My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

Here is a list of the Microsoft IT Pro Evangelist from around the world with their blog URLs and their Twitter handles. We would love it if you find one you like and follow both their blogs and tweets. Get involved and let us know what you think.

US

John Weston Texas http://blogs.technet.com/b/jweston @technetguy
Harold Wong AZ http://blogs.technet.com/b/haroldwong @haroldwong
Chris Avis WA http://chrisavis.com @chrisavis
Kevin Remde Minn http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde @kevinremde
Brian Lewis WI http://mythoughtsonit.com @brianlewis_
Bob Hunt NY http://www.bobhunt.net @bobhms
Blain Barton FL http://blogs.technet.com/b/blainbar @blainbar
John Baker GA http://blogs.technet.com/b/johnbaker @johnbake
Yung Chou NC http://blogs.technet.com/b/yungchou @yungchow
Dan Stolts Mass http://itproguru.com @itproguru
Felipe Lemaitre Corporate http://blogs.technet.com/b/felipel
Christian Linacre Corporate http://blogs.technet.com/linacre @linacre
Joey Snow Corporate http://blogs.technet.com/jsnow @joeysnow
Rick Claus Corporate http://regularitguy.com @RicksterCDN
Symon Perriman Corporate http://edge.technet.com @SymonPerriman
David Tesar Corporate http://edge.technet.com/people/extreme @dtzar

International

Arlindo Alves Belgium http://flavors.me/aralves @aralves
Renao Giorgini Itlay http://blogs.technet.com/b/italy
Anders Wedahl Sweden http://www.microsoft.com/sverige/msdn @wedahl
Michael Epprecht http://blogs.technet.com/chitpro-de @fastflame
Jeff Alexander Australia http://blogs.technet.com/b/jeffa36 @jeffa36
Seung Joo Baek Korea http://www.koalra.com @happyKoalra
Nathan Mercer New Zealand www.nathanmercer.com @nathanm
Ruth Morton Canada http://about.me/ruthmorton @ruthm
Damir Bersinic Canada http://about.me/damirb @DamirB
Ryan Storgaard Canada http://about.me/ryanstorgaard @RyanStorgaard
Damien Caro Europe http://blogs.technet.com/dcaro @dcaro
Tomas Kanturek Czech Republic http://technetblog.cz
Fabrice Meillon France http://blogs.technet.com/b/fabricem_blogs/ @fabrice_m
Jiang Xiao China http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jiang_xiao/
Stephanus Schulte Germany http://social.technet.microsoft.com/profile/stephanus
Patrick Heyde Germany http://blogs.technet.com/b/patrick_heyde
Heike Ritter Germany http://blogs.technet.com/b/hritter @HeikeRitter
Bernhard Frank Germany http://blogs.technet.com/bernard_frank
Aviraj Ajgekar India http://blogs.technet.com/aviraj @aviraj111
Junichi Anno Japan http://blogs.technet.com/junichia @junichia
Daniel Levi Argentina http://daniellevi.com
Maria Sol Mangino Argentina http://www.puertadeenlace.net
Fabio Hara Brazil http://www.fabiohara.com.br @fabiohara
Vinicious Apolinario Brazil http://www.admderedes.com.br/blog
Ruben Colomo Mexico http://blogs.technet.com/rubencolomo
Benjamin Figueroa Mexico http://blogs.technet.com/benjaminfigueroa @benfig
Renat Minazhdinov Russia www.facebook.com/renatmin @renatmin
Simon May UK http://simon-may.com @simonster
Zack Owens China http://ZachSkylesOwens.net

Harolds-Back_jpg_thumbI have noticed that the growth of large public datacenters is continuing and not just by the search providers. Apple has revealed new details about it’s huge data center in Maiden North Carolina which has 500,000 square feet in phase one of the center. Apple is not the only one Oracle is just opening it’s huge Utah datacenter that is to be dedicated to their new “public cloud” offerings. This will take some of the load from their large Austin TX datacenter.  These Mega Datacenter investments are part of what is driving the move to the “cloud”. There are some huge investments in these datacenters by Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and others. All of these companies have a huge interest in success of the Public cloud to get payback on their huge investments in datacenters. The trend is on it’s way. Follow the money!

