Friday, April 13, 2018

Goodbye Project Honolulu, Hello Windows Admin Center

Yes, it was about to happen, sooner or later. The highly famous Project Honolulu would stop someday and be replaced by something more official, and yet a bit boring. Meaning, Project Honolulu does have a nice ring to it, or not?
Image result for honolulu
Just imagine yourself there, right on the beach. Enjoying the sun, water and drinks with your loved ones, and in the mean time, managing your company’s servers, using Project Honolulu. Nice!

But back to reality. Project Honolulu is over and replaced by Windows Admin Center. Somehow it has a different ring to it, compared to the previous name…
Image result for sysadmin

But still, it’s what it is. Nicest thing is, Windows Admin Center is available at NO EXTRA COSTS! It can be used with valid licenses of Windows Server or Windows 10, since it’s licensed under the Windows Supplemental EULA.

Which is quite awesome!

Want to know more? Go here, read, download & install it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Migrating To Azure? Avoid ‘Lift & Shift’. ‘Lift & Transform’ Is The Way To Go.

Azure is like a huge collection of Lego building blocks. You can do almost anything and everything with it. As such it’s very tempting for companies to move their current on-premise workloads as-is to the Azure cloud. Many times because it’s the way they always did their IT, so why change a winning team? Just rebuild your on-premise IT in the cloud and migrate. This is also called Lift & Shift migrations. Just do it and you’re in the cloud.

Sure, you can do it. And yes, it will work. But you know, even though you’re in the cloud now, you’re missing out on tons of advantages which the cloud has(had) to offer.

Why? Simply because you’re skipping the biggest parts of the cloud, titled PaaS and SaaS. Instead you’re using Azure as a pure and simple IaaS provider: Microsoft delivers the compute, networking, storage and virtualization layer and you’ll do the rest (from the Azure VMs and further).

However, multiple things happen in such a scenario:

  • Azure VMs don’t come cheap, especially when you require Azure VMs with lots of CPU, RAM and good IOPS;
  • Azure services, like MFA are easily integrated into other Azure services, especially when those services are SaaS based;
  • You’re Azure environment becomes a mere copy from your current on-premise data center. So why even bother going to the cloud?

Think SERVICES!!!
Now it’s time to retrace your steps. Think about WHY your company thought about going to the cloud. When it’s about lower IT costs, think again. When it’s because your company wants IT to become more agile, more capable and flexible, Azure is a valid solution.

But as stated before, Azure delivers way much more besides IaaS. Even better, many offerings are on PaaS or even SaaS level. And the integration between them is much better, compared to ‘good old’ IaaS.

In order to get the most out of Azure without paying too much, it’s much better to rethink your IT. Like:

  • Why does my company run those servers?
    • Not because I love the server OS…
    • Not because I love to maintain it…
  • Why does my company run those SQL/web/etc. servers?
    • Not because I love to install SQL/web/etc…
    • Not because I love to maintain SQL/web/etc…

Sooner (or later) you’ll start realizing that at the end of the day, your company runs all those servers in order to facilitate certain applications, or services even.

So why not splitting to those services (web, database and so on) and use them in Azure instead? Now you’re getting there, since the webservers, database servers and so on are hosted and maintained by Microsoft.

You’re only responsible for the workloads running on top of it, like the websites and databases. So no more IaaS for those workloads, but PaaS instead. Wh00t!!!

Take it even a step further. Aren’t there other services your company consumes which are offered like a SaaS solution already? Like Azure AD (mark my words, on-premise AD is ending), VSTS, Exchange-Online (or O365), MFA and so on?

Sure, these services can be tied into the on-premise equivalents as well. It requires additional resources and efforts, but it can be done. But before going there, try to connect it first to the Azure workloads only, and go from there.

Say hello to ‘Lift & Transform’
Yes, I know. This is a process which requires time. It can’t be done in a few weeks. But still, simply BEGIN with small (baby) steps. Take care first of the ‘low hanging fruit’, in this case the easy on-premise parts which are easy to ‘lift & transform’.

Learn. Adapt. Transform. Microsoft knows and recognizes the hybrid world. Meaning IT, mixed of on-premise workloads combined with cloud based ones.

But PLEASE, in order to get the most out of it, TRANSFORM your IT when migrating to the cloud. And no, not everything can be transformed. But let those be exceptions and not the default migration path to the cloud. Now the value proposition of the Azure cloud grows significantly for your company, thus greatly enhancing the added value of your IT assets.

Real life experiences
No, I am NOT talking theoretically here. I see this happening at my company’s customer base with an almost weekly frequency. People and organizations require coaching, support and positive discussions about how IT is done.

As soon as the cloud is involved, many people tend to think about it in the old way. Cloud is nothing but a BIG data center. Period. In real life however, the cloud means DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION.

For us consultants, the first and foremost challenge is to start to change their mindset: Think services! First with small steps. The moment they embrace it however, it’s me and my colleagues who are learning many new things/approaches instead.

For instance a huge insurance company who started on a small scale with their migration to the cloud, opting for ‘lift & transform’. The moment they got the ‘hang of it’ (they noticed the many advantages of this approach), they decided to move as much on-premise IT to the cloud.

They projected almost two years for it. Instead they finished it a year(!) before schedule! Now they’re looking at their on-premise IT (better, what’s left of it) in order to get it to the cloud as well, as far as allowed by law and regulations.

To me this is a splendid showcase of the real cloud power and the digital transformation. We’re living in a very exciting world today, with many mind blowing changes ahead!

OMS: Data Volume Cap

Microsoft has released a new feature in OMS. It enables companies to set a daily volume cap and limit the daily ingestion for your workspace. It helps companies to manage unexpected increases in their data volume from managed resources and stay within the limit. Or the feature can simply help companies to limit unplanned charges for their workspace.

This new OMS feature is deployed and available in all Azure regions.

Want to know more? Go here.

My two cents: This is a much awaited for feature, allowing a better adoption of OMS. As far as I am concerned their is still one showstopper, which are the total costs of it. When Microsoft solves that as well, OMS is going to sell big time…

Friday, March 23, 2018

What’s In a Name? System Center 2019 aka SCOM 18/19xy

A few days ago Microsoft launched the public preview of Windows Server 2019 (in order to download the preview version one has to join the Windows Insider program). The Windows Server Team posted an article about this public preview release on their blog, to be found here.

Besides a high level overview of what’s new in this product (expected GA date second half of 2018), the same article makes this quite interesting statement: ‘…Finally, Window Server customers using System Center will be excited to know that System Center 2019 is coming and will support Windows Server 2019…’

SCOM 2019 or 18/19xy?
Since SCOM is an integrated component of the whole System Center stack, SCOM will be updated as well. Looking at the new naming convention however, I seriously doubt whether SCOM will be branded SCOM 2019.

Instead I expect a name like SCOM 18/19xy, EG 1806/1810/1901, depending on the exact GA date of Windows Server 2019.

What’s in a name?
More interesting is however, what kind of release of System Center will support Windows Server 2019, meaning SAC (Semi-Annual Channel) or LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel)?

And this is where it gets a bit unclear. On the first sight one would expect that it will be a SAC release, simply because that’s the very nature of the SAC release cycle, in cadence with the SAC release cycle of Windows Server. And as stated by Microsoft, only the SAC releases will support the newest features. Support of Windows Server 2019 can be looked upon as a new feature.

SAC only or LTSC ‘extension’ included?
However, with the Windows Server 2019 release being a LTSC one (as stated in this posting, second item of the Q&A), changes are that the System Center 2019 release might be a LTSC one as well. So for this moment it can go two ways.

But no matter what kind of release System Center 2019 will be, I would be amazed when the current 1801 LTSC release of SCOM wouldn’t be extended in any kind of way in order to support Windows Server 2019 as well.

So also from a System Center support perspective the GA release date of Windows Server 2019 will be exciting as well…

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

SCOM Reporting Done Right – Join Savision’s ‘SCOM Reporting Essentials’ Webinar

The 1st of March 4 PM CET Savision organizes an online session, all about SCOM Reporting. This webinar is hosted by ‘SCOM Bob’, fellow MVP Bob Cornelissen and Savision’s Support Manager, Chris Malay.

Many tips & tricks will be shared during this webinar, so you can take your SCOM Reporting skills to the next level. Topics to be covered are:

  • Overview of the most useful types of reports for different stakeholders
  • Tips and tricks to test your reports and make sure they work all the time
  • How to avoid empty reports and other common SCOM reporting issues
  • How to automate reports and receive them via email every month

On top of it all, Savision’s FREE(!) SLA Reports Management Pack will be demonstrated.

This MP allows you to create a complete SLA overview report of all your Service Level Objectives and to analyze why SLA expectations were not met by showing a list of the most common alerts that triggered the health state change of the Service Level Objective.

In another posting I’ll write about this MP in more detail.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Free Azure Training Resources

For some time already (here and here for instance) Microsoft offers free Azure training resources. Since a few days Microsoft has updated the content of some of those offers, whereas existing  resources are extended.

Here are the related links:

  1. Azure Training and Certification
    Develop Azure skills you need for your job and career. Explore free online learning resources, hands-on labs, in-depth training, or get your expertise recognized with great deals on Azure certification.

  2. Azure Essentials
    Watch, Learn, and Try. Jump start your Azure learning. With Azure Essentials, you can: Learn Azure technologies in under an hour, access free Pluralsight courses and Hands-on Demos, track your learning progress and master the skills you need for cloud roles.

  3. Hands on labs
    Acquire the cloud skills you need, at your own pace. Enjoy hands-on learning on your schedule with our free, Self-paced Labs, and keep your cloud knowledge fresh.

Even though I am not sure whether ‘only’ these trainings will deliver enough knowledge and experience in order to pass for an Azure exam, it sure is a good starting point. Later on you can follow additional trainings, whether based on the classic model (classroom), or modern variants, offered by many Microsoft Learning Partners.

None the less, there is no excuse anymore for not understanding Azure Smile.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cross Post: SCOM 1801 Upgrade Pitfall With SCOM Reporting Instance

Got this one from the blog of Robert Bird, senior Premier Field Engineer for Microsoft UK. So all credits go to him.

When updating SCOM 2012 R2/2016 to SCOM 1801 you MUST install the SCOM Console (the UI, not the Web Console!!!) on the SSRS instance (the SCOM Reporting server) FIRST.

Otherwise the upgrade of the SCOM Reporting instance will fail. And installing the SCOM Console AFTERWARDS (when the first upgrade has failed) and rerunning the upgrade won’t do.

Go here for the original webposting.