more virtual machines with more and more memory, we certainly want to do everything we can to make that transfer of memory and configuration data go as quickly as possible.  So to address this and improve things, we’ve added two new technologies to hyper-v in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V Server 2012 R2:

    1. Live Migration Compression, and
    2. Live Migration via SMB Direct (RDMA)

    Let’s talk about those, shall we?

    Live Migration With Compression

    Did you know that your hypervisor host isn’t typically suffering much when it comes to processor capacity?

    “I didn’t know that.”

    It’s true.  So, what we’re going to is borrow some extra CPU cycles while we’re doing a live migration, and actually compress the migration data before it goes over the wire, and decompress at the destination. 

    If it sounds just that simple, well, it is.  And it’s just a simple choice in the Live Migrations –> Advanced Features settings on your Hyper-V hosts:

    image

    And as if that wasn’t good enough…

    Live Migration via SMB Direct (RDMA)

    In Windows Server 2012 we introduced a new version of SMB – SMB 3.  Among other things, this version of the protocol greatly improves performance; even to the extent that we can trust a basic file share to be the location for live data such as a virtual machine’s hard disks and data disks, or a SQL Server database.  (Click here for a good summary of what SMB 3 provides.)

    SMB Direct (SMB over Remote Direct Memory Access, or RDMA) is technology that, given hardware (the NICs) supporting it, can establish an efficient memory-to-memory transfer of data.  In Server 2012 the main beneficiary of this was faster file services.  But in R2 we’re using this to send live migration data between the Hyper-V hosts. 

    image

    So now instead of just sending the memory and configuration of a VM over the wire using TCP/IP, or compressing it first, we’ll use a direct memory-to-memory channel. 

    Can you say “FAST”?

    “Fast!”

    I knew you could. 

    “But, can you give me an example?  Can you show me how they compare?”

    The best example I can give you is Jeff Woolsey’s demonstration he did for the TechEd 2013 North America keynote this past June. 

    Click this link to watch his demo (at 1:56:15) : TechEd 2013 North America Keynote Video – Jeff Woolsey’s Live Migration Demo

    Click to watch Jeff Woolsey's demo.

    And for a more detailed description of Live Migration and the improvements made, check out this page: Virtual Machine Live Migration Overview

    Questions?  Comments?  Make sure you add them to the comments at the bottom of this post!  And try it out yourself by downloading the evaluations of either Windows Server 2012 R2 or Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

    ---

    **That’s a ‘vMotion’ for those of you who are more familiar with the VMware terminology.

  • What’s New in R2 – The Executive Interviews

    Brad Andersion - Sr. VP - Microsoft CorporationA couple of months ago I had the privilege to interview Brad Anderson.  Brad is a Sr. VP at Microsoft, responsible for the System Center and Windows Server product lines.  So…

    “So this guy knows what he’s talking about?”

    Exactly.  As a companion to his blog - In the Cloud – we recorded these three interviews around his nine-part “What’s New in R2” blog series.  So for today’s article in our current “Why Windows Server 2012 R2” series, I thought I’d give you another opportunity to hear what Brad has to say.  Here are the videos, and I’ll include the links to his blog series posts below as well.  Enjoy!

    ---

    TechNet Radio: (Part 1) - What’s New in 2012 R2 - Empowering People-Centric IT

    TechNet Radio: (Part 2) What’s New in 2012 R2 – Transforming the Datacenter

    TechNet Radio: (Part 3) What’s New in 2012 R2: Enabling Modern Business Applications

