Microsoft Masterminds Episode 11: Didier van Hoye MVP Virtual Machine on “Windows Server 2012 after 1 year and a look to the future”

A few hours ago I had an very interesting and awesome chat with my good friend Didier van Hoye, also known as @WorkingHardinIT.

Now let me share a few important points we discussed.

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


Flo: Hi Didier, in November last year we had our last interview on Windows Server 2012. At this time Windows Server 2012 was pretty new. What do you think, in which ways Microsoft and Windows Server 2012 had changed the datacenter over the past year?

It’s become better and cheaper to do a lot for things. The value in box with Windows is awesome and often provides all one needs in a 80/20 world of good enough is good enough. And don’t dismiss that as SMB/SME plays, or you are dismissing 90% of the market. Unless you’re catering exclusively for the Fortune 100 companies you can’t ignore them. Certainly not while the move to the cloud, which is happening, isn’t going that fast that they have disappeared as customers for vendors. Bar the talk about PRISM putting a cap on cloud growth there is another worry I hear some of the better managers talk about: an exit strategy. They have a fear that the costs in the long run will become (a lot) higher and that they might be locked in. If you don’t need elasticity you might have other options. One of the other reasons I see is 24/7 support. But that only holds true for those companies or organizations that can’t find the skilled personnel or can’t afford to pay (or just won’t). There again they worry about the cost, as even with a cloud vendor this is not cheap and failing hardware, while very real, is rare in a well-run organization and often mitigated by good design principles. Partially it’s fear of the unknown an being lured into something that might bite you in the future. So if, for whatever reason, you need or want to do things on premise, partially or completely, Windows Server 2012 (R2) is what you’ll use. If ISVs are stopping you from doing that, get rid of them, as you’re being held hostage and you should never ever tolerate that.


Flo: We were also talking about how Windows Server 2012 influences new Hardware and Infrastructure ideas. From your point of view, did customer adopt this ideas like Cluster in a Box (CiB) or SMB 3 over Infiniband?

Cluster In a Box, yes. I see a keen interest for this in smaller shops, industrial production lines, branch offices or even a building block for lager environments. What’s holding people back is lack of solutions from the OEMs (easy access in existing contracts, established logistics & know support => no fear of the unknown). Once they become available, like DELL’s VRTX, things start moving. And that’s only v1. There is potential there. Mind you, once the smaller new players establish a solid support reputation things can go a bit faster & smoother as well. I see most people thinking of or working at getting 10Gbps. 40Gbps just for the uplinks/interconnects. The next big move in the DC might be 100Gbps. Infiniband, not so much. While cost is actually not that high as one might think there is a bit of a psychological barrier & it is different. But I have spoken to someone who’s doing it in real life and they are not the usual HPC shop.

Flo: When you see the Hardwareideas, do you think the OEM liked this or are they still want to push the “classical” Datacenter environment?

There is always this balance between keeping the order book filled with current & planned offerings versus exploring new ideas, opportunities & technologies. The smart ones will discuss this openly and be quick & agile in introducing some of the new ideas. That way they’ll be considered a conversation partner on these matters. But they’ll also be able to test out these technologies & designs in real life. That means they’ll be a leader when it succeeds while minimizing risk and cost when it doesn’t.

On the one hand I see a lot of vendors focusing on the fortune 500 market. But 90% of the customers are not in that segment and they need to be serviced as well. Good enough is good enough is a very strong principle right now. You have to remember that the question it’s not if smaller startups with new ideas or initiatives like Storage Spaces can match all the bells and whistles of a multi node SAN storage array. It’s if those enterprise storage arrays offer enough value for their price to still be considered. It’s no good having all kinds of fancy replications mechanisms, snapshot capabilities, deduplication & thin provisioning if you can only use one and can’t leverage the other mechanisms or if it conflicts with UNMAP, or CSV etc.

The classical data center environment is not going away that fast but what will the components be? Most vendors are gunning for converged infrastructure combined with software defined everything. Both the hardware & software vendors are in this game and as such entering each other’s realms. Which causes concerns but also creates opportunities. At the moment it’s hard to see a complete data center abstraction layer that is multivendor. It’s hard enough to get it to work with one vendor and they are, in this game, each other’s competition. Interesting times J


Flo: As anybody know Windows Server 2012 R2 is comming up. It will be public available on 18. of october. What do you think, will it be the same wallbreaker like Windows Server 2012 or is it a nice to have realease?

