My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

imageThe Infrastructure as a Service Product Line Architecture documentation is a toolset that helps you arrive at a design pattern and make informed decisions about Microsoft’s Cloud OS platform.


  • Provide a technology definition that helps you understand the capability and how it is supported by Windows Server, System Center or Microsoft Azure
  • Help you arrive at a design based on your needs through the use of clearly defined design patterns
  • Form the basis for MCS and Partner engagements as well as other programs, such as Fast Track

The IaaS PLA Fabric Architecture guide
Covers common elements in hybrid cloud fabric design: compute, network, storage and virtualization.  It defines clear design patterns for customers to follow when building hybrid cloud fabrics using Windows Server and Microsoft Azure.

The IaaS PLA Fabric Management Architecture guide
Covers the architecture and capabilities provided by the System Center components focused on supporting IaaS solutions including VMM, Operations Manager, Service Manager, Orchestrator, App Controller, SPF, SMA, Service Reporting and Windows Azure Pack.

The IaaS PLA Deployment guide
Covers a comprehensive end-to-end solution-level deployment of System Center using the aforementioned components. We have several previously published releases of the IaaS PLA guides which support Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1.  The latest release wave supports Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure.

The IaaS PLA Consolidated Set
Is a zip file containing all three above guides.

You can download the PLAs today from the TechNet Gallery:

In an increasingly multi-hypervisor world, more and more IT organizations are using Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure to achieve superior performance and workload flexibility at the best possible price. With nearly two-thirds of businesses on more than one virtualization platform, adding Microsoft virtualization and cloud skills to your technical repertoire can improve your career options and prepare you to face new IT demands.

Join Early Experts! We'll help you get certified!

What is Early Experts?

Microsoft Early Experts is a free, online study group for virtualization professionals who want to extend their Microsoft Hyper-V, System Center and Microsoft Azure knowledge with official Microsoft certifications. We’ve organized our high-impact learning resources into online Knowledge Quests that include concise videos, prescriptive study materials and hands-on practice with real products. Complete the weekly quests at your own pace and enjoy the flexibility to stop and review certain topics when you need more time.

Rewards and Prizes (U.S. Only)

Complete the online Quests and receive a completion badge suitable for printing or sharing online to showcase your new skills with Microsoft virtualization! In addition, IT Pros located in the U.S. are eligible to win one of several cool prizes during monthly prize drawings in April, May and June 2014. **

Rewards, Prizes and Certification: Join Early Experts today!

If you’re located outside of the U.S., you’re certainly still welcome to join us and take advantage of the Early Experts study materials to help you prepare for certification.

The clock is ticking … Join us today!

Early Experts study groups are forming now for existing VMware / Virtualization professionals targeting the following Microsoft certification:

Join Us: Become our next Early Expert!

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to IT Professionals who are legal residents of the 50 U.S. states or D.C., 18+. Sweepstakes ends on June 30, 2014. See Official Rules.

heartbleedThe Heartbleed bug is a big deal. This flaw affected TOR and about two-thirds of internet websites. The flaw was uncovered by researchers from Google and Codenomicon. It is expected that the big sites will be fixed quickly but that all the different devices and sites effected will not all be updated for months. The open source programmer, based in Germany, who inadvertently introduced this bug has come forward and admitted his mistake. has this info here:,2817,2456415,00.asp

You can test a website to see if it has the bug at this webpage here:

For more information on the Heartbleed bug here are a few articles. Smile 


The Heartbleed Bug
Codenomicon (the researchers who found and disclosed the flaw)

How to recover from Heartbleed
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

There’s little web users can do to thwart ‘Heartbleed’ threat
Jim Finkle/Reuters

After ‘Catastrophic’ Security Bug, the Internet Needs a Password Reset
Robert McMillan/Wired

Website Security Flaw Spurring Calls to Change Passwords
Jordan Robertson/Bloomberg

Heartbleed Flaw Leads Security Experts to Urge Password Changes
Jordan Robertson/Bloomberg

Heartbleed Is The Massive Security Flaw That Could Affect Up To Two-Thirds Of The Internet
Charlie Warzei/BuzzFeed

Heartbleed Bug puts encrypted online transactions at risk, here’s what you should know
Paranjay Dutt/BGR

Millions of passwords exposed
Staff Writer/Associated Press

Which sites have patched the Heartbleed bug
Jason Cipriani/CNET

Heartbleed bug: What you need to know
Jose Pagliery/CNN

The Security Bug That Affects Most Of The Internet, Explained
Jeremy Bowers/NPR

Q. and A. on Heartbleed: A Flaw Missed by the Masses
Brian X. Chen/New York Times

Heartbeat Heartbleed Bug Breaks Worldwide Internet Security Again (And Yahoo)
James Lyne/Forbes

Critical crypto bug in OpenSSL opens two-thirds of the Web to eavesdropping
Dan Goodin/Ars Technica

‘Heartbleed’ Bug: OpenSSL Flaw Rips Open The Encrypted Internet
Michael Rundle/Huffington Post

Common Web Encryption Tool Is Flawed, Analysts Say
Danny Yadron/Wall Street Journal

IT Camp: Windows 8

As IT professionals, it’s your job to keep up with the latest demands – ensuring your organization has the fastest, most intuitive technology and uninterrupted services, while giving people the freedom to work anywhere, anytime, on a variety of devices.

