Archive for category Cloud Computing

HackMISA Hackathon at UT Austin: April 2nd, 2017

I’ll be presenting topics that are focused on creating a SQL Azure database, and writing a simple web application to enter, update, and display data – all from using cloud resources.  Here’s an overview of the event:

HackMISA is a 12 hour hackathon hosted by the Management Information Systems Asscioation as a new initiative to provide more opportunities for students to learn how to code. This is where you can turn your ideas into a reality. You’ll make new friends and learn cool skills w the help of industry professionals!

Come down for a day of free food, workshops, mentorships, & prizes. Whether you have no coding knoledge or are a seasoned hacker, we would love to see you there!

For more information about the event or to sign up, please visit the HackMISA Spring 2017 web page!

Austin Editors Guild: “The Technology of Editing” (March 23, 2017)

I’m looking forward to speaking at the March meeting of the Austin Editors Guild.

Here’s an overview of the topic:

Join us this month to up your tech game! We’ll talk about features in Microsoft Office and Word that will help you improve your workflow, editing process, and document management. Don’t worry if you don’t have the latest versions—we’ll discuss both free and paid options for upgrades.

We’ll show demos on how you can use Microsoft Word and OneNote to manage the editing process. You’ll also see new features in action and practical applications for their use, such as real-time document collaboration, advanced formatting features, Word’s new grammar-checking feature, SmartArt graphics, and more. Anil will share real-world examples of how he’s managed his writing and editing projects for a variety of major publishers, lessons learned, and tips for dealing with poorly organized environments and processes.

For more information, visit the Austin Editors Guild Web Site; and view updates on Twitter (@austineditors).

October 19, 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.

Update:  The presentation was originally scheduled for October 18th, and has been moved back by one day.  If the new time doesn’t work well for you, remember that the presentation will always be available on-demand, soon after the live recording.

Note: To access the recording of this session (and all of my past BrightTALK webinars), please search using https://www.brighttalk.com/search?q=Anil+Desai.

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.

Note: To access the recording of this session (and all of my past BrightTALK webinars), please search using https://www.brighttalk.com/search?q=Anil+Desai.

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

https://az118040.vo.msecnd.net/assets/7fd7654959f64dd7a2c9cbca75f4ccae/austin_l.jpg

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!

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!

Upcoming Cloud and Hyper-V Webcasts on BrightTALK

BrightTALK

I have a couple of upcoming presentations on the BrightTALK web site.  The presentations are free to attend are available online (registration is required).  Also, feel free to take a look at my previous BrightTALK presentations.

Designing Cloud Architectures with Hyper-V

August 8th, 2013 at 11:00am Pacific

Presentation Link

Designing Cloud Architectures with Hyper-VMany of the technical aspects of cloud-based solutions are a natural progression for those environments that want to expand upon their virtualization deployments. This webinar will provide technical details and best practices for deploying new features in the Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0 platforms. Topics will include reducing storage costs, implementing high-availability and disaster recovery, and improving automation to reduce data center costs and increase efficiency.

Streamlining IT Operations with Windows Azure

October 8th, 2013 at 3:00pm Pacific

Presentation Link

Streamlining IT Operations with Windows Azure

While few would call the use of cloud-based technologies a “quiet revolution”, Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform has expanded into a wide range of different services that can be leveraged to reduce costs and increase IT efficiency. The challenge for IT professionals is to arrange the pieces of the puzzle into an optimal arrangement for many different types of workloads. This presentation will focus on practical advice for using SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS approaches to building private, public, and hybrid clouds. It will include examples of applications and workloads that could benefit from the use of cloud technology, and the benefits and drawbacks each approach.

Note: To access the recording of this session (and all of my past BrightTALK webinars), please search using https://www.brighttalk.com/search?q=Anil+Desai.

More [Google] Fiber in Austin’s Diet

imageAustin has long been known as a high-tech city, and it’s one of the many reasons I have loved living here for over 20 years.  Earlier this week, the technology news just got better: Google Fiber is coming to Austin!  We’ll soon be joining Kansas City with access to 1Gbps symmetric bandwidth.  For customers that don’t need that level of performance, they can opt for paying a one-time (or one-year) installation cost for free Internet access from there on.

If you live in Austin, you can visit the Google Fiber Austin page to sign up for more information (when it’s available).  Now, comes the hard part: The wait until the service is available in my area (in Central Austin).  Estimates so far indicate that it will be at least another year before that happens.  Still, it’s good to know that this kind of connectivity is on its way! 

Dell Tech Page One Cloud and Virtualization Articles

imageI recently had the opportunity to write several articles for Dell’s Tech Page One blog.  I always enjoy thinking (and writing/speaking) about topics related to IT architecture changes.  Over the last several years, that has focused on virtualization technology and cloud computer.  A special

Below are links to those articles, with a brief intro for each.

With the seemingly endless list of daily IT tasks and projects, it’s difficult to step back and ask a hypothetical question: How would we build out data center infrastructures if we could completely start over?

The availability of new technology is often the beginning of a new set of challenges for IT professionals. The trick is in finding how to get the benefits of improvements while staying within the constraints of budgets, human resources, time, expertise, and business requirements.

When implemented correctly, virtualization helps reduce complexity, reduce management overhead, and increase overall operational efficiency. Those words should be music to the ears of any data center manager struggling to make their business requirements and technology ends meet.

The enigmatic world of quantum mechanics notwithstanding, it’s difficult to create something from nothing. That’s especially true if you’re an IT professional tasked with meeting storage needs.

A special thanks to Ziff Davis for providing the project and getting this published!

MVP Blog Post: Hyper-V High-Availability Without a SAN

imageI have mentioned before that my favorite features in Windows Server 2012 are related to improvements in the storage stack.  While it might not seem as exciting as some of the many other new features, the number and types of scenarios that storage and networking improvements allow are tremendous.  Best of all, these features ship “in the box” (that is, as part of the product itself), so no third-party tools, utilities, or drivers are required. 

I recently wrote an article for the Microsoft MVP Award Program blog that covers some ways in which IT pros can use these features to implement high-availability and other Enterprise-level features using Windows Server 2012.  Here’s a brief excerpt from the post:

Enter Windows Server 2012: A server product that ships with all of the required ingredients to brew your own highly-available storage environment. In this post, I’ll focus on the storage and high-availability-related features that ship as part of Windows Server 2012. Specifically, I’ll discuss what’s required to build and deploy a fault-tolerant Hyper-V deployment using only in-box features. I’ll start with the configuration basics and then list higher-end features that are available for production environments.

For the complete post, please see Windows Server 2012: Hyper-V High-Availability without a SAN, and feel free to post questions or comments there!

Summary: Moving to Office 365

A few weeks after completing the migration from Gmail to Office 365, I’m pretty happy with the improvements.  For now, I think the Office 365-based approach with a hosted Exchange Server is everything I need to efficiently manage e-mail on multiple devices and online.  I like the ability to quickly and easily install and configure a full version of Microsoft Office on multiple computers without additional licensing charges, activation, and manual license tracking. With the addition of new features like the Microsoft Office App Store, I think the overall experience will continue to improve. Of course, if I do decide to make changes, I’ll plan to post the details on this blog.

Blog Post Index

Here’s a complete list of the posts related to my move from Gmail to Office 365 (in suggested reading order):

Resource for More Information

In my quest to migrate from Gmail to Office 365, I found a lot of useful information from places around the Web. I have tried to avoid re-writing information that’s better covered elsewhere, and I recommend the following links for more information:

Questions? Comments?

I’d like to hear others’ questions and experiences with Gmail, Office 365, and other online services, so please feel free to add a comment here. If you have an in-depth technical question, though, it might be best to post to the Microsoft Office 365 Technical Community Forums.

Office 365: Issues and Considerations

In previous posts, I covered a lot of details related to the benefits of moving to Office 365. Of course, few technical solutions consist of only benefits, and there are a few potential issues that I think might be important to keep in mind. In this post, I’ll cover some of the issues that I have run into or think might be an issue for others.

