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Microsoft and Dell’s Continued Collaboration on VDI Solutions on Display at Dell World

In October, we announced Windows Server 2012 R2 which delivers several exciting improvements for VDI solutions. Among the benefits, Windows Server 2012 R2 reduces the cost per seat for VDI as well as enhances your end user’s experience. The following are just some of the features and benefits of Windows Server 2012 R2 for VDI:

  • Online data deduplication on actively running VMs reduces storage capacity requirements by up to 90% on persistent desktops.
  • Tiered storage spaces manage your tiers of storage (fast SSDs vs. slower HDDs) intelligently so that the most frequently accessed data blocks are automatically moved onto faster-tier drives. Likewise, older or seldom-accessed files are moved onto the cheaper and slower SAS drives.
  • The Microsoft Remote Desktop App provides easy access to a variety devices and platforms including Windows, Windows RT, iOS, Mac OS X and Android. This is good news for your end users and your mobility/BYOD strategy!
  • Your user experience is also enhanced due to improvements on several fronts including RemoteFX, DirectX 11.1 support, RemoteApp, quick reconnect, session shadowing, dynamic monitor and resolution changes.

If your VDI solutions run on Dell servers or if you are looking at deploying new VDI infrastructure, we are excited to let you know about the work we have been doing in partnership with Dell around VDI. Dell recently updated their Desktop Virtualization Solution (DVS) for Windows Server to support Windows Server 2012 R2, and DVS now delivers all of the benefits mentioned above. Dell is also delivering additional enhancements into Dell DVS for Windows Server so it will also support:

  • Windows 8.1 with touch screen devices and new Intel Haswell processors
  • Unified Communication with Lync 2013, via an endpoint plug-in that enables P2P audio and video. (Dell Wyse has certified selected Windows thin clients to this effect, such as the D90 and Z90.)
  • Virtualized shared graphics on NVidia GRID K1/K2 and AMD FirePro cards using Microsoft RemoteFX technology
  • Affordable persistent desktops
  • Highly-secure and dual/quad core Dell Wyse thin clients, for a true end-to-end capability, even when using high-end server graphics cards or running UC on Lync 2013
  • Optional Dell vWorkspace software, also supporting Windows Server 2012 R2, that brings scalability to tens of thousands of seats, advanced VM provisioning, IOPS efficiency to reduce storage requirement and improve performance, diagnostics and monitoring, flexible resource assignments, support for multi-tenancy and more.
  • Availability in more than 30 countries

Depending on where you stand in the VDI deployment cycle in your organization, Dell DVS for Windows Server is already supported today on multiple Dell PowerEdge server platforms:

  • The T110 for a pilot/POC up to 10 seats
  • The VRTX for implementation in a remote or branch office of up to about 500 users
  • The R720 for a traditional enterprise-like, flexible and scalable implementation to several thousand seats. It supports flexible deployments such as application virtualization, RDSH, pooled and persistent VMs.

This week, Microsoft and Dell will present a technology showcase at Dell World in Austin (TX), USA. If you happen to be at the show, you will be able to see for yourself how well Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 integrate into Dell DVS. We will show:

  • The single management console of Windows Server 2012 installed on a Dell PowerEdge VRTX, demonstrating how easy it can be for an IT administrator to manage VDI workloads based on Hyper-V in a remote or branch office environment
  • How users can chat, talk, share, meet, transfer files and conduct video conferencing within virtualized desktops set up for unified communication
  • That you can watch HD multimedia and 3D graphics files on multiple virtual desktops sharing a graphic card installed remotely in a server
  • How affordable it is to run persistent desktops with DVS and Windows Server 2012 R2

We are excited about the work that we are doing with Dell around VDI and hope you have a chance to come visit our joint VDI showcase in Austin. We will be located in the middle of the Dell booth in show expo hall. Also, we will show a VDI demo as part of the Microsoft Cloud OS breakout session at noon on Thursday (December 12th ) in room 9AB. Finally, we will show a longer VDI demo in the show expo theater (next to the Microsoft booth) at 10am on Friday (December 13th ) morning. We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Download Windows Server 2012 R2 and Get Free Training on the New Capabilities from MVA

The R2 is available at Tech Showcase!

Windows Server 2012 R2 is available at Tech Showcase. The new R2 offers exciting features and enhancements across virtualization, storage, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, access and information protection, and more. Attend a Microsoft Tech Showcase event and explore what R2 has to offer you and your organization. Register at http://aka.ms/Yclp43
 
Tech Showcase events, hosted by Microsoft Learning Partners, are intended for senior technical experts and IT professional. Attend an event to review new, breakthrough features and capabilities important to you as an It Professional. Plan ahead and help you and your team get skilled and ready for the latest Windows release.

Announcing the General Availability of Windows Server 2012 R2: The Heart of Cloud OS

For years now, Microsoft has been building and operating some of the largest cloud applications in the world. The expertise culled from these experiences along with our established history of delivering market-leading enterprise operating systems, platforms, and applications has led us to develop a new approach for the modern era: the Microsoft Cloud OS.

The Cloud OS vision combines Microsoft knowledge and experiences with today’s trends and technology innovations to deliver a modern platform of products and services that helps organizations transform their current server environment into a highly elastic, scalable, and reliable cloud infrastructure. Utilizing the software that powers the Cloud OS vision, organizations can quickly and flexibly build and manage modern applications across platforms, locations, and devices, unlock insights from volumes of existing and new data, and support end-user productivity wherever and on whatever device they choose.

