Vol. 19, #19 - May 12, 2014 - Issue #979
Embracing change as an IT Pro
- Editor's Corner
- Embracing change as an IT Pro
- Tip of the Week: Avoiding Data Loss with Virtual Disks
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Asia Pacific
- Webcast Calendar
- MSExchange.org Webinar: Choosing an Email Cloud Option
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Cloud Computing
- Enterprise IT
- Windows Server
- Windows Server News
- Orchestrating the public cloud of the future
- About to buy guide: Thin client hardware
- How to negotiate a better price on your hypervisor licensing
- Player Plus gives sysadmins another tool for minimal deployments
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- How To Change Your Car Tires While Driving
- Unicycle Dance Acrobatics - Ukraine's Got Talent
- Look Over The Watchmaker's Shoulders
- Collabro sing "Stars" from Les Miserables on Britain's Got Talent 2014
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Data Deduplication in Windows Server 2012 R2 in Depth
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about whether you as an IT pro should fear change or embrace it. If there's one thing that's constant in the IT profession, it's that things are always changing and evolving. What should you do in response to such changes? We'll hear from Rick Claus, Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft as he shares some tips on how he's dealt with change himself as a long time (over 25 years) IT pro.
Of course the phrase "embrace change" does sound a wee bit like your typical marketing drivel as the following Dilbert comic strip wisely demonstrates:
So what have YOU accomplished this year?
And now on to our guest editorial by Rick Claus...
Embracing change as an IT Pro
I have to assume since you are reading this newsletter - you work in the IT Profession. As an IT Professional, one thing you have probably figured out by now is the only inevitable constant in this industry is CHANGE. If you are an old-timer like myself or a new entrant into the field of IT, you must have a masochistic tendency to like change, or you wouldn't have gotten into this industry in the first place. Think of all this change as new and constant stream of challenges to keep us on our toes. As a result, I've learned to not fear change, but rather embrace it and the new challenges change brings.
I'll be honest -- it's getting harder to stay positive as an IT Professional these days. It's as if a good chunk of the industry has written the IT Pro off. Editorials from technical pundits and tech bloggers are saying the sky is falling for IT professionals because of "the cloud" and there is doom and gloom in the air. Talking with IT Professionals at events I attend - I can't help but think they are starting to believe them. It's as if there is a communal nervous anxiety -- we're all waiting for the inevitable second shoe to drop.
But hang on a second here. This is once again just more change to our industry we have to adapt to. I figure you have one of two choices facing you now: 1) Do nothing and continue to do what you are doing now. 2) Jump in with both feet and embrace change.
A bit of background first, for context. I described myself as an old timer. I've clocked in over 25 years working in the IT industry in some form or another. Each job was a step up the IT food chain to more senior positions. I've always been a "Server Hugger", managing and designing on premises systems supporting users in brick and mortar offices. I'm known primarily as "The Server Guy" in my current role at Microsoft. I focus on infrastructure and services that are mostly tied to physical or virtual servers running in your datacenter. I've been an advocate for "The Cloud" for a number of years now -- more and more services make sense to move out of our datacenters on up into hosted services with partners or large public offerings like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. That being said: I still focused on Windows Server as my area of expertise - until now. I am jumping in. I am updating my skillset to include "The Cloud" in order to embrace changes taking place in the industry. Think of it as updating my title from "The Server Guy" to "ServerHugger AND Cloud Aficionado".
How am I doing this? Well, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you a couple of steps I've used in the past and continue to use today when faced with major changes in my career. Take them for what they are worth, it's relatively simple -- you just have to proactively embrace change and roll with it.
Step 1: Take stock of what you do and what you know
Are you already obsolete in this new world? Heck NO! You would be surprised at how much of your on premises expertise can translate into assets in the new Cloud world. As a "Server Hugger" with some experience under your belt, you already know how to architect systems at scale to provide services in a traditional datacenter or server room. You know how to manage them efficiently and how to take advantage of automation with PowerShell. You can probably provision new systems physically or virtually in your sleep. Networking, VPNs and subnets are commonplace in most environment now and will be your connection point into various Cloud providers going forward. Firewall traffic, well known ports and endpoints are used to secure those connection and ensure only required traffic moves between networks.
From a workload perspective -- you probably understand how to setup multitier applications, manage websites and line of business apps. You know about delegation, group management and user account provisioning in a traditional on premises directories like Active Directory. You might have worked with load balancers for web traffic or dealt with a Denial of Service attack.
Storage wise -- we've all worked with direct attached storage. Formatted partitions, setup volumes and created virtual disks with various capabilities and IOPS throughput. Maybe you've also worked with SANs, configured and provisioned new LUNs for file server clusters or SQL clusters. It's just disk and storage that is consumed by the services we design to work within spec we deliver to our users.
Everything I just mentioned here is valuable currency in this new world of "cloud". If you have the experience working with these technologies in an on-premises world, you will be able to translate your knowledge to the new world of public cloud. You just have to be willing to make the jump.
Step 2: Educate yourself on what's coming
"The Cloud" with its various *-as-a-service components is already here. You can think of the major categories organized in a stack, with your level of responsibility increasing as you move down from one to another.
At the top of the stack, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)- you are responsible for user interaction and data the software creates and manipulates. SaaS capable workloads have transitioned to various public and private services for quite some time now: e-mail, collaboration, scheduling, CRM, WebServices … the list continues to grow. Workloads are migrating from on premises or hosted solutions to larger public datacenters from various big players -- Microsoft included. These services still require knowledgeable IT staff who understand the organization and its user community in order to setup, provision and support ongoing user inquiries in a personalized fashion.
Moving down a notch, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) -- you (and your developer brethren) are responsible for user interaction, data AND the development / ongoing upkeep of the application. PaaS offerings have been courting developers to kick off new projects where they can focus on the apps and its data, not having to worry about any of the lower level infrastructure plumbing. That being said, I can't tell you how many PaaS projects I've been involved with to re-architect and tweak a solution to get more out of the initial design and better performance. Communication AND open collaboration between Devs and IT Pros is critical at this level. Your previous consulting and architecture skills will come in handy here, but they will require some tweaking of their own to understand the new way of working at scale in "The Cloud".
Finally, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a much more natural environment for you to work in. you're responsible for essentially everything except for the hardware running the platform. This is where you'll need to spend the most time understanding the subtle transition from your on-premises environment where you control the physical hardware to an environment where you have to think of tradeoffs to accommodate massive scale and disposable infrastructure.
You need to choose an IaaS cloud provider to start kicking the tires and getting some hands on experience trying things out. I chose Microsoft Azure as my sandbox to learn more about IaaS:
Full disclosure -- I work for Microsoft:
I have also worked with Amazon AWS IaaS services to understand the differences between these two platforms as well as other IaaS vendors. Mix it up, each vendor has their own approach to how to design, deploy and manage their environments. Microsoft Azure has a rapidly maturing IaaS capability that continues to grow and evolve. If you haven't already done so -- sign up for a 30 day trial to get your feet wet:
If you have access to a company MSDN subscription, make sure to activate its monthly Azure credits so you can get a sandbox to safely play in:
Seriously -- sign up for some free time or activate some MSDN benefits if you can. Hands on with the IaaS service is one way to seriously flex your on premises muscle.
I mentioned I am going through the same transition you are with this Cloud environment. I decided to document little things along the way to reinforce what I've learned so far. On my blog Regular IT Guy, I've created a special category of posts where I write about working in Microsoft Azure and sharing my learnings:
Feel free to follow along with me and comment on the posts as you progress.
Besides hands on -- you can also learn a lot from these other resources I've found handy over the last couple of months:
- Online Documentation is your starting point for resources:
- Virtual Machines topic drills in to more specifics around IaaS:
- The Azure Video library brings all Azure topics together in one filterable space:
- Free online training on Azure from Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Step 3: Position yourself as a knowledgeable advisor / advocate (avoid the automatic NO)
Now that you have taken the time to get some more hands on experience working with Microsoft Azure, how about challenging yourself to change your default go-to solutions when you are tackling a problem? Recently I had a project to build up lab environments for demos and instead of my default on premises lab -- I figured out how to rapidly provision them in Microsoft Azure via some PowerShell scripting. It wasn't elegant and it took me a while, but I got the job done AND it's 100% repeatable, since I scripted it. It forced me to apply what I've learned so far and it's starting to build that muscle memory for using Microsoft Azure and "The Cloud" instead of defaulting to my old standby of on premises virtualization.
One thing I've learned working in this new "cloud" world is that you have to make a fundamental change in mindset for how to creating things. In the on-premises world, you would build something and you spend lots of time getting it just right and working. When it "breaks" or doesn't perform as expected, you would spend more time tinkering and fixing. Once done -- that's it, no need to make it repeatable. This is the old way of thinking and behaving. Take your knowledge for what you've setup and created and now think about having to repeat it as is OR expand it at scale. You need to know how to automate its configuration and make it repeatable. If you can deploy your images in 5 -- 10 minutes, but then take 3 hours or more to configure them, you are not working at the cloud level of architecture.
All this infrastructure is also considered "disposable infrastructure". In "The Cloud", you are working in a consumption model. You pay for what you use, and in the case of Microsoft Azure IaaS, you only pay for what is currently a running instance. When you are done with your environment, you can either shut it down or potentially delete it all together and re-create it when required.
As you start working in this environment and getting more and more familiar with how it can address various needs of your organization, you will start to notice you natural translation of on-premises skills to more cloud aware skills. Details are subtle, but choices that made sense in a physical/virtual on premises world may not be the best choice in the new world of scale and on-demand. Likewise because you do are consuming a managed "cloud" from a public provider, there will be cases where some of their technologies don't directly map to what you are used to working with in your own datacenter. When that happens, just dive in a bit deeper and figure out how their technology works and how you can use it in your own solutions.
Finally, now that you have taken the time to assess your own skills, gotten more hands on with "cloud" technologies and have a better understanding where "the cloud" can fit into your solutions toolkit, start to become the advocate in your organization. IT guys and gals tend to get a bad rap for being "the NO person" when it comes to new projects or changes to the environment. It's simple really -- it's easier to say NO or find ways to block things when we're already overworked and under resourced. You should shift to more of an advocate role and proactively look at how you can bring portions of "the cloud" into your environment. Don't see "cloud" adoption as being a negative thing. Ultimately it takes stuff off your plate so that you can spend more time doing other projects that will have more impact to your organization.
Change is constant in the world of IT. Technology evolves and how we use it is under our control. Don't fear change, embrace it. Take these new challenges head on and come out the other side a stronger IT Professional.
About Rick Claus
Rick Claus is a Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. Rick's role is to support platform awareness for Windows Server and Windows Azure through special events targeting the broad community.
For more information about Rick and for links to his Twittter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, see his About.Me page at:
Send us feedback
Got comments on this topic? Let us know at [email protected]
Tip of the Week: Avoiding Data Loss with Virtual Disks
The following tip is excerpted from my book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 from Microsoft Press:
Do not compact, convert, expand, shrink, or merge a virtual hard disk when any of the following conditions apply:
- The disk is associated with a virtual machine that has snapshots.
- The disk is associated with a virtual machine that has replication enabled.
- The disk is associated with a chain of differencing disks.
If you perform any of these actions under such conditions, data loss or corruption might occur.GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
This week we have some titles that may help enterprise MIS and IT pros get a handle on the way the IT industry is heading:
Trust, Computing, and Society
Cloud Computing for Enterprise Architectures
Resource Optimization and Security for Cloud Services
Future Business Software: Current Trends in Business Software Development
Building the Infrastructure for Cloud Security: A Solutions View
Techniques for Surviving Mobile Data Explosion
Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture: Strategies to Transform Information Systems in the Era of Big Data
Trust and Partnership: Strategic IT Management for Turbulent Times
Information Governance: Concepts, Strategies, and Best Practices
New Perspectives in Information Systems and Technologies, Volume 1
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Some announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Tap into the training and certification you need, with a limited-time offer from Microsoft
As IT becomes an ever more critical element of business strategy, businesses depend more and more on you for their success. To help YOU succeed, Microsoft offers training resources and a certification path that helps further your career by proving your technical knowledge. Access a limited-time certification offer and free exam prep to get your career moving forward. Register now:
Free ebook on System Center Integrated Cloud Platform
Microsoft Press has released the final System Center ebook in the series: Microsoft System Center -- Integrated Cloud Platform by David Ziembicki and Mitch Tulloch, series editor. Organized by cloud type, it begins with a short overview of the Cloud OS strategy from Microsoft and a high-level hybrid cloud architecture. It also covers the design and deployment of private cloud solutions using Windows and System Center to deliver the software-defined datacenter where storage, network, compute, and management are all virtualized and delivered by the Microsoft platform. Download it free from MVA:
Quote of the Week
"All my life I've wanted to test my limits." --Sam Zell
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Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
Veeam Backup Free Edition is the must-have tool for VMware and Hyper-V. Use Veeam Backup Free Edition for as long as you like. Download now.