Another interesting note is how all of the Mega Datacenter players are all going green. I find it hard to believe that they all care environment more than their profit line. Oh, going green for a datacenter is not only good PR but it saves “a lot” of money on your power and cooling costs. When I say “a lot” I am talking about millions of dollars a year in savings.

I am fascinated by the shift that is happening in computing right before our eyes. These datacenters are being built to backend your client devices. From smartphones, to tablets, to laptops. These devices too are transforming. I expect all OS’s going forward will ship with backend services. For example having a service that backs up and syncs all of your photos, contacts, browser favorites and more. Wither these services be included or an extra charge remains to be seen.

I guess this means the internet isn’t going away either… In fact you can see how that connectivity and expanded bandwidth it critical. By looking at these trends you get an idea of what is to come in the next 5 years.

On a side note Microsoft is doing a lot of work on Mega Datacenters and new designs. Our Generation 4 datacenters don’t do the traditional raised floor at all. All servers are mounted in a shipping container that houses 2,000 to 3,000 servers. You don’t ever enter the container. Power and network are hooked up the the container and you are ready to go in mild and cold climates. In warm areas you also hookup cooling. For More information about Microsoft’s datacenters – check here: http://www.globalfoundationservices.com/

Update: Apple confirms plans to build another Mega data center in Oregon. 2/23/2012

follow Ryan Naraine on twitterMicrosoft is warning all users of its Internet Explorer web browser to immediately apply the latest security patch as a precaution against malicious hacker attacks. Don’t think just because you use another browser your ok. There is also a vulnerability that targets multimedia, so if you open a specially crafted medial file that could allow compromise of your machine too. 

This past Tuesday there were two very important patches released. IE update MS12-010 and media library update MS12-013 are the two that are most worrisome. Security experts expects to see reliable exploit code published with the next 30 days for these vulnerabilities.

What I am saying is get these patches tested and applied ASAP!

Have a great weekend (patching machines)! Smile

P.S. Sorry…

follow Ryan Naraine on twitterMicrosoft is warning all users of its Internet Explorer web browser to immediately apply the latest security patch as a precaution against malicious hacker attacks. Don’t think just because you use another browser your ok. There is also a vulnerability that targets multimedia, so if you open a specially crafted medial file that could allow compromise of your machine too. 

This past Tuesday there were two very important patches released. IE update MS12-010 and media library update MS12-013 are the two that are most worrisome. Security experts expects to see reliable exploit code published with the next 30 days for these vulnerabilities.

What I am saying is get these patches tested and applied ASAP!

Have a great weekend (patching machines)! Smile

P.S. Sorry…

untitledIf you are interested in Windows 8 the place to go it Steven Sinofsky’s Blog. There are a lot of great posts about the new technologies Microsoft is working on. A lot of the post are long and have a lot of information. For some of the posts I find that my attention wanders before I reach the end of some of the article. Not the case with the post on “Storage Spaces”.

I won’t be blogging about these things until next month but in the mean time take a look at the post on Storage Spaces in the Building Windows 8 blog:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx

Very Cool Stuff -Brian

Our next set of IT Pro events (“IT Camps”) in the US Central Region have been scheduled and are now officially open for registration! The events are free, go from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and include some light breakfast and lunch. But most importantly, they are full of new and useful information that all IT Pros will benefit from. (And it never hurts that we might give out a few prizes at the end of the day, too.)

Here is our theme and information, followed by the event dates and registration links:

imageBeing What’s Next in IT
2012 is an exciting year for I.T. because it’s an exciting year for Microsoft. Not only are there exciting new products and solutions on the near horizon such as System Center 2012 and Windows Server “8”, but also in the ways we can help you manage your infrastructure today.

Gearing up for the Future (Camp Part 1)
You may have heard Microsoft’s recent slogan: “Be What’s Next”. But sometimes in IT, for whatever the reason, it’s hard enough even just to be “what’s now” or “what’s current”. You’re running older versions of server operating systems and technologies you would like to replace, but maybe don’t know exactly how to make the move without causing one of the main things that keeps us up at night: service disruption.

In this camp session we are going to introduce you to, and give you a chance to play with, the migration technologies that will help you transition to the most current versions of our solutions, and help you to take full advantage of Windows Server 2008 R2. Making the transition to the most current products isn’t always easy, but we have ways to help you get there and to get you ready for the future of I.T. and business productivity.