That depends on your needs. I you really need features like resizing of VHDX files, yes it makes sense.  If you’re pushing NIC teaming to some of it limits you might be waiting for the new “Dynamic Mode” for load balancing. Compression for Live Migrations is going to be great and people who can’t go to 10GBps yet might very well extend the life of their 1Gbps networks thanks to this. Shared VHDX is a great tool to uphold some sacred boundaries in the data center. vRSS might save you when doing heavy file copies inside of VMs. R2 is bring a lot of enhancements that extend & enrich the capabilities of Windows 2012. It’s up to the user to decide if it’s compelling enough. If you’re still on W2K8R2, well the reasons to make the move, as your infrastructure is aging anyway, just got a whole lot bigger & better. So I never consider a release as nice to have. Some features perhaps yes, but a release, R2 is better in functionality & capabilities. If you’re already rocking Windows Server 2012 I think you should weigh the pros & cons. For what it’s worth, we’ll be upgrading.


Flo: Let us take a look on the market shares in virtualization. Microsoft grow from 0% to 38% in the last 5 years since Windows Server 2008. How will it go on, is it the end or is there more space to grow?

Oh yes. Every release it makes more sense for Microsoft shops to ask why they’re using 3rd party product X for again and do these reasons still hold true today. Most of the time we have environments where the rule is to do all you can with in box tools (that are getting better and better) and only use 3rd party products when it really matters & makes a difference. I think they can grab 45 to 50% of the market, mostly at the expense of VMware, clearly as they hold such a huge part of that market.


Flo: What is your opinion, how companies like VMware, Redhat and Citrix will go on to position there products in the datacenter? Do you think there is a big badabumm somewhere in the VMware labs, that will give them more opportunities against Microsoft?

Big bangs are relatively rare occasions. Evolution is ever ongoing and can go quite fast given the right circumstances or pressure J

VMware is trying to focus a lot more on their core business. Virtualization. You can’t do that without storage & networking, where they’ve show initiatives. They got rid of Zimbra as evidence of this focus. Cloud wise it might be a more problematic situation. The open source world isn’t idle either and in the public cloud it’s about cost/value and there they might not be in the strongest position. In the datacenter for private could they can put up a good fight but the easy days are over.

Citrix will rule High End VDI for a long time to come it seems. MSFT is missing realistic 3D capabilities for software running OpenGL and that’s a lot of products. Citrix there holds the high ground. For other VDI scenarios, good enough is good enough combined with management & deployment tools that couldn’t care less about whether it’s a physical or virtual machine make Microsoft a more attractive player. The big reasons we see for VDI are often as a solution to business continuity & flex offices, or sometimes data security. If you’re hunting high performance customers it becomes hard to beat a physical workstation with 16GB or RAM, an 8 Core i7 and a couple of SSD disks at an attractive price point. Add replication and/or shared storage to that and the extra costs hit you hard. But again mileage varies between customers & environments and I’m speaking from the GIS/Engineering side of things as that is my current area of operations.


Thank you very much for your time Didier and as anytime it was awesome to talk to you. 🙂 

Microsoft Masterminds Episode 7: Didier van Hoye, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Virtual Machine from Belgium

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 Didier van Hoye, a Belgium based MVP, Virtual Machine. I interviewed him during E2EVC in Hamburg and we were talking about his self designed disk2disk backup solution and how he see hardware vendors as a long time customer. 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


Readable Interview:

Flo: Didier can you please introduce yourself and your company to the community?

Didier: Thank you Florian, well my name is Didier Van Hoye and I am working for Agiv which is the Flemish government agency that provides geographical information services to both private and public sector. I am quite active in the Belgium Microsoft Community and that’s mainly due to my job, because that’s the technology I work with.

Flo: As an MVP what’s your professional focus area?

Didier: My MVP expertise might give that away, I am on Virtual Machine which actually means Hyper-V. So my focus at work is mostly on storage, networking, virtualization and anything that runs on top of that. We own actually the entire technology stack which makes it very easy and very fast for us to provide services to our business.

Flo: You recently built an awesome disk-to-disk backup solution. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Didier: Sure, the reason why we build it is that we have large amount of data to backup, and we need a backup solution that’s detached from our SAN environment because we build for failure, and we assume that we might run into an issue with our SAN, so if the backups are soley based and dependent upon the SAN we have a problem. Issues we ran into were that we needed a tremendous amount of capacity and also lot of throughput to maintain our backup window. While we were looking at the market, we found that most appliances that were being offered were too expensive, and that was mainly due to licensing issues. So we decided to see if we could build something that would provide us with the necessary capacity, the necessary performance and save us some money … and actually we achieved that using PowerVault disk bays to build a disk-to-disk based backup solution.

