Video Interview On Rolling Cluster Upgrades in Windows Server vNext


Carsten Rachfahl from Rachfahl IT-Solutions (quite possibly  Germany’s leading Hyper-V, Storage Spaces & Private cloud consultancy) and I got together in Berlin last November at the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014. Between presenting (I delivered What’s new in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012 R2), workshops, interviews we found some time to do a video interview.

We discussed a very welcome new capability in Windows Server vNext: “Rolling cluster updates” or “Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade” in Windows Server Technical Preview as Microsoft calls it. I blogged about this rather soon after the release of the Technical Preview First experiences with a rolling cluster upgrade of a lab Hyper-V Cluster (Technical Preview).

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We’ve been able to do rolling updates of Windows NLB for a long time and we’ve been asking for that same capability in Windows Failover Clustering for many years and now, it’s finally coming! And yes, as you will notice we like that a lot!

You need to realize that making the transition form one version to another as smooth, easy and risk free as possible is of great value to the customer as it enables them to upgrade faster and get the benefits of their investment quicker. For Microsoft it means they can have more people move to more modern environments faster which helps with support and delivering value in a secure and modern environment.

At the end we also joke around a bit about DevOps and how this is just as set of training wheels on the road to true site resilience engineering. All fun and all good. Enjoy!

Microsoft Ignite calling Thinkers, Doers and Pioneers. Yes, that’s me within my ecosystem!


I know that some people tend to see conferences as a waste of time and money. Going to the wrong conferences will do that yes. So is attending for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. A conference is hard work, fun sure, but hard & lots of work. Don’t expect to go home with a custom magic strategy & implementation plan Winking smile for all your IT needs. Much has been written by many community buddies and myself  on this subject. Here’s a short reading list for you (and there a dozens more) on how to do it well.

But if you pick your conferences, make sure you plan and take the time to network and talk with industry experts, vendors, colleagues & fellow MVPs who you only get to sit down with at such events it can be a tremendously valuable experience. You network gain insights, get to pitch your ideas and views with some of the best and brightest … very stimulating and rewarding!

In my neck of the IT woods it’s a place I want to go an talk shop too the group of people mentioned above. Let me know if you’re attending, it’s always good to meet up.

I’m Attending Ignite, Are You?


Great news in was announced today in It’s here! The Microsoft Ignite Session Catalog. Basically the Ignite session catalog is available as of this moment! That means we can start planning to make sure we make the most of our time there. If you need some tips on what’s the value of a conference and how to make the most of it than please read a previous blog of mine on the subject Why I Find Value In A Conference

But MSFT is also organizing an #IgniteJam on Twitter on February 3rd, 9:00 am Pacific Time (That’s 18:00 in GMT+1). Join them and get your questions answered.

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I know a good many of people in my global network that will be there so that’s great news. Networking and exchanging information is a big part of what makes a conference a success. The right people being there makes a huge difference. Whilst on that subject, here’s a tip to the vendors in the expo hall: make sure you have technical people there as well, only sales and marketing isn’t good enough. Go for the right mix.

Follow @MS_Ignite on twitter for the latest news and developments about the conference. Go to the registration page to secure your ticket and consider add one of the Pre-Day session to the agenda to optimize your investment in time. See you there!

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 7: The Year 2014 in Review


In the seventh edition of the Hyper-V Amigos Carsten Rachfahl and I looked back at 2014, talk  a bit about our future plans and basically have some fun Smile

You can watch it here or on YouTube. We’ll be back this year with more show casts & we hope to see you there!

A MVP once more in 2015 – happy New Year from a renewed MVP


Happy New Year people! May 2015 bring you happiness,  good health,  and good jobs/projects/customers with real opportunities for growth & advancement. Don’t forget to step out of the office, away from the consoles once in a while to enjoy the wonderful experiences and majestic views this world has to offer.

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Being an January 1st MVP (my expertise is Hyper-V) means that every year on new years day I might get an e-mail to inform me I have been renewed, or not. Prior to that our MVP lead will contact us to make sure we have updated our community activities and they’ll decide on whether we’re MVP material, or not.  Today I received this e-mail awarding me the MVP award for 2015.

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It remains a special feeling to receive the award.  It’s recognition for what you’ve done and it means that I can enjoy the benefits that come with it: the MVP Global Summit and the interaction with the product groups at Microsoft. The summit is very valuable to me and if I knew the dates I would already book my flights and the hotel right now.

Some people think it makes us fan boys but I can assure you that’s not the case. Microsoft hears the great, the good, the bad and the ugly from us. And yes, they appreciate that as they cannot and do not want to live in an Ivory tower. So they need feedback and we’re a part of the feedback loop. We MVPs are a good mix of customers, consultants, partners & businesses working with their technologies & helping out the community to make the best use of them. Microsoft puts it like this:

“The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award is our way of saying thank you to exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others.”

The fact that we are independent is an important factor here. It makes us a valuable resource pool of hands on experience to mix in with other feedback channels. As Aidan Finn wrote in his blog post, Feedback Matters Once Again In Microsoft, it does indeed matter. Again? It always did but they listen more and better now Winking smile. They don’t need an "echo chamber" they value opinions, insights and experiences. The MVP award is for the things you’ve done and do. Sure, there is a code of conduct but that doesn’t mean you cannot voice your concerns. "Independent" means that what we say doesn’t have to be sugar coated marketing. Our value is in the fact that we help out the community (their customers, partners and Microsoft itself) in the better use and development of their solutions base on our real world experiences. Microsoft discusses that here.

It opens up doors and creates opportunities, and for that I’m grateful as well. For my employers/customers it means that when you hire me you get access to not just my skills and expertise but to the collective knowledge and experience of a global network of passionate experts that have a proven track record of engagement and are recognized internationally for that. Not too shabby is it Winking smile.

2014 is nearing its end & 2015 is near


Time to call it quits for this year. So let’s look a back.

Work

One thing to me has always been true, there is no shortage of work to be done, only jobs. Often there is a lack or resources (skills, money), guidance & situational awareness, but never ever of work.

I saw many friends & acquaintances excel, progress and reap the rewards of their hard work. That it was both encouraging and served as a reminder that we all need luck but that it helps to be ready to seize the opportunities given. One of the reasons I have seen people move is that they’re tired of being a resource to be squeezed & seeing their hard work only benefiting some one else’s career. It’s not about making more money, but about enjoying your job. It serves as a reminder to look after yourself, not just financially, remember to have some fun in your work!

My respect for some of the people serving or working in the SME market was also renewed. A lot of them are competent, hard working and are making a difference that goes way beyond what their company’s size would lead you to believe. The reason is simple, in larger organizations thing get way too political. People get bogged down in analysis & paperwork resulting in ever less results at ever increasing costs. in smaller companies, you either deliver or are asked to leave. I helped some of them out through my blog, presentations and experience and I loved being able to do that.

2014 was busy and productive. Technology wise we’ve been able to deliver Windows 2012 R2 to so many workloads and we’ve taking Hyper-V to be all it can be. Working on Windows Server 2008(R2) feels retro to me now and I get a total prehistoric sense when logging on to Windows Server 2003(R2). I did the latter only to get rid of it during some last migration projects (RADIUS, Certificate Authorities, …) where I helped out. What can I say, some people get a warm, fuzzy feeling when they know I’m handling their migrations and infrastructure. It’s been a honor and a privilege to assist them.

Cloud wise identity, SSO, multifactor authentication & load balancing are technologies of interest to make on premises and cloud work in harmony.

The DELL servers, network and storage gear we use has served us well & we optimized the use of it big time. No surprises there, we select our gear with care for a purpose. What does stand out  as a big change is moving to VEEAM as my preferred backup solution. I can only say, we should have done it earlier.

Community & growing

Professionally the interactions and support given and received by my community buddies and the interaction with the IT industry was nothing short of amazing this year. I met many new people in the industry and I was pleasantly surprised by them being so open about the challenges & issues we’re all facing. It helps to talk to people who are way smarter and more experienced than yourself, it helps us grow. I even got to talk to Michael Dell, who took the time to listen and answered more directly and to the point than I have ever experienced before from any manager.

One personal professional high light was joining @virtulalpcguy  (Ben Armstrong) on stage at Tech Ed 2014 North America.

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I’m passionate about technology and it’s ability to deliver value when done right. Sharing how to do this is my way of giving back.

Work, time & cost control kept me away from last (ever?) Tech Ed Europe 2014. The first time ever this century I missed it, bar in 2011 when they didn’t bother organizing one at all. But I presented at ITProceed, attended the Global MVP Summit 2014, presented at the Berlin Technical Summit 2014 and at Experts Live 2014 in Ede. All with great success. The value of engaging in the community cannot be ignored. You gain so much more by sharing than you do by hoarding.

Q4 2014 also brought us the Windows Server vNext preview bits, a couple of weeks after the “threshold” airlift in Redmond and I started my early experiments the day I got hold of it. We have not seen everything yet of what’s coming but I’m looking forward to RTM already based upon what we know.

2015

I expect to see companies continue to struggle with the speed of change. Partially due to the fact the don’t look up and see what’s happening as corporate politics dominate the actions. Partially due to the fact that they follow dogmas instead of reality in sometimes desperate ways to keep a grip on things as they find comfort in following rules & methodologies. This all make them easy victims to sales people with little to show for it in real results.

Ladies & gentlemen, 2014 was a blast. 2015 is in front of us. Technology wise this promises to be a very interesting year. I hope it will be for you as well. With what we’ve learnt so far about the various vNext releases , it’s looking good. A lot of change is upon us and not just technically. We’ll see where we’ll end up in Q4 2015.

To all the guys and galls all over the globe that have moved to better places, well done & well deserved, may 2015 be equally good or even better to you. Thank you for reading and may you all have a wonderful, healthy and successful new year

Concluding My Summit, Conference & Community Engagements for 2014


After Redmond (MVP Global Summit 2014), which was a great experience I flew to Berlin to attend and speak at the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 on “What’s New In Windows Server 2012 R2 Clustering”. Germany has a seriously engaged ITPro & Dev scene, that’s for sure, and the session room was packed! Afterwards some interesting questions popped up in the hallways. That’s great as question really make us think about technologies and solutions from other view points and perspectives.

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After Berlin I was off to Experts Live 2014 in Ede (The Netherlands) where I presented on “The capable & Scalable Cloud OS”. The talk went well and I had a great crowd attending with whom I had some great chats after the session.

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That concluded the third leg of my international road tour where I invest in myself, the community & the people I work with. Never ever stop learning Smile. Normally this also concludes my traveling schedule for 2014 unless I’m needed/requested somewhere to help out. Being an MVP is about sharing in the community. The only way to prosper is to share the knowledge, experience and the wealth. It provides for a healthy ecosystem from which we all reap the benefits. This should be promoted and facilitated. There is too much expertise & knowledge not being leveraged due to the fact it’s economically unfeasible, and that’s a waste when people are screaming for IT skills. In a war for talent, any waste is surely very counter productive?

Win a free ticket to Experts Live 2014


As you might already know I’m speaking at the Dutch IT community event Experts Live 2014 in the Netherlands. The talk is about “The Capable & Scalable Cloud OS “ where we’ll highlight and show some of the scalable capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 when combined with great hardware.

You can find the program at Experts Live 2014 which is very rich in content. There are 7 tracks and over 40 sessions! Chose a track or mix and match to your hearts content between  Microsoft Azure, System Center, Hyper-V, SQL, Windows, PowerShell and Office365. It’s all good.

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To celebrate the success of the event the organizers have allowed us to give away some free entrance tickets. This is a very nice gift that will allow you to enjoy a full day of learning for free.

So convince me you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn and we’ll help you do exactly that by making sure you get a free ticket!  Leave a reply to this blog post from Thursday October 9th till Thursday October 16th in which you tell me what blog or blogs of mine you’ve enjoyed most. Leave your name, e-mail, your company and function title so we can arrange things for you. Don’t worry we will not publish these.

There is only one request/condition … if you win a ticket come to the event as a no show means some one else can’t come.

First we take Redmond, then we take Berlin & Ede: Summits & Conferences


The traveling & speaking MVP

MVPs are a busy lot. They work, learn, travel & talk a lot. Why to share knowledge & experiences for the benefit of all. So in order to keep that reputation going I’ll be heading to SEATAC to attend the Global MVP Summit 2014 in Bellevue/Redmond. After that tech fest I return to Belgium where I’ll immediately head towards Berlin to present at the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014. After a weekend of rest I head north to The Netherlands to present at Experts Live.

No rest for the wicked. There is a a tremendous amount of things happening in IT right now. It takes a little bit of effort to keep up an asses the benefits and value butt once you’re doing that as part of your normal day to day operations it becomes a lot easier to map out  why it’s useful to you and what to use where, when and how.

All this is happening at a time that the information on “Treshold” or Windows vNext is becoming available if we can believe the rumors and the buzz on the internet. Don’t forget that TechEd Europe 2014 is on in the last week of October in Barcelona right before the MVP Summit in Redmond. Like Aidan Finn said, we could go on a 3 month presenting, training & consulting tour right now as the need for insights & skills is growing with the growth in Hyper-V adoption and with that all related technologies from networking, storage to Azure.

Now I can’t invite you to the MVP Summit but I can do that for both the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 and Experts Live. There will be a lot of international expertise at both events who have hands on expertise with the technology in real life production environments. I always pick up knowledge form them myself.

The Global MVP Summit 2014

Every MVP on this planet tries to make it to the MVP Summit. The face time with and access to so many intelligent people at MSFT is invaluable. Combine that with the opportunity to network experts form all over the globe and you realize why we spend the time effort and money to attend.

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So once more we hop on that great Boeing 747 and let BA fly us to SEA-TAC airport from where we’ll head to Bellevue/Redmond as the summit is spread between both locations.

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The MVP is NDA. So there will be tweets about the fun stuff with fellow MVPs but other than that we’ll be going dark. We have never and will never breach NDA. We’ll also make some time to meet up with old acquaintances, friends and fellow Belgians living & working around Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond.

Microsoft Technical Summit 2014

The moment I get back home I grab a change of clothes & a flight to Berlin.

The Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 is on in Berlin and together with a great number of fellow MVPs I have the distinct pleasure of presenting What’s new in Failover Clustering (Windows 2012 R2).

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It’s amazing to see how many of our community experts are actually from Germany, Austria & Switzerland (DACH) and I’ll be happy so see so many familiar faces I just saw on the other side of the big pond just a week before Smile

Experts Live 2014

On November 18th I’ll be in The Netherlands at Experts Live 2014 in Ede. This is a great event and if you know the brain power of the organizers & presenters this is no surprise. I’ll be presenting “The Capable & Scalable Cloud OS “ and showing some of the scalable capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 when combined with great hardware. image

So that’s the travelling & scheduling agenda for now. Perhaps I’ll see you at one of those events & if you’re a reader of this blog ping us if you’ll be there for a meet and great. Live is good Smile.

SQL Server Days 2014–Belgium


The Belgian SQL Server User Group (SQLUG) has been organizing the SQL Server Days for a while now and they have quickly established themselves as a very good event with both quality speakers and content. SQL Server Days 2014 is the 7th edition of this event

SQL Server Days 2014 Main Banner

Learn form the best, from and with your peers. There will be deep drive training with international speakers & hard core technical sessions on database administration, development and business intelligence.

If you’re in traveling range of Belgium and a SQL Server professional this is an event that you should seriously consider attending! I have done it in the past and I try to get my own DBA’s to go as well. Why. It’s great quality but more than that it’s all about lifelong learning, getting out of the house to prevent tunnel vision and learning what challenges your peers are facing and how they deal with those.

In a time of cut backs, austerity, tax increases, economic doom and gloom there is still a lot to learn, opportunities to seize and a better, prosperous future to build. The community is there to help those that want to help themselves improve professionally and personally without breaking the bank.  So get registered and prepare to learn and network.

More info:

SQL Server Days 2014
September 30 – October 1
Day 1 = precon / Day 2 = conference
Where: San Marco, Schelle