November 11th, 2016: Storage Management: Windows Server and Microsoft Azure

BrightTalkCloudStoragePresentationThe third and final (so far) upcoming BrightTALK presentations is titled Storage Management: Windows Server and Microsoft Azure.   Here’s an overview of the topic for this free online webinar:

Organizations have more options than ever when it comes to deciding how and where to store their data.  In an ideal world, low-cost high-speed storage would be nearly infinite.  Practicality, however, demands that IT groups determine how best to leverage their own storage (including local, NAS and SAN options), and how cloud storage can fit into the overall architecture.  This presentation will start with recommendations for classifying storage requirements based on various needs, ranging from lower-cost, long-term data archival to highly-available, fault-tolerant, geo-replicated architectures, along with the vast sea of data that’s located in between these requirements.  The focus will be on the many different ways organizations can leverage existing and new features in the Windows Server platform and the many available storage-related services in the Microsoft Azure cloud.  Also covered will be information about building a private cloud architecture in your own datacenter, using the Microsoft Azure Stack, System Center, and related OS and cloud options.

October 18, 2016: Optimizing Storage for Virtualization in Windows Server

BrightTalk-OptimizingStorageThe second of my three upcoming BrightTALK presentations is titled Optimizing Storage for Virtualization in Windows Server.  Here’s an overview of the topic for this free online webinar:

Virtualization workloads generate many requirements and challenges for IT departments, including high performance, low latency, high-availability and the ability to quickly move and reconfigure workloads based on changing demands.  This presentation focuses on best practices for employing a wide array of different storage features in the Windows Server platform.  Details range from the SMB 3.x protocol to data-deduplication, clustering, Hyper-V Replica, and many more related features.  The presentation will begin with suggestions for determining requirements for different kinds of virtual disks and different business workloads.  Based on these requirements, we’ll drill-down in to practical advice on how, when, and why these features can help increase service delivery and reduce costs for virtualized environments of all sizes.

If you can’t make it to the live session, it will also be available for viewing after the conference.

Sept. 20, 2016: Software-Defined Storage Features in Windows Server 2016

BrightTalk-SDStorageInWS2016I’ll be giving a presentation as part of BrightTALK‘s Software-Defined Week of presentations.  The free session (registration required) is titled Software-Defined Storage Features in Windows Server 2016.  Here’s an overview of the presentation topic:

Meeting storage-related requirements has been a long-standing challenge for IT organizations, and added workload requirements from cloud- and software-defined architectures can add quickly to the burden.  Common goals are to implement solutions that provide high-availability and high performance, with low capital and operational costs.  The Windows Server 2016 platform includes a tremendous list of improved and new features that are available “out-of-the-box”.  That makes the biggest barrier understanding how, when and why you can implementing these features.

This presentation will cover a wide array of different features in the Windows Server platform, including Storage Spaces and Storage Spaces Direct; SMB 3.x improvements; storage tiering; Storage QoS; Storage Replica; data de-duplication; and many other features.  When compared to the costs and administrative complexity of traditional SANs, these tools can provide ready solutions for environments of all sizes and types.  The focus will be on technical details about the features and capabilities of the Windows Server platform, and how organizations can make best use of them.

It would be great if you can make it for the live session, but if not, it will also be available on-demand after the event is complete.

5 Strategies for Moving Your Business to the Cloud (Article)

BizTechLogoI recently wrote an online article for BizTech’s Small Business magazine, titled “5 Strategies for Moving Your Business to the Cloud“.  Here’s the introduction to the topic:
Small businesses can use the cloud to gain scale and ensure that their infrastructure keeps up with their growth ambitions.
When a small company finds itself growing, it often faces serious challenges in maintaining an IT infrastructure capable of keeping up with the rest of the business. Leveraging cloud implementations can provide huge benefits to small companies facing these challenges. However, as with any IT initiative, a sound technology strategy can make the difference between success and failure. Here are some important considerations, based on my consulting experience…
Please see CDW’s BizTech site for the complete (free) article and more cloud-related articles for SMB’s.

