Noticed the Update?

Since it’s a holiday week, I figured it’s a good time to throw the switch and cut over to a fresh blog platform.  I opted for the “simplicity” of, partly because “everybody is doing it”.  I’ve know people who are really familiar with designing for WordPress, people who used to work at WordPress and since I don’t want to overthink it, well, here I am. :-)

I did toy with the idea of hosting my own instance of WordPress on Azure, but the reality of life means that I really can’t be worried about the “webmastering” of the whole thing.  I really just wanted it “as-a-service”.  I want some widgets and some columns and the ability to type and post.  That’s it. Nothing crazy.

Anyway, let me know what you think of the new design.  I’ll be doing more tweaks and updates over the next few weeks, I’m sure!



Goodbye November.

November seemed like a pretty busy month for me, so I’m looking forward to starting off a more relaxing holiday season, where I can get caught up with friends, family and abandoned side projects!  I was doing a lot of presentations at a variety of places this past month and I know many of you might have asked for access to slides and various content.

If you’ve attended any of the “Ignite Your Business” events for Windows 10, you can find content related to that at:

If you’ve seen me at:

  • LearnIT! (San Francisco, 10/31)
  • Silicon Valley Code Camp (San Jose, 10/3)
  • Central CA .NET User Group (Fresno, 11/19)
  • IC3 DevOps Conference (San Jose, 10/10)

You can find those presentations on

Upcoming Events… Cool Stuff, In Person!

Are you in the Portland area?  Are you a SharePoint fan?  A favorite MVP of mine, Zubair Alexander will be presenting at SharePointlanda 2015 this coming Saturday (Nov 14th).  You can still join him!

Not into SharePoint? Are you thinking about Windows 10 for your enterprise instead?  I’ve got you covered for that too…  My fellow Tech Evangelists are hitting a bunch of cities across the US over the next several weeks.  Boston, Atlanta, Philly, Dallas, to name just a few.  Learn more at Ignite Your Business.

And for you folks who are stuck in the office, check out Part 7 of Blain Barton’s “To The Cloud” series! Blain Barton welcomes Microsoft MVP Adnan Cartwright to the show as they discuss the inner workings of Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 R2 and how you can manage roles and features in the cloud.

  • [10:04DEMO: Introduction to Server Manager

If you’re interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

Websites & Blogs:


Blain Barton’s “To the Cloud” Series Continues!

In Part 6 in the “To the Cloud” series, Blain Barton, Tommy Patterson and Dan Stolts, provide an overview of the benefits of running servers without the physical hardware using Microsoft Azure.   Learn how large and small to mid-sized companies can rent compute, storage, and networking resources by using datacenter hardware to deploy virtual machines (VMs).

  • [10:25DEMO: Azure Virtual Machine Gallery

If you’re interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

Websites & Blogs:


Follow the conversation @MS_ITProBecome a Fan @ Subscribe to our podcast via iTunesStitcher, or RSS

The Tech of Blogging

I’ve been blogging about technology for about 10 years now.  And the majority of that time has been on the Blogger platform.  I went with Blogger back in the day, because it was a simple platform that was flexible enough for what I needed without too much hassle.

But now, in 2015, I’m starting to hit some limitations. And sure, a lot of those limitations might be worked around and I’m a geeky person, but the reality is – out of all the things I like to geek out about, tweaking my blog platform and website just…. isn’t it.

Also, my domain registrar starting charging for things that used to be free a while back (like probably close to two years ago) and I’ve been so busy with “life” that I just pay to keep the lights on so to speak, without really looking at the offerings and seeing how that ties in with what I’m doing with my blog.

So I starting thinking about how I wanted to manage it next… And never really thought about it much until Troy Hunt put it into words a bit earlier this month.