Join us for the upcoming IT Camp, “Empowering People-Centric IT with Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals,” and learn about the new features in Windows 8.1. These capabilities simplify the migration, deployment, and management of tomorrow’s IT environments, while tangibly improving the end-user experience.

At this IT Camp, you’ll get hands-on experience with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 in the enterprise. Explore the new Windows 8.1 feature set while you dive deep into key enterprise scenarios around System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 and Windows Intune management, deployment, security, desktop virtualization, side-loading apps, and mobility.

Session Requirements

  • Be sure to bring a modern laptop that can run the following prerequisites.
  • Modern operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or Mac OS X
  • Modern web browser supporting HTML5 and Javascript, including IE 9 or later, Chrome, Firefox and Safari
    Remote desktop (RDP) client – included with Windows platforms.  Mac and Linux RDP clients can be downloaded for free at

Visit to learn more or register by clicking on the city closest to you.





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The Windows 8.1 Update is available on MSDN as of yesterday and will be available on Windows update April 8th. Click the image on the right to see a full size screenshot of the update on MSDN.

It is available for ARM, X86, and X64. I am pulling it down now and will be installing to several Surface devices and several Intel laptops. I will update this post with those experiences.

*** Insert update here ***


For more information about the Windows 8.1 update see the official links below

Windows 8.1 Update: The IT Pro Perspective

Windows 8.1 Update – important refinements to the Windows experience

ipadToday Microsoft announced and released Office for iPad. Specifically Word, Excel, and PowerPoint released for the iPad. OneNote had an update release also.

At about 1 PM CST the apps went live in the App Store and I pulled them down immediately. I am extremely impressed in their functionality. These are not just light weight applications like in the web browser or on the phone. These apps have most of the features I use when I create documents on a full blown PC.

I have heard technical people state that iPads are for consuming information but not good for creating documents. Well I think that might have just changed.

I will have to let you know after I try to edit a presentation on my iPad Mini but my first impressions are that these are very high quality apps with functionality on par with full desktop apps.

What you need to know if you want to try Office for iPad 

You download the apps individually, not as an office suite. Upon opening one of the downloaded apps you receive information about Office 365. You can read documents but you can’t edit or create documents unless you have an Office 365 subscription.

I started the Excel and choose to run read only. Then I clicked a link in the app to enter my Office 365 credential. After authenticating it opened the ability to fully edit documents.  





Word(Medium) Excel (Medium) PPT(Medium)

Click image above to enlarge

I did find one issue. My iPad choked on opening a PowerPoint document that was 145 Megabytes in size. It stated that it didn’t have enough memory and I should close some apps and try again. I guess I can’t throw out my workstation just yet. Winking smile (JK, can’t live without my Asus Zenbook touch) I did open a 6 meg presentation, pictured above that worked just fine and rendered perfectly.  I will play with this a little more and let you know what I find. Leave a comment and let us know what you find as you work with these new apps!

Cheers, Brian

For more info check out:

Youtube video: The real Microsoft Office apps for iPad are here!

Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Blog post:

0269035729_2_3500x2333_toWe have a very exciting project where we are reaching out to customers for a series of interviews over the next few months. The project is extremely agile and the interviews will be rapid, 30 minute max where, as the product progresses we will continue to maintain a customer pulse getting feature feedback and their influence though out the process.

So, if you are you a Systems Administrator or Security Analyst and would you like to influence the future of products to manage and secure your virtualization infrastructure. This is your opportunity to be heard by Microsoft Cloud and Data Center Management Research and Program Managers! They would like to talk to IT Pros that manage and secure your organizations virtualized and cloud environments.

If you are interested in talking further with Microsoft, please complete a short survey that will help us to determine how your job fits within the management and security of cloud and datacenter virtual computing. Join the discussion, we want to hear from you!

Click here to access the survey:


What’s better than sitting down with a technical book? Sitting down with a Free technical book or at one you can get work to pay for. Smile Since most of us have more in the want category than we do in the budget category, I thought you might be interested in the free eBooks that Microsoft Press has available.

Here is a list of the Free Book Titles as of today.

  • Microsoft System Center: Building a Virtualized Network Solution
  • Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals
  • Rethinking Enterprise Storage: A Hybrid Cloud Model
  • Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals
  • Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, Second Edition
  • .NET Technology Guide for Business Applications
  • Microsoft System Center: Building a Virtualized Network Solution
  • Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2
  • Microsoft System Center: Designing Orchestrator Runbooks
  • Microsoft System Center: Configuration Manager Field Experience
  • Microsoft System Center: Cloud Management with App Controller
  • Microsoft System Center: Troubleshooting Configuration Manager
  • Microsoft System Center: Optimizing Service Manager

Here is the link:

Happy Reading! –Brian

OneDrive-LogoToday Microsoft announce the global availability of OneDrive. For existing SkyDrive customers, you are all set. Your files are already in the new OneDrive experience—all you have to do is head over to and log in. For those of you just hearing about the service for the first time, OneDrive gives you one place for all of your files, including photos, videos, and documents, and it’s available on the devices you use every day.

Here are three things you can do with your Free OneDrive

  • Refer a Friend.  With this release, customers who refer friends can now receive up to 5 GB (in 500 MB increments) for each friend who accepts an invitation to OneDrive.  So refer a friend, help us with the launch, and get more storage while you do it!
  • Get OneDrive for your phone and keep your photos safe.  If you have a Windows Phone, of course it works with OneDrive, and your photos are safe.  But we bet you didn’t know that OneDrive can back up photos from your iPhone or Android phone too!  Just install the new OneDrive client, launch it, and it will ask you if you want to back up your photos. From then on, every photo you take is copied to OneDrive.  We’ll even give you 3 GB just for using the camera back-up feature, since we want to help make sure you never lose another photo.
  • Use OneDrive + Office for your personal documents and notes.  Just like SkyDrive, OneDrive works great with Office and makes storing and sharing documents a snap.  OneDrive is built in to Office as the default save location, so you can see the recent documents you were working on and pick up right where you left off, even if you switch devices. With real-time co-authoring in the free online version of Office in OneDrive, you can work on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents simultaneously with colleagues or family, see edits as they happen, and rest assured that you always have the latest version.  Install OneDrive on your PC or Mac, copy your docs to OneDrive, and use Office 2013.  From then on, every doc you write and every note you take is available across your PC, Mac, phone, and tablet. 

For more information on OneDrive you can head to the OneDrive product team’s Blog here: or, follow them on Twitter @OneDrive.

Better yet, try it now!

disasterrecoveryServer Virtualization is a great way to enhance your disaster recovery strategy. Server Virtualization adds agility not only in managing your day to day server environment but it also adds agility in restoring your servers in case of a problem.

When restoring a server to new hardware it is really nice when you can restore it to the exact same hardware. For example if the original hardware has a disk controller for an array of disks then it is much easier if the new hardware has that same setup. After a full restore, new hardware with a different controller card, won’t be able to access the disk storage after your reboot. This can be very frustrating and add hours to each server restore. You will have similar problems with other hardware such as network cards. Anyone who has done a test restore or a real disaster recovery will tell you this is a huge pain.

Doing server restores to new hardware is one area where virtualization really shines for a disaster recovery. First, you will need to restore your virtualization host servers. You will run into the same driver issues here but once the hosts are up all of you VMs just work. Because the VMs are running under the virtual environment the virtual hardware is all the same so there are no driver updates needed. This enables a much faster recover and a lot less gnashing of your teeth. This benefit is the same for Citrix XEN, Microsoft Hyper-v, and VMware ESX.

There are other areas where server virtualization can help improve you DR recovery time. One example of this is using a virtualization cluster which can start your VMs automatically on another host server in case of a server hardware failure. This addresses just a local server issue and not a catastrophic failure at the Data Center. Another virtualization technology that can provide faster recovery time from a catastrophic datacenter failure is a technology like VMware’s Site Recovery Manager or Microsoft’s Hyper-v Replica. This will keep a copy of the running VM at another site. It takes just minutes to have the server up and running at the backup location. Depending on the risk you are willing to accept this may be all the DR protection you need for a server. Others you may want to add other backups either online or offline.

As Jennelle wrote about in her post yesterday, the first thing to do in your DR planning is rate the needs of your services. How quickly do they need to be up and running? How much data can be lost, if any. It would be nice to set everything to the highest level of priority on both speed to restore and importance of data retention. Unfortunately, it is cost prohibitive to offer the highest levels of protection to all data. The other thing to keep in mind is the business that you are in.  For example, a military is more likely to have a disaster at two geographically dispersed datacenters on the same day than say a bicycle manufacturer. Once you understand the different needs for your services and data you can match those needs to the available tools. There are are a lot of tools available that can provide for various levels of data recovery and speed to restore. Virtualization adds a lot of options for your tool belt.

Below is a list of a few tools used in conjunction with virtualization that are useful as you look to balance costs and needs in regards to your disaster recover and business continuity plans.

  • Windows Server Backup (supports Hyper-v for more details go here)
  • Hyper-v Replica
  • Veem – Backup
  • Vision Solutions – Double Take
  • System Center – Data Protection Manager

In other post of this series we will take a deeper look at specific tools like Hyper-v Replica and explain how it works and step you through implementation.

This is post part of a 15 part series on Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning by the US based Microsoft IT Evangelists. For the full list of articles in this series see the intro post located here: