2014
12.22

I’ve been doing Azure events since August and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are 3 types of people in the audience:

  • Want to learn now – a small percentage of the audience
  • Have a small measure of interest but never try anything out – maybe over half of the room
  • Are only attending to learn how to compete with Azure or their boss forced them – everyone else in the room

I’m guessing the breakdown is similar at most cloud IaaS events. And I’ve not forgotten the those who are hoping that the US government kills off the cloud and wouldn’t attend a cloud event if it was the only place to be inoculated against the zombie apocalypse. And let’s not forget those clock punchers who make up the sad majority of IT pros and haven’t tried to learn anything since 2004.

O365 gives us a great track record that we can use to predict the future of Azure. We are in early days of Azure and uptake looks slow. But it was like this with BPOS/Office 365 before O365 became the norm for email here in Ireland. A few disruptors decided to skill up on Office 365 and those Microsoft partners shook up the market. They became the industry experts and they took business from their competitors:

  • By being the only resellers around that implemented a solution that customers wanted
  • By having developed skills over time that allowed them to take customers away from competitors that were doing a bad job

The time to learn Azure is now. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t be the moron that thinks “the cloud will never work for my customers” or “my customers are too small for Azure”. Take some advice from Mark Twain:

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

So you’re serious about Azure but the scale of it scares you? That’s fair. That’s why Microsoft has taken a very targeted approach with Azure-based solutions via Open Licensing. And it’s why I’ve been delivering Azure technical training on a monthly chunk-by-chunk basis. The Mark Twain quote actually covers this too:

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.

If you’re starting with Azure, find an on-ramp solution like online backup or DR, and use this to supplement your existing skills. Learn the basics of storage and virtual networking.

2014
12.22

A differential export is an export of the differences of a virtual machine from between two points in time. It is used to enable an incremental backup of a virtual machine that is backed up using the new file-based backup system with Resilient Change Tracking. The below image shows the state of a VM and its backup after a full backup. Note that this file-based backup has used Resilient Change Tracking to identify what changes are being made to the VM’s storage since the backup.

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An incremental backup starts, using the differential export process. A backup checkpoint, including VM configuration and VHD fork (via AVHD) is created. The existing Resilient Change Tracking ID T1 is used to determine what has changed in the parent VHD to create a differential export of the VM in the backup target media (exported VM configuration T2 and the differential VHD).

image

The backup checkpoint is removed and a new RCT ID (T2) is created so we can now do Resilient Change Tracking of the VHD for the time after the backup.

image

Old reference points (RCT IDs) can be disposed of as required.

A “synthetic full backup” process is also support for third-party backup solutions.

image

Hyper-V PM Taylor Brown talks about Change Tracking in his session at TechEd Europe 2014.

2014
12.22

Wrapping Up 2014

It’s dark outside, it’s raining, there’s Christmas songs on the radio, and there wasn’t much traffic this morning. It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, and we’re coming to the end of another year.

Work at MicroWarehouse Ltd. (not the UK company of the same name) has been interesting. I’ve made a career for myself by being able & willing to take on new things. I started off as a C programmer and fell into Windows desktop/Server. I then discovered System Center before it was called that. And I jumped from VMware to Hyper-V in the early days and that worked out too. I started working with Azure back in January when it became obvious that Microsoft would have to bring it to our customer base via Open licensing. That investment worked out, and I’ve spent most of my time since August either preparing or delivering Azure-related training to sales or technical staff of Irish and Northern Irish resellers. I don’t see Azure as a Hyper-V replacement – far from it – but it is a great supplemental technology, and my experience with Hyper-V has been a great help. We’re starting to hear of fun-sounding Azure opportunities for our customers so the ball might be starting to pick up some momentum.

I brought a few products to the attention of my boss over the past 18 months. The DataOn business has exploded, and we’re selling loads of cluster-in-abox units and JBODs throughout Europe. We’ve just taken on 5nine Software, and conversations with some others have begun to heat up.

