Azure SQL Database now supports powerful geo-replication features for all service tiers

Business continuity has just gotten a new and improved way of providing consistent access to Azure SQL Server databases. Azure SQL Database now supports powerful geo-replication features for all service tiers. Read that again: for ALL service tiers!

Now, anyone who’s ever worked on providing business continuity knows this is hard to do and get right than it sounds. Whether you use SQL Server databases or other mature and quality ways of persisting data you know from experience that maintaining a consistent copy of your data read/write is a challenge.

The way to deal with that challenge is often to have one read/write master copy and have one or more read only copies. The idea is that during a disaster you’ll be able to serve the majority of your needs with a a read only copy and have at least a basic, good enough service until the issue is fixed or a new read/write copy comes on line. It all sounds great but achieving this and maintaining access to the data during a full blow disaster isn’t easy. You need multiple geographical locations and provide access to them. The latter preferably transparent to the clients. These are case where public cloud computing shines and now more then ever as Azure SQL Database now supports powerful geo-replication features for all service tiers.

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There’s no more need to upgrade to premium and this capability replaces standard geo replication. Business continuity is rapidly becoming a de facto way of designing and building apps as the cost & complexity blocking this are being torn down.

Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany

It’s with great joy that I can share that the Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany website is live and you can now register to attend. My fellow MVP and friend Carsten Rachfahl has realized one of his ambitions to organize a large community driven conference by and for the IT community in the DACH region. But please free to attend if you’re from outside that region, it is open to all and welcomes anyone who wishes to attend. Just note not all sessions will be in English, but in German.

Organizing such an event is not an easy undertaking and I want to applaud Carsten for making this happen. He’s one of Germany’s for most experts and via his company, Rachfahl IT-Solutions, he’s always contributed heavily into the community. Thank you Carsten, you contribute a lot and we appreciate those efforts.

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I invite you all to attend and join us on May 12 for the first edition of the Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany in Dusseldorf. It offers more than 25 presentations by top community speakers in five parallel tracks. These tracks cover the entire spectrum of Microsoft technologies available to help you design, build and maintain a state of the art modern IT infrastructure. The conference covers Windows Server 2016, Hyper-V, Microsoft software defined storage, networking, azure stack, System Center, OMS, failover cluster, IaaS, azure, Nano server, PowerShell, containers, and much more.

I’m happy and honored to speak at this conference with so many true real life experts that are part the global community around Microsoft technologies. My presentation will aim to get you briefed on the new and improved functionality in Windows Server 2016 Failover Clustering. In that respect it’s a nice addition to my session What’s new in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012 R2. I can only suggest to get up to speed on those as these are still very much valid and I’’ be focusing on the delta between Windows Server 212 R2 and 2016.

The breadth and depth of the technologies available to us cannot be overstated and is still growing. It takes a team effort with both complementary and overlapping expertise to stay on top of things. Education is a huge and important part of daily life for anyone working in IT.

Nowadays when any meeting can be held on-line an in person a conference is still very valuable. It enables you to focus on absorbing the content without being distracted by the realities and interrupts of daily work life. That’s why I still invest in attending conference and I hope you do so as well. When you attend one, be there! That might sound silly but it’s painful to see attendees working remotely and being on the phone all the time. Bart true emergencies that’s a waste of money and effort. Allow yourself or your employees to optimize the ROI of that conference by having them do why they came. Learn, get inspired and network with peers.

Register soon to secure your spot. The price is set a level to make sure it will not be an issue. Sponsoring by companies who have real investment in cloud and datacenter management and benefit from a flourishing well informed ecosystem make this possible.

Azure AD Connect 1.1.105.0 is GA

On February 18th  2016 Microsoft released a significant update to Azure AD Connect, version 1.1.105.0. It adds some capabilities and improves on others. For me this is a core piece of the puzzle today and in the future for many of my plans to optimize the future IT Infrastructure & DevOps. Even when politics seem hell bound on slowing you down and cause a serious delay and missed opportunities this piece of technology is key in breaking through those barriers and keep moving ahead.

So what’s in the box with version  1.1.105.0

  • Automatic upgrade feature for Express settings customers.
    Support for the global admin using MFA and PIM in the installation wizard.
  • We can change the user’s sign-in method after initial install.
  • We can now set Domain and OU filtering in the installation wizard. As a secondary benefit this means we can now connect to forests where not all domains are available.
  • We get a Scheduler is built-in to the sync engine.

Some preview features are now GA:

We get one new preview features which is going to be a hit in world where patience disappeared from the equation:

  • The default sync interval is now 30 minutes instead of 3 hours before. this is configurable now in the scheduler.

It also fixes the following issues:

  • The verify DNS domains page didn’t always recognize the domains.
  • Prompts for domain admin credentials when configuring ADFS.
  • On-premises AD accounts are not recognized by the installation wizard when they are in a domain with a different DNS tree than the root domain.

Grab the latest version of Azure AD Connect here.

Is the cloud failing or are you?

The cloud is not failing. That’s the good news. Now for the bad.

Many people complain about the mess their cloud usage has become and how cloud sales people did not tell them to read the small print. As a business, whether for profit or a non profit you need people in charge with a reasonably amount of intelligence and a drive to push the organization forward, not just themselves.  You can not take the easy way out, pocket your pay check and let the “details and annoying technicalities” to your employees. Basically you’re saying “screw you” to them so don’t be surprised when that works both ways. If your cloud projects are failing is due to the same reason your other IT projects were failing. You’re doing it wrong.

In a world of political correctness, this is going to sound harsh. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that you as a business, a manager, a “leader” are failing. You are failing and you’re incapable of dealing with that fact. Because it hurts your sensitivities. Well you are hurting your employees, your customers, your future.

Way to many cloud (private/hybrid/public) projects are done as “self service” or minimal effort projects. There is no design. There is no expertise, experience, knowledge, context or a deeper understanding of the systems, their interactions, capabilities and needs. In this commodity world it just has to work. Nothing just works. Deal with it. If you don’t put value on the above that’s how things end up.

Cloud project in many environments look way too much like a classic house where they bolted on new fashioned extensions without a clue about how to do what they were doing. By doing so they ruined the roof, the wiring, the isolation, the functionality and livability. It’s leaking, it’s rotting the house and fungi rule the realm.

You did not get what you paid for but you get exactly what you value: nothing.

It’s not that you don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money. You outsourced all your in house capabilities and expertise and on top of that you’re are paying 3 to 5 times too much for services and “consultants” that have been on your payroll for decade. You don’t even even have the capabilities in house to realize the above anymore. If you do they probably have gone into hiding. You buy over priced shit on a daily basis and are told it’s great and what the industries best practices dictate.

The fallacy that IT, which is the cloud and nothing but the cloud for many today, is nothing but a commodity that has to work out of the box at the cheapest possible price is making you fail. But how could that be?  After all it’s just computers in the cloud so you don’t even have to hook up the power and a cable any more. No? These almost absurd simplifications that are in play here are totally pushing aside knowledge, experience, skills, a continuous educational effort. The end result, excellent service to your business and / or customers, dies a thousand small deaths in collateral damage.

You’re deploying cloud solutions without planning, coordination, design, governance, responsibilities, skills and what not. You’ve lost control over your (cloud)  IT. You’ve lost control over the data, the access, the backups, disaster recovery, the accounts of the service subscription, everything. These are the essential parts of a functional, maintainable, cost effective and supportable IT environment. This will bite you hard, deep and will perhaps bleed you to death.

This is not the cloud failure. It’s you. If you go about “old school” on premises IT the same way the failures are there as well. So you hate the solutions you pay way too much for, you hate the lousy service and the lack results. You get shafted every day.

The easy fix you come up with is just more of the same. More consulting, more work and responsibility avoiding, more meetings, task forces, more multi year over sized super projects that are doomed to fail because there a more than enough people to take your money form idiots.

How is this possible? Because I way too many places criticism has been banned and died. Meanwhile in that political correct always peaceful and quiet environment real damage is done to people as talent, motivation, money and value is destroyed along with a better future. No one in those places has any skin in the game as you risk more by doing your job than by watching the place go to hell. Good luck!

To any one else: there are real experts out there that can really help you. All you have to do is value results, your business and your clients.