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 9: Thomas Maurer, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Virtual Machine from Switzerland 2nd Interview

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 again to Thomas Maurer, a Switzerland based MVP, Virtual Machine. In our first interview he mentioned “dynamic automated data centers”. During this interview we will go a bit deeper in this topic. 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.

Flo: Hello Thomas, thank you for taking time. In our first interview you mentioned that not many companies use a “dynamic automated data center”.

Thomas: Well let’s say there are a lot of companies with a huge potential in datacenter automation.

Flo: In your opinion, what is the reason why they don’t use those infrastructures?

Thomas: One of the main reasons could be that a lot of companies are not aware of solutions like System Center and if they are they do not really have the time and the knowledge to build a dynamic datacenter or private cloud by themselves. That’s where we as consultants can step in and help customers to build their own private cloud or connect there on-premise datacenter to a public cloud like Windows Azure.

Flo: What are the biggest obstacles?

Thomas: Well if a company tries to build their own private cloud there are a lot of obstacles. For example one of the problems is the lack of knowledge about products. But maybe the biggest is the lack of knowledge how you design a solution like this. There are so many things to think of beyond the products it self like security and basic Active Director role concepts. You don’t get the most benefits by just implementing the products, you have to think how they work together and how you can get the most out of it.

Flo: When and why should a small and medium enterprise migrate to public cloud offers or build their own private cloud?

Thomas: I think the many reasons for most enterprises to build a private cloud and maybe extend it to the public cloud is to stay flexible. If the business has any needs IT has to deliver as fast as possible and in the most cases customers with private clouds can deliver requested solutions very quickly.

Flo: In this migration process, what differences do you see between real life and best practice?

Thomas: A lot of people do still not understand the concepts of dynamic datacenters and cloud solutions, and with this it’s hard to migrate from a legacy datacenter to a dynamic datacenter. So companies should train their employees so they understand how things should work in the future. There are a lot of examples for this, for example when you deploy new Virtual Machines you will not really care about IP addresses because there are technologies like System Center Virtual Machine Manager IP Pools, DNS and IPAM, but a lot of customers (IT Staff) still think about it that way, and it’s hard to change their minds.

Flo: Let us talk a bit about System Center 2012. SP1 is out and many people are testing or migrating to SP1. I know you are still working with Virtual Machine Manager SP1. Could you share some best practices with us?

Thomas: Well if you are going to work with Virtual Machine Manager make sure you understand the new network features which are built in. The new concept of the logical switch and port profiles will make your life much easier.

Flo: Do you have any migration guides to share?

Thomas: Well there are some really good guides on TechNet and I will write some post about the new networking features in SCVMM.

Flo: Did you find any bug or things that not working with System Center 2012? If yes, please give us a short overview.

Thomas: Well there are some small bugs I already reported on connect but most of them you will only hit if you are working really deep with the product and some of them are already fixed in Update Rollup 1 for SP1.

 

Flo: Thank you for the interview Thomas. I can’t wait to talk to you again.

Thomas: Your welcome Flo.

Contacts:

http://www.thomasmaurer.ch/
http://www.itnetx.ch/
http://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasmaurer2
Twitter: @ThomasMaurer

Resources:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/systemcenter/
http://blogs.technet.com/b/virtualization/

Interview on wenzel.tk

Some weeks before Mr. Wenzel from http://www.wenzel.tk interviewed me about this two Questions:

Where do you see the IT World, specially Microsoft in the next 10 years?

What inspired you to obtain certificates and blogging at the same time / to take care of your website?

If you want to read my answer click here.

The interview is in German but Bing and Google Translator do a great job.

Thank you Mr. Wenzel 🙂

My Road to Certification on Born2Learn

Some weeks ago I was interviewed from Veronica Sopher (Social Media and Community Manager) for Born To Learn at Microsoft.

She asked me how how I started my road to certification and what tips I have for others who want to become certified professionals.

You can read the complete interview here and don’t miss the other interviews with Rasmus HaslundMatt Griffin and Guido van Brakel

Born To Learn

Microsoft Masterminds Episode 8: Aidan Finn, MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Virtual Machine from Ireland

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 to Aidan Finn, a Ireland based MVP, Virtual Machine. I interviewed him during E2EVC in Hamburg and we were talking about his the books he wrote together with other MVPs, Hyper-V improvements and opportunities for Hardware Vendors. 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 and Aidan right

Me left and Aidan right

 

Flo: Aidan, can you please introduce yourself and your company?

Aidan: I am an MVP in Virtual Machine; I am an author in my free time and a blogger about Hyper-V and System Center in Windows. I work for a company called Microwarehouse which is a Microsoft value added distributor and actually a seller of open licensing to Dell in Ireland.  My job is Technical Sales Lead; I also help promote Windows Server and Hyper-V System Center.

Flo:  You wrote together with Hans Vredevoort, Patrick Lownds and Damian Flynn an impressive book “Microsoft Cloud Computing” … tell us about that publication, please.

Aidan: It’s a deep technical book on using System Center Virtual Machine Manager to deploy and build and manage a private cloud, so you are building the fabrics of the private cloud compute cluster with storage and networking. I have to give the credit to Damian, Patrick and Hans, as they did most of the work in the book, to be honest I did a few of the fluff chapters of the cloud stuff at the start.