WP_20141219_17_36_41_Pro 9 DataOn JBODs going out to a customer that is deploying Scale-Out File Servers instead of HP 3Par SANs

Life as an MVP continued. There were fun online & in-person events and podcasts where I got to talk about Hyper-V, and Windows Server storage and networking. While the amount of material I could blog about on this site dried up a little, I was continuing to add content on Petri.com. And of course, we had the announcements on Windows 10 and Windows Server vNext, so there’s a whole new pool of content to write about, so my activity here has been renewed. I’ve also been buoyed by the fact that the traffic to this site has more than doubled over the past year. Thank you!

We MVPs get a great opportunity to interact with the product groups from Microsoft – that’s the biggest benefit as an MVP. Those who capitalize on this get a huge career boost. And this year has been especially rewarding. We MVPs give a lot of feedback to Microsoft. Some of us Euro-cloud MVPs have been especially impressed to see how this has impacted product over the past 12 months. I can’t talk specifics, but there are things that we have brought up that have turned into headline features.

One of the best bits of being an MVP is making lots of new friends. I get to meet up with lots of people who I’ve only gotten to know through this community, some are MVPs and some are not. We MVPs bump into each other a lot and it’s always great to hang. And there are others, be they co-writers, regular attendees, sponsors, Microsoft staff, or whatever, that I enjoy meeting up with too.

Career-wise there were two huge highlights for me. I was going to TechEd North America 2014 in Houston, but I wasn’t planning on competing in Speaker Idol (a multi-round speaking competition, like X Factor or American/Pop Idol, with 1st place overall winning a slot in the following year’s conference). The organiser, Richard Campbell, had invited me onto a podcast to talk and afterwards asked me to compete. I changed my mind right there – part of it was I knew who one of the judges was and I had the perfect idea to have a little fun. And then I qualified for the final. I wasn’t nervous, but now I was serious. But when I saw how many turned out to support me, I became nervous. In the end, I was honoured to win. That was frikin’ amazing. I was on cloud 9 until the exhaustion of preparing into the week hours the previous night on top of 5 days of jetlag kicked in.

Me warming up the crowd at the start of my final session at Speaker Idol

Another career highlight was also at TechEd, this time in Barcelona for the Europe 2014 event. For the first time ever, I was selected to be a speaker, talking about my favourite topic: Hyper-V. I love finding the nitty gritty bits, and I love explaining them to people. I was chuffed to see so many familiar faces from around Europe (and further afield) and to see how many people came to see me talk. Damn, I was nervous. The first slides (NUMA)  were tricky to explain to an audience where English is mostly the second language. I rehearsed those slides over and over and over. Once I was over the start, I was able to enjoy myself. And then it was cool that so many came up to ask questions when I was finished.

Speaking at TechEd (Europe) for the first time

For me, 2014 will be most remembered for what happened outside of “work”. It’s been a special year personally. Life is pretty damned great.

I hope 2014 was as kind to you as it was for me. If it wasn’t then I know from experience that a horrid year can turn into something special. Hold on, work hard, and give life a chance. Have a 2015!

2014
12.19

Happy Christmas!

I realise that today is the last day of work for a lot of you. I’ll be going until Tuesday before I shut down for the holidays … unless something catches my attention.

So have a great holiday, whatever you celebrate, and have a happy new year!

2014
12.19

We’re getting close to Christmas and Microsoft is starting to wind down for the year. Here’s a mostly-Azure report for the last few days.

Hyper-V

Azure

Miscellaneous

2014
12.19

Actually, no, Hyper-V does not support nested virtualization but there’s nothing like a little bit of link bait to celebrate the holidays :)

We were topping up our Microsoft partner competencies in the office this morning. A part of that shenanigans is to site “online sales assessments”. For the Datacenter competency (including Azure, Hyper-V and System Center) the exam asks 44 questions in a sales scenario. Some of them are legit questions about product, solutions, and licensing. But most of them are either:

  • Complete bolloxology
  • Random collections of words that were copy/pasted from the Microsoft Partner Network by a loudmouth

Let me give you one example. Why does Microsoft position Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V as a more open solution than VMware? As you might have read on my site, the correct answer is that Microsoft has contributed quite a bit of code to the Linux kernel to make it natively functional on Hyper-V. This includes hot-VHDX resizing, live backup of running Linux VMs, and support for Dynamic Memory for Linux guests, all making Hyper-V the best hypervisor to run Linux on.