Attend the Microsoft BUILD Austin Event on May 29th, 2015

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There’s a lot of change that’s coming out for developers and IT pros that work on Microsoft technologies.  You can find more information about the available sessions at the Microsoft BUILD 2015 site, including the recordings of the keynote addresses from the live national presentation.  Just a sampler would include Windows 10 with huge consumer and Enterprise changes, UI design and development improvements, Azure, Visual Studio 2015, and a lot of other related topics.  Here’s an overview of what will be covered in Austin:

Friday, May 29, 2015 – 9:00AM

Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater
310 Willie Nelson Blvd
Austin, TX USA 78701

This event series brings the Build experience to cities around the globe.

As a developer, you can expect:

  • Best of Build announcements and insights
  • Deep dive in the Windows 10 developer platform for app and web developers
  • Coding sessions and exciting demos across devices
  • Partner showcases
  • Open Q&A and face-to-face time with Microsoft engineers
  • Each Event is Free

Build Tour Event Agenda

8:00 – close Registration
8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast
9:00 – 10:30 Keynote
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:45 Session #1 Universal Windows Platform
11:45 – 12:45 Lunch
12:45 – 13:00 Challenge
13:00 – 14:00 Session #2 Microsoft Edge & Web Apps
14:00 – 15:00 Session #3 Lightning Talks
15:00 – 15:30 Break
15:30 – 16:45 Panel Q/A
16:45 – 17:00 Closing remarks

Best of all, there’s a good chance that the all-day event is coming free to a place near you.  While I won’t be presenting any specific sessions in the Austin BUILD Event.  I will be available on-site all day to answer questions during breaks.

Be sure to register, if you plan to attend this free event (it’s at the amazing ACL at the Moody Theater downtown).  If you’re unable to attend, you can still find the sessions you’re interested online at the Channel 9 BUILD 2015 site.

Building and Managing Storage Environments for MSPs: Free Webinar on 05/27/2015

I’ll be presenting a Ziff-Davis webinar on the topic of Building and Managing Storage Environments for MSPs.  The topic will cover best practices and considerations for moving from local-based storage architectures to storage-based service offerings.  For more information, or to register for the free webinar, please visit Building and Managing Storage Environments for MSPs.

Attend the Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference: May 14-15, 2015

MVP15_MicrosoftMVP_VC_EmailBannerMicrosoft is soon hosting a great free event that Microsoft and the MVPs are putting on, May 14th & 15th.  Join Microsoft MVPs from the Americas’ region as they share their knowledge and real-world expertise during a free event, the MVP Virtual Conference.  As a member of the IT Pro selection committee, I can definitely vouch for the many interesting session topics (I’m planning to attend as many as I can on both says).

The MVP Virtual Conference will showcase 95 sessions of content for IT Pros, Developers and Consumer experts designed to help you navigate life in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.  Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Developer Platform, Steve Guggenheimer, will be on hand to deliver the opening Key Note Address.

Why attend MVP V-Conf? The conference will have 5 tracks, IT Pro English, Dev English, Consumer English, Portuguese mixed sessions & Spanish mixed sessions, there is something for everyone!

Come learn from the best and brightest in the tech world today. All of the sessions will all be delivered by the Americas’ Region Microsoft MVPs. These MVPs are experts who present at premiere conferences, independent community events and local user groups all over the globe.

This is a technical conference focused on helping attendees to learn and develop skills for everything from everyday technical work to wackier weekend projects. Whether it is on the IT Pro, Dev or Consumer side of things, you can bet that the content of MVP V-Conf will be cutting edge, exciting and relevant.

Be sure to register quickly to hold your spot and tell your friends & colleagues.

The conference will be widely covered on social media, you can join the conversation by following @MVPAward and using the hashtag #MVPvConf.   We hope to see you there!

Optimize SQL Server with Flash Storage: Webinar

On March 12th, I’ll be presenting a free online webinar titled, “Optimize SQL Server Performance with Flash-Based Storage – On a Budget“.  Here’s an overview of what the session will cover:

Are you tired of database latency? Low transaction throughput? Have you created a complicated storage design just to eek out a few more IOPS? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you should consider investigating flash-based storage. A flash-based storage array provides consistent performance, simple storage design, and low latency for SQL Server workloads such as OLTP, Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing.

Register for the webinar to learn more about how moving to flash-based storage addresses many of the pain points that application owners and DBAs face in the spindle world.

