I want to call out and invite IT professionals interested in achieving Microsoft certifications to join, participate, and contribute to Windows Server Early Experts Challenge. This program is to learn about the latest version of Windows Server with excelling in related Microsoft certification exams in mind.
The Challenge involves a series of Knowledge Quests - starting with the Apprentice Quest below - and each Quest ends with a special completion certificate for you to promote your new knowledge! To make it easy to participate, each Quest is developed in a modular format that you can complete based on your own schedule and availability.
The first five Knowledge Quests are Apprentice, Installer, Explorer, Networker and Virtualizer. These Knowledge Quests target the objectives in Exam 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012.
Let me acknowledge that the contents presented in the Early Expert Challenge series are based on Keith Mayer’s work. HIs enthusiasm, efforts, and impact on helping IT pro communities adopt Windows Server 2012 have been inspirational, effective, and significant.
This program leverages the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) for some of our free online study resources. You will need to first register for an MVA account using your Microsoft Account (aka., Windows Live ID) via the link below …
In this first knowledge quest, you will learn and explore the key new technical capabilities of Windows Server 2012 across the product pillars of virtualization, management, networking and storage, etc. to properly position them for relevant usage scenarios.
The seven modules in this course, through video and whitepaper, provide details of the new capabilities, features, and solutions built into the product. With so many new features to cover, this course is designed to be the introduction to Windows Server 2012. After completing this course, you will be ready to dive deeper into Windows Server 2012 through additional Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) courses dedicated to each topic introduced in this “Technical Overview.”
Alternate option: You can also attend a free Windows Server 2012 First Look Clinic at a Microsoft Learning partner near you if you'd prefer an in-person training experience.
With so much to learn in Windows Server 2012, building your own lab environment is the best way to REALLY learn new technology! You can download the Windows Server 2012 installation bits and start the process! We'll be using these installation bits in the coming weeks in the additional Knowledge Quests of the "Early Experts" Challenge. Be sure to download the bits in "VHD" format (not "ISO" format) as we'll be using the VHD bits to build your study lab and in future Knowledge Quests for hands-on activities.
Follow this step-by-step guide to build your own study lab as a dual-boot environment on your existing desktop or laptop PC. We'll leverage this study lab environment in future Knowledge Quests for hands-on activities. Hands-on experience with Windows Server 2012 will help you greatly in mastering the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass the certification exams.
Participate in our Online Study Group Community on LinkedIn to post questions you may have, share your insights and collaborate with other members as we all prepare for certification! Each of us has unique insight and by participating in this community, we'll be able to expand our technical knowledge beyond our own experiences.
Now that you've completed this Knowledge Quest, be sure to share your success with your social network using one of the buttons below for Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. By sharing your success, you'll also help to encourage others to join our study group and increase the number of IT Pros working together to help grow our collective technical knowledge and share even more community insight that benefits us all!
Have you completed Steps 1 through 5? If so, follow these steps to validate your lab completion and claim your "Early Experts - Apprentice" certificate:
Once you've submitted your certificate request, feel free to keep going with the next Knowledge Quest below!
After you've completed the "Early Experts" Apprentice Quest, keep going with the next Knowledge Quest to continue your preparation for the MCSA on Windows Server 2012 Exams:
Windows Azure is a cloud OS. It is an infrastructure with computing, networking, and storage capacities; a global service publishing and distribution vehicle; and a security and system management framework capable of bridging and extending on-premise resources with those deployed in the cloud. With IaaS combined with the many features Windows Azure offers, the opportunities for enterprise IT as well as small and medium businesses are real and exciting to employ cloud as a delivery platform for LOB services including media and phone apps. Windows Azure combined with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1 provide many options for IT to transition and transform existing establishments into a cloud-friendly, cloud-ready, and cloud-enabled environment. Deploying resources, migrating workloads, and expanding Active Directory to cloud have never been easier with so much predictability and quick ROI, and without compromising quality and security. While for developers, those applications deployed to Windows Azure PaaS environment will be by default delivered with SaaS globally. Windows Azure is a cloud OS, changes how IT does business, and opens many new possibilities to shorten go-to-market. The following schematic depicts Windows Azure features highlighting technical capabilities, target scenarios, and business objectives.
