Become an Early Expert in Virtualization

In an increasingly multi-hypervisor world, more and more IT organizations are using Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure to achieve superior performance and workload flexibility at the best possible price. With nearly two-thirds of businesses on more than one virtualization platform, adding Microsoft virtualization and cloud skills to your technical repertoire can improve your career options and prepare you to face new IT demands.

Join Early Experts! We'll help you get certified!

What is Early Experts?

Microsoft Early Experts is a free, online study group for virtualization professionals who want to extend their Microsoft Hyper-V, System Center and Microsoft Azure knowledge with official Microsoft certifications. We’ve organized our high-impact learning resources into online Knowledge Quests that include concise videos, prescriptive study materials and hands-on practice with real products. Complete the weekly quests at your own pace and enjoy the flexibility to stop and review certain topics when you need more time.

Rewards and Prizes (U.S. Only)

Complete the online Quests and receive a completion badge suitable for printing or sharing online to showcase your new skills with Microsoft virtualization! In addition, IT Pros located in the U.S. are eligible to win one of several cool prizes during monthly prize drawings in April, May and June 2014. **

Rewards, Prizes and Certification: Join Early Experts today!

If you’re located outside of the U.S., you’re certainly still welcome to join us and take advantage of the Early Experts study materials to help you prepare for certification.

The clock is ticking … Join us today!

Early Experts study groups are forming now for existing VMware / Virtualization professionals targeting the following Microsoft certification:

Join Us: Become our next Early Expert!

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to IT Professionals who are legal residents of the 50 U.S. states or D.C., 18+. Sweepstakes ends on June 30, 2014. See Official Rules.

IT Camp Question: Can I run VMM even though I’m not in control of the entire domain?

This question was asked recently at an IT Camp on Virtualization. The attendee was responsible for the server and infrastructure of an OU, not the entire domain.  He wanted to know if he could still take advantage of Virtual Machine Manager for just the servers in that one OU.

Short Answer: Yes!

Long Answer:
Its true that VMM requires access to Active Directory for authentication and some other features, but you can run multiple instances of VMM in one domain.

A couple key points:

  • Any one host (and it’s virtual machines)can only be managed by a single instance of VMM.
  • VMM would not recognize an OU as boundary of any kind – any host could be added if the appropriate credentials were presented.
  • Each instance of VMM would have it’s own database. If reporting across multiple VMM instances becomes a requirement, it’s possible to connect each VMM instance to a single OpsMgr instance and do the monitoring and reporting from there.

So there you have it. Even if you don’t have your thumb on the pulse of your ENTIRE organization, you can still use VMM for the part you reign.

From my Friends over at Microsoft Virtual Academy

9/23/2014 Update – This event is available on demand, when you need it.  If you are just starting to take a closer look at Windows Server and Hyper-V, this is a great way to get a jumpstart.

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Free Online Event: Virtualizing Your Data Center with Hyper-V and System Center
Free online event with live Q&A: http://aka.ms/virtDC
Wednesday, February 19thfrom 9am – 5pm PST
If you’re new to virtualization, or if you have some experience and want to see the latest R2 features of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V or Virtual Machine Manager, join us for a day of free online training with live Q&A to get all your questions answered. Learn how to build your infrastructure from the ground up on the Microsoft stack, using System Center to provide powerful management capabilities. Microsoft virtualization experts Symon Perriman and Matt McSpirit (who are also VMware Certified Professionals) demonstrate how you can help your business consolidate workloads and improve server utilization, while reducing costs. Learn the differences between the platforms, and explore how System Center can be used to manage a multi-hypervisor environment, looking at VMware vSphere 5.5 management, monitoring, automation, and migration. Even if you cannot attend the live event, register today anyway and you will get an email once we release the videos for on-demand replay! 
Topics include:
  • Introduction to Microsoft Virtualization
  • Host Configuration
  • Virtual Machine Clustering and Resiliency
  • Virtual Machine Configuration
  • Virtual Machine Mobility
  • Virtual Machine Replication and Protection
  • Network Virtualization
  • Virtual Machine and Service Templates
  • Private Clouds and User Roles
  • System Center 2012 R2 Data Center
  • Virtualization with the Hybrid Cloud
  • VMware Management, Integration, and Migration

 Register here: http://aka.ms/virtDC 
Also check out the www.MicrosoftVirtualAcademy.comfor other free training and live events.

Wanna Build Your Own Virtualization Lab? Don’t Miss THIS…

I just kicked off the first of several Northern California IT Camps yesterday and the registration for my next three events are packed full.  I wish is wasn’t so I could invite you to attend.

