2014
10.22

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Azure

System Center

Microsoft Partners

Miscellaneous

2014
10.20

I tuned in a minute or two late to see Satya Nadella rehashing his cloud first, mobile first thing that has started to bore people. Substance, not mantras, please.

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It’ the same small room in San Francisco as the non-streamed Windows 10 announcement.  He starts off talking about the cloud being the most complete cloud:

  • Productivity with CRM Online and Office 365
  • Hyper scale cloud with hybrid and public and private cloud offerings

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He starts to talk about San Franciso and San Jose governments that adopted Office 365 for supporting mobile workers. Not just big enterprise, but also government sector and small businesses. NBC does encoding and live streaming of events via Azure. German company ThyssenKrupp manages over 1 million elevators using a service they built on Azure.

Azure compute power and research tools are being made available to Ebola researchers.

Paul Smith stores are using Hyper-V and are using ASR for DR. Datacenters are in a constant purchase cycle for storage – here’s the push on a non-selling StorSimple (it’s virtually an EA benefit that customers pay the shipping/import costs of – and pay for the Azure storage).

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At this point, there is nothing new here. This is like a marketing operation for the media.

Scott Guthrie comes out wearing read (read that as announcements coming). G-Series of huge VMs are announced. A new premium storage account offering is accounted with much greater scalability and performance:

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This is unparalleled scalability in the cloud. This is stuff that on-premises VMs cannot do.

He goes on to talk about on-premises and hybrid solutions, supporting any infrastructure including bare metal, Linux, and vSphere:

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Microsoft provides the only consistent experience across public and private cloud, thanks to Windows Azure Pack.

Here comes a new hardware plus software solution called Cloud Platform System to bring Azure to your datacenter (San Diego codename). You get WAP, management APIs (REST) and hypervisor, similar to Azure. This is a partnership with Dell, available starting in November. This will be a flop. Dell are clueless about their current massive portfolio, and they usually prefer to sell Dell-owned management products over System Center, not to mention their general lack of knowledge of Hyper-V.

Now he talks about Docker to enable greater densities and to allow app mobility to the cloud.

CoreOS Lunix is coming to Linux, to give a memory optimized memory footprint. It’s the fifth Linux distro on Azure.

A dude from Cloudera comes on stage. Cloudeera is announced on Azure. Here’s a demo of the new Azure preview portal running Windows 10. There’s a Cloudera Enterrpsei offering in Data, Services etc.

And that was that. Event over. I bet the media were glad that they travelled across a continent for all that.

2014
10.17

VMware posted this article where academic research has found a vulnerability with Transparent Page Sharing (TPS). Apparently they can use this to determine the “private” AES encryption key of another virtual machine. Woops … another “breakout attack” for VMware. I’m still waiting on the first one for Hyper-V.

TPS is one of those features that vFanboys cling to when attacking Hyper-V Dynamic Memory. Now VMware are turning if off by default (starting Q4 2014 for ESXi 5.1, and later for other versions). Hmm, this case raises questions about the security design of vSphere.

I agree with VMware that the vulnerability is impractical in terms of usefulness to an attacker. But what if you could use TPS to get the private SSL key of an application server in a multi-tenant cloud, and then use that to launch man-in-the-middle attacks? That would be a serious threat.

Choose your hypervisor carefully – breakout attacks are BAD.

I wonder what fresh hate will be vomited in my direction by the vFanboys :D Thanks to Flemming Riis (@FlemmingRiis) for the heads up.

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2014
10.17

This is the first of these since the 8th – my life consists of constant event/tradeshow/conference preparation at the moment so there’s little time for anything else.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

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Azure

System Center Data Protection Manager

Windows Microsoft Intune

Office 365

Security

  • Signed Malware = Expensive “Oops” for HP: HP is revoking a digital certificate because the cert was used to sign malware in 2010. Nice one, HP!
  • And every retail chain in the US has been hacked. At least that’s what it seems like. Maybe the US banks will join the rest of us in the 21st century?

Miscellaneous

2014
10.16

I am in the midst of finishing off my presentation for TechEd Europe 2014, CDP-B329 From Demo to Reality: Best Practices Learned from Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.

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The session drills into all the things that make previous big announcements & demos possible, and talks about those lesser known features that solve real problems. I’m covering a lot of stuff in this session. I submitted the draft deck a while ago, thinking that I’d have to cull a lot of it to fit within the limit of 75 minutes. Well, I did my first timed rehearsal tonight and I have a bit of wiggle room, maybe to even add in some more demos.