WEB SITES is to rapidly deploy highly scalable web sites on Windows Azure. It allows using languages and open source applications of a site administrator’s choice and deploying content with FTP, Git, and TFS. Integrations with Windows Azure services include SQL Database, Caching, Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Storage. This is an optimal solution for a web presence to start small and scale as traffic grows with scalability, high availability, and built-in monitoring of performance and usage data. This is also a perfect turnkey for running ephemeral, i.e. short-live and transitory sites, for contests, promotions, campaign, prototype, proof of concept, and so on.
VIRTUAL MACHINES is Windows Azure’s IaaS solution. This much needed and long waited capability enables enterprise IT to provision infrastructure and deploy VMs on demand. An administrator can now easily deploy and configure Windows Server and Linux VMs in minutes in cloud. Migrate workloads without having to change existing code and modify network configuration, while able to securely connect those VMs to on-premises corporate networks.
MOBILE SERVICES offers a secure turnkey backend-as-a-service solution readily available for mobile applications. This offer accelerates mobile application development by incorporating structured storage, user authentication, and push notifications, and shortens the process dramatically. The ROI of this offering for mobile application development and deployment is almost immediate.
MEDIA SERVICES has everything for delivering content to a variety of devices, from Xbox, Windows phone, Windows 8, to MacOS, iOS and Android while ingesting, encoding, converting, and protecting content with both on-demand and live streaming capabilities. As media increasingly becomes part of a delivery in both business and social settings, Windows Azure Media Services arrive with tremendous business opportunities and growth.
CLOUD SERVICES, a PaaS offering, provides an on-demand runtime environment. Published API enables developers to build or extend enterprise applications onto Windows Azure with high availability and elastic scale. This is a PaaS environment to deploy applications delivered as SaaS solutions to customers anywhere around the world.
BIG DATA is becoming a pressing issue and on-going challenge for enterprise IT as data continue to explode. We are now confronted with ever-increasing and unplanned bursting of data in the order of magnitude on a daily basis. IT needs to process more data today than those of yesterday’s, yester-week’s, and yester-month’s introduced by growing mobile devices and increasing dynamic traffic trigger by social networks. The new normal of enterprise IT is to have not only the capacity to store and process, but the ability to analyze and derive information, and deliver business values from a massive sample space with numerous data points which continue increasing. Facing this reality, Windows Azure features a 100% Apache Hadoop compatible, enterprise-ready HDInsight service and supports a variety of structured and unstructured data storage options, along with tools to help analyze and extract BI from data of any size. Enterprise IT may not overcome the challenges of big data overnight, the arrival of Windows Azure nonetheless offers a strategic platform to move forward with a convergent solution.
VHD is a file format employed in Microsoft virtualization solution. Essentially it operates and behaves much just like a physical hard disk, while in fact it is a file. There has been much information already available regarding VHD and those who are not familiar with this format should review Virtual Hard Disk Getting Started Guide first. There are various way to create and manage a VHD. For those who are deployment focused or prefer operating via a command prompt, DiskPart is available. On the other hand, with GUI there are also Hyper-V Manager and Disk Manager with VHD operations. In this post, the focuses are on the VHD operations with Hyper-V Manager. And there are really just three routines: creating, editing, and inspecting a VHD. One can start these routines from Action dropdown menu and Actions pane of Hyper-V manager once a Hyper-V host is highlighted. To create, edit, or inspect a VHD, simply click the corresponding option as shown above.
The following individual routines present the user experience after a user starts a particular routine by clicking a particular option indicated by the top level heading. Also notice that the term, VHD, depending on the context stands for either a virtual hard disk itself or the format of a virtual hard disk.
This type allocates storage at VHD creation time. The size of a Fixed Size or Fixed VHD, as the name indicates, stays the same throughout the life of a disk. Since all available storage is allocated at creation time, a Fixed VHD offers a predictable and best performance on operations relevant to storage allocation and is recommended for production use.
