Friday, August 29, 2014

Events for Your September Calendar

Do not ask me what happened to August. I have no idea. But as September will be quickly upon us, you might need something to do.

The Transform the Datacenter MVP Roadshow might very well be coming your way.  Some awesome MVP will be talking about what you might be missing from Server 2012 R2 and what you need to think about when it comes to migrating from older versions of Windows that are in your datacenter.

San Francisco
Tuesday, September 2
Doug Spindler
Monday, September 22
Adnan Cartwright, Telmo Sampaio, Max Trinidad (coordination w/Kevin Weilbacher)
Monday, September 22
Trevor Sullivan, Annur Sumar, Brian Desmond
Tuesday, September 23
Brian Desmond (Coordination with Zubair Alexander)
Wednesday, September 24
Jason Helmick, Rory Monaghan, David Lundell, Tom Ziegmann
Thursday, September 25
Greg Shields
Friday, September 26
Anil Desai
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Andy Syrewicze
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Kevin Royalty

Also, IT Roadmap is coming to San Jose on September 17.  I've attended this event two or three times over the years and it's usually pretty interesting.  If you qualify, it's free.

IT Roadmap San Jose
Wednesday, September 17
San Jose Convention Center
7:30 am – 4:30 pm

Get out there and stay busy!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making Sense of DNS Queries: Recursive or Iterative?

I've been dealing with DNS for a pretty long time.  It's always been a key component of keeping Active Directory and all the clients on your network happy and connected.  But for the life of me I can never seem to remember which is which when it comes to recursive or iterative DNS queries.  It's like a trivia question that has just gone wrong in my brain.

Today at work, I was was asked one of those "Hey, do you know who would do X?" questions by a colleague and as I was hunting down the answer, I realized it was just like DNS queries!  

Simply put, if you ask your manager a question and he/she comes back with the complete answer, you have just performed a RECURSIVE query.  You asked and someone else took on the responsibility of locating the correct answer.  

If you ask your manager a question an he/she comes back with a referral directing you to ask a different person, that is an ITERATIVE query.  You are responsible for walking the tree of your organization, theoretically getting closer and closer to the answer with each query you make.  Iterative starts with I and "I" do the work to find the answer. 

Sometimes it just takes a real life example to make concepts stick. However if you want technical details go here:

Monday, August 25, 2014

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

Kevin Remde and Dan Stolts continue 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! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

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

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!