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Category Archives: Rant

Microsoft Azure: ONE feature I REALLY need…

It’s been a while since I posted my previous blog post. The main reason I didn’t post anything for a while is that I was very busy personally and professionally. I’ve been helping out customers adopting the Public Cloud more frequently and I must admit it’s a lot of fun.

During these conversations I’m focusing a lot on architecting Azure solutions (especially IaaS). Many times I get a feedback question that most likely goes like this:

“Yeah, it’s very nice this Microsoft Azure and all that other gay stuff, but how much does it cost?

Quickly followed by:

“Why is Microsoft Azure so expensive?”

Provinding an answer for the first question is quite challenging because Microsoft provides the Azure Pricing Calculator (available at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/) only. It allows me to provide an estimate on how much it will cost an organisation to use Azure services. It is still an estimate and that’s problematic because I cannot really use it for any TCO calculation. TCO is something that a CFO looks at and he or she wants the TCO to be a low as possible. All I could find was an old post available at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/windows-azure-platform-tco-and-roi-calculator-now-available-online-and-offline/ but the tools are not there anymore.

I need to have a total overview In order to provide an honest and accurate calculation since most organisations want to mirror their on-premises costs to Microsoft Azure’s. Here’s a, most certainly incomplete, list of costs IT organizations make:

  • Hardware purchasing
  • Licensing
  • Labour
  • Housing
  • Energy
  • 3rd party Support Plans

The fun part of is that many organizations have no idea which costs they have and if they do, taking them in the equation. This behaviour will automatically cause the second question to be asked. I’d like to see Microsoft deliver a tool that allows me to fill in these variables. Microsoft’s biggest competitor, AWS, has such a tool.

Sounds like quite a rant to Microsoft, right?

Well, what really works in their defence is that the Azure Pricing Calculator really helps organizations to provide an estimate. Unfortunately, some common sense may be required when using Azure Services. Things that need to be taken into consideration are:

  • Uptime: if a service is not needed at given times, then turn them off and stop paying for what is actively used
  • Automation: When given times are available, ie. office hours, then schedule the switching on and off activities using Automation
  • Workload: if your workload demand is strongly fluctuating, then you don’t want to buy the hardware required to faciliate a few peaks
  • Evolution: Do you really need to build a VM with IIS when the web application can run on an Azure Web App service? It makes sense to evolve on-premises or IaaS services to PaaS services and no longer be bothered managing the fabric layer or even an Operating System and/or application
  • Evolution part 2: Consider replacing (legacy) applcations by SaaS services so you don’t manage them either
  • Initial investments: No initial investments are required when using Azure Cloud Services. You don’t need to have a budget ready to buy hardware. Think about the shorter ‘time to market’

If you look at it like this, then adopting Cloud Services may not so expensive at all.

Additionally, tunnel vision can be created when looking at costs alone. Many times a small increase in costs may greatly increase the benefits adopting Azure Cloud Services and I’d certainly recommend it in most cases. The only case I wouldn’t recommend it is having a workload with almost no fluctuations.

Nevertheless, it would be nice if Microsoft would provide a tool or someone can tell me where to find it if it already exists 🙂

 

 

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 26/10/2016 in Azure, Cloud, Public Cloud, Rant

 

Why Google software can be murder for your Release Management Process…

Recently in one my projects I was involved with deploying some Google applications such as Google Chrome and Google Drive on Windows 8.1 clients. Company policy states that all applications (including the Google stuff) must be deployed automatically without any user intervention. Since System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager was used, the Application Model needs to be used.

From a technical perspective, this means that each application is configured with the following properties:

  • All applications are configured to be silently installed
  • A required deployment is configured to a User Collection
  • Supersedence is used when an application is replaced by either a new version or a completely different application

While this approach works fine for most applications, it doesn’t work for the Google software such as Google Chrome or Google Drive.

Here’s why:

The first Google application, let’s say Google Chrome, automatically installs Google Update. Google Update frequently calls home to check if a new version is available. If so, it will automatically download and install this updated version and uninstalls the old one. But then, the Configuration Manager client will run its required cycles. It will notice that deployed version is not detected anymore so it will start installing it again to meet the policy defined by the required deployment (you can clearly see that in the AppEnfore.log file). So the older version is installed again and I’ve seen it break applications completely. Extremely annoying for service desk crew and admins…

While you can manage Google Update using GPO, not all applications can be managed to suppress using Google Update.

From a management perspective, Google Update completely takes away control to have a functioning Release Management Process. While Google Update is great in consumer scenarios, it certainly isn’t in the corporate world.

When System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager is used, I only have the following technical workarounds available:

  • Deploy it as an available deployment; this requires user intervention and kills some automation
  • Deploy it as part of a Task Sequence; this gives the application to everyone and kills the ability to determine who is allowed to use it (you can create requirements etc. but it kills simplicity)
  • Deploy it as a Package instead of an Application; this takes away all the nice features the Application Model can give and takes me back to System Center Configuration Manager 2007. Not to mention, Packages should be used for some ‘stateless’ action such as scripts or registry keys
  • Publish it as an update using SCUP 2011; let’s not go there, the problem remains…

Since Google updates their software quite frequently, I don’t see organizations frequently adding and superseding these applications. Imagine how much one admin needs to commit to managing Google applications.

In other words: Google needs to take out Google Update and provide something more manageable for the corporate world…

 

 
 
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