2014
09.30

Today in San Francisco, Microsoft is doing their first official unveiling of Windows codename Threshold, otherwise known as Windows 9 or Windows vNext.

Supposedly, this event was to be the enterprise unveiling. Enterprise customers are an important market for Microsoft; that’s because business decision makers have opted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, and not Windows 8/8.1, effectively choosing to make Windows 7 the next XP – a legacy OS that will exit mainstream support next year. Microsoft supposedly wants enterprises to try Windows Threshold early, and submit feedback, so that, supposedly, Microsoft will engineer the product based on feedback.

I used a lot of “supposedly’s” there, didn’t I? If I wanted to get enterprise customers interested then I would stream the unveiling live on the Internet, and not have a private press event where most of the invitees haven’t the foggiest about what enterprise customers want. It just does not make sense to me.

I wonder what value the event really has. It’s not a launch – that will likely be TechEd Europe on October 28th. The preview is not out until October. Don’t expect to hear a whisper of Windows Server or System Center for another month and a half. And come tonight, I doubt we’ll hear about anything in the Windows client OS that we do not already know – a lot of the GUI features were leaked months ago. I wonder if this event is actually Microsoft’s attempt to take control of the messaging.

There are two remaining questions:

  • Will this be a free upgrade? Enterprise customers usually have software assurance so that’s irrelevant to them. That’s more of a question for SMEs and consumers. Today is allegedly all about enterprises so I doubt we’ll hear anything.
  • What will they call it? Anything other than Windows 9 is a failure. It is rumoured that Windows Threshold will be the start of a more rapid release program, like you get with mobile devices. For enterprises: that would be hellish. Nice for consumers. It is also rumoured that Microsoft will simply call it “Windows”. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! How is an enterprise to support something that changes frequently and has no obvious version number?

I really hope a lot of these rumours are wrong. Otherwise we’ll be contemplating Windows burning while Nadella plays his “cloud first, mobile first” fiddle.

We’ll be watching the tweets of Mary Jo Foley & Paul Thurrott, and the live blog on the Verge to find out what’s been discussed in San Francisco later this afternoon.

2014
09.29

Back From Vacation

I am back after a week away in the sun. Preparation for an event tomorrow has taken precedence so expect some posts either later tomorrow or on Wednesday.

2014
09.19

On Vacation

I will be away until Sept 29th on vacation. There should be no posts between now & then – but don’t be shy of hitting the archives and the search tool.

FYI, there will be no responses to email, no answering my phone, and no alarm calls in the morning. I am chilling in a warm climate, by the sea, with not a mosquito, midge, raptor or bear to be seen.

2014
09.19

There are a number of ways that you can purchase Azure. You can get it as a part of an enterprise agreement (high cost of entry, but highest value). You can get it via one of these means:

  • Pay direct (credit card)
  • Trial
  • MSDN benefit

We in the licensing biz bundle those options up as MOSP (Microsoft online subscription program). And then there is Open volume licensing (low cost of entry with control over spending and no long/big commitment).

I was told that at WPC (I was not there) attendees were briefed that customers who were subscribing to Azure via MOSP (see above) could switch to Open licensing.

That is not true; at this point, if you have been consuming Azure via direct payment (credit card), trial, or MSDN benefit, then you cannot switch to Open licensing – yet.

Microsoft is addressing this issue, and we believe a change of some kind is coming this calendar year (no promises because I do not work for Microsoft). That will allow:

  • Customers paying by credit card to centralize and take control of their Azure spending
  • Use a free trial to evaluate and price an Azure deployment, and switch to their desired Open licensing

So right now, not possible, despite what we were allegedly told at WPC, but a change is coming to enable switching to Azure on Open.

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2014
09.19

The positive highlight for me is the excellent TechNet article on managing tiered Storage Spaces. The lowlight was the unannounced price changes in Azure – (A) it was unannounced (B) there was no notice, and (C) it means that customers cannot plan; customers hate each and every one of those, especially the latter.

