A May Shower of Resources for IT Pros

It’s May (already!!) and with it brings a bunch of good resources for IT Pros looking to refresh their skills this spring.  Your first two stops should be the new IT Pro Cloud Essentials and IT Pro Career Center, which provide access to some great tools and features to help you tune up your skill set for the future, including:

  • A 3 month Pluralsight subscription
  • Role specific MVA training suggestions
  • One free exam voucher (limited supply, don’t wait to claim this!)
  • Azure credits and trials!
  • Guidance for career mapping, including salary information

If you are looking for something to read and want to refresh the items on your e-reader, this recommendation comes straight from Jeffrey Snover – the free e-book on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview.

If you are already starting to architect a hybrid solution for your organization, I highly recommend checking out some of the architecture resources for hybrid cloud and other cloud related systems, like storage and networking.  These are great Visio diagrams and posters to help you understand and explain what changes might benefit your company.

  • Hybrid cloud overview  Microsoft’s cloud offerings (SaaS, Azure PaaS, and Azure IaaS) and their common elements.
  • Architecture of Microsoft hybrid cloud scenarios  An architectural diagram of hybrid cloud for Microsoft’s cloud offerings, showing the common layers of on-premises infrastructure, networking, and identity.
  • Hybrid cloud scenarios for Microsoft SaaS (Office 365)  The SaaS hybrid scenario architecture and descriptions of key hybrid configurations for Skype for Business, SharePoint Server, and Exchange Server (2 printed pages).
  • Hybrid cloud scenarios for Azure PaaS  The Azure PaaS hybrid scenario architecture and the description of an Azure PaaS hybrid application, with an example.
  • Hybrid cloud scenarios for Azure IaaS  The Azure IaaS hybrid scenario architecture and the description of a line of business (LOB) application hosted in Azure IaaS.

Finally, if you are a Bay Area local, keep an eye on the Microsoft Reactor events calendar.  The Reactor hosts a variety of community events on a variety of topics, including Microsoft and open source technology.



Need some Hands-On with Azure to learn more about Hybrid Cloud?

Get hybrid-ready at a free IT Camps in San Francisco and Sacramento next week!

Join us for this interactive, full-day training session and learn how to move your workloads from on-premises to the cloud and back again. You’ll see how Microsoft Azure supports powerful virtualization, on-demand application scaling, complete data control, and the fastest customer response times around.

Get the scoop from a technical evangelist who can show you how to expand your IT options without adding complexity – or giving yourself a headache in the process. Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Extending your network with Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines 
  • Tackling workload migration, networking and other key scenarios 
  • Microsoft Azure for Test and Development (IaaS) 
  • Application migration to Microsoft Azure (IaaS & PaaS) 
  • SQL BI, Media, Backup, DR and much more 

Don’t miss one of these valuable, free events in the bay area – regardless of whether you’re new to the cloud, or you currently use an on-premises, hybrid or fully cloud-based solution. All IT Pros are welcome! Sessions run from 9:00am – 4:00pm. Attendance is limited, so save your seat today.

Tuesday, April 14th in San Francisco. Thursday, April 16th in Sacramento!

Hybrid Cloud Resources

If you are trying to figure out how to take advantage of the distributed computing power of the cloud but aren’t sure if you have to abandon or re-factor your existing on-prem infrastructure, the hybrid cloud is for you.

Yes, you need to start with good documentation about your infrastructure and key applications.  You need to know where the people you are serving are connecting from most often (Internet, local network, etc) and how you would like them to authenticate… and as you start pulling this information together you can start to see how building a hybrid cloud can help you put resources in the best place for your users or customers to access and how ease access issues with synchronized log-on credentials with Azure Active Directory.
To help with getting you started, my fellow friends and Evangelists pulled together 15 posts over the last few weeks to get you started, including 6 step-by-step guides
I have two posts in the series:
For more general information about Azure, I have an Azure page where I list out links to information that’s been hand to me. I really hope you find this stuff useful. There is a lot to learn, but a bunch of great ways to make it work for you.