But no, that’s not the correct answer in the eyes of the Microsoft partner network. No; they believe that Hyper-V supports other hypervisors. Remember that Azure is based on Hyper-V so that is actually the SAME hypervisor. This incorrect correct answer implies either that Hyper-V can live migrate VMs to/from other hypervisors such as vSphere, or that Hyper-V supports nested virtualization. Of course, neither of these is true.

image

And there is yet another example of why Microsoft’s entire examination process (including the MCP certification process) is not taken seriously by anyone outside of the staff of the Microsoft Partner Network, HR departments, and head hunters.

2014
12.19

In Microsoft endeavors to finally close the book on backup issues, the Hyper-V team is switching to file-based backup, and moving from the non-scalable VSS backup. Let’s face it – most hardware VSS Providers have been like a curse.

When you backup a VM in vNext, a “backup checkpoint” is created. This forks the VM’s configuration is forked and the virtual hard disk(s) is forked too using an AVHD. This is done for a short period of time. This allows changes to continue while the backup is being done. The virtual machine can be live exported as a backup.

image

After this operation a dateless Reference Point is created. The AHVD(s) is merged back into the parent VHD(s). This reference point notes the Resilient Change Tracking ID (per VHD), so we know what changes are made after the AVHD was created, and now we know what blocks must be backed up in a following incremental backup.

image

Some notes:

  • Incremental and “synthetic full” backups can now follow the full backup and this is done using a Differential Export.
  • A restore is basically a process of copying the VM files from backup media and importing the VM.

SAN-based backup is different. A LUN snapshot will retain the parent VHD and AVHD, and only the VM configuration is exported by Hyper-V. CDS, SMI-S or network providers be used to create the LUN backup. The LUN snapshot is removed and job done.

Hyper-V PM Taylor Brown talks about file-based backup in his session at TechEd Europe 2014.

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2014
12.18

Windows Server Hyper-V has had an … interesting … history when it comes to backup. It has been a take-it-personally mission of the Hyper-V team to stop backup being an issue for Hyper-V customers. Backup of CSV in Windows Server 2008 R2 was not fun. Things got better in WS2012, and again in Windows Server 2012 R2. And we might finally be getting there with the next release of Windows Server.

An important change to Hyper-V backup is to enable partners to keep up with the pace of change of Windows Server – we’ve seen some backup vendors take years to catch up with a new version, and this prevents mutual customers from keeping their hosts in step with Microsoft.

In order for a backup product to do incremental backups, it needs to do block based change tracking. Each vendor has to create one of these filter drivers that sits in the storage stack. This stuff is hard to do right, and it can cause stability and performance issues if not done correctly. And it also slows down the development/re-test/re-certify of BackupProduct2016 to keep up with the release of Windows Server 2016.

Some bad change tracking implementations, that you may know of, lived in memory as bitmaps. If the host had an un-planned outage then the next backup had to be a full backup. Or maybe if the VM live migrated to another host, that VM would have to do a full backup because the change tracking was no longer in the memory of the host.

Resilient Change Tracking is built-in backup change tracking of changed blocks within virtual hard disks. It is used for incremental backup, and it is the underlying engine for differential export. The change tracking bitmap lives in memory and on-disk. The on-disk bitmap is not as granular because it is the fallback from the much more detailed in-memory bitmap.

The goal now is that backup vendors should stop writing their own filter driver to implement change tracking. If they use the built-in resilient change tracking then they can focus more time on feature development testing/certification, and keep up with Microsoft’s frequent releases of Windows Server. And hopefully, Microsoft’s change tracking will undergo suitable levels of testing that will give all customers a universally stable and well-performing subsystem.

