Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • VMware or Microsoft?–Does VMware get it?

    How much would you pay for 99.95% uptime?Does VMware understand the value of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and have the ability to support your “Hybrid Cloud”?  And can they back up their service with a solid Service-Level Agreement comparable to Microsoft’s?

    Of course they can.  At least I think they can.  Do you think so?  Does Keith

    In today’s final article of our 6-week-long series, “VMware or Microsoft?", my friend and teammate Keith Mayer answers these very important questions:

    • What Level of Availability is Guaranteed?
    • How is "Availability" Measured?
    • What is Excluded from SLA Guarantees?

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE

    And in case you missed any of the full series, you can always return to the full list here: http://aka.ms/VMWorMSFT

    Tell your friends!

    ---

  • BREAKING NEWS: A new “memory intensive” VM size in Windows Azure

    In case you haven’t noticed, Microsoft has added a new virtual machine size available in Windows Azure.  To go along with our really big “A6” and “A7” sizes, there is now an “A5” machine size…

    Memory-hogger size

    So, if don’t have a need for so many processors, but need a bigger chunk of RAM, you’re in luck.

    For more information, please refer to the Cloud Services or Virtual Machines sections of the Pricing Details webpages.

  • BREAKING NEWS: If you’re going to use Oracle, it’s in Windows Azure

    And we’ll support you!

    Oracle

    Today Microsoft and Oracle announce the availability of Oracle virtual machine images on Windows Azure.  As you may recall, on June 24 of this year (which happens to be my birthday every year), we announced..

    “…a partnership that will enable customers to run Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure. Customers will be able to deploy Oracle software — including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server — on Windows Server Hyper-V or in Windows Azure and receive full support from Oracle.”

    In Windows Azure, try creating a new virtual machine.  In the gallery of VM images, you’ll notice the new additions…

    Oracle Platform Images

    Oracle Platform Images

    (HINT: If you don’t already have a Windows Azure subscription, you can try $200 of it for a month for free.)

    If you want some instructions on how to create and use these images, check out the MSDN page: Oracle Virtual Machine Images for Windows Azure

    And here’s the blog post in our “In the Cloud” blog: Oracle OpenWorld 2013: Oracle’s Mission-critical Software and Microsoft’s Enterprise-grade Cloud

    The Oracle images are currently “in preview”, which means they’re not (yet) intended for production use.  Click HERE for pricing and licensing details, including the “license mobility” that Oracle provides.

  • Step-by-Step: Get up to $200 in FREE Cloud Services with a Windows Azure Trial Subscription

    Using the 4 easy steps provided in this article, you’ll be able to activate a FREE Windows Azure Trial Subscription, suitable for building your Lab in the Cloud for Windows Server 2012 R2 or Linux without the need for local on-premises lab hardware.  This trial subscription provides a tremendous opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the cloud – it provides up to 30 Days or $200 USD of “cloud credit” to use as you see fit for building new cloud-based lab solutions involving Cloud Storage, Virtual Networks and Virtual Machines.

    Step 1 – Sign-up for a new Microsoft Account ( aka., Windows Live ID )

    Your Microsoft Account is used to both sign-up for a FREE Windows Azure Trial, as well as sign-in to the Windows Azure Management Portal to provision and manage Cloud resources.  Even if you already have a pre-existing Microsoft Account, many IT Pros prefer to sign-up for a unique account to better track Windows Azure resources.

    Sign-up for a new Microsoft Account
    Step 1 – Sign-up for a new Microsoft Account

    • Country and ZIP Code: When completing this form, please be sure to accurately reflect your country ( United States ) and ZIP code to take advantage of this special offer.
    Step 2 – Launch the FREE Trial Preview Page

    To request a FREE Windows Azure Trial with the appropriate evaluation resources, launch the FREE Trial Preview Page using the link below:

    Launch the FREE Trial Preview Page
    Step 2 – Launch the FREE Trial Preview Page

    • From this page, be sure to select Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Preview on Windows Azure from the drop-down list.
    • Click the GET STARTED NOW button to continue.
    Step 3 – Register for the FREE Windows Azure Trial

    On the Windows Azure page, register for a Windows Azure FREE Trial subscription.

