E2EVC: A recap

June 2, 2014 at 7:00 am in Cloud, Conference, Event, Hyper-V, Hypervisor by mikeresseler

There are conferences, and there are conferences… In my role as a Microsoft Evangelist for Veeam I have the opportunity to visit a lot of conferences and to speak at many of them. The most known ones are the Microsoft TechED conferences or any large vendor conference. Most of the time, they are very well and strict organized and there is always a large expo showfloor with many other vendors or partners. Lately you see the rise of more, smaller, independent conferences such as System Center Universe (US, Europe and Asia) that replaces the lost Microsoft Management Summit and lots of country local conferences (think ITProceed in Belgium as an example…)

The E2EVC (Experts 2 Experts Virtualization Conference) is such a smaller conference which doesn’t come from a vendor but brings a lot of great things during three days. And the value you get from that is not necessary in the presentations alone (they are very valuable but later on that…)

First is first, after multiple weeks of travelling (lost counting) and a sick family, E2EVC was going to be the conference too much for me… I had fever, was very tired and had to skip the last half day because it was just that moment of the year when the body says enough is enough. But that didn’t stop me from learning the value of this conference and to participate the first two days at (sort of) full force and even present two sessions.

The concept

E2EVC is three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and is about virtualization (both server and VDI) and is done twice a year and Europe and (for now) once in the USA. Every time it is in another city and this time the beautiful city of Brussels was the guest city (Yes, I’m biased, I am a Belgian Smile). Friday and Saturday are full days and Sunday is a half day (the one I missed because of sickness). Top presenters from Europe come over and present different sessions in 2 tracks (besides on Friday where the first couple of hours there is a single track…). There is no speaker room, no booth stand or expo hall, just 2 meeting rooms in a hotel. And yet, the value is huge for attendees (and sponsors)

Value

The biggest value is the fact that you have a lot of experts in the room. Not only the presenters but also other experts and that it is small enough that you can talk to any expert you want and ask questions or start a heated discussion. I’ve listened on a heated, passionate discussion (but in a friendly atmosphere) between a VMware expert and a Hyper-V expert over beers where each pointing out various strengths of the platforms. I have seen and heard a great discussion on various storage solutions and the differences between them. I participated in a lengthy discussion about deduplication and the advantages / disadvantages of software deduplication or appliance based deduplication.

Because there is no expo floor, and therefore the sponsors were all in the room during the sessions and during the evening activities, it was rather easy to step up to a vendor and start a technical discussion on their product. Sponsors also know to sent technical people to this conference that can talk about the product in depth. And the people at the conference really do take this opportunity. I was very (positive) surprised about the depth of questions (and the amount) that I had on Veeam Backup and Replication. (And I was there both as a sponsor attendee and as a independent speaker about other technologies).

Making friends

Lots of the attendees have visited this conference more than once and many presenters who have experiences this one want to come back (Hello Alex, me too Smile) but for me it was a first. Most of them knew each other and I first thought that I would be the man in the corner somewhere but that didn’t happen at all. People just talk to each other, introduce each other and so on. After two days, I can say I met a lot of new (and interesting) people.

Sessions

There are of course the sessions also. And those are very good. Some of the presenters might not be the best presenters in presentation skills (but that’s relative) but the value of the information is huge. I’ll take a presentation with lots of interesting information and a less practiced presenter over a great presenter with some marketing slides. Which reminds me that this is one of these times that a sponsor doesn’t bring a marketing presentation but talks technically to an audience, which is always fun to do for people like me Smile. I might have not learned that much on Hyper-V, but I gained some knowledge on Xen and VMware and in the end, learning stuff is always valuable

Conclusion

It is not your average conference, but that makes the value rather high. Great presentations, fantastic opportunities to discuss with everyone, good atmosphere. Yes, it is not your strict organization of other conferences but hey, a bit of chaos makes life interesting. Yes, you can complain that the coffee had a huge line, the internet in the hotel was below any level and the food was not enough (By the time I came out from my presentation, lunch was all gone and a few of us were left without lunch). But if you complain about that, you come for the wrong reasons to this conference. The value is described above and if my agenda permits, I’m sure I will go back (at least when Alex allows me too…)

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TechED 2014 Review

May 20, 2014 at 5:33 am in TechED by mikeresseler

Another TechED show is finished. Place to be this year was Houston for the annual IT Pro conference in North America. It was a show with high expectations for the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) fans out there since MMS got cancelled this year and Microsoft integrated it into TechED.

