The TechNet Virtual Conference – Coming Soon!

Pop Quiz:
What happens when you put Mary Jo Foley and Rick Claus in the same room?

Answer: They kick off Day 1 of the TechNet Virtual Conference!

And what is the TechNet Virtual Conference?
It’s 3 days (well, two and half days) of awesome speakers talking about all that on the minds of IT Pros, Sys Admins and Windows Aficionados alike!

Learn about what is the future for IT careers, cyber-security and tech-driven businesses. Catch up on all that is new in Azure, Nano, Containers, Azure Stack, Operations Management Suite, Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft Passport… you get it.

But if being tied to your computer on March 1st thru March 3rd isn’t your style, trust that most of content will be available after the event to stream on demand.

Bonus!: If you really want to talk about Cloud Infrastructure with someone in person (and you live in the SF Bay Area) it’s not too late to sign up for the TechNet on Tour | Cloud Infrastructure event on March 3rd.

Every Week in the Microsoft Reactor

If you haven’t discovered the Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco, you are in for a treat.  This new community space near the Moscone Center is often available to use for meet ups and training workshops.  You can check out the event calendar for details of upcoming events.  You can also watch the new Reactor Weekly show by Tim Reilly – in this week’s episode you can learn about the pending installation of a Surface Hub and hear about some of the value of the community user groups like Pacific IT Professionals.

Some of the events I’m looking forward to this month are:

Windows 10 on TechNet Radio

Yung Chou has been talking a lot about Windows 10 on TechNet Radio.

If you are still working on your Windows 10 deployment and need to learn more about what that entails, join Yung with Kevin Remde and Dan Stolts for their take on the deployment and servicing options for Windows 10 and how to migrate users and their data.  There is over an hour of content between those two videos, so if it’s too long let me know and I’ll tell them to talk less the next time they decide to team up. :-)

If you don’t have an hour, check out me and Yung talking about Windows 10 Usability and Ease of Access.  There is even a demo at minute 4:06!

Notable Notes: Certification, Azure VMs and Linux!

It’s February, so if you are looking for a way to continue some momentum you might have started with the new year, consider the Know It, Prove It challenge.  Follow the steps, commit an hour a day and by the end of the month you’ll have a new tech “super power”.

When it comes to certification, don’t get stuck thinking Azure is all about Windows.  Over 25% of workloads in Azure are Linux, so if that’s your passion you can become Microsoft certified as well.  Check out the new MSCA: Linux on Azure.

Also, if you’ve got 7 minutes, check out this episode of Tuesdays with Corey – Troubleshooting and Diagnostics for VMs in Azure.

Data Privacy: Today and Every Day

Today is Data Privacy Day. A day dedicated to awareness of how data, often very personal data, needs to be managed and protected. Just about every company you interact with on a daily basis has collected, uses and is responsible for being a good steward of that data.

But we can’t expect those companies, your bank, your doctor’s office, your insurance company, your favorite social media experience and any of the myriad of applications you might have on your smart phone to be the only responsible stewards of our data.

We are also responsible.

Take a moment to take stock of your various identities. We all wear different hats in real life – parent, volunteer, employee, pet owner, what have you. Some cross over to others, some do not. We have equivalents online and a collection of companies are vying to be the holder of the “primary” identity you use online. We are constantly offered the chance to log in or “connect” using Facebook, or Google, or Microsoft, creating additional interconnection between the fabric of websites and mobile apps in our ecosystem.

Today, I challenge you to inventory your online identities and make improvements where necessary. Break out a piece of paper and pen:

  1. List out all your email addresses. Which ones are used for access to which websites? When you create an account on your bank’s website or a shopping website or anywhere, that service has created an identity for you. While it’s true that your bank’s computers don’t connect with the servers that run Netflix, if you are using the same email and password in both places, you have increased your risk in the event that a password breach at one service could allow someone to access your information from the other service.
  2. Document all the popular services you use that all provide the option to use that identity to connect to other sites – the situations where you connect to services or other websites using the credentials from another. In this case, those services may not bother to maintain their own database access credentials, instead relying on the services of another. This “single sign on” feature is great – event potentially more secure than having a less robust system maintain a list of email address and password combinations – but make sure you are combining those services in a way that makes sense for you. I would never sign onto my banking websites “using Facebook” for example, even if it was available. Using my Twitter credentials to connect to a news website, would be a more reasonable use.
  3. Review the list so far and make changes as necessary. Update passwords, change email addresses and consider the “single sign on” options that make sense for how your organize your life. If you’ve used your work email (which is an identity you don’t fully control) as the primary email for a personal service, make sure to adjust that appropriately. You never know when you might lose access to that email service, making it difficult to recovery a lost password or receive notifications.
  4. Turn on multi-factor authentication where available. Those services ensure that additional information is needed to grant access to the service with a phone call, text message or email to an alternative account. Make sure that your contact information is up to date with alternative phone numbers and current email addresses that you can access.
  5. Some services provide printable one-time use access codes that you can store offline. Google and Microsoft are two companies that do this. I print these and store them in a secure location at home, as a backup to all the other multi-factor security options.
  6. Review the recovery related FAQs for all the major services you use. In the past, some have required you to know rather specific information related to your account, like creation date, etc. If necessary, gather that information and store it securely offline as well.
  7. Finally, review the security and privacy settings on the sites where you purposely post personal information, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Make sure you have them set so what you have publicly visible is what you intended.

I know that’s big list.  Make it Data Privacy “Week” if you have to. Your future self will thank you.

Learn more about privacy settings for:

Microsoft Cloud Networking – The Poster!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while doing IT, it’s that nothing is really simple.  And with the addition of the “cloud” when it comes to providing services for your business or your customers, things just keep getting more complicated.  Remember the days where you had one nice T1 coming into your office and all was right in the world?  (Ah… the good ol’ days….)

Anyway, sometimes when you are looking at changing the networking for your company to support more cloud offerings like Office365 or moving workloads into Azure, you could really use a cheat sheet to get you pointed in the right direction and give you some insight into what you might need to research further as you work on your design.  Enter the “Microsoft Cloud Networking for Enterprise Architects” poster!

This printable, 8-page poster (it fits on legal paper) gives you the skinny on the design components and considerations for networking in the cloud age.  Topics cover are:

  • Evolving your network for cloud connectivity  Cloud migration requires changes to the volume and nature of traffic flows within and outside a corporate network.
  • Common elements of Microsoft cloud connectivity  Integrating your networking with the Microsoft cloud provides optimal access to a broad range of services.
  • Designing networking for Microsoft SaaS (Office 365, Microsoft Intune, and Dynamics CRM Online)  Optimizing your network for Microsoft SaaS services requires careful analysis of your Internet edge, your client devices, and typical IT operations.
  • Designing networking for Azure PaaS  Optimizing networking for Azure PaaS apps requires adequate Internet bandwidth and can require the distribution of network traffic across multiple sites or apps.
  • Designing networking for Azure IaaS  Optimizing networking for IT workloads hosted in Azure IaaS requires an understanding of Azure virtual networks (VNets), address spaces, routing, DNS, and load balancing.

There are several other posters that might be of interest as well, focusing on identity, security and storage. Find them with some other handy resources for IT architecture.

Wednesday Distractions with Videos

It’s Wednesday. Because it’s mid-week, it’s really easy to get distracted. So don’t blame me if any of the videos suck you in. :-)