    Click on “Try it now” to Register for your FREE Trial
    Step 3 – Click on “Try it now” to Register for your FREE Trial

    Step 4 – Submit the Windows Azure Free Trial Registration Form

    To activate your Windows Azure FREE Trial subscription request, submit a completed registration form.

    • DO IT: Complete each field on the registration form and click the SIGN UP button.
      Submit the Windows Azure FREE Trial Registration
      Step 4 – Submit the Windows Azure FREE Trial Registration

    NOTE: When completing the Windows Azure FREE Trial Registration form, you will be asked to supply valid Credit Card information in Section 3 of the form highlighted in the figure above.  This information is securely processed for validating your individual identity ONLY.  Your credit card account WILL NOT BE CHARGED during the FREE Trial Subscription period, unless you EXPLICITLY decide to convert your FREE Trial Subscription to a PAID Subscription at a later point in time.  It may be interesting to note that this requirement is not unique to the Windows Azure free trial subscription program - as most cloud providers in the industry generally require credit card information to validate the identity of individuals when signing up for trial programs of this nature.

    Completed! Your Windows Azure FREE Trial is now Active!

    After completing the 4 steps above, you should now have an active Windows Azure FREE Trial Subscription to use for building your cloud-based lab environment.

    Completed! Your Windows Azure FREE Trial is now Active.
    Completed! Your Windows Azure FREE Trial is now Active.

    Let’s Build IT in the Cloud!

    To get started exploring key IT Pro cloud scenarios that you can leverage with your FREE Windows Azure Trial subscription, be sure to check out the next step resources below:

    See you in the clouds!

    -Kevin

    (NOTE: BIG thanks to Keith Mayer for writing this up.  I’m posting here with his permission.)

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

    Brad Anderson and I wrap up our 3 part What's New in 2012 R2 series.  In today's episode we discuss how you can better enable modern business applications in your IT environment with the Windows Azure Pack.  Tune in as we go in detail about how IT Pros will be able to impact their organization's cloud strategy as they highlight the new powerful features and flexible and dynamic cloud functionality found in the next wave of Microsoft's Server and System Center products.

    Experience Microsoft's latest products with these FREE downloads!
     Build Your Lab! Download  Windows Server 2012System Center 2012 SP1 and  Hyper-V Server 2012 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 HERE

    __________________________

    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:

    Parts 1 & 2:

     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

    Download
  • VMware or Microsoft?–Agentless Backup for Virtual Environments

    Today’s post comes to us courtesy of an old friend and coworker, who is still a friend but who now works for Veeam.  I’m talking about none-other than Chris Henley

    Thank you, Chris, for this excellent write-up on backing up virtual environments!

    ---

    One of the most important things to remember when talking about backup best practices in virtual environments is that virtual environments are not physical environments. I know that sounds really silly but that it is really quite important because physical environments have a different architecture than virtual environments. When we talk about running one operating system and one underlying hardware set, it’s important to understand that one hardware, one disk, one operating system, relationship demands a specific architectural design for the software that would be used to backup that physical architecture. In that physical environment the software designers used an architecture that focused heavily on the use of agents to provide the interactions between backup software and the physical hardware they were trying to back up. This agent based approach was incredibly successful for a very long time. Decades! The agent based approach is still successful in physical environments today, and probably represents the best possible backup solution for the physical environment. The problem is virtual environments are not physical environments, and the world of IT is headed for the virtual environment. Virtual environments differ from physical environments because the hypervisor, whether that’s VMware or Hyper-V, provides a layer of abstraction between the underlying hardware and overlying operating systems that will actually run above the hypervisor in the virtual architecture. The important consequence that goes right along with this architectural change in the virtual world means that if you try and use the agent based approach of the past in conjunction with a virtual environment it just doesn’t work. Now the reason it doesn’t work is not that you couldn’t force the old agent based model into the virtual environment where you added an agent to every virtual machine and then monitored, managed, administrated, and maintained those agents. The challenge here is that the virtual environment would demand a dramatic additional measure of work in order to get the backup operations to work properly, and frankly it is not necessary. VMware and Microsoft, the two major players in the hypervisors space, with ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V respectively, have each made a recommendation that we do not use agents in the virtual machines! Instead the recommendation is that you use an open set of APIs and connect to those APIs using standards that will allow us to interact with a virtual machine. This technique allows the software to interact with the underlying host for that Hyper-V or ESX VM. The host provides the tracking mechanism for us to do data protection or data protection mechanisms. Agentless data protection is a big deal.

