Resources from the MVA Modernizing Your Datacenter Jumpstart

If you happened to join Matt Hester and I during our MVA Jumpstart, thanks for hanging out with us! We hoped we brought you some good ideas and resources for modernizing your datacenter.  

I think that one of the best things you can do when you are looking at refreshing technology for you business is to take the time to think about how you can leverage improved software, hardware and cloud technologies to make your server room (regardless of size) work better for your customers and become easier to maintain, protect and recover.

If you want to work more some of the things we covered, particularly DSC, please check out the Microsoft Virtual Labs.  I highly recommend the Windows Server 2012 R2 – Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration lab.

If you want to learn more about deploying Scale Out File Servers visit http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831359.aspx

For more details about the Windows Server Migration Tools that Matt covered check out http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134202.asp

And for Azure, learn more about Security and Compliance, install that nifty Cost Estimator Tool or learn more about the Migration Accelerator for Azure.

Matt and I were happy being able to spend the day telling you about things we really enjoy. If you want us to do more of that kind of thing, please drop us note or reach out to us on Twitter. If you missed it, the recordings will be available on demand in a few weeks at Microsoft Virtual Academy.

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Week 4 of the Hybrid Cloud! More TechNet Radio and Upcoming Blog Topics

The “Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud” series continues with Part 4 featuring Blain Barton and Keith Mayer as they tackle the topic of virtualization in a Hybrid Cloud environment.  Tune in as they discuss how virtualization is no longer constrained to the physical capacity of an on-premise environment and then showcase some tools and techniques that are available in Microsoft Azure that can help assist your move to Hybrid cloud virtualization.

  • [1:26] What do you see as some of the differences or new opportunities that IT Pros need to consider when planning virtualization for a Hybrid Cloud environment?
  • [3:31] How do traditional IT Pro virtualization skills translate into Hybrid Cloud?
  • [5:05]  When planning Hybrid Cloud virtualization, how should IT Pros approach it?
  • [8:01]  You mentioned Azure Pack – what is that?
  • [10:51]  If I already have an existing Hyper-V environment with custom VM templates defined, can I leverage them with Azure Pack?
  • [11:03] DEMO: Let’s see some of this in action
Then check back later in the week as the series blog posts cover the following topics:

  • Migrating Physical Servers to Virtual Machines
  • Migrating VMware VMs to Hyper-V and Azure
  • Implementing VM Templates and Service Templates
  • Using Custom VM Images and Resource Group Templates in Microsoft Azure

Week 2 Brings Episode 2: Modernizing Your Infrastructure on TechNet Radio

Kevin Remde and Dan Stoltscontinue the series on “Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloudwith an overview on how to plan for a hybrid cloud storage solution using Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure. Tune in for this lively discussion on the many storage options available to you as well as discussions around performance, reliability and security.  

  • [1:18] Let’s start with a quick summary of existing storage capabilities using modern infrastructure on-premises as supported by Windows Server 2012 R2
  • [10:16] What is Azure Storage?
  • [11:17]  Can you give us a quick overview of Azure Storage Architecture?
  • [12:30]  In order to connect local systems to Azure Storage accounts, I have to think there is some kind of authentication required to make that happen securely. How is that done?
  • [16:00]  What is Blob Storage?
  • [17:30] What are some common uses of Azure File Storage?
  • [18:18] Is Azure data reliable?
  • [21:10] Since we can access storage from Azure services or from our on-premises services, what kind of performance can we expect?
  • [23:17] I understand we can take snapshots of data in Azure. Can you tell us a bit snapshots
  • [24:37] Other than through the azure portal, how can businesses access Azure data?
  • [28:45] What can you tell us about StorSimple?
  • [32:21] Can I use Azure to host my SQL Server database?
  • [35:19] Are there other storage components that we have not talked about?

Stay tuned for these blog posts later this week:
  • Tue: Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 R2 by Matt Hester
  •  Wed: Hyper-V over SMB by Matt Hester
  •  Thu: Provisioning Storage Accounts and Azure Files on Microsoft Azure by Jessica DeVita

Follow the whole series! http://aka.ms/ModernCloud 


Common Application Workloads and Scenarios for Microsoft Azure

Have you heard about “The Cloud”?

Just kidding… I’m pretty sure you have.  But have you thought about what you are going to do with the cloud?

