by December 16th, 2013
With the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 comes many great new features, including a improved virtual machine named generation 2.
Generation 2 virtual machines provide quite a few enhancements across the spectrum of Hyper-V VM technology. Perhaps most notable is the removal of legacy emulated hardware. Removal of the legacy network adapter, IDE controller, floppy controller, serial controller (COM ports), and PCI bus, results in a more efficient VM. You should see faster boot times, and quicker installations from .iso. How does a VM boot without these integral components? Where necessary, they have been replaced with software based versions.
Other enhancements include:
- Replaced BIOS with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface)
- Faster boot times
- Support for boot volumes up to 64TB (Uses GPT instead of MBR)
- Enhanced Security
- Smaller attack surface
- Secure Boot – Prevents unauthorized firmware, drivers and OS from running during boot.
- Expansion of data and boot disks while VM is running. Nice!
- Complete reliance on VHDX file format resulting in much better performance (VHD’s are no longer supported).
- Enhanced Session Mode
- This allows device redirection and the ability to control display configuration when connected via the Virtual Machine Connection tool.
Some things to keep in mind with generation 2 machines: Read the rest of this post »
by November 8th, 2013
On Wednesday, we hosted a webinar on Windows Azure. During the session, Adetayo Adegoke, a senior solutions architect at Perficient, gave an overview on Azure, which is Microsoft’s secure, standards compliant, rapidly scalable and globally distributed cloud computing offering.
It offers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities for a wide range of technical solutions, ranging from hosting Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and SharePoint Virtual Machine (VM) deployments in Windows Azure to offering SQL database connection points to developers. It also provides a wide range of Microsoft Windows Operating System (OS) templates as well as offerings from other vendors (multiple Linux distros), and supports a wide range of programming languages.
Adetayo covered a number of topics during the one hour webinar. He started by explaining cloud jargon, covering the many terms and acronyms associated with Windows Azure, and then discussed what Windows Azure is, and how it can help IT pros. He went on to talk about running websites and VMs in the cloud, covered supported publishing methods and web frameworks, and reviewed what else the cloud can be used for. He provided attendees with a lot of interesting information around Azure and the cloud. For instance, did you know that with Azure, you only pay for what you use?
If you happened to miss the informative session, you can watch the replay here.
by October 28th, 2013
Microsoft’s Windows Azure is a secure, standards compliant, scalable cloud computing offering. It provides a simple, comprehensive, and powerful platform for the creation of web applications and services. As an open and flexible cloud platform, it allows organizations to build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of datacenters. You can build applications using your choice of language, tool and/or framework. And it works with the infrastructure you already own, providing a cost-effective means to enhancing your business continuity strategy.
If you are looking to learn more about Azure, join us on Wednesday, November 6th at 1 p.m. CT for the webinar, Windows Azure for IT Pros. Presenter Adetayo ‘Tayo’ Adegoke is a senior solutions architect in Perficient’s Microsoft practice, focused on implementing SharePoint, cloud, and virtualization solutions for clients. During this session, he’ll provide an introduction to Windows Azure, covering topics such as:
- Cloud jargon in plain English
- What is Windows Azure and how can it help me?
- Running web sites and VMs in the cloud
- What else can I put in the cloud / what else can I use the cloud for?
- How can I use the cloud?
- How do I manage this?
To register for the webinar, click here.
Windows Azure for IT Pros
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
1:00 p.m. CT
by October 17th, 2013
Perficient’s Microsoft team is excited to announce the promotion of David Greve to National Cloud Enablement Director! Perficient’s Microsoft team is more that just Microsoft’s 2013 US Partner of the Year award winner, we are Microsoft cloud computing experts. David’s role in the organization will ensure that Perficient continues to lead with the cloud when it makes sense for our customer’s business strategy. Increasingly our customers are asking us to help them increase productivity while reducing costs. Increase the ability to bring products and service lines to market faster, while reducing their on premise hardware footprint. Address needs around Big Data, analytics, Social Business and ability to scale as needed. Cloud based solutions are a natural fit.
David Greve is a two year Microsoft MVP in Office 365 and an author for an Office 365 Exchange migration book. He has over 16 years of consulting experience in the IT industry, designing and implementing Microsoft Solutions ranging from small to enterprise environments. Currently David is working on designing and developing Microsoft Cloud solutions, with a focus on Azure PAAS and IAAS, Exchange, Lync, Intune, CRM Online and SharePoint as well as strategic migration planning in complex business environments.
We at Perficient know that the market has matured to the point that a majority of our engagements will be cloud-based in the years ahead. We were Microsoft’s Cloud Partner of the Year globally in the inaugural year for that category, and we’ve been awarded cloud partner of the year in multiple regions and districts over the past 5 years. We’ve activated and deployed several hundred thousand seats of Office 365, and have extensive experience with Azure, Intune, CRM, and Lync. In fact Perficient is one of only a handful of companies globally with multiple Lync MCM’s on staff. We look forward to continuing to show our customers the way to the cloud and how leveraging cloud based solutions can help them to address their business needs.
by October 9th, 2013
What is Sitecore Azure?
In simple words, it is your Sitecore implementation running in Windows Azure, a popular cloud computing platform from Microsoft. Sitecore Azure provides development and deployment tools to support Sitecore CMS and DMS(Digital Marketing System) in Windows Azure.
Windows Azure: As you may already know, Windows Azure services are available both as IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) and PaaS(Platform as a service). To be precise it offers four execution models for your application:
- Virtual machines(IaaS)
- Cloud Services(PaaS)
- Web sites
- Mobile services
Please see Window Azure page to know more of various execution models and other information.
Sitecore – PaaS and IaaS
Sitecore Azure – PaaS: Your Sitecore environment in Azure is maintained and patched automatically, instead of you working with virtual machines directly and managing them. Your implementation can be scaled out by adding large building blocks such as instances, web roles and farms.
Sitecore in Windows Azure – IaaS: You can get a virtual machine, created out of a standard disk image or your own disk image and you are responsible for patching, installing updates and maintaining it. It offers you more control, with added maintenance liability though.
Sitecore Azure subscription – It is a PaaS offering where your Sitecore installations were managed by automated Sitecore features. You can also use your existing Windows Azure subscription for Sitecore Azure installation.
Windows Azure subscription: You could choose to subscribe to Windows Azure directly and manage Sitecore on your own. You can still use deployment tools that Sitecore Azure uses.
Read the rest of this post »
by October 4th, 2013
Edit: Part 2 (setup) : Part 3 (Mahout)
The internet is becoming increasingly personalized. It has transitioned from indexing massive wells of information to delivering personalized information, or recommendations based on complex searches. Evidence of this is seen in Google’s Knowledge graph, Amazon, the Bing engine, Facebook friends and twitter recommending people you may be interesting in following. Recommendations are everywhere on the web and with the introduction of HDInsight on Windows Azure the personalized web will grow even larger. HDInsight is an implementation of Apache Hadoop running natively within Windows Server. Hadoop is a very powerful distributed computing solution that can process massive quantities of data.
Incorporating “non-Microsoft” technologies baked into Microsoft based services and products is a newer development. The benefits to the IT professional are infinite. Let us take HDInsight as an example. For those not familiar with Linux and installing Hadoop on a distribution of clustered nodes the process can be frustrating and time consuming (to say the least). There are many guides on line and each guide pertains to its own flavor of Linux (Gentoo vs. Red Hat vs. Ubuntu vs. CentOS etc.). The process has gotten better over the years but is still quite cumbersome. To create a Hadoop cluster within Windows Azure, simply create an HDInsight cluster from the dashboard. In a few minutes you have a fully functional Hadoop cluster ready for processing.
You may be asking yourself; “Hadoop is a distributed computing system, what does it have to do with recommendations?”. Mahout is the answer. Mahout is an open source machine learning engine that is also managed by Apache. It contains many different types of algorithms and features, but one of its most prominent is its recommendation engine. The installation process is trivial so you will have Mahout up and running in an HDInsight cluster in no time. To install Mahout on your cluster download the latest release in zip file format from the Mahout website. Copy the zip file to your one of your cluster nodes and extract the contents to C:\apps\dist. That’s it! Not only have you just installed Mahout, but you have also deployed it to your Hadoop cluster.
Next I will walk through the installation process and use Mahout to process data. – Update: Part 2 is here.
by October 4th, 2013
On Wednesday, we hosted a webinar on Office 365 and identity management. During the webinar, Shalini Pasupneti, a Solution Architect in Perficient’s Microsoft infrastructure practice, shared her Office 365 acumen specific to identity management between on-premise and the cloud.
Shalini explained what constitutes identity management and single sign on in Office 365, and delved into the wide range of different identity management options. She discussed the various federation and synchronization options available, as well as multi-forest deployments and deploying infrastructure using Windows Azure.
