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Monthly Archives: April 2013

The danger of customizations, a personal opinion…

This blog may be a bit of a no brainer, many similar blog articles about this subject already exist but I decided to write about it as well…

Customization, a well-known phenomenon in the world of IT. It has proven to be the ultimate danger which can effectively kill your business by making your IT environment unnecessarily expensive, bureaucratic and inflexible. Adopting new innovations becomes extremely difficult because of all the extra effort IT organizations have to put because of the customizations in the current environment.

In this year’s MMS 2013, I attended a session (session DC-B305) about application compatibility by Chris Jackson. Chris showed a somewhat older blog post written by Aaron Margosis:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/fdcc/archive/2010/10/06/sticking-with-well-known-and-proven-solutions.aspx

I strongly recommend you to read this blog because many examples actually did happen in environments I visited and helped out.

To this day, I still don’t quite understand why so many organizations stick to Windows XP because they allow themselves to be financially blackmailed by a custom made application which only runs on IE 6 and is absolutely incompatible with any other browser available on the market today (maybe they should try quirks mode in IE10 though J ). Also, it’s pretty common that the vendor doesn’t support the application anymore or is already out of business so basically the organization is forced to grandfather this application, ouch…

I have more examples but this blog becomes a bit predictable and have similarities with Aaron’s blog…

I try to avoid customizations as much as possible and stick with well-known and recommended solutions. It allows me to sleep better, and so will the customer…

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Posted by on 26/04/2013 in Opinion

 

Thoughts on building a resilient Private Cloud…

With this blog I decided to write down my ideas and thoughts about building a resilient Private Cloud using Hyper-V 3.0 which is a role in Windows Server 2012…

This is an elaboration on a session I attended at MMS 2013, ‘WS-B302 Availability Strategies for a Resilient Private Cloud’ presented by Elden Christensen. Elden is a Program Manager for the Hyper-V team at Microsoft.

My first thought is about building the Hyper-V cluster. In general, you want to separate storage and processing power to simplify your environment which allows you to keep administration costs low. It also adds a level of abstraction which provides you more control over the Hyper-V building blocks…

Microsoft’s direction is storing your VMs on an SMB 3.0 share. This allows you to provision storage on the 4th layer of the TCP/IP stack instead of the 3rd one. You can use standard Ethernet components which are cheap compared to expensive hardware components such as Fiber channel cards and switches. Additionally, Microsoft recommends delivering the SMB 3.0 share by using a Scale Out File Server (SOFS). A SOFS is a file server cluster with shared storage which hosts the SMB 3.0 share. Using this method, all you need to do is adding the SMB 3.0 share as a cluster resource.

With this, your Hyper-V hosts barely need any local storage. They should be equipped with the maximum number of processors and memory possible. You can have a maximum of 64 hosts in your cluster. This allows me to give directions to customers for using the right servers. The current 1U servers models allow you to install a decent amount of processors and lots of memory. I’ve seen models who can have up to 768 GB of memory. Imagine this, you can have a large number of ‘pizza box’ servers which allows you to provide massive scale-out of your Hyper-V hosts. These servers are inexpensive, require low administration and low maintenance cost. If you use a large number of them, you could be able to handle server failures of a small number of hosts. I think you would have a few spare boxes available just in case…

The next thought is management. In my philosophy, System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2012 SP1 provides the foundation to build a Private Cloud from scratch. VMM has bare-metal deployment capabilities, it allows you to optimize server workloads, you can provide power management by turning off some hosts during low workloads and you can deploy updates to all hosts as well. Many more features are available. I suggest you visit TechNet to check out what VMM can do for you.