Hyper-V

Window Server

Windows

  • The September 30th Microsoft Event: Paul Thurrott (on Windows Weekly) confirmed that this event will not be streamed. Major mistake in my opinion. The attendees are a small set of media, and the subject matter is Windows “Threshold” in the enterprise. Sure … let’s not let the IT pros who will make the recommendation see the event. That’s reeeealllly sensible. Let the Windows 8 insanity continue.

Azure

Office 365

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Licensing

  • SPLA Audit start to finish: SPLA is based on an honour system – but audits have become a way of life with such licensing programs.

Miscellaneous

2014
09.17

I recorded an episode of the RunAs Radio podcast as a guest with MVP Richard Campbell a couple of of weeks ago, where we talked about using Windows Server in conjunction with commodity hardware to build software-based storage solutions:

Richard talks to Aidan Finn about Software Defined Storage. Picking up he left off in April talking about Microsoft’s Scale-Out File Server, the whole concept of Software Defined Storage is abstracting the details of the storage hardware away from the actual storage process. Aidan digs into how mixtures of SSD and spinning drives to optimize performance using Windows 2012 R2 Storage Spaces reduces costs and simplifies getting significant amounts of storage without any custom gear. And as Aidan says, in the end, it’s all just Windows. Storage continues to evolve, and not just for the big enterprise folks – there are clustered storage solutions for small and medium businesses too!

Here is the whitepaper that I refer to where 1,000,000 IOPS was achieved with a single JBOD tray. Here is the video that I produced that Richard mentions.

You can subscribe to the podcast (RSS here) via all the usual means, and you can download the MP3 here.

Or maybe you would like to see how a new 2U Cluster-in-a-Box (for cloud, branch office and SME deployments) model from DataOn has hit over 2 MILLION IOPS?

2014
09.17

Microsoft’s patch woes continue. A September update for Lync was pulled this week. Please: do not approve updates immediately; wait 1 month and let some other mug find the bugs for Microsoft.

Azure

Networking

  • Announcing the Message Analyzer 1.1 Release: The completely indecipherable replacement for Network Monitor has just been upgraded to v1.1. I find this replacement for NetMon to be a complete mystery and the UI looks like something Symantec would come up with (random). It’s no wonder WireShark remains the #1 choice.
  • Introduction to Message Analyzer 1.1: A YouTube video to give you a high-level introduction to Message Analyzer 1.1. Includes a run-through of the UI and an overview of general features.

Deployment

Office 365

Miscellaneous

2014
09.16

Microsoft just announced a bunch of new peripherals, including the new Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse. I still have the original Arc mouse, which I’ve loved for the many years that I’ve had it. In case you don’t know – I really like Microsoft’s mice and keyboards, especially their substantial mice for desktop computers.

I just picked up the new Arc Touch mouse that is Bluetooth (4.0 low power) capable (working for a distributor has it’s benefits!). The fold-to-flat award-winning design is a space saver. It auto powers off the mouse, powered by 2 x AAA batteries. And it’s light. It paired straight away with my Windows 8.1 Toshiba KIRAbook, and the touch strip works nicely with the touch interface in Windows – there’s also a slightly audible scrolling noise to simulate a wheel movement with physical feedback. It’s working well on a wooden desk with no mouse mat.

ATBM

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Hopefully this new Arc mouse will last me as long as the last one has!

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2014
09.16

As an attendee, the most exciting bit of the conference preparation is registration and booking travel. Then the excitement builds up with the release of the schedule builder – this is, historically, a list of the sessions that Microsoft is free to advertise and talk about at that point in time … other sessions are hush hush until the keynote ;-)

The Schedule Builder is the tool that gives you the ability to list all of the sessions and check the ones that you want to add to your schedule. I typically break it down to time slots for the track(s) that I’m interested in, and check any session I like the sound of – and yes, I will double or even triple book … sometimes rooms are full, sometimes I change my mind, and sometimes I hear that sessions/speakers are excellent or not so good. Microsoft uses this information to plan room assignments for the sessions. Later on, you can sync the schedule builder to Outlook or download an ICS file – leave that as late as possible, maybe even until after you’ve attended the Monday foundational sessions.

