Technology, Infrastructure and Cloud Focused.

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

Microsoft cloud Consortium – Digital Transformation Wrap Up

As some of you remember I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at a recent Microsoft event around their cloud stack, you can view the post here http://www.keithbucknall.co.uk/realising-digital-transformation-microsoft-technology-event/ I wanted to share with you some key points I took away from the delegates and the Cloud Consortium companies that were present:

Cloud Adoption

My slot was the down to earth realisation of moving work loads to the cloud, the pitfalls and challenges compared to the marketing view point of just right click and move.  I have always had a preconceived view that topics such as governance, application architecture and analysis and cost control is common sense when thinking of cloud migrations, however this was not the case and was surprised to get a warm reception that the slot was very interesting.  In summary the audience were split into the people that had some work loads in the cloud (test/dev or proof of concept) but only for the want of understanding, seeing how the IT governance or architecture would look, network security and then see how they need to adapt their IT organisation and culture to the cloud mindset.

The other side of the audience wanted to look into cloud transformation but either didn’t know were to start, what type of workloads to put in a cloud and then how the operational, cost and security model would look.

Another question I always ask is that the cloud is not the answer to everyone, it is not the silver bullet people think about, in fact most people just focus on that “lift and shift” of IaaS models rather than the true power and scale of PaaS.

Acknowledgement

When speaking with people on their cloud views the general consensus is trending towards my thoughts on Infrastructure that Infrastructure Ops is a thing of the past having big Infrastructure teams to manage the hardware, updates etc…

Interest

So many people appear to be interested in different cloud models, the issue for them is trying to work out a strategy and identifying the quick wins or the non-cloud ready applications (generally legacy applications).

Will it last

Of course the issue with a number of clouds is the perception that the SLA’s will be 100% and never have any outage, I guess my concern here is no one can really provide that SLA and outages will always occur it boils down to your HA design and continuity plans.

The presentations can be downloaded from clicking on this link with a summary of the different tracks and topics covered in the picture below.  I urge you to take advantage of these excellent set of companies all ranked very high and very competent within their own areas:

Cloud Consortium presentation tracks

What is the Cloud Consortium?

Microsoft decided to form a group of top ranked Microsoft partners that specialise in Office 365, SharePoint, Azure, Skype for Business, M/S Project, BI and Unified Communications to enable its customers to seamlessly migrate to the cloud.  This gives customers the benefit of managing a single point of contact and single supply chain.

Let me know your thoughts, experiences and views on the different types of cloud.

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 

Limitations of Synology DSM 5.2 Backups to Microsoft Azure

Now I am a big fan of both Qnap and Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, but recently I have moved a number of people over that own Synology devices from a local USB disk backup to a cloud backup, be it OneDrive or Azure.  For the small businesses these devices make a great all in one device but the Azure cloud backup has a number of limitations that Synology should address.

I am not going to cover off how to configure the backups as one of the excellent selling points of these NAS devices is the beautiful intuitive GUI, but Baris Eris has a great blog post on how to configure a backup job to an Azure storage account here – https://bariseris.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/attaching-synology-dsm-5-1-to-an-existing-azure-backup-store/ 

If you own any of these devices you will understand the concept of “Shared Folders” which are top level folders that can be shared over the network for people or companies to consume over their local (or cloud / internet with the cloud station apps) network.  Generally speaking people would use create sub-folders and files under the shared folder and this is where Synology need to change the functionality, you can backup all the files and folders under a shared folder (including multiple shared folders) but you cannot restore files or sub-folders if you have backed up your data to your Azure Storage Account.

When you go into the restore section it does not give you the option to browse any further down to select individual files or folders and on another point does not allow you to restore to an alternative location – I find this very frustrating for such a good piece of hardware – come on Synology.

screesnhot-synology

 

 

Having received confirmation from Synology support this is by design (ummm!) I am now left to revert back to the USB method.  Synology please provide granular restore options for this service it would seem that your restore functions are lacking compared to Qnap.

If you or anyone need assistance then please leave a comment and I will come back to you.

IT infrastructure for data protection – post presentation review

Computer Weekly Logo

Around 6 weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to a Computer Weekly event that CW500 run for exclusive members, the title of this session was “IT Infrastructure for Data Protection” and presented alongside Mark Skilton from Warwick Business School and Mike Cope, IT Director at University College London.  We were hosted by Bryan Glick, Editor-in-Chief of Computer Weekly – many thanks Bryan and the turn out was very good.

My slide deck was focused around an IT transformation programme I am heading up how we are protecting data not just through application or data migrations but what feature sets and technology are we implementing to address  issues like Dropbox, wireless or BYOD devices.

I must admit I was surprised on how this went, excluding the slight issue with my slide deck and automatic transitioning of them!

Anyway here is the article on me – http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/CW500-IT-infrastructure-for-data-protection

Here is the video – http://www.computerweekly.com/video/CW500-Keith-Bucknall-Head-of-Strategy-Architecture-Infrastructure-Equity-Insurance-Group 

 

New Microsoft Cloud Trust Center for Office 365

Microsoft’s TecEd conference in North America today released a number of new features for the Office 365 platform including a revamp of their Trust Center site.  For those who do not know about the Trust Center this is a complete site that details the security, efforts and certifications Microsoft have achieved in order to make Office 365 secure and compliant.

The new Office 365 Trust Center – http://trust.office365.com/

 Details of their blog post can be found here but below is a small summary of the key points:

  1. Encrypted Storage – Starting from July an upgrade from single encryption keys per disk to a unique encryption key per file.  This means for SharePoint online or OneDrive for business users each file has a separate encryption key, increasing the encryption.
  2. MDM for Office Apps on mobiles – this would appear to allow IT departments to give the ability of creating, viewing and sharing policies between managed applications.  I think this is in conjunction with Windows Intune and the Enterprise Mobility suite – further details can be found here.
  3. Extending DLP – bringing similar technology from the DLP (Data Loss / Leak Prevention) in email scanning into SharePoint and OneDrive for business documentation.  This will be rolled out in June to Office 365 E3 customers allowing them to prevent sharing based on document classifications and queried through the E-Discovery Suite.

 

Highlights of the Office365 Trust Center:

An interesting stat I have found which shows the current global uptime of Office365 is Quarterly worldwide uptime: 99.96%  and the last 4 quarters have been 99.98%, 99.97%, 99.94% and 99.97% – can you as an IT function offer this?? Check the availability here.

  • Privacy – Consumer and Business infrastructure is separate, it is your data,
  • Encryption – Data is encrypted at rest and in transit over the network.
  • Microsoft is a data process of your data.
  • Who in Microsoft has access to your data see here.
  • Regionalised data centres keeps data with the region but they can move this to a different region so beware.
  • Law enforcement requests – see here for details.  See below for the UK:

ukrequests

Additional resources:

 

How to Extend Your Office 2013/365 Trial to 180 Days

Welcome back for those of you who know Office 365 (Microsoft’s Cloud offering for Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office Web Apps) or even Office 2013, I had an issue with a trial version of Office and needed to extend it for a short while so with thanks to HowToGeek I have the below procedures.  Office 2013 is a great product and one of the best Office products Microsoft have developed, it follows the standard ribbon bar that was introduced into Office 2007 but evolves the Office 2010 productivity and tab menu system.  My best feature is within Outlook 2013 with the quick function – you must check that out.

So depending on your Office 365 plan you may have the Office 2013 subscription as part of your Enterprise plan (Ex).  Below will help you extend for a short period of timing giving you that break to renew your subscription or buy Office 2013.

 

What happens if Office 365 or Office 2013 expires
This bar will appear at the top of Word
  • Open up an Explorer window and navigate to one of the following folders. If you are using a 32-bit version of Windows, head to:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\

If you are working with the 64-bit release, you should go to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\

  • Hold down the Shift key, right click the folder called OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform and select the ‘Open command window here’ option.
  •  Type:

OSPPREARM.EXE

Press Enter, and you’re done.

You can also navigate direct to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform or C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform and type OSPPREARM.EXE into Explorer’s address bar before hitting Enter.

Your Subscription has expired and therefore (depending on plan) will cause Office Pro Plus 2013 to expire.

Your Subscription has expired and therefore (depending on plan) will cause Office Pro Plus 2013 to expire.

If you would like any help with Office 2013 or 365 then please feel free to contact us at http://www.outboundcomputing.co.uk – we are a fully qualified Microsoft Office Cloud Partner and would be more than happy to advise.

 

From cloud to consumer – Office 365 home premium

Image from http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/buy/

Image from http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/buy/

 

And so Microsoft has done it, not only updating its Office 365 platform to the latest backend (Exchange 2012,  Office 2013 etc..) and have now released a home premium .  A subscription based service, monthly or yearly and includes a whopping great deal (below) and licensed up to 5 devices:

  • A subscription based service for up to 5 devices to use Office 2013 (PC or Mac).
  • The suite includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access – to me that is the same as Office 2013 Professional – yes I said professional.
  • 20GB of SkyDrive storage which as you know is fully integrated with the Office 2013 suites.
  • Office On-demand – lets see this as Office Web Apps rebadged.
  • Now get this – 60mins of Skype talk each month to 40+ countries – so no more Lync as we can see where Microsoft is going with this merging the 2 products or either focusing Lync for the Enterprises and Skype for the home / SMB.

To give you an idea of the pricing and compare to the other versions of Office 2013, although home premium is a yearly cost I would asume the benefits of this would be free upgrades when Office 2015 / 2016 comes out.  To be this makes are great proposition and gives you an idea of where Microsoft is going.  All I would say is be careful you know where your Skydrive data, but check this:

Office 2013 Comparison Pricing

Office 2013 Comparison Pricing

To get a comparison of the full feature set then please see the new Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium here.

Office 365 Home Premium