Speaking of which … my demos Open-mouthed smile Fast networking, good host hardware, and LOTS of PowerShell. All my demos are driven by PowerShell. Don’t think “ugh, boring!”. Nope. It’s all very visual, I assure you! There are ways, means, and tricks to show you the goodies even with a scripting language! Heck! PowerShell is even a part of the product that I want to demo! Right now I have 9 demos to show, and that might expand.

If you are coming to TechEd then I hope to see you at CDP-B329. Right now, I’m scheduled for Wednesday morning, but I heard I might be moved to the timeslot of doom on Friday at 08:30 Sad smile Please check the box for my session on the Schedule Builder to try change their mind before the move me!!!!! My session is confirmed for Wednesday at 10:15 in Hall 8.0 Room A2 (seats 1174 people!!!) – hit the schedule builder and check my session (CDP-B329) if it sounds interesting to you.

And by the way – a huge THANK YOU to Didier Van Hoye (aka @workinghardinit at http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/)  for his help. He helped me sort out some problems in 2 of my demos. Didier is a class example of an MVP working in the community.

2014
10.16

It’s a reuse of the Office partner training label, but it’s simple and I like it: Microsoft Ignite. Hopefully my Speaker Idol win carries over, I don’t screw up in Barcelona, and I get to speak there!

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This is bigger than MEC, TechEd, and the other tech conferences being merged:

  • Azure
  • Exchange
  • Intune
  • Lync
  • Office 365
  • Project
  • SharePoint
  • SQL Server
  • Surface
  • System Center
  • Visual Studio
  • Windows
  • Windows Server
  • And more

At the same prices as TechEd, this is a much higher value ticket because of the bigger breadth of content that you can absorb.

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2014
10.08

A new KB article by Microsoft solves an issue where a Windows 8.1 Client Hyper-V or Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V virtual machine backup leaves the VM in a locked state.

Symptoms

Consider the following scenario:

  • You’re running Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM).
  • You start a backup job in DPM to back up Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs).

In this scenario, DPM sometimes leaves the VM stuck in the backup state (locked).

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft Support. To apply this update, you must first install update 2919355 in Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2.

2014
10.08

Welcome to today’s cloud-heavy Microsoft news compilation.

Windows Server

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Windows Client

Azure

  • Introducing the Azure Automation Runbook Gallery: The time it takes to create functional, polished runbooks is a little faster thanks to the new Azure Automation Runbook Gallery.
  • More Changes to Azure by Scott Guthrie: Including support for static private IP support in the Azure Preview Portal, Active Directory authentication, PowerShell script converter, runbook gallery, hourly scheduling support.
  • Microsoft Certification Test Tool Preview for Azure Certified: The Microsoft Certification Test Tool for Azure Certified is designed to provide an assessment of compliance to technical requirements as part of the Azure Certified program. The test tool includes a wizard style automated section and questionnaire section to assess characteristics of a Virtual Machine image running in Microsoft Azure and generate results logs. More information on the Azure Certified program is available.
  • Announcing Support for Backup of Windows Server 2008 with Azure Backup: Due to feedback. Please note that this is x64 only and that there are system requirements.
  • Hybrid Connection Manager ClickOnce Application: ClickOnce installer for the Hybrid Connection Manager.
  • D-Series Performance Expectations: The new D-Series VMs provide great performance for applications needing fast, local (ephemeral) storage or a faster CPU; however, it’s important to understand a little about how the system is configured to ensure you’re getting an optimal experience.
  • Cloud App Discovery – Now with Excel and PowerBI Support: One of the top customer requests was to be able to perform analytics on the data collected in tools like Excel and PowerBI. Now you can take cloud app discovery data offline and explore and analyze the data with tools you already know–Excel and PowerBI.
  • A new region will open in India by the end of 2015: It makes sense; there are 1 billion people and some big corporations there.
  • Microsoft Azure Speed Test: Which Azure region is closest to you (remember that Internet geography is different to the planet’s geography. For example, where I work is a few miles from Europe North (Dublin), but the test shows me that Europe West provides me with lower latency (beaten, obviously, by CDN). My own testing using Azure Traffic Manager with geo-dispersed websites has verified this.

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Office 365

Miscellaneous

2014
10.06

I love my Lenovo Yoga 8, an 8” Android tablet. It’s what keeps me sane while travelling, it’s my bedside reading machine, and it’s my “couch” machine for those evenings when I’m “meerkatting” in front of the TV.