Is managing users and computers on Active Directory too cumbersome? Download SolarWinds terrific trio of Active Directory Admin Tools today & start saving time on Active Directory management tasks.
Want to know how your Exchange messaging system is being used or misused? Want to know most active users, who are overusing the system and what is being stored in their mailboxes?
Need a mini USB keyboard with touchpad? Gear Head has this one:
PFDAVAdmin lets you perform tasks on public folders and mailboxes for Exchange 2003 or 2007:
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
Add your event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
MSExchange.org Webinar: Choosing an Email Cloud Option
If you’re considering a cloud option for your email, you have a lot to consider, including compliance requirements, security concerns, archiving capabilities and management tool options Join Microsoft MVP Michael Noel and Hudson Casson from Metalogix on Thursday, May 21, at 11am EDT/4:00pm BST to learn about the key factors organizations must take into account when moving email management to the cloud. This live, informative webinar is provided by MSExchange.com will help you understand the potential impacts of a cloud migration - good and bad - that you need to know!
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
Why VMware Horizon DaaS did not beat Amazon WorkSpaces (4sysops)
Google is Amazon’s Only Real Competition (CloudScaling)
Save time (and avoid pain) - Create a MDT simulation environment (Deployment Research)
Apple in the Enterprise (WindowsITPro)
Definitive Guide to Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures (hyper-v.nu)
Separate VM in Hyper-V virtual machines using anti-affinity (The Windows Server FCI Blog)
App-V Basics: Installing and Configuring the App-V 5 Infrastructure (Part 1) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Microsoft Platform Ready Test Tool 4.6 for Windows Server 2012 R2 (Microsoft Download Center)
Orchestrating the public cloud of the future
While cloud orchestration and integration might not seem necessary to some organizations right now, cloud planners must soon start to consider the impact of cloud-specific applications. Learn more about cloud orchestration and the key requirements this cloud service entails.
About to buy guide: Thin client hardware
There are countless options when it comes to buying thin client hardware, making your decision complex and time-consuming. In this simplified buying guide, get an exclusive breakdown of the four most popular thin client choices and find out if any of these options are the right match for your VDI environment’s needs.
How to negotiate a better price on your hypervisor licensing
Have you ever considered negotiating your hypervisor licensing cost with the same approach you’d use to negotiate buying a car? Maybe it’s time you should. Use this list of expert negotiation tips to save money on your next hypervisor license, and shop smart.
Player Plus gives sysadmins another tool for minimal deployments
VMware’s Player Plus 6 is an ideal tool for those who need a low-profile hypervisor, and this informative article provides a comprehensive, all-you-need-to-know look at Player’s features. Find out why virtualization experts and novices alike are keeping Player in their virtual toolboxes, and why you should, too.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
How To Change Your Car Tires While Driving
How guys in Saudi Arabia change the tires of their Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Unicycle Dance Acrobatics - Ukraine's Got Talent
Dmitry and Elena Angelica perform their beautiful acrobatic dance on a unicycle for 'Ukraine's Got Talent 2014.'
Look Over The Watchmaker's Shoulders
It is fascinating to look over the watchmaker's shoulders and see how a mechanical watch is made.
Collabro sing "Stars" from Les Miserables on Britain's Got Talent 2014
The quintet 'Collabro' receives a standing ovation from the audience and judges of Britain’s Got Talent for their performance of 'Stars' from Les Miserables.