SQL Server and storage-related issues are among the most common issues I run into with my clients.  This presentation, sponsored by PureStorage, will try to dispel many of the myths and not-so-best practices, and will include some real-world input from Rob “barkz” Barker, Solutions Architect at Pure Storage.  Be sure to register if you’re planning to attend!

Windows Server Software-Defined Storage and Networking Presentation: Dec. 5th, 2014

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I’m excited to have been given the opportunity to present at the December meeting of the Central Texas Systems Management User Group (CTSMUG)!  I’ll try to post some more details on the topic here within the next week. 

The meeting starts at 10:00am and includes lunch.  For details (including directions and a full agenda) and to register to attend, see the Event Details.  There are lots of other interesting topics on the agenda, so do try to attend if you’re in the Austin area!

BrightTALK Webinar: Windows Server Enterprise Storage and Networking Features

imageOn December 9th, 2014, I’ll be presenting a free online webinar titled, Windows Server Enterprise Storage and Networking Features.  Here’s a quick overview of the topic:

IT professionals face many challenges in their struggle to deliver the infrastructure, applications, and services that their organizations need. Common issues include limited budgets, datacenter infrastructure complexity, and technical expertise to support a wide variety of changing goals. The presentation will provide guidance and best practices for data center admins that are looking for cost-effective ways to increase automation, improve hardware resource utilization, and provide HA/DR features without having to make costly investments in third-party products.
This webinar will discuss:

  • Features that include support for iSCSI-based SANs,
  • SMB-based virtual disks
  • Management UI and automation improvements
  • The latest version of Hyper-V
  • Low-cost high-availability

Register online if you’d like to attend!

Austin Code Camp 2014

The eight annual edition of Austin Code Camp is almost here, and I’ll again be presenting two SQL Server topics.  The event takes place at the New Horizons Learning Center (near Highland Mall).  This is a full-day event filled with presentations from expert developer and IT experts from Austin and beyond. 

Registration via EventBrite is required, as space is limited.  It looks like the tickets are selling out quickly, so be sure to get yours soon if you’re in the Austin area and want to attend! 

Here are the details on my updated presentations:

SQL Server Performance Monitoring & Optimization

Developers often overlook the art and science of query optimization, despite the importance of storing and accessing data in all types of applications. Developers can dramatically improve their users’ experience by monitoring and optimizing how they leverage their database. This session will cover practical ways in which attendees can monitor performance at various levels, and how they can use this information to optimize queries. We’ll start with an overview of the many different SQL Server tools that can be used for finding and troubleshooting performance issues. Then, we’ll walk through the process of using SQL Profiler to collect data for supporting real-world questions and goals, including: Generating a "hit list" of worst-performing queries based on execution times and frequency, and finding sources of bottlenecks.

Next, we’ll go through the process of using the Database Tuning Advisor to use captured workloads to optimize physical database structures such as indexes and partitions. Also included will be ways in which developers can use built-in reports and dynamic management views to gain further insight into their production systems. Finally, the presentation will include an overview of analyzing query plans. The overall emphasis will be on solving practical, real-world database performance problems.

SQL Server Reporting Services: Developing and Managing Reports

SQL Server Reporting Services allows developers to author and distribute complex reports that come from a variety of data sources. This session will begin with an architectural overview of Reporting Services and demos of how developers can install and configure the required services. Then, we will walk through the process of creating new reports using Report Builder and Visual Studio. Reporting features including dynamic drill-downs, tablix reports, charts, and sorting will be demonstrated. Also included will be methods by which multiple levels of report parameters can be used to efficiently filter data.

A key goal for reports is to get data to the users who required them, and to manage performance, permissions, and report contents over time. This presentation will cover deployment details, including scheduling report execution, report subscriptions, data caching, creating snapshots, and managing security. Attendees are welcome to bring their reporting-related questions and issues for discussion.

Transform the Datacenter MVP Roadshow (Houston, TX)

Transform the Datacenter MVP RoadshowI’m excited to be presenting a free session that’s focused on how IT pros can use Windows Server 2012 R2 to improve their datacenter operations. 