At the heart of Cloud OS is Windows Server 2012 R2. Delivering on the promise of a modern datacenter, modern applications, and people-centric IT, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides a best-in-class server experience that cost-effectively cloud-optimizes your business. When you optimize your business for the cloud with Windows Server 2012 R2, you take advantage of your existing skillsets and technology investments. You also gain all the Microsoft experience behind building and operating private and public clouds – right in the box. Delivered as an enterprise-class, the simple and cost-effective server and cloud platform Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers significant value around seven key capabilities:

Windows Server 2012 R2 Capabilities

Server virtualization. Windows Server Hyper-V offers a scalable and feature-rich virtualization platform that helps organizations of all sizes realize considerable cost savings and operational efficiencies. With Windows Server 2012 R2, server virtualization with Hyper-V pulls ahead of the competition by offering industry-leading size and scale that makes it the platform of choice for running your mission critical workloads. Using Windows Server 2012 R2, you can take advantage of new hardware technology, while still utilizing the servers you already have. This functionality enables you to virtualize today and be ready for the future tomorrow.

Whether you are looking to expand virtual machine mobility, increase virtual machine availability, handle multi-tenant environments, gain bigger scale, or gain more flexibility, Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V gives you the platform and tools you need to increase business agility with confidence. Plus, you can also benefit from workload portability as you extend your on-premises datacenter into a service provider cloud or Windows Azure.

Storage. With the increase in new applications, the explosion of data, and growing end-user expectations for continuous services, there has come a significant increase in storage demands. Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a wide variety of storage features and capabilities to address the storage challenges faced by organizations. Whether you intend to use cost-effective, industry-standard hardware for the bulk of your workloads or Storage Area Networks for the most demanding ones, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides you with a rich set of features that can help you maximize the returns from all of your storage investments.

Microsoft designed Windows Server 2012 R2 with a strong focus on storage capabilities, including improvements in the provisioning, accessing, and managing of storage and the transfer of data across the network that resides on that storage. The end result is a storage solution that delivers the efficiency, performance, resiliency, availability, and versatility you need at every level.

Networking. New technologies, such as private- and public-cloud computing, mobile workforces, and widely dispersed assets have transformed the business landscape and altered how we manage networking and network assets. Still, the main goal remains the same: keep all networking components connected to ensure smooth data transmission and reliable access by users and customers to the services they need when they need them.

Windows Server 2012 R2 makes it as straightforward to manage an entire network as a single server, giving you the reliability and scalability of multiple servers at a lower cost. Automatic rerouting around storage, server, and network failures enables file services to remain online with minimal noticeable downtime. In addition, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides the foundation for software-defined networking, out-of-the box, enabling seamless connectivity across public, private, and hybrid cloud implementations.

Whatever your organization’s needs, from administering network assets to managing an extensive private and public cloud network infrastructure, Windows Server 2012 R2 offers you solutions to today’s changing business landscape. These capabilities help reduce networking complexity while lowering costs, simplifying management tasks, and delivering services reliably and efficiently. With Windows Server 2012 R2 you can automate and consolidate networking processes and resources, more easily connect private clouds with public cloud services, and more easily connect users to IT resources and services across physical boundaries.

Server management and automation. Datacenter infrastructure has become more and more complex. Multiple industry standards are confusing hardware vendors. Customers are looking for guidance on how to best automate their datacenter while adopting a standards-based management approach supporting their multi-vendor investments. Windows Server 2012 R2 enables IT professionals to offer an integrated platform to automate and manage the increasing datacenter ecosystem. Features within Windows Server 2012 R2 enable you to manage many servers and the devices connecting them, whether they are physical or virtual, on-premises or in the cloud.

Web and application platform. Chances are your organization already uses or is planning to use a combination of on-premises and off-premises IT resources and tools for building a hybrid environment. To protect your existing investment in on-premises applications as you begin to migrate to the cloud, you need a scalable application and web platform that enables you to manage your applications and websites in a unified way.

Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on the tradition of the Windows Server family as a proven application platform, with thousands of applications already built and deployed and a community of millions of knowledgeable and skilled developers already in place. The capabilities included in Windows Server 2012 R2 offer your organization even greater application flexibility, helping you build and deploy applications either on-premises, in the cloud, or both at once, with hybrid solutions that can work in both environments.

As your organization plans for and moves to a hybrid or cloud-based environment, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides the tools you need to build, provision, and manage multi-tenant environments while still supporting your large enterprise or the many customers hosted within your service provider infrastructure.

Access and information protection. Information exists almost everywhere in your organization: on servers, laptops, desktops, removable devices, and in emails. Users need to be able to access this information from anywhere, share it where appropriate, and achieve maximum productivity with the assets they have. To further complicate matters, the move to cloud computing necessitates being able to secure enterprise applications that no longer live in your datacenter.

Microsoft assists you in supporting consumerization of IT and in retaining effective management, security, and compliance capabilities. The enterprise tools and technologies that Microsoft provides can help with key enterprise tasks such as identifying non-corporate devices, delivering applications and data to those devices with the best possible user experience, and establishing and enforcing policies on devices based on the end user’s role within the organization. Microsoft enterprise tools and technologies can help IT staff to maintain a high level of security across all device types, whether the devices are corporate or personal assets, and establish security measures that protect their organization’s systems, data, and network.

To address these information needs and challenges, organizations have to make fundamental shifts in how they approach identity and security. Windows Server 2012 R2 helps you accommodate these changes through exciting new remote access options, significant improvements to Active Directory and Active Directory Federation Services, and the introduction of policy-based information access and audits with Dynamic Access Control, and new scenarios to help customers provide access to corporate resources for users from their own devices. With these new capabilities, you can better manage and protect data access, simplify deployment and management of your identity infrastructure, and provide more secure access to data from virtually anywhere across both on-premises well managed devices and new consumer orientated form factors.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Most IT departments currently face the challenge of enabling worker productivity on a growing number of mobile devices in the workplace. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) helps you accommodate these new devices by enabling them to access a centralized instance of the Windows desktop in the datacenter. By virtualizing these desktop resources, you can alleviate device compatibility and security issues while still delivering a consistent, familiar experience that enhances end-user productivity. With Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft makes it easier and more cost-effective to deploy and deliver virtual desktop resources across workers’ devices.