The final thought is monitoring. You need monitoring to make sure you have a good overview of uptime and server workloads. The recommended monitoring solution is System Center Operations Manager (OpsMgr) 2012 SP1. You can create a direct connection from VMM to OpsMgr which allows OpsMgr to completely monitor your Private Cloud infrastructure. After establishing this connection, OpsMgr will automatically install the required Management Packs, will gather all the information available in VMM and will start monitoring the environment as well. OpsMgr can help you get more information from the environment which allows you to generate reports and keep management happy…

From my point of view, Microsoft has a very strong set of tools available to deliver Private Clouds. I wonder if the competition can stand up to this…

These are just my thoughts, maybe they can help you determine your Private Cloud strategy…

 

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Day 5: 2 more sessions and looking back to the entire week…

Ok, last one…

Day 5 is the final day, I attended two morning sessions and after that it was over…

Not much to choose so I attended session ‘DC-B306 Building the Perfect Windows 8 Image’ to get some more information about MDT. Technically, it wasn’t that challenging but both presenters had some funny cynic in their talking which caused quite some laughs…

I ended MMS 2012 with a level 400 session: ‘UD-B408 Configuration Manager … Actually’. Both presenters (Kim Oppalfens and Jason Sandys) made quite a statement by wearing Hawaiian shirts. They maintain their reputation that most ConfigMgr MVP’s are in for a lot of fun. It was a nice session to close MMS 2013.

After meeting up with my colleagues we were nice asked to leave the MMS premises…

So it was over, we had time left for some fun, a little gambling (not really interested, gambled only $ 2) and some shopping (but a functional souvenir for the Mrs.)…

 

So time to look at the entire week.

This was my first MMS and I hope it will not be my last. I learned a lot of new things and talked to quite some people. However, I returned home with little injuries. Yes, I deeply underestimated distance in Las Vegas so I walked to much (good exercise though). All the walking allowed to walk away all the hamburgers in the evening. It also resulted in many blisters on my feet. My shoes were completely worn out so I had to throw them away. However, I recovered well from the jetlag and all the little injuries J

Take care, and maybe see you next time…

 
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Posted by on 25/04/2013 in Convention, MMS2013

 

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Day 4: Virtualization and philosophical eye openers…

MMS 2013 long over but here it goes anyway…

Day 4 started with a very, very useful session about Hyper-V: WS-B302 Availability Strategies for a Resilient Private Cloud

This session answered a lot of my questions regarding Microsoft’s directions about Hyper-V resiliency. The direction is simple: separate processing power and storage and you can build a resilient Hyper-V cluster easily. For storage, provision an SMB 3.0 share by deploying a Scale Out File Server (SOFS) and store all your VMs there. You can build a Hyper-V cluster without using complex networks because storage is provisioned over Ethernet. If you watch the video, around 47 minutes Elden answers my question if you can use a massive scale out strategy by using inexpensive hardware (pizzaboxes) which he finishes with the quote ‘you nailed it’. Wow, I nailed it. I can use this to provide added value to my customers: massive scale out with lots of pizzaboxes as Hyper-V hosts…

After that, a nifty little presentation from DELL regarding VDI. I asked them if VDI is also suitable for playing games. If this would work nicely, would gaming in the cloud be a possibility?

In the afternoon, I let go the technical sessions and I went for some philosophical sessions, mindsets and some numbers.

First, I attended session ‘UD-B329 Top Shops: Field Notes from IT Departments That Rock’. This is a must see, I urge you to watch this one. This was a very strong eye-opener and one of the strongest sessions I attended. In a nutshell, all current ways of doing my job are obsolete and I need to determine the new normal for tomorrow. Oh, and I need to ask myself what to do if ConfigMgr is not there anymore J

Finally, I attended session ‘DC-B305 Application Compatibility for Windows 8’ which was very entertaining to watch. I laughed my ass off to see how confronting large numbers can be. The message in a nutshell: use well-known standardized solutions and stick to the default as much as possible. Customization can really kill an organization so avoid this as much as possible.

The evening party was OK, I left after being there for less than an hour…

 
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Posted by on 25/04/2013 in Convention, MMS2013

 

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Day 3: More VMM, ConfigMgr fun and an intimate evening session…

Ok, MMS 2013 is over for a couple of weeks but I decided to write it down anyway.

