Cloud and Datacenter Conference Germany

On Thursday May 12th 2016 the inaugural edition of the Cloud and Datacenter Conference Germany was held in Dusseldorf. The new conference is the result of a long time wish and dream of the driving force behind the organization of it, Carsten Rachfahl from Rachfahl IT Solutions. When Carsten asked me to come over to speak and attend I was on board and I got the honor of presenting on what’s new and enhanced in Failover Clustering In Windows Server 2016.

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The conference surpassed all expectations. The organization was impeccable. Just like the supporting infrastructure for speakers and sponsors, which was top notch. Catering was probably one of the best I’ve ever seen at a conference. All of this helped make the goal of the conference, presenting valuable information to the attendees and provide for networking opportunities, a success.

The quality of the speakers and the content of the sessions was matched by the interest and enthusiasm of the attendees for the technologies presented. It was a perfect fit. This was made possible by Carsten his vision on what he considers to be a great conference. This vision was brought to live by the hard work of his company co-workers, with the aid of the sponsors, the speakers and the trust of the attendees had in this conference for them to spend their time and money to attend.

As a speaker and attendee it was a great experience. The support was excellent and even the PowerPoint template was easy to use and clear of superfluous clutter. We got everything we needed to present in perfect conditions to a receptive audience. The mood was a happy one. People were having a good time, learning and networking all day long.

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To Carsten and team: well done and thank you! I’m looking forward to attending and speaking again next year as this conference is a new gem to the IT public in the DACH region.

Carsten has built his company Rachfahl IT-Solutions into one of, if not the very best, experts in regards to Hyper-V, Storage Spaces, Windows and Private Cloud  in Germany. They share this expertise through their community efforts. Great people to work with!

Blue ring to celebrate 5 years as a Microsoft MVP

A week ago I got a package in the post. It contained a smaller box with in it a blue ring to celebrate 5 years as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP). First in the Hyper-V expertise and now in Cloud and Datacenter Management.

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To all the people and organizations that have given me opportunities, that supported me and trusted me, I’d like to say thank you. It’s been a blast to be able to learn, test, design, build ad support so many solutions over the years. Sharing those experiences and insights helped me grow as much as anyone else. I’m convinced that every Euro or Dollar spent on my growth has had a ROI much greater than it ever cost. The mission for the years ahead is to keep learning and evolving. The job is for paying bills but all the effort and time spent is another occupational level, one I hope every one finds to have fun  whilst working.

Thank you!

Microsoft MVP Global Summit 2015

We’re leaving Las Vegas (VEEAMON 2015) and are heading for Seattle.

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I’ll be spending a week in Bellevue/Redmond from November 1st to November 8th to attend the Microsoft MVP Global Summit 2015. As a Microsoft MVP one does not want to miss this summit. And I know quite a few MVPs who have quit their jobs the moment their boss told ‘m they could not go. Not saying we’d all do that but it’s true that skilled experts are in high demand and missing out on the MVP summit isn’t exactly making the best use of any MVP you employ.

It’s all NDA so basically I can’t tell you anything. But we’ll be sharing some tweets if joy and some lightweight blogs to share with the world how happy we MVPs are to be back at the mother ship for our annual firmware downloads and scheduled maintenance.

Until then here’s a nice Bing Maps overview of the MVP before & after hours area of operation.image

So yes, the Microsoft MVPs are descending on Bellevue / Redmond once again in large numbers. So you might hear a bit more Microsoft technology discussions in a bit more foreign languages or accents than otherwise. It’s us, no worries!

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It’s just great to an MVP Smile

Virtual Network Appliances I Use for Hyper-V Labs

When you build and maintain a test lab you’re always on the lookout for gear you can use. That’s either hardware or virtual appliances. My main concern is cost, it should work well on Hyper-V and the ability to mimic real world environments. That’s a great help for educational purposes as well as for testing and as an aid to troubles shooting. One of the nice things virtualization and now also cloud IAAS offers is the ability to run virtual storage and network appliances that allow us to have that real world look and feel. Add to that ever more software defined storage, networking and compute and we’re able to build very realistic labs. The limits we’re left with are time, money and space.

When building a lab some people tend to run into perceived limitations of their hypervisor. That’s to be expected as for many that hypervisor is just something to quickly get up and running an get to work writing code, implementing a backup solution or whatever the workload at hand is all about. The tip here is not to give up to fast.

More recently I’m build/working on a new lab setup simulating different sites. I need to route between these isolated test networks and load balance traffic in a site redundant manner. The idea was to mimic real life as well as we good. Add to that lab setup an Azure “site” and it’s fun all over. It’s all based on Hyper-V and Windows Server virtual machines but some components are not. Windows NLB has had its best day and RRAS is limited in the abilities I need to test. They can and do work fine for certain scenarios, but not for all that I need to test. I add virtual load balancers, virtual switches with the look and feel of physical ones and the same for virtual firewalls.

Now in real life you’ll be dealing with Link Aggregation Groups, Trunking, MLAG, routing, teaming … in short the tools of the trade when doing networking. One side effect of this is that on a Hyper-V host you quickly run out of physical network ports to work with. That’s not a problem, in real life your firewall or load balancer does not have 48 ports either. Often you have 4 to 8 and sometimes more, but often not, ports at your disposal and depending on the complexity that’s more than enough or not at all. Trunking & VLAN’s are the way we deal with this. In the Hyper-V GUI you will not find a way to define a trunk on an vNIC attached to a vSwitch. But this can be done via PowerShell. So please do not reject Hyper-V as not being up to the job. It is! Read about this in my blog post.

People often ask me what virtual network appliances I Use for Hyper-V Labs. This does vary over time, but there are some constants. In the lab I hate wasting time on time bombed trials. So I avoid those in favor of either fully featured solutions or I use free open source alternatives. Smart vendors provide the easiest access possible to their solutions. They realize that easy access delivers the ability to learn and test every aspect of the products which make a huge difference in the success of their offerings in the real world. When it comes to load balancers I use the KEMP Virtual Load Masters. You can read more about these in projects and lab testing  in blogs about the KEMP (Virtual) Load Master.

As an MVP I got 1 free license. Together with the ability to restore configurations I can have a pseudo permanent redundant load balancing setup. Only building labs for multi-site geo load balancing solutions requires to start from scratch every time. For routing I use VyOS, it works on both hardware and on a bunch of hypervisors with X64 bit virtual machines. When I need the look and feel of a firewall you’ll encounter in business I use Opnsense. It supports the synthetic vNICs with the enlightened Hyper-V drivers. Yup, the integration components are there.  It doesn’t boot from UEFI so no Generation 2 virtual machine support as of yet. imageimage

Another good one is IPFire. This one also does a nice job with the integration components.

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I also have a DELL SonicWall in my home office where I have some ports to play with but it tends to be leveraged more for the permanent parts of the lab. It’s a crucial & permanent component.

SonicWALL NSA 220 Wireless-N Appliance