Microsoft Align IT Tour 2011: Real World Strategies for Infrastructure Managers
First, I noticed they are using Dell laptops, prominently placed. Also, the event was streaming video live. Kind of cool.
IT as a Service, Cloud Services
Ruth Morton, technology advisor; @ruthm
Ruth started by quoting Nicholas Carr about how IT matters, how it is becoming a commodity utility.
Cited as an example of how is our world changing for IT Infrastructure Managers, the convergance of consumer technologies and enterprise applications: An Xbox Knect used in a Toronto hospital, so that prior to surgery scrubbed surgeons can interface with patient records using hand gestures. Kind of cool.
Some stats we've likely all heard before:
50% of business devices are expected to be Smart phones by 2014
84% of organisations today have a remote workforce
85% of data centre capacity on average is idle
Because we build for peak capacity but rarely hit it, but can't miss when we need it to empower the business.
70% of IT budgets is spent maintaining data centre operations. I'd challenge that stat applied here, but open for discussion!
Expectations are changing
IT is needed to be a business and productivity enabler (not new). IT is desired to partner to drive revenue, design new solutions, be a proactive business asset, and focus on best practices. Sure, OK.
So now we move the focus to Cloud Computing, the ANSWER TO ALL!! (or maybe not so much, but it makes good marketing hype)
Benefits and concepts behind Cloud Computing
- On demand self service
- Discussed illustration of private cloud for quickly provisioning test systems
- Ubiquitous network access
- Location transparent resource pooling
- Note that MS Azure (their cloud solution) does allow regional specification but not site specific
- Rapid elasticity
- Accommodating peak Usage periods on demand Measured service with pay per use
- Move business infrastructure from CapEx to OpEx
- Hold third party responsible for management of Infrastructure (hmmmm...)
Recent research in Canada by CTRC noted a shortage in specific IT skills in Canada, companies are encouraged to invest in skills base of IT folks to close the gap.
Skills deficits: cloud services architecture, virtualisation, SoA
Cloud Architect skill set: look at a biz app, determine if it makes sense to move it to the cloud, are there architectural app changes needed for cloud compatibility, provide recommendations to the organisation on best biz decisions PHP, .net, and other languages are cloud ready Systems Centre is cloud aware.
Charting a path to a vNext environment
Damir Bersinic Sr. Platform Advisor
Target stores moving 15k virtual machines to MS HyperV SCVMM 2012 announced; it manages VMware, HyperV, and Zen
For the live demo, Damir was RDP'ed into SCVMM console in Toronto.
He showed the conversion utility to move VMs from other hypervisors to HyperV. Converts SCSI boot drive to IDE. Creates a conversion script that you can leverage via PowerShell for bulk migrations taking 25-30 minutes each.
Discussed high availability architecture design, spreading clustered services across multiple virtual and physical hosts.
Executed queries while vm was being moved between nodes to illustrate no downtime during move, but that is dependent on correct architecture to start with.
A recommended best practice is to create a library of templates to speed provisioning of basic machines with standard configuration. But we need to be cautious of VM sprawl; when it is too easy to create hosts, they get created and not organised or retired.
You need process, tools, and education to manage VMs within best practices. Physical host best practices should apply to VMs.
"Virtualisation without management is more dangerous than not using virtualisation in the first place."
Tom Bittman, Gartner researcher
Self service is a new paradigm where Infrastructure Services doesn't control who makes new VMs, they create the templates for systems, and enable the "customers" to create their systems, by setting the rules under which other groups can create VMs, and being the gateway to approve the creation of that system.
Interesting ideas that are incorporated:
- Charge back model built in
- Set start and finish dates
- Launches jobs within VSSC
Question asked, "what's the business case for business users creating their own VMs?"
Answer given: It's a question of definition and semantics. Should really only be technical users.
Private cloud server platform leverages (needs) nearly the whole Systems Centre portfolio to be managed correctly. Start with standardising your directory services Virtualised with a hypervisors Standardise and automate data centre management Enable self service with a portal Evaluate what needs to be on a private cloud versus public cloud
Visual Studio 2010 contains Azure simulation platform (emulator) for developing and testing web apps without actually deploying to the cloud
Platform, database, fabric controller (middleware, service bus, access control) data sync functions in SQL Azure allows data synchronisation between private and public cloud hosts
Security and privacy in the cloud were noted by some (including me!) as a concern, the assumption seems to be made that "because it's on Azure, it's secure." David McLaren president & CEO at VRX Studios didn't actually state this, instead he told us all that his business isn't based on privacy legislation. That I can see...I specifically asked the question about how do they deal with privacy legislation concerns. All three panelists "answered" the question by saying, in effect, "don't put that kind of app or data in the public cloud." I got the feeling that these guys aren't here to answer the tough questions, either technical or business oriented. I was particularly disappointed with David as a panellist because i felt he had little of value to offer the audience and started his answer to each question with a plug for his business. Very off-putting.
Dave Kawula from TriCon consulting was able to sell the concept of private cloud self service, automation, orchestration, and governance. He was very clear on the point that you really need to architect the solution for data latency concerns, privacy, and data protection. I felt Dave had the most value to add to the conversation. He kept the conversation at a high level, but was able to provide realistic direction to the questions without getting bogged down into technical details.
How is back up and data retention managed in the cloud? Bottom line, it is your responsibility to architect a cloud solution that provides that, the public cloud doesn't provide any such service de-facto. Consider latency around replication for near-real time replication so you generally want systems in the same DC.
Question came up of performance for users comparing Office365 and traditional remote desktop technologies. The answer was yes, it will likely be a little slower. :-|