The TechEd Europe 2014 Countdown Show, presented by Microsoft’s Joey Snow (@joeysnow) and Rick Claus (@RicksterCDN), featured the Schedule Builder last week.

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In fact, at the 8:30 minute mark, the guys even mention a certain Hyper-V session :) Thanks, lads!

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I love a free promo!

Check out the schedule builder if you are attending, and maybe even the CH9 Events app on your mobile device to have a handy digital builder with you on site.

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2014
09.16

Windows 9 steals the headlines this morning. No; it is not out. No; you cannot download a preview yet. And yes; the person you know who says otherwise is an idiot. We know what we know – Microsoft is planning a sneak peek event for the enterprise audience on September 30th. There are no more facts than that.

Hyper-V

  • Emulex’s crappy drivers saga goes on: They claimed they fixed the VMQ issue. It looks like they never did any tests involving Live Migration.

System Center

Windows

  • It’s Official – Microsoft to Unveil “Next Chapter” for Windows on September 30: I think Paul Thurrott was the first to report this. It will focus on the enterprise audience – the one currently sticking with Windows 7. I guess it will be no more than a show and tell. I still believe TechEd Europe is the bigger reveal, as I reported back at TechEd North America. In the meantime, ignore every rumour and “expert” that you work with or is in the general media.

Azure

  • Azure Websites Virtual Network Integration: This is big – Azure Websites is happy to announce support for integration between your Azure VNET and your Azure Websites. Now you can integrate your websites with your VMs – in preview and only for Standard websites with up to 1 VNet connected.
  • How to host a Scalable and Optimized WordPress for Azure in minutes: Deploy the new instance from the preview portal, and be able to scale WordPress out to meet demand. Very nice solution – I could have used that for this site!
  • Azure Active Directory Basic is now GA: Azure AD Basic is now available for purchase through the volume-licensing channel – if like Premium then it will only be available through large enterprise VL programs, i.e. not Open, etc, but I don’t think SMEs want this feature, although they would like Azure RMS.

Security

Gaming

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2014
09.15

And in other news, I’ve run out of stock of my super-duper Windows 9 tablets powered by i9 processors.

Hyper-V

  • The Virtualization Fabric Design Considerations Guide is now available online and for download: This guide details a series of steps and tasks that you can go through to design a virtualization fabric that best meets the requirements of your organization. Throughout the steps and tasks, the guide presents the relevant design and configuration options available to you to meet functional and service quality (such as availability, scalability, performance, manageability, and security) requirements.

System Center Data Protection Manager

Azure

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2014
09.12

The big news yesterday was the leaking of screenshots of Windows “Threshold” (9). Most of them were more of the same, but we saw confirmation of some recently rumoured changes.

Windows

System Center Operations Manager

System Center Data Protection Manager

Azure

  • StorSimple Snapshot Manager: StorSimple Snapshot Manager is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that simplifies data protection and backup management in a Microsoft Azure StorSimple environment. You can use StorSimple Snapshot Manager to configure backup schedules and retention policies, generate on-demand backups, and clone or restore volumes.
  • The Microsoft Azure Sales Strategy for Small and Medium Enterprises: An article by me on Petri.com
  • Announcing Long Term Retention for Azure Backup: Previously, we had announced long term retention for cloud backups from DPM. With this month’s release of the Azure Backup service, we are extending that capability to cloud backups from all currently supported SKUs of Windows Server and Windows Server Essentials.
  • Getting started with Azure Backup: It’s nice and easy, but resellers really could use a central portal.

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Retaining my backup of PowerShell scripts for 9 years!