The question for many of us was: Will there be the same value in TechED as there was in MMS?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Let’s start with the keynote. Brad Anderson, corporate VP took stage (I’m not going to discuss the fact that Satya wasn’t there while he was at build conference…) and presented about their mobile first, cloud first strategy. A few very interesting items passed the revue such as:

A great write-up is done by Jeff James here: http://www.petri.co.il/teched-2014-microsoft-cloud-first-mobile-first-strategy.htm

A lot of the keynote kind of got lost on me… Brad talked a lot for the developer and BI side of the audience and that’s where you loose a guy like me…

One of the feelings I had after the keynote, was that Microsoft isn’t interested anymore in the IT Professional and only cares for developers. I know it isn’t true (at all) and I wasn’t the only one with that feeling. I was about to write how important the IT Pro is and remains in the future but Aidan Finn beat me lengthy to it and made a MUST READ blog post on it for every IT Pro: http://www.petri.co.il/it-pro-perspective-of-teched-2014.htm

But I the end, a keynote is nothing more than a keynote. While it might be a good start for a conference, certainly when they announce things, it is nothing more than that. The real value comes from sessions, networking, the expo floor and last but not least… the parties…

Let’s start with the sessions

The MMS folks had high expectations for this show. After all, MMS is dead and it is merged in TechED. Will we have the same content of a MMS show or will it be more marketing sessions? Looking at the agenda in advance didn’t promise much good (although Microsoft had promised lots of content). Not too many sessions about management… But I changed my mind during the week. Yes, there were not that much sessions on system management, but the quality and presenters delivering the sessions were good to outstanding. As a TechED veteran (lost counting how many times, I should count my bagpacks to know…) systems management sessions on TechED were normally rather weak and that is not abnormal considering there was MMS. Now there wasn’t, and the level of sessions went up. I will keep pushing with Microsoft to have more sessions on these topics, but I was more than pleased to see that the level was good! And of course, the advantage of less sessions also meant that I learned a few other things that didn’t had to do with Hyper-V or System Center…

Networking

Again a big difference between MMS and TechED. There are two reasons for that.

Reason 1: the venue

MMS was in Las Vegas (and I hate Las Vegas after 16 times being there…) but everything was in the same hotel. That means networking from 7 am in the morning till … somewhere in the night. Tiring, but pleasant. TechED is a larger conference, held in Houston this year with lots of hotels being far away (45 minute bus drive for some of us…). So the amount of networking went down in the evening and the atmosphere isn’t the same

Reason 2: Different crowd

The MMS crowd is the MMS crowd. The TechED crowd is a mixture of diferent type of IT people. That means that I wasn’t talking hypervisor and system management the entire time, but also discussed messaging tools, BI and much more. Is this a bad thing? Not really, I learned quite some things from talking to people and I honestly enjoyed it. It’s true I spent less time with my system center circle, and that’s less fun, but I came home with different views and opinions

Expo hall

Note: I work for a vendor that had a rather large booth out there, so my opinion might be a bit biased about the expo floor… Comparing it to MMS is not possible for me. This expo floor holds so many different vendors in different areas that it is impossible. But I did love this years expo floor since I saw a lot of MMS vendors come to TechED. I hope they had a great experience and that it continues. I took the time (which was easy since there was always a nice gap for lunch, allowing many people to take their time on the expo floor) and had a good time investigating new products, new versions and just discovering new companies. From our own booth, we saw large crowds (and not only for the swag) and our engineers working on the booth had long days of delivering demo’s, which is of course, what we want Smile

Parties

MMS was always known for his after-hours parties and TechED seems to be going the same direction. Every day you had the possibility to party. The only downside in my view is that most interesting parties were all at the same day. Maybe MSFT should contact all vendors upfront if they are going to host a party and make a better calendar. The only bad party in my vision was the closing party in the Minute Maid Park stadium which was as boring as it could get. But that might be just me as an European that kind of has a different vision on partying Smile