Live Virtual Event Coming Soon on Security & the Cloud

A Look Ahead: Security & the Cloud Virtual Event is streaming LIVE Wednesday, March 25th.
Industry thought leaders, Microsoft experts and other Microsoft customers will share their perspectives on what’s next for security and the cloud.  Virtual attendees will have access to behind the scenes interviews and the opportunity to download related session materials, take polls, share ideas, ask questions to experts and speakers through live chat and Twitter.
Agenda Highlights:
·       What is the current cybersecurity landscape? Gartner Research Vice President Lawrence Orans will discuss the current state of cybersecurity and analyze trends going forward.
·       Explore real-world approaches. Tom Flanagan, VP of Technology at Alain Pinel Realtors, and Steve Novoselac, Director of Digital Technology for Trek Bicycle Corp., will discuss their experiences with migrating to the cloud and share best practices.
·       Get an insider’s view on fighting cybercrime. David Finn, Executive Director of the Microsoft Cybercrime Center, shows us what Microsoft does today to deter cybercriminals.
·       It’s all about Windows 10! Stephen Rose, Senior Product Marketing Manager for US Windows and Devices and a former IT Pro, will discuss Microsoft’s next-generation operating system and its security features.


·       Learn how to move ahead with the cloud. The cloud provider market is crowded and the process of moving to the cloud can sometimes be daunting. Microsoft’s Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel, will tell you how to choose a trusted cloud provider and share tips and tricks that will make your transition to the cloud successful.
Register now so you don’t forget!

Azure Storage Redundancy Options

There are a lot of components that make Azure tick and storage is a big one.  Azure has four types of storage – blobs, files (in preview), table and queue.  Every storage account you create in your subscription has the ability to contain all four types.  In addition to those types, you can pick from four redundancy options:
  • Locally Redundant Storage (LRS)
  • Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS)
  • Geographically Redundant Storage (GRS)
  • Read-Access Geographically Redundant Storage (RA-GRS)
Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) is the  cheapest storage option you can select and the end result will be three synchronous copies of your data within a single datacenter.  The SLA offered is 99.9% availability for read and write functions.  LRS is a good choice for data if you have compliance requirement that dictates your data remain in a specific location.
Geographically Redundant Storage (GRS) is the big brother of LRS.  Data is copied three times within a single datacenter, plus multiple asynchronous copies to a second datacenter hundreds of miles away.  This results in six copies of your data.  By default when you create a storage account, it will be GRS.  You can see what secondary location would be used for your redundant copy in the configuration settings of your storage account.  The alternative copy provides protection against a major datacenter outage or disaster, however you don’t have control as to when the secondary copy is made available for access.
Read-Access Geographically Redundant Storage (RA-GRS) is the cool twin of GRS.  It’s the same as GRS, but you have the ability to access the secondary datacenter copy for read access whenever you like.  When you activate RA-GRS, you’ll be given a second endpoint URL for access to that copy. Because if this, the SLA for read functions increases to 99.99%.
If you create a storage account with any of the three choices above, you can easily change it after the fact within the storage configuration settings. 
Finally, there is Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS).  Similar to LRS, but the three copies of data are stored across multiple datacenters within or across regions.  It’s more durable than LRS and more economical than GRS, but is an option for block blobs only. There is no option to change from ZRS storage to the other options and you will see a warning that ZRS if for blob storage only.  Block blobs are used for VM storage as well as documents, videos, backups – any unstructured text or binary data –  but you can’t use the same storage account for table or queue storage.  Still this a great option if you are looking for a little extra durability due to outage, but don’t need the full on redundancy offered by GRS or RA-GRS.  Storage accounts used for testing purposes would be good use of ZRS.
In addition to these regular “spinning disk” storage options, you can also try out Azure Premium Storage (in Preview). Premium Storage gives you high-performance, low-latency support for I/O workloads running on Azure VMs.  These persistent disks are backed by SSD.  However, you need to have a premium storage account which can only be created using the Preview Portal and it’s currently only in limited regions.  Learn more about Premium Storage here.

If you need to know more about the specific pricing for Azure Storage you can visit the pricing page. Your total cost will depend on several factors, not just the redundancy option you pick.  As you look at the hybrid cloud scenarios for storage, you’ll find that the cloud won’t be the best location for ALL your data, but storing some data in the cloud can be cheaper than expanding storage devices you already own.  Also, if you missed yesterday’s series post on Azure Backup Solutions, check it at http://aka.ms/HybridCloudforITPro.

Hybrid Cloud – What’s all the Fuss?

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the hybrid cloud lately and this post won’t be all that different.  But what is all the fuss?

We know the benefits of virtualizing compute and sharing other resources on-prem, but there are limits to what a lot of enterprises can obtain within their own four walls.  You can leverage what the cloud has invested in things such as storage, redundancy, failover and authorization services and use that to expand resources as your business needs them.  The hybrid cloud is the future because it’s not “one size fits all” – build based on the needs of the business service or application that you are making available or improving on.

That being said, if you are looking to learn a bit more about how Azure can meet you hybrid cloud needs be sure check out the Hybrid Cloud for the IT Pro Blog Series in progress right now, covering a variety of topics related to developing your plan for extending your datacenter beyond it’s current walls.

