Attend My TechEd Europe Session –The Session Builder Is Live!

The TechEd Europe Session Builder is live and there you can find my session, CD-B329, From Demo to Reality: Best Practices Learned from Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.

Sure, the title is a mouthful Smile but here’s the short version of the sales pitch: I want to show you the bits of Hyper-V that are rarely talked about. These are the features that help you get your job done. They’re the ones that make the big headlines possible. They’re the ones that you think “I’d switch from vSphere to Hyper-V if it had X”. They’re the features that you asked for!


My session is on Wednesday from 10:15 until 11:30. I cannot wait!

The Hyper-V Amigos Podcast – The Amigos Reunite

You might have heard of “The Hyper-V Amigos” podcast – this is something that has a history that runs back quite a while with a number of us European Hyper-V MVPs. Carsten (Rachfahl) and Didier (Van Hoye) asked myself and Hans Vredevoort to join them in their latest show to talk about TechEd North America 2014.

Attending TechEd Europe Roundtable – Have You Got Feedback/Ideas?

Assuming that the bronchitis and tonsillitis that I was diagnosed with at 1:15 am this morning clears up, I will be attending the TechEd Europe roundtable meeting in Barcelona on Monday/Tuesday. The Microsoft folks in attendance are some of the planners of this massive event. My role: give feedback and discuss any ideas at the table.

Here’s your opportunity:

Do you have any feedback or ideas that you’d like me to bring to the table for TechEd Europe 2014? If so, post a comment below.

EDIT: Please keep the comments relevant to the TechEd event itself.

TechEd NA 2014 – Speaker Idol Qualification

Today I took part in one of the qualification heats of Speaker Idol – think X Factor or American/Pop Idol where you have 5 minutes to audition with a presentation, some judges comment, and you either get through to the final or not. There were 3 heats (Monday to Wednesday), each heat winner goes through, and one wildcard goes through to the final. The overall winner wins a speaker slot at TechEd North America next year.

I competed with a … different presentation.

The funny bit is that I knew that Mark Minasi (a friend) is one of the judges. I didn’t win but I got great comments. I was nervous … but I got the wildcard slot for the final tomorrow (Thursday). I was told to do a tech talk tomorrow – that will keep me occupied tonight. Tomorrow at 12:30 CET (18:30 Irish/UK time) will be be there presenting.

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Event: TechCamp 2014 On June 19/20 In Dublin

Another community event is coming on June 19th and 20th in Citywest in Dublin. This time, with TechCamp 2014, we’re switching to a more “here’s how to do it” style of presentation. Based on feedback, we’ll have 1 track per day, over 2 days. Day 1 (June 19th) will focus on Hybrid Cloud, mixing Windows Server, System Center, and Microsoft Azure content into one track. On day 2 (June 20th) the focus switches over to the public cloud, and products like Office 365 and Windows Intune.

Most of the speakers are MVPs sharing their knowledge and experience with these technologies, with keynotes by local Microsoft product-line managers.

You can choose to register for either or both days.

Please retweet, post on Facebook, LinkedIn, share with workmates, customers, etc.


The TechEd North America 2014 Hyper-V Amigo Selfie Game

The following dodgy looking people will be attending TechEd North America 2014 in Houston next week. They will be attending sessions, wandering the halls, and there’s even a speaker in the bunch. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take a “selfie” photograph with ALL FIVE of the below Hyper-V amigos, all of whom are Microsoft MVPs. Take each of the 5 photos and put them together in one image (easy to do in MS Paint) and then tweet me (@joe_elway) with the image.

Tip: the funnier, the better. The use of alcohol won’t hurt.

The best entry will win a copy of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation And Configuration Guide.



  • You cannot be a Microsoft MVP.
  • Photos must be taken between Monday 12th 2014 and Thursday 15h 2014.
  • You must have taken “selfie” photos with all 5 of the above Hyper-V amigos.
  • Both you and the Hyper-V amigo must be in each photo.
  • A member of the Hyper-V product group/team cannot win – that would be too easy! But funny entries are still welcome 🙂

May the looniest entrant win!

Please retweet this, post on facebook, post on any social media, and reblog – you have my permission to reuse the content of this post in the context of this game.

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Preparing For TechEd North America

I am taking a break from ironing and packing (and sometimes repeating the ironing phase) to share my thoughts on attending TechEd. I’ve been to a number of TechEd conferences over the years, mainly in Europe. Last year I decided to attend TechEd North America which was held in New Orleans, because of the larger scale of the event. I wanted to hear and see more, and network more than was possible in Europe. I’m preparing for TechEd North America 2014, which is being held in Houston next week. Here are my suggestions to having a good TechEd.