Conclusion

TechED was this year a rather good experience for me. Yes, I needed to adapt to the fact that MMS doesn’t exist anymore, and that the amount of sessions on hyper-v and system center will be lower, but as long as the quality is high, I’m good with that. Different way of networking also, and I believe it is in my advantage for knowledge and meeting new, interesting people. Parties enough, and while I am not a fan of some type of parties, sometimes sleeping a bit more during a conference is also good…

Can Microsoft change a few more things to make it better? Sure, and for that, they just need to grab the outreached hand of the community…Just talk to the guys from Hasmug about their 5th-day event: http://www.hasmug.com/te14d5/. This event was a good addition to TechED and needs to be continued…

Working with Server Manager, adding additional tools

February 27, 2014 at 10:43 am in Service Manager, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 by mikeresseler

Since I get this question a lot, I thought I create a quick blog around it…

Windows Server 2012 (R2) brings in a new and better Server Manager to manage your server( s). While many people tell me they don’t like it I notice that when you really give it a try for a couple of days you are hooked and you love it. I’m not going to explain what Server Manager can do and what it doesn’t do but many people ask if they can add other tools to the solution.

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If you look at the tools selection, you will see that by default there are already quite a few. But what if you have other tools in your gearbox that you want to use from Server Manager also? What if you have customer PowerShell scripts or other scripts. Or what if you simply have the SQL or Exchange console running and you want to add those?

The answer to that is pretty simple. All you have to do is add the shortcut to the program to the following folder:

Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools

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As you can see I have added a shortcut to my installation of 5nine Manager in this directory and it is now visible through Server Manager.

The only problem you can run into is security. But everything (and also how to add scripts with an example) can be found written out here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/servermanager/archive/2012/07/09/customize-tools-menu-in-server-manager.aspx

Enjoy

Mike

Virtualizing your data center with Hyper-V and System Center

February 14, 2014 at 7:21 am in Event, Hyper-V, System Center by mikeresseler

Save the date! The 19th of February Symon Perriman and Matt McSpirit will be hosting another great Microsoft Virtual Academy event. This time the topic will be virtualizing your data center with hyper-v and system center

During this training they won’t talk about Hyper-V alone but will focus on multi-hypervisor management also.

From the information:

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

Enjoy this course! It’s free Smile

Cheers

Mike

Suffering with System Center and SQL? Not any more

February 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm in SQL, System Center by mikeresseler

If you ever worked with system center then you probably know this problem. What SQL server version, hotfix, service pack or rollup will I use? If you are only installing one component, then it is normally not a big problem. Browse to the TechNet articles and see what is supported. But what if you want to use multiple components? Or you have a running Always On SQL instance that you need to reuse?

At that time, it becomes a bit more difficult. Finding out if your installation (or installation that you want to do…) is supported by all components can be a very difficult task and very time-consuming.

Solution? MVP’s to the rescue:

Led by Paul Keeley and input from Robert Hedblom and Pete Zerger they created a whopping 200 page document that not only will give you the details on supportability but also gives you information on High Availability, SQL on Azure and much more to support your System Center installations.

You can find the guide here: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SQL-2012-and-System-Center-553b5161

Enjoy

Mike

Who cares about the hypervisor? part 1

August 28, 2013 at 7:24 am in Cloud, Hypervisor by mikeresseler

I have been following the announcements at VMworld San Francisco this week to find out what is coming to VMware 5.5. Those who know me a bit may wonder why I did that as I am normally very Hyper-V focused. I have (in my opinion at least) a very good reason for that; The more we advance in the virtualization and cloud world, the more I’m getting convinced that the hypervisor has become a commodity. A couple of months ago I had a (virtual) bar-type conversation with Greg Shields about this and it is becoming more and more true every minute. Before I start to explain why I feel like that, allow me to take a minute why I don’t like hypervisor comparisons…

I don’t like hypervisor comparisons on blogs, whitepapers, independent researches (if you can call these independent…) and more because they are always biased. It’s that simple. If I would need to create a comparison post or whitepaper, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the day Microsoft Hyper-V would be the winner of the day because I am biased for Hyper-V. Is it because I believe it is the best hypervisor? No, it is because I know that hypervisor best. Those who write those posts try to compare different features with each other but in the end they have a preference and depending on what they see as necessary/optional/nice-to-have the answer to the best hypervisor question will be different. It gets even worse when we try to compare more hypervisors.