VDI technologies in Windows Server 2012 R2 offer easy access to a rich, full-fidelity Windows environment running in the datacenter, from virtually any device. Through Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services (RDS), Microsoft offers three flexible VDI deployment options in a single solution: Pooled Desktops, Personal Desktops, and Remote Desktop Sessions (formerly Terminal Services). With Windows Server 2012 R2, you get a complete VDI toolset for delivering flexible access to data and applications from virtually anywhere on popular devices, while also helping to maintain security and compliance.

To compete in the global economy and keep up with the pace of innovation, IT organizations must improve their agility, their efficiency, and their ability to better manage costs while enabling their business and end users to stay continuously productive.

Microsoft has gained expertise from years of building and operating some of the largest cloud applications in the world. We’ve combined this expertise with our experiences in delivering market-leading enterprise operating systems, platforms, and applications to develop a platform for infrastructure, applications, and data: the Cloud OS.

The Microsoft Cloud OS delivers a modern platform of products and services that helps enterprise IT teams transform their current environment to a highly elastic, scalable, and reliable infrastructure. With Cloud OS, organizations can quickly and flexibly build and manage modern applications across platforms, locations, and devices, unlock insights from volumes of existing and new data, and support user productivity wherever and on whatever device they choose. Microsoft uniquely delivers the Cloud OS as a consistent and comprehensive set of capabilities that span on-premises, service provider, and Windows Azure datacenters, enabling enterprises to improve scale, elasticity, and availability of IT services.

At the heart of Cloud OS is Windows Server 2012 R2, which delivers upon the promises of a modern datacenter, modern applications, and people-centric IT. Whether you are an enterprise building out your own private cloud environment or a service provider offering large-scale cloud services, Windows Server 2012 R2 offers an enterprise-class, simple and cost-effective solution that’s application-focused and user centric. With Windows Server 2012 R2, you can utilize the capacity of your datacenter, deliver best-in-class performance for your Microsoft workloads, and receive affordable, multi-node business continuity scenarios with high service uptime and at-scale disaster recovery.

We hope that you are as excited as we are to get started today!

 

EMC Support for the SMB 3.0 Protocol – the Future of Storage Protocols

One of the key issues this blog has covered recently is the transformation of storage.  Microsoft is focused on helping customers control the costs of storage, whether by using industry-standard hardware or simplifying existing hardware infrastructure.  To that end we have made significant investments in the SMB 3.0 protocol for file-based storage.  This helps customers use existing network infrastructure to achieve Fibre Channel-like performance, regardless of the underlying storage subsystem.

EMC has announced support for the Server Message Block 3.0 protocol in their VNX and VNXe product lines and published a brief paper entitled, “EMC VNX and VNXe with Microsoft SMB 3.0 – The best of NAS and SAN without compromise.”  It’s a great read.

In it, they highlight the benefits of SMB 3.0 and how storage that uses it can offer the performance and capabilities comparable to traditional SAN storage.  With solutions based on SMB 3.0 you can avoid the costs of Fibre Channel implementations.

The paper also highlights how SMB 3.0 is the future of storage protocols – providing the performance and availability customers need to move mission-critical workloads to network-attached storage platforms based on SMB 3.0.

EMC and Microsoft are performing regular interoperability tests, so you can confidently deploy EMC VNX and VNXe products in a Windows Server 2012 environment. These EMC products are compatible with the SMB 3.0 functionality provided by Windows Server file servers with transparent failover that we discussed in a previous post.

Microsoft is committed to helping customers reduce the costs of storage while managing data efficiently.  SMB 3.0 is an example of how we’re delivering on the commitment and helping to build an ecosystem of storage solutions.

You can read more technical information about our storage capabilities at Jose Barreto’s storage blog on TechNet.  You can also explore SMB 3.0 and many other storage capabilities hands-on by downloading the Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview here – which will become generally available October 18. 

Attention TechNet and MSDN Subscribers: Windows Server 2012 R2 available for download today

September 9th, 2013 No comments

Hi, all,

 

If you’re a TechNet or MSDN subscriber, I have good news for you: in response to your requests, Windows Server 2012 R2 (and Windows 8.1) will be available from TechNet and MSDN today. Because we will continue to evaluate the bits with our partners and MVPs, there may be additional changes between today’s release and GA. The previously announced GA date of October 18 has not changed. 

http://blogs.technet.com/b/in_the_cloud/archive/2013/09/09/ready-now-for-tns-amp-msdn-download-windows-server-2012-r2.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh670538.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dn205302.aspx 

Can’t wait to hear from you with additional feedback about the release!

Best,

Christa

Windows Server 2012 RTM Now Available for MSDN and TechNet Subscribers

You asked, we delivered.  As announced on Steve Guggenheimer’s blog, and Microsoft VP Brad Anderson’s blog post, “Ready Now for TNS & MSDN:  Download Windows Server 2012 R2”, the Released to Manufacturing (RTM) bits for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 are now available for download to current MSDN and TechNet subscribers. 

For those of you who are developers, be sure to also grab a copy of Visual Studio 2013.  The release candidate is still currently available. Keep in mind general availability is still October 18, 2013 for the wave we announced last month.

And for those of you interested in downloading some of the other products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

  • System Center 2012 R2 Preview download
  • SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1 (CTP1) download

As always, follow us on Twitter via @MSCloud!  And if you would like to follow Brad Anderson, do that via @InTheCloudMSFT !

Happy Birthday Windows Server 2012 – What Superhero Is it?

Birthdays are always special and we wanted to take this moment to celebrate the birthday of a special product. This week we are celebrating the birthday of Windows Server 2012. The product has done really well in the market and has super human strength. So here’s a question for you, “If Windows Server 2012 were a superhero, who would it be?

Happy birthday Windows Server 2012 

Join the celebration and tell us what you think! Like us on Facebook and add your birthday wishes to our page. 