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That’s why I was excited to see a story on WPCentral that thinks maybe that Lenovo might launch a Windows 8.1 version of one of the Yoga tablets (there is also a 10” version).

The Android tablet is ARM based – a low power ARM CPU. If Lenovo are releasing a Windows tablet in this form factor then I hope it is Intel-based and not ARM; ARM would require the soon-to-be-extinct Windows RT.

The original story on HDBlog.it (in Italian) thinks that this might be based on the 10.1” HD+ tablet, a larger cersion of my 8” entertainment and consumption machine, also with crazy long battery life and a built-in mini-kickstand.

WPCentral says that Lenovo has an announcement on Windows and Android tablets on October 9th. We won’t have long to see if this rumour is a fact.

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2014
10.06

The big news today is that HP is “planning” to split. No, not leave, but divide into two.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Office 365

Miscellaneous

2014
10.03

I took the plunge yesterday while preparing an Azure presentation – I performed an in-place upgrade of Windows 8.1 on my Toshiba KIRAbook to Windows 10. Initially I tried to do it via USB, but I’d not prepared a UEFI stick for the device (thanks for the tip Hans Vredevoort). I copied the install files onto the laptop and ran it – within half an hour I had a fully upgraded machine with all my apps, programs, data, and settings in place. I think the only thing I had to do was re-install LastPass for IE.

The performance of the technical preview is excellent. Reboots were already blisteringly fast on this machine and now it’s not much more than a slow blink.

The start menu works as expected. I doubt I’ll use multiple screens much but it’s easy to use too. The weird experience was that I kept expecting to see the start screen when I clicked on Start. I have the ability to go back to the Win8 behaviour but I won’t; instead I just pinned my usual warm apps to the start menu, while my usual hot apps were on the task bar as they were before the upgrade.

I was out on a customer site today performing a health audit of a hosting infrastructure. I had the KIRAbook with me, taking my notes in OneNote. It behaved normally and was stable. Performance was good, and as usual for this hardware, the battery was excellent.

This afternoon I was back in the office and showed the machine to my colleagues. While they are not IT people, most of them are comfy with tech because that’s what they sell. The Start Menu seemed like a hit. One odd reaction I got was “I want to be able to expand the start menu to a start screen”. The reasoning was that it was easier to search for something in a bigger screen if you had loads of stuff installed. I can understand that one.

Anyway, so far, so good. And like many others have said already, Windows 8 would have been a hit if it was like this.

Somewhere, Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larsson Green are seething.

2014
10.03

The dust has settled a little bit after the craziness of the past few days. Here’s some regular news.

Windows Server

System Center

Windows Client

Azure

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How you can currently use ASR

Office

Miscellaneous

2014
10.02

As I blogged last night, Microsoft released the technical preview releases for the Threshold generation of Windows Server and System Center, as well as Windows 10. Maybe by now you’ve started your downloads and begun exploring.

Maybe you’d like a little bit of reading to prepare you for what’s to come? Here’s what I could find so far:

  • What’s New in the Windows Server Technical Preview: The content in this section describes what’s new and changed in Windows Server® Technical Preview. The new features and changes listed here are the ones most likely to have the greatest impact as you work with this release.
  • Release Notes: Important Issues in the Windows Server Technical Preview: These release notes summarize the most critical issues in the Windows Server® Technical Preview operating system, including ways to avoid or work around the issues, if known.
  • Release Notes for System Center Technical Preview: These release notes provide information about System Center Technical Preview. To evaluate System Center Technical Preview, you need to be running Windows Server® Technical Preview and Microsoft SQL Server 2014.
  • Features removed in System Center Technical Preview: The following is a list of features and functionalities in System Center Technical Preview that have been removed from the product in the current release. This list is subject to change in subsequent releases and may not include every removed feature or functionality.
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2014
10.02

In case you didn’t know, you can use CTRL + V to paste into Windows 10. This is off by default. You can enable it:

  1. Open Command Prompt
  2. Open the properties of the command prompt (right-click the top left corner)
  3. Browse to the Experimental tab
  4. Check the box for Enable Experimental Console Features. The CTRL key option is the only one checked by default. You can enable others if you want.
  5. Restart the Command Prompt

Yeah! Now you have copy/paste via the keyboard. My laptop has a very high screen res. Before the upgrade the text in the window was TINY and was not adjusted. By enabling experimental features, the text has been increased in size to make it legible.

2014
10.01

I just checked and you can find:

  • Windows Server (Standard) Technical Preview
  • Windows Server Datacenter Technical Preview
  • Hyper-V Server Technical Preview

The Windows 10 technical previews are also there.