    The Agentless Backup Approach.

    When we think about Hyper-V we want to make certain that we take an agentless approach to backup, replication, restoration, monitoring, and management so that we maximize the capabilities that have been built into the hypervisor by Microsoft as well as minimizing the impact in resources that data protection will have on the actual virtual machines themselves. The Microsoft VSS process allows for the imaging of virtual machines in their entirety along with the associated binary, configuration, xml, snapshot, settings, and any other associated virtual machine files which would allow you to make a very complete copy of a virtual machine and its data for backup or other data protection uses. The cool thing is that this is all without the use of any installed agent inside the virtual machine. Of course all of this relies on the fact that you are using the standards based approach, where you have built a set of tools that work directly in conjunction with VSS, and with the way that Hyper-V is built.

    When we think about Agentless Systems we don’t necessarily mean that we will not use any agents anywhere in the architecture. Instead what we’re talking about is the fact that the agents will not be installed in the virtual machines. In most cases the actual software that is going to provide data protection to a virtual environment running Hyper-V will have some kind of interactive component that is actually installed or configured on the Hyper-V host. These “agents” and I use the term loosely run in conjunction with the windows operating system that is actually supporting that Hyper-V host. Generally these “agents” come in the form of drivers and or services. They are really not agents in the traditional sense. The key here is that when we make the installation of components that those installed components are not going to the virtual machines, meaning there is no additional overhead to the running virtual machine, or to its application based workflow, or services, and you are not providing any additional requirement for the usage of administrative time and resources necessary to update and manage those agents.

    The VSS process

    Microsoft has this really cool process called the volume shadow copy service and it is the base for agentless backup of VM’s in Hyper-V. The Volume Shadow Copy service is not new, in fact, it has been around since 2003. Microsoft introduced the volume shadow copy service with Windows Server 2003 and initially it was designed to provide just what its title suggests, shadow copies or previous version copies of existing documents inside the Windows Server operating system. Today we rely on that same functionality and in fact the same VSS.exe service that was used for volume shadow copies to make image copies of virtual machines in Hyper-V. It’s important that you have a brief understanding of the volume shadow copy service so let’s talk about it now.

    The volume shadow copy service is made up of three essential components first the Vss.exe service, second the VSS Requestor, and finally the VSS writer.

    The VSS.exe service is responsible for taking requests from a VSS Requestor and fulfilling those requests. In this case the requests will be associated with virtual machines and image copies of those VM’s. VSS is installed with each version of Windows Server.

    The VSS Requestor will formulate requests to the VSS service for a specific image to be created of a specific virtual machine. The VSS Requestor is not written by Microsoft; instead it’s a piece of software that is written by a third party in order to formulate a request that would then be passed to the VSS Service. You can make your own VSS Requestor with a little help from Microsoft who provides code samples and guidance for those interested in writing a VSS Requestor.