The Future is Sooner Than You Think (Camp Part 2)
Now that you are ready for what’s next, don’t you want to know a little more about what that is? There is a new wave of transition happening among IT organizations and IT workers to embrace more and more the concept of Cloud Computing. Yet many of us are still wondering how it will really fit into our own environment, or how it will benefit our businesses.

In this camp session we are going to introduce to you to the future of the cloud. Together we’re going to walk through what our next System Center version – System Center 2012 – will bring to your IT organizations; both in overall manageability and in supporting private, public, and hybrid clouds. And we’ll introduce to you (and demonstrate for you) what is coming in the next version of Windows Server – currently known as codename Windows Server “8”.

Preparation:
This is not just a presentation! We will try not to kill you with PowerPoint! Our IT Camp format requires interaction, participation, and fun! And in order for you to get the most out of our day, we ask that you do a few optional-but-highly-encouraged things before coming to camp:

1. We ask that you download the evaluation software – Windows Server 2008 R2 w/SP1 and System Center 2012 Release Candidate.
2. Bring a laptop. In venues where we can support it, we will provide networking and power so that you can follow along and perhaps even participate in labs and examples.
3. And for the truly ambitious among you – Bring a Windows Server 2008 R2-capable machine. If you already have Server 2008 R2 installed, that’s great. But as long as you have a capable machine, we will provide you a .VHD file and instructions for how configure your computer to “dual-boot” into an already installed copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 – all without requiring you to remove your existing Windows installation. Here is the recommended minimum configuration:

Registration
(The Camps I’m leading are highlighted, and the others are being facilitated by my buddies Kevin Remde and John Weston)

“Hey Brian… Why are some cities done twice?”

We filled up so many venues so quickly last semester that we thought that rather than trying to get (and afford) larger venues, we’d opt for the smaller venues and just do the same event two times in the same city. Plus, the format of the IT Camp lends itself better to a smaller group, anyway. And we can save on some travel expense by doing these over two consecutive days.

But don’t worry if your city is only listed once. That just means that we have found a sufficiently large venue that is less likely to be filled and have registration closed.

Clicking on the city for the date that you want to attend will bring you to the registration page. Do it now! Due to the excitement surrounding System Center 2012 and Windows Server “8” news, we expect these events to fill up fast!

    • 4GB or more RAM
    • 20 GB or more free disk space
    • x64 compatible processor with Intel VT or AMD-V technology
City Date
Des Moines, IA March 21, 2012
Des Moines, IA March 22, 2012   (repeat)
Madison, WI March 28, 2012
Milwaukee, WI April 4, 2012
Milwaukee, WI April 5, 2012   (repeat)
Detroit, MI April 12, 2012
Downers Grove, IL April 17, 2012
Omaha, NE April 19, 2012
Minneapolis, MN April 23, 2012
Columbus, OH April 24, 2012
Minneapolis, MN April 30, 2012    (repeat)
Houston, TX May 3, 2012
Houston, TX May 4, 2012    (repeat)
Dallas, TX May 7, 2012
Dallas, TX May 8, 2012    (repeat)
Kansas City, MO May 8, 2012
Kansas City, MO May 9, 2012    (repeat)
Austin, TX May 10, 2012
Austin, TX May 11, 2012    (repeat)
Saint Louis, MO May 10, 2012
Saint Louis, MO May 11, 2012    (repeat)
Indianapolis, IN May 10, 2012
Cincinnati, OH May 17, 2012
Chicago, IL May 18, 2012

Will we see you there? Do you have any questions about what we’re covering? Is there anything you’d specifically like to see in our events? Let us know in the comments.

Our next set of IT Pro events (“IT Camps”) in the US Central Region have been scheduled and are now officially open for registration! The events are free, go from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and include some light breakfast and lunch. But most importantly, they are full of new and useful information that all IT Pros will benefit from. (And it never hurts that we might give out a few prizes at the end of the day, too.)

Here is our theme and information, followed by the event dates and registration links:

imageBeing What’s Next in IT
2012 is an exciting year for I.T. because it’s an exciting year for Microsoft. Not only are there exciting new products and solutions on the near horizon such as System Center 2012 and Windows Server “8”, but also in the ways we can help you manage your infrastructure today.