With that said, here are my observations from the last month. (Please note I’m looking at VMware and Hyper-V here… I can’t judge about the other hypervisors as I have not enough knowledge about them…). Both Hyper-V and VMware can be easily placed next to each other. They both have an impressive set of possibilities and if VMware says they have A then Hyper-V probably has it also but it is called B. In recent past times it always has been Hyper-V that needed to catch up with VMware but recently I just see 2 hypervisors with a lot of capabilities that are pretty much equal. The time that one fan-base can laugh at the other for missing X is practically over (it will always remain since they will never be fully equal but hey… follow me here for a second.)

A simple example: Microsoft Hyper-V and its VHDX format supports 64TB of disk space. Announced with Hyper-V 3 (or Windows Server 2012) which meant that the Microsoft guys could start shooting at the VMware guys because of this. At VMworld San Francisco they announced 64 TB support for VMDK also (technically correct it is 62 TB but hey…). But do we really care? When I need to chose for a hypervisor in my environment, is this one of my requirements? The possibility to have one (1!) virtual disk that is 60+ TB large. Or what about the fact that somebody supports x number of logical CPU’s and x amount of memory… (PS: for the Microsoft guys, I could have easily taken an example that turned around the example Winking smile)

Whenever I talk to somebody about what hypervisor he or she needs, I ask them the same simple question. What are your requirements? 9 out of 10 they have not a single clue and they tell something like performance and stability and then they are lost. So instead of focusing on what product has more features over the other ask yourself the following questions:

  • What features do I need in my environment?
  • What will the cost be of training the administrators in the technology
  • What kind of support do I want (and how much do I want to pay for it)
  • What’s the amount of VMs I want to run on a single host (density)
  • Do I have different locations?
  • (And many more questions that need to be asked upfront…)

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can start looking for the solution that BEST fits your needs. And not mine or any other out there that has a preference for one of the hypervisors.

All right, you made it this far… now it is time to come to my point. While I don’t care about the hypervisor anymore (as long as it fits your specific needs I’m happy) it now comes down to the next part in the chain… Automation, management, monitoring, backup, security… Setting up an environment is one thing. Keeping that environment running, healthy, protected is much more work and cost a lot more than the initial cost of the project.

I strongly believe that you need to ask yourself those questions during the initial phase of the project. What are we going to do when we are live? How will our patch management look? How am I going to see and foresee issues without staring at a monitor 24/7. What in case of disaster? How am I going to protect my environment against security risks?

In the follow-up post I’m going to discuss an integrated approach for not only your virtual environment but for your entire environment as a whole. And yes, I’m biased again for a certain suite of management tools but even if you don’t like those, you might want to read the follow-up post to catch my vision about management.

System Center Universe DACH

August 6, 2013 at 9:17 am in Cloud, Event, System Center by mikeresseler

Once and a while you see community events grow and become an event that you don’t want to miss. System Center Universe is one of those.  It has been grown for a couple of years now and is becoming a standard event that everyone wants to attend. Besides the American version of System Center Universe, there is now a spin-off in Europe.

Enter System Center Universe DACH which will be held in September 2013. This event will be held in Switzerland and I’m very honored to be one of the presenters on that event. There is going to be a huge amount of sessions and other activities.

  • 1 Keynote session
  • 40 Breakout sessions in 4 parallel tracks
  • 4 lunch sessions
  • Meet the experts session
  • Networking
  • Sponsor booths
  • Networking party

Speakers include (besides myself Winking smile) Maarten Goet (NL), Thomas Maurer (CH), Travis Wright (USA), Pete Zerger (USA), Carsten Rachfahl (GER), Damian Flynn (IRE), Kevin Green (IRE), Kent Agerlund (DK), Cameron Fuller (USA) and many more… All speakers can be found here: http://www.systemcenteruniverse.ch/sprecherspeakers.html

The session list (http://planning.systemcenteruniverse.ch/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2f) also looks very promising and a lot of sessions I would want to see.

