Microsoft Masterminds Episode 6: Marcelo Sinic, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Windows IT Pro Expert from Brasil

Welcome to the new episode of tech talks with outstanding Microsoft community members from all over the world. Most interviews are with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), and if you are not familiar with that program yet, I recommend you reading my recent introductory interview. In this episode I talk with Marcelo Sinic, a Brasil based MVP, Windows IT Pro Expert. Enjoy reading!

Editorial processing done by Rafael Knuth

Readable Interview:

Flo: Marcelo could you introduce yourself to the community?

Marcelo: My name is Marcelo Sincic, I work with TI since 1988. My first job was Clipper and DBase II programmer. I never worked with other area or other speciality.

Flo: What is your focus area as MVP and how did you get started?

Marcelo: My MVP is Windows IT Pro Expert and I started in this important professional program in 2010 and now is my third year.

Flo: You are part of the Dell Infrastructure Consulting service. Please tell us about us your daily work.

Marcelo: I am responsible to indicate and implement solutions for large and public clients in Brazil. In my team, I work as principal consultant in Microsoft technologies, focusing on virtualization, cloud and System Center suite. I contact clients before sales soes in order to determine solution and implement a solution after purchase.

Flo: In the past you handled very special and challenging projects. What was your most challenging one and why?

Marcelo: In 2011 I participated in project for virtualization in a large enterprise in Brazil with a global presence and 62 localizations. Their activity is mineral extraction and locations are far away from major cities. This project is a challenge because the size of a project and distance for implementations. But the project was completed sucessfully.

Flo: You are also implementing Microsoft System Center Products at customer sites. In your opinion, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the new System Center 2012 bundle?

Marcelo: The old System Center versions are great products, but not integrated with others. Now, System Center 2012 Suite is integrated by use of Service Manager (SCSM) and Orchestrator. With two products I do SCCM talk with SCOM, VMM and others. For example, I create a Runbook in Orchestrator to set maintenance mode of Virtual Machine in SCOM, open incident in SCSM, stop machine in VMM, install updates from SCCM, start machine in VMM, set normal state in SCOM and close incident in SCSM. This Runbook is created with visual interface, permit use OS variables and integrate with SCSM to receive data for activities. This is a great and easy construction example.

Flo: Do you have a favorite System Center Product e.g. Orchestrator or Operations Manager?

Marcelo: Yes, my favorite is a Orchestrator, which is a new product in suite. But I like Configuration Manager, Operation Manager and Virtual Machine Manager as well.

Flo: Can you explain us why?

Marcelo: Orchestrator transforms individual System Center products into real integrated suite. Configuration Manager, Operation Manager and Virtual Machine Manager is essential to administer enviroments.

Flo: What is your favorite feature in this product?

Marcelo: Orchestrator Integration Packs is simple to implement with advanced functions. Runbook Designer is great tool for design a runbooks, with simple visual and easy construction.

Flo: How will SP1 for System Center 2012 affect your daily work?

Marcelo: I expect SP1 to delivery System Center 2012 in Windows 2012 operating system and SQL Server 2012. In addition, support of VMM agents for Windows 2012 is essential too.

Contact information:

Twitter: @marcelosincic

Microsoft Masterminds Episode 5: Marcelo Vighi, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for Exchange from Brasil

Welcome to the new episode of tech talks with outstanding Microsoft community members from all over the world. Most interviews are with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), and if you are not familiar with that program yet, I recommend you reading my recent introductory interview. In this episode I talk with Marcelo Vighi , a Brasil based MVP, expert for Exchange and Messaging Solutions. Enjoy reading!

Editorial processing done by Rafael Knuth

Readable Interview:

Flo: Marcelo could you introduce yourself to the community?