Gearing up for the Future (Camp Part 1)
You may have heard Microsoft’s recent slogan: “Be What’s Next”. But sometimes in IT, for whatever the reason, it’s hard enough even just to be “what’s now” or “what’s current”. You’re running older versions of server operating systems and technologies you would like to replace, but maybe don’t know exactly how to make the move without causing one of the main things that keeps us up at night: service disruption.

In this camp session we are going to introduce you to, and give you a chance to play with, the migration technologies that will help you transition to the most current versions of our solutions, and help you to take full advantage of Windows Server 2008 R2. Making the transition to the most current products isn’t always easy, but we have ways to help you get there and to get you ready for the future of I.T. and business productivity.

The Future is Sooner Than You Think (Camp Part 2)
Now that you are ready for what’s next, don’t you want to know a little more about what that is? There is a new wave of transition happening among IT organizations and IT workers to embrace more and more the concept of Cloud Computing. Yet many of us are still wondering how it will really fit into our own environment, or how it will benefit our businesses.

In this camp session we are going to introduce to you to the future of the cloud. Together we’re going to walk through what our next System Center version – System Center 2012 – will bring to your IT organizations; both in overall manageability and in supporting private, public, and hybrid clouds. And we’ll introduce to you (and demonstrate for you) what is coming in the next version of Windows Server – currently known as codename Windows Server “8”.

Preparation:
This is not just a presentation! We will try not to kill you with PowerPoint! Our IT Camp format requires interaction, participation, and fun! And in order for you to get the most out of our day, we ask that you do a few optional-but-highly-encouraged things before coming to camp:

1. We ask that you download the evaluation software – Windows Server 2008 R2 w/SP1 and System Center 2012 Release Candidate.
2. Bring a laptop. In venues where we can support it, we will provide networking and power so that you can follow along and perhaps even participate in labs and examples.
3. And for the truly ambitious among you – Bring a Windows Server 2008 R2-capable machine. If you already have Server 2008 R2 installed, that’s great. But as long as you have a capable machine, we will provide you a .VHD file and instructions for how configure your computer to “dual-boot” into an already installed copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 – all without requiring you to remove your existing Windows installation. Here is the recommended minimum configuration:

Registration
(The Camps I’m leading are highlighted, and the others are being facilitated by my buddies Kevin Remde and John Weston)

“Hey Brian… Why are some cities done twice?”

We filled up so many venues so quickly last semester that we thought that rather than trying to get (and afford) larger venues, we’d opt for the smaller venues and just do the same event two times in the same city. Plus, the format of the IT Camp lends itself better to a smaller group, anyway. And we can save on some travel expense by doing these over two consecutive days.

But don’t worry if your city is only listed once. That just means that we have found a sufficiently large venue that is less likely to be filled and have registration closed.

Clicking on the city for the date that you want to attend will bring you to the registration page. Do it now! Due to the excitement surrounding System Center 2012 and Windows Server “8” news, we expect these events to fill up fast!

    • 4GB or more RAM
    • 20 GB or more free disk space
    • x64 compatible processor with Intel VT or AMD-V technology
City Date
Des Moines, IA March 21, 2012
Des Moines, IA March 22, 2012   (repeat)
Madison, WI March 28, 2012
Milwaukee, WI April 4, 2012
Milwaukee, WI April 5, 2012   (repeat)
Detroit, MI April 12, 2012
Downers Grove, IL April 17, 2012
Omaha, NE April 19, 2012
Minneapolis, MN April 23, 2012
Columbus, OH April 24, 2012
Minneapolis, MN April 30, 2012    (repeat)
Houston, TX May 3, 2012
Houston, TX May 4, 2012    (repeat)
Dallas, TX May 7, 2012
Dallas, TX May 8, 2012    (repeat)
Kansas City, MO May 8, 2012
Kansas City, MO May 9, 2012    (repeat)
Austin, TX May 10, 2012
Austin, TX May 11, 2012    (repeat)
Saint Louis, MO May 10, 2012
Saint Louis, MO May 11, 2012    (repeat)
Indianapolis, IN May 10, 2012
Cincinnati, OH May 17, 2012
Chicago, IL May 18, 2012

Will we see you there? Do you have any questions about what we’re covering? Is there anything you’d specifically like to see in our events? Let us know in the comments.