Day 3 involved more VMM, but not before attending a session about Azure, ‘WS-B303 Windows Server Virtual Machine: Adding Windows Azure Services’. I have to admit I really need to investigate more time into Azure in order to familiarize myself with it…

After that, I attended sessions ‘WS-B314 Implementing Common Storage Scenarios in Windows Server 2012 with System Center Virtual Machine Manager’ and ‘IM-B308 System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager: Managing Large Datacenters’. I have to admit, I got hooked to VMM so I decided to do more with VMM. This doesn’t mean I let ConfigMgr go completely. There’s too much to be done to let this go.

In the late afternoon there was a Jeopardy quiz about ConfigMgr. This was a great session where everyone involved were fooling around. It was great fun to end a very productive and exhausting day…

In the evening two Birds of a feather sessions were organized. The first one was a waste of time, I didn’t receive any new stuff regarding ConfigMgr…

The second one though, became a very intimate session about Windows Intune. There were 3 people including the host Chris Nackers. After a while, the Intune Product Team from Microsoft joined us and gave us some very valuable information. I expect to do more things regarding Intune because I start to believe more and more in the concept of cloud computing and Intune is no exception in this.

A late dinner ended the evening and I went to sleep in time, gathering a lot of information is pretty exhausting…

 
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Posted by on 25/04/2013 in Convention, MMS2013

 

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Day 2: wrapping up ConfigMgr and more VMM…

Day 2 allowed me to visit other things than ConfigMgr breakout sessions. To be honest, I’m not challenged much anymore by ConfigMgr. Only a few features remain in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 remain and that is something I will figure out myself…

So I’ve decided to wrap things with a final breakout session presented (UD-B340: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Case Studies and Migration Experiences) by Rodney Jackson. Rodney’s a senior PFE at Microsoft. Not only does he have the skills for this session, he also knows how to talk which was really cool.

But before that, I visited session WS-B325: Switching to Hyper–V: Migrating from VMware. This is very comprehensive session which is in line with the generic message sent during this year’s MMS: Hyper-V 2012 and move away from ‘the other guys’. I do see that more projects like these are becoming a trend so it is likely that this process has been set in motion already.

One other message is Private/Hybrid Cloud is becoming more and more a reality. In my humble opinion, I believe Cloud starts with Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1. I consider it the starting point for adopting Private Cloud and prepare environments to go into this cloud (migrating from ‘the other guys’ included)

In the afternoon I attended to consecutive sessions:

  • WS-B312 How to Design and Configure Networking in VMM and HyperV (Part 1 of 2)
  • WS-B313 How to Design and Configure Networking in VMM and HyperV (Part 2 of 2)

These sessions are good, but my god they were tough. However, it inspired me to do more with VMM. So I’m going to follow more VMM related sessions…

 
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Posted by on 10/04/2013 in Convention, MMS2013

 

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Day 1: The real start and some interesting stuff…

The event starts for real now. We were welcomed by a great Keynote session by Brad Anderson. After a lengthy presentation and lunch I went to the MVP Experts Panel for Configuration Manager (session UD-B320). Most things displayed I consider as ‘nice to haves’ which you don’t really need if you have planned your ConfigMgr stuff correctly. Only 1 thing really stood out of everything. During Kim Oppalfens’ presentation he showed some advanced tricks with cmtrace. He used these features to state that Wally Mead is appearantly wrong on reading log files (Wally likes Notepad). Well yeah, that is quite a statement…

The second session in the afternoon was one I really enjoyed: UD-B342 Configuration Manager 2012 and Orchestrator 2012 Islander Ballroom E

The speaker was Steven Rachui (finally I know how to correctly pronounce his name). It is very nice to see that scripting extensive amounts of code can now be replaced by using runbooks by Orchestrator 2012. He also showed how to start these runbooks by Configuration Manager and that makes it really cool. Adding his enthusiastic presentation skills made this session very enjoyable.

Let’s see if others can do the same…

 
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Posted by on 09/04/2013 in Convention, MMS2013

 
 
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