Marcelo: My name is Marcelo Vighi, and I live in greater Porto Alegre, RS – Brazil. My hometown is located in the extreme south of Brazil, close to countries like Argentina and Uruguay. I am married and I have no kids. I am 31 years old. I started working in the IT field really young. I have had over 14 years of experience in the IT field, always focusing on Microsoft Exchange Server, Active Directory, and other Microsoft Infrastructure solutions like: PKI, Clusters, DNS, WINS, etc.

Flo: What is your focus area as MVP?

Marcelo: I am an Exchange Server Most Valuable Professional focused on Exchange Server architecture. But I have also focused a big part of my career working with Active Directory design, implementation, and architecture.

Flo: Let us talk about your daily work. Your work for Dell as Systems Integration Sr. Advisor at Dell. What do you do there and what are your everyday tasks?

Marcelo: Currently I am a Systems Integration Sr. Advisor for the Dell™ Email Management Services (EMS) for Microsoft Exchange Server in Brazil. I am responsible for onboarding new customers to our Email Management Services (EMS) solutions. As part of this job, on a daily basis, I also provide planning, deployment, and training for Dell™ Email Management Services (EMS), EMS Email Archive, Email Security, Wireless Continuity solutions for enterprise and small business customers.

Flo: Could you tell us something about upcoming projects? If yes how do they look like and what is the challenge?

Marcelo: All I can tell is that I will start writing for a very important Exchange resource website in Portuguese where I will add content on a weekly basis. Also I am working, with other MVPs, for creating new free online training sessions in Portuguese regarding Exchange Server 2010 and 2013 for the Microsoft Virtual Academy website.

Flo: We all know Exchange 2013 is RTM now. Could you explain us the major changes between 2010 and 2013?

Marcelo: I think that the major changes in Exchange 2013 are related with the product’s architecture. Up front the thing that stands out the most is the server roles that are available in Exchange 2013, Client Access and Mailbox. Yes, all other roles are eliminated (Edge role will be available in a later service pack, 2013 will be compatible with 2010 Edge). The Client Access Server role has absorbed internet facing SMTP transport while the Mailbox role has absorbed internal SMTP transport. Outwardly that’s the largest difference in the new version; however there are a number of internal architectural differences as well as new features.

Flo: What is the absolute killer feature for you in exchange 2013?

Marcelo: I think that we can start with some nuances, like data loss prevention, a new Managed Store, high availability improvements and so forth. Those who hated the slowness of the Exchange Management Console will love the speed increases gained with the new EAC. There are now more controls in one place than ever before, and the logical grouping of said controls makes a lot of sense. For those with (just of bunch of disks) JBOD deployments, the AutoReseed feature for Exchange 2013 database availability groups should be very exciting.

Flo: How about PowerShell integration? Could you tell us something about the changes and improvements?

Marcelo: A total of 187 #PowerShell cmdlets were added in the new Exchange. Also, we’ve lost 13 cmdlets, mainly due to the changes in Public Folders. The PowerShell cmdlets are executed only on Mailbox servers, so you need to have an Exchange 2013 Mailbox server available to be able to manage the environment. So, Microsoft recommends that you either install both roles on the first Exchange 2013 server installed or make sure that at least one server of each type is deployed.

Flo: Thank you very much. Is there anything else you would like to share with our community?

Marcelo: You’re welcome, Flo. I would like to say to the community that Exchange 2013 is a brand new product, and before implementing it in a production environment they must perform tests in a lab environment, mainly if they need to upgrade from Exchange 2010, the new version must be tested prior to implementing it in a production environment.

Also, I would like to say that is really important to share knowledge within the communities, so keep studying and sharing knowledge with others!

Contact information:

Twitter: @mvighi

Microsoft Masterminds Episode 4: Thomas Maurer, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for Virtual Machine from Switzerland

Welcome to the new episode of tech talks with outstanding Microsoft community members from all over the world. Most interviews are with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), and if you are not familiar with that program yet, I recommend you reading my recent introductory interview. In this episode I talk with Thomas Maurer, a Switzerland based MVP, expert for System Center and private Cloud. Enjoy reading!