Windows Intune

  • Intune to support iOS 8 on Day 0: Next week iOS 8 will be released to the public, and the Windows Intune service will be ready on Day 0 to manage devices on this new version of the platform. With Managed Domains, enterprise data will be tracked from its source, which will allow management systems to better separate corporate from personal data. Document Extensions will provide significant interaction between applications, introducing new extensibility opportunities that iOS hasn’t had previously.
  • Day Zero Support for iOS 8 with Intune: Earlier this week Apple released iOS 8 to developers (public release on 9/17), and the Windows Intune service is ready to support your use of it.
  • Data sent to and from Windows Intune and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager: As a Windows Intune customer, you have entrusted Microsoft to help protect your data. Microsoft values this trust, and the privacy and security of your data is one of our top concerns.

Office 365

  • Microsoft withdrew KB2889866 from Windows Update: "We are investigating an issue that is affecting the September 2014 update for Microsoft OneDrive for Business. Therefore, we have removed the update from availability for now. We apologize for any inconvenience that this might cause." < You wouldn’t care if you followed my "wait 1 month before approving updates" advice.
  • Office 365 Certificate Update Will Affect Some Exchange Deployments: On Sept. 23, 2014, Microsoft is planning a certificate change to the Microsoft Federation Gateway. Organizations that have hybrid networks combining Office 365 services with Exchange Server or that use the Microsoft Federation Gateway to establish trust relationships need to set up a certificate update process before the Sept. 23 deadline to "avoid any disruption" in service, according to Microsoft’s Wednesday announcement.

Security

  • Azure Rights Management Administration Tool: Azure Rights Management Administration Tool installs the Windows PowerShell module for Azure Rights Management. Azure Rights Management provides the ability to enable the use of digital rights management technology in organizations that subscribe to the Office 365 services.

Miscellaneous

  • Microsoft stock hits highest price since 1999: With that in mind, Microsoft’s stock has hit a 52-week high today (Sept 6th), coming in at $45.93 at the time of closing, suggesting that Wall Street appears to approve of new CEO Satya Nadella’s direction for the company. FYI – the stock is now at $47.
  • Forget Conventional Wisdom, Microsoft (MSFT) Is A Growth Stock Again: Microsoft sales are growing at an annualized rate of over 25 percent again and the stock is up over 30 percent in the ensuing 7 months, well over double the increase in the broader market during that time.
  • (UK Government, William) Hague reassures MPs of data safety in Microsoft’s Dublin Data Centre: William Hague, the leader of the House of Commons, said there is nothing to fear after an MP said he was concerned about the security of parliamentary data stored on Microsoft’s Cloud-based servers in Europe. Billy-boy should read the news more, as one of his colleagues points out. This is exactly why Microsoft is fighting the US government on foreign-located data access.
2014
09.11

More Azure changes. Keeping up with this is difficult!

Azure

  • More changes announced: VPN Support for Azure Websites, Scalable CMS in the app gallery, role-based access control, and more stuff were announced yesterday.
  • Update for Azure Backup for Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent: The agent now supports weekly backups with 120 retention points, and 9 years of retention (one recovery point every 4 weeks). You can use this version of the agent together with the Microsoft Azure Site Recovery service to protect virtual machines that are running on Windows Server 2012 R2 CORE SKU and Microsoft Hyper V Server 2012 R2 into Azure.

Office 365

Legal

2014
09.10

In other news, Apple proves that wearable devices are a pointless Gartner-esque fad, and those preachy tax-avoiding frakkers, U2, suck donkey balls.

Hyper-V

System Center Operations Manager

  • OM12 Sizing Helper: This is a Windows Phone app version of the OpsMgr 2012 Sizing Helper document.

Azure

Miscellaneous

  • Microsoft rumored to be poised to buy Minecraft creator for $2 billion: This blocky game is the hottest thing with kids. I’ve spent many an hour *cough* helping *yes, helping* with constructions & adventures on an iPad and Xbox. And to be honest, it is a good problem solving game and it encourages kids to interact, based on what I’ve observed.
2014
09.10

Both Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 (as well as their desktop OS and RT variants) received update rollups last night.

You know the drill: only install these updates before they are one month old if you want to shut down your business, get fired, and become an IT pariah. Let some other mug do the testing for you. You can do your own pilot testing and approve after that.