Most people have enjoyed the hands on labs but often want more time to “kick the tires” or want to share the experience with colleagues back in the office.  We can’t really extend the access to the system since it’s gets recycled each event, but my friend and IT Pro Evangelist colleague, Kevin Remde, has taken the time to break down exactly how you can build a lab yourself, on ONE BOX.  (That box does need to have at least 16GB of RAM and at least 200GB of free disk space.)

Then you can take your lab manual from class and run through it again, or test out whatever you need to test that fits your organization.  Kevin has everything you need except the setup to do patching from WSUS. Say hello to my own next side project, because doing this looks like fun!

If you did happen to join me yesterday and want access to slides and other resources from the day, please visit my resources page in the navigation on the right.

Also, if you want to learn more about Hyper-V, check out this introductory JumpStart from Microsoft Virtual Academy.

West Coast Virtualization Camps Come to a Close

Yesterday, I finished my last presentation of the Microsoft Virtualization Camp for 2013 in Los Angeles. Special thanks to Jessica DeVita, an LA local and Microsoft MVP who spent the day helping out as a lab proctor.  The day wouldn’t have be as smooth without her!

Here is a recap of some of the links and resources I’ve mentioned during my presentations:

  • The VMware vs. Microsoft Blog Series – the entire series covers many of the differences between the products and goes deeper on some features than we were able to cover at the one day event.  Of particular interest is the “Shopping for Private Clouds” post.
  • The Comparison Whitepaper – A pretty comprehensive feature comparison, good place to start your research.
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy – there are at least 4 new sessions specifically around System Center.
  • Build It Yourself – If you want to do a similar setup of the HOL environment at your desk or in you lab you can download Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 or the full version of Windows Server 2012 R2 using the links in the right side navigation bar. —>>  For tips on getting started, visit this post. (The contest is over, but the instructions can still get you started!)
  • If you want some additional instructions for building labs in-house, please visit Tommy Patterson’s Blog, where he provides lots of step-by-step guides. Tommy is one of my IT Pro Evangelist colleagues on the East Coast.

If you missed the opportunity to attend one of these camps in your area or you think someone else from your company might benefit from some of the content, please check out the Virtualization Camp Online being held next Wednesday, December 11th.

Fellow Evangelists Matt Hester and Tommy Patterson will be presenting and while you won’t be able to be “hands on” yourself, Matt and Tommy will doing some of the demos.  Keith Mayer, Yung Chou and I will be manning the chat room, so feel free to say hello!

For future virtualization related events coming in 2014, be sure to visit TechNet Events.

Sold Out! Microsoft Virtualization Camps (So Get it Online!)

If you’ve had the chance to attend one of the Virtualization IT Camps I presented in Silicon Valley, San Diego or San Francisco, I hope it was a day well spent.  If you are scheduled to attend the event in Los Angeles on December 5th, I’m looking forward to a packed house, as registration is full and has been closed.

Now, if you are bummed to be missing the event, don’t despair – On December 11th, Matt Hester and Tommy Patterson will be doing an ONLINE version of the event from 9am to 12pm.  They will be covering the same content and showing demos of the hands-on components.

Yeah, I know, it’s not quite the same as in person, but the condensed format will be awesome for those of you who might not be able to commit to a whole day event!

Go to http://aka.ms/virtitcamponline to register!

Help Shape the Future Microsoft Virtualization, Cloud, and Datacenter Management Products

Got some great ideas about what Microsoft should do with virtualization, the cloud and the datacenter?  Do you actively virtualize systems or want to get more in-depth with the future of virtualization?

Microsoft Windows Server and Systems Center Customer Research team is looking for ITPros to participate on an IT Pro panel.

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.

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!

Mid-June: Upcoming Live and Virtual Events

If you are looking for some economical training around “the cloud” here are few upcoming events you might like to consider.

These two are online via the Microsoft Virtual Academy:

  • Building Private Cloud with Windows Server 2012 & System Center 2012 SP1 Jump Start (with Symon Perriman & Pete Zerger)
    • Tuesday June 18th, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm PDT
    • http://aka.ms/MVA-WsSc
    • Topics include: Planning Your Cloud Implementation, Building the Cloud Fabric, Preparing for Self-Service, Building Your Service Catalog
  • Moving from Private to Hybrid Cloud with System Center 2012 and Windows Azure IaaS (with Matt McSpirit & Pete Zerger)
    • Thursday June 20th  9:00 am – 5:00 pm PDT
    • http://aka.ms/MVA-Sc-IaaS
    • Topics include: Monitoring, Management and Operations, Connecting System Center to the Public Cloud, Service Delivery and Automation in the Hybrid Cloud, Reaching the Summit: ITIL-integrated Self-Service in the Hybrid Cloud

If you are in the San Diego area and looking an event to attend in-person, check out the California Technology Summit, also being held on June 19th.