Editorial processing done by Rafael Knuth



Readable Interview:

Flo: Thomas, you were just nominated as MVP for Virtual Machine. Congratulations! Tell us about you and your company and also how it feels to be a Microsoft MVP.

Thomas: My name is Thomas Maurer. I work as a Private Cloud Architect for ITNETX, a consulting and engineering company in Switzerland. We are focused on Microsoft technology, especially Windows Server Hyper-V and SystemCenter … systems management and Microsoft virtualization. My focus area is Hyper-V and VMM (Virtual Machine Manager). I’m working on a lot of projects for customers where we built the base for private cloud. Since this year I’m MVP for Virtual Machine and it’s a big honor for me.

Flo: How does your role as MVP relate to your work at ITNETX?

Thomas: I became a MVP because of my work at ITNETX. In Switzerland we don’t have so many Hyper-V deployments at the moment, and at INTETX I spend all my time working with Hyper-V and System Center, that’s a huge opportunity and that’s how I get a lot of experience in this area. Also, as a MVP I give presentations for Microsoft, partners and at events like E2EVC conference.

Flo: ITNETX is one of the key companies for private clouds and System Center in Switzerland and was awarded with the Microsoft Data Center Partner Award in 2012. Can you give us a brief overview over your projects? Which were the most challenging ones and what are your biggest accomplishments for customers so far?

Thomas: ITNETX just got awarded by Microsoft second time in a row by the way, for being the Microsoft Partner of the Year 2012 in Data Center and that’s a big honor. We try to achieve this next year as well.

The biggest challenge is: You have to understand customer needs and you have to be always working with newest technology. We are trying to get the best solutions for our customers – the greatest and latest technology from Microsoft. Hardware-wise we are vendor independent; we are looking at different hardware vendors. It’s sometimes a challenge to get new Microsoft technology working on old hardware or getting vendors to build hardware which supports new technologies … specially Hyper-V and many of its functionalities.

Flo: What are the major differences in cloud computing between Europe and the US?

Thomas: I cannot say much about the US market; I am not working for companies in the US. I do work for international companies based outside the US, and we are for example part of the System Center 2012 TAP program.

In Switzerland security and data privacy is a big issue. I think that other countries are doing the step to the cloud really fast and it’s going to happen sooner or later in every country. But it will take some time specially Switzerland, which is not that fast in going forward with new technologies.

Flo: Let’s talk a bit about Microsoft private cloud solutions. What’s your absolute killer feature in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V?

Thomas: There are a lot of great features such as ESXi or Xen management. If I had to pick two features I would choose first Hyper-V Replica, which allows you to easily migrate or replicate virtual machines from one host or one cluster to another host or cluster. That was a big problem for disaster recovery in the past. There are lot of companies which didn’t have disaster recovery yet. Or if they had it, it was too complex to work with. If a disaster happened no one knew what to do. So they had to call the vendor, and he had to do the failover and it was not that easy. Hyper-V Replica is going to change that because everything is built into Hyper-V Manger and Microsoft Failover Cluster Manger (MSFCM). I think it will be in System Center 2012 as well and that’s one of the greatest features.

The other feature I’d like to mention: You don’t need to place Hyper-V virtual machines on block storage any more. You can use SMB 3.0 for storage instead. You are not limited to expensive block storage anymore. You now have more options and potential scenarios for Hyper-V usage in various hardware environments.

Flo: How do you see data centers change over the next few years?

Thomas:  Well, what I see at the moment in data centers is that there is lack of management capabilities. A lot of companies still do script based “slow management”. Many companies lack a management suite allowing them do everything from within it.

Interviewer: You mean there’s lack of automation in data centers?

Thomas: Absolutely, yes. There is no real orchestration in a lot of data centers I have seen in Switzerland. That has to change because a data center is a dynamic environment. You don’t put in a server and let it run for five, six or seven years. That’s changing and you have to deliver faster to your customers. If your customer requests servers or applications, you have to be able to deliver them quickly. That is changing more and more and it has to.

Flo: So in the future you will not care about the rack of servers but only about the mount of storage, CPUs, memory you need for virtual machine deployment for example – correct?

Thomas: Yeah, absolutely! That’s the kind of stuff we already do for customers. We try to go away from a “I need a server!” type of thinking. Instead we ask: “What do you need for your application or service to run?” We are putting a layer between the service, OS and the hardware. So you just have resources which so you can use for your applications and you don’t care as an application owner if this is block storage or file storage, you don’t care which CPU it is … it just has to perform. That’s what the fabric layer has to do and the fabric layer doesn’t really care which applications are running inside your virtual machines. Of course the fabric layer has to know what performance is needed and: “Is it disk related? Is it IO related? Or CPU related?” … but: At the end the fabric layer has to take care of that. System Center and Windows Server 2012 provides a perfect solution for that.

Flo: Should hardware be more intelligent or … more stupid?

Thomas: It sounds a little bit strange now but I think it has to be both. Hardware has to be stupid and intelligent at the same time in a way that I want the hardware to take care of itself without installing lots of sophisticated tools to manage it. I simply expect the hardware to run and if it doesn’t, I will replace it.

Flo: Thank you very much, Thomas. I am looking forward to interview you soon and to dive deeply into some of the topics we talked about today.

Thomas: Sure, Flo!

Twitter: @ThomasMaurer


Microsoft Masterminds Episode 3: Carsten Rachfahl, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for Virtual Machine & Small and Medium Business (SMB) Expert in Germany

Welcome to the third episode of tech talks with outstanding Microsoft community members from all over the world. Most interviews will be with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), and if you are not familiar with that program yet, I recommend you reading my recent introductory interview. In this episode I talk with Carsten Rachfahl, a German based MVP and SMB expert. Enjoy reading!

This post has no relation to my job or my employer. Everything I post is my personal opinion and I write complete independent.

Editorial processing done by Rafael Knuth


Me (left) talking to Carsten Rachfahl (right) in Hamburg, Germany during the E2EVC Conference 2012


Audio Interview:

Readable Interview:

Flo: Carsten, it’s a pleasure to talk with you. Can you please introduce yourself?

Carsten: Of course, Flo. My name is Carsten Rahfahl, I am from Germany, my company is Rachfahl IT Solutions and we are in business since 1991. We are mainly doing business in small and medium business area, and I am honored to be Microsoft MVP for Virtual Machine now in second year.

Flo: You have a strong reputation as a trainer in the Microsoft tech community. Carsten, please tell us about your Hyper-V PowerCourse.

Carsten: I am a Microsoft Certified Trainer, and I noticed a lack of Hyper-V learning materials. So, together with a colleague of mine, we decided to create a five-day-course focusing on Hyper-V. We started our course last year … it was pretty successful and now we are updating this course to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 with all its new and good features.  We are targeting this course at every IT pro who wants to start using or learn more about Hyper-V.

Flo:  In what language do you provide these courses?

Carsten: My mother tongue is German, and I feel comfortable providing my courses in German. Besides that, my customers are mainly located in German speaking countries. So far, I do not have any specific plans for providing these courses in English, but that might be an interesting option for the future.

Flo: What are the greatest features in Windows Server 2012?

Carsten: I work primarily in the small and medium business area and because of that, my favorite feature is Hyper-V on SMB 3.0.  You are not restricted any more to block storage, instead you can also use Windows 2012 File Server for your virtual machine storage. IT folks now do not need to learn a new technology like block storage any more. Block storage has its own interface, there are LUNs, volumes, aggregates presented to the host … it’s much easier with Microsoft SMB 3.0.

Microsoft has invested a lot in this area. For example, you have SMB Multichannel, and you can use more than one network card to communicate with the storage system out of the box, without any configuration. No teaming, no MPIO.

