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Many of you were asking about whether the slides would be made available after the Windows Server 2012 UK Launch event and I am pleased to say the slides are now here. I don’t have a copy of the video from the day yet but this should give you an overview of what was included in the event.
This post was brought to you by Anthony Sutcliffe, an independent consultant – Anthony is an all round technologist with an active interest in security, strategy & planning, BC / DR, SharePoint (which he thinks is a massively under-utilised product), Exchange, SQL, DPM (which according to Anthony is the best product Microsoft ever produced that they don’t promote).
You’ll fine Anthony here on Twitter and LinkedIn. When I asked Anthony why he wanted to write this post here’s what he said…. “I wanted to write this post as I thought that it was a cracking good day, well run with lots to see and learn. I think that it’s important to make sure that everyone knows how valuable these sessions are.”
Look out for future events in the TechNet Flash Newsletter.
There has been considerable discussion about the new server operating system from Microsoft; Windows Server 2012. A number of dates were announced for the official launch presentations around the UK and as I was due to be in London during the week, I thought that I would make the time to get along and see what all the fuss was about.
The conference room at the Novotel was quite large and it needed to be; there were just over 1,000 delegates at the event, covering a wide range of industrial sectors, resellers, consultants as well as some end users. A few of these had previously had the opportunity to see the beta product, but for most, this was their first look.
As the event was just a single day, it was impossible to cover all of the aspects of the new operating system; however, the various speakers were able to focus on some of the key features and perform a number of demonstrations to show these and highlight the main benefits. Although there were a few technical mishaps (not uncommon in a demo of a new product), the presentations were generally smooth, slick and illustrated the specific feature very well.
What was clear from the various demos was that the new OS is aimed very squarely at providing major improvements in the way that IT staff will work in the future. PowerShell featured quite significantly and it’s clear that this is something that all system administrators must get to grips with if they haven’t done so already. I was also very impressed with the facility to add and remove the server GUI which will significantly reduce the potential attack vectors and make a system more secure.
Iimprovements in the virtualisation processes were also featured; the audience were clearly very impressed with the enhancements as these will make it much easier and quicker to scale resources up or down to meet changes in demand as required. There were a number of other items of interest; issues with cloning servers running key services have now been addressed to make the process easier. The overall administration of Virtual Machines also appears now to be a lot smoother than before.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure was highlighted and they were able to show just how simple it can be to rapidly provision sessions and roll them out to end users without them even having to be on site; possibly even using equipment from outside of the domain. There are some enhancements to the Remote Desktop feature which will provide an improved end user experience that means those that have previously found this to be unsuitable should seriously consider it again.
It was also clear that the new OS is designed very specifically to provide cloud based capabilities, public and private. Many of the features are clearly designed for those larger companies that need the flexibility across a large landscape. However, even small enterprises could make use of these and the savings in time, resources and money will make this something that has to be considered by everyone.
As always at Microsoft events, there were some rather interesting freebies; but on this occasion, they were also giving away some HP Micro Servers that have previously been featured in a TechNet competition. These devices are suitable for testing out the full capabilities of the new OS and 30 lucky people now have the means to try this out for themselves. Although I wasn’t one of those fortunate few, I’m sufficiently impressed with the new OS that I will be looking around to find some suitable hardware that will allow me to start my own investigations.
The Microsoft Marketing materials insists that Windows Server 2012 is “game changing”; this might be seen as a bit of hyperbole, but it’s obvious that the new OS does have some really strong features and some significant enhancements to the way that it works. The general reaction from those present was that Windows Server 2012 really does seem to be a major step forward. It’s clear that it is a really robust and powerful product and everyone currently managing Windows Servers should be thinking about when, not if, they will be moving to the latest Server suite from Microsoft.
Try Windows Server 2012 Now!
