Microsoft End of Life Dates – Mark Your Calendars!

With each passing year, Microsoft phases out software versions, replacing them with the new and exciting. It’s kinda like death and taxes. You know they are coming, but they don’t always give you the dates ahead of time. So here are some upcoming dates you might care about.

This one is fast approaching on 7/8/14 – Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 reaches the end of extended support!

Not impressed?  Okay, here’s more…

  • The end of sales for PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled (Windows Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate) is scheduled for October 31, 2014.  End of sales for Windows 7 Professional preinstalled has not yet been established, but Microsoft promises one year of notice so as of this writing it’s safe to say mid-year 2015 at least for that.  Windows 7 also reaches the end of mainstream support on January 13, 2015, leaving it in extended support until 1/14/2020.
  • Window Server 2003 reaching end of extended support on 7/14/15. This one is a biggie. Windows Server 2003 has been a workhorse for the last decade, much like Windows XP and it will be missed by many.  If you need some help, check out “It’s the End of the World As You Know It… Windows Server 2003 End of Life: Infrastructure Migration” from TechEd 2014.
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 has it’s extended support end on 4/11/2017.  I admit, I’m not so worried about this one. I used to be hard-core about running email services in house, but now I really think it depends on the size of your company. Email is sometimes best just hosted elsewhere and if you are running Exchange 2007 getting that out of the data center in the next few years might be something to consider.
Meanwhile enjoy your long weekend and lift a drink to BizTalk 2004.
🙂
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Hybrid Cloud – The Three Part Series

Looking for more ways to learn about how the “cloud” is changing the IT industry?   
Then join Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich and Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson, for a three part Hybrid Cloud series.  Learn more about what the emergence of cloud means for your IT strategy and how Microsoft is driving innovation as we create more options for customers to extend from the datacenter to the cloud.
Episode 1 covers the basics of hybrid cloud including Microsoft’s definition of the hybrid cloud, its key benefits, and how hybrid cloud solutions will evolve with broader trends in the IT industry.  Get the background you need to understand what “hybrid” means today. Available on-demand: https://info.windowsazure.com/April2014_Hybrid_Cloud_Series_Episode_One_Register.html
Episode 2 focuses on how hybrid options are changing the way companies approach IT infrastructure. New capabilities mean new opportunities, and we’ll look at concrete examples of how you can make hybrid part of your toolkit.  Rethink the basics and learn what’s new.  Available June 23, with live Q&A from Mark and Brad: https://info.windowsazure.com/May2014HybridCloudSeries-EpisodeTwo_Registration.html

Episode 3 features an in-depth discussion of infrastructure modernization. As you upgrade from Windows Server 2003, how should you think about hybrid options?  How can cloud help you create a more agile infrastructure?  Hear from our experts about how to make this transition work for you.  Airs July 17, 2014, with live Q&A from Mark & Brad.  Registration info coming soon!

Be Part of Microsoft’s Customer Research Team for the Cloud!

Microsoft Windows Server and Systems Center Customer Research team is looking for ITPros to participate on an IT Pro panel about virtualization.  If you are experienced with virtualization and cloud technologies, this is your chance to share your opinions with Microsoft.

As a member of the panel, you will have the opportunity to provide vision and feedback to the Cloud and Data Center Management Product team through surveys, focus groups, usability sessions, early design concept reviews, and customer interviews.

The research team is looking for very specific expertise profiles. Use of Microsoft products IS NOT required. To help identify if you qualify, start by completing a short survey.

Please note, this is only for customers located in the US but there is work toward extending to an international audience soon. Once again, you DO NOT have to use Microsoft products to participate.
Interested? Want to learn more? Click to access the survey.

VMware or Microsoft?–The Complete Quick List

The VMware or Microsoft blog series has come to an end, for now.  Below is the complete list of posts for your convenience.  You’ll find lots of great information and you can never be too informed when making decisions that affect the company and services you support.

