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Vol. 17, #49 - December 3, 2012 - Issue #908
This week's issue of WServerNews is about cloud backup. But before we dig into this topic, let's first find out what sort of advice an expert consultant like Dogbert might give to an organization that's thinking of migrating their business processes into the cloud:
By the time you're reading this newsletter my latest book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 should be available:
You can order it here from Amazon:
For an excerpt from one of the chapters in this book, see the Tech Briefing section of this newsletter.
This is (I think) my 30th book about Microsoft products. That sounds like a lot, but my colleague and fellow author William Stanek has just finished his 150th book:
That's disgustingly prolific, isn't it?
And now for the mailbag...
In the issue Hyper-V Backup and Restore (Issue 905) we described some tools for backing up and restoring Hyper-V hosts and their virtual machines. A reader named Felix from Australia had another product to recommend:
I use BackupAssist from Cortex I.T. Labs, which supports (among other types of backups) Hyper-V backups. It uses the inbuilt wbadmin tool but does it in a very user friendly way and provides a comprehensive backup report. There is an optional Hyper-V recovery option that mounts the backup image of a VM as a drive letter for easy restore. They also have options to backup Exchange mailboxes and, file backups to other servers on the network and in the cloud. Very reasonably priced!
Another reader named Bill, a Senior Systems Administrator in Ohio, shared about the problems he has been having with his current backup solution:
Symantec Backup Exec 2012 is a nightmare. It has been since we upgraded from 2010 R3. In fact I rebuilt the server from scratch and it did no good. 2012 originally had some serious issues working with MS VSS. That took several weeks to look into. After some hotfixes and SPs it will not do any sort of granular backup of SQL and Exchange VMs. We can only get granular backups of simple file server and IIS type VMs.
There's been an open case with Symantec for over a month. After sending them extensive debug logging info they're chalking it off to a persistent issue that is currently under investigation. As a result I'm now looking at Veeam for our HyperV environment.
Our issue Cloudy Thinking: PaaS (Issue 906) briefly discussed the Platform as a Service cloud computing service model and described a number of different popular PaaS service providers. One reader thought our discussion of PaaS was too brief and missed some important points:
Longtime subscriber to WServer News, but this is my first email. I write this because I think you were off base on a number of your comments about PaaS.
First of all, you write as if PaaS is a deployment only model. Although that might be true for many or most of the offerings you mention, it is certainly not universal. Both the Oracle Database Cloud and Salesforce Force.com allow for development and deployment in their PaaS offerings, which is not just a detail. With these services, you dramatically change your development methodology, allowing for iterative development where changes take effect immediately.
Secondly, you have a small point on your discussion of the proprietary nature of PaaS, but you miss the big point. The core issue is that moving to a shared environment (by definition, PaaS environments are shared, to some extent -see the next point) means a firmer lockdown of resources. This means that any app you developed outside of a PaaS environment will probably have some calls, etc., which are not supported on a target PaaS. Although it is true that, right now, most PaaS have slightly different restricted lists, there is less difference between PaaSs than between out of the Cloud and in the Cloud. So there will always be migration costs. Heck, there are migration costs (testing, etc.) when you move to a different in-house operating system - and these costs are not trivial. The bottom line here is that, by and large, migration is typically a bad use case for the Cloud. A much better idea is to say that new development will live on the Cloud and, once this goes on for a while, migration might be considered, along with recreation of the target app.
Thirdly, you say that you are locked into a Cloud PaaS vendor, and if they go away, you are toast. Not at all true with the Oracle Database Cloud - you can move everything in the Service, data and apps, to any environment that supports the Oracle stack.
Finally, you don't even touch on the other key difference between PaaS/SaaS and IaaS - multi-tenancy. Many PaaS providers do not really give multi-tenancy, instead using VMs. (No, I do not think that VMs are mufti-tenant - they are not nearly as scalable and require additional management, unlike a true multi-tenant environment) This difference will, moving forward, become a bigger and bigger differentiator.
The reader makes some good points here. For example, I should have explicitly mentioned the development aspect of deploying PaaS solutions as something you should investigate before you buy into a vendor's PaaS offering. I still feel however that lock-in can pose a problem with some PaaS hosters, and if you plan on developing custom applications on a PaaS hosting provider's cloud you better be sure that your code is portable to several other PaaS hosting providers should the one you're working with go under. As for multi-tenancy, I'll probably visit that topic in a future issue as it's another important consideration when implementing any kind of cloud computing solution.
For more information on Salesforce's social and mobile application development platform called Force.com, see here:
And for information about Oracle Cloud see here:
Got feedback on anything in previous issues of this newsletter? Email us at email@example.com
We've visited the topic of backup several times recently, and we'll probably continue to do so from time to time because business continuity is important for all businesses, large and small. While tape backup is still used by many companies for archival purposes and disk-to-disk backup is increasingly popular, there's increasing pressure in the marketplace for businesses to consider cloud-based backup as an alternative to implementing an in-house backup system.
Benefits of cloud backup
The potential benefits of cloud backup are similar to those of other types of cloud-based services. These benefits can include:
Risks of cloud backup
Like other forms of cloud computing however, cloud-based backup can also pose certain risks:
Bottom line for businesses
Like everything else in IT, it all comes down to weighing the benefits against the risks before you make your decision.
Windows Azure Online Backup
Windows Server 2012 now includes an optional in-box cloud backup solution called Windows Azure Online Backup. By using this feature, you can back up volumes, folders or files on your servers to cloud storage hosted by Microsoft. Windows Azure Online Backup is built into the Windows Server Backup utility, but before you can use it you need to first create a user ID on the Windows Azure Online Backup website. This user ID will of the form username@NAME.onmicrosoft.com where NAME is a name you choose to represent your organization within the Microsoft Online Services cloud.
Once you've done this, you download a Windows Azure Online Backup Agent from the website and install it on your server. At that point, an Online Backup node will appear in the Windows Server Backup console like this:
Once you've created your user ID, you click Register Server and specify a password used to encrypt your backed up data. You are then ready to schedule online backups, recover data, and perform other operations as shown here:
There's also a free preview of Windows Azure Online Backup that gives you 300 GB of cloud storage. I encourage you to download Windows Server 2012 today and try out Windows Azure Online Backup and let me know what you think of it by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solutions for small businesses
There are lots of other vendors in the cloud backup space. Listed in no particular order, here are a few that offer solutions for smaller businesses:
Solutions for large enterprises
A number of vendors also offer cloud backup solutions for mid- and large-sized enterprises. In no particular order, here are a few you might consider:
Asigra Cloud Backup
Symantec Backup Exec.cloud
Zmanda Cloud Backup
Do you know any other cloud backup solutions you'd like to recommend to our readers? Email me at email@example.com.
Who says Windows PowerShell is only for boring stuff like managing servers? Check out this amazing post by Jeff Wouters who shows how you can use PowerShell to let you know when a product is in stock at Amazon!
Got any tips you'd like to share with over 100,000 readers of this newsletter? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Art of the Data Center from Prentice Hall is a fun book to read. How can something as dry as data center computing be fun? By including dozens and dozens of beautiful full-color photos of datacenter components including cooling systems, UPS generators, structured cabling, and so on. Who ever knew a datacenter could be located inside a chapel? The Barcelona Supercomputing Center did just that. Or how about that amazing photo of the entrance to the eBay Data Center in Phoenix, Arizona? Makes you feel like you're in the movie Tron. In addition to beautiful photos, the book includes technical details concerning the eighteen datacenters surveyed plus interviews with the architects and designers of each datacenter. Best coffee-table computing book of the year.
"In order to be successful you have to embrace the development of good habits. Let's say going to bed early; it gives me more time to get up early and do cardio. It just helps me get closer to my goal. It's all about breaking things down into habits that are easy to obtain." --Kai Green, bodybuilder and two-time Arnold Classic winner
Until next week,
Free tool: Hyper-V Backup by Altaro. Easy to use, fast, has your back. More info & Download:
Download SolarWinds free NTFS Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory and get complete visibility into the effective permissions and access rights for a specific file folder or share drive.
SpectorSoft Server Manager – quickly and easily centralize the consolidation and management of your Event Log, Syslog and Text Log data, monitoring, alerting you and responding to critical events automatically. Free trial download.
ClearApps Network Inventory Advisor - Voted WindowsNetworking.com Readers' Choice Award Winner - Network Inventory:
Free Trial Kemp Virtual Loadmaster - Lets you intelligently distribute network traffic to web and application servers to achieve the best network and infrastructure performance:
Contact Michael Vella at email@example.com to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.
Spear phishing has quickly evolved into one of the dangerous forms of spam. Phishing emails, designed to steal passwords, banking info, and other sensitive information, have become very common and very costly. Many IT and Security professionals know they need to bolster their defenses but are having trouble justifying new investments internally with a good ROI case.
Join Michael Osterman and Paul Wood, Cyber Security Intelligence Manager at Symantec’s Security Technology and Response Group for an informative Webinar on Tuesday, December 4th at 1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST. You will discover what the average attack means to your organization, how you can counter these primary threats, and get the resources approved to implement the right solution.
One registrant will be randomly selected to receive an Apple iPad Mini or a $329 Amazon.com gift certificate.
Contact Michael Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your webcast listed in our Webcasts Calendar.
We'll begin with some links where you can find more information on Windows Azure Online Backup:
Next, here are a few interesting blog posts concerning cloud backup in general:
Now for some more general stuff...
An excerpt from Mitch's latest book "Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 Training Guide" about how to manage Windows Server 2012 DNS servers using PowerShell:
A new whitepaper from Sander Berkouwer that describes how your organization can benefit from the new features in Active Directory Domain Services and Windows Server 2012:
From The Register comes this story about how the council of Freiburg, Germany has voted to switch the city's productivity software from OpenOffice to Microsoft Office, reversing an open source software policy that has been in place since 2007:
Here's a cool couple of lines of PowerShell code from Infoworks:
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a well-known term in the IT industry – but what about Desktop as a Service (DaaS)? In this exclusive tip, explore the top differences and similarities between VDI and DaaS so you can determine which advanced computing strategy is right for your business.
For IT departments, ensuring high availability is a top priority. However, enterprise-level high availability (HA) can be complex to carry out and burdensome on your budget. Fortunately, a new strategy, application-level HA, is emerging as a reliable and cost-effective alternative – find out more inside.
With your employees becoming increasingly tech-savvy, finding ways around your IT policies and regulations is not as hard as you might think. So what's an IT pro to do? Attend our free, half-day event, The Consumerization of IT, to learn about tips and technologies that can help you regain control of IT.
Many organizations are struggling with cloud deployments because cloud operations are not as efficient as traditional data center operations. Fortunately, DevOps is emerging as a solution to this dilemma. Find out how this advanced approach can ensure a successful cloud implementation.
Did you know that a Boeing 707 passenger airplane could do aerobatics?
The "apartment of the future" offers four times the rooms within the confines of a typical one-bedroom apartment:
The oldest working electronic computer runs a program at the National Museum of Computing, Milton Keynes, UK.
"9 Phrases Women Use" - A guide how to better understand women:
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.