When you have a physical infrastructure that you’ve been building and maintaining for years, it’s not hard to see how you might not realize how cloud computing can help your business.  The cheapest storage and compute you can get is the stuff you already own, right?

Let’s take a look at some common cloud computing patterns and scenarios where they might be useful.  With the end of life of Windows Server 2003, you might be taking a close look at the functions and applications in your data center.  Now is the time to modernize and mature the systems and tools you use to keep your company (and your skill set) working .

On and Off Workloads

These are workloads where you have resources (like storage and compute) sitting idle for long periods of time.  You made these purchases for specific reasons, for a planned growth of a file server, maybe for a development/test lab or perhaps to host “cold” VMs for disaster recovery.  Ultimately these resources go under used and eventually the hardware becomes outdated.  It becomes harder to justify the costs of keeping it up to date when it sits inactive for so long.  Or maybe you have opposite problem – you don’t have the capital budget to build a lab or recovery site and end up using desktop grade equipment to test.
Growing Fast
Successful services need to be able to grow and scale.  When IT can’t provision physical hardware fast enough, it becomes challenging to keep up with regular growth.  Do you expand your data center? Keep trying to reduce the footprint of each server?  Maybe it’s a storage issue – it doesn’t seem to matter how many policies you have in place, data grows.  Users of your systems like to save, save, save and demand larger mailboxes, home folders and databases.
Unpredictable (and Predictable!) Demand
Put those two “growing fast” and “on/off workload” problems together and it all comes down to supply vs. demand.  Unexpected peaks in service like the sudden popularity of your product or something less amazing, like a runaway job or process can cripple your infrastructure.  Even if you have predictable demands (like seasonal shopping spikes or month-end processes) it can be hard to balance the cost of wasted resources vs the cost of not meeting the demand when it comes. And even if you do “balance” it, the average usually means there is a lot of time when nobody is happy.
Enter the Cloud
With Azure, you only pay for what you use, when you use it, making it a viable option for on-demand lab environments, disaster recovery testing, batch workloads and scaling or bursting to the cloud when needed.

Look to the cloud as a solution for off-site backups, cloud-integrated storage and for pilot-to-production role outs.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who piloted something on an old machine under my desk, only to find out a few months later that my “customers” (end users) liked it so much that it’s now working to capacity and would be a serious pain point for many if it failed. 

By creating your own virtual network and connecting to your physical LAN with a site-to-site VPN, you’ve  created an ever expandable, turn-it-off, turn-it-on data center that doesn’t require you to touch racks, tie cables or think about the ratings of air handlers or the weight of UPS gear.  Turn on point-to-site VPN and it can double as a disaster recovery site that workers can connect to remotely.
I’m not asking you to dump your data center.  The cheapest compute and storage you have IS the stuff that you already own.  But by considering each of your services and applications, you can decide which ones are better off in-house (and take full advantage of the resources you own) and which ones can thrive in the cloud.  
Want to learn more?  Make sure to follow the rest of the blog series and check out the Microsoft Virtual Academy for videos and lectures.  If you are just getting started with Windows Azure, I suggest the JumpStart for IaaS.  Also, this blog post is part of a greater series of posts, check out the full series at http://aka.ms/ModernCloud

Modernizing Your Infrastructure – The Series Starts This Week!

For the next 6 weeks, IT Pro Tech Evangelists will be posting something daily around modernizing your infrastructure with hybrid cloud.  Each week will bring a TechNet Radio episode and four blog posts. You can find a complete list of the whole series as it’s posted at http://aka.ms/ModernCloud.

Matt Hester and Keith Mayer kick it off with Part 1 where they discuss the importance of planning for your organization’s move to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure.
  • [1:18] Why should I start planning now? 
  • [2:41] Why Migrate to Windows Server 2012 R2?
  • [5:45]  Why consider Azure as part of your migration strategy?
  • [12:38]  What tools are available to help in the migration process?
  • [17:40DEMO MAP and the Azure IaaS Cost Estimator
Also, stay tuned for later in the week when I’ll have post around some common workloads and scenarios you might consider for the cloud.

  • Tue: Assessing your current IT infrastructure with the MAP tool by Dan Stolts
  • Wed: Conducting a VM readiness assessment by Kevin Remde
  •  Thu: Estimating costs for migrating VM workloads to Azure by Dan Stolts
  •  Fri: Common Application Workloads and Scenarios for Azure by Me!