Hyper-V PM Taylor Brown talks about Change Tracking in his session at TechEd Europe 2014.

2014
12.17

Those of you who have run more than one generation of Hyper-V will understand the pain of updating integration components in a VM’s guest OS. If you run Windows (this is not applicable to Linux because the process is different) the you need to run the latest ICs in a guest OS for that VM to have:

  • The latest virtualization features
  • Stability
  • Performance

We typically have seen new versions of the ICs in three occasions:

  • A hotfix or Windows Update
  • A service pack – no longer relevant but an update rollup might bring new ICs
  • A new version of Hyper-V

The process was that VMGuest.ISO was updated on the host, and we would mount that ISO from the VM to install the latest integration components. This assumed that:

· We had admin rights to the guest OS – not applicable usually in a cloud

  • Network access
  • Time
  • Patience

We had workarounds such as using PowerShell or System Center, but again, this assumed we had rights to the guest OS or network access.

Microsoft was keen to solve this issue … and they went to a method that I think many of us will approve of: updates to the Windows integration components for Hyper-V will be delivered by Windows Update (and hence WSUS). This has started with delivery to any of the following guest OSs running on the Tech Preview of vNext:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7

Microsoft uses KVP (enabled by default) to determine that the VM is running on vNext.

This new process will give cloud admins control over the IC release (via WSUS) and will automate the delivery of the ICs to all guests that run Windows Update, ensuring that clients are up to date and can avail of the best that Hyper-V can offer. No more McGuyvering required.

2014
12.17

Things have settled down a little after last week’s surprise Azure announcements.

Hyper-V

Azure

Office 365

Microsoft Partners

Licensing

  • Price increases in 2015!! SPLA/hosting licensing costs are going up. Hosters will have no choice but to pass that on to their customers.

Miscellaneous

2014
12.16

This feature is tied into Cluster Rolling Upgrade. When we are doing a rolling upgrade of a cluster (from WS2012 R2 to vNext), we will temporarily have a mixture of WS2012 R2 hosts and Windows Server vNext hosts. This is referred to as mixed mode.

To avoid issues, the cluster will either:

  • Run only features of the down-level hosts
  • Run features only on down-level hosts

For example, on a storage cluster (SOFS) running disk deduplication (for VDI personal VMs), the cluster will only run deduplication optimization jobs on the down-level hosts because vNext optimization will make changes that are not backwards compatible.

This mixed mode is TEMPORARY – it should not be run for months or years!!!!

EDIT: Today (17/Dec/2014) I learned that Microsoft will have a support limited of 4 weeks for running a cluster in mixed mode. They want you to finish the migration ASAP, but 4 weeks will be the support limit. There is not hard coded limit, but now you know what they’ll support.

EDIT: I also learned on 17/Dec/2014 that Microsoft will not put a limit on how long v5.0 VMs (VMs with WS2012 R2 host compatibility – more on this later) can run on a higher level cluster.

The goal is that you upgrade each node in the cluster as quickly as possible. You might pause half way through to observe the stability of your hosts (drivers, firmware and external storage/networking hardware). If you’re happy you continue the upgrade. If not, you can rebuild the upgraded hosts to WS2012 R2 and live migrated your VMs back.

Note: VMs will be manually upgraded to vNext and this is why you can live migrate VMs between WS2012 R2 and vNext hosts within the cluster without any issues.

When you have finished the upgrade you will complete the project by raising the cluster functional level. This opens up the cluster’s vNext features and then you should manually upgrade the VMs to v6.0 (vNext).

2014
12.15

A big pain point with Microsoft’s increased cadence of releases of Windows Server is that upgrading a cluster has been a royal pain in the arse.

Previous to the release of WS2012 R2, there was only one process: build a new cluster (either by buying new hardware or draining a host from the old cluster) and do an out-of-band migration of VMs from the old cluster to the new one. WS2012 R2 decreased the pain slightly by allowing Cross-Version Live Migration – but we let Microsoft know that this wasn’t enough.

Windows Server vNext will allow you to perform a cluster rolling upgrade without creating a new cluster. You will be able to do this from WS2012 R2 to vNext (note I did not say WS2012 or W2008 R2 or W2008).

The process is that you will rebuild each node in the cluster, one at a time with Windows Server vNext. You will, for a short time only, have hosts running WS2012 R2 Hyper-V and vNext Hyper-V in the cluster at the same time. This is called Mixed Mode, and VMs can live migrate between the nodes. Eventually you will complete the project by raising the cluster functional level after all hosts in the cluster are on vNext.

image

The flow chart of the process is shown here:

image

This feature will be a major time and money saver, and will allow Hyper-V customers to keep up with the fast release of new versions of Windows Server Hyper-V.

2014
12.12

Imagine a multi-site or stretch cluster that spans sites A and B. Hosts are running in Site A and Site B and are nodes in that cluster. A critical function of a cluster is to calculate quorum in the event of a site outage or a link failure – one site must have more than half of the available votes to have quorum and continue operating as a cluster (and failover the VMs from the other site).

The recommended solution for this in the past was to create a file share witness … operating in a third site. So first you needed a third site. That’s not going to be cheap! And then you needed, ideally, a file server cluster running in that third site to ensure that the file share witness was highly available.

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Windows Server vNext offers a new advanced quorum option of using a Cloud Witness. This is where we use Azure as a witness. Folks – this is going to be one seriously affordable option!

You create a blob storage account in Azure. This will store just an incremental sequence number; it’s just a vote so the cluster will remain operational if Azure has issues. This will cost just a few cents per month to operate.

You then configure the cluster with the storage account name and storage account key for secure access. The cluster will then use Azure as a witness. This is a lot easier and cheaper than configuring a file share witness on a cluster in a third site.

2014
12.12

It’s December, the month when Microsoft employees normally head away for a long vacation and nothing much happens. Or so we thought. Azure went wild last night, releasing loads of new features either into preview or GA. Oh yeah, loads of December updates from Microsoft have problems.

Windows Client

System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Azure

Miscellaneous

2014
12.12

If you follow Microsoft then you are used to December being a dead month. So I checked my Twitter feed last night and was stunned by some big Azure announcements.

The most important of the announcements to me was the change that is being made to Azure Site Recovery (ASR), AKA DR in the cloud. Previous to last night, you need to run SCVMM on premises to replicate Hyper-V to Azure. This baffled me:

  • You had to install the protection agent on each host/cluster node anyway
  • SMBs, the companies that are most likely to use ASR, cannot afford System Center
  • There is a low adoption rate of SCVMM with System Center/Hyper-V customers

The feedback on this was given – and Microsoft made a change. Last night they announced the general availability of Disaster Recovery (DR) to Azure for Branch offices and SMB feature in our Azure Site Recovery (ASR) service … AKA ASR without SCVMM. This will allow you to replicate Hyper-V VMs into Azure without using System Center on premises.

The hosts must be running WS2012 R2 Hyper-V. Replication is done using Hyper-V Replica. You get centralized replication monitoring and orchestration as a part of the service. And you get the one-click test, planned and unplanned failover types.

THIS IS FRAKKING GREAT NEWS!

Why am I so excited? The original releases of ASR were targeted at customers with System Center licensing. Those are mid-large customers and are likely the ones that already have DR sites. Adoption rates were going to be low. The customer base that needs ASR are the SMBs that run Hyper-V hosts on-premises. That is a huge breadth market. Microsoft partners can enable those customers via Azure in Open licensing – buy some credits ($100 value each), try out ASR with no long term CAPEX or contractual commitments, and see what it can do for your business. And then give your insurance company a call to see what having a remote DR site will do for the company’s insurance premium.