You can also read about the Windows Server 2012 launch event from a Microsoft Partner perspective here: http://blog.thefullcircle.com/2012/09/winsrv2012-techlaunch/
The Presentation Slides from the launch event are now available and can be found here:
We all want to store more information. Be it our ever growing email archive, our collection of family photos, or our customer invoices the information that we and our businesses need to store is an ever increasing volume. The amount of storage available to you or your organisation may of course not quite be able to grow at such a rate because while disk is an every cheaper resource, it’s still not free. There are many options increasing your storage capability, off premises archiving to cloud storage for example but that can mean moving the cost elsewhere (bandwidth for example). A better option could be to decrease what you need to store.
Of course I’m not suggesting that you should go around deleting a whole bunch of user’s files, which would be bad and probably result in a P45 saying hello. You could ask your users to delete their own files which some may do, many however will take the view that their time is more important than the storage costs. Some would also be pig headed and ask why, when a disk costs £70 for 2TB, they should have to delete their stuff. Many will also be completely clueless as to their disk usage.
Windows Server 2012 comes to your rescue with a great feature called Deduplification (dedup) which works some magic and actually cuts down the amount of data you need to store without losing any of the data. Frankly it’s a little bit like magic.
Essentially what Dedup does is looks at what’s stored in a volume and looks for matches between chunks of data. When it spots two chunks that are identically it removes the second copy of that chunk freeing up the disk space that was consumed by that duplicate chunk of data and pointing any disk requests for that data chunk to the other copy of the chunk. A simplified example will help understanding, don’t get too hung up on the detail here – like the fact we’re using words, those are just an abstraction for illustration.
Your disk stores words, the words HELLO MARY HOW ARE YOU and HELLO DAVID HOW ARE YOU TODAY. All we really need to store is what’s unique, everything else is just duplication, so we store HELLO MARY HOW ARE YOU DAVID TODAY. Doing that saves us the second HELLO, HOW, ARE and YOU, or 11 letters, or about 38% of the storage originally needed for the 37 letters of the original sentences.
Dedup doesn’t however look at your data and workout what words are duplicated over and over, that would be inefficient as you store other data in many formats that might not be actual words. However all data is stored in bits on your disks, so Dedup looks at the bits on a disk but of course looking at bits is too granular (they are all 1 and 0 obviously) so context would be lost. Dedup instead looks at chunks of data that have identical patters. When a chunk is spotted with an identical pattern it is considered a duplicate and deduplicated. What is very clever though is how dedup decides on those chunks by looking how to make the most efficient savings and changing the size of the chunks of deduplication. Another example will help, again with words.
Your disk stores words, the words HELLO MARY HOW ARE YOU TODAY and HELLO MARY HOW ARE YOUR CHILDREN TODAY. This time the deduplicated disk only stores HELLO MARY HOW ARE YOU TODAY R CHILDREN. In this second example we don’t need to store the word YOUR even though it’s a new word because it still matches a smaller chunk for the most part.
One of the coolest things about dedup is that it works at this lower than the file, higher than the bits level so it can dudpe across file types, across file boundaries and any physical disk boundaries such as disk block size. This means that for example should an Excel file contain the word CONTOSO and that exact same word is in a TEXT file the two could theoretically duplicate against each other.
We’ve been introducing this topic at our IT camps and getting the audience to test their own file servers using the DDPEVAL.EXE tool. You can get this tool from any Windows Server 2012 computer with Dedup enabled and run it, non-intrusively, on any volume or share to evaluate how much space dedudp will save you (just follow up to step 2 below and you’ll find the exe in Windows\system32). Attendees are seeing between 22% and 75% potential savings on profile, development and file server shares.
If you’re sat there reading this thinking about data integrity then you get extra marks. If you’re deduping you do put extra reliance on the one copy of the data that you do have. For that reason dedup will only use one deduplicated chunk 1000 times, then the 1001st occurrence of the same chunk is spotted it leaves it and dedups against that chunk for the subsequent 1000 duplicates found. Furthermore the deduped chunk is maintained by re-writing the chunk when a process writes any data that contains that chunk. This along with other controls maintains consistency.