The WS2012 release includes a fix for SMB troubleshooting (including other fixes):

  • 2980749 Event log data for troubleshooting SMB in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012

The WS2012 R2 release highlights for me are:

  • KB2984324 Clussvc.exe or cluster node crashes when a node sends a message to another node in a Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster
  • KB2982348 Broadcast storm occurs after a virtual switch duplicates a network packet in Windows 8.1
  • KB977219 Updates to improve the compatibility of Azure RemoteApp in Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2
2014
09.10

Microsoft posted a fix for Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 for when multipath I/O identifies different disks as the same disk in Windows.

Symptoms

The code in Microsoft Windows that converts a hexadecimal device ID to an ASCII string may drop the most significant nibble in each byte if the byte is less than 0×10. (The most significant nibble is 0.) This causes different disks to be identified as the same disk by Multipath I/O (MPIO). At the very least, this may cause problems in mounting affected disks. And architecturally, this could cause data corruption.

Resolution

When you apply this hotfix, the conversion algorithm is fixed. Disks that were masked by this issue before you installed the hotfix may be raw disks that still have to be partitioned and formatted for use. After you apply this hotfix, check in Disk Management or Diskpart for previously hidden disks.

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft Support.

2014
09.10

Microsoft posted a hotfix for when you get a stop error 0x000000D1 after you install the Hyper-V role on a computer that’s running Windows Server 2012.

Symptoms

After you install the Hyper-V role on a computer that’s running Windows Server 2012, you may receive the following Stop error message:

0x000000D1 (parameter1 , parameter2 , parameter3 , parameter4 )
DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL

Notes

  • The parameters in this error message vary, depending on the configuration of the computer.
  • Not all "0x000000D1" Stop errors are caused by this problem.

Cause

This problem occurs because of incorrect handling of the IP address structure inside the Vmswitch.sys file.

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft Support.

2014
09.09

The TechEd Europe Session Builder is live and there you can find my session, CD-B329, From Demo to Reality: Best Practices Learned from Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.

Sure, the title is a mouthful Smile but here’s the short version of the sales pitch: I want to show you the bits of Hyper-V that are rarely talked about. These are the features that help you get your job done. They’re the ones that make the big headlines possible. They’re the ones that you think “I’d switch from vSphere to Hyper-V if it had X”. They’re the features that you asked for!

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My session is on Wednesday from 10:15 until 11:30. I cannot wait!

2014
09.09

It’s a slow day, so here’s your updates for today. I think the Azure Automation post should be useful – I’ll sure be ripping it off inspired by it for future demos Smile

Hyper-V

Azure

Licensing

2014
09.09

Read MVP Didier Van Hoye’s take here.

I’ve been thinking for some time (I think VMware even quoted my blog a few years ago) that Microsoft would eventually switch to per-core licensing for Windows Server. I think the emergence of 18-core CPUs makes that inevitable. Right now, if you want 36 cores, you’re probably looking at using 4 x 10-core CPUs, which is 2 Windows Server licenses (each license covers 2 CPUs). Those new CPUs halve Microsoft’s revenue on the upper end of the market.

I would be surprised if, come April, there isn’t an announcement of a change to Windows Server licensing, in conjunction with the GA of Windows Server “2015” (Threshold) in (maybe) May.

The key things here would be:

  • There must be a smooth transition process – when MSFT switched SQL Server to per-core it was quite confusing for resellers and customers. Note that resellers choosing to work with a good distributor helps out quite a bit here, and in turn helps their customers get best value and stay legit!
  • The price for smaller deployments cannot increase. In my opinion, the cost of Windows Server Standard/Datacenter must stay the same on a machine with 2 x 6-core CPUs before and after the release of Threshold. If one dual-CPU (covering 2 6-core CPUs) copy of WS2012 R2 costs $882, then a per-core license should cost $73.50. We can then license that same server with “WS2015” for 12 x 73.50 ($882).

If Microsoft gets it right, then the transition could be smooth. To be honest, I think it might even simplify licensing – the non-techy people who buy licensing struggle with the per-dual CPU model of WS2012 and WS2012 R2.

