Technology, Infrastructure and Cloud Focused.

Father of 3 lovely children, geek, infrastructure expert, technical architect and all round technologist.

Realising Digital Transformation with Microsoft Technology Event

So it has been a while since I have presented at an event but next Tuesday (13th), I have the pleasure to be be attending an event arranged by a group of companies called the Cloud Consortium entitled Realising Digital Transformation with Microsoft Technology which focuses around a number of different tracks during the day.

These tracks are themed around the Microsoft cloud stack focusing on Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, Project Online and Azure.  My slot is part of the Azure track and embedded in a session where we will discuss the real world challenges and thoughts on a cloud strategy and moving from the high level vision to a low level technical reality.

Having had experience in two use cases for the cloud I will be discussing moving a 1,000 user company from pilot to production in Office 365, some test and development workloads in Azure with the vision of moving DR and the second use case which is what I am currently working on the cross roads of a cloud strategy and which Infrastructure-As-A-Service Provider should we go with.

It has been a pleasure to be asked and as you all know presenting is something I am trying to improve on session by session, I will follow this up with a post review and any slides that come out of this.

The Cloud Consortium is made up of these superb Microsoft Partners:

To register for the event please following this link – https://consortium.cloud/consortium-event/realising-digital-transformation-with-microsoft-technology/

Why you cannot backup Azure VMs created in the V2 Portal with Azure backup

Microsoft Azure

Hi, just a brief post for those of you that are wondering why Azure backup (at time of publishing this post, Feb 2016!) cannot discovery your IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) virtual machines you may have created within the same region but on the V2 portal – https://portal.azure.com/

Over the last few months I have been spending a bit of time setting up some labs in Azure both in the “classic” portal and the “v2” portal as Microsoft calls it.  The difference being the classic portal is the old fashion (and in my opinion easy to use) portal, while the v2 portal is where all the new development and features are.  Microsoft’s best practise is to try and ensure you are using the new v2 portal for all you IaaS build outs but the issue here is backwards compatibility.

So the use case – I have created a new IaaS environment within the v2 portal using Resource Manager and would like to use Azure’s VM Backup service, i.e. adding a new Recovery service and backup fault (which of course has to be in the same region) and discovery the virtual machines to carry out the backup – NOTE: this is different to the file level backup where you download the Azure Backup agent and carry our file level backups and restores.

Well……..

It turns out that you will be presented with the below error, the reason for this (and confirmed with Microsoft support) is this functionality is not currently supported!!!

Azure Backup Service Error

Yes I know, no notifications or advisory notes when you create these virtual machines nothing it simply does not work.  THE ONLY way to backup virtual machines in Azure with the Azure backup / recovery services is to carry on building your IaaS environment in the classic portal, end of – check this for more details – https://feedback.azure.com/forums/258995-azure-backup-and-scdpm/suggestions/8369907-azure-backup-to-support-iaas-vm-v2 

The future of Insurance, Technology and the Workplace in 2020

 

Thanks to fashions-cloud.com

Thanks to http://fashions-cloud.com/

A few weeks I have had the pleasure of not only meeting some fellow industry (Insurance and Financial Services) colleagues but attended two round table discussions on “Future proofing: Building a 21st Century Insurer” and “Workplace 2020: What Colleagues Need“.  The formal was conducted by The Post Magazine with the latter conducted by The Financial Services Technology Magazine – FSTech.

I found both discussions very interesting and thought provoking with the stark reality that 2020 is only 5, yes FIVE years away (in fact four and half years away!!).  When C-Levels plan business strategy, this is generally over a 3 or 5 year period, which means forward thinking and innovative organisations need to start planning now!  WOW…..  So I thought I would share a summary of these events and key points to start you all thinking about this, please feel free to leave any comments below.

Future Proofing: Building a 21st Century Insurer:

Before we get into the detail I have spent this year thinking and conceptualising that in the era of the cloud (I am not going to debate what this means to you, businesses or the differences in cloud services) if a financial services start up was formed (in this context an Insurer) how would it be architected?  What technology would be used?  What would the business processes and automation look like?  If you are a solution provider or in the insurance space then get in touch as I believe this has some real benefits.

This round table was hosted by Post and had a number of insurers from ERS, Aviva, LV= and Insure The Box, the main themes that resinated from this discussion are summarised below.  What surprised me the most was all the insurers agreed that the industry is heading down these themes but none of them had looked at strategies, implementations, data processing and more importantly go to market products.