In the process, Windows Server 2012 defaults the format of a new blank VHD to VHDX and the size to 127 GB. Here, the shown routine reset the size and created a 5GB VHD on the local hard disk. The 5 GB size here is chosen due to limited disk space availability on the associated hard disk. To create a VHD for installing OS, for example, the size of the VHD should be large enough to include OS, patches, applications, temp storage, page files, buffer space, etc.
This type of a VHD is first created with just housekeeping (or header/footer) information, i.e. the name, location, maximum size, etc. of the disk. As data are written into a Dynamic VHD, the total size of the VHD will grow accordingly. Here is a routine to create a 5 GB Dynamic VHD.
So a Dynamically VHD is rather small in size when first created and the size grows as data are written into the disk. At any given time, a Dynamic VHD is with a size of the actual data written to it and the housekeeping information. Notice, upon deleting data from a Dynamic VHD, the space of those deleted data is not reclaimed till an Edit Disk/Compact operation is operated upon which.
A Dynamic VHD is recommended for development and testing, since relatively small footprint to manage. A server intended to run applications not disk intensive is also a possible candidate for a Dynamic VHD. Still when it comes to performance, a Fixed VHD always performs better than a comparable Dynamic VHD in most scenarios by roughly 10% to 15% with the exception of 4k writes, where Fixed VHD performs significantly better as documented in Hyper-V and VHD Performance - Dynamic vs. Fixed.
For backward compatibility, here is a routine to edit and change the format of a disk from VHDX to VHD. Since this operations will create a new disk with a copy of the source content, there is an opportunity to specify both the format and the type of the new disk. And here in addition to the format, the type is changed from Fixed to Dynamic. In other words, the operations to convert a VHD in effect copy the source disk to a newly created disk with a specified format and a selected type.
Converting a format does not apply to a Differencing VHD since both the format and the type are dependencies between a child disk and its parent and not to be changed for the parent-child link to work, although the Convert option is available for a Differencing VHD.
To increase the size of a Dynamic VHD, edit and expand the disk. The process is fairly straightforward.
To permanent introduce changes captured in a child disk, edit a child disk and select the option to merge the child disk into the parent disk. On the left, the process shows that the changes can be directly merged into the parent disk itself or a newly created Dynamic or Fixed disk. This routine is likely to follow a successful test/validation of a target patch or a new device driver against a child disk with an existing deployment image as the parent disk, for example.
If you cannot make one of these events, you may be able to find a similar event at a New Horizons learning center here.
Attendees are encouraged to participate Early Expert Challenge program and set up a test lab to facilitate the learning. To participate in the afternoon hands-on lab session, you will need to bring your own computer (laptop preferred) with the following minimum configuration:
For more information or to register, visit > www.technetevents.com OR CALL 1-877-MSEVENT
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A noticeable capability now available in System Center 2012 SP1 is to COPY a stored VM from on-premise private cloud fabric to Windows Azure. This COPY process is to be initiated from App Controller with an established connection to an intended Windows Azure subscription. A prerequisite of copying a VM is that the VM must be in a “stored” state. Storing a VM and later deploying the stored VM may appear conceptually plain. They are actually quite interesting operations in implementation. These processes under the hood make several transitions while on the surface with App Controller the user experience is amazingly streamlined and simple. The logical model of the associated operations is actually a great tool to better understand how the private cloud fabric works. The following schematic depicts the conceptual model of copying a VM from on-premise private cloud fabric to Windows Azure.
Form a user’s point of view, the process to COPY a VM to Windows Azure requires first storing the VM. A VM once stored becomes a library object, or specifically an object in Cloud Libraries of the Library workspace in VMM admin console as shown below. To store a VM either in App Controller or VMM admin console, simply right-click a target VM and select the option to store it. At this time, the process actually moves/exports the VM from the default VM path (configured in Placement of the associated host properties) to “Stored VM path” defined in the associated cloud properties. Both paths are set with VMM admin console as illustrated in the following.
Once a VM is stored, as shown below the status of the VM will be set as “Stored.” Notice that the operations of storing a VM are very much like those in exporting one. The process will capture the state packaged with the content and configurations of the VM.
At this time, an authorized user can then in App Controller initiate a COPY process to bring a stored VM to Windows Azure. A stored VM can be also redeployed back to the state, where, and when the “Store” process was last performed. [Continued in upcoming posts]