    The VSS writer is responsible for taking the image copy of the data that is requested. The VSS writer does the actual writing of that data to disk. Depending on exactly what is requested there are a number of different VSS writers that might be used. For example if you wanted to make an image of a virtual machine running on Hyper-V the volume shadow copy service would use the Hyper-V VSS writer in order to write the image of the virtual machine that was requested by the requester.

    image

    For more information on the VSS process please see the following link to Technet.Microsoft.com. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc785914(v=WS.10).aspx

    Fast recovery

    Agentless backup is cool, VSS process is cool, and new ways to implement the 3-2-1 rule are cool, none of this really makes any difference if we can’t get that data back quickly. The defining point in any disaster recovery plan is the ability to recover the data. When we think about recovering data, not only is it important that we understand where the data is located, it’s also important that we know and can clearly work with the format in which the data is stored, and be able to extend the new capabilities to enable advanced data recovery options at a moment’s notice. Virtual machines are built to run application workloads and those application workloads support lots of individual users. A virtual machine running Microsoft Exchange is providing e-mail services to the users in an organization. Those users do not want downtime of the virtual machine that supports their email. In the event of data loss (small or large scale) as administrators we need to find a way to recover e-mail items direct from the backup into the running virtual machine that is supporting the Microsoft Exchange email application. The data protection market has changed dramatically over the past two years with companies focusing more and more on application specific tools and less and less on the legacy methods of data restoration.

    With innovative tools like Veeam’s Explorer for Exchange an organization might receive a request from a user who needs to recover an erroneously deleted email message with an associated attachment. The tool allows for the mounting of the Exchange.edb database from within the backup file. Once mounted the helpdesk professional can then search for the desired email, or simply select the user’s mailbox and browse to the email. At this point the email can be restored to the running Exchange VM, emailed directly back to the user, saved as an .msg file, or a .pst file. All of this is done in seconds while the user is on the phone, and while the Exchange server is still running and providing the desired services to the rest of the network.

    This new paradigm of agentless data protection at the application level is changing the way we think about data protection and disaster recovery in virtual environments. Best of all its free!

    Get the Veeam Backup Free Edition tools at http://www.veeam.com

  • VMware or Microsoft?–How robust is your availability?

    Disclaimer: facts and figures in this article are based on the state of the technology as it exists at the date of its publication. 

    Our article today in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series is about availability. 

    When I say “availability”, I mean “high availability”. 

    And when I say “robust high availability”, I mean a solution such as Windows Failover Clustering that provides high availability and scalability of server workloads.

    I argue that Microsoft’s solution is robust and solid, but VMware has argued differently.  In a currently available document that VMware provides comparing vSphere 5 to the as-of-then beta of what is now Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012, VMware makes the claim that they have “robust high availability” with a “single click, [that] withstands multiple host failures”, whereas Microsoft’s Failover Clustering is “based on legacy quorum model, complex and brittle”. 

    Really?  They haven’t been watching how far clustering has come in Windows Server lately.  In fact, at best, VMware’s document might be referring to how failover clustering used to work back in 2008.  More specifically, they are referring to the quorum model of how a cluster needs a majority vote to determine whether or not a node is actually unavailable, so that the resources it was managing can fail over to other nodes.  To ever have a solid majority, the number of voting members needs to be an odd number.  All nodes get a vote, and so if you have an even number of nodes, you need something else to break the tie.  So to make that work, you need some other “cluster witness”; which is either a “witness disk” or a “witness file share”. 

    From this document on Windows Server 2008 failover clustering:

    In a cluster with an even number of nodes and a quorum configuration that includes a witness, when the witness remains online, the cluster can continue sustain failures of half the nodes. If the witness goes offline, the same cluster can sustain failures of half the nodes minus one.

    Well then, please allow me to introduce you to…

    The Dynamic Quorum

    “Batman and Robin?”

    Tell me you didn't LOVE this show as a kid.No.. that was the “dynamic duo”.  I’m talking about the ability of all nodes in a Windows Failover Cluster to have a vote, and for the number of voting members to adjust dynamically as nodes fail; so that there is never any confusion (lack of a quorum) by having an even number of voting members.

