There's a lot of great readiness and information on the Windows Server 2008 Learning Portal, however if you want specifics on how to go from an MCSE or MCSA up to a MCTS ((Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, which replaces MCSA/MCTS) on Windows Server 2008, you need these links:
The key exam that MCSA's need to go to the new MCTS in Windows Server 2008 is 70-648 and the MCSE's need exam number 70-649.
*** Both of these exams will be available from the 29th October 2007 ***
When you pass 70-648, you'll get the following:
and when you pass 70-649, you'll get:
Not bad for 1 exam! Good Luck!
These 2 exams form part of this new wave of Microsoft Certifications. You can read all about these here.
I wanted to bring to your attention that the subscription/renewal process for Microsoft Action Pack (MAPs) is about to undergo some major changes.
From November 30th 2007, we'll be unveiling a new renewal process and launch two supplemental Special Editions so that a Microsoft Action Pack subscription can continue to help our Registered partners stay competitive, meet their sales goals and grow their business.
Partners either renewing or subscribing to the Action Pack for the first time, will be required to take an online course from the Partner Learning Centre and pass the associated course assessment (with a score of 70% or higher). Action Pack subscribers must pass an assessment every two years. There are currently over 600 online courses and associated assessments to choose from.
Most courses are an hour in length and partners can log onto: https://partner.microsoft.com/actionpack to learn more and use a special saved search tool to help them identify the most appropriate course and assessment for their business. All of the courses and associated assessments are 100% subsidised.
In addition to the standard Action Pack kit that partners receive, we’ve created the following supplements, which will be offered up to twice per year at no additional cost. The two new editions include:
To get all the info on the Action Pack, don't forget to head over to https://partner.microsoft.com/actionpack
Thanks to George - found this in the TechNet Newsletter:
The Infrastructure Planning and Design guides are the next version of Windows Server System Reference Architecture. The guides in this series help clarify and streamline design processes for Microsoft infrastructure technologies; each guide addressing a unique infrastructure technology or scenario. All guides share a common structure including:
These guides complement product documentation by exposing and focusing on infrastructure design options. The Infrastructure Planning and Design Beta Program is ongoing and will showcase multiple Beta release waves to support virtualisation and Windows Server 2008 technologies in the coming months. Future plans will extend the architectural guidance to additional Microsoft operating system and software technologies. The following guides are available for Beta review and we welcome your feedback. You may need to sign in with your Windows Live ID to access these resources.
SoftGrid Application Virtualisation Guide (Just Released)
Microsoft SoftGrid® Application Virtualisation is the only virtualisation solution on the market to deliver applications that are never installed, yet securely follow users anywhere, on demand. It dramatically improves IT efficiencies, enables much greater business agility, and provides a superior end-user desktop experience. The Infrastructure Planning & Design Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualisation guide discusses when to use standalone mode and connected mode for application distribution. It assists designers in the infrastructure planning process for SoftGrid by providing a clear and concise workflow of the decisions and tasks required for each method. This guide enables you to plan the infrastructure required for meeting your application virtualisation service goals.
Windows Server Virtualisation Guide
A Virtualised computing environment can improve the efficiency of your computing resources by utilizing more of your hardware resources. Windows Server virtualisation enables you to create a virtualised server computing environment using a technology that is part of Windows Server 2008. The Infrastructure Planning and Design: Windows Server Virtualisation guide discusses Microsoft virtualisation options using Windows Server virtualisation in Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. The guide explains design considerations at critical decision points and helps plan for an optimized server virtualisation infrastructure architecture to meet organizational goals for performance and consolidation.
View the whole Infrastructure Planning and Design Site here.
There's been a lot in the press around Microsoft's next generation virtualisation offering, namely Windows Server virtualisation, WSv, most of it good, some of it not so good, but, nevertheless, it's clear to see that Microsoft are making inroads in this area - eWeek agrees. There is however, a key point to note, that we all have to accept. WSv won't ship until 180 (potentially!) days after the release-to-manufacture (RTM) of Windows Server 2008, scheduled for February time. This means that if WSv does take that full 180 days to ship, you're looking at August 2008. Whilst we're frustrated that we can't get it out sooner (it may be sooner - 180 days is the maximum, remember!), when it does ship, you know you're getting a well-tested, stable release, ready for production workloads. Any sooner, and we risk providing a product which isn't up to scratch. You can however, start to play around with WSv in the latest public build of Windows Server 2008, RC0, so feel free!
