My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

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/

3056_hyper-v2-large-msg_thumb_0D8890ECI am hosting a Live webcast where I will overview and demo Hyper-V in Server 2008R2. This knowledge will transfer to the new version of Hyper-V coming in Windows Server 8. So, if you are unfamiliar with how to use Hyper-V today – come join me and I will show you how to turn it and and work within the product. Everything I will show is included in Windows Server 2008R2 with SP1 at no additional Charge.

-Brian 

TechNet Webcast: Hyper-V: The Base of a Private Cloud (Level 300)
EventID:1032504314

Starts:Wednesday, February 22, 2012 11:00 AM
Time zone: (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)
Duration: 1 hour(s) 15 minute(s)

Product: Hyper-V.

Audience(s): IT Decision Maker and IT Generalist.

The term “cloud” refers to a new paradigm in the evolution of computing. It often entails running your servers, either internal or hosted, on virtual machines. In an IT career, the one constant is that you need to continually learn the new technologies to stay current. In this webcast, we cover the fundamentals of Microsoft’s technologies that support the private cloud. We overview Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization technology and then dive deeper into the features of this hypervisor-based server virtualization technology. This webcast is heavily focused on demonstrations and has a Q&A session at the end.

Presenter:
Brian Lewis, Senior IT Pro Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation
Audio call in information: Listen to the audio from your computer

Link to sign-up for the webcast:
https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastRegistrationConfirmation.aspx?culture=en-US&RegistrationID=1310891940&Validate=false

One of “those” emails that fill your inbox… This one made me laugh because it touches some truth. Hope you enjoy it. –Brian

HowToFixaComputer

ASCII-Remde_KevinI just read my good friend and coworker Kevin Remde’s post about “a little shameless bragging”. You can see what I am talking about on his Blog: “Full of I.T.”.

Well, I was in Seattle also for Microsoft’s TechReady training event, and besides hearing about some great new features coming soon to a product near you, I got to listen to Kevin talk brag about the tests he passed.

Kevin has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged all IT Pros that use the internet to try and pass the Microsoft Server Virtualization test 70-659.

Well I don’t back down to a challenge. I took the 70-659 test and passed! The first time too…

So what about you? Are you going to take charge of Kevin’s Challenge? I think you should and post to his site before and after your test!

Get your friends to take the challenge too. I have created a shortened link to share: http://aka.ms/test70-659

And don’t forget to post to the comments on his blog!!!

Thanks,
Brian

 

BTW: If you have always wondered who to make ascii pictures, like the one of Kevin, I use a great opensource tool called Ascgen2. You can grab it here: http://ascgendotnet.jmsoftware.co.uk/

ASCII-Remde_KevinI just read my good friend and coworker Kevin Remde’s post about “a little shameless bragging”. You can see what I am talking about on his Blog: “Full of I.T.”.

Well, I was in Seattle also for Microsoft’s TechReady training event, and besides hearing about some great new features coming soon to a product near you, I got to listen to Kevin talk brag about the tests he passed.

Kevin has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged all IT Pros that use the internet to try and pass the Microsoft Server Virtualization test 70-659.

Well I don’t back down to a challenge. I took the 70-659 test and passed! The first time too…

So what about you? Are you going to take charge of Kevin’s Challenge? I think you should and post to his site before and after your test!

Get your friends to take the challenge too. I have created a shortened link to share: http://aka.ms/test70-659

And don’t forget to post to the comments on his blog!!!

Thanks,
Brian

 

BTW: If you have always wondered who to make ascii pictures, like the one of Kevin, I use a great opensource tool called Ascgen2. You can grab it here: http://ascgendotnet.jmsoftware.co.uk/