    Brad Anderson’s “What’s New in 2012 R2” Series

    1. What’s New in 2012 R2: Beginning and Ending with Customer-specific Scenarios
    2. What’s New in 2012 R2: Making Device Users Productive and Protecting Corporate Information
    3. What’s New in 2012 R2: People-centric IT in Action - End-to-end Scenarios Across Products
    4. What’s New in 2012 R2: Enabling Open Source Software
    5. What’s New in 2012 R2: IaaS Innovations
    6. What’s New in 2012 R2: Service Provider & Tenant IaaS Experience
    7. What’s New in 2012 R2: Identity Management for Hybrid IT
    8. What’s New in 2012 R2: Hybrid Networking
    9. What’s New in 2012 R2: Cloud-integrated Disaster Recovery
    10. What’s New in 2012 R2: Enabling Modern Apps with the Windows Azure Pack
    11. What’s New in 2012 R2: PaaS for the Modern Web

    Related Resources

    Websites & Blogs:

     Follow @technetradio
     Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftTechNetRadio

     Follow @KevinRemde
     Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeIsFullOfIT

    Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • Do you really need a start menu?

    Try the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation for FreeOne of the reasons some people weren’t comfortable with Windows 8 from the beginning was for the lack of their familiar start menu.  In today’s article in our “Windows 8.1 for Business” series, my friend Matt Hester delivers the run-down on the benefits of the Start Screen vs. the old Start Menu, and provides some useful tips and workarounds to help you adjust to this big change. 

    And as an added bonus, Matt even gives us a “Fun Super Tip” – a built-in way to add something very similar!

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

  • TechNet Radio: Building Clouds - SQL Server Self-Service Kit - Deploying SQL Server as a Service with System Center 2012

    imageIn this episode I welcomes Bruno Saille to the show.  We discuss the SQL Server Self-Service Kit and how it works with System Center 2012 to help automate SQL Server deployments.
    Tune in as we discuss how the self-service kits works, which System Center components are required as well as what plans are in store for the next release.

    Download

    __________________________

    If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
    clip_image002Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012 R2System Center 2012 R2and  Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and get the best virtualization platform and private cloud management solution on the market. Try it FREE now!

    clip_image004Don't Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Try Windows Azure for free with no cost or obligations, and use any OS, language, database or tool. FREE Trial

    Websites & Blogs:

    Tools:

    Videos:

    clip_image005Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
    clip_image006Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro

    clip_image005Connect with Kevin @KevinRemde
    clip_image006Become a Fan @ facebook.com/KevinRemdeisFullofIT

    clip_image008Subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

  • Build a Hyper-V Lab for a Chance to WIN a Surface Pro and MORE! ( US ONLY )

    Build your very own Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 for FREE and Enter for a chance to win* one of the following fantastic prizes:

    • Three Grand Prizes: One of three Microsoft Surface Pro 64GB devices with Type Cover keyboard cover ($828.99 USD Retail Value)
       
    • Twenty-Five First Prizes: One of twenty-five Microsoft Certification Exam Vouchers ($150.00 USD Retail Value)

    You could win a Surface Pro or Certification Exam Voucher!

    You could win a Microsoft Surface Pro or Certification Exam Voucher!

    But Wait! There’s More!

    In addition to a chance to win one of the prizes above, EVERY ENTRANT will receive our Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor software completely free.  This is a fully functional virtualization hypervisor that supports scalability up to 320 logical processors, 4TB physical RAM, live migration and highly-available clustering.

    Hyper-V serves as the virtualization foundation for Private Clouds leveraging Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.

    How To Enter the IT Pro “Cloud OS Challenge”

    You can enter the IT Pro“Cloud OS Challenge” Sweepstakes by completing all of the THREE EASY TASKS below to download and build your Private Cloud foundation with Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.  Be sure to complete the last task to submit your proof-of-completion for entry into this sweepstakes.

    • Entries must be received between November 1, 2013 and November 30, 2013 to be eligible. One entry per individual.
    • This Sweepstakes is open to all IT Professionals Age 18 and over that are legal residents of the United States.
    • Estimated Completion Time: 20 minutes

    TASK 1 – Download Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

    Download the Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 installation bits using the link below.

    Download Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 for FREE!

    DO IT: Download Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

    TASK 2 – Install Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

    Install Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 in your lab environment using the installation steps linked below.