To listen to the webinar, here is the replay:
Read the rest of this post »
by September 16th, 2013
Thanks to @lizasisler for telling me about this post. ZDNet has an article about large organizations using PaaS and that it’s not just a small company kind of thing. The interesting point they make deeper in the article is that PaaS can be used for more than just hosting a site or set of functionality you didn’t want to put in your own data center. There is power in PaaS to improve the whole development lifecycle. As part of that, they pointed to Panasonic example. Here’s a couple tidbits.
In a recent survey of 262 enterprises I helped conduct as part of my work with Unisphere Research (and sponsored by Oracle), we found that PaaS is now prevalent among one-fifth of public cloud adopters and half of private cloud sites. Among oublic cloud adopters, PaaS adoption has jumped from 18% to 20% since 2010. This is much higher for harger organizations in the survey — those with 5,000 or more employees — with 31% report adopting PaaS.
In his article, Labourey provides examples of companies signing onto PaaS to handle development, testing and inetgration within their organizations, including Groupe Adeo, the fourth largest Do-It-Yourself (DIY) retailer in the world, which employed PaaS to develop an e-commerce application, enabling collaboration among teams in France, India and Belgium.
The mention of development got me thinking about how developers can use cloud based services in Azure and Office 365 (among many others) to improve development. Here are a couple thoughts that I’m sure some of our better developers in the Microsoft practice can dive much deeper.
- Use Office 365 to host communities. Many don’t think of SharePoint as a development tool but you need someplace to house collaboration and conversation.
- Office 365′s / SharePoint Online’s app model. It’s a piece of cake to push a new app from Visual Studio and automatically link it to everything necessary. It ‘s actually easier to push your new solution out to the cloud than to your own data center.
- Team Foundation Service in the cloud. If you want to handle source control, agile planning, continuous builds, etc.; this may be an option for you. I’ve seen a lot of companies opt for these type of solutions as hosted solutions rather than try to get a server running internally.
This is a short list which I’m sure misses the boat in several areas. Let me know if you have further thoughts.
by September 13th, 2013
CRN has a longish article about Gartner’s ranking (Note: you need to pay for the research) of Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors. Microsoft made the the list as a visionary. Now before any Microsoft fans complain about Azure not being in the leadership quadrant, remember that Azure started out as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) play and has only recently moved into the IaaS space. To be ranked so quickly says something. Here’s a couple tidbits from the CRN article.
Windows Azure started out as a Platform-as-a-Service, but earlier this year Microsoft added IaaS to the mix. The software giant delivers its public cloud IaaS from data centers on the U.S. East and West Coasts, Ireland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore. Microsoft also has a huge private cloud business based around Windows Server.
Strengths: Microsoft has focused on integrating its Azure public cloud IaaS with one premise infrastructure products like Active Directory and System Center, Gartner said. Other advantages Gartner listed include an “attractive and easy-to-use” user interface, global customer relationships and lots of experience running large-scale web services.
Cautions: Azure IaaS is still new and many of its key features are still in beta or “coming soon,” and Microsoft hasn’t yet built an ecosystem of partners around it, Gartner said. Azure also lacks enterprise Linux options and, overall, the offering is “very Microsoft-centric and appeals primarily to .Net developers,” Gartner said.
I think as Windows Azure builds out more capabilities and supports a variety of Java, Linux, and other platforms, we’ll see them move out of Visionary to Leadership in the next Magic Quadrant for IaaS release.
by September 12th, 2013
Microsoft has an interesting set of research they published for their partners on Successful Cloud Partners. The respected research firm IDC created and published this information for Microsoft. I’m not going to bore you with what it takes to be a successful partner. I do want to highlight a couple stats on cloud growth. Doubtless Microsoft is seeing this seeing as Azure alone has already hit $1 billion in revenue.
Let’s note the size of the cloud market.
IDC Research pegs the cloud market at $98.4 Billion
Now let’s give you some perspective on what that huge number means in overall IT spend.
IT budget allocations today and two years from today.
Overall, all cloud spending as part of the IT budget will increase by 6%. Traditional IT spending will decrease by about that much. Remember that’s percentage of total spending so actual $ results will vary depending on growth of company’s technology budget. But what this means is that many companies already rely on cloud technologies and many more companies will continue with that trend over the next two years.
It’s well worth it to read the entire online PDF. IDC dives into greater detail on where you will see the growth by infrastructure and applications.