Microsoft Partner Enablement – Cloud OS

Over the past few years we have seen a massive shift within business infrastructure with regards to I.T dictating the services, whereas now users are demanding more and more, from anywhere, on any device. This transition has caused many a headache, compatability, compliance, training, time, the list goes on. Microsoft have researched these trends have devised solutions around the 3 core infrastructure components –

Compute – Processing/Memory

Storage – SAN/NAS

Network – Switching/Routing

Surrounding these 3 key infrastructure areas, these components can be utilised in many different ways and because of this, providing services that allow self-service and on-demand generation is a key area for the design of the Cloud OS.

Cloud Computing – The ability to host, store and migrate services to and from the cloud.

New social and app patterns – Applications for business and social designed for all devices from anywhere.

Consumerisation of I.T – The demands of users for services from the I.T department (of which needs to ensure compliance with the Business)

Data Explosion – Ensuring data is properly stored for DR and backup, businesses are generating more and more and expanding beyond current onsite infrastructure requirements.

Microsoft’s Cloud OS takes all of these ingredients on board and provides solutions from the one platform;

Customers

Azure

Service Providers

The one platform approach is such a massive selling point from anyones point of view, simply having one login for all these services makes it an extremely valuable option. Having to ‘manage’ accounts isn’t the best job in IT and doesn’t innovate the I.T team (speaking from a managed services prospective) so the better Microsoft can make this all encompassing package, the better for most managed service providers. As an example, several accounts do not need to be maintained, you simply federate your domain with Microsoft and the cloud services will simply refer back to your onsite Active Directory infrastructure to complete the authentication.

The one platform approach goes down further into the hierarchy and as such covers the following;

Development – Developing from one platform for many differing devices is a huge incentive for any business.

Management – Ability to control aspects of devices and services provided to users (regardless of the device they access it from).

Data – Ensuring recoverable data stores and high availability to access at any point in time regardless of ‘outages’.

Identity – Having one login for all services enables a simple solution for users – “I need this…..” – “Then, please login here”

Virtualisation – Enabling a robust and highly available infrastructure to manage and maintain without downtime is key in today’s society.

Google follows Amazon with auto-encryption of cloud data

Google follows Amazon with auto-encryption of cloud data • The Register.

Would imagine this would be the first thing to cover in a cloud scenario, however, at least providers are getting on board!

“The change means data will be kept in RAM and encrypted via AES-128 upon upload into the service before being written to disk.”

 

Cloud Computing Interview with Microsoft MVP – @AndyMalone #office365 #microsoft

Firstly, I’d like to thank Andy for taking the time to write a little something for the Guru365 blog. Andy is a very busy man and every second he has donated to this post can’t be thanked enough.

Andy’s background –

Andy Malone (UK) Microsoft MVP, MCT MCITP, MCSE, CTT+andymalone

Andy Malone is the CEO of Quality Training Ltd and founder of both the Dive Deeper Technology and Cybercrime Security events. Based in Scotland, Andy is a popular international event speaker and Technology evangelist with over 15 years’ experience. Andy was also the 2006 winner of the Microsoft TechEd Speaker Idol contest.

Andy has delivered technical and security content to thousands of delegates worldwide at various technical conferences, such as Microsoft TechEd, Connections and Tech-days. His passionate style of delivery, combined with a sense of fun has become his trademark.

Although his primary focus is always for security. Andy loves to talk about the Windows platform, Exchange and Office technologies. And with knowledge dating back to the MS-DOS 2 and Windows 2.0 era there is often an interesting story to be told. But technology never sleeps and Andy continues to work with the Microsoft product teams to create and deliver ground breaking material on Windows 8 and beyond. Recent projects have included security training & consulting in Kuwait, Dubai and the US for Government, Military and civilian clients. And more recently worldwide partner training for Microsoft’s new Office 365 cloud based platform.

Follow Andy on Twitter: @AndyMalone

 

Hi Andy, and many thanks for taking the time to talk to us about cloud computing, your experiences as an international event speaker and my personal favourite, Office365.

 

  • You have been involved with Office 365 with regards to training courses from the early days, how have you found the product and what do you see as the major benefits of using a cloud product, such as Office365?

Andy Malone – Since its conception, Office 365 has come on a long way. Moving to the cloud was often seen as a complex procedure. But Office 365 has allayed those fears in many ways. In terms of migrating to the cloud there are a large number of tools and partners that provide simple web based services to assist in moving your data to the cloud. In terms of the other benefits I would have to say having your data constantly backed up and deing able to access your data 24/7 and on any device is definitely a win win. Of course another benefit is the cost. You don’t need to invest in a complex and expensive infrastructure. O365 uses a simple subscription method so you don’t need to worry about costly licencing agreements and replacing expensive hardware.

 

  • Wave15 has been the latest offering for Office365, have you noted any major improvements to Wave14 and any exciting features that you particularly like?

Andy Malone – Wave 15 brings some major changes. Firstly the Office 2013 Professional Plus software that is included in the subscription is now delivered by App-V technologies. In other words it’s streamed and cached rather than permanently installed. This “service” rather than a fixed licence means that you will always have access to the latest versions of MS Office. Next Security! This is something that has really come on a long way. Firstly all email is secured with Bitlocker drive encryption at the data centre. This includes all the databases and log files. But also transport encryption with EAP/TLS cryptography. Compliance is a big word these days and Office 365 has made a lot of improvements. Data Loss Prevention, tracking, auditing and retention policies are just some of the new features that are integrated throughout Exchange & SharePoint.

 

  • Having thoroughly enjoyed your course for Office365 earlier in the year, have you enjoyed teaching technical personnel the content for the Office365 course?

Andy Malone – Absolutely it’s been a blast 🙂

 

  • Are there any particular areas that have been difficult or demanding with regards to teaching the product?

Andy Malone – There are many companies offering 365 training, but they use eLearning type labs. Now whilst this fine, there is no substitute for hands on experience. That’s why my labs are the real thing. Live IP Addresses, certificates etc. There is no experience like real experience!

 

  • Do you think there is enough content available for people to be learning the product from an administration point of view?

Andy Malone – This is difficult. I know many people who want to write courseware, but the problem is that it goes out of date very quickly as the service constantly changes. (Notice I said service and not product! That’s an important distinction here). So to answer your question it is coming but it has been slow purely because of what’s involved.

 

  • With regards to content for learning, do you have any links or videos that you would be willing to share with us that may make the process of certification and troubleshooting easier?

Andy Malone – Gosh there are so many. But a good place to start is the community pages on the Office 365 website. Also follow the product group blogs, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint etc.

 

  • What are the major topics you teach in your Office365 course and after completing the course what kind of certifications are available to administrators?

Andy Malone – Topics covered include deployment, Identity Management, ADFS, Dirsync and Exchange & SharePoint. In terms of certification. You can go for the MCITP Certification in Office 365. 70-321 & 70-323

 

  • Cloud Computing has had a massive impact over the past 12 months, how do you think this will change the way businesses in the UK work for the future?

Andy Malone – It’s like that movie Gun fight at the OK Corral. You can run but you can’t hide. Sooner or later I believe the cloud will be the norm.

 

  • As an MVP you speak at many major Microsoft events, for the general administrator what are the benefits of attending events such as TechEd?

Andy Malone – This is an easy one. Knowledge. As well the ability to meet your peers, attend great sessions and be one step ahead of the game.

 

  • I’m sure as a speaker you have thoroughly enjoyed these speaking events, do you have any particular highlights from years gone by?

Andy Malone – My first TechEd I remember feeling so intimated by these amazing speakers, Minasi, Riley, Russinovich and now over the years they are my friends. So that’s got to be a good thing right?

 

  • As a worldwide consultant and trainer you’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, do you have a favourite location and why?

Andy Malone – Iceland, definitely my number 1. You can experience true peace there. Other favourites include Dubai, Kuwait, Norway, Durban in South Africa and Bulgaria, they were really nice people.

 

  • How have mobile devices and cloud services/computing assisted you in your job travelling around the world?

Andy Malone – Communication is key, especially in today’s modern world. My phone and iPad go everywhere (as does my Windows 8 Laptop of course :))

 

  • I very much appreciate your time, for our readers do you have any social media identities that our users can follow you on in the future? (Twitter/Facebook Pages/Websites/Blogs etc)

Andy Malone – Twitter @AndyMalone Pretty much everything is there. Also my new Cybercrime website. www.cybercrimesecurityforum.org

 

Andy is a keen Tweeter, so well worth following his tweets on Twitter!

Again, many thanks Andy for taking the time to answer questions on Cloud Computing and Office365.

Green Computing – Office365 #greencomputing

English: PS20 and PS10 in Andalusia, Spain

English: PS20 and PS10 in Andalusia, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cloud computing offers an amazing amount of energy saving, below I will describe the reasons why.

Office 365 and the Microsoft Cloud infrastructure offers effectively ‘collaborative computing’, Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in their datacenter infrastructures from which they lease this as a service (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS). The requirements for companies of all sizes to purchase, maintain and refresh their own infrastructures moves the financial aspect from a capital expense to an operational expense. This switch to operational expense allows companies to focus on innovation rather than maintain and administer. For a growing business this is ideal as a extremely well planned infrastructure refresh may still not last the porjected timescale due to unprecedented growth or infrastructure no longer able to cope with improving resources, drastically reducing the life-span of the expense. With Cloud computing , and in this case Office 365, the idea of ‘leasing of’ or ‘subscribing to’ a service allows businesses to concern on the operational costs and maintenance without having to plan for major upgrades and changing the way the company moulds around these new upgrades.

Adding new users?

Simply purchase an additional subscription.

Require more file storage?

Purchase additional cloud storage (without worrying about the infrastructure requirements that you would find with on-site equipment)

 

In the energy efficiency scenario, Microsoft are effectively paying the bill when it comes to their hosted cloud infrastructure. Servers consume a huge amount of power, along with the disaster recover equipment this can amount to a massive expense for any company, by moving to the cloud you can increase your power savings in terms of ‘green motives’ or simply the cost of energy.

Microsoft have greatly invested in their datacenters and with that utilise cutting-edge technology with regards to power consumption and green initiatives. At this kind of scale (1000’s of servers/hosts) Microsoft are able to utilise extremely advanced technologies, I will try to give you a good example of this below;

Imagine at 5:30pm, users are logging off their PC’s, laptops and are shutting down their machines, the server room however doesn’t have this advantage of being turned off, they need 24/7 power and no doubt a backup routine is deployed during the evenings. No shut down or home time for the servers, so they are sat there churning away, perhaps a little less ‘stress’ than during the day.

With the cloud computing scenario, time and power savings mean everything, in these huge scales, running hardly used servers is effectively throwing money away as well as annoying the environmentalists. In this scenario resource scheduling becomes amazingly effective. so we go back to our 5:30pm shutdown, but on this occassion the technology hosting the Virtual infrastructure kicks in, instead of sitting there half used, it will begin to migrate VM’s that no longer require resources to the same host, so although as a whole they may be using quite a lot of resource, it will enable hosts to be powered down and be sat in a ‘power saving’ state awaiting resources requirements to increase and as such power up from their slumber. Again, getting to the scale of this, you could effectively save power on as an example, 100 hosts – these hosts being the beefiest and most cutting edge servers available, are going to have requirements for a large amount of power, effectively turning these off when not used, is a god send to the idea of cloud computing. Why leave the light on in the attic if you have no intention of going there?

 

So that is effectively how these datacentres work from a green perspective, but from the company utilising this infrastructure, what do they save?

  • Downsize or offset office space.
  • Downsize onsite infrastructure requirements.
  • Expand the ability for users to work remotely (or globally dependent on your requirements)
  • Support the mobile workforce.
  • Reduce consumables use (printing, ink, paper, file storage costs).
  • Reduce hardware (desktop computers/server systems/UPS’s/cabling)

4 easy steps for businesses considering the cloud

4 easy steps for businesses considering the cloud.

A simple breakdown of why Cloud computing is important for any size business. Stop the time wasting, enjoy the mobility and save a tree! 🙂

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