And for those of you interested in downloading some of the other products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

The Hybrid Cloud Storage Transformation

A frustrating reality for IT leaders is that their teams continue to struggle with the complications of data growth even though they spend more money on storage every year. It’s not surprising that IT leaders are looking for new storage architectures to help them solve their scalability problems and reduce their costs. A post to this blog in June briefly discussed the problems customers are having with data growth and mentioned how a StorSimple Cloud-integrated Storage system could be used to alleviate them. This post expands on that conversation and introduces the Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution.  

Wanted: a technology model to match the business model

Information systems that enable business agility are an asset and those that inhibit it are a liability.  Unfortunately, traditional storage technologies lack the flexibility to quickly re-align with changing business strategies. The combination of compound data growth and inflexible storage means that the IT team spends too much time, money and energy maintaining the status quo, as opposed to facilitating change. The result is that the data assets of the business cannot be leveraged the way business leaders want them to be. 

IT organizations need new power tools to manage storage and data affordably in an environment of unyielding data growth. The situation demands continuous, automated data and storage management that frees the IT team from time-consuming and error-prone tasks.

Hybrid cloud storage, an unlikely looking power tool

A recent development in business storage is hybrid cloud storage that integrates a StorSimple on-premises Cloud-integrated Storage (CiS) system with Windows Azure Storage, as shown in the figure below. The StorSimple part of the solution is an enterprise iSCSI SAN storage system with internal SSDs and hard disks to store data, along with software for data deduplication, compression and tiering that reduces capacity consumption and places data on resources that are optimized to reduce cost or deliver performance. Above and beyond these features, the StorSimple system automatically accesses Windows Azure Storage to transparently extend usable capacity, and protect and archive data. 

 Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution

The Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution

Unlike traditional storage systems that require periodic, disruptive and expensive capacity upgrades, the Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution provides uninterrupted, pay-as-you-grow capacity expansion in Windows Azure. In other words, customers only pay for the cloud storage capacity they use, as opposed to over-buying storage capacity in advance. In addition, data is protected automatically by copying it to the cloud, where it can be kept for virtually any amount of time without the high cost of replication or the complications of working with tape. 

The StorSimple Cloud-integrated Storage system manages capacity by relocating dormant, unused data to Windows Azure Storage. If applications or users ever need data that was relocated to the cloud, it is transparently accessed and reloaded back onto the StorSimple system. Storage administrators don’t need to worry about running out of capacity unexpectedly because Windows Azure Storage can be instantly allocated whenever a capacity “relief valve” is needed.

Customer-settable data retention policies are easily implemented to comply with government regulations and corporate legal requirements. Data stored in the cloud is immutable and is checked to ensure data integrity with every read. Windows Azure Storage makes three copies of data and puts them in three different fault domains to protect them in the cloud with an option for three additional copies in a remote Windows Azure data center. All data written to the cloud is encrypted prior to being uploaded using encryption keys that are created and managed by the customer. Data in the cloud supports multiple storage functions simultaneously, including backup, DR, archiving and capacity expansion. Disaster recovery operations are location-independent and the data downloaded during recovery is restricted to those applications and users that need it, saving a great deal of time when time savings are most valuable.

Best use cases for the Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution

The Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution is optimized to address the problems caused by the growth of unstructured data. The scenarios that will generate the best results include corporate file sharing, large SharePoint installations, document management applications, data archiving, virtual server storage or any other environment where there is a sizable amount of dormant, inactive data that is not regularly accessed. To find out more about the Microsoft hybrid cloud storage solution, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/storsimple

Planes, trucks and frozen custard – The Hyper-V Team at VMworld 2013

By now, readers of this blog may have already heard of our presence at VMworld in San Francisco this week. As you can imagine, planning a “guerrilla” activity is never a trivial task, and making it happen requires a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Therefore, I was feeling pretty pleased with what our team had managed to organize as I boarded my flight for San Francisco early Monday morning. Add to this the fact that I was visiting the Bay Area, a place that I called home for seven memorable years – I was really looking forward to the trip.  

It was only during the flight (when I finally had some time to myself) did the enormity, the audacity of what we were doing dawn on me. We were driving up to our competitor’s biggest event of the year, in its own backyard, and trying to promote a competing technology to a very committed and passionate community. We were committed to keep our conversation to the merits of our own solution, and not to disparage our competition in any way, but would VMworld attendees give us a chance? I would be lying if I said that I didn’t start to feel apprehensive about the week ahead.

Two days in, and I can tell you that the only thing I should have been worried about is eating way more frozen custard than is healthy (to be fair though, I have been standing in front of an ice cream truck for two days). So far, hundreds of VMworld attendees have lined up to sample some delicious dessert and talk to us about Hyper-V and System Center, the latest trends in storage and networking, and above all, the future of the datacenter. All in all, it’s been a blast.

Of course, we showed up unannounced at VMware’s biggest event of the year, so some interesting encounters were to be expected. As word of our presence spread, quite a few VMware employees stopped by our location. While one tried to interrogate us, and a few were clearly very nervous, many shared a good laugh with us, and some even tried the frozen custard!

Not surprisingly, the real highlight over the last two days has been the great conversations I’ve had with the IT professionals who have stopped by. Here are the trends that seemed to repeat themselves over and over again:

  • IT professionals are being asked to keep up with a flood of innovation coming out of IT infrastructure vendors. A clear example is the advent of storage and network virtualization solutions, which is challenging virtualization experts to expand their knowledge base to concepts that were previously the domain of other specialists. Continuous learning is more important than ever.  
  • IT departments are seriously looking at virtualizing more and more workloads, targeting even workloads that were previously considered “untouchable” from a virtualization point of view. At the same time, companies are wary of putting all their eggs in one basket, and are looking at their options beyond the incumbent.
  • A surprising number of people I spoke to acknowledged their business units’ frustration with IT’s perceived lack of agility, and were acutely aware of the ability of business unit’s to go “around” IT by leveraging a cloud provider. There doesn’t seem to be a great solution in people’s minds as of now, but clearly this issue is top of mind.
  • Lastly, it is very clear that Hyper-V is enjoying a lot traction in our customers’ datacenters. Almost everyone I spoke to either has Hyper-V already running in some capacity, or has concrete plans to start testing it. Consequently, there is a growing demand for Hyper-V and System Center skills, and  people can see that skilling up on another platform will be good for their careers.

Of course, some of the people we spoke to were skeptical about how good Hyper-V really is. Many looked at Hyper-V a long time ago, and haven’t kept up with the progress our platform has made in recent years. If you count yourself among this group, we at Microsoft would love to show you how far we’ve come. However, you needn’t take my word for it – I encourage you to find out for yourself. We have created a website called Virtualization2 specifically for IT professionals familiar with VMware. The site has self-paced courses that go into Microsoft virtualization, our advanced management and automation tools, as well as the storage and network virtualization features of Windows Server 2012. There are also links to hands-on-labs, trial downloads of our software, as well as other useful tools.

Our ice-cream truck will be at VMworld on Wednesday as well – you can find us on the corner of 2nd and Howard between 12-4 pm. If you haven’t yet done so, please come by and talk to our experts! And whether or not you are at the conference, be sure to check out our Virtualization2 website, and give us your feedback on other content you’d like to see there. 

Get the “Scoop” on Hyper-V during VMworld

VMworld kicks off this week in San Francisco. I happen to know a few loyal VMware IT professionals, and the event is clearly a very exciting time of the year for them – an opportunity to meet other fellow enthusiasts, as well as to learn more about new releases from VMware. But I wonder if they would ever expect to learn more about Microsoft technologies such as Hyper-V and System Center while attending the event. Well, that’s what we’re going to make happen this year, albeit a little creatively.

Before I go into more details, let me first address the most obvious question that VMworld attendees (and IT professionals that are familiar with VMware) are probably asking right now – “why would I want to learn about Hyper-V while attending VMworld?” The answer is simple – to help their careers as technology professionals. Research shows that over 70% of businesses now have more than one virtualization platform in their IT environment. As you can imagine, this trend is opening up opportunities for IT professionals that are familiar with more than one virtualization platform. And if you look at the market data, it is clear that Hyper-V is the one to watch (and try!) . In fact, Microsoft is quickly catching up with VMware in terms of hyper-visor share. IDC data shows that over the last 3 years, Hyper-V has grown usage share 4 times faster than ESX/vSphere.

This progress in the marketplace is no accident. We have gone from strength to strength with successive releases of Windows Server and System Center, and our solution boasts a number of features that surprise IT professionals, especially those that have not looked our way recently. Do you fall in that camp? If so, did you know that:

  • Get the scoop on Hyper-V at VMworldHyper-V in Windows Server 2012 supports twice the physical memory, twice the number of active VMs per host, and 32 times the maximum virtual disk size compared to vSphere 5.1?
  • Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 include network and storage virtualization solutions at no extra charge?
  • The storage enhancements in Windows Server 2012 can help you reduce your high availability storage costs by almost half[1]?
  • In a recent benchmarking test, ESG found that a single server running 12 Hyper-V VMs could support the requirements of 48,000 Exchange users[2]?
  • With System Center 2012, you can manage hypervisors from multiple vendors, as well as VMs running in off-premises/public cloud environments?
  • With the software defined networking features in Windows Server and System Center, you can achieve complete VM mobility without having to purchase an expensive add-ons and additional technologies?
  • Using System Center’s integration with Visual Studio, you can isolate root causes of application performance issues right down to the code level, and triage them directly to the development team?

Now, back to VMworld, and our presence there. If you are a VMworld 2013 attendee, and would like to learn more about the progress we have made, we invite you to a free scoop of San Francisco’s finest frozen custard and some casual conversation with our technical experts at our frozen custard stand, located just a block away from Moscone center (201 2nd Street from Noon – 4 pm, to be exact). And needless to say, you are welcome even if you just want the custard!

Varun Chhabra
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Server and Tools


[1] Source: ESG Lab Review Report: Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Storage Performance and Cost Analysis, July 2013

[2] Source: ESG Report: Exchange 2013 on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Performance Testing 

Windows Server 2012 R2 Available October 18th

Today we are pleased to make several important announcements. We are extremely excited that on October 18th, eligible customers will able to download Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and use the latest update to Windows Intune.  Also on October 18th, Windows 8.1 will be available to consumers and businesses worldwide. To find out more about this announcement, see Microsoft Vice President, Brad Anderson’s blog, Mark Your Calendars for October 18th, the R2 Wave is Coming.  While you’re there, be sure to also check out his special series on “What’s New in 2012 R2” for a deep dive on all the new innovations to expect in the R2 wave of products.

You can also get started early and download the preview bits now: 

Also, be sure to follow @WindowsServer and Brad Anderson @InTheCloudMSFT for all the latest news on these upcoming releases!

New Windows Server 2012 R2 Innovations – Download Now

Windows Server 2012 R2 is in preview right now and ready for your evaluation.  We have been rolling out detailed information on our Cloud OS vision though Brad Anderson’s What’s New in 2012 R2 blog series.  That will continue but we thought you would like a short consolidated list for consideration.  Here are some key innovations in Windows Server 2012 R2.

Storage transformation – Delivers breakthrough performance at a fraction of the cost

  • The storage tiering feature of Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 R2 automatically tiers data across hard disks and solid state drives based on usage to dramatically increase storage performance and cost efficiency.

Software defined networking – Provides new levels of agility and flexibility

  • Network virtualization in Windows Server 2012 R2, along with the management capabilities in System Center 2012 R2 provides the flexibility to place any virtual machine on any node regardless of IP address with isolation. 
  • New in-box gateway in Windows Server 2012 R2 extends virtual networks to provide full connectivity to physical networks as well as access to virtual networks over the internet.