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) – A number of years ago the global insurance market thought Telematics would not take off and some could not see a revenue stream from this.  Looking at the US, UK or Asia with millions of cars, if insurers offered these devices for £5 a month (and a reduced premium), well you can do the maths and here is the market.  Next we know these devices are evolving into embedded devices just look at the Ford Sync or the BMW i800.  With the evolution of the connected XXXX (be it connected car, home, appliances etc) just think of the possibilities – your alarm system could monitor your house, your habits, your windows / entry points and provide lower costs house and contents insurance; maybe your TV could be connected to the insurers call centre or you could pay for insurance on a pay as you drive model.
  • Data – How can insurers analyse all this data in real time to provide insights into claims, fraud, driving habits, hire car and tracking.  With more devices being connected from apps, telematics and devices this data needs to be transmitted, stored, analysed in a secure and encrypted format – maybe cloud based services will help!
  • Security – Of course if insurers are holding more and more personal information do you think they will be targeted from a Cyber / Data Security threats?
  • Customer Interaction – Will voice be the main channel for customer services, will the use of video (or even wearable tech!) be more main stream.  For example with your touch screen TV just swipe and perform a video conference.  Will it be more avatar based like the Playstation network or just touch a button on your car dashboard for a pop video chat!

Whatever 2020 will hold it will be interesting to see the visionary players, how they will use technology to deliver and meet the next generation of insurers products.

Workplace 2020:What Colleagues Need:

This event was sponsored by Fujitsu and hosted by The Financial Services Technology magazine to discuss how the workplace of 2020 will look like, have businesses included these themes within their strategy and if not when.  This article will be published in the June edition of FSTech.

Looking forward to 2016 businesses need to start considering and contemplating how their workplace will look, how they will attract the right calibre of people:

  • Millennials – Most businesses provider succession planning strategies but is this just a paper exercise or are they thinking seriously about attracting the younger generation.  What drives them?  What type of work environment / working pattens are they looking for?  Of course with our tech hat on we can see this as BYOD, flexible working, dress, access to social media, less meeting etc…
  • Applications – In order to be competitive, provide solutions and implement in days or weeks rather than months, businesses need to remove their legacy applications – these stop the businesses from being innovative and flexibility.
  • Workplace – Is the workplace dying?  Does it need to change?  Do virtual offices play a bigger role?  Of course businesses always need a head office, a central location but when you look at start-ups and how they operate is this becoming more of a common theme.  The cost of property is only go one way – up and therefore operational costs are increasing.
  • Technology – Is technology helping or hindering this?  Will technology give a helping hand!

To wrap up 2020 is only 4.5yrs away and being a technologist I am always interested in what is emerging, what trends are coming up and what the future holds…

Of course with a technology perspective….

Microsoft’s top priorities for 2014

Recently I have been researching some of Microsoft’s trends and some of Satya Nadella’s strategy and came over this article a few months old from cnet (for the full article click here) which explains where the company’s focus is and the reason for the great Cloud first, Mobile first vision.  Below is a small graphics that illustrates this – where do you think your strategy and your company’s vision fits into this?  Are you looking at any of this technologies:

Microsoft Trends and Priorities for 2014

Microsoft Trends and Priorities for 2014

For me my interested, skills and focus are around the following:

  • Windows 8 Tablets – for me here the focus is around how the hardware market are going to utilise Windows 8 (bring on 8.2 BTW as a menu is back) to remove the laptop & tablet (or fablet!) 2015 will be the focus on looking at Windows 10 and seeing if the Windows 7 Enterprises will make a 7 – 10 jump or Windows 7 ate (“8) 9 to give 10!!  get it..!!
  • Office 365 – The SaSS offering from Microsoft that originated many years ago it BPOS and now O365.  This is a very strong platform for all businesses, large or small (and individuals) and a platform I have very keen this.  I can see this sitting and running on Microsoft Azure at some point in 2015.
  • Enterprise Social – I am starting to run a small pilot at an enterprise to see how the users will adopt this and what the take would be from senior executive members.  For me this is about SharePoint, Yammer and Lync working in harmony together and using it from team collaboration (both business and social) but also about making static intranets more interactive and dynamic.
  • Consumer IT – Well I see BYOD turning into Desktop-As-A-Service and then really it does not matter what technology end users bring in as you have centrally secured your desktop estate, close to your applications.
  • Hyper-V – Hypver V is catching VMware quickly and when you carry out a cost benefit analysis you may be surprised on the VMware support costs alone, let alone the up front license costs.

 

 

So if the desktop is no more what about your data and drives?

Venture Beat is a great source of information and has some great articles focused around Cloud providers and watching the Cloud space to see what is up and coming.  What is fascinating is the fact that I came across an article talking about how the desktop will be the thing of the past soon, in that I mean the desktop computer, which within my 2013 Predications post I had stated and will still stick to this fact – this is of course my opinion and not based on any widely scientific facts expect for the point of what is happening within Enterprises – BYOD, Ultrabooks, Tablets, VDI, Desktop-As-A-Service need I go on..!

Now I have been a great fan of Oxygen Cloud for some time now having (designed and) deployed (a number of times) and used their products, in fact these guys offer something truly unique within the Public / Private Cloud Storage space – they offer a truly secure Enterprise Private Cloud Storage Gateway for Enterprises (and a freeium version for domestic Public Cloud use) – thats right no more worrying about the insecurities that have been in Dropbox in 2012 or  here in 2011.  They offer a number of appliances that are stored within your Enterprise, behind YOUR firewalls (so no more worrying about BYOD or Data Leakage, let alone Sovereignty of data) which can integrate with Active Directory, RSA 2 form factor authentication and auditing appliances.

It is as simple as One-Two-Three and plug in some of your storage into these appliances and within minutes you have built yourself a Private Cloud Drive available on any device, anywhere and any time – I could go on but will write another article on how Oxygen works.

Why not try it for yourself and get 5GB free and compare it to the otherssign up here.

But do ask yourself if the desktop computer is a thing of the past how will your offer your internal users the same access, same data and know it is secured within your enterprise or corporate network….um……..!

So some interesting facts I have pulled from the post (click below for the detailed post) but some I found very interesting – let me know your comments and email me here:

  1. Gartner predicts that 821 million smart devices will be sold worldwide in 2012.
  2. In her latest Internet trends report, Mary Meeker shows how the Wintel empire will only represent 1/3 of personal computing devices by the end of the year.
  3. Forrester Research says that 74% of workers already use at least two computing devices, and they want access to their content across all of them.
  4. Enter the consumer personal cloud. Your desktop takes a back seat to a massive hosted file server called iCloud or SkyDrive or Google Drive that together could store as many as 5 trillion files by 2016.

 

Post back and information from this post can be found in the Venture Beat Article “The Death of the Desktop Means a Rebirth in IT”.

My 2013 Technology Predictions

Welcome to my 2013 Predictions.

Technology Trends for 2013

Picture thanks to Flickr and future tech_26

I cannot really say Happy New Year this far into January however as tradition I wanted to get my thoughts and predictions for 2013.  This is my yearly post where we look back on 2012, the technological advances or trends of last year and more importantly look forward to 2013 and see what the next 12 months will bring into the Tech Industry.  Of course I will still add that these are my own independent opinions and not related to an vendor or manufacturers.

The past 2012:

So what why the highlights for you in 2012, myself it includes the following summary:

  1. Apple – We had the iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad Mini (still thinking of getting one but I suspect as you will see below I may wait until the iPad Mini 2 comes out, depending on rummors) and the updated lines on the iMac, Mac Book Air and Pro.
  2. Cloud – Well before we keep talking about different cloud service models such as IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Public, Private, Hybird and Hyper Hybird.  We saw Amazon AWS take off and go up against Microsoft Azure and the success of Microsoft Office 365.  There had been so much talk and hype within the media around cloud, how you can save your CapEx budgets and move them into an OpEx Pay-As-You-Go model, not need to worry about infrastructure and have uptime statistics that we all dream of – all this for a simple credit card payment – Of course I am simplifying this but these are some of the attractions and benefits that cloud brings, but not without risk businesses need to ensure they assess, invest the time and select the right suppliers.  I could go into the Pro’s and Con’s and provide some real world experiences but they may come in a later post, for now the UK uptake has mainly been around Test and Development environments, small businesses or companies that are not regulated or come under any compliance rulings.
    • Some of the biggest cloud providers also suffer from issues, I believe Amazon had a number of failures within the US in 2012 not forgetting the NetFlex issues.    Microsoft had some issues towards the back end of last with some email issues – so it goes to show that these providers do from time to time have problems but of course I bet their downtime is still less then your own and their resilience and failover will only improve from these incidents.
  3. Big Data – My interupretation of Big Data is really the over hyped media of the next stage of evolution from data warehousing.  Vendors developing faster, better and more intelligent platforms to crunch, transform and analyise data.  These systems change from using structured relational databases to a more flat structure with intelligent logic to tackle to compute and analysis.  I am sure most enterprises have the move on their roadmap but of course we need to think of the operational issues around putting all your eggs into one basket so to speak – the larger these warehouses get the harder to support, backup, restore and make highly available it will be.
  4. Virtualisation – You may think it is strange for me to put this down, I am in agreement with you but having talked to a large number of peers in 2012 I was surprised to see how companies are still making the move to virtualisation and only just realising these benefits.  We see VMware having to bring out small business editions (or kits) of vSphere to tackle Microsoft or Zen dominating this market, lets see what 2013 brings us..!
  5. BYOD – So “Bring-Your-Own-Device”, we have seen how demand for consumer grade devices have been pushed into the business (both small business and enterprises) – why do people want a work desktop / laptop, smart phone, tablet and then their homes devices – surely we can work in a more smarter and agile way.  Of course for small businesses this makes sense and should help reduce their overheads but for enterprises the risks around data leakage and how to protect their corporate network from any old device is a problem.  To me this IT consumerisation demand brings back memories of the old main frame age – where we are going to have to provide a virtualised desktop or application streaming if we have any hope of BYOD take on.  Many new vendors operate in this space now to manage these devices and secure them as does vendors offering always on access to your data (business or personal) anywhere, any time and on any device.
  6. Ultrabooks – Following Apple and the Mac Book Air last year saw a number of small ultra portable laptops called Ultrabooks – this bridges the gap between laptops and tablets.  More to come on this below for my thoughts on 2013.