I also recommend checking out this MVA course on Moving to Hybrid Cloud with Azure. It’s only 90 minutes and it’s hosted by Keith Mayer and Brian Lewis, two of my favorite Tech Evangelists.  Plus they really know their stuff.

The Hybrid Cloud for the IT Professional – The Blog Series Begins Today!

Over the next three weeks, the US IT Pro Evangelists will be running a blog series on extending your data center with Azure.  You’ll find the complete series, with links updated daily at http://aka.ms/HybridCloudforITPro.

The series will include posts by Yung Chou, Kevin Remde, Dan Stolts, Tommy Patterson, Blain Barton, Jessica DeVita and myself.  We will be covering a variety of Azure IaaS topics like:

  • Infrastructure services
  • Backup solutions
  • Networking fundamentals
  • Connectivity and Remote Access
  • SQL Server
  • Multi-factor Authentication
  • Azure certifications

It’s Week 6! Week 6 of Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud

In part 6 of the “Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud”  series, Blain Barton and Tommy Pattersondiscuss how to get started migrating server workloads to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure. Tune in for this great session on server migration from on-premises, to the cloud or a combination of both and learn which option is best for your organization as well as what tools are available to make this process as efficient as possible.

  • [4:13]  What does end of support for Windows Server 2003 mean?
  • [5:23] Migration vs. Upgrade. Which option is best?
  • [15:02] What migration tools are available?
  • [16:01]  Migrating foundation services (Active Directory, DHCP, DNS, File Services & DFS, Web Servers, SQL, Exchange, and SharePoint
Speaking of moving workloads to the cloud, the Azure blog just announced a new series of VM sizes, with more memory and SSD storage.  They are approximately 60% fast too! 

Later this week, be on the lookout for more blog posts in this last week of the series – I will send out tweets!

Week 5 of Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud

This is the 2nd to last week of the  “Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud”  series and ipart 5, Yung Chou and Keith Mayer demonstrate ways in which you can manage and automate your hybrid cloud environment. Tune in for this demo heavy session as they showcase System Center, Microsoft Azure and the Windows Azure Pack as well as PowerShell for Azure, PowerShell DSC for configuration management and Azure Automation for automated runbooks.
  •  [1:15] When architecting a Hybrid Cloud infrastructure, what are some of the important considerations relating to management and automation?
  • [4:09] You mentioned PowerShell for automation … how can PowerShell be leveraged for automation in a Hybrid Cloud?
  • [7:54]  Is PowerShell my ONLY choice? Are there other automation and configuration management solutions available for a Hybrid Cloud?
  • [11:12] DEMO: Let’s see some of this in action
    • Brief tour of System Center and Azure / Azure Pack management portal interfaces
    • Getting started with PowerShell for Azure, Azure Pack automation
    • Intro to PowerShell DSC for configuration management
    • Intro to Azure Automation for automated runbooks

Also upcoming for the blog posts related to this week:
  • Tue: Getting Started with On-Demand Private Clouds with Azure Pack by Keith Mayer
  • Wed: Automating the Hybrid Cloud with PowerShell and Azure Automation by Keith Mayer
  • Thu: PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) by Kevin Remde
  • Fri: Monitoring the Hybrid Cloud by Dan Stolts

Tools to Help Convert from VMware

Are you interested in the benefits of Microsoft virtualization with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, and how they compare to VMware virtualization with vCenter 5.5? Watch Microsoft’s Matt McSpirit, as he provides an overview of several solutions that can convert VMware virtual machines to Hyper-V (or Microsoft Azure) virtual machines. 

Review different migration options in more depth, with experts in each technology, including Microsoft and partners 5nine Software, NetApp, Vision Solutions, and Xtreme Consulting Group. Don’t miss this opportunity to get the details on Hyper-V migration.
  1. Introduction to VMware to Hyper-V Migration & Partner Solution Overview
  2. Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) 2.0 for VMware to Hyper-V & Azure Migration
  3. Xtreme VM Migrator for VMware to Hyper-V Migration
  4. NetApp MAT4SHIFT for VMware to Hyper-V Migration
  5. 5nine Software V2V Easy Converter 4.0 for VMware to Hyper-V Migration
  6. Vision Solutions DoubleTake Move for VMware to Hyper-V & Azure Migration

Take the course for free on the Microsoft Virtual Academy: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/vmware-to-hyper-v-migration 

Also, don’t forget to check out the Azure Migration Accelerator (in Preview):  http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/features/migration-accelerator/?linkId=9516861
If you need some additional suggestions for things to watch on MVA, don’t miss out these as well: