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#Azure November newsletter

November 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Once again I’m amazed of the pace that Microsoft releases new innovative and great service in Azure! Just love it! 🙂

Free e-book: Enterprise Cloud Strategy

What if you were able to achieve both efficiency and innovation in your business domains and applications across your entire portfolio? What if you could take advantage of the cloud and all its resources and features? With a good road map and strategy, you can. Download the free e-book, Enterprise Cloud Strategy, and find ways to build your own road map to success.

Download the free e-book

Advancing our ambition to democratize artificial intelligence

Microsoft recently announced a new partnership with OpenAI, a nonprofit AI research organization co-founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and Ilya Sutskever. Together we hope to make significant contributions to advance the field of AI, and make it more accessible to every developer and every organization. Read more about the partnership and why OpenAI chose Azure as the primary cloud platform from Harry Shum, Microsoft Executive Vice President of AI and Research and Sam Altman, co-founder, OpenAI (and be sure to watch the video about why they chose Azure). Also, visit the Azure Blog for more information.

Connect(); // 2016: Keynotes and technical sessions available on demand

Missed the Microsoft Connect(); developer event? Catch up on all the news and keynotes or dive right into any of the technical sessions on Visual Studio, .NET, Xamarin, DevOps, Azure, Data with Intelligent Apps, UWP, developing for Office and more! Browse the on-demand content.

G-Series instances now available for Azure Cloud Services

G-Series instances are available in Azure Cloud Services in all regions where G-Series instances for Azure Virtual Machines are currently offered. They feature the latest Intel Xeon processor E5 v3 family and provide unparalleled computational performance, substantial memory, and robust local solid-state drive (SSD) storage.

VMware backup now available in Azure Backup

VMware backup in Azure Backup helps protect virtual machines running on the VMware platform, on-premises or in the cloud. If you run backups on-premises, this new capability helps you meet requirements for operational recovery. If you back up your information to the cloud, you can meet long-term compliance rules and have an offsite copy of your data. For more information, visit the Operations Management Suite | Protection & Recovery webpage.

In-Memory OLTP for Azure SQL Database generally available

You can use In-Memory OLTP, a feature of Azure SQL Database, to achieve incredible performance gains (up to 30 times) for transaction processing and data ingestion in Premium databases, with no or minimal changes to the application. Memory-optimized tables, memory-optimized table types, and natively compiled T-SQL modules are now available in all Premium databases, including databases in Premium elastic pools. For more information, read the Microsoft Azure SQL Database provides unparalleled performance with In-Memory technologies blog post.

Azure SQL Database Long-Term Retention in public preview

For applications with compliance or operational requirements to retain data, Azure SQL Database now offers Long-Term Retention (LTR). With just a few clicks, you can easily enable your databases to create weekly backups stored in your own Azure Backup vault and extend the retention period built into SQL Database from 35 days to up to 10 years. The backups in the vault are restorable and are automatically deleted after your configured retention period. For more information, visit the Azure Blog.

Azure Content Delivery Network adds new features for better performance, real-time management, and mobile users

Azure Content Delivery Network is a multi-CDN platform that offers massively scalable, secure delivery of content with accelerated performance. New capabilities include the ability to set up real-time alerts about delivery anomalies, such as bandwidth and cache status, and a mobile rules engine where you can customize rules and features targeted to mobile devices, such as device model and operating system. Visit the Azure Blog for more information.

Azure Active Directory Domain Services generally available

Azure Active Directory Domain Services offers scalable, high-performance, managed services such as domain join, LDAP, Kerberos, Windows Integrated Authentication, and Group Policy support. With the click of a button, administrators can enable managed domain services for Linux and Windows virtual machines and directory-aware applications deployed in Azure infrastructure services. By maintaining compatibility with Windows Server Active Directory, Azure Active Directory Domain Services gives you an easy way to migrate traditional on-premises applications to the cloud.

Azure HDInsight introduces advanced security capabilities in public preview

Azure HDInsight has several new key security capabilities. It integrates with Azure Active Directory and Azure Active Directory Domain Services for enterprise-grade authentication and identity management. HDInsight also integrates with Apache Ranger for a central policy and management portal where administrators can maintain fine-grained control policies over Hadoop data access, components, and services. Data processed by HDInsight is stored in Azure Data Lake Store or Azure Storage. Both offer server-side encryption to secure data at rest.

Azure Data Factory adds more connectors and achieves higher speeds

Azure Data Factory allows you to bring data from a rich variety of locations into Azure for advanced analytics and predictive modeling. We recently added support for FTP/S, Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and Parquet file format. Load speeds have also been greatly enhanced: you can now load into Azure SQL Data Warehouse at 1.2 GBps and load into Azure Data Lake Store and Azure Blob Storage at over 1.0 GBps.

Azure Analysis Services in public preview

Built on the proven analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services delivers enterprise-grade Business Intelligence semantic modeling capabilities with the scale, flexibility, and management benefits of the cloud. For more information, visit the Azure Blog.

Continue reading here!
//Richard

Microsoft and AzureCon delivers! Love it! – #Azure, #AzureCon, #EnvokeIT, #IoT, #SaaS, #PaaS

I really love the way that Microsoft and Azure delivers! It’s so amazing with all the PaaS and SaaS offerings they now have on top of the traditional IaaS delivery. There is no other cloud provider out there that delivers anything near it! I’m amazed and so happy to be a part of this journey!

If you didn’t have the time to look at AzureCon you have a lot of great videos and topics to go through!!

Here is a short overview of the many great things released and presented:

  • General Availability of 3 new Azure regions in India
  • Announcing new N-series of Virtual Machines with GPU capabilities
  • Announcing Azure IoT Suite available to purchase
  • Announcing Azure Container Service
  • Announcing Azure Security Center

Watching the Videos

All of the talks presented at AzureCon (including the 60 breakout talks) are now available to watch online.  You can browse and watch all of the sessions here.

Announcing General Availability of 3 new Azure regions in India

Yesterday we announced the general availability of our new India regions: Mumbai (West), Chennai (South) and Pune (Central).  They are now available for you to deploy solutions into.

This brings our worldwide presence of Azure regions up to 24 regions, more than AWS and Google combined. Over 125 customers and partners have been participating in the private preview of our new India regions.   We are seeing tremendous interest from industry sectors like Public Sector, Banking Financial Services, Insurance and Healthcare whose cloud adoption has been restricted by data residency requirements.  You can all now deploy your solutions too.

Announcing N-series of Virtual Machines with GPU Support

This week we announced our new N-series family of Azure Virtual Machines that enable GPU capabilities.  Featuring NVidia’s best of breed Tesla GPUs, these Virtual Machines will help you run a variety of workloads ranging from remote visualization to machine learning to analytics.

The N-series VMs feature NVidia’s flagship GPU, the K80 which is well supported by NVidia’s CUDA development community. N-series will also have VM configurations featuring the latest M60 which was recently announced by NVidia. With support for M60, Azure becomes the first hyperscale cloud provider to bring the capabilities of NVidia’s Quadro High End Graphics Support to the cloud. In addition, N-series combines GPU capabilities with the superfast RDMA interconnect so you can run multi-machine, multi-GPU workloads such as Deep Learning and Skype Translator Training.

Announcing Azure Security Center

This week we announced the new Azure Security Center—a new Azure service that gives you visibility and control of the security of your Azure resources, and helps you stay ahead of threats and attacks.  Azure is the first cloud platform to provide unified security management with capabilities that help you prevent, detect, and respond to threats.

Azure_Security_Center

The Azure Security Center provides a unified view of your security state, so your team and/or your organization’s security specialists can get the information they need to evaluate risk across the workloads they run in the cloud.  Based on customizable policy, the service can provide recommendations. For example, the policy might be that all web applications should be protected by a web application firewall. If so, the Azure Security Center will automatically detect when web apps you host in Azure don’t have a web application firewall configured, and provide a quick and direct workflow to get a firewall from one of our partners deployed and configured: Read more…

Microsoft Ignite 2015 summary – #MSIgnite, #EnvokeIT, #Azure, #Office365, #OneDrive, #EMM, #PaaS, #IaaS

Hi all,

We at EnvokeIT participated and collaborated at Microsoft Ignite 2015 in Chicago. And it was one of the most intense events I’ve visited in years with a lot of happening in the business and Microsoft really showed that they are the leading innovator in many areas!

I hope that you enjoy my report and that it gives you a condensed overview of what happened and please contact us at EnvokeIT if you want assistance within any area below! And thank you Microsoft for such a great event and also all you bloggers out there that I’ve linked to in this material.

I must say that this event was positive and a bit scary at the same time. Microsoft is for sure pushing as visionairies and innovators in a lot of areas, and I think that competitors will have a hard time competing in the coming years.

These are the areas where A LOT have been released already and where Microsoft according to my oppinion will increase its market share significantly:

  • Cloud and Mobile services, and with this I don’t mean IaaS service for just running a VM in their public Azure cloud or building a hybrid cloud with connectivity to on-premise datacenters. They are delivering so many capabilities now as PaaS and SaaS services. Just look at the sections below, it’s everything from Enterprise Mobillity Management (EMM), Business Intelligence, Database, Storage, Web Apps/services, Service Availability services (DR, Monitoring/Reporting, Backup etc.), Development, Source Control, Visual Studio Online etc. It’s amazing!!
  • Open Source/Linux support – It’s so cool how much Microsoft have shifted to become an adopter to support more open source technologies and way of thinking than just a couple of years ago! Just have a look at all the Linux support they have in Azure, the Linux support they now have in System Center, Docker support to deliver more DevOps capabilities and all the other services in Azure. It’s amazing and so fun! So now both Microsoft have opened their eyes and realized that they can’t ignore this anymore just like Citrix has with their addition of XenDesktop for Linux with SuSE and RedHat support!

The first day kicked off and was a bombarding of product announcements aimed at helping IT pros secure and manage the new Universal Windows Platform.

CEO Satya Nadella presided over a three-hour keynote, which focused on how Microsoft’s new wave of software and cloud services will enable IT and business transformations that are in line with the ways people now work. Nadella talked up Microsoft’s focus on “productivity and platforms” and how it’s tied with the shift to cloud and mobility. He also highlighted the need for better automation of systems and processes, and better management of the vast amounts of data originating from new sources such as sensors and other Internet-of-Things-type nodes.

As mentioned there where a lot of updates and below I’ve tried to gather these and I hope it gives you a good insight on the infromation we received and also guidance on how you can get more information about the topics.

Included below are links to detailed overviews of each of the demos (from Microsoft blog post) – including information about how to use them, where to learn more, and what you’ll need to get started.

The following picture is a sketch of the keynote and is also quite good at summarizing the message of Mobile and Cloud first!

 

vNiklas also created a great powershell script that automates the downloading of all MS Ignite content with PowerShell and Bits from Channel 9 that you can find here!

Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) – MDM, MAM, MCSM/MIM etc…

Microsoft’s next chapter in Enterprise Mobility, great blog post on where Microsoft is going etc. http://blogs.technet.com/b/enterprisemobility/archive/2015/05/04/ignite-microsofts-next-chapter- in-enterprise-mobility.aspx …

Windows 10 Continuum – this is cool, think about docking your smartphone to your external screen, keyboard and mouse! That’s try mobility of youre device, this looks really cool and something that I’d like to try out once released!

Have a look at the feature demo at Ignite in the video below.

What’s New and Upcoming with Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager | Microsoft Ignite 2015

This session outlines the latest enhancements in enterprise mobility management using Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager. See the newest Microsoft Intune improvements for managing mobile productivity without compromising compliance, and learn about the futures of Microsoft Intune and Configuration Manager, including new Windows 10 management scenarios.

Microsoft Intune and Configuration Manager, including new Windows 10 management scenarios.

https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015/BRK3861/player

In the CloudEnterprise Mobility Management table of content:

Office 2016 public preview available!

Over the last 12 months, we’ve transformed Office from a suite of desktop applications to a complete, cross-platform, cross-device solution for getting work done. We’ve expanded the Office footprint to iPad and Android tablets. We’ve upgraded Office experiences on the Mac, the iPhone and on the web. We’ve even added new apps to the Office family with Sway and Office Lens. All designed to keep your work moving, everywhere. But that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten where we came from. While you’ve seen us focus on tuning Office for different platforms over the last year, make no mistake, Office on Windows desktop is central to our strategy.

In March we introduced an IT Pro and Developer Preview for the 2016 release of our Office desktop apps on Windows, and now—as a next step—we’re ready to take feedback from a broader audience. Today we’re expanding the Office 2016 Preview, making it available to Office users everywhere in preparation for general availability in Fall 2015.

Office 2016 previewers will get an early look at the next release of Office on Windows desktop, but more importantly they’ll help to shape and improve the future of Office. Visit the Office 2016 Preview site to learn more about the Preview program and if it’s right for you.

New in Office 2016

Since March, we’ve shared some glimpses of what’s to come in Office 2016. Today, we’d like to give a more holistic view of what customers at home and work can expect in the next release. In Office 2016, we’re updating the Office suite for the modern workplace, with smart tools for individuals, teams, and businesses.

Read more…

Synergy 2015 – A condensed recap of everything you need to know – via @gkuruvilla, #Citrix, #CitrixSynergy

This is a great summary recap that George Kuruvill has done of Citrix Synergy 2015! Great work and enjoy this blog post!

For those of you who were not able to attend Citrix Synergy this year & dont have the time to sit through the key note recordings, I decided to put together a condensed version of some of the key announcements. So here goes!

Citrix Workspace Cloud

  • Citrix hosted control plane that enables customers to deliver a comprehensive mobile workspace to end users.
  • Gives customers the flexibility to host workloads on premises, in public or private clouds.
  • Control plane also provides end to end monitoring of user connections.
  • Evergreen infrastructure since Citrix maintains all core infrastructure components.
  • Workspace Cloud Connector installed on premises on a Win 2k12 server that establishes SSL communication between control plane and customer environment. Used to talk to infrastructure components like Active Directory and hypervisors hosting workload

I wrote a blog on CWC and the value proposition a month back that you can find here.

SYN 217 –  Workspace Cloud – Technical Overview [Video]

 

Citrix Lifecycle Management

  • Comprehensive cloud based service that can be used to design, deploy and manage both Citrix and other enterprise applications.
  • Based on the ScaleXtreme technology.
  • Lifecycle Management enables customers/partners to deploy infrastructure not only on premises but also public/private clouds (resource locations)
  • Customers/Partners have the ability to create blueprints to automate infrastructure deployments end to end. Examples of blueprints include a XD deployment for instance where you could not only install all the XD infrastructure but also automate the installation of all supporting infrastructure like Active Directory, SQL etc.
  • Vendors have the ability to create blueprints as well that can then be consumed by customers and partners alike.
  • Customers/Partners also have the ability to incorporate scripts (new/existing) into the deployment.
  • Once a blueprint is developed, its added to a library. Any resource within the library can then be deployed to a resource location (on premises, public/private cloud)
  • Another key benefit of the Lifecycle Management technology is the ability to automate application upgrades.

XenApp/XenDesktop

  • Xenapp 6.5 maintenance extended till end of 2017, EOL extended till 06/2018. Details here
  • New Feature Pack for XA 6.5 (enhance storage performance, Lync support enhancements, UPM enhancements, Director “Help Desk” troubleshooting”, Storefront 3.0, Receiver.next)
  • XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 FP2  (End of Q2)
    • New Receiver X1
    • Lync 2013 on Mac
    • Touch ID Support
    • HDX with Framehawk
    • Native Receiver for Linux
    • Linux Apps and Desktops (Redhat and SUSE support)
    • Desktop Player for Mac 2.0 (June)
    • Desktop Player for Windows (Tech Preview)

SYN 233 – Whats new in XenApp and XenDesktop [Video]

SYN 319 – Tech Update for XenApp and XenDesktop  [Video]

Read more…

True Scale Out Shared Nothing Architecture – #Compute, #Storage, #Nutanix via @josh_odgers

October 26, 2013 Leave a comment

This is yet another great blog post by Josh! Great work and keep it up! 😉

I love this statement:

I think this really highlights what VMware and players like Google, Facebook & Twitter have been saying for a long time, scaling out not up, and shared nothing architecture is the way of the future.

At VMware vForum Sydney this week I presented “Taking vSphere to the next level with converged infrastructure”.

Firstly, I wanted to thank everyone who attended the session, it was a great turnout and during the Q&A there were a ton of great questions.

I got a lot of feedback at the session and when meeting people at vForum about how the Nutanix scale out shared nothing architecture tolerates failures.

I thought I would summarize this capability as I believe its quite impressive and should put everyone’s mind at ease when moving to this kind of architecture.

So lets take a look at a 5 node Nutanix cluster, and for this example, we have one running VM. The VM has all its data locally, represented by the “A” , “B” and “C” and this data is also distributed across the Nutanix cluster to provide data protection / resiliency etc.

Nutanix5NodeCluster

So, what happens when an ESXi host failure, which results in the Nutanix Controller VM (CVM) going offline and the storage which is locally connected to the Nutanix CVM being unavailable?

Firstly, VMware HA restarts the VM onto another ESXi host in the vSphere Cluster and it runs as normal, accessing data both locally where it is available (in this case, the “A” data is local) and remotely (if required) to get data “B” and “C”.

Nutanix5nodecluster1failed

Secondly, when data which is not local (in this example “B” and “C”) is accessed via other Nutanix CVMs in the cluster, it will be “localized” onto the host where the VM resides for faster future access.

It is importaint to note, if data which is not local is not accessed by the VM, it will remain remote, as there is no benefit in relocating it and this reduces the workload on the network and cluster.

The end result is the VM restarts the same as it would using traditional storage, then the Nutanix cluster “curator” detects if any data only has one copy, and replicates the required data throughout the cluster to ensure full resiliency.

The cluster will then look like a fully functioning 4 node cluster as show below.

5NodeCluster1FailedRebuild

The process of repairing the cluster from a failure is commonly incorrectly compared to a RAID pack rebuild. With a raid rebuild, a small number of disks, say 8, are under heavy load re striping data across a hot spare or a replacement drive. During this time the performance of everything on the RAID pack is significantly impacted.

With Nutanix, the data is distributed across the entire cluster, which even with a 5 node cluster will be at least 20 SATA drives, but with all data being written to SSD then sequentially offloaded to SATA.

The impact of this process is much less than a RAID…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

#Windows 8.1’s #BYOD enhancements ready for business adoption – via @kenhess

This is actually great news and a great article by Ken Hess! Microsoft is finally understanding the new BYOD use cases and scenarios! Interesting reading…

Summary: Microsoft understands, better than any other software company, that BYOD is actually a thing. It’s a thing to be dealt with at the source, which is exactly what they’re doing.

Everyone has weighed in on Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 update due at the end of the month, but few have highlighted the finer points of this significant update. Personally, I see Windows 8.1 as the new business operating system for desktop computing. Microsoft has listened to its critics and has made some super improvements on its much-beleagured new operating system.

Some of the more exciting improvements come in the form of BYOD enhancements. I believe that it is these features that will propel Windows 8.x onto corporate desktop systems and out of critical oblivion.

Excerpt from Stephen L. Rose’s Springboard Blog on Windows.com.

B.Y.O.D (Bring Your Own Device) Enhancements

  • Workplace Join – A Windows 8 PC was either domain joined or not. If it was a member of the domain, the user could access corporate resources (if permissioned) and IT could control the PC through group policy and other mechanisms. This feature allows a middle ground between all or nothing access, allowing a user to work on the device of their choice and still have access to corporate resources. With Workplace Join, IT administrators now have the ability to offer finer-grained control to corporate resources. If a user registers their device, IT can grant some access while still enforcing some governance parameters on the device to ensure the security of corporate assets.
  • Work Folders – Work Folders allows a user to sync data to their device from their user folder located in the corporation’s data center. Files created locally will sync back to the file server in the corporate environment. This syncing is natively integrated into the file system. Note, this all happens outside the firewall client sync support. Previously, Windows 8 devices needed to be domain joined (or required domain credentials) for access to file shares. Syncing could be done with 3rd party folder replication apps. With Work Folders, Users can keep local copies of their work files on their devices, with automatic synchronization to your data center, and for access from other devices. IT can enforce Dynamic Access Control policies on the Work Folder Sync Share (including automated Rights Management) and require Workplace Join to be in place.
  • Open MDM- While many organizations have investments with System Center and will continue to leverage these investments we also know that many organizations want to manage certain classes of devices, like tablets and BYOD devices, as mobile devices. With Windows 8.1, you can use an OMA-DM API agent to allow management of Windows 8.1 devices with mobile device management products, like Mobile Iron or Air Watch .
  • NFC tap-to-pair printing – Tap your Windows 8.1 device against an NFC-enabled printer and you’re all set to print without hunting on your network for the correct printer. You also don’t need to buy new printers to take advantage of this; you can simply put an NFC tag on your existing printers to enable this functionality.
  • Wi-Fi Direct printing – Connect to Wi-Fi Direct printers without adding additional drivers or software on your Windows 8.1 device, forming a peer-to-peer network between your device and any Wi-Fi enabled printer.
  • Native Miracast wireless display – Present your work wirelessly with no connection cords or dongles needed; just pair with project to a Miracast-enabled projector through Bluetooth or NFC and Miracast will use Wi-Fi to let you project wire-free.
  •  Mobile Device Management – When a user enrolls their device, they are joining the device to the Windows Intune management service. They get access to the Company Portal which provides a consistent experience for access to their applications, data and to manage their own devices. This allows a deeper management experience with existing tools like Windows Intune. IT administrators now have more comprehensive policy management for Windows RT devices, and can manage Windows 8.1 PCs as mobile devices without having to deploy a full management client.
  • Web Application Proxy – The Web Application Proxy is a new role service in the Windows Server Remote Access role. It provides the ability to publish access to corporate resources, and enforce multi-factor authentication as well as apply conditional access policies to verify both the user’s identity and the device they are using…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

Free whitepaper: Enterprise #Architecture and ITIL: Implementing Service Strategy

Have a look at this free whitepaper!

In the previous paper “Enterprise Architecture and ITIL: Where is the Value in ITIL?” Trevor Lea-Cox looked at why and under what circumstances Service Management, the focus of ITIL® is important.

Essentially Service Management is important because the concept and use of services is a powerful mechanism for structuring and managing the growth of an organization, including the IT function.  As the IT function grows, IT Services reach a level of complexity where they can no longer be managed on an informal basis.  ITIL provides the best practice guidelines for managing IT Services on a (progressively) more formal basis.

In this paper Trevor will:

  • Review (briefly) the recommendations of ITIL for developing and managing a Service Strategy for IT Services.
  • Try to clarify what is meant by an “IT Service”.
  • Then apply these principles to managing a small EA department within an IT function.

Register and download here!

//Richard

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