I have every belief that when it does ship, it will be on a par with VMware's latest ESX offering, and whilst it won't have some of the features that ESX has, including a well trusted record in the industry, it will have a number of advantages, particularly around the scalability, and the management; something Microsoft has excelled with, and System Center emphasises this point. I'm not going to sit here and talk through a feature by feature comparison with ESX - it's just not worth it. I believe that VMware have done a great job in the industry - they've brought virtualisation into the mainstream. Even Microsoft has to accept that virtualisation probably wouldn't be as high profile as it is now without them. It's not however, just about the 'hypervisor'. We'll have one, VMware will have a different one, Xen will have another - there needs to be a key differentiator, and Microsoft believes it's the management. I agree. I'll save that discussion for another time.
So, from a Microsoft perspective, what can you do now? Were you just thinking of upgrading to Windows Server 2008 for the virtualisation? If so, that's a shame, because there are a hell of a lot of great features, from the fantastic, now-componentised IIS Web Server offering, which is more scalable and secure than ever before, right through to Server Core; a minimal-footprint, command-line driven installation of Windows Server. People asked for these features, and Windows Server 2008 delivers. I'm not even going to mention Read-Only Domain Controllers, BitLocker, Network Access Protection, SharePoint Services, Windows Media Services, Secure FTP, Failover Clustering and Geoclustering. See, told you I wouldn't mention them!
The question is, are you going to put off your Windows Server 2008 deployment to coincide with WSv? Or, are you going to have a mixed environment and a staggered deployment, keeping some 2000/2003 boxes, and bringing in WS2008 boxes to add key functionality, then when WSv ships, upgrade the rest of the machines and get the full benefits of a native WS2008 infrastructure? I guess that's a decision for you to make. If I had to talk about my ideal scenario, an organisation would already be running WS 2003 R2 SP2, with Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 on top, which provides me with me virtual infrastructure, managed by a combination of System Center Operations Manager 2007 (which will monitor and look after the physical, and the virtual machines), Virtual Machine Manager, (which will manage the hosts, and virtual machines, and allow quick deployment from templates, intelligent placement, P2V and more), Configuration Manager 2007, (which will look after the patching and software deployment side of your infrastructure, physical or virtual), and Data Protection Manager 2007 (which handles the backups of the physical, and the virtual machines). These 4 management products are the key to a strong virtual infrastructure. Virtualisation is nothing without strong management. The key for me is, if I were an IT Admin, I wouldn't want to use a million different tools to do my job - even worse if they look completely different! System Center software, particularly the 4 I've mentioned, are all based around this MMC 3.0 look and feel. Hierarchy's on the left, tasks on the right, content in the center - it's easy to pick up, use, and integrate, and that's another key point, the integration of these products. They just work. It's that simple. Would you say that your infrastructure can scale rapidly? What if Operations Manager picked up that your web farm was becoming saturated with traffic - sent a message to Virtual Machine Manager, which loaded a Virtual Machine template, already configured for that web farm, and intelligently placed it onto a particular host that was least utilised, and balanced the load. All while the administrator is asleep. How does that sound? This is the kind of thing that is possible. This is the kind of thing that is possible right now, using System Center, and Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. That kind of dynamic, scalable architecture is one that many companies dream of. It's all possible on the core Microsoft platform.
WOW that was a long paragraph!
It doesn't have 64 bit VM's, you can't Live Migrate virtual machines, but it does scale, and it integrates perfectly with System Center. Microsoft use it to virtualise 1400 production servers. The best thing? Once you are ready to go over to WSv, you'll be able to use System Center Virtual Machine Manager to easily migrate the VHD files over to the new servers, meaning that solid foundation you've set up now, is still perfectly in tact when WSv hits, and your virtual machines will have all the benefits of running on WSv. Your physical infrastructure will also have all the benefits of running on WS2008!
I've chatted for far too long in this email, but I hope you can see what I'm trying to get at, and I'd appreciate your comments - I'm not interested in a VMware vs. Microsoft debate - both have strong offerings on the table and with VMware in particular, the virtualisation industry owes them a great deal. I'm interested in constructive discussion about virtualisation, management, the big picture, and where you see it going.
So, how can you start to learn even more about virtualisation and this 'bigger picture' idea? I've starred a couple of these that I feel are key sessions:
Partner Specific Resources:
Licensing can sometimes be a bit of a difficult concept for even Microsoft employees to get their heads around, however, from time to time, something comes along which really does try to help you solve those sometimes-cryptic licensing conundrums.
The licensing guys are regularly asked "Licensing is so complicated, how do you cope…?" to which they typically respond "Well, actually, we give our customers wide range of choice and understanding how our licensing works is key to understanding how to sell more effectively to our customers". This would be followed up with redirecting you to a number of different sites and resources, including rather large PowerPoint decks. So, what's new?
We've created a Licensing Learning Path, that collates this useful information around licensing, such as training materials etc, and puts it in a single place. It explains what level of knowledge you might need and links to the relevant training courses and any tests you can take from one place. (You can even take exams and get official certificates..!) As well a ‘How to Sell’, you can also go on to understand how Software Asset Management (SAM) can help customers make best use of what they have bought.