But like I said, it’s a deep technical book and if someone wants to learn how to use System Center 2012 Virutal Machine Manager to deploy and manage Hyper-V or to build bigger fabrics in the cloud and a compute cluster in a cloud … this book is a good starting point.

Flo: Do you plan further books in the nearest future?

Aidan: We are currently writing a book together with Patrick Lownds, Damian Flynn and Michel Luescher from Microsoft, titled “Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation and Configuration Guide” and it’s a deep, deep dive into current Hyper-V, and we expect the book to be out in February or March 2013.

It’s targeted both at people who are new to Hyper-V as well as to experienced users. I am writing half of the book and … when you look at Hyper-V … there is so much in it. Chapters that we expected to have 30 to 40 pages are turning out to be 80 pages long. In our book there will be a lot of step by step, how things work under the covers, we will tackle real world scenarios and … there will be a lot of PowerShell because Hyper-V has support for PowerShell.

Flo: I already had the chance to interview Jeff Wouters who has a very strong reputation as a PowerShell expert within the Microsoft community.

Aidan: Jeff has actually helped me with some problems I have been encountering, because I just started to learn PowerShell in March 2012. Only very few people know PowerShell … Jeff is definitely one of them.  Jeff will be getting credit in the book for the help he has given us.

Flo:  I know it’s not your focus area but let’s switch to System Center. How will System Center 2012 SP1 support the Windows Server 2012 release? Did you test drive some features? Can you share some first hands on experience?

Aidan: I didn’t have too much hands on, because I have been spending so much time working on Hyper-V … there is so much to it … it’s such a huge release.

But if you want to manage a number of Hyper-V hosts, the best way to do it will be using System Center 2012 with Service Pack 1.

Service Pack 1 is required to manage the 2012 release. If you want to use System Center you will need to wait for Service Pack 1 to support Windows Server 2012. Where you are really going to see the massive feature improvement or even new feature is in the cloud scenario. System Center Virtual Machine Manager is really required to light up those features like network virtualization, private VLANs

Although these can be managed using PowerShell … if you get Microsoft to talk quietly and honestly will say: “Yeah, you can do it using PowerShell … but you really don’t want to.  You will want System Center to manage these features because it is the cloud management and deployment solution for Microsoft’s technology.”

Flo:  Let us go back to Hyper-V. Do you miss any feature at the moment or features that should be improved? Also … what’s your view on VMware in that context?

Aidan: VMware … wow … I suppose history is a great teacher, and we all know what happened to Netscape and Novell. You don’t want to get into a knife fight with Microsoft in the datacenter because  it’s their territory. They are going to defend it, and Hyper-V has always been considered the underachiever or the underdog in the past. However, those tables have turned now. If you look coldly at the facts we can see that Hyper-V does more than ESXi. System Center does more and cost less than these vCloud packages that VMware sells. Microsoft at this point is the leading product, and I can’t see VMware really retaining the leadership in the market for very long. We already know in some European markets that Microsoft has actually started to outsell VMware. We saw that from Microsoft Turkey. The tables have definitely turned and we should see over the next year or two headlines about Fortune 1000 companies who VMware claims to have 100 % penetration of … we will start to see stories of these companies starting to migrate to Hyper-V. I don’t think we expect any big bang switch overs in those environments, because they are too big. But we will see gradual switch over, because people will look at the bottom line and say: “Listen, Hyper-V is free, System Center less expensive than the VMware package and … well Microsoft is now doing more. They understand what business wants from IT because … it’s all about the service and not about the servers.”

Flo: You mentioned servers … what do you think what role hardware vendors will play in the future? What challenges and opportunities do you see for these companies?

Aidan: Dell have actually done a great job with their current line of service, I have to say that. Their support for things like 10 GB networking, SR-IOV cross, almost the entire line of servers is fantastic, and the scalability you can achieve with 10 core processors or larger than that in just a 2U server with over  1 TB of RAM … it’s amazing.

Opportunities? I would love to see Dell do two things. Dell obviously sells networking infrastructure components for the datacenter. I would love to see them come along with a solution to extend their network footprint into the Hyper-V extensible switch and come up with an extension similar to those some other companies have done. There is an opportunity for Dell to expand their presence in the computer room and help Dell customers have a single point of administration for the network – both physical and virtual.

But the other thing I really, really hope Dell do, is come up with a Cluster in a Box solution that is good not just for the enterprise which is where most of the OEMs are focused,  but also for the SME. Where I come from Ireland, Dell has a very large market penetration in the SME. They have a lot of partners working with Dell and selling Dell hardware. These companies would love to sell a Cluster in a Box solution … as SAN alternatives. Small and medium business can’t afford SAN. But also as a Hyper-V Cluster in a Box … in a single 2 or 3U chassis … you have an entire Hyper-V cluster at a fraction of the cost of a traditional cluster. Small and medium customers have been putting in no cluster host, that’s what they can afford. This would be a great opportunity for Dell. If they do it quickly, they would be first to market. I would really hope that they do that.

Flo: Thank you very much for the interview, Aidan.

Aidan: You’re welcome, Flo.