2014
12.12

Microsoft has changed – and I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff that’s in the headlines. Two years ago I saw a pre-beta product and gave feedback to the PMs that this product needed serious changes. I was ignored (FYI, I was not alone in my opinions and in giving this feedback). 18 months ago, I saw a beta release and I gave the same feedback to PMs. I was ignored. 12 months ago the product was released. I blogged about the issues, was quoted by some big tech press names, and suddenly I was Mr. Popular with the PMs and marketing folks. I gave my feedback and I was ignored. 6 months ago the product went through some big changes, but the issue was still there. I commented on it, and once again the marketing folks and PMs were all over me. I gave my feedback … and I was ignored.

But …

A few months ago I found out that someone listened. Enough people like me spoke up. And maybe my market predictions had come true – not that anyone would ever admit that! The product was going to change. And guess what – that change did arrive.

Thank you to the team involved.

The Microsoft that I’ve been working with has changed a lot in the last 24 months. The secrecy of the Sinofsky era is over. Stuff that me and other MVPs have fed back to product groups is being listened to – I wish I could share those stories!!! I’m certainly not saying we design anything. And I’m not saying that everything we feedback is done. But I do see a correlation between feedback and product changes.

If you have feedback then give it to Microsoft. Please don’t make the mistake of telling some local rep – they probably will forget it straight away. Your feedback need to go to the product groups. Microsoft announces forums for feedback every once in a while – I blogged about one yesterday. Take advantage of those. MVPs like myself and Didier Van Hoye actively request feedback before we go to the MVP Summit in Redmond to meet those PMs – take advantage of that too. I might be a jerk in dealing with some comments on this site, but I note the constructive ones and take those ideas to Microsoft.

Microsoft has changed a lot. It was extremely noticeable when we MVPs were last there. It’s a fantastic change – it was by far the most engaging experience I’ve had in Redmond. They really want our feedback to avoid the issues that we saw in the past. So take advantage of this and get the product that you want.

2014
12.11

As I have done with Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, I am going to do my best to list out and document (level 100 to begin with) the features of Windows Server vNext Hyper-V.

There will be two levels of “documentation”:

  • The glossary: Where I list out each feature, summarize it, and link to more detailed descriptions.
  • Feature specific posts: Where I will talk a bit more about the feature in question.

The glossary will grow over time and I will add links as feature specific posts are published. I have a bunch of those feature specific posts scheduled daily from today into 2015 covering content on Hyper-V and related technologies in Windows Server.

Note that I am aggregating publicly discussed/document information from TechNet, Microsoft blog posts, TechEd Europe 2014, and interviews by Microsoft staff. There is no content beyond that scope.

2014
12.11

Microsoft is changing the format of virtual machine configuration files by going back to the drawing board. There are two files in question:

  • .VMCX which is the virtual machine configuration file.
  • .VMRS which is for runtime state data

Both files are binary files; yes Microsoft is moving away from XML. And editing these files directly is strictly not supported – it never has been! You should use the admin tools, PowerShell, and WMI to edit a VM configuration.

There are two benefits to switching to binary files:

  • Performance: Reading from and writing to the files will become more efficient
  • Stability: There is a lower risk of corruption due to storage failure

This resiliency is being enabled by resilient logging of changes _ a change is written to the log, the log is replayed to the configuration file, and they clear away the log. And believe it or not, Microsoft has seen some customers where the XML format has caused performance bottlenecks!

2014
12.11

Microsoft is giving you the chance to provide feedback and vote on existing ideas for Azure Online Backup and System Center Data Protection Manager. This is a great idea. Personally speaking, it’s validating a number of things that I have fed back to Microsoft already, and a number of things that customers have fed back to me.

I’ve been working with Azure IaaS since January of this year. Before that, Azure was meaningless to me; it was a direct sell by Microsoft to developers – yes, even with IaaS there. But then I found out that Azure was coming to Open licensing so partners could resell it, and I started learning. And we at MicroWarehouse started to promote Azure to our customers (the Microsoft partners that resell licensing and implement solutions for their customers) and that’s when I started to get a better feel for what worked in the real world.