    Is this diagram…

    Node & Disk Majority

    …we see a healthy 4 node cluster, each running 2 VMs, or any other clustered roles.  (Windows Failover Clustering is not just for virtualization, you know.)  The quorum is maintained because we have a disk witness to break the tie in case two nodes say “one node is down!” and the other two say “no, he’s not!”.

    If one of the nodes in our cluster goes away…

    Simple Node Majority

    …depending upon whether that removal was planned or a complete surprise, the clustered roles are able to failover or restart on other nodes.  AND, because the cluster now only has three active nodes, then that in itself becomes a quorum of voting members.

    “When a node shuts down or crashes, the node loses its quorum vote.  When a node successfully rejoins the cluster, it regains its quorum vote.  By dynamically adjusting the assignment of quorum votes, the cluster can increase or decrease the number of quorum votes that are required to keep running. This enables the cluster to maintain availability during sequential node failures or shutdowns.”

    Later, if either the node is re-added, it again gets a vote. 

    Robust.  But wait… there’s more…

    The Dynamic Witness

    The story gets even better In Windows Server 2012 R2.  R2 improves with something called the “Dynamic Witness”:

    “If the cluster is configured to use dynamic quorum (the default), the witness vote is also dynamically adjusted based on the number of voting nodes in current cluster membership. If there are an odd number of votes, the quorum witness does not have a vote. If there is an even number of votes, the quorum witness has a vote.

    The quorum witness vote is also dynamically adjusted based on the state of the witness resource. If the witness resource is offline or failed, the cluster sets the witness vote to ‘0’.”

    The benefit of this is for the rare case of a witness failure.  If that happens, the vote simply goes away and is assumed to not be there.  A huge benefit of all of this is that you never really have to worry about whether or not to count your nodes and the to configure a quorum witness or not. Just do it (as recommended), and let the dynamic nature of our failover clustering take care of it.

    Guest Clustering Without Limits

    Microsoft has a distinct advantage over VMware when it comes to guest clustering.  With Hyper-V and with virtual servers running Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2, clusters of virtual machines can be created that use iSCSI, Fibre Channel, and even .VHDX files (in R2) as the location for their shared storage in either a Clustered Shared Volume (CSV) or just a server file share (SMB Share – file based storage). 

    So here are a couple of the new, flexible choices you have for guest clustered VM shared storage in Windows Server 2012 R2…

    Flexible choices for placement of Shared VHDX

    Try doing that on NFS. 

    While we’re on the subject of scale…

    Does Size Matter?

    VMware requires Essentials Plus or better for HA, and unless something else changed in vSphere 5.5 that they haven't yet said much about, I do believe they still can only support up to 4000 VMs in a 32 node cluster.  (Correct me in the comments and point me to documentation that proves me wrong, please.  I sincerely thought they would up their game here.) 

    You can cluster up to 8,000 virtual machines in up to a 64 node cluster with Windows Server 2012 and Windows Failover Clustering.  And you can do it for no additional cost

    ---

    “Holy robust high availability, Batman!”

    I’m glad you like it.  But if not, or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

    And for more details on what’s newer than what VMware would have you believe in the world of robust high-availability, check out these two TechNet documents:

    What's New in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012

    What's New in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012 R2

  • VMware or Microsoft?–Replaceable? Extensible? What kind of virtual switch do you want?

    PresentationPro,communication,connections,global,information,networking,organizations,people,systems,teamworkIn today’s article in our series, “VMware or Microsoft?”, my friend Chris Avis compares the way flexible, extendible networking is implemented for virtualization.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

  • Road Trip! FREE Microsoft Windows Azure Events in the US

    No cost, hands-on, expert training on Windows Azure

    Coming to a town near you, our four IT Pro Evangelists in the US Central Region (Brian Lewis, Keith Mayer, Matt Hester, and Moi) are delivering free, in-person, hands-on learning (otherwise known as “IT Camps”) from now through mid-October.