Another great solution for small and medium customers is Cluster in a Box. I would love to see Cluster in a Box from all Vendors. I like this solition and I hope they will have this offering in the future. There will be many small business customers who will want that, maybe even enterprise customers.

Flo: Let’s talk a bit more about block storage usage in the small and medium business segment (SMB). How might those offering you described before affect the hardware business?

Carsten: In my Windows Server 2008 course we were focusing a lot on doing storage right in a cluster … configuring MPIO, networking and such. Windows Server 2012 will make block storage a lot easier. But most importantly, SMB 3.0 will take away a lot of block storage opportunities from hardware vendors. Block storage is great. But in small and medium business it didn’t really take off. In those business segments IT guys don’t understand block storage, they are generalists who have to do everything from Exchange Servers, to ERP systems, the network … just everything. Block storage is another, complex area that requires a lot of time and energy to understand and to use it properly.  With Windows Server 2012 storage system it’s possible to make storage highly available with a Scale-Out File Server.

The SMB IT guys know Windows Server very well, they are working with it every day … some of them for 10 years or more, and they are used to it. I am sure many, many people in the SMB market will do clustering and high availability on Windows Server 2012 … I believe it will take off.

Flo: Thank you very much for this interview.

Carsten: You’re welcome. Talk to you soon, Flo!

Twitter: @hypervserver 

Recommended Resources

Cluster in a Box:

SMB 3.0:


Microsoft Masterminds Episode 2: Interview with Jan-Philipp Rombolotto MVP Program Manager at Microsoft

Welcome to the second episode of tech talks with outstanding Microsoft community members. Most upcoming interviews will be with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), and for that reason I interviewed Jan-Phillip Rombolotto who is in charge of the MVP Program in German speaking countries.

Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Mainpage

Jan-Philipp Rombolotto

Editorial processing done by Rafael Knuth


Flo:  Nice to talk with you, Jan. Can you please introduce yourself?

Jan: Sure, Flo. I am the Microsoft MVP Award Program Manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland operating out of our office in Munich.

Flo: Tell us a bit about the Microsoft MVP Program.

Jan: The Microsoft MVP Program was established almost 20 years ago. It’s a recognition for independent, exceptionally experienced experts in Microsoft products, who are delivering a lot of value to the IT community by sharing insights, helping others to make better use of our technology . The MVP Award is how we say “Thank you!” to those exceptional people.  Collaborating with independent experts makes a lot of sense for both, the IT community as well as for Microsoft. The IT community gets valuable insights into Microsoft technologies and in return Microsoft gets a very accurate, unfiltered feedback on our products from field.

Flo: How many people are currently awarded as a MVPs globally? Can you also give us some details on the program’s scope? What product categories are you covering?

Jan: Currently we have 4,000 MVPs worldwide, and we won’t grow that number since we have set our quality bar pretty high. We simply want to have the best of and the brightest members of the tech community in our program. We have MVPs for almost every single product, which adds up to more than 90 product categories.

Flo: I just recently learned a couple of Virtual Machine MVPs in person, it’s really fun to interact with them and their knowledge is amazing. Which additional categories do you have? Are you focusing on enterprise solutions or do you have MVPs for consumer products also?

Jan: You can categorize our MVPs either by products or by their professional scope. As for the professional scope, we do have four categories. These are: Developers, Information Workers, IT Professionals and Consumer MVPs. Let me explain: We do have a bunch of MVPs focusing on the same product such as Microsoft SharePoint for example. But each of those MVPs might have a different type of knowledge around that product. An IT Professional is focusing on different aspects than a Developer. The IT Professional’s expertise is around deploying, running and maintaining SharePoint, whereas a Developer does obviously have an in depth knowledge of developing for SharePoint.

Flo: How can one become a Microsoft MVP? What are your requirements?