Moving into 2013

Ok so looking forward to the next 12 months what trends or predictions do I think we take over in this.  In summary I believe this will be the year of the desktop dimise moving more into the mobility space with companies looking more at their BYOD strategy or providing more laptops / come Ultrabooks.  Compound this with the mobile warrior work force or more companies reducing their overheads and pushing more flexible or home working policies in place.

So lets take a look at what I believe will trend this year:

  1. Ultrabooks – This year will see an explosion with the manufacturers bringing lighter, higher performance models and touch screen, so will tablets still be around with this – probably but it will be interesting to see what happens.  Lets look at what Windows 8 will bring, the touch experience will change how people interact with their computers – without touch screen I cannot use Windows 8 until they bring back the start menu within the desktop environment.  I do strongly believe that desktop sales will still keep reducing, Windows 8 sales will improve and mobility will increase.  
  2. Microsoft – So as mentioned Windows 8 is now released from the stats I saw before Christmas around 70 million copies sold worldwide which is approximately 4% down against the Windows 7 sales – but I do like the touch interface and the active tiles in a fantastic feature.  My issue is the desktop, going into the desktop environment is great and helps remind me of Windows 7 but where is the start menu?  Microsoft have removed this to force people going into the tile interface and setting up your applications in tiles, the only option is pressing Windows Key + X to pull up a small menu of features – now I know you can download Classic Shell from Source Forge or Start8 from StarDock.  I am sure with enough customer pressure we can force the inclusion within a Service Pack (please, please Microsoft) hence why you need a touch screen to get the full benefits of 8.  We now see Office 2013 coming into public release soon which I love, 2010 was brillent and now they have excelled with integrating this into your SkyDrive, abit the interface looks to “fancy” for more but Outlook and quick replying to emails is one of the best improvements I have soon for long time.  I am waiting to see if the Surface Pro takes off, personally I think it will enterprises will lap up the functionality and replace their iPad work force with these which can be secured and supported better compared to Apple. There is no forgetting SharePoint 2013 will be released with this wave including Exchange 2013.
  3. Apple – Ok I did not want to mention Apple but as I am typing this on my 1 year old Mac Book Air then I must – in my opinion Apple need to bring another game changer on the next gadget release this year – not just an Apple TV but something, I am not sure what or even if I can think of a gap.  If not then I feel other manufactures bringing out cheaper tablets will take the lead just like Samsung and their Galaxy S3.  Apple are rumoured to bring out the iPhone 6 with iOS 7, iPad Mini 2 and I am sure a refresh of hardware along their desktop and laptop range.  Lets hope the Mac Book Air’s get the retina display while keeping the battery life decent and maybe some cheaper iMac’s with touch screen would be good.
  4. Big Data – yes this will get more traction, more enterprises dipping their feet into the water.  Assessing companies, vendors and deployment options – instead of looking for on premise deployments could their be a marketing opening up for BigData-As-A-Service which will save companies time and improve costs.
  5. Hyper-V – More and more implementations and white papers are being released showing comparative stats and performance benchmarks of VMware / Zen VS Hyper-V 2012 – the ease of use, scaleability and license savings will show companies Microsoft means business.  More and more of their products are offering some form of free or discounted license model to deploy on Hyper-V servers this will be the year that Hyper-V is now a strong contender to VMware.
  6. Home Broadband – FTTC (Fibre-to-the-cabinet) or FFTP / FTTH ( Fibre-to-the-premise / house) Hopefully BT and the Government will help push this forward and we will see higher and higher speeds being brought into the house.
  7. Social Media – Well we have Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pininterest and Twitter to name a few.  Last week Facebook announced to the world their Graph Search this was collaboration with Bing (I think to start going up against Google) but this is not a text based search but more contextual, locational and based on your likes, dislikes and friends – so for example “What film shall I watch” should bring targeted films that I am interested in and then try XYZ cinema and is 3 miles away at 15:00.  We should see more business social media focus with enterprise tagging, attaching metadata and using more and more collaboration portals like Box, Huddle or Jive and for the people that know me SharePoint 2013 will be released.
  8. Cloud – One of my favourite topics at the moment and I am sure more vendors will release their offerings be it the newly formed BaaS, not Backup-As-A-Service but Backend-As-A-Service.  The big area’s I see here are:
    • Storage – More and more enterprise storage offerings will come out, we have seen in 2012 some issues with Dropbox, Oxygen Cloud focusing on the Enterprise, Citrix ShareFile, Google Drive and Microsoft increasing their Skydrive space.  More and more of these service will focus around businesses or teams to work on cloud drives that appear as a local network drive.
    • Cloud Backup – Or Backup-As-A-Service will find more businesses pushing their data out to provides for offsite storage / replication.  These facilities are very good in fact one I am testing at the moment had my test environment of 6 virtual machines configured within 20mins (excluding time for me to update the vm tools).
    • As-A-Service – These platforms will continue to grow and more and more vendors will be realising different spins or sales models the question is how do we engage or secure these providers and more importantly how do we de-ingest the data when we plan our exists
    • Copy Data Explosion (see below) – This is not something new but rather hidden within enterprises – the amount of wasted or copy data that sits within their infrastructure generally on Tier 1 (Flash, SSD or Fibre Channel Disks) or Tier 2 (NearLine or SATA) Storage.  These tiers have a high cost associated with them but server and storage admins do not take this into account when a request from a developer comes in to clone server 1 or virtual machine 2 or even clone a LUN from a database to work on or improve on.  We are know this is here but never really address it but IDC Analyst Ashish Nadkarni has some interesting facts and figures coming soon in his series of blog articles on the Copy Data issue.  One company is trying to soleve this issue by reducing the copy at the source and providing a single master copy that is hardly duplicated and if it is then this is primarily on tier 3 storage, couple this with backup, restore, continuity, data migration, SLA based classification and a simplified GUI all in a single platform meet Actifio.
  9. NFC – Near Field Communications – the technology starting to be embedded with phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and hopefully the iPhone 6.    This will allow the sharing of contact information or the ability to do something when compatible phones come near each other – one idea of this is what Moo.com are doing with businesses cards, embedding a chip into the card to pass over information or direct people to their website check this link for more details.
  10. Gaming – Will we see the Xbox 720 or PS4 this year?  What will be next for Sony?  Will they offer more cloud based gaming, or better 3D improvements – I will still go back to my 10 year fantasy of virtual reality umm maybe one day..!