    Here is the complete event description:

    Discover Key Hybrid Cloud Solutions for IT Pros

    You CAN have the best of both worlds! With Windows Azure, 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:

    • Right-sizing Storage Investments
    • Protecting Data with Off-site Backups
    • Business Continuance and Disaster Recovery
    • Cost-effective, On-demand 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 cloud-based test lab running Windows Azure!

    Session Requirements:
    Be sure to bring a modern laptop that is capable of running the following prerequisites. For more detailed system specs, click on the city nearest you.

    • Modern operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or Mac OS X
    • Modern web browser supporting HTML5 and Javascript, including IE 9 or later, Chrome, Firefox and Safari
    • A remote desktop (RDP) client – included with Windows platforms. Mac and Linux RDP clients can be downloaded for free

    All participants registering for the event should have an active Windows Azure subscription or trial.  If you have not already done so, sign up for a FREE trial of the Windows Azure platform and services, which includes access to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.

    Register now and save your seat for this FREE, full-day event in your local area. For more information or to register, click on the city near you.

    Date Location Facilitator
    Sep 5, 2013 Houston, TX Matt Hester
    Sep 17, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Brian Lewis
    Sep 18, 2013 Saint Louis, MO Kevin Remde
    Sep 18, 2013 Mason, OH Keith Mayer
    Sep 24, 2013 Overland Park, KS Kevin Remde
    Sep 24. 2013 Austin, TX Matt Hester
    Sep 25, 2013 Waukesha, WI Brian Lewis
    Oct 1, 2013 Downers Grove, IL Brian Lewis
    Oct 1, 2013 Southfield, MI Keith Mayer
    Oct 2, 2013 Omaha, NE Kevin Remde
    Oct 3, 2013 Franklin, TN Keith Mayer
    Oct 8, 2013 Edina, MN Kevin Remde
    Oct 15, 2013 Irving, TX Matt Hester

    Modernize your datacenter
    Try the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview, System Center R2 Preview, Hyper-V 2012 R2 Preview today.

    ---

    “But I don’t live in the Central Region, Kevin.  Do you have an event near where I live?”

    If you’re in the 48 contiguous United States, then yes!  Here’s the entire list: http://technetevents.com/azureitcamps/

    Register today for an event near you -->

  • Road Trip! FREE Microsoft Windows Azure Events in the Central US (September Edition)

    UPDATE: The FULL list of our events for September and October is now live. 

    Go to THIS BLOG POST instead.

    -Kevin

    No cost, hands-on, expert training on Windows Azure

    Coming to a town near you, our four IT Pro Evangelists in the US Central Region (Brian Lewis, Keith Mayer, Matt Hester, and Moi) are delivering free, in-person, hands-on learning; otherwise known as “IT Camps” 

    Here is the complete event description:

     

    Discover Key Hybrid Cloud Solutions for IT Pros

    You CAN have the best of both worlds! With Windows Azure, 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:

    • Right-sizing Storage Investments
    • Protecting Data with Off-site Backups
    • Business Continuance and Disaster Recovery
    • Cost-effective, On-demand 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 cloud-based test lab running Windows Azure!

    Session Requirements:
    Be sure to bring a modern laptop that is capable of running the following prerequisites. For more detailed system specs, click on the city nearest you.

    • Modern operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or Mac OS X
    • Modern web browser supporting HTML5 and Javascript, including IE 9 or later, Chrome, Firefox and Safari
    • A remote desktop (RDP) client – included with Windows platforms. Mac and Linux RDP clients can be downloaded for free

    All participants registering for the event should have an active Windows Azure subscription or trial.  If you have not already done so, sign up for a FREE trial of the Windows Azure platform and services, which includes access to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.

    Register now and save your seat for this FREE, full-day event in your local area. For more information or to register, click on the city near you.

     

    Date Location Facilitator
    Sep 17, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Brian Lewis
    Sep 18, 2013 Saint Louis, MO Kevin Remde
    Sep 18, 2013 Mason, OH Keith Mayer
    Sep 24, 2013 Overland Park, KS Kevin Remde
    Sep 24, 2013 Austin, TX Matt Hester
    Sep 25, 2013 Waukesha, WI Brian Lewis

    Modernize your datacenter
    Try the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview, System Center R2 Preview, Hyper-V 2012 R2 Preview today.

