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My good friend and colleague, Tommy Patterson, recently blogged about leveraging the Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) preview offering to build a FREE lab environment in the Cloud.  You can read Tommy’s step-by-step article at: Building FREE Lab VMs in the Microsoft Cloud What about a SharePoint 2013 Lab in the Cloud? Now that SharePoint Server 2013 has been released, I frequently get asked about ways in which a SharePoint 2013 lab environment can be easily built for studying, testing and/or performing a proof-of-concept.  You could certainly build this lab environment on your own hardware, but due to the level of SharePoint 2013 hardware requirements, a lot of us may not have sufficient spare hardware to implement an on-premise lab environment. This makes a great scenario for leveraging our Windows Azure FREE 90-day Trial Offer to build a free lab en... (more)

A Practical Framework for Successful Private Cloud Computing Design

So your company has decided to build a private cloud. Maybe this came after careful consideration of the actual cost savings versus pie-in-the-sky stuff, and you've become convinced, organizationally, that you can virtualize resources, consolidate some servers, and maybe increase performance a bit as well. Or maybe your CEO just read a magazine article about it, or read a long-ignored email about it, during a flight to Europe, and is now demanding that you "get with it" with Cloud Computing. Register Today and Save $550 ! Explore Sponsorship Opportunities ! Whatever the case, you now need a practical roadmap to get you there. There may be a session at Cloud Expo that can help. Dave Malcolm, CTO at Surgient in Austin, Texas, will be presenting a talk on designing and deploying a "practical private cloud framework" to lead to a successful conclusion. In his words, "No... (more)

Microsoft Announces Availability of Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate

Microsoft has announced the immediate availability of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate as the next milestone in the product release lifecycle.  With over 300,000 downloads of Windows Server 2012 Beta, unparalleled excitement has been seen for this next version of Windows Server, which has been described in the industry as Microsoft's most ambitious undertaking to-date. Management, Virtualization, Networking and Storage capabilities have all been significantly improved in Windows Server 2012, and all of the IT Pros I've met are anxious to begin leveraging these enhancements in their shops. Download Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate here: I encourage you to fully explore the articles below that have been posted since the March 1st beta download was made available so that you can begin to plan for leveraging these improvement... (more)

Windows Server 2012 Installation Options

New and flexible ways to make changes of a Windows Server 2012 installation after the fact are available. And IT pros can now convert a server from and to Server Core, and change the availability of server components that are previously committed at an installation time. This introduces new dynamics and exciting scenarios for improving supportability, efficiency, and security. This article highlights the three available installation options and some key operations based on the Release Candidate, Build 8400. There is additional information of Windows Server 2012 including: a free eBook, available editions, and a reference table summarizing the available features in each installation option available elsewhere. Server Core This is the default and preferred configuration for deploying Windows Server 2012. Server Core was introduced in Windows Server 2008 as a minimal ... (more)

Understanding Hyper-V Replica

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Role introduces a new capability, Hyper-V Replica, as a built-in replication mechanism at a virtual machine (VM) level. Hyper-V Replica can asynchronously replicate a selected VM running at a primary site to a designated replica site across LAN/WAN. Here both a primary site and a replica site are Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts where a primary site runs production or the so-called primary VMs, while a replica site is standing by with replicated VMs off and to be brought online, should the primary site experiences a planned or unplanned VM outage. Hyper-V Replica requires neither shared storage, nor a specific storage hardware. Once an initial copy is replicated to a replica site and replication is ongoing, Hyper-V Replica will replicate only the changes of a configured primary VM, i.e. the deltas, asynchronously. The following schematic... (more)

Accelerating the Cloud with Windows Server 2012 BranchCache

Traditional file sharing protocols, such as Server Message Block ( SMB ) in Windows Server 2012, are primarily designed for low-latency, high-bandwidth scenarios commonly found in Local Area Networks ( LANs ).  When attempting to move file server workloads to the cloud, many IT Pros find that the unpredictable latency and limited bandwidth related to most Internet connections can make it challenging to deliver file services from the cloud in a reliable manner. Lab Scenario In this article, I’ll step through a configuration that leverages the BranchCache feature available in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Enterprise.  Once implemented, BranchCache can solve cloud networking challenges by implementing a Wide Area File Services ( WAFS ) solution that caches frequently accessed data locally, either in a Distributed Cache across local clients or on a local Hosted Cac... (more)

Automated VM Load Balancing for Multi-Vendor Private Clouds

VMware vSphere 5.x includes automated server workload balancing in the vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise+ premium suites via two feature sets: Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Distributed Power Management (DPM).  DRS and DPM together are intended to provide an automated method for balancing compute capacity and reducing energy consumption in a highly virtualized datacenter.  It does this by addressing five key technical areas: Automated Server Workload Balancing … Initial Workload Placement Constraint Correction Automated VM Load Balancing Power Management Cluster Maintenance These capabilities are important to ensure that an organization is efficiently leveraging virtualization host capacity in a manner that provides greatest performance benefits while reducing ongoing operating costs.  However, research has shown that 65% to 70% of organizations are running... (more)

Once Again, Amazon Moves the Cloud World Forward

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud is announced in limited beta. Lots of interesting features and once again, they have moved the cloud world forward. ... (more)

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud Opens Doors for Citrix Customers

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) announcement of the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) offering has just made Cloud Computing more attractive to the enterprise. Most companies I talk with are interested in the “Cloud”, but beyond a few SaaS apps and perhaps some dev/test they are not ready for any big change to their corporate IT infrastructure. On the other hand many of those same companies are currently or projected to be capacity limited in their own data center based on space or power limitations. Many companies will opt to move or expand into a Co-lo (Co-location) facility which provides dedicated space, power and bandwidth. This solves the space and power problem but most of the same costs of computing are just moved to a remote facility. The expensive data center facility cost is shared among other companies but the Server, Storage and Networking are all dedicated. The ... (more)

Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud Service Goes Live

Well not to say I didn't see this coming over a year ago, Amazon has finally seen the light and rolled out a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Amazon describes their new Virtual Private Cloud in much the same way we do at Enomaly. To recap, my original definition of a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is as a method for partitioning a public computing utility such as EC2 into quarantined virtual infrastructure. A VPC may encapsulate multiple local and remote resources to appear as a single homogeneous computing environment bridging the ability to securely utilize remote resources as part of an seamless global compute infrastructure. A core component of a VPC is a virtual private network (VPN) and or a virtual LAN (Vlan) in which some of the links between nodes are encrypted and carried by virtual switches. According to the new VPC website, the "Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon... (more)

Five Reasons to Choose a Private Cloud

As enterprise interest in cloud computing offerings and concepts continues to increase, the number of solutions in both the public and private cloud spaces increases as well. There's been much debate over public versus private cloud, even to the point of debating whether there can be such a thing as a private cloud. I'm not here to debate the latter (in my opinion the location of the service has nothing to do with whether or not it is a cloud), but rather I want to take a look into why consumers would choose private clouds over their public counterparts. During the last several months, Ive been lucky enough to chat with numerous enterprise users about their thoughts on cloud computing. Quite a few of these users are already utilizing the cloud on some level, and they are doing this by leveraging both public and private clouds. In my experience, enterprises have bee... (more)