Sounds useful, right?
You can access it right now, here.
Providing you live near the towns we're visiting I guess!
That's right, we're hitting the road, on the Small Business Specialist Community Roadshow, and it's starting soon. The events will enable you, as an SMB Partner, to find out how Microsoft, and it's technologies, can help to get your business motoring. A top Microsoft technology and business team (Do they know I'm presenting!?) will map out the latest developments in the server and desktop markets and take you on the journey from market opportunity to technical 'how to' demonstrations.
I've been involved in planning this content, and we're trying to keep a good mix of business and technical content - we're also trying to keep slides to a minimum, and demo's to a maximum. There will be no smoke and mirrors, just real technology, working in harmony (fingers crossed on that one :-)) to provide a real drive for businesses out there.
So, and I quote "We'll get under the hood of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system, along with the Office Ready PC, giving you detailed insights to get your business moving. And of course, we'll be outlining the route ahead for the new Windows Server 2008, with its built-in web and virtualisation technologies for increasing the reliability and flexibility of your customers' server infrastructure."
'Get me signed up!' I hear you say - OK, so here are the details you need.
So, please join the whole team: technical, sales, marketing and business development, over beer and pizza to chat through the journey!
Ever wondered what the Microsoft Partner Programme is all about and how it can help you?
Wonder no more...!
I certainly think it could be. For those of you who may not know what I'm barking on about - it's all about the web. Well, to be more specific, it's about Windows, IIS, SQL and PHP, as oppose to Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. Notice the common factor in both of those; the P, for PHP.
This time last year, Microsoft and Zend announced a technical collaboration to enhance the experience of running the PHP scripting language on Windows Server however, just recently, as we get closer to the launch of Windows Server 2008, there have been a few more announcements.
Server 2008, if you didn't know, contains the new and improved version of Internet Information Services, version 7.0. So, what's new about this release?
So, that's enough about IIS 7.0 in general - back to the topic - why is WISP the new LAMP? Well, up to now, PHP developers, although they will be developing on top of Windows, the platform of choice for running their web servers etc, was Linux and Apache, with a MySQL backend. Why? Well, they were designed and written to work effectively together. PHP could be handled by IIS, using CGI, however it didn't give the level of performance that running PHP on a Linux/Apache platform gave, hence it became the platform of choice. With the announcement of FastCGI however, that's changing.
This FastCGI extension is built into Server 2008, but you can download it for free, for IIS 5.1 and 6. Just a quick note - IIS has had 0 critical updates. None. Nada. Zip. Secure? I'd say so. But what does this FastCGI do?
"Most applications built for IIS take advantage of the native, multi-threaded extensibility model of IIS. Many popular applications, particularly those written or originally designed for Linux, are not multi-threaded, and instead take a multi-process approach to concurrency. While the PHP engine itself is multi-thread capable, many of the popular PHP extensions are not, requiring a single concurrent request guarantee to operate reliably. This forces the use of CGI and results in poor performance on the Windows platform. FastCGI helps these application frameworks to achieve improved performance on Windows over CGI, while allowing stable operation in production environments"
So, that means that PHP will run much faster on a Windows platform. How much faster? A lot. In some cases, an order of magnitude quicker. Check out this video if you want the proof. Looking forward to Windows Server 2008, which has FastCGI built in, Zend will distribute Zend Core, that will be fully compatible with a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 - awesome news. This means Zend customers can run their PHP applications on a scaled down, efficient, dedicated IIS Server Core Web Server - more secure, easy to manage and more performant - sounds good, right?
It's not however, just about how PHP runs quicker on IIS - that's just 2 parts of the WISP vs. LAMP story. PHP still needs to be able to interact effectively with a database - before now, it's been pretty much a given that when using PHP, you'll go with MySQL, but now, there is an alternative.
"Microsoft is announcing the availability, this week of the first Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the SQL Server 2005 Driver for PHP. As part of Microsoft’s continued commitment to interoperability, the PHP Driver provides an optimized way for developers to leverage SQL Server 2005 in their PHP application. With this Driver, we are proud to address the needs of customers who have asked for a Microsoft-supported solution, and bring SQL Server’s scalability to PHP developers"
So, you've now got a strong platform for development and actually running your web applications in Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7.0, along with a great database offering, all of which connect with PHP in a way that enables efficient, streamlined and powerful performance - something that was only available to PHP developers running on LAMP in the past....
If you want more resources, check these out:
That's right, the TechNet team are back on the road - it doesn't seem 2 minutes since they were WOWing audiences across the UK with a new style of TechNet event - a demo-driven, slide-lite, very real, very cool scenario's on Microsoft's new wave of technology, namely Server 2008, Virtualisation and System Center. The feedback for the content and this new style of event was very positive - people like to see technology. People like to see it live - no smoke and mirrors, no false canned demos - live technology in real scenarios.
So, what's the deal with these new events?
I've pinched some information from Steve's blog which talks about his particular session, entitled "To take online backups of running applications via System Center Data Protection Manager AND how to provide secure remote access to applications via Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services" - good one Steve! :-)
Here's Steve's abstract:
"When is data retention interesting? For most of us it’s only when we’ve accidentally deleted something important or suffered a hardware disaster that we may wish we had implemented an automated backup regime. During the session we will SHOW you how to install and configure System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) to take online backups of running applications including Sharepoint, Exchange, SQL and Virtual machines – “there’s no such thing as a closed file to SCDPM”. We’ll also show you how to make the most of Windows Vista’s native back up features.
Windows Server 2008 brings with it some significant enhancements to Terminal Services to make it easier and more secure to connect remote computers and applications. We’ll show you how to make the most of the new Terminal Services Web Access which enables remote clients to access sessions across the Internet WITHOUT having to establish Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections – instead the traffic is tunneled over HTTPS. Terminal Services “RemoteApp” completely integrates applications running on a terminal server with users' desktops such that they behave as if they were running on an individual user's local computer; users can run programs from a remote location side-by-side with their local programs – we’ll show you how this works in detail too"
Sounds good Steve.
There are other sessions too:
SQL 2008 Pervasive Insights: "This session will concentrate the Business Intelligence (BI) aspects coming in SQL Server 2008. There will be a brief overview of the other themes in the release: Enterprise Data Platform, Beyond Relational, Dynamic Development. The BI aspects covered will be very demo focused to highlight the improvements to: Integration Services. Lookups and use of the new Change Data Capture capabilities in the relational engine and also Reporting Services. The new architecture, the new designer and charting improvements as well as changes to the RDL schema (tablix). They'll also be covering Analysis Services, including demos of the new wizards and attribute relationship designer and best practice warnings, and a discussion on block computation."
Beyond SharePoint: Advanced Solutions in Business Intelligence and Enterprise Search with Microsoft Office Performance Point Server 2007 (MOPPS) and Microsoft Enterprise Search: "So your organisation has deployed Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) or SharePoint Server 2007, what now? Your business wants to solve business problems around content management and business analytics but leaves it up to you to figure it out. There is a lot of confusing terminology in the business intelligence and enterprise search arena and a lot of discussion about Microsoft’s latest offerings. In this session we will discuss: Performance Monitoring to show what is happening in the business (MOPPS), Analysis to deliver insight into why, how and when these things are happening (MOPPS), Planning to improve what is happening in future (MOPPS), Planning enterprise search deployments (Search), Securing searchable assets (Search) and Learning to generate relevant search results in your org (Search). We will then have a look at what is happening under the covers to understand what dependencies there are for components of Office, SQL server etc. to allow IT professionals to implement and support and extend it. The session will be demo-oriented showing real world methodology and configuration steps. Finally, we will show how customers can get involved in Microsoft pilot programs. Detailed licensing information will be available at the event. We’ll reserve you an entire seat, but you’ll only need the edge!"
How can you register for the different dates, and when and where are they? Here!
So, make sure you get registered early to avoid disappointment! There's also a licensing session too:
"Again back by popular demand! Jackie Elleker scored some of the best presenter scores with these events previously! Attend this course to understand Microsoft Licensing and how best to apply it in your company to fit in with your business needs. This session is aimed at IT professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of Microsoft’s software licensing. The briefing assumes no previous or in-depth technical licensing experience."
21st November, Reading
Whilst I can't guarantee any freshers week antics associated with the Core IO 'University', what I can guarantee is some excellent content around optimising both your's, and your customers' infrastructures.
These 2 day courses are scheduled for the new year, and are designed to compliment the IO events that I've recently blogged about, around the Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimisation (BPIO) and the APO (Application Platform Optimisation).
So, what are these events all about?
"The Core IO University is a 2 day workshop that provides partners with the business context, technical strategy, and sales techniques / tools required to drive growth and increase sales pipelines through the Core Infrastructure Optimisation Framework and OSCI Campaign. Core IO & OSCI provides the basis of selling high value solutions to customers. Core IO University workshop is designed to enable partners to identify new opportunities through Core IO and to understand successful sales strategies close opportunities. Delegates will be taken through a highly interactive workshop that ends with the real world sales opportunity scenario, defining a Strategic Technology Roadmap, and delivery of an Core IO briefing to the customer."
Who's it targeted at?
This workshop is focused on identifying new opportunities and selling the business value of Microsoft Core Infrastructure solutions in the Enterprise and Mid-Market space and thus would be most relevant to sales and pre-sales consultants as well as those involved in bids and licensing administration.
You can read the full agenda, and get the rest of the info, by following one of the links below.