3056_hyper-v2-large-msg_thumb_0D8890ECFor some reason when I woke this morning I was thinking about patching servers and how virtualization can easily minimize the maintenance window or downtime. I usually awake thinking about my gorgeous wife and I know if I wrote about that it would make for more interesting reading; however, there are other sites for that. I am going to stay with my “Information Technology”  theme.

So if I have a site up like this blog and I want to avoid all downtime; how do I accomplish that?

Well I can reduce downtime by making a copy of my machine. Patching that copy and then swapping out the patched machine for the original. This is not quite what I want but simple to accomplish. Here are steps you can use to accomplish this: First use the free tool Disk2vhd.exe. I would run this tool to make a vhd copy of a live machine. It works on real hardware to create a Virtual Machine and it can run inside a VM to make a copy of that machine. You may be asking why don’t you just copy the actual vhd file of the running server. You can do that but you would have to shutdown the server and then copy the file because it is locked while the server is running. In the next version of Hyper-V you can just have it create a copy but in Server 2008 R2 use Disk2vhd. You can get disk2vhd from here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415

Now that I have a copy of the server I can start the machine either on a different network or without a network and patch the machine. Once I am done with that machine and I have tested that it works. I can take the production machine off of the network and place this updated machine on the network. It will start servicing requests with very little downtime. Wait! I want no downtime and this has downtime. Not only does it have some downtime it also could lose data! For example on my blog I could lose comments and blog posts that are entered after I make my copy and before I put the newly patched machine back online.

Ok – let’s look at how to do this with absolutely no downtime. The way this has been accomplished in the past, in the physical world, was by clustering the database and using front end servers that are load balanced. So with a minimum of 4 servers I can achieve zero downtime. In the real world that costs a lot. Well in the virtual world it doesn’t. What it does take is a little more configuration. First you need to load balance your front end servers. Then you can take down one of your front end servers and patch it. You put it back into service and then do the same with the other. Front ends patched with no downtime. Next you take one of your database server. The database servers can be running with shared storage or with database mirroring. As you take one out of production the other continues to run. Absolutely zero downtime and zero data loss.

To load balance your front end servers nothing works better than a layer 7 switch. But those things cost lots of money. You can just have your layer 7 switch in a virtual machine. Now that is pretty cool! As a matter of fact in the next version of Hyper-V the network will have that infrastructure built into the virtual network.

What about when you need to patch the Hyper-V host? To patch the host that runs the VMs you can move these VMs to another host and then patch the host before moving them back. Today you need to cluster your Hyper-V hosts to accomplish this. In the next version of Hyper-V won’t need to have a cluster for this. You can storage migrate your VMs to another Hyper-V host – all without a cluster. Cool!

Wouldn’t it be cool t have a way to make these things happen automatically? There already is! It is called System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Using the SCVMM you can manage all of your VMs and copy them while running. Move them to another machine and more. If you are interested in taking a look at System Center 2012. Download it here: http://aka.ms/blog1

If you don’t have Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V you can download the trial here: http://aka.ms/blog2

Lastly if you want to download the free Hyper-V server you can find that here: http://aka.ms/blog3

untitledIf your wondering when can I get Windows 8 Customer Preview? I will tell ya.

The gag order was lifted – if only for a moment…

Windows 8 Customer Preview will be announced & released February 29th – Woot! Woot!

Now the moment’s gone. Winking smile
For more info today please see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/

microsoft-flightI blogged about how to sign up for the beta for Microsoft Flight back in January. Well over 150,000 people joined the beta. I hope you made it on there. Well the product is now getting ready to launch at the end of this month and it’s free! Well to start it is free and then if you like it and want to expand the game there will be in game purchasing to expand the maps and add missions and planes. 

The first expansion pack is the Hawaiian Adventure Pack which contains 20 new missions, new challenges, and the Vans RV-6A, a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplane made famous for its speed and maneuverability. The Hawaiian Adventure pack is priced at $19.99.

Flight will be available as a download for Windows PCs. The game recommends 6GB of RAM, a 3-GHz, dual-core processor and at least a Radeon HD 5670 or Nvidia GeForce 9800T graphics card. 

Here is the link to grab it on or after Feb 29th 2012:
http://www.microsoft.com/games/flight/