Flo: How easy is it to scale up this solution? You have 1.1 Petabyte at the moment, is that correct?

Didier: That’s source data with redundancy of data and protection. It’s replicated … so it’s not all unique data. But the storage capacity is that big, that’s correct. So we needed at least 300TB of backup capacity. But we can scale out easily by adding nodes.

Flo: Do you just need to plug in more nodes?

Didier: Basically now we have two backup media servers attached to the PowerVault storage, and if we need more bandwidth, if we need to do more terabytes per hour, we can add more nodes each with its own storage. In that way we can scale it out. The two nodes that we are running right now are at full capacity, so we can’t scale them up. But even if you scale up with a third node, and you only use half of its disk capacity from the start you could  scale that node up later before you need to scale out to a fourth node. So it is pretty much “unlimited”. You can scale out to the numver of nodes you need. The only thing that you need to take care of is what kind of backup software you are using and how is their licensing model. For us it works just fine.

Flo: Are you running into any issues with your backup solution?

Didier: CommVault is a very good backup solution but it does have some drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is licensing and the cost of it. Let’s face it, we are all asked to do more with less and sometimes that’s an issue. Another issue with CommVault … it’s a very large product, its rather complex and in our opinion and experience it’s a bit too much consultancy driven. I think they would do themselves and customers a favor if they would be more open and if they had better guidance about their product, the usage in different scenarios … that sort of stuff. We cannot complain about the performance and the capabilities of the product, the issues I mentioned here are the most important ones to us.

Flo: How do you see Dell’s role in the IT industry change in the future? What are in your opinion the key opportunities as well as the challenges for us?

Didier: Well, there are a couple of things that are very good about Dell, and one of them is the company’s responsiveness and logistic capabilities. Dell is very easy to work with. As a customer I prefer to go to a shop where I am treated as a valued customer, where people help me to get the stuff that I need, and I walk out satisfied. Also, the price is very competitive … I can’t complain. The hardware is good, the pricing is good and the service is good.

I think that Dell has to take those strong points and leverage them for the future over the next five years or so. We see a tremendous push to have a more capable software. If you look at what has happened to Exchange for high availability, the entire application and shared nothing high availability and recovery model. If you see the same parts with SQL server 2012 for data base of availability groups. If you look at what’s in Hyper-V with Windows Server 2012 and the inbox replication. If you look beyond the hypervisor to the operating system … what you can do with storage spaces, what they are trying to do with SMB 3.0 as a file share for storage … for virtualization … for SQL servers. These are all attempts to create highly performance storage on commodity hardware with inbox. Those not will replace all the storage solutions from hardware vendors we have today. They are however a new player in the market and … it’s not just about making things as cheap as possible, it’s also about creating new possibilities because some things you want to do,  you can’t do because they are economically unfeasible, their costs are prohibitive. But those new capabilities in Windows might might open up new possibilities in the market. People might start building solutions that previously they couldn’t because they were never able to afford to do so. It could even drive new business models, and what I expect from Dell is to take these opportunities and start putting offerings in place for customers to leverage storage spaces, to leverage SMB 3.0, to build Cluster in a Box building units that you can use … preconfigured for people who don’t want to build them themselves.

I have noticed a lot of hardware vendors that are not always up to speed about what’s possible now. This might be due to fear because they think: “This is going to eat our profit margin!” … which I disagree with. I think if you take the new possibilities and offer solutions you will not lose those customers. Otherwise somebody else would start offering them.

My personal advice to any Hardware Vendor is: Get into the game! Start offering solutions, and give your customers more opportunities based on new Microsoft products. … and you will keep your customers. They will be more diversified but you might open up new markets that you might otherwise lose. So don’t be afraid of the change. Embrace it and … leverage it.

Flo: One last question Didier. Can you explain what Cluster in a Box is?

Didier: To explain Cluster in a Box you need to know Windows Server 2012 clustering and possibly SMB 3.0. Let’s say it’s a couple of servers that are attached to shared storage. What that is depends on the vendor … but most probably it will be shared SAS as it make the most sense here and works well with storage spaces. It also has the networking in there, so basically you have all the material in a unit to build a cluster. That cluster will be used as a building block. If your company is smaller and you are satisfied with one Cluster in a Box … that’s your entire cluster environment. If you’re bigger you could start combining them, and then you get into technologies like SMB 3.0, RDMA (Remote direct memory access) being leveraged for cluster shared volumes; the sort of technology which customers can’t look into due to lack of time.

But it’s a form factor … that’s the way you have to think of it. It’s a form factor you can use to scale out but also you can use it to build a solution for a single small environment, which is a nice idea because it reduces a lot of complexity. Customers can order it, deploy it in their datacenter, use a small configuration wizard … and you’re up and running. You don’t have to deal with buying the storage yourself, configuring it, installing the services … everything is done for you in that box. As you can buy it as a form factor, as a building block you’re not limited or stuck. You can grow with those building blocks, so you have modularity in the datacenter on a lot of levels … in storage, in the clustering, in the network. Otherwise to get anything like this you have to go to that shipping container form factor. Let’s face it … for most of us its way too large.

Flo: Thank you very much for the interview.

Didier: Thank you, Flo!

Contaktinformation Didier van Hoye:

Didier’s Blog:

LinkedIn Profil:

My take aways from E2EVC

One week is over since the E2EVC ended for this year.

In my opinion it was a awesom event. Great presentations and speakers.

I had also the chance to speak with spend a lot of time with a few of my IT idols.

Didier van Hoye:

Didier shows me every day, how many things I don’t know, specially about storage and networking. 

Carsten Rachfahl:

He is also my mentor and the person, who pushes me along the Windows Server way. 

Thomas Maurer:

Thomas is one of the youngest MVP and also my personal competitor 😉 . He’s two years younger as my self and still on a professional level that I also want to reach in future. Well done Thomas and go on! 

Jeff Wouters:

Jeff also known as PowerShell Magician, is no MVP yet, but definitively on the way to become one. He is one of the best and most experienced PowerShell Gurus in EMEA. 

Aidan Finn:

Yes, last but not least Mr. Aidan Finn. One of the Microsoft MVP Rockstars EMEA and Worldwide. I felt like a teenage girl who met Justin Bieber when I talked to him or spend time with him and the other Experts. 

Aidan also signed my book. 😀 


I’m a little bit sad that Hans Vredevoort became sick, short before the event and can’t make it. 🙁

I captured some interviews at the E2EVC weekend and I will publish them step by step, as soon as possible.

All in all it was an amazing weekend I will visit E2EVC again, if I get the chance.


Next time E2EVC will take place in Copenhagen Denmark from May 31 to June 2, 2013.






E2EVC in Hamburg from 02.11.2012 to 04.11.2012 // The chance for me to meet great experts in person

Hi community,

E2EVC is a small but one of the most important virtualization events in Germany, if not even in Europe. Many well known experts will attend that event, amongst them a handful of Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP).

I will attend E2EVC, which will take place 02. – 04. November 2012 in Hamburg (Germany) and I will meet some of the MVPs in person and interview them. You will find these interviews in this sequential order at the DELL TechCenter after the event.

In case you are not familiar with E2EVC Virtualisation Conference, the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program or both, please find some key facts below.


So first, what is E2EVC?

E2EVC Virtualisation Conference is a non-commercial,virtualization community Event.
Our main goal is to bring the best virtualization experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. E2EVC is a weekend crammed with presentations, Master Classes and discussions delivered by both virtualization vendors product teams and independent experts.
Started in 2003 with just 4 people and after 16 successful events grown to a well-recognized event with over 120 attendees. Our conference has taken place in cities such as Munich, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Frankfurt, Dublin, Paris, Munich, Nice, Lisbon and Vienna. The next conference will take place in Hamburg, Germany.



Which MVPs will I meet in Hamburg?

Carsten Rachfahl, Didier van Hoye, Thomas Maurer, Aidan Finn and Hans Vredevoort confirmed they will give me an opportunity to interview them during the event. All of them are well known Microsoft MVPs and great guys.


Who is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)?

According to MicrosoftMicrosoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award is given to “exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others.” The awarded are people who “actively share their … technical expertise with the different technology communities related directly or indirectly to Microsoft”. An MVP is awarded for contributions over the previous year.

The MVP program grew out of the software developer community, as the initial MVPs were some of the most active on the online peer support communities such as Usenet and CompuServe. It has since grown to include other types of products, and other avenues of contribution. Steve Ballmer spoke to a group of Microsoft MVP’s about XP and Vista.



