Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 2) Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud - Planning a Hybrid Cloud Storage Architecture

    My friend Dan Stolts and yours truly continue our series on “Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloudwith an overview on how to plan for a hybrid cloud storage solution using Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure. Tune in for our lively discussion on the many storage options available to you as well as discussions around performance, reliability and security.  

    Watch the entire video


    • [1:18] Let’s start with a quick summary of existing storage capabilities using modern infrastructure on-premises as supported by Windows Server 2012 R2
    • [10:16] What is Azure Storage?
    • [11:17]  Can you give us a quick overview of Azure Storage Architecture?
    • [12:30]  In order to connect local systems to Azure Storage accounts, I have to think there is some kind of authentication required to make that happen securely. How is that done?
    • [16:00]  What is Blob Storage?
    • [17:30] What are some common uses of Azure File Storage?
    • [18:18] Is Azure data reliable?
    • [21:10] Since we can access storage from Azure services or from our on-premises services, what kind of performance can we expect?
    • [23:17] I understand we can take snapshots of data in Azure. Can you tell us a bit snapshots
    • [24:37] Other than through the azure portal, how can businesses access Azure data?
    • [28:45] What can you tell us about StorSimple?
    • [32:21] Can I use Azure to host my SQL Server database?
    • [35:19] Are there other storage components that we have not talked about?

    Follow the entire series!

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  • Modernizing your Infrastructure: The FREE Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment

    Extend your datacenterWelcome to another in our new series of “Modernize your Infrastructure” articles.  Today I’m pleased to share with you the details of yet another free and easy-to-use assessment tool from Microsoft.  The purpose of this tool is to help you answer the following important question:

    “Are my servers and services able to be migrated to Microsoft Azure?”

    And that is a fair question; particularly if we see the value, but don’t really know where to begin.  If in the process of modernizing my infrastructure I consider perhaps moving some (or all) of my servers – whether they’re physical or virtual machines - off of my local hardware and into “the Cloud” as Microsoft Azure hosted Virtual Machines as an extension of my datacenter, then it would be good to have a starting-point assessment to help me learn about and consider what might be required; and even better if it was based on my current environment and some initial goals and desires.

    And that’s what the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment is all about.

    It’s a free and easy-to-install tool that, when run on supporting OS and with the proper credentials, will ask you a number of questions about your environment and about your needs and desires (the end goal), and result in a lengthy report based on your answers and, importantly, based on what it was able to detect in your infrastructure.

    “Can you show it to me?”

    Showing you the whole process would be overkill here.  But how about I show you some of the highlights.


    Requirements and Installation

    The download page is where you’ll find a good description of how and where the tool can be run.  In basic terms, it will run on any OS newer than Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.  It does have some .NET framework requirements as well.  The instructions are pretty simple:

    1. Download and run WAVMRA.EXE on the computer you want to run the assessment from
    2. Complete the installation steps
    3. Launch the tool
    4. Select the technology you want to assess and proceed through the wizard experience

    Run it

    On the workstation you’ve installed the tool on, make sure you run it as an administrative account that has rights to administer Active Directory, SharePoint, or your SQL Servers (whatever it is you’re interested in assessing). 

    Naturally, the first question you are asked is “What would you like to assess?”

    What would you like to assess?

    Your answer here will determine some of the remaining questions concerning what kind of connectivity, applications, availability, and performance you’re going to require.

    Let’s say that In my example I’m going to want to extend my Active Directory domain into the cloud.  Using my single corporate domain I want to extend authentication to other applications that I want to host on virtual machines in my Microsoft Azure network.

    Prior to the remainder of the questionnaire, you are reminded of the requirements for this tool to be able to run successfully:


    Answer the Questions

    The rest of the process prior to scanning your environment and generating the final report, is to ask you additional questions.  In my scenario, I’m asked 13 more questions.  “All questions must be answered as part of completing this assessment.”  Here are a few samples:

    Network requirements

    LOB Apps

    Deploy Workloads

    Cloud DR Site

    AD Forest

    Note that each question provides additional detail about what’s being asked, and you are often giving the option to basically say “I don’t know yet”.  Trust me – The report will give you excellent detail on and pointers to additional information about all of the options available.


    And eventually…

    View your report


    The tool generates a Microsoft Word .docx file that you can save, print, share.. whatever you want to do with it.  Inside you’ll find a detailed report on what you’ve chosen, what’s required of you, and links to additional information and further learning around your next steps.  The report is organized into three parts: “Ready”, “Set”, and “Move”.


    And then shows you “What we checked”, with a quick visual indication of which items are fine, and which ones should probably be looked into further.


    And that’s it! 

    Hopefully you’ll find this a useful first-step into extending your infrastructure into the Microsoft Azure cloud.

    Go Forward “To the Cloud!”

  • Modernize your Infrastructure: The Series

    Modernize your InfrastructureThe team of US DX IT Pro Technology Evangelists is doing another series of articles and TechNet Radio interviews.  The topic: Modernizing your Infrastructure.  The goal: To give you as many resources as you’ll need to get your infrastructure up to speed, whether you’re simply looking for ways to migrate off of Windows Server 2003, or even move workloads and applications up into Microsoft Azure.

    “Sounds great, Kevin!  Where is the series landing page?”

    Go here:

    Bookmark it and check back often.  There should be new content there every day.

    Speaking of new content, today’s first-article-in-the-series is by Dan Stolts.  He writes about and documents using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Tools.  CHECK OUT HIS ARTICLE HERE

    “Hey Kevin, are you writing any articles for the series?”

    Absolutely.  I have one going live tomorrow, others scheduled for later.  And you’ll also get to see my pretty (?!) face in a couple of TechNet Radio interviews over the next couple of weeks.

    Stay tuned…

  • A Useful List of Windows 8 or 8.1 Resources for IT Pros

    Thanks to Mary Jo Foley for tweeting about this.  Mary Hutson is maintaining a very useful list of “top Microsoft Support solutions for the most common issues IT Pros experience when using or deploying Windows 8 or 8.1.”  She updates the list every quarter; the most recent being just two days ago (Aug 11, 2014). 

    * HERE IS THE LIST * <—Click that

    Kudos, Mary!  This is a great page to bookmark!

    Mary Hutson