If you’re using BranchCache you should also be jolly happy because the two technologies work together to reduce duplication in branch environments too.
Enabling Dedup is a case of adding the feature in to Windows Server 2012, which it’s self is easy to do.
1. From Server Manager select Manage > Add Roles and Features then select the server you want to add Dedup to.
2. On the Server Roles wizard page expand File and Storage Services > Files and iSCSI Services and check Data Deduplication then complete the wizard to install the feature.
3. Select the File and Storage Services node in server manager.
4. Select Volumes and locate the server you enabled deduplication on (hint – if you don’t see it you need to add the server into Server Manager). Then select the volume on the server you wish to dedup.
5. Right click the volume and select Configure Data Deduplication.
6. Check Enable data deduplication. From here you need to select a minimum age for files to be duduplicated, this prevents files that are changing too frequently from needless deduplication saving server resources. Enter any particular file types to skip, VHDs are skipped for example because they are open for long periods, you can also specify specifc folders to include or exclude and specify a schedule for running dedup jobs. Click OK to apply the changes.
That’s all there is to it to enable deduplication, the first dedup job will run when the schedule allows. There is much more that can be done with PowerShell, but by way of a teaser the following commands are useful:
Get-dedupjob Shows the current dedup job status if a job is running.
Get-dedupstatus Shows how much deduplication has occurred – this will show the savings.
Start-dedupjob Starts immediate deduplicaiton.
Dedup is a great tool in the arsenal of any IT guy struggling with data storage costs, give it a try using DDPEVAL and see if this one feature alone is going to make Windows Server 2012 right for you, it just might!
If you want more technical information on Data Dedup then checkout Data Deduplication TechNet library and download the Windows Server 2012 Evaluation.
Simon and I are doing so many events that frankly our blogs are nearly dying of neglect so I am not even sure if anyone is out there reading this!
I am not apologising because it’s great to be out there meeting people at IT Camps, launch events etc. However not everyone can get to one of those, either because there are leaves on the line or your boss can’t let you out of the office and there’s no budget for travel anyway.
Also our IT camps fill up really fast, on one occasion in just ten minutes after it was published. To overcome this we have been asked if we can record them and to be honest our unplugged style makes each camp very different e.g. what the audience are asking us about, which of our demos work as planned and how much SQL Server Simon lets me talk about
Anyway Marcel our intern has put his foot down and ordered us to do a version of our camps for TechDays Online later this month. So all you need is a comfy chair (but not too comfy), a latte and a laptop. If you watch us live on the day you can ask us questions but if not we will be recording it for posterity.
TechDays will be spread over two days with a half day on each topic about all the stuff we think is jolly exciting..
Day One (30th October)
Day Two (31st October)
In the meantime download the evaluations of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 or System Center 2012sp1 or tune into MVA so you can ask better questions.
Six Steps to Windows Azure – Starts on 8th and 9th November:
Six Steps to Windows Azure programme which offers a series of free technical events and online sessions on the Windows Azure Platform. The programme aims to guide those currently building apps or considering the cloud on how to take full advantage of Windows Azure. Our upcoming events will cover both the technical and commercial aspects of adopting Windows Azure.
Here are the kick off events; register now.
Windows Azure in the Real World - 8th November 2012
Get started with Windows Azure by seeing how companies have implemented real world solutions for different types of Azure workload. Join us if you currently building applications, considering moving to the Cloud and want to understand how to take full advantage of the Windows Azure Platform.
Advanced Topics in Windows Azure - 9th November 2012:
Join us to tour the latest features of Windows Azure from Media and Mobile services to Windows Azure Active Directory. The day will explore the opportunities Windows Azure offers with Windows 8 and the latest Phone Toolkits (iOS, Android and Windows Phone).
What’s next? Here are the upcoming themes. Registration will open shortly.
· Step 2: Architecture and Design (13 November)
· Step 3: Integration with Mobile and the New World of Apps (3 December)
· Step 4: Open Source Development (14 January)
· Step 5: HPC (4 February)
· Step 6: Big Data (24 February)
If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org or keep an eye on this blog for the next update.