  1. Series Introduction
  2. What is a “Purpose-Built Hypervisor?
  3. Simplified Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 Host Patching = Greater Security and More Uptime
  4. Reducing VMware Storage Costs WITH Windows Server 2012 Storage Spaces
  5. Does size really matter?
  6. Let’s talk certifications!
  7. Virtual Processor Scheduling
  8. FREE Zero Downtime Patch Management
  9. Agentless Protection
  10. Site to Site Disaster Recovery with HRM
  11. Destination: VMWorld
  12. Get the “Scoop” on Hyper-V during VMworld
  13. VMWorld: Key Keynote Notes
  14. VMWorld: Did you know that there is no extra charge?
  15. VMWorld: A Memo to IT Leadership
  16. Moving Live Virtual Machines, Same But Different
  17. Not All Memory Management is Equal
  18. Can I get an app with that?
  19. Deploying Naked Servers
  20. Automated Server Workload Balancing
  21. Thoughts on VMWorld
  22. Shopping for Private Clouds
  23. Dynamic Storage Management in Private Clouds
  24. Replaceable? or Extensible? What kind of virtual switch do you want?
  25. Offloading your Storage
  26. VDI: A Look at Supportability and More!
  27. Agentless Backup for Virtual Environments
  28. How robust is your availability?
  29. VM Guest Operating System Support
  30. How to license Windows Server VMs
  31. Comparing vSphere 5.5 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V At-A-Glance
  32. Evaluating Hyper-V Network Virtualization as an alternative to VMware NSX
  33. Automation is the Key to Happiness
  34. Comparing Microsoft’s Public Cloud to VMware’s Public Cloud
  35. What does AVAILABILITY mean in YOUR cloud?

Thoughts on VMworld

As promised, I’ve been formulating some closing thoughts about my first VMworld conference.

Overall, it was a fun experience. Going to conferences “at home” always prove to be more difficult logistically than going out of town. I was still on the hook for some of my morning and evening home responsibilities, so I didn’t attend many of the evening events or the concert at AT&T Park. A bit bummed to have missed Imagine Dragons and Train, so maybe next time!

I can’t say I was a big fan of the system where you registered for a seat in sessions. While I could see this being a boon for the event planners, it was frustrating as an attendee. I had difficulty deciding if I wanted to try to get into other sessions as “stand by” and risk giving up a registered seat elsewhere.  While not a big deal on the first day, as the conference progressed I found that my interests changed and I wanted more freedom in attending other sessions.

Also, I found that many of the sessions weren’t very technical. I admit I did attend a few “business solutions” level sessions to get an overview of some of the topics I wasn’t very familiar with, but even the “technical” and the “advanced technical” left me wishing for a bit more meat.

I attended sessions mostly around NSX, vCloud Hybrid Service and VSAN. With all of these technologies, VMware is clearly looking to make it as easy as possible for existing companies already virtualizing on VMware to embrace making their datacenters more automated. None of the ideas are “net-new” and many of the vendors that were in the Solutions Exchange area already have products that are functioning in that space or providing similar features, but I can understand why VMware would want to be able to provide similar technology options to their customers directly. I spent some time chatting with some vendors and the attitude was cordial, but at the same time it was clear that many will just be waiting to see if VMware can prove themselves in the market.

Looking at NSX, Windows Network Virtualization capabilities that are included in Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1 compare directly with the VMware offering. In the R2 release (coming October 18th) it’s been extended to include a free network virtualization gateway in Windows Server 2012 R2 and integrate top-of-rack network switch configuration and remediation. Also in the R2 release, there is full support with the Cisco Nexus 1000V while using network virtualization.

With regards to vCloud Hybrid Services, VMware seems to be directly targeting customers who are looking at using AWS for public cloud. By making it easy to move virtual machines into vCloud instead of AWS, they are open to capture companies that have lots of VMware infrastructure in place and are just starting to look at utilizing public cloud services. A marketing message that I got from the Solutions Exchange show floor was that AWS was a great “playground” for developers, but production level applications belonged in your datacenter and then scaled to the vCloud.

However, with less than a half-dozen US-only datacenter locations mentioned for vCloud, I can’t see the solution being a suitable for companies looking for a more global footprint. Right now, Windows Azure has eight datacenters in the US, Europe and Asia, with and additional 6 centers in the works for Japan, Australia and mainland China. Azure is available for use by customers in 89 countries and territories.

VSAN is offering some compelling features for pooling storage from multiple disk locations and using different tiers of storage like SSD and traditional spindles to provide a virtualized storage solution. Without reinventing the wheel, I found a few interesting links on the web that you might want to reference for more information about how it works (also here) and some products it could compete with.

From Microsoft, there is the StorSimple product which allows you to use an appliance to introduce tiered storage levels as well as connect to the cloud for an additional level of storage. For an option that doesn’t require an appliance, Storage Spaces was introduced with Windows Server 2012 and will be updated with additional features in Windows Server 2012 R2.