Note: This post is part of a series on my move from Gmail to Office 365. To see a complete list of related posts, see Summary: Moving to Office 365.

Office 365 Considerations

  • Cost: First and foremost (for many people), Office 365 is not free. You can use the Office 365: Compare Plans page to get more details on the available offerings. The Small Business (P1) plan is most appropriate for my purposes, and after the free trial period, it will cost me $6/month ($72/year). That’s infinitely more than “free”, but to me, it’s worth the cost.
  • Exchange ActiveSync Support on other devices: Outlook 2013 works great for me, but I found that the built-in Android 4.0 Email application leaves a bit to be desired in the “user experience” department. First, the app is buggy – it took me many tries to just add an account. I was unable to change my password without completely removing the account and re-adding it (no easy task on a touchscreen interface). The e-mail widget doesn’t work on my ASUS Transformer TF101, and the folder management UI is almost as painful as Gmail’s web UI. Of course, there are third-party apps (most are relatively expensive for mobile apps) that fill in some of these gaps.
  • Incomplete Migration of application settings: While the majority of commonly-used messaging settings seem to be stored online (and, more importantly, are automatically synchronized between client installations), some are not. For example, I found that some toolbar customizations and Outlook client message settings (I usually change the default reply font and color) do not migrate automatically. It’s not a huge deal, but it would certainly help to have all relevant client settings roam to new computers and devices.
  • Outlook Data File Synchronization: The default settings in Outlook 2013 specify that the application should download and cache 12 months of data on the local client (stored, by default, in the user’s profile folder in an OST file). As long as you have enough bandwidth and storage space, you should be fine with those settings. However, features like Windows Search can cause a significant amount of overhead while it indexes your entire offline data store. It’s not a huge deal, but it became readily apparent when my aging laptop temperature started to exceed the 100-plus degree Texas summer heat while performing the initial synchronization.
  • Outlook 2013 UI: Overall, I like the new Outlook 2013 UI (especially the default setting on in-line replies from the “Reading” pane). There are some things I don’t like, though. As many people have complained, I find that the overly white/washed-out appearance of the new Office 2013 ribbons and toolbars to be a step backward in usability and aesthetics. Perhaps over time, I’ll get use to the new look. Or, better yet, Microsoft will listen to the feedback and offer some customization options (as they did with Visual Studio 2012). It’s not a deal-breaker, but it might affect some users’ willingness to use the Office 2012 Beta.
  • Office Updates: I think most of us who have come to rely on online services have tended to like the idea that new updates and features can be rolled out seamlessly online. In general, being able to use the newest features is a good thing. However, there’s always a chance that an update will make things worse from a usability or functionality perspective. I don’t think it’s an “issue” exactly, but there’s a potential for unwelcome changes to occur. Personally, I’m not worried and will address any problems if/when they arise.
  • Preview-related downtime and issues: I did experience the inability to send messages from my Office 365 account for almost an entire week. More details on that issue can be found in a previous post, Cloud Services: The Importance of Technical Support.

Potential Preview Program Pain

The Office 365 Preview is just that – a pre-release version of the final services that Microsoft plans to release. It comes with limited support offerings, and users should expect at least some problems. I’ll probably be ready to sign up as soon as the service goes live, unless anything unexpected comes up before the general availability of the new service.

One important statement in the Microsoft Office Preview FAQ is that existing data (calendars and e-mail) will not be migrated automatically. It reads:

· The Preview is separate from your current Office 365 service and is for temporary use only.

· When the Preview ends, all data in the Preview account will be deleted, including email and calendar data, web sites, and uploaded documents, so be sure to download any information that you need to keep.

It will be inconvenient if I have to back up my entire Exchange mailbox to a .PST file and then re-import it. However, it wouldn’t take a lot of my time and effort to accomplish (now that everything is consolidated and organized as I want it), though it will consume significant Internet bandwidth. Either way, I’m psychologically prepared for the eventual transition.