So, whom am I going to interview? 

Let me introduce them one by one:

Carsten Rachfahl

Consultant and Architect, Rachfahl IT-Solutions
Carsten Rachfahl started his IT career in 1988, working as a developer on porting X-Windows to an OS called OS/9. In 1991, he founded his own company in Germany and is self-employed since these ancient days. Starting 2001 with Citrix/Terminalserver, his focus is on the virtualization space till nowadays. When Microsoft finally created a “real” Hypervisor and brought that to the market, he was all in. His Blog is highly recognized and appreciated within the virtualization community. The Blog features tutorials, articles, screencasts, video interviews and podcasts focusing on the Microsoft Private Cloud. Being MCT, he teaches various Microsoft virtualization-, and his own “Hyper-V Powerkurs” course. As co-founder of the German Hyper-V Community he regularly organizes events and he has received the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for Virtual Machine in the year 2011 and 2012.

Company: Rachfahl IT Solutions


Didier van Hoye

Didier Van Hoye has been earning a living in IT since 1996. Currently he’s the Microsoft Infrastructure Architect at the Flemish Geographical Information Agency. In his day job he’s involved with Windows Infrastructures amongst which Exchange Servers, SQL Servers & the System Center Suite. Didier uses Hyper-V, failover clustering, NLB, and Storage Area Networks in creative attempts to give his demanding user base both good & cost effective solutions to sometimes very challenging needs.

Company: Flemish Geographical Information Agency


Thomas Maurer

Microsoft MVP for Virtual Machine. Work as a Private Cloud Architect for itnetx gmbh, a consulting and engineering company located in Bern/Switzerland. We are focussed on Microsoft Technologies, especially Microsoft Private Cloud Solutions, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Virtualization.

Company: itnetx gmbh

Aidan Finn

Aidan Finn is the Infrastructure Team Lead with System Dynamics, a consulting services company located in Dublin that provides IT infrastructure and business intelligence expertise. He has been working in IT since 1996 and has specialised in working with Microsoft infrastructure solutions including Server, desktop, System Center and virtualisation. Aidan is an MCSE and a Microsoft MVP in Virtualization. Aidan co-wrote Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2 (Sybex), is the lead author of Mastering Hyper-V Deployment (Sybex), and is contributing to Mastering Windows 7 Deployment (Sybex).

Company: Micro Warehouse

Hans Vredevoort

Hans Vredevoort is Consultant, Inovativ in the Netherlands, Microsoft MVP (Hyper-V), Microsoft vTSP Datacenter Solutions. He has a been an MVP (Cluster, Hyper-V) since 2009 and has a strong focus on Private Clouds built on top of Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center. He helped to kick-start the Hyper-V community and blogs/presents for as well as on numerous other occasions. Hans wrote the fabric chapters of Microsoft Private Cloud Computing, was the technical editor for Aidan Finn’s book Mastering Hyper-V Deployment and is now editing a new book project centering on Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012. After a long career with a system integrator in the Netherlands, he joined the System Center focused company Inovativ last year, where he is one of eight MVP’s that are working for this company. Vredevoort has assisted countless companies with architecting and building high available ‘cloud’ infrastructures using Windows virtualization, blade servers and shared storage.

Company: inovativ

Alex Juschin

Microsoft Most Valued Professional for Virtualization for six years 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. Also, as recognition by Citrix Inc. He received the Citrix Technology Professional in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. There are only abour 40 people holding any of it in the World. It is an big pleasure and responsibility for me to be listed as MVP and CTP, among the best people in the Industry.
He have organized and led all the PubForum/E2EVC events since the very first one in Amsterdam in August 2003. His current strong points are Microsoft Server Products including Windows Server 2008 (R2), 2003, MOM, Active Directory, Server Virtualization via VmWare,Hyper-V, XenServer, Server Management, Infrastructure planning and optimisation, implementation of Microsoft Best Practicies, Remote Desktop Services and of course Citrix. He started to work with Citrix Products in 1998, before he was very much into the Novell, Windows NT and Security world.

LinkedIn: Alex Juschin
Company: E2EVC

Sources: MVPs’ websites


Make sure you don’t miss the interviews

I will start posting my interviews with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP) right after the conference. If you don’t want to miss any of them, pull the RSS Feed for posts.

If you have any questions either to me or to one of the MVPs I am going to interview, feel free to shoot me a line. Looking forward to hear from you!