Jan: That’s a very good question. We do not have a certification at Microsoft for the MVP Program, nor do we provide trainings for those who want to become a MVP. It’s a recognition for extraordinarily active and knowledgeable members of the Microsoft tech community. There is no standardized path to become a Microsoft MVP, and we avoid awarding people who want to become a MVP for the sake of having a prestigious title. We are only giving the MVP Award to people with a strong intrinsic motivation and passion for technology – that’s our core requirement and we are very selective on that.

Flo: How do you become aware of potential candidates for the Microsoft MVP Program?

Jan: As I mentioned earlier, we are looking for people who are passionate about technology, who engage with the IT community without expecting a compensation in return. They have a strong visibility and credibility in the IT community due to various activities such as: speaking engagements at tech events, organizing user groups, writing a blog, sharing code etc.. Lastly, these people proactively drive a sincere feedback to us, which helps us make our products even better.

Flo: How long does someone remain MVP?

Jan: The MVP Award is limited to one year. Of course, we have MVPs who have been awarded for five years in a row, in some cases even 10 or 15 years. It’s a constant evaluation process every MVP has to go through every year.

Flo: So, you can also lose your MVP status?

Jan: Correct. But since all MVPs are passionate about technology and they are active community members, we have just very little fluctuation among MVPs.

Flo: What are the benefits of being an MVP?

Jan: Every MVP is of course under NDA and gets a privileged access to our product groups and information around upcoming products. We have several MVP events in each region which have a networking character … we host one event in Austria, one in Switzerland round two to three in Germany. In addition to that, we have a Global MVP Summit in Redmond every year. It’s the biggest event on the Microsoft campus by the way.

Flo: I know around 15 MVPs in person and they are all very proactive, approachable … they are responding quickly when you reach out to them with technical questions. It’s a pleasure working with each of them.

Jan: I am very happy about MVPs collaborating with Dell people and vice versa.

Flo: What type of companies do MVPs work for?

Jan: Typically for IT companies as you can imagine, form blue-chip level executives over SMB CEOs and CTOs to self-employed, the range is incredible. On the contrary we have also numerous autodidacts who do not work within the IT industry at all. You can imagine that it is fascinating to me managing such a heterogenic group across the regions I am responsible for.

Flo: What’s the value for customers working with Microsoft MVP? How do they benefit?

Jan: MVPs are the best and brightest within the IT community. Their expertise and network is incredible and customers can benefit from that.

Flo: What if a Microsoft tech expert is actively engaging in non-Microsoft communities around Citrix or VMware products? Does he have a chance to get awarded as an MVP?

Jan: Sure, as long as an MVP does not work for a competitor in his field of expertise there is no conflict of interest. In fact we have several MVP who are awarded for example by Citrix for their expertise. Again MVPs are independent experts, and we always emphasize their independence. The only conflict we see is employment at a competitor in the field of expertise as MVP do get lot of NDA information and deep insights into the respective product or service.

Flo: How do companies find MVPs if they want to hire or work with the?

Jan: All MVP worldwide with a public profile can be found on

Flo: Can a Microsoft employee become an MVP?

Jan: No, MVPs are independent experts and as such a Microsoft employee can’t be awarded as MVP. Even former Microsoft employees must work outside the company for at least a year to be considered for the nomination process.

Flo: What if a Microsoft MVP doesn’t like a certain product feature and publically criticizes your company? How do you respond?

Jan: Again, MVPs are independent experts and as such they can publically criticize our company as well as our products and services. Their credibility is crucial to us, we and our customers can’t learn from hardcore Fanboys who never criticize anything. Of course we have a decent code of conduct. This code of conduct is however linked to the fact that MVPs are rolemodels in the community, aggressive basing or insulting individuals is something we do not tolerate. However, there are hardly any cases on which we to take action worldwide.

Flo: Thank you for the interview, Jan.

Jan: You’re welcome, Flo!


This Interview shows how MVPs think and feel!

Interview between Kerstin Rachfahl and Didier van Hoye.


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