So thats it for now, stay tuned and hopefully this year I aim to bring out a couple of posts each week on a variety of subjects that interests me, as a sample coming soon we look into improving my test lab, IT Consumerisation, backups, cloud and storage services.

Happy New Year.

Copy-Data-New

What is Copy Data

My thoughts on Boston

So welcome to the new design for my blog – hoping you like it as this is now a mobile optimised blog with the thanks to the Studiopress templates.  OK so tonight is my last night in Boston from a business trip I had taken to present on a customer panel for a fantastic industry changing Backup, Protection and Copy Management Solution and I wanted to recap the highlights of this great city, being the 1st I have visited here:

Of course we have the world famous Cheers Bar:

 

Well what can I say it is a must..!

Well what can I say it is a must..!Boston Cheers Matt 

Now the views are fantastic especially this time of the year:

IMG_2060 IMG_2066 IMG_2065

The venue where we have been staying and is set within a renovated jail.  In 2005 the work started on this and was such a joy to look at how the owners have converted it.  The stay was great and the hotel itself was very good – The Liberty Hotel.

Overlooking the Liberty Hotel Lobby

Of course I am not going to comment on the Whiskey I saw behind the bar:

Never heard of this Whiskey before

And the venue in which we were presenting:

Presentation room

So moving back to some more highlights had to be the harbour or docks, shopping was a little small but I never realised that MIT and Harvard was located here.  Fingers crossed the flights will be ok for tomorrow and check out my new blog posts coming soon.

 

Been away for a while

So been away for a month or two working on some new services we are typing up for the site but I wanted to kick off the new update with this great post I have just finished writing about what does it actually take to be a salesman.

It is a great tip that I truly took away from that meeting.

Check out our news page with some exciting news.