Virtualization and live migration – Provides an integrated and high-performance virtualization platform

  • Cross-version live migration enables virtual machines running on Windows Server 2012 to be migrated to Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts with no downtime.
  • Live migration compression provides dramatic time savings (approximately 50% or greater) by using spare CPU cycles to compress live migration traffic with no special hardware.
  • Live migration with RDMA enables offloading of the process to the NICs (if they support RDMA) for even faster live migrations.

Access & Information Protection – Empowering your users to be productive while maintaining control and security of corporate information with Windows Server 2012 R2

  • Enable users to work on the device of their choice (through BYOD programs or on personal devices) by providing a simple registration process to make the devices known to IT and be taken into account as part of your conditional access policies
  • Deliver policy-based access control to corporate applications and data with consistent experiences across devices
  • Protect corporate information and mitigate risk by managing a single identity for each user across both on-premises and cloud-based applications and enabling multi-factor authentication for additional user validation

Java application monitoring – Enables deep application insight into Java applications.

  • Provides performance and exception events as well as level alerting within Operations Manager for Java applications.
  • Supports Tomcat, Java JDK, and other Java web services frameworks.
  • Line-of-code level traceability with performance and exception metrics for .NET and Java application monitoring for more actionable, tool-driven dev-ops collaboration

This is by no means a comprehensive lists of new features and benefits, but we just wanted to give you some information on the key focus areas.  For those of you interested in downloading some of the products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

Software Defined Networking (SDN): Double-Clicking into our Point of View

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about our approach to Software Defined Networking (SDN) – an approach that is open and extensible, driven by experience and most importantly, one that lets you leverage your existing investments.

Over the last few months, we have also spoken in detail about this with thousands of customers at MMS, Interop, TechEd North America and TechEd Europe . Over the course of these conversations, we realized a few common themes emerging:

  • Confusion around means of realizing SDN that overshadow the benefits offered
  • Questions around opportunities for server and networking admins to enhance their careers
  • Non-traditional players like Microsoft will have significant roles to play

We felt this blog would be a good platform to discuss these in more detail since we are sure a lot of you have the same questions. Let’s double-click in.

Means of realizing Software Defined Networking:

SDN does not mean that you rip and replace your existing network devices and replace them with new “SDN aware devices”. In most cases, the cheapest and most flexible network infrastructure is the one you already own. If your network scales-up to meet your needs with a manageable OPEX, networking as you know it will continue to exist and you shouldn’t worry about jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone is talking about SDN.

With that said, networking is widely acknowledged to be the final piece of the puzzle requiring simplification in order to meet the agility and flexibility demands of modern datacenters. Centralized provisioning, management and monitoring of compute and storage is very common today.  Sadly, networking often remains stuck in the past – inflexible, ‘hard wired’ and complex.  This is the source of many of today’s most troublesome and difficult problems responsible for service downtimes and application slowdowns.  These are problems experienced by many large customers not just those operating at cloud scale running tens of thousands of hosts.  The complexity of the problems arising is beyond what can be manually fixed and/or monitored.

These real-world problems drove the need for a software defined solution to manage networking. The two approaches taken in large datacenters to do this are:

  • Isolated virtual networks/network overlays.  These sit on top of the physical network and are abstracted from the underlying networking hardware. Since the virtual networks are software defined, it allows admins to create and manage them from a centralized location depending on the needs of the application, templatize it and replicate it across their datacenters. As a result, management overhead is greatly reduced and a lot of mundane, error prone tasks are automated as a part of virtual network definition. A couple of important points to note here are that customers leverage existing hardware investments and this approach does not require any change to the way applications are written. Microsoft’s Hyper-V Network Virtualization and VMware’s Nicira are solutions that fall within this category.
  • Centralized controllers.  These control the physical network infrastructure directly from a centralized location.  This is often paired with an API for programming the network and gives the ability for software to program the network on the fly. This lets software, potentially even applications, dynamically configure the networks depending on current needs. This requires switches and routers to expose these functionalities (Southbound APIs) and a standardized interface for applications to consume them (Northbound APIs).  OpenFlow and Cisco One Platform kit are examples of this approach.   Since software directly configures the network, it needs to be rewritten to make use of this functionality. Custom applications that run within large datacenters, network diagnostic tools, apps that requires high fidelity connections, etc. are some examples where having such fine grained control will be helpful.

There are other variations of SDN solutions that exist today. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on just these two.

As you see in both above mentioned cases, the end goal is the same – simplifying networking using the power of software. In one solution the application is aware of the underlying network and controls it using different protocols. In the other solution, the network is abstracted depending on application needs and the complexity is hidden.  Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1 support and work with both these approaches. As highlighted in previous blog posts, Network Virtualization is built into Windows Server 2012 and customers can use System Center 2012 SP1 to create and manage virtual networks. With the Hyper-V Virtual Switch extensibility, partners like NEC have added functionality to the virtual switch to make it behave like an OpenFlow controller. Additionally applications like Lync are looking at ways to configure the network on the fly to ensure consistent call and video quality.  

Opportunities for Server and Networking admins

A common discussion that comes up in this new world of Software Define Networking is the opportunity it creates for Server and Network Admins to enhance their careers.  Traditionally both these groups have had well defined boundaries that have worked well for the most part – after all, network admins are the backbones of the modern internet that we all take for granted today.

Having said that, there is definitely room for improvement. When applications encounter performance issues, the blame is usually passed around before the actual issue is identified.  Identifying and fixing issues are often considered an ‘art’ with hundreds of manual steps. 

We don’t have a crystal ball to show us if these pain points will go away with SDN. But all signs are positive and bear good news for the careers of datacenter infrastructure folks and IT organizations in general:

  • Network Admins grow into network architects – SDN helps remove the ‘work’ from the job of network admins. They spend more time designing/architecting the network to meet the needs of the application as opposed to working on fixing low-value issues. This could include helping their organizations decide the right approach to SDN from the choices that we covered earlier. Additionally, since automation is core to SDN, this helps network admins build a new muscle which spans beyond areas that they have traditionally worked on. In the new SDN world, network admins can expect to frequently use tools such as Windows PowerShell, System Center Orchestrator, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, etc. which were once considered exclusive to Server Admins.
  • Server Admins will have a better understanding of how the underlying networking fabric is designed. Newer tools will be available that will not only help better diagnose and isolate network issues, but also be able to automatically fix them in many cases. Finally, they will have the flexibility to define abstractions that meets their business needs irrespective of how the underlying physical infrastructure is designed.

Why is Microsoft talking about SDN?

The last topic we wanted to talk about here is the role of companies like Microsoft in the transformation the networking industry is going through. In fact, in the keynote panel at Interop a back in May we had an unlikely combination of executives from Microsoft, VMware (both software companies) and Broadcom (chipset manufacturer) talk about SDN. These aren’t traditional networking players, so why are they talking about SDN?

In addition to the obvious term “software” in SDN, and Microsoft being a software company, there is another important trend that should be noticed. As more workloads are virtualized, the virtual switch is becoming the policy edge in networking as opposed to the physical switch. Networking teams work as much with the virtual switch in a heavily virtualized datacenter as they would do with the physical switch. With customers and partners building rich extensions and adding more functionality to the virtual switch, this trend is only going to improve. These non-traditional players will continue playing a significant role in years to come.

Additionally, Microsoft operates some of the largest datacenters in the world where we have faced a considerable number of challenges that many of you see in your datacenters. We onboard over 1000 new customers in Azure datacenters and make tens of thousands of networking changes every single day. Given the paranoia that exists around having every process automated, we have a unique opportunity to bring some of our learnings back into the product that runs both in our datacenters and our customer’s datacenters.

SDN is a paradigm that is evolving. This is not a change that will happen overnight. This is also not an ‘all-in’ choice that IT organizations has to take today that locks them in with a specific vendor or a protocol. In fact if we were to write a post about what SDN is not, this will be among the first few points that we will list.  There are incumbent players like Cisco and Juniper who are investing heavily in SDN. There are non-traditional players like Microsoft who are taking a fresh look at networking, along with a lot of startups innovating in this space as well.  Finally, there are industry consortiums like Open Daylight where some of the players we mentioned above are actively working on defining the direction of SDN.

Just as we discussed in the previous post, with Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 SP1 and with the additional work we have delivered, side by side with our partners, you have the opportunity to explore the key benefits of SDN for yourselves. Try it out and let us know what you think:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview download
  • System Center 2012 R2 Preview download

Microsoft Presents “Enabling Consumerization without Compromising Compliance” at BriForum this Week

BriForum kicks off today in Chicago. BriForum 2013 is the only technical virtualization conference that is 100% dedicated to desktop virtualization, VDI, application virtualization, Remote Desktop Services, and the consumerization of IT.

Later this week Microsoft Product Director Jason Leznek will present, “Enabling Consumerization Without Compromising Compliance”.  Jason’s session is on Thursday morning and will cover Microsoft’s approach to delivering people-centric IT is helping customers enable users to work on devices of their choosing with consistent experiences, and providing IT a unified infrastructure for managing and delivering applications and other resources, all while helping organizations protect what is important to them.  See how innovations in System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, Windows Intune, and Windows Server 2012 R2 helps organizations enable Consumerization without compromising compliance, with a special focus on the technologies which help reduce VDI storage costs and improve the end user and administrator experience to both session and VM based VDI.

If you can’t wait until Thursday to be there live or wait for a recorded replay, be sure and checkout “What’s New in Remote Desktop Services for Windows Server 2012 R2” on the Remote Desktop Services Blog, or “What’s New in 2012 R2: Making Device Users Productive and Protecting Corporate Information” on Brad Andersons blog.  Both blog posts are lengthy but have a ton of good information we think you’ll find interesting.  You might want to view the six minute video below, “Empowering People-centric IT in the age of Consumerization” to learn more about the topic and where we are headed with personal device management.

And for those of you interested in downloading some of the products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview download
  • System Center 2012 R2 Preview download
  • SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1 (CTP1) download

As always, follow us on Twitter via @WindowsServer

Written by Keith Combs, Microsoft Server and Tools

What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2 – End-to-End Scenarios Across Products

Although People-centric IT capabilities are great on Windows devices, these capabilities are not limited to Windows devices. We also put a lot of work into enabling first class support for heterogeneous devices in our People Centric IT capabilities. Putting users at the center of what we do includes enabling a broad set of devices. Active Directory is a core service enabling this and other scenarios.

This week, Microsoft VP Brad Anderson examines a few examples of holistic end-to-end customer scenarios that are a result of our cross-company collaboration in blog post “What’s New in 2012 R2: People Centric IT In Action – End-to-End Scenarios Across Products”.  Specifically, he looks at:

  1. Providing users with secure access to their files on their personal devices. 
  2. Enabling users to provision their iOS devices for work while allowing IT Pros to restrict access to corporate resources.
  3. Enabling IT Pros to deliver VPN functionality to corporate and personal devices.  This includes both Microsoft and 3rd party VPNs, clients, and gateways – and it also covers upcoming support for this on Windows RT.

Each of these three examples combine and maximize capabilities from across Windows, Windows Server, System Center and Windows Intune. 

This is a relatively long and technical blog post with a lot of example screen shots.  Stick with it, there is a lot of information in the article.  For those of you that haven’t downloaded the R2 Preview wave of products, this will be a good way to get somewhat acclimated to the new techniques and new device support.

And for those of you interested in downloading some of the products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview download
  • System Center 2012 R2 Preview download
  • SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1 (CTP1) download

As always, follow us on Twitter via @WindowsServer!  

I want you to go read the In the Cloud Blog

I am channeling my early days living and breathing as a U.S. Army Officer.  I can’t be any more clear about what I am asking you to do. So, here is your mission:

Subscribe to this this nine-part Blog Series called:          What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2.

In all seriousness… This 9 post blog series has had many eye balls from pretty much every organization across the company. It is a culmination of all the content that we discussed at events like TechEd in New Orleans and Madrid.  The intent is to boil down the core scenarios or pillars for our Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2 release into Four Distinct Groups of articles that if you read them all, you would actually be able to light up each one of these scenarios….

I’m not kidding.

Today, we published the second blog post in the series called, What’s New in 2012 R2:  Making Device Users Productive and Protecting Corporate Information.  This is part 1 of 2 where we talk about lighting up Bring your own device, (BYOD) or what we call People Centric IT (PCIT).

This series of posts feature Brad Anderson our VP for Windows Server and System Center along with his leadership team and also the engineering teams that are still hard at work on releasing R2. There is a section at the bottom of every post called NEXT STEPS to all the underlying engineering blogs that light up the scenario.

I really hope you all take the time to go read these posts. We based this plan on tons of feedback that you wanted more integrated content from our Product Teams.

Thanks and I hope you find these posts useful and if you don’t please let me know what you think we should be doing differently,

Kevin Beares
Senior Community Lead – Windows Server and System Center

Getting Started with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start

Don’t miss this opportunity; get your staff together and learn about PowerShell right from the source! Join Jeffrey Snover, the inventor of PowerShell, together with Jason Helmick, Senior Technologist at Concentrated Technology, as they take you through the ins and outs of using PowerShell for real-time problem solutions and automations. This will be a high-speed, fun day aimed at IT pros, admins, and help desk persons who want to know how to use this powerful management tool to improve your management capabilities, automate redundant tasks and manage your environment in scale. It’ll prepare you for a second event on August 1, which will go further into scripting, automation, and building tools (cmdlets).

Getting Started with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start | Register Now

Date: July 18, 2013
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Where: Live, online virtual classroom
Cost: Free!

 

 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – New Windows Server 2012 R2 Device Access and Information Protection

As you will have seen at Microsoft TechEd North America and Europe, we have just delivered the Preview Release of Windows Server 2012 R2 with a stunning amount of new capability that is Cloud First.

My name is Adam Hall and I look after one of the solution areas within People-centric IT that we call “Access & Information Protection”. In this post I will provide more information about what this actually is and the focus areas we have around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Consumerization of IT.

People-centric IT is about helping organizations empower their users to work on the devices they choose without compromising their information integrity or compliance. The challenge this presents to customers is that as soon as their user works on a device that they do not manage or even have any knowledge of, it becomes very difficult to retain control of sensitive corporate information, and to be able to respond to situations such as the device being sold, lost or stolen.

With our Access & Information Protection solutions, we deliver capabilities that help our customers solve this very challenging problem in the following ways:

Simple registration and enrollment for users adopting Bring Your Own Device programs (BYOD).

Users can register their device using Workplace Join which creates a new device object in Active Directory and installs a certificate on the device, allowing IT to take into account the users device authentication as part of conditional access policies. Users can also opt-in to the Windows Intune management service for consistent access to applications (including internal LOB apps and links to public app stores), management of their own devices and to gain access to their data.

Users can work from the device of their choice to access corporate resources regardless of location.

New in Windows Server 2012 R2 are the Web Application Proxy and Work Folders. The Web Application Proxy provides the ability to publish access to internal resources and perform Multi-Factor Authentication at the edge. Work Folders is a new file sync solution that allows users to sync their files from a corporate file server to all their devices both internally and externally.

 

IT can better protect corporate information and mitigate risk by being able to manage a single identity for each user across both on-premises and cloud-based applications.

As users blend their work and personal lives, and organizations adopt a mixture of traditional on-premises and cloud based solutions, IT needs a way to consistently manage the user’s identity and provide users with a single sign-on to all their resources.  Microsoft helps our customers by providing users with a common identity across on-premises or cloud-based services leveraging existing Windows Server Active Directory investments and then connecting to Windows Azure Active Directory.  In Windows Server 2012 R2, we have significantly enhanced Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to be easier to deploy and configure, tightly integrated with the Web Application Proxy for simple publishing and federating between Active Directory and Azure AD. 

 

IT can access managed mobile devices to remove corporate data and applications in the event that the device is lost, stolen, or retired from use.

Whether a device is lost, stolen or simply being repurposed, there will be times when IT needs to ensure that the corporate information stored on the device is no longer accessible. With Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center configuration Manager 2012 R2 and Windows Intune, companies have the ability to selectively wipe corporate information while leaving personal data intact.

IT can set policy-based access control for compliance and data protection.

With users working on their own devices, the accessing of corporate resources and storage of information on these devices presents some challenges for ensuring compliance needs are met and information remaining secure.  Windows Server 2012 R2, through the Web Application Proxy, ADFS and Work Folders provides compelling and powerful solutions to make it easy for our customers to make resources available but also remain in control of information.  As we showed in the TechEd Europe keynote in Madrid this week, Work Folders is integrated with Dynamic Access Control, providing the ability to automatically classify information based on content, and perform tasks such as protecting with Rights Management Services, even for data that is created and stored on clients!

 

To see People-centric IT, including System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, Windows Intune, and Windows Server 2012 R2 in action, you can watch a complete presentation and end-to-end demonstration from the TechEd North America Foundational Session. You can also learn more about People-centric IT by downloading the People-centric IT Preview Guide.

Be sure to download System Center 2012 R2 Preview Configuration Manager and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview today!

Transforming your Datacenter with Software-Defined Networking (SDN): Part II

A couple of weeks ago, we addressed how Microsoft’s Software-Defined Networking solutions can help you transform your datacenter.  For those of us who prefer to learn visually, the video below illustrates our approach. 

Experience the flexibility, automation and control delivered by our SDN solution by deploying Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1 today.

You can also evaluate our latest and greatest SDN capabilities by using the Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview and System Center 2012 R2 Preview bits that we announced this week.