Azure Online Backup was the thing that grabbed people’s attention. Who can argue with €0.15/GB/month? That’s less than half of the cheapest discount rate that we found for online backup that is typically sold in Ireland by resellers. However, there were issues.

The biggest one is that there is no centralized portal. Partners use this to manage backups and get reports. That all has to be done on-premises with Azure Online Backup and that increases the cost of operations significantly.

The other hot issue for me is the lack of a backup mechanism for VMs running in Azure. The only offered solution is to install an agent in the guest OS and then we’re back to the bad old days of backup. VM backup should be “select a VM and backup magically happens”, grabbing the files and state that make up the VM. We don’t have that in any way in Azure.

So that’s why I went onto the site to provide feedback and to vote this morning. You should do the same if you have any interest in Azure. Here’s the top vote getters as they are right now:

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2014
12.10

I’ve included a few videos that Carsten Rachfahl recorded at the MVP Summit in Redmond last November.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

System Center

Azure

Office 365

Intune

  • Microsoft Intune App Wrapping Tool for iOS: The tool is a Mac OS command line application that creates a ‘wrapper’ around an app. Once an app is processed, you can then change the apps functionality using an Intune mobile application management policy that you configure.
2014
12.09

I do not give a flying fiddlers about some wizard Accenture is selling to deploy System Center. Moving on to relevant things …

Hyper-V

System Center

Azure

Intune

Licensing

Miscellaneous

2014
12.05

It’s December, and not much happens then in the world of Microsoft. However, we do have GA of Azure RemoteApp (RDS in the cloud) on the 11th!

Windows Server

Windows Client

Azure

Intune

2014
12.04

My quest to be able to present wirelessly via Windows 8.1 Miracast from a tablet continued. When at the MVP Summit in early November I ordered a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter from the Microsoft Store (the brick and mortar store in Bellevue had none).

A few weeks ago I tried the device with a large Sony display TV that we have in the boardroom at work. The dongle is powered via USB – the intention is that you plug this into any available USB port in the TV. The dongle connects to the TV via HDMI. That’s easy to connect up and it only takes the device a few seconds to power up. It prompted me to connect my device.

So I tried my Toshiba KIRAbook. And then I tried my Lenovo Yoga. Both have compatible processors. And neither could connect. I had two symptoms:

  • The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter did not appear in the device search results
  • If I could see the device to connect to it, I was not prompted with a PIN to confirm the connection and it would time out.

I thought I had a dud device – and me being back in Ireland would make a return impossible. I knew it wasn’t a regional issue because I know of a company in Ireland using one and MVP Didier Van Hoye confirmed that his one is working.

So I gave up … sort of. Today I had time (finally) to test it out again. This time I connected the USB port to a phone power adapter and plugged it straight into an electrical outlet. The HDMI port went into a TV. And then I tested with:

  • Toshiba Encore 8” Windows 8.1 tablet
  • Toahiba KIRAbook

And the connection worked. Right now, Family Guy (Netflix USA) is streaming video and audio to the TV from the KIRAbook.

So the problem is (I believe) that not all TVs output enough power via their USB port to adequately meet the needs of the dongle. The solution is to power the dongle directly from an electrical socket.

2014
12.03

It’s been a slow period but there’s some interesting stuff in Azure networking and websites.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Azure

Office 365

Miscellaneous

2014
11.27

Altaro has published a free e-book called Licensing Microsoft Server in a Virtual Environment. I know this is a hot topic because it’s one of this site’s top search results every month. The ebook, written by Eric Siron, covers:

  • The concept of Microsoft licensing in a virtual environment
  • Windows Server, Hyper-V Server 2012 & 2012 R2 licensing
  • Difference between keys & licenses
  • Understand license transfers, stacking & implications for a cluster
  • Mapped example diagrams of common virtual licensing environment

Altaro is also running a webinar on this topic on Decentber 4th, featuring fellow Hyper-V MVP Thomas Maurer and Andrew Syrewicze. This webinar will run for 45 minutes with live Q&A, starting at 10am EST or 3pm GMT.

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