The event will take place on the morning of Friday, September 26th, 2014.  The scheduled presentation will start at 9:00am and conclude at 1:00pm, including breaks and meals.  For more details, and to register, please visit the Transform the Datacenter MVP Roadshow page for this event.  Registration is free, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Here’s an overview of the topics I’ll be covering:

Session I: Transforming Your Datacenter: Why and How

a. Common barriers to replacing current OS, applications, network, storage, and related infrastructure

b. Addressing datacenter management challenges

c. Understanding the role and benefits of public/private/hybrid cloud approaches

d. Planning for and Migrating from Windows Server 2003

Session II: New Features in Windows Server 2012 R2

a. Microsoft server and cloud platform overview

b. Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage and Networking Improvements

c. Virtualization with Hyper-V 4.0

d. Additional features and tools / Q & A

Session III: Transforming Your Datacenter: Infrastructure and Cloud Benefits of Windows Server 2012 R2

a. Comparing Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud approaches

b. Understanding Microsoft Azure service offerings

c. Integrating cloud and local data-center infrastructure

d. Getting start with moving data, applications, and services to the cloud

One of the many benefits of being a Microsoft MVP is the opportunity to connect with IT professionals that are located in my area (Central Texas).  While there’s no shortage of online resources for technical content on this topic, sometimes an in-person, on-site session can help provide the much-needed opportunity to interact with peers outside your organization.  If you’re in the Houston or Central Texas area, please do try to attend!

SQL Server Optimization for Developers Presentation in Austin, TX

imageOn April 14th, 2014, I’ll be presenting a session titled, “SQL Server Optimization for Developers” to the Austin .NET User Group.  The free event will opportunities for networking, food and drinks, and (of course) a presentation.

Here’s a brief overview of the topic and the presentation:

Database optimization is a critical component of overall application performance, and sub-optimal configurations can limit reliability, scalability, and the user experience. Unfortunately, many developers see database monitoring and optimization as a black art – something that’s better left to production and operations specialists. This presentation will focus on practical, real-world methods for monitoring and optimizing performance for SQL Server-based applications. Demonstrations will include understanding index types, capturing query data with SQL Profiler, analyzing indexes and using the Database Engine Tuning Advisor. In addition to live demos the content will focus on managing locking, managing schema changes, and application design best practices for developers.

If you’re in the Austin area, I hope to see you there!

Update: You can download the slides from the presentation from my SQL Server Presentations page.  And, coming soon: A full recording of the session, courtesy of UserGroup.tv (thanks, Shawn!).  Thanks to everyone for attending!

Update 2: The entire recorded presentation has been posted on UserGroup.tv: SQL Server Optimization for Developers, along with my previous videos.  Thanks, as always, to Shawn for recording the session.

MVP Award for 2014!

SAM_0545I recently received my 11th Microsoft MVP Award!  I’m really happy to once again be included in the program, and I’ll definitely but the benefits to good use.  Thanks, as always, to everyone at Microsoft for the award and for making the program so valuable!

The Imagine Cup Competition

After a couple of decades of working in IT in a wide variety of different capacities, I still fondly recall my first computer: The Commodore 64.  Apart from playing tons of games, interacting on BBS’s, reading computer magazines, and writing basic (technically, BASIC) programs, I had a lot of fun just learning about how computers worked.  That was still in the early days of home computing.  Even back then, though, I had so many different ideas for great applications and games.  Now, of course, technology that is many millions of times more powerful is available globally and to a huge portion of the world. 

To me, one of the most important goals of being involved with IT is to inspire others to do the same.  There are so many different aspects of application design and development, data management, systems administration, game design, and related fields that it’s a great field with which to excite people.  Backgrounds in science, technology, and math are well complemented by skills in art, literature, entertainment, geography, sociology, and dozens of other fields. 

imageTo In order to help foster that spirit, Microsoft has created Imagine Cup.  This program is as an annual competition that allows groups from around the world to design software and receive feedback from industry judges.  The overall challenge:

Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems

Competition categories include user experience design, mobile application ideas, and a wide variety of other technologies.  More details and statistics on the Imagine Cup Competition are available from the Imagine Cup Wikipedia Page.  You can also see a summary and a list of winners in that article.

If you’re interested in participating in the competition, see the All Competitions page to get started with a list of different categories and areas of focus.  You can create an account, form a team, and submit your materials using the site.  This year, winning contestants even have the chance to Meet Bill Gates!

I’m currently volunteering as a judge for the User Experience competition, and so far I have been really impressed with the thought, effort, and creativity that the contestants have shown.  Be sure to use the links in this post to find more information!