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An image is available in the Azure gallery for the Windows Server Technical Preview. I deployed it in Europe North and it works fine.

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You can also get the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview.

What’s New in the Windows Server Technical Preview

The System Center preview (minus SCCM) is also available to download from MSDN. Note that App Controller no longer exists, and Windows Azure Pack should be used instead.

Edit#1

Microsoft has released the Windows Server & System Center previews to the general public.

2014
10.01

There’s not all that much news to cover this morning. Oh … hold on …

Hyper-V

Windows Server

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Windows Client

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System Center

Azure

Security

Office 365

  • Delivering the first chapter of Groups in Office 365: Grouping of users will be rolled out to all customers that have an Exchange Online or Office 365 commercial subscription, both new and existing. Eligible Office 365 plans include the Office 365 Enterprise E1–E4 subscription plans (including the corresponding A2–A4 and G1–G4 plans for Academic and Government customers, respectively), Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans, Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business plans and Office 365 Kiosk plan.
  • Step-By-Step – Setting up the new Azure AD Sync Tool: AAD Sync is Microsoft’s new directory synchronization tool that simplifies the process of connecting Azure AD to Windows Server AD. It also makes it more simple to connect complex, multi-forest deployments.

The Funnies

  • America’s CBS attempts to out-dumb CNN:

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2014
09.30

Microsoft confirmed the future plans of Windows Server & System Center (Cloud OS) vNext tonight. The released “a bit” of information:

    • Infrastructure upgrades: Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V clusters to the next version of Windows Server without downtime for your applications and workloads. This includes support for mixed versions as you transition your infrastructure.
    • Networking:  New components for our software-defined networking stack that enable greater flexibility and control, including a network controller role to manage virtual and physical networks.
    • Storage: New synchronous storage replication that enhances availability for key applications and workloads plus storage Quality of Service to deliver minimum and maximum IOPS in environments with workloads with diverse storage requirements.
    • Remote Desktop: Enhanced application compatibility with OpenGL and OpenCL support.
    • Identity and Access Management: New scenarios to reduce the risk profile of administrators with elevated rights, including time-based access with fine-grained privileges, and new application publishing capabilities.

They also confirmed that the preview will be out on Oct 1st:

As our first step in this journey, we will be making a “Technical Preview” available for the next version of Windows Server and System Center on October 1.

 

This bit of news is strange:

We are also evolving how we ship our software and service our platform products to keep the software up-to-date. For our datacenter products, there is a duality in what customers want: in some scenarios customers tell us they favor stability and predictability while in other scenarios they want access to the latest and greatest technologies as fast as possible. We’ll have more specifics in the coming months, but you can expect us to deliver the best of both worlds: options for speed and agility, plus options for stability and durability

Hmm, worrying. I think they aren’t listening to us about update trustworthiness. We need to speak louder.

But on the positive side … .rolling friggin updates of Hyper-V clusters. Woooooooooooooooooooohoooooo!

Synchronous storage replication should be *ahem* very interesting. I also like the introduction of storage QoS.

2014
09.30

There’s no Windows 9. It’s called Windows 10. I know there’s got to be a story behind this, probably one that we’ll never here, and probably related to a change in management, and possibly direction.

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Thank frak they did not call it “Windows” or “Windows One”, both of which were teased during the event.

You can see a video of Windows 10 in action here:

Not much was shown that we didn’t already know about. This is a very early build. I think this in conjunction with the skip of Windows 9, suggests to me that there was a re-planning quite late in the process.

The technical preview (a very early build) is out tomorrow (Oct 1st). Join the Windows Insiders program to get your hands on this, probably unstable and frequently updated, build and contribute feedback.

The goal of this build is to show that Windows 7 users can move to Windows 10, like moving from a Prius to a Tesla without re-learning to drive.

The only mention of Windows Server Threhsold was that the preview will be out after the release of the Windows 10 preview.

On the schedule of Windows 10:

  • Tech preview on Oct 1st
  • Consumer preview in early 2015
  • GA in mid-late 2015 … further convincing me that there was a re-start on planning because we originally thought RTM would be around April 2015

Joe Belfiore will be one of the keynote speakers at TechEd Europe. I think we’ll hear much more then regarding enterprise features.

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EDIT #1

Microsoft released a recording of today’s event. Why oh why could they live stream this over Azure if they were going to even bother having cameras there?

EDIT#2

Another video was released, showing the concept of Continuum, the adaptive UI experience for convertible devices.

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

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