Overall, I really enjoyed the opportunity to attend VMworld and take the time to see what other product and offerings are going to be “on the menu” for IT Professionals working to make their datacenters more streamlined and cost effective.  For more detailed information about how Microsoft and VMware compare and contrast, make sure you check out the IT Evangelist Blog Series – “VMware or Microsoft?”

Destination: VMWorld

I really enjoy conferences and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve been a long time attendee of Micosoft TechEd. Before I joined Microsoft, my previous company was (and still is) virtualizing on VMWare. But VMworld was the conference of choice for my teammate, who primarily handled the storage and virtualization infrastructure. So even though VMWorld is often hosted right in my backyard, I’ve never been.

So for the first time, I’ll be attending VMWorld next week. This is the 10th Annual US VMWorld and since I missed attending my 10thTechEd this past June, this seems apropos.  I mentioned this to some friends, who immediately said, “What? Are you some kind of spy now?”

A Spy? Really?

If you’ve been reading the “VMWare or Microsoft?”blog series this week, you’ll know that Evangelists here at Microsoft take virtualization pretty seriously. But truly, it’s all about taking TECHNOLOGY seriously. VMWare has been around for a pretty long time in “technology years” and they’ve brought a lot of stuff to the table that’s worth learning about.

I know it’s easy to get “religious” about the technologies you know best. As an IT Professional it’s important to look at a variety of solutions before deciding which one is best for your company or the particular problem you are trying to solve and there are often a lot of factors to take into consideration.  When dealing with those types of decisions myself, I valued the opinions of people who had taken the time to really understand what’s out there along with the pros and cons – particularly for products I wasn’t as familiar with.
Like many large multi-day conferences, the sessions and tracks are vast at VMWorld and it’s been hard to decide how best to spend my time. In doing a little preparation for this event, it seems that VMWare historically had a habit of talking about technologies at VMWorld that ended up not being released in a reasonable time frame.
Apparently there has been shift in recent years to concentrate only on technologies that will come to fruition in the next year, so I’m happy to find out that my time at the conference will be well spent learning about things that will be out there for IT Pros sooner than later. The software-defined datacenter and Infrastructure-as-a-Service look like they are going to be hot topics.
I’m looking forward to catching sessions around these areas:
  • vCloud Hybrid Service – There is a “Jump Start” series of 5 breakout sessions covering topics like architecture, networking and security, deploying workloads and cloud management of the VMWare vCloud product. In addition to the jump start, there are many other sessions around this service that look like good picks.
  • Storage and Data Protection – sessions around the VMWare Virtual SAN and SSD, Software-defined Storage and data protection and other storage advancements.
  • Operations Management – Sessions around cloud computing management, building your infrastructure, cloud economics, the evolution of the data center.
  • Virtualizing Active Directory – There is one session that caught my eye about Active Directory (always near and dear to my heart), so I probably won’t be missing that one.

I learned from my former teammate that session seating is prioritized for people who put sessions in their Schedule Builder tool, so I’m hoping I’ve chosen wisely. I generally don’t recommend session hopping at these type of events and this reinforces my plan to get a few good takeaways from every session I attend.

So to answer the question from earlier – Am I spying on VMWare? Nah, far from it.

Like every other conference I’ve attended throughout my career, I’m forever a student of technology. Be it Microsoft technology or not, I don’t think I can ever go wrong looking for opportunities to learn. I can’t be good at my job and you can’t be good at yours unless we all take the time to learn about what’s out there and are open to comparing a variety of solutions.

So that’s why I’ll be at VMWorld. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll continue to check out the posts in the “VMWare or Microsoft?” series.  On Twitter, the hashtag is #VMWorMSFT.  And for news of the conference, follow the tweets of @VMWorld.

And since I’m a VMWorld newbie, if you think there is something I shouldn’t miss, let me know!

New Adventures at Microsoft

I love being a Sys Admin.  For the last 15 years, I’ve learned so much about managing systems and working with the people that use those systems to accomplish their jobs. Plus, over the last several years, I’ve enjoyed being part of the IT Professional community, through the PacITPros User Group, from attending and staffing conferences like TechMentor, TechEd and TechDays and as a Microsoft MVP. 

I’ve made so many great connections, learned many cool new things.  Not sure I would consider having it any other way. But sometimes an opportunity opens up that takes you in a different (but related!) direction and that’s what has happened to me.

As of yesterday, I’ve joined Microsoft as an IT Pro Evangelist.  I’m looking forward to getting to spend more time with the IT community and hopefully, learning a lot more things I can share!  I’ll be primarily responsible for the Bay Area, so don’t worry, I won’t be going far. 🙂