    ---

    “But, aren’t you coming to my town?  Are you doing more of these in October?”

    If you live outside of the Central US, check out http://technetevents.com/azureitcamps/ .

    For events in October.. stay tuned…

    For the full list of events, CLICK HERE.

  • VMware or Microsoft?–VDI: A Look at Supportability and More!

    computers,desktops,electronics,hardware,IT,technology,workstations

    “A little bit of history first.  Virtual Desktop computing has been slowly etching its way into more IT plans year over year.  The advantages can be enormous when isolating the end user into a virtual desktop that looks and acts like their regular everyday PC.  Of course the ROI has been quite difficult to manage especially when looking at large deployments, and when performance must be guaranteed to match or exceed the current computing requirements.”

    If you want to read more of my friend Tommy Patterson’s article today for our “VMware or Microsoft?” series, CLICK HERE.

  • BREAKING NEWS: Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 RTMs are now available to TechNet and MSDN Subscribers

    This just in today…

    GREAT NEWS!

    According to the Windows blog, S. Somasegar’s blog, and the In the Cloud blog, today Microsoft has made the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) builds of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 available for TechNet and MSDN subscribers to download.

    Also now available is the RTM of Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

    And also available today publically (that means, to anybody who wants to try it) is the Visual Studio 2013 RC (Release Candidate). 

    “The new releases give developers everything they need to start building and testing the next generation of apps for the Windows platform and demonstrate our commitment to listening to feedback from the developer community.”

    Gentlemen.. Start your downloads!

  • VMware or Microsoft?–Auto-Balance your Workloads

    Automated server workload balancing for heterogeneous private clouds.

    “Wow.  That’s a mouthful.”

    And it’s also a pretty useful set of functionality.

    Balancing WorkloadsConsider VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Distributed Power Management (DPM).  Those capabilities (available with the vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions) provide the ability to automatically move live workloads (VMs) around and among a cluster of virtualization hosts. Over time and based on various conditions, for the sake of balancing the load (DRS) or conserving power (DPM), virtual machines will be vMotioned (is that a verb?) from host to host.

    Now compare and contrast that with similar capabilities provided in Hyper-V and driven via System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager.  With the support of the built-in Windows Server Failover Clustering (included for nothing extra), Virtual Machine Manager allows you to configure and enable Dynamic Optimization (DO) and Power Optimization (PO). 

    And finally, add to this the fact that System Center Virtual Machine Manager can provide and drive DO and PO not only for Hyper-V clusters, but for vSphere and XenServer as well.

    In today’s article in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series, my friend Keith Mayer breaks down the comparison into these 5 key areas of Automated Server Workload Balancing:

    • Balancing ActInitial Workload Placement
    • Constraint Correction
    • Automated VM Load Balancing
    • Power Management
    • Cluster Maintenance

    As Keith summarizes: 

    In this article, we’ll briefly describe each of these key technical areas and contrast with how these same capabilities are delivered in Windows Server 2012, our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor, and System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) across multiple hypervisors in a heterogeneous Private Cloud. As we discuss each area, you’ll also see that some of these capabilities are integrated into the core of Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012, and as such, those capabilities can be delivered at significantly less cost for organizations seeking to standardize on Hyper-V.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

  • VMware or Microsoft? - Dynamic Storage Management in Private Clouds

    Get your software evaluations here.

    Today we’re discussing storage and storage management.  The importance of storage can’t be understated.  Nor, unfortunately, can the impact of the cost of doing storage right.  And storage needs are never decreasing, are they?

    “Are you kidding?”

    Exactly. 