However, if the ivory tower residents get it wrong (i.e. those same folks think that only Fortune 1000’s and cloud hosters run servers – kids, drugs are baaaad) then we could be looking at a VMware vRAM type of backlash that would do serious damage to the current hot streak that the cloud OS is on.

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2014
09.08

I’m doing to test work in the lab with Microsoft Azure at the moment, trying to tell which part of Microsoft is telling the truth about certain aspects of pricing. A necessary step in my tests was to upload an administrative certificate. I used MAKECERT to create the cert. The private cert is in Personal on the server that I’m working with. The public cert was on my PC. I opened the Azure portal and attempted to Manage Certificate to upload the .CER file but this failed after about 5 seconds. Recreate the cert, try again, fail again. No joy.

Then after I taught some of my Eastern European colleagues some new ways to swear in English, I had a realization that some dev in Microsoft probably did something dumb.

I bet they expect the private cert to be installed on the machine that you’re uploading the cert from … because we all browse from our servers, right? (WRONG, I hope).

So I exported the PFX to my PC, imported the cert, and attempted the upload again. And it finally worked.

Dumb. I can imagine “private” certs flying all around the network, and admins browsing from servers if this isn’t fixed by Microsoft.

On the bright side, my colleagues now are equipped with the verbiage to accompany flipping off your PC with the double bird.

2014
09.08

It’s been 5 days since my last of these updates – events, meetings and travel take their toll!

Below you will see an announcement on how to deploy DPM in Azure to backup stuff from within Azure VMs (not a host level backup). Please note that this is licensed using on-premises SysCtr SML licenses and cloud management licensing is not the same as on-premises licensing. A SysCtr Datacenter SML covers 8 VMs in the cloud, so you might need lots more SysCtr licensing to manage Azure.

Microsoft has also launched a Migration Accelerator for Azure based on the InMage acquisition. Right now, the preview is limited to the USA. That’s pretty dumb; anyone who knows MSFT virtualization knows that Europe is the place to be.

Oh – the MSFT versus FBI Irish data centre case rumbles on. It’s clear that the motivations of the US government were not speed (the Irish government would have been quick to help) but are more along the lines of “Mine! MINE! MINE!!!! MY PRECIOUSSSSS!”.

Windows Server

SCVMM

Azure

Office 365

Hardware

Legal

2014
09.03

The idiotic US government is continuing in their quest to kill off all US interests in cloud computing, thanks to “justice” Plesk contemplating placing contempt of court charges on Microsoft. Sad thing is, the contempt is justified.

Hyper-V

System Center

Azure

Microsoft

2014
09.01

This is a video that I recorded for my employers, MicroWarehouse, a distributor in Dublin Ireland (nothing to do with a similarly named UK company). In it, I introduce the software-defined storage techs of Windows Server 2012 R2, focusing on Storage Spaces, Scale-Out File Server, Cluster-in-a-Box and Hyper-V on SMB 3.0, all built using hardware by DataOn Storage. There are some sample designs, and some indicative RRP pricing.

Note that this is strictly a high-level video that is intended to introduce concepts.

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2014
09.01

Frak! It’s September already!?!?!?! Here’s my first update in a since last Wednesday – travel and events took priority.

The big news broke late on Friday and Saturday. The moron judge presiding over the FBI/Microsoft case cancelled the stay on the order to force Microsoft to turn over data from the Dublin data centre to the US feds, thus breaching privacy and violating Irish and European laws. Microsoft is refusing to comply and is appealing to a higher court in the USA.

Hyper-V

Legal

Azure

Windows Intune

PowerShell

Surface

  • What’s the Future for Surface Tablets? IMO, doom. It’s impossible to sell a business machine to business users if you don’t give businesses a way to buy the device and an SLA-enforced mechanism to support it. First of you to say "BYOD" gets a kick in the groin for drinking 2-year old Gartner KoolAid.

Licensing

VMware

Consumer

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