Vol. 17, #47 - November 19, 2012 - Issue #906
Cloudy Thinking: PaaS
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Cloudy Thinking: PaaS
- Tip of the Week
- Recommended for Learning
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Cloud Service Models
- PowerShell oneliners to get information about your Active Directory infrastructure
- Seven Reasons Why Your Business Will Love the New SharePoint
- From the MVPs: Windows Server 2012’s Data Deduplication feature
- Skype Launches New Online Platform for Small Businesses
- Live CDs for Networking and IT Pros
- AXPO Chooses Sanbolic to Ensure HA and Increase Scalability of Citrix VDI
- Creating a Hyper-V update roadmap to get it right the first time
- A CFO's five-point cloud deployment checklist
- DaaS basics: Why virtual desktop hosting isn't so different from VDI
- Don't ignore Windows 8 security when reviewing desktop vulnerabilities
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- Simplify Event Log Management with SpectorSoft Server Manager
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's issue of WServerNews is about Platform as a Service (PaaS) which is one of the three service models for delivering cloud computing to customers. Geeks developed cloud computing, and it's cool, but what happens if you ASK A GEEK TO PAAS THE SALT?
OK I know that was pretty lame...btw to test-drive the latest and greatest cloud-ready operating system click here:
From the Mailbag
In Eye on VDI (Issue 904) we included several question from a reader named Aaron. One of these questions solicited recommendations from readers for cost-effective ways to handle IT job tracking. In last week's newsletter Hyper-V Backup and Restore (Issue 905) we included a few reader responses Aaron's questions, and we're still receiving feedback from readers on this question. Here's a sampling of what we received this week:
Here at Mailmen Inc. on Long Island, NY we use TrackIt! We are about 150 users and about twice that many devices. It encompasses Help Desk, Change Management, Remote Management, Inhouse Solutions KB, Password Reset all for a very reasonable price. It help us qualify for annual SAS70/SSAE16 certification and best of all shows the boss exactly what I’ve done for him and his company. (from Ramon, VP Finance & Technology at Mailmen Inc.)
Another alternative Helpdesk software is ManageEngine Servicedesk Plus. I've used it at 2 sites and am very happy with it. Annual licensing is reasonable and the service is exceptional. (from a reader named Wayne)
And of course we had yet more readers recommending Spiceworks as a solution:
Here's what some of our readers are saying about Spiceworks:
- I have used Spiceworks for work tracking. It’s not perfect but certainly as flexible and useful as Blue Ocean and the price (free) is right. What’s more, it does have a community function that contains a growing body of knowledge on break/fix and design issues. For job tracking, it’s more of a ticketing system and less of a project management system, but categorization, time entry, and association of work to objects (hardware usually) is included. And there are a ton of plug-ins. (from Steven, a Director of Information Services in Denver, Colorado)
- Just my 2 cents. Our company uses Spice works to handle our IT Job tracking. It’s fairly robust and free! Donations remove the inconspicuous ads at the side. (from Andrew, an IT Manager in Australia)
- One word, SPICEWORKS!!! (from Ryan, an IT/GIS Technician in Iowa)
Aaron had also asked us the following question:
Remember Google Groups and how useful they were when it came to researching fixes to Microsoft Windows Server issues? About 5-8 years ago Google pulled the plug on them and as hard as I've tried I cannot find a good replacement resource. There are numerous 'sign up for an account with us' and fee based forums out there (many of them scams) but I'm wondering if anyone has found a good replacement to the speed, contributor base, or usefulness of the old Google Groups forums?
A reader named Rick from Sacramento, California, replied with the following suggestion:
Noticed in you latest email, you had a few questions from readers and they were at a loss of where to go for help. I don't think you can do better than the stackexchange.com sites, especially stackoverflow, serverfault or superuser. The amount of expertise on these sites are simply amazing.
Cloudy Thinking: PaaS
Once again, just in case you missed them or if you want to refer back to them, here are links to the previous newsletters for our Cloudy Thinking series:
- Cloudy Thinking (Issue 883)
- Cloudy Thinking - Sourcing Models (Issue 895)
- Cloudy Thinking - SaaS (Issue 898)
- Cloudy Thinking - Fundamentals (Issue 899)
- Cloudy Thinking - IaaS (Issue 901)
There are three basic cloud service models:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) which is where a service provider hosts line-of-business applications and you (i.e. your business) pay them a usage-based subscription fee to allow your users to use these applications. Examples of popular SaaS offerings are Office 365 and Google Apps.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which is where the service provider hosts a shared pool infrastructure resources such as storage, networking and virtualization hosts. Customers pay for these resources on a usage-based subscription basis so they can have virtual servers running in the cloud. The customer is responsible for configuring and managing their virtual servers. Examples of popular IaaS offerings are Windows Azure, Amazon EC2, and Rackspace Cloud Servers.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) which is what we're going to talk about now.
In the PaaS service model, the service provider provides application execution services running in the cloud. This allows customers to run their line-of-business applications in the cloud instead of having to deploy them locally within their on-premises infrastructure.
For example, let's say you've written a LOB application needed by hundreds of users in some department of your company. The traditional way of provisioning this application to users would be to deploy the application to their client computers. This could be done using Group Policy, using a software distribution and management platform like System Center Configuration Manager, using the RemoteApp capability of Remote Desktop Services, using Microsoft App-V, using a third-party application virtualization solution, or some other method. All of these methods for provisioning applications are traditionally implemented on-premises.
With the PaaS approach however, you would instead deploy your LOB application directly to the PaaS service provider's cloud using tools provided by the service provider. The application would then run on the service provider's infrastructure instead of your own in-house infrastructure.
PaaS - The Good
The main benefits of the PaaS approach are that users can run LOB applications from anywhere and on any device.
PaaS - The Bad
The main downside of the PaaS approach is lack of portability. Applications deployed to one PaaS service provider's cloud often cannot be ported to or run on another PaaS service provider's cloud. As a result, organizations who embrace the PaaS approach may end up getting locked in to the offering of one provider.
PaaS - The Ugly
You choose a PaaS service provider and deploy your LOB applications to the provider's cloud. Everything is running fine until one day the provider goes belly up. Because of lack of portability, your applications need to be extensively rewritten before you can deploy them to another provider. In the meantime, your business fails.
The PaaS landscape
The landscape of PaaS service providers is vast. Partly this is due to the large number of different application development platforms used to create enterprise applications. For example, should you use PHP or the .NET Platform to develop some specific LOB application for your company? Or maybe Python? Or Ruby? Or Java? The decision you make regarding which application development platform you choose can limit which PaaS service providers you can use.
Here's a quick rundown of some popular PaaS service providers with brief notes concerning each of them:
- Windows Azure - Supports a wide range of application development platforms
- Amazon AWS Elastic Beanstalk - Currently in beta and supports PHP, Python, Ruby, .NET, Java
- Google App Engine - Supports Java, Ruby, Python
- Cloud Foundry - Currently in beta, initiated by VMware
- AppFog - Focuses on open source platforms like PHP, Ruby, Node.js, and Java
- NetSuite SuiteCloud - Focuses on ERP and CRM applications
- WorkXpress - Provides an end-to-end visual systems administration and software development environment
- OpenShift by Red Hat - Supports Node.js, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, and Java
- ThroughPuter - Provides realtime application load and type adaptive parallel processing
- dotCloud - Rapidly deploy applications to the cloud
- OpenLogic CloudSwing - Offers cost-tracking and complete customization of technology stacks
- Kaazing - Provides a WebSocket Gateway
Has your company used any of the PaaS service providers in the above list? Or any providers not in this list? What's your experience with them been like? Email me at email@example.com
Tip of the Week
This week's tip is excerpted from a post by Jeff Wouters on the blog of The Dutch PowerShell UserGroup:
Whenever writing scripts that are intended to automate something I always want to leave something behind so I can see if the script has run correctly. Sometimes this can be as easy as a report to a file, e-mail or something like it.
However, in an enterprise environment you probably have a monitoring tool that also monitors the event logs of the operating systems… you can use that! Wouldn't it be nice to configure your monitoring tools to pick up the your scripts leave behind? So, the script would need to create an event in the Windows Event Log… How to do that?
Read more at
Got any tips you'd like to share with over 100,000 readers of this newsletter? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended for Learning
This post by Kim Spilker on the Microsoft Press blog tells you how you can keep up with free ebook announcements from Microsoft Press:
Free ebooks are a great resource for professional development. Hey, I should know as I'm written a few myself:
Also take note that my latest book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 has now been sent to the printers and will be available shortly. You can order it from Amazon here:
For a description of the book's contents, see the following post on the Microsoft Press blog:
Quote of the Week
"Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity / to seize everything you ever wanted / would you capture it or just let it slip?" --Eminem
Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
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.
To export your Hyper-V virtual machines try this free Powershell script
Hypervisor Independent VDI & Application Publishing from a Single Platform with 2X ApplicationServer XG. 30-day fully featured trial version.
Metalogix Archive Manager – Files Edition is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use and transparent solution to optimize, consolidate and de-duplicate your Windows File environment and save on storage costs. Free trial download here:
SolarWinds IP Address Manager lets you manage and report on IP address usage in a cross-platform environment. Read the review on WindowsNetworking.com:
- Microsoft TechEd North America on June 3-6, 2013 in New Orleans, USA
- Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 7-11, 2013 in Houston, USA
Add your event
Contact Michael Vella at email@example.com to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
Contact Michael Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your webcast listed in our Webcasts Calendar.
First, here are a few resources about the different cloud service models (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) which you may want to take note of:
- Understanding the Cloud Computing Stack: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS (a good whitepaper from Rackspace)
- Private Cloud – A Technical Perspective (a good overview from Microsoft TechNet)
- Understanding PaaS Limitations (from IT Briefcase)
- Oracle rallies PaaS providers to float cloud interop spec
- CAMP: Will It Be Relevant? (from CloudAve, an excellent industry-wide blog)
Now for some more wide-ranging stuff:
PowerShell oneliners to get information about your Active Directory infrastructure
Jeff Wouters shares some short but sweet PowerShell commands that can help you quickly gather information about your Active Directory infrastructure:
Seven Reasons Why Your Business Will Love the New SharePoint
Tony Tai of Microsoft looks at where SharePoint is headed in this post on the Why Microsoft blog:
From the MVPs: Windows Server 2012’s Data Deduplication feature
Here's a post is by Paul Clement, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in the area of Directory Services, about how to implement the new data deduplication feature of Windows Server 2012:
Skype Launches New Online Platform for Small Businesses
Skype has launched Skype in the workspace (SITW) a new online platform for small businesses to instantly connect with potential customers, partners and suppliers across the globe:
Live CDs for Networking and IT Pros
Eric Grier looks at five different live CD solutions you can use to boot a PC from a CD, DVD, or flash drive in this article on WindowsNetworking.com:
AXPO Chooses Sanbolic to Ensure HA and Increase Scalability of Citrix VDI
From the Sanbolic Team Blog comes news that AXPO, the largest energy utility company in Switzerland, has deployed Sanbolic Melio software to ensure high availability (HA) and increase scalability of its Citrix Virtual Desktop Infrastructure:
Creating a Hyper-V update roadmap to get it right the first time
Upgrading your hypervisor can be a daunting task if you don’t have an effective strategy in place. And with the recent release of Windows Server 2012, ensuring a successful Hyper-V update is essential. In this exclusive resource, learn key steps that can simplify and accelerate the process.
A CFO's five-point cloud deployment checklist
While the proven benefits of cloud computing have many IT pros buzzing, these advantages alone are not always enough to convince your CFO, who will ultimately make the final decision. In this essential guide, review five key tips that can help you get your CFO on board with your cloud project.
DaaS basics: Why virtual desktop hosting isn't so different from VDI
A common misconception in the IT world is that Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) are drastically different from one another. This insightful tip puts this rumor to rest, revealing how DaaS and VDI deliver most of the same benefits and disadvantages.
Don't ignore Windows 8 security when reviewing desktop vulnerabilities
Many organizations are eager to upgrade to Windows 8 to take advantage of its promised benefits and advanced features, however, it’s critical not to overlook the new operating system’s vulnerabilities. In this valuable tip, review essential insights on how to avoid security mishaps in Windows 8.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
Scary blog post of the week: "The problem with Frankenstein" by Ed Wilson a.k.a The Scripting Guy at Microsoft:
Flying "autogyro" motorcycle chases Triumph "road" motorcycle:
A railway bridge in Durham, North Carolina is (unofficially) the toughest bridge in the world.
A spectacular action-packed video of top athletes playing along with cleverly designed Rube Goldberg contraptions:
280 YouTube videos edited into a 5-minute masterpiece by Luc Bergeron (aka Zapatou):
A tribute to the joy of dance:
WServerNews - Editors
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.