    Both VMware and Microsoft have solutions to address the flexible management of storage, and even some features that can automate the intelligent allocation and distribution of storage.  So in today’s article in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series, my friend Keith Mayer will be comparing and contrasting those solutions in the following areas:

    • Hot-adding VM Storage
    • Live Expand and Compact of VM Storage
    • Live Storage Migration
    • Automatically Move VM Storage across Storage Classes

    And if you’re wondering what these storage features will cost you, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what Microsoft is including for no extra charge.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

  • VMware or Microsoft?–Shopping for Private Clouds

    What’s on your shopping list for your datacenter?  What do you need to run the business you’re supporting?  What capabilities do you wish you had?  Is your goal to provide a dynamic, scalable, cost-efficient “software driven datacenter”? 

    Shopping for Private Clouds?  Try the System Center 2012 Private Cloud trial. The list of what we want to provide can get long and complex.  Even if we simply the process by determining to run on common, commodity hardware, the complexities just get more, um, complex, as we start considering the licensing of the software we’ll need to purchase. 

    In today’s article in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series, my good friend Keith Mayer describes a “cloud shopping list” an acquaintance of his has made.  He lays out all of the requirements, maps those requirements to the software supporting them in both VMware and Microsoft products, and then tallies up the total purchase price for each solution based on current published retail prices.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    Trust me.  You’ll want to bookmark and share this one with your team and your IT Director. 

  • VMware or Microsoft?–The Naked Server

    “Heh heh… You said naked.”

    Yep.  But when I say “naked servers”, I mean bare-metal servers. 

    “So.. was that just a trick to get more people to read this article?”

    Yes.

    “Okay.  Proceed...”

    Inside the bare naked serverAnd by bare-metal servers, I mean.. a server that has no operating system installed.  It’s racked-and-stacked and plugged into power and network, but isn’t otherwise doing anything.  Yet.

    Both Microsoft and VMware have methods of automatically turning these machines into something useful: Virtualization Hosts.  Whether it’s one server or dozens or hundreds or even thousands, businesses don’t want to have to install operating systems on these bare machines through a manual process.  And it’s not just the installation, but the important configuration of networking and storage and even adding the machines to a failover cluster of virtualization hosts.

    In today’s “VMware or Microsoft?” article, my friend Matt Hester compares and contrasts VMware’s vSphere Auto Deploy with Microsoft’s System Center 2012 and Virtual Machine Manager

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

  • VMware or Microsoft?–Not All Memory Management is Equal

    Dan Stolts - the IT Pro GuruIn the context of virtualization and virtual machines, I think it’s safe to say that memory management is important.  Efficiently allocating and/or recovering memory to/from virtual machines addresses several important questions, such as:

    1. How many virtual machines can I run on this physical host?
    2. How efficiently can my machines run if some of them need more memory than others?  And what if that need for additional memory is just temporary or occasional? 
    3. What happens if, in the worst case, I have to force more virtual machines to keep running on a physical host that doesn’t actually have the physical memory that these machines all require at the same time?

    Smart Memory management for virtual machines helps to address those problems.  And of course, VMware (in vSphere) and Microsoft (in Hyper-V) tackle them in very interesting ways.  And some of those ways are more useful than others.

    In today’s article in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series, my friend Dan “IT Pro Guru” Stolts gives us a great rundown of how memory management works in Hyper-V, and then compares and contrasts it to how it works in vSphere

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    ---

    Happy Labor Day!

    “Hey Kevin, why are you working today?  Isn’t it a holiday?”

    I’m not working today.  I’ve set up this article to publish (go live) today.  I wrote this on Sunday, so that’s okay.  Smile with tongue out

  • VMware or Microsoft?–Can I get an app with that?

    Hint: If they're supported on Windows Server, they're supported on Hyper-V.How do you know that the application you want to run on a virtualized machine is actually supported to run on a virtual machine?

    “You ask the vendor?”

    Which vendor?  The virtualization vendor or the application vendor?

    “Umm… both.”

    It’s definitely a good idea to do that.  But there are some things to know, and, quite frankly, there’s a little mis-information out there. 

    In today’s article in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series my friend Matt Hester gives you the whole truth.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE