Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014 Day 2

This post is probably a bit more for my own records than anything as it’s a bit session specific but those sessions are obviously related to my interests and thus this blog so here we go anyway.

Next Version of Hyper-V:

Lots and lots of new features in here, pretty much all covered by the post on Technet however there was also some news about changes to the way VMs are backed up, specifically:

  • Backup is decoupled from the underlying infrastructure – not reliant on VSS
  • Not dependent on hardware snapshots on the SAN – good for large LUNs
  • Built-in change tracking rather than relying on third party backup agent

Couple of other bits as well:

  • Ability to name NICs in Hyper-V and have the name show up in the OS
  • Can modify static memory allocation for VMs running Technical Preview
  • Hot-add of VHDs doesn’t break replication

No one big feature across all the lists but plenty of polish which shows just how far Hyper-V has come.

System Center OM and Azure Operational Insights

Much was made of protecting the existing investment in Operations Manager, particularly MPs, as OM continues to be developed. Support for OSS platforms was also highlighted which is becoming more and more important. There’s also a few shiny things including new dashboards in 2012 R2 U2, monitoring O365, a new Exchange MP and so on.

The main focus though is definitely Azure Operational Insights (previously called System Center Advisor). It’s able to take data both directly from systems or from an existing OM deployment and do big-data analytics using the power of Azure.

This opens up a lot of new functionality including the ability to do amazing drill downs into data at great speed from a wide variety of devices. It’s natively multi-tenant and is designed to work Partners which is particularly useful. At the moment there are only a few integration packs available for it but MS are actively developing this (the system is still in preview) and it’ll be good to see the pace of release of these.

It obviously has a long way to go, particularly as one of the hugely valuable aspects of OM is the third party MP development and integration but MS are building a third party ecosystem into the platform. Definitely one to watch.

I’ve already been asked “Will this replace OM?” and I’m not sure. My feeling at the moment is that customers will be running OM for a long time to come and that new OM deployments are still sensible. There’s a clear commitment to OM and to get Operational Insights to leverage existing on-premises OM deployments so I can’t see any risk there.

Storage Replica:

The new functionality to replicate storage is quite exciting. There’s clearly a lot of work still to do to get the UI (and some of the Powershell) to where it needs to be and there are a few nasty bugs that people are likely to hit but it’s very promising. I’ll be getting it into a lab when I get back and covering it there so I won’t go into too much detail here.

One thing that did disappoint me though is that although it can do synchronous replication, it’s asymmetric, meaning that only one of the two sides can be active at a time – this is true of both cluster to cluster and server to server. I’m quite keen to find a replacement for the HP VSA-style network RAID to allow small, cost effective shared-nothing clusters to be built on branch offices and this doesn’t quite fit the bill as a result. Still much to like though!

General

So far, a really good event and been impressed by how well it’s organised and run. (Un)fortunately there’s an awful lot of content to see and I can see myself needing to spend another week just watching videos of all the sessions I’ve missed. Last night was also some great light relief at Carpe Diem on Barcelonetta beach which was a good opportunity to meet some people (including customers as it turned out) and relax.

Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014 Day 1

I’m fortunate to be at TechEd Europe this year (at slightly short notice) and wanted to share some of the things that I’m picking up on at the event. There’s a few topics I’ll do specific blog posts about but here’s a general overview of Day 1 and some of the bits I’ve seen.

Themes:

The keynote was good; couple of hours but kept reasonably fast paced with some interesting announcements and demos. What was interesting was the areas that were touched on and what was left out. The key areas are:

  • Data
  • Consistent Device Experience
  • Cloud (Hybrid and Public)
  • Software Defined Datacentre

There was nothing really on traditional on-premises systems such as Exchange, SharePoint, etc which depending on your perspective is either because we’ve just gone through a major release of these products or because it’s a strong focus on cloud.

Data:

People who don’t understand the value of data often fail to understand why Microsoft is playing in the search space with Bing when Google has so much of the market covered however this is extremely short sighted. As pointed out in the keynote, there are now more connected devices on the planet than people and with the Internet of Things taking off, the ability for Microsoft to understand the internet and the huge amount of data contained becomes really crucial to delivering valuable services to users and this is what Bing enables. Cortana’s brain, for example, is effectively Bing.

Consistent Device Experience:

Obviously there’s a lot of information coming out about Windows 10 and Joe Belfiore did a great job of showing some of the features there and it’s a good middle ground between Windows 7 and 8. It’s also worth noting that security was a huge part of this. The subtext though is that Microsoft is clearly trying to push the experience right across the device spectrum from phones to the largest PCs. This also encompasses other breeds of devices including iOS and Android; Office is a good example.

Cloud:

Microsoft is showing a clear commitment to making every part of the software defined datacentre integrate with the public cloud as much as possible and to make that as easy as possible, whether it’s backup or remote desktop. Here are the areas from the Keynote:

  • Management
  • Virtualisation
  • Identity
  • Networking
  • Data
  • Development

SDDC:

Given my focus, this one has me really excited. The next versions of Windows Server and the System Center suite will have significantly enhanced capabilities in many areas, building on foundations that have been laid already. Of particular note:

I’ll be posting my thoughts about CPS in the next day or as I think it’s a very strategic play by Microsoft. More to come!