Mike Howard is the Chief Security Officer at Microsoft. In this article Mike provides a powerful insight into how Microsoft runs it’s security operation on a global basis.
At the end of 2010 Microsoft Global Security was at a crossroads, how could we meet the continuing needs of our business to deliver a world class secure working environment, while remaining efficient, driving down our costs and improving productivity by using scalable and extensible solutions.
We realized that the cloud was the most viable option to help meet our goals, and we would need a strategy to understand, develop and put in place cloud security. Fortunately, for us the needs of Global Security and the business of Microsoft were in alignment. For MSGS, cloud technology is a priority, it wasn’t mandated – we chose it, understanding the benefits it would provide.
Cloud innovation can be compared to the development of the printing press – in that in the security cloud, users can consume security applications without owning the infrastructure, just as readers of books do so without owning a printing factory. Cloud technology, lowers or eliminates the transaction cost of existing functions. It enables previously unthinkable functions to become affordable because they can be delivered on a mass scale, in a cost effective manner.
When we looked at the cloud, the questions we asked were:
This business value has come in many forms.
For example; during a crisis situation abroad, we can use the cloud to quickly visualize where traveling Microsoft employees are. The cloud provides relevant information from several sources at once, in a few clicks Global Security knows who needs to be contacted, and where. With cloud based partner apps from conTgo, MapCast and IDV Visual Command Center we are better able to save lives because having the right information enables quick response which is key in life threatening situations. Here is an example of how we used these tools during the Arab Spring
Going forward there is greater flexibility and opportunity to deliver many new security functions with real-time data, as a consumable experience to anybody, anywhere, anytime. There are also new opportunities for functions that have yet to become mainstream and the cloud is an ideal mechanism to deliver them as-a-service.
As we reached the realization that apps as we know them today will become a consumable service, the Cloud became an “all-in” proposition for Global Security. Good things are built on a solid foundation. The reality is that the foundation requires the right environment in which it can be developed and tested and Microsoft provides that environment.
As we continue our journey to the cloud, we’re exploring new possibilities for the delivery of security services on platforms and devices that did not exist even a short time ago. The possibilities that this family of devices and platforms offer are phenomenal, and even more exciting, is the opportunity to make a meaningful difference when it comes to saving lives. This sharpens our focus.
Chief Security Officer - Microsoft
Try out Windows Azure for free and see how you can benefit from high availability and flexible resources.
Find out more about how Microsoft Global Security uses technology
Last week was a week full of useful articles, hints and tips as well as insights into learning and training. You will find content from both our MVP’s, Microsoft Training Partners and the IT Professional community.
We also has the launch of Windows Server 2012 last week and this week we’ll be posting some great content that came out of the launch event and share that with you.
Join the Microsoft TechNet team for our first ever session about Windows 8. Learn hands-on alongside our expert evangelists as they introduce Windows 8 for the Enterprise.
We’ll introduce the changes that Microsoft have made beyond the Modern UI that will help Enterprise companies. From the new Windows 8 application distribution, desktop virtualisation, more powerful and simpler ways to work remotely and exciting new capabilities such as Windows ToGo.
Find a camp now
Just realised I hadn’t yet posted about my new book, Windows 8 for Tablets Plain & Simple, is out. It’s perfect for getting to know Windows 8 on a Tablet, a great gift for Christmas for you mum, sister, husband, wife or dog. If you review the book ping me an email and I’ll send you a little something.
In a couple of weeks time Andrew, Planky and I will be hosting a slew of experts for TechDays Online. If you’ve been unable to get to our Windows Server 2012 camps you’ll find some really great walkthroughs at TechDays Online. It’s not only Windows Server 2012 we’ll be covering though, we have Windows 8, Azure and System Center half days sessions that you should sign up for.
It’s free and online and signup is here:
Signup for Day 1
Signup for Day 2