So I started thinking about my domain and blog related things that needed improvement. Some points…

  1. I like the convenience of widgets and easy theme management.
  2. I’ve dabbled with WordPress in the past, but not sure I want to go with the hosted version or run my own web server in the cloud.  And honestly, at the time I didn’t really feel like learning another platform.
  3. I did take a peek at, but didn’t feel it had the dashboard management that comes with WordPress and I kind of want to stay away from CSS editing if I can help it for theme adjustments.
  4. I married a UX designer who’s spent some time designing for WordPress (handy!).
 So I quizzed the hubby about what he thought and recognized the fact that I really want my blog management to be as “non-techie” as possible, because it really has to be the least of my worries.   As fun as it might be to self-host my own WordPress instance in Azure, I don’t want to have to deal with having to do any “webmaster” things – I don’t want to be THAT responsible.  I just want to post when I need to post and change or update other elements of the site (like navigation and colors) without having to dig into HTML or CSS.
So that being said… I’ll probably start looking at working out my migration to a new platform before the end of the year.  Let the side project begin!

TechNet on Tour: Resources for Backup/DR in the Cloud

If you attended (or didn’t get a chance to attend) the TechNet on Tour series covering Backup and Disaster Recovery in the Cloud, I wanted to list out some of the resources that are available if you’d like to review the slides or try out the labs.

So Much to Watch – So Little Time!

Yeah, I know… I barely have time to watch these things too, but there is some good stuff out on the interwebs that you might want to check out.

Available Now
On TechNet Radio, in Part 4 in our “To the Cloud” series, Blain Barton examines Microsoft Dynamics CRM and shows us how you can improve your customers’ experience with sales, marketing, and customer service anywhere, anytime and with any device.
  • [2:50] DEMO: Dynamics CRM
Tuesday, October 6th
Watch the Microsoft 2015 Virtual CIO Summit, streaming LIVE from the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA!
Time: 8:00am – 2:45pm PDT
Hear from industry thought leaders, key Microsoft experts and your peers at this year’s CIO Summit. The Summit will cover key topics ranging from how the digital age is changing the way IT leaders do business to understanding the threats of cybercrime and how changing customer expectations are making strategic IT investments and partnerships all the more important.
Save the date and join us online for the 2015 Virtual CIO Summit to learn more about these key trends and new technologies that can empower you and your business.  Check out the agenda and register here!

Learn Quick with Azure Documentation Short Videos

It’s hard to carve out 45 minutes (or more!) to watch a video training or webcast.  Sometimes 10 minutes or less is all you can spare.  So look no further than the Azure Documentation Shorts.  You’ll find quick, to the point videos showing you how to perform specific tasks in Azure.  New videos are added weekly.  Here’s a sample:

Attaching a Data Disk to a Windows VM

One of these days, I’ll figure out how embed videos. But meanwhile, just click. :-)

Business Continuity and the Cloud

This week marks the start of TechNet on Tour, coming to twelve cities.   The full day workshops include lecture and hands-on-labs where you can learn about some of the ways you can utilize Microsoft Azure to help with your disaster recovery planning.
But let me tell you about the first “business continuity” plan I was part of.  It involved a stash of tapes, daily backups on a two week cycle with the Friday backups being held for a month.  The nightly backup job fit on two tapes and every morning, I ejected the tapes from the machine and dropped them in my bag.  They went home with me, across town, and came back every day to be swapped with latest ones.  Whenever I took a vacation, I designated an available person to perform the same task.
That was it.  The tapes were rarely looked at, the data never tested and fortunately, never needed.  We were partying like it was 1999. Because it was.
Still, the scenario isn’t uncommon.  There are still lots of small businesses, with only single locations and still lots of tapes out there.  But now, there is more data and more urgency for that data to be recovered as quickly as possible with as little loss as possible.  And there are still only 24 hours in the day. How annoying to arrive at work in the morning, only to find the overnight backup job still running.
As I moved through jobs and technologies evolved, we addressed the growing data and lack of time in many ways…  Adjusting backup jobs to capture less critical or infrequently changing data only over the weekends.  More jobs that only captured delta changes.  Fancier multiple-tape changers, higher density tapes, local “disk to disk” backups that were later moved to tape, even early “Internet” backup solutions, often offered by the same companies that handled your physical tape and box rotation services.
We also chased that holy-grail of “uptime”.  Failures weren’t supposed to happen if you threw enough hardware in a room.  Dual power supplies, redundant disk arrays, multiple disk controllers, UPS systems with various bypass offerings.  Add more layers to protect the computers, the data.
Testing was something we wanted to do more often.  But it was hard justify additional hardware purchases to upper management.  Hard to find the time to set up a comprehensive test.   But we tried and often failed.  And learned.  Because each test or real outage is a great opportunity to learn.  Outages are often perfect storms… if only we had swapped out that dying drive a day before, if only that piece of hardware was better labeled, if only that was better documented… and each time we made improvements.
I remember, after a lengthy call with a co-location facility that wanted us to sign a year agreement even though we only wanted space for 3 months to run a recovery test, how I wished for something I could just use for the time I needed.  It’s been a little over 5 years since that phone call, but finally there is an answer and it’s “the cloud”.
Is there failure in the cloud? Of course, it’s inevitable. For all the abstractness, it’s still just running on hardware. But the cloud provides part of an answer that many businesses simply didn’t have even five years ago.  Business that never recovered from the likes of Katrina and other natural or man-made disasters, might still have a shot today.
So catch a TechNet Tour if it passes through your area.  Look at taking advantage of things like using the cloud as target instead of tape, or replicating a VM to Azure with Azure Site Recovery.  Even starting to dabble in better documentation or scripting with PowerShell to make your key systems more consistently reproducible will go a long way.  Do a “table top” dry run of your existing DR plan today.
Sysadmins don’t let other sysadmins drop  DLT tapes in their bags.  Let’s party like it’s 2015.  Because it is.

Server 2016 TP3, Containers and Azure – All Together

Sometimes I think I’ll never get caught up. Every day, there are new, interesting announcements from the technology companies we use every day, plus we have to juggle the tasks, fires and projects we have at work.  It’s really hard to keep up.  I’ll bet you are feeling that way right now.
This week, it’s possible for you to check a few new things off your list – ALL AT ONCE!  (And it’s already Friday!)
  1. Try out Azure
  2. Check out Server 2016
  3. Learn about Containers


First make sure you have an Azure subscription or trial.  If your company has an enterprise agreement with Microsoft, you might have credits to use in Azure and not even know it.  So check there first.  If not – go to to sign up for $200 you can use for the next 30 days.
Once you’ve got access to Azure, you’ll find we have two web portals for accessing it.  The “classic” or current portal at and the preview portal at Depending on what you need to do, the feature set varies between portals.  But for this, it doesn’t matter.
Whichever portal you pick, you’ve opened the door to the easiest way to test out new versions of Windows Server.  No hunting around for free hardware, no downloading ISO images and practically no wait. Just take advantage of your own personal datacenter in the “cloud”. 
Next, look for the Server 2016 versions – there are two of them. One is the Full GUI version, listed as Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3.  (In the new portal, the Full GUI version can be found in the Marketplace.)  The other one is listed as “Windows Server Container Preview”.
If poking around with the new full version is your goal, spin that up and get started.  RDP to it and you are good to go.  If you need a walk-thru on how to set up a VM on either portal, you can find it here :
If your company develops software and is thinking about micro-services and “containers” are new buzzword in the office, you’ll want to spin up the Container Preview.  And even if your company doesn’t fit that description and you just want to see what this container/Docker thing is all about, spin up the Container Preview too.
Once that machine is up and running, you’ll log into to find yourself at a command prompt window and nothing else.  Containers are supported only on the Windows Core (and eventually Nano) versions. To get you started, take some time to review this documentation ( and dust of your command line skills.
Viola!  Now go check off that list. :-)
Note: With the preview, there is A LOT of work to be done still, so don’t be surprised when things aren’t super polished and feature-rich yet.  And seriously, don’t try to use any of this for production.  This is just the tip of the iceberg to come.