And of course, I’ll be very happy to see the city of Bern while I’m there Smile

If you can go to this event, then this is certainly something that you want to put on your wish list.

Cheers,

Mike

Upgrading a DC to Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview

July 25, 2013 at 6:18 am in Domain Controller, Preview, Upgrade, Windows Server 2012 R2 by mikeresseler

As a true geek I have downloaded Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview the minute it was available. After installing a few virtual machines from scratch and playing with a few features it was time to see how an upgrade would perform.

The first server (in my demo environment of course) is a Domain Controller. But before I could actually do the upgrade, I needed to do some additional work.

First, I got into issues when I chose the upgrade path and the ability to go online to search for updates. I’ve got this error notification and I couldn’t find any logs or reports on what was wrong. As always, community to the rescue and I found a post written by WorkingHardInIT that described the problem and the workaround for it. You can find the blogpost here: http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/in-place-upgrade-to-windows-server-2012-r2-preview-fails-with-windows-installation-encountered-an-unkown-error-and-cannot-continue/

As it states in the post, the trick is to ignore the Go Online to install updates now (recommended) and to choose No Thanks.

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After that, I have gotten my compatibility report.

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So I went to the URL that is included in the message but that didn’t got me very far. This article is about preparing a Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 Forest Schema for a Domain Controller that runs Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

I tried searching on the web for a newer version of this article but couldn’t find the good one. So let’s do this one without any documentation. (I know… Stupid but hey… it is a test environment :-))

On the ISO Image that was mounted on my Virtual Domain Controller, I browsed to support/adprep and there I found the ADPrep executable.

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Now it is time to perform this schema upgrade. I do this in PowerShell (as an administrator) but you can do this in command prompt also.

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I run adprep.exe /forestprep

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Now I hit “C” to continue

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And everything is being upgraded. For those who want to know exactly what is being done. This command executes the following schema changes:

From sch57.ldf till sch69.ldf and finally PAS.ldf.

Without further thinking I started the upgrade process again. (Hey, it was Monday when I did this ;-)) and I got another issue

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I had to do the domain prep also. (I should have known this but…)

The command do use is ADPREP.EXE /DOMAINPREP

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And now you can start the upgrade of your domain controller, sit back, relax, wait a bit and get a nicely upgraded domain controller.

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Cheers,

Mike

Being interviewed by Hyper-V Server

July 24, 2013 at 6:48 am in Hyper-V, Interview, Windows Server 2012 by mikeresseler

A couple of months ago while I was in Seattle I had the pleasure and honor of being interviewed by Carsten Rachfahl.

Carsten is one of the more smarter guys in Hyper-V world and has a very good blog on Hyper-V (in German).

He is also just an awesome guy to know.

Thanks Carsten for the interview!

You can find the interview (in English, my German isn’t that good ;-)) here:

http://www.hyper-v-server.de/hypervisor/videointerview-mit-mike-resseler-ber-hyper-v-replica-und-einen-bren/

or at youtube: http://youtu.be/r8BSLj9FVDo

Cheers

Mike

Summertime: Enter the IT Pro Summer Grand Prix

July 15, 2013 at 10:03 am in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

I’m back in Belgium and with a little bit of luck I’ll be staying in Belgium for the next couple of weeks. The nice thing is that I returned to some great weather and that I really have the summer feeling going on at this moment.

But besides the fun the summer period is also good for something else:

During summer period things tend to go a bit more slowly at work. Many people are on holiday, projects get delayed or placed on hold temporarily and I get some more free time on my hands. For years now I use this free time to get myself up-to-date with various IT subjects and technologies.

Enter the IT Pro Summer Grand Prix!

Microsoft Belux has created a summer campaign that helps us to find some more information on Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Both tracks are open as of today.

You can find the information and the tracks here: http://aka.ms/summergp

In August two more tracks will be released about the Microsoft Virtual Academy (www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com) and Infrastructure as a Service. Certainly worth checking those out…

And now… let’s race :-)

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