TechEd North America 2014 is running in Houston on May 12th to 15th

Use the Schedule Builder

There are lots of tracks and sessions to attend at TechEd, including community-based “birds of a feather”, formal breakout sessions, and hands-on labs. With so much to see, you need to plan, and the schedule builder enables that. You won’t be able to see every desired session in person, but never fear because you can download sessions afterwards.

Be aware that the schedule is subject to change. Sometimes sessions are dropped because of an issue with a speaker. There are times when sessions prove to be extremely popular and they are rescheduled for additional time slots. I have seen flyers handed out with updated schedules. The best way to keep up with events is to follow TechEd North America on Twitter (@TechEd_NA) or on Facebook.

If you’re attending one of the popular sessions, like those of a Mark Minasi or a Mark Russinovich, then get there early. Those rooms fill up quickly and you’ll regret missing and educational and entertaining presentation.

Take Notes – Lots of Notes

Your best friend at TechEd is a laptop or convertible tablet with a great battery. I have a Samsung ATIV Windows tablet that can go all day. I charge it overnight and I can note take on it without getting stressed about finding the all-too-rare free charging station. It docks into a keyboard, giving me a laptop experience, and there’s a stylus that allows me to sketch out diagrams.

You should plan on using OneNote when attending TechEd. I maintain a single notebook for technical events. I open up a tab for each event, and have a page for each day/session. Some companies will choose to send several people to a big event like TechEd. It makes no sense for them to all attend the same sessions; instead, attend different events and share notebooks. This will allow for knowledge sharing, not just between the attendees, but also with those who are back in the office.

I am attending as a member of the media with the Petri IT Knowledgebase, so I will also be taking photographs. I should use my Nokia Lumia 1020 for that, but often I want to quickly embed a photo into a document. The quickest way of doing that, without relying on conference Wi-Fi networks, is to use a compact camera that has an SD card. If your computer has an SD reader then you can quickly copy the photos without dealing with cables.

Meet the Experts

One of the big benefits of TechEd is that you can meet with product experts. You will never get an opportunity like this for the rest of the year; your local Microsoft subsidiary staff are typically not that well informed and this is the best time ask those difficult questions, make feature change requests, and work out problems on a whiteboard.

Each speaker will also be scheduled to staff product booths at one more times throughout the week. They might announce their schedule at the end of their session. Maybe you have a follow up question to ask them? This is the perfect chance to get an answer.


A lot of experts never get the chance to talk at TechEd, but they attend to learn about other content or to discover new solutions. Maybe you read their blog? Possibly you’ve bought their book? There’s a chance they can help you with something. Or more likely, you never even have heard of this person … yet. Get out of your shell and talk to the person beside you in the breakout room before the presentation. Talk to your neighbors during a meal. This is a great chance to learn something new and to make new contacts and friends.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

TechEd New Orleans was a marathon. The venue was a gigantic long hallway and it could take half an hour to get from one location to another. The venue in Houston looks very similar. Be prepared to clock up some miles.

There’s more to the Exhibition Hall than Swag

One of my reasons to attend TechEd is to tour the sponsors’ booths. Yes, they are there to get your contact details and try to sell you something. But many times I have found solutions to problems at these booths. Take the time to wander about. If you don’t know of a company, then look them up. You never know what you might find.

You’ll also find a few other things in the exhibition hall. Sometimes there are special events, competitions, and even some places to sit back and relax. This is where I will spend my time during those slots when there are no sessions on.

Leave Some Room in your Suitcase

OK, you are going to collect swag. Maybe those t-shirts are for the office or for painting your apartment, but you will collect some. You might even find a pop-up Microsoft store selling devices at discount rates. Those of us travelling from outside of the USA will be tempted by lower US prices to visit a local electronics superstore. There is a high probability that you will return home with more than you left with, so leave some space.

I will be live blogging on here as usual, and posting articles on Petri from the event.

Public Cloud Computing and Stickiness

Earlier today, I read a blog post (that I recommend) on about customer lock-in and cloud computing.  The author asked if a consumer of a cloud computing service should be concerned with what marketing people call “stickiness” and what we might call an exit strategy.  In other words, if I consume some cloud application or build an application on some platform/infrastructure, how easily can I get it from that service and move to another service?

No matter what cloud solution (or even basic web hosting to be honest) you choose for your online presence, there will always be some customisation required.  However, some require more than others.  An infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution using virtual machines with traditional operating systems will give the developers a pretty common experience across different vendors.  There might be different machine names, different patch levels, and so on, but in the end they’ll develop for IIS, .NET, SQL, Apache, or MySQL the same with company X as they do with company Y.  That’s because there is a common denominator across the IaaS providers which those providers cannot customise.

Some platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions offer what developers might consider some very useful features.  However, the vendor behind them will have customised the platform quite a bit to provide those features.  An application developed on this PaaS won’t be directly portable to another service without extensive re-engineering.

The same applies whether you are developing some great big online application, or storing business data in some online SRM software-as-a-service (SaaS).  Tsun Tzu wrote the following:

“To always have an exit strategy from vulnerable positions in which the army will find itself”.

He didn’t know it at the time but he put it perfectly.  If I’m deploying into a public cloud service then I want to know how I can get my application/data out of that service and into a competitor (or back internal) down the road.  Things might be just peachy right now; the SLA looks good, the price is right, regulations aren’t a problem, and going cloud aligns with company strategy.  But what if the battlefield shifts?  What if that public cloud service provider increases prices?  What if they don’t live up to their SLA and lose business for you?  What if state/industry regulations change and you need to relocate your data?  What if you need to change how business applications/data interact with each other?  How hard, and how expensive, will it be to move from A to B?

Will you have to hire consultants?  Will there be a third party solution?  Will there be a lot of manual work?  Just how long will it take to migrate?  How exactly will you exit from the public cloud service provider without wasting huge amounts of time and money?

The business people who are promoting cloud computing love this aspect of the service.  It’s referred to as “stickiness”.  For example, if you put all your customer data and workflows into some online CRM, using their features, and suddenly they jack up the price, what are you going to do?  If it was a phone service, you’d browse the alternatives, and move once your contract was up.  Your phone number can usually transfer with you.  Downtime?  Usually nil.  Cost?  Usually nil.  What about moving that CRM?  The truth is you will have to get consultants in to assess the situation, and then balance the cost of paying for their time to migrate you from A to B.  One could say the same is true of internally or on-site deployed applications.  True; but we tend to consider that factor and there are typically existing routes to manipulate the easily accessible data that resides in the data centre or computer room that you own.  It’s a whole other ball game when the data sits in some multi-tenant database that you have no direct access to and your going to be working with nasty dump files – kept deliberately that way to deter you from moving.  In the end, you’ll compare the cost of leaving that CRM SaaS with the cost savings of another provider and stay where you are.  Stickiness; there you have it!

Like the earlier referenced blog author said, I recommend that you do investigate an exit strategy for any public cloud deployment that you consider.  Remember that any USP (unique selling point) that a public cloud has equates to complexity in your exit strategy.

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Hyper-V Cross-Premises Cloud with OpenStack in the Pipes is working with Microsoft to integrated Hyper-V into their OpenStack project. 

“OpenStack is a collection of open source technology products delivering a scalable, secure, standards-based cloud computing software solution. OpenStack is currently developing two interrelated technologies: OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. OpenStack Compute is the internal fabric of the cloud creating and managing large groups of virtual private servers and OpenStack Object Storage is software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store terabytes or even petabytes of data”.

My guess is that we’re seeing an implementation of OVF, the Open Virtualization Format.  This provides for a portable package containing a virtual machine and its metadata.  This means we move one step closer to interoperable clouds – the subject of a presentation I did 2 days ago at Eurocloud Ireland.

Microsoft calls this sort of this a cross-premises cloud.  That means your private cloud (Hyper-V with SCVMM and SCVMM SSP 2.0) can integrate with Azure “virtual machine hosting” (Bob Muglia @PDC09) and other public clouds.

Think about it … an app developer likes “the cloud” because they don’t want to care about the infrastructure.  They just consume as required.  But they still need to care about which cloud they use.  In the near future, they’ll just work in “the clouds”, just using whatever cloud is cheapest and, hopefully (pending licensing and hosting company cooperating) be able to move VMs or application components between clouds as they see fit.  We may even see the emergence of cloud computing brokers just like we have insurance brokers now.  You just pay them to find you the cheapest and most suitable service and they do the moving on a day-by-day or month-by-month basis.  That’ll probably need some sort of white/black list for service providers that you set up.

BTW, this is my first post with Windows Live Writer 2011.  It’s got the ribbon interface and is very like Office/Windows 7.

Defining Cloud Computing

One of the most infuriation things about cloud computing has been the marketing that wraps it up.  There are a couple of international service providers (both having datacenters here in Ireland) who pretend that they invented “the cloud” when they sell it.  There are plenty of marketing people who try to define “the cloud” as being what they sell.  It’s one of those fluffy things that is constantly changing shape as it floats past us.

I was reading a story on Network World where a BMC executive said “It’s fundamentally that the cloud focuses on delivering services. I think this sometimes gets lost in a lot of the discussion around cloud computing. Everybody’s talking about infrastructure and hypervisors and virtualization, all of the components. At the end of the day, what customers really care about is getting secure, reliable, trusted services, whether that’s from their internal IT department or from the external broker to their IT department, or from an external provider directly”.

I like that comment.  He also said that he likes the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition.  It’s a simple 2 page document that starts with: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction”.  It goes on to list different components, architectures and delivery models that could be considered a part of or type of cloud computing.

What we need to remember is:

  • It’s all about delivering a service.
  • There are many varieties.
  • Don’t get caught up in the marketing crappola.