    DO IT: Install Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

    TASK 3 – Submit Proof-of-Completion

    Complete the steps in this task to submit your proof-of-completion entry into the IT Pro “Cloud OS Challenge” Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of the exciting prizes listed above.

    1. At the console command prompt of your new Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 server, run the following command to collect your server's configuration:
       
      systeminfo >CloudOSConfig.txt
       
    2. Copy the CloudOSConfig.txt file created in Step 1 above to a USB storage device or other location that is accessible for sending an email.
       
    3. Send a new email message to CloudChallenge@microsoft.com
       
    4. IMPORTANT: In the body of the email, include this exact text:
      “I’ve completed the Microsoft IT Pro Cloud OS Challenge for Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.”
       
    5. IMORTANT: Attach the file created in Step 1 into the body of the new email message created above.
       
    6. Click the Send button in your email client to submit the email message as your proof-of-completion and sweepstakes entry.

    Upon submitting your entry, you will receive a confirmation email within 24-hours.

    COMPLETED! But … Want more?

    Now that you’ve installed Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, continue your learning and evaluation with these additional resources.

    • Want to learn more about Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Private Cloud?
      • COMPLETE this Step-by-Step Guide for Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.
      • MANAGE Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 with local console tools.
      • CLUSTER Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 for highly available virtual machines.
      • MIGRATE Virtual Machine workloads to Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.
      • BUILD Your Private Cloud with System Center 2012 R2.

    *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to IT Professionals who are legal residents of the 50 U.S. states or D.C., 18+. Sweepstakes ends November 30, 2013.  For Official Rules, see http://aka.ms/CloudChallenge201311Rules.

  • Why can’t I just use the desktop in Windows 8.1?

    Well, you can.  In fact, my friend and coworker Jennelle Crothers explains it all for you in today’s article in our “Windows 8.1 for Business” blog series.  She writes…

    Click here to find valuable Microsoft Evaluation Software“Ask anyone who uses a computer for every day work tasks, they might say that they LIVE on the desktop and can’t be bothered with the new modern start menu and interface of Windows 8.1. I’ll tell you that I also live on my desktop.”

    “I use Outlook, Word, OneNote and Excel, Lync, LiveWriter and IE 11 for a crazy number of line of business applications for work.  For native apps, I tend to find myself in the PDF Reader or the native mail app to checking personal email. Most of the social media I consume I use apps for Twitter, Facebook and Yammer. I think the default full screens used by native apps are great for viewing and interacting with my friends, watching video and reading news.”

    Make sure you check out her entire article, which includes tips on how to make it easier for you and the users you support to go directly to the ol’ familiar desktop.

    READ HER EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    ---

    This post is part of our March 2014 series of articles entitled “Windows 8.1 for Business” by you’re your Microsoft US IT Pro Technology Evangelists and guests. 
    For the full list of articles in this series please visit the series landing page:
    http://aka.ms/Win814Biz

  • A New Blog Series: Why Windows Server 2012 R2

    Why Windows Server 2012 R2

    Yes, it’s been a few weeks since our last series wrapped up (“VMware or Microsoft?”), so it’s about time we started a brand new series of blog articles.

    “Who’s ‘we’?”

    A fair question.  The ‘we’ I’m talking about is the 11 Microsoft US DPE IT Pro Evangelists in these here 48 contiguous United States.  The series runs to the end of November (just before Thanksgiving here in the U.S.), and is all about answering in as many useful ways as possible, the magical question: Why?

    • Why should I care about Windows Server 2012 R2?
    • What does it do that I can’t already do with older versions of Windows Server or other operating systems?
    • What do I need to do to take advantage of it?
    • Where can I go to get more detailed information on a particular subject?

    …and so on.

    My friend Dan Stolts is the organizer of the series, and owner of the official landing page: “Why Windows Server 2012 R2

    Keep watching his landing page and the complete list of articles and their anticipated dates of publication. 

    RECOMMENDED: To follow along with the dozens of examples we’re going to be writing about, we highly recommend that you download and install the following newly-available R2-version evaluation software: