Is There A Silver Lining To This COVID-19 Pandemic Cloud?

The world is pretty frakked up right now. Most of us are in lock-down and are trying to keep ourselves, vulnerable friends/family, and our communities safe from the virus. That means that, for the first time for many, they are working from home (WFH). Don’t close the browser tab – this is not another “advice on how to work from home” post. Personally, I find the process of the WFH bit easy – what’s hard is not leaving the house and trying to work while the kids run amok.

Instead, I want to discuss the possible outcomes of this crisis to our working habits. Think bank a month or so ago. Most of you were in the rat race every morning and evening, commuting on packed roads or stuff public transport, to offices in locations that were convenient for no one. You had the technology to work from home, heck, the boss probably did that every day, but a lack of trust by the boss or the HR Gestapo meant that you had to march like a nice little drone into the office every day. If I was working for one of the companies in the city centre, I would have to spend 3-4 hours a day commuting by public transport from my home that is approximately 38 kilometres from there. Stupid right? Instead, I work as a consultant for a Norwegian company, from the comfort of my home in Ireland, working hand-in-hand with customers and I have spent all of 4 days in Norway for in-person meetings in the last 16 months. That’s because “we have the technology” … but so do most companies that choose to not use it.

The Cloud is cool because it’s everywhere. If I have Internet access then I can use it. I know there have been capacity issues but:

  • The spike in demand was unprecedented and unexpected
  • No cloud or hosting company keeps 100% or more of free capacity sitting idle for “just in case” … otherwise, costs would be double.

Using Office 365, Teams, other SaaS and RDS/WVD/Citrix we can do our entire job from home – assuming that you are an office worker. The current crisis has forced us to do just that! So why do we commute like good little worker bees into that office every day? It makes no sense! HR are a big part of the blame. I don’t like HR people – I can’t stand them, actually. They cannot trust employees to work from home. But I wonder how many businesses are operating OK right now? Things might not be perfect but I bet that people are adapting and finding ways to get things done. Owners of small/medium businesses might have the same doubts, but are there employees standing up, and getting the job done when the business is at risk? These are the times when you can find the keepers, the staff that are self-motivated, innovative, and should be rewarded when things normalise.

Yes, I know, this won’t suit all types of staff/services. But it will suit the typical office worker.

The M50/M4, which is normally clogged like an obese person’s artery, taken at 11:25 am on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

Things will get back to some semblance of normality eventually. I’m not going to say when – it might be a month, it might be next year. But do we really have to go back to the old routine again? Can’t employees be empowered to work from home? Can office space demands be reduced and the rent savings converted into WFH allowances for equipment, etc? Can governments take environmental and public transport/road savings and convert them into tax breaks/grants for building out home offices? Won’t the reduce commuting of office workers reduce the loads on already-stressed transport systems? Won’t the environment continue to improve, as it has as slightly done in the last month? We all know that something must be done to change the direction of climate change and this might be the kick in the tail that we needed. And won’t businesses continue to run, with the already-identified staff that boost that business?

If you’re a business leader or owner that has employees that can work from home, I think you should take the current provisional systems and convert them into improved (from the learnings) permanent systems. You’ve been forced to evolve for the lock-down, so learn from it, and make your staff happier, improve the environment, make your company more attractive to future employees, and maybe save a fortune in office rent.

Happy New Year

Hi all,

I’m winding down for Christmas so I wanted to wrap up the blog for the rest of the year.

2015 has been an amazing year for me. Tech was fun – Windows 10 came along and we got to start playing with WS2016. I did lots more work with Azure, and had the pleasure of seeing that work turn into adoption – even if it’s just the trickle ahead of the flood. I spoke at Ignite – finally achieving the ambition of speaking at a big Microsoft conference in the USA.

It was great to see friends from afar at the various conference and user group events, including MVP Summit, E2EVC, Future Decoded, and Experts Live.

But most important of all, I got married to the amazing Nicole, and became a dad to a bouncing cart-wheeling 8 year old girl.

How do I top 2015? 2016 is shaping up to be a different kind of fantastic 😀 I hope you’ve all have a great Christmas (or whatever you celebrate or do this season) and that 2016 will be a great year for you.


Ireland Has Appointed A New Interim CIO

The Irish government has appointed Michael McGrath as interim chief information officer for the Irish government. McGrath replaces epic failure, Bill McCluggage. McCluggages big successes include ….


Less than nothing.

In fact, the Irish government just signed a €3,300,000.00 customer support contract with Microsoft for continued “support” of Windows XP after the April 8th deadline.

Let me put it this way. If you’re the CIO of a large organization, and you were not aware of the firm, not changing ever, deadline of April 8th, then you were beyond ineffective. If you did nothing to get off of Windows XP then you were, in my opinion, negligent, more so if your organisation was licensed for Software Assurance under a government enterprise agreement.

It’s worse than that. Like most governments (probably worse really) the Irish government is littered with redundant IT departments and installations. We have our wasteful projects that never end and are the delight (or should that be Deloitte?) of the consulting community. There should be a government cloud with redundant locations. That should have started building years ago.

What’s been done?


The waste continues.

Let’s see how quickly McGrath gets that cloud project started and the Windows 7/8.1 migration started … or will he be yet-another-crony?

Employers Are Clueless About Hiring IT Staff

You’d think that after all these years, considering how critical and pervasive IT has become, that employers would understand that:

  • IT is complex: there is more to IT services and infrastructure than clicking Install in an app store.
  • No one person can know everything: Hell, no one person can know all of System Center!!!! (You hear that Microsoft certification process managers?!?!?!)
  • Good people are required: There are lots of “cowboys” out there who can do a shit job, but you need good people to do a good job.
  • Good people are rare, and therefore expensive: You’d think that business people would understand the rules of supply and demand.

But, it appears that lessons have not been learned.

Exhibit A:

Here’s a tweet from earlier today by MVP Didier Van Hoye:


Yes, some employer wants a person with little to no experience to decide and plan the future of their IT, and therefore the ability of their business to function. That’s smart … no … that’s moronic.

Exhibit B:

Some company (I haven’t bothered to figure out who yet) in Dublin (Ireland) is recruiting for a cloud consultant. I was spam-emailed last week, I’ve seen adverts on LinkedIn, and I’ve been cold called by head hunters. This employer is seeking a unicorn, bigfoot, or abominable snowman type of creature. They want a consultant who knows EVERYTHING:

  • Hyper-V, vSphere, etc
  • System Center, VMware’s suite, etc
  • Hardware and storage
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • I think there also might have been some networking stuff in the laundry list

And that person will earn the princely sum of €55K per year. Firstly, this person does not exist. Secondly, €55K is the going rate for a mid-level consultant that has a few of those skills.

The world still needs to learn that IT pro staff are not glorified cleaners. It’s not like we can go to college for 2 years to learn how to balance or cook the books and we’re set for the rest of our careers.

Why Most Windows Store Apps Suck Donkey Ba…

I really want Windows 8 to succeed.  But marketing fluff aside, it’s struggling.  The media are relishing in hammering Windows 8 on a daily basis.  Retailers are more interested in what Android devices they can stock than in what Windows 8 devices are on tap.  Lack of device availability (seems OK in the USA now, but still not great here) by the OEMs hasn’t helped.  The built-in apps in Windows 8 don’t help the cause.  And the apps in the store sure don’t give us much to hope for.

I don’t want to be Mr. Negative.  Let me offer examples of good apps:

Shark Dash


This is the one app that I have pad for in the Windows Store.  I love it.  You stretch a rubber shark to fire him around the bath tub, with a primary mission of eating the rubber duckies and a secondary mission of collecting the coins.  My colleague uninstalled it from her machine because it was too addictive.

Note that the game fills the screen.  It makes use of touch for interacting with the shark and scrolling the multi-sized bath tubs.  And it looks amazing on a 27” touch screen Smile

Armed happens to be another great example of how to get this right.  There are some, like Nightmares From The Deep that are very pretty, and Hydro Thunder Hurricane that has console quality graphics (but at a steep price).

Sky News


It’s not easy praising something that is owned by Rupert Murdoch, but the Sky News (UK) app is a very good news app.  Once again, you use touch in a screen filled interface.  News is presented in text/image, recorded video clips, and a live feed from the Sky News channel.

Star Chart uses the entire screen to allow you to explore the cosmos.  Netflix is a superb implementation, with smooth animation that puts the website to shame.

OK.  How do apps get it wrong?

Not Using the Screen Space

Exhibit A, your honour, is Twitter’s brand new app.  Imagine this on a normal 22” monitor.  I have a column of information that is around 25% of the total real estate.


Seriously?  That’s the best that Twitter can do?  Please don’t bother informing me about the various other Twitter apps.  I’ve tried them.  They are all $hit. 

What should a Twitter app look like?  Your honour, please turn your eyes towards the Tweetdeck app running in the Chrome browser.  Notice how the various columns are right there, for the user.  The user doesn’t switch between single columns that waste 75% of the screen.

Yes, I am aware that Twitter now owns Tweetdeck.  Their Windows Store App “effort” shows just how little they care.

Useless Boxes

This is almost every information app in the Windows Store.  I’m only presenting The Register because it’s the only one of these that I have installed.


These apps are a lazy implementation.  I don’t know how they operate under the hood, but they appear as if each box is an RSS entry from the original website.

Want to see how to get this right?  Have a look at Appy Geek, an IT news aggregator.

It Just Doesn’t Refresh Like It’s Supposed To

I give you a heinous villain.  Standing in the dock now … is the built-in People app.


What I like about this app is the potential: aggregate all of your various social networks and contacts into a design-for-touch UI.  It should be the app I use the most on my Windows 8 tablet.  But it is not.  Instead I have Facebook open in IE (Metro) and Tweetdeck open in Chrome.  How … inefficient.

Why don’t I use People?  When I browse into What’s New, there’s a wait for it to load.  Up comes all the posts.  OK so far … apart from the lengthy wait.  Maybe I’ll open IE via a link to read something.  I come back to People a while later and there’s no new posts.  Huh!  Refresh reveals nothing.  But what if I double check?  If I open the Facebook website I’ll find newer posts.  If I browse back to the main page in People and back into What’s New then the new posts appear.  Ugh!  Why bother!?

MetroTwit (a hardened villain, your honour) falls into this bucket.

It Crashes More Than A Bandicoot

I call for the death sentence for MetroTwit, your honour.  This vile creature sins in so many ways.

MetroTwit was the app of choice on the PC.  It became my TweetDeck replacement after Twitter decided to geld their new acquisition.  The desktop app sucks on a touch UI, being sluggish, and it’s a resource hog on my Atom tablet.  I was delighted to hear that MetroTwit would have a multi-column Windows Store App.  And then I tried it.

It wastes space.  It is nothing like the desktop version.  It doesn’t refresh dependably.  And it crashes.  I can make it crash at will.  In the morning, I’ll scroll back though my Twitter feed to see what I’ve missed.  In any other Twitter app, I can go back 8-12 hours with no problems to see where I’d left off the previous day.  But if I go back more than a few pages in MetroTwit (an each page is only a handful of tweets thanks to the wasteful UI) then *bang* it’s gone with no explanation.

Where Is The Synchronisation?

At the original Build we were told that developers would be able to synchronize their apps between our (up to) 5 devices.  I’d love that.  I have a work laptop, a work PC, my personal tablet, and my personal ultrabook.  I’d like to sync via SkyDrive.

Some apps get this right.  OneNote MX is a perfect example.  Edit a note and it syncs immediately.  Some, but not many, games do this too.  But not My Country.  My Country, a Sim City style of game, broke my heart.  I had spent weeks building up my city.  Then one day it crashed and reset itself.  Had the game synced via the cloud then I might have had some way to get back my progress.  Maybe I could have continued on another device.  Alas, it did not and I immediately uninstalled the game.


Every app store is filled with crap apps (cra-apps).  Unfortunately there are so few of the established brands in the Windows Store that these cra-apps seems to dominate.  How many stick men or dancing sprites do we really need?  How many Justin Beiber info sites do we need?  How many quizzes are required? 


The focus has been on quantity rather than on quality.  There are competitions to encourage newbies to get apps published.  Where is the encouragement to get Tweetdeck, Facebook, NFL Gamepass, and all the other big names in there?  I couldn’t care less if there were 1,000,000 apps in the store.  I’ll only ever use a certain number, but they have to be the right apps.  I got over sprites when I graduated from the Commodore 64.

Desktop Trash

Wild Tangent, I’m looking at you.  Let me get this very clear: Microsoft should not allow desktop apps to be published/sold via the Windows Store.  Microsoft should also limit the number of apps that can be published in a day/month by any one person/company.  Wild Tangent is polluting the Windows Store with $hite.  It serves the marketing people well because it boosts the numbers of apps in the store. 

Note: Windows RT users won’t notice this because desktop apps don’t appear in the Windows RT store app.

They Just Didn’t Try

Why is it that some apps are much better on every other platform?  Take Kindle for example.  I’d rather read a book on my iPhone than use Amazon’s app on Windows 8.  It’s a poor implementation compared to what is available on every other OS.  It feels like they took the poor desktop app and thought “that’ll do”.  Page turning, the one thing you do the most in Kindle, is nasty in the Windows Store App.

If a consumer goes into a store and tries a Windows 8 app then the natural reaction will be to compare and contrast it what they’ve used on iOS or Android.  Let’s take Zinio (magazine subscription/reading) for example.  There is no attempt to hide Zinio from you in the Apple Store.  Zinio is region crippled in the Windows Store; I got around that by temporarily setting my computer’s location to the USA.  Then I logged in to access my existing subscriptions.  No matter that I did, I couldn’t access more than the last 6 issues of a subscription.  I have no such problems on other platforms.  To the uneducated consumer the reason is simple: “Windows 8 sucks”.  It never crosses their mind to blame the app.

And let’s not forget the reliability of the app.  Back to Kindle: I have a situation where if I read a bit of a book on another device (such as my Kindle reader or iPhone) and sync, I cannot sync to the new position on my Windows 8 tablet.  The app just sits there forever, trying to sync, and never succeeds, fails, nor times out.  Uninstalling and reinstalling the app, followed by downloading the book again allows me to sync … until I dare to read a few pages on another device again.  Ugh!

Like I said, I really want Windows 8 to succeed.  But the desired apps and app quality is just not there.  Until there’s a shift from quantity to quality, I just don’t see Windows 8 having a chance in the consumer space, and IDC might end up being right about the future of this new tablet platform.  Consumers don’t care about the OS.  They don’t use the OS.  Users want apps, and the apps and app quality they want just aren’t there – which they can quickly see when they try devices out in the store (assuming the store bothers to power up or Internet-connect the display Windows devices in the same way that Apple demands for their devices on the next table).

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VMLimited Special Forces Go To War

I had a very good laugh yesterday.  I was sitting in a conference room, waiting for the first session to start when this happened:

The guy (who is pretty well connected in business) that is sitting in front of me turned around and said:

I’m guessing by the Irish accent that you’re Aidan Finn.

I respond that I am … waiting cautiously for what comes next …

I want to shake the hand of the guy that caused VMware to create a team to attack him.

Oh did I laugh!  To think that Tad and his dark army of the past had to form a special forces team to misquote my blog, take facts out of context, put it all in their “independent” blog, and spam Twitter with their propaganda and trolling “you suck” tweets.  By the way, boys, this only shows how weak you feel right now.

Unlike Tad who works in VMware’s marketing and compete unit, I don’t work for Microsoft.  I’ll call Microsoft on the bad stuff they do, and trust me, I get lots of interesting emails and phone calls as a result of that.  I am independent.  You might disagree with my comments or assessments, but at least they are not those that my employer told me to post Smile

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Wait A Few Months Before Switching To Tablets – Irish Parliament Doesn’t Want To

A lot of organisations are interested in introducing tablets as information consuming devices or as laptop alternatives.  That’s understandable.  But if you know that Windows 8, an application platform that spans PC, tablet (pro and consumer), and phone, is on the way, why would you rush through an introduction now?

19/4/2012 Fiscal Stability Treatys Campaigns

Maybe we should ask the gombeen on the left (above) that question.  He’s Enda Kenny, Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland.  The Oireachtas (Irish parliament) has reportedly launched a tender to acquire tablets for every TD (member of parliament) to play work with.

Huh!  OK, I understand using tablets.  But why now.  Why not wait until September when the options will double with new Windows 8 devices.  Application development costs would be reduced with only 1 platform needing to be supported.  But that’s not how Irish politicians and civil service decision makers think.  No wonder Irish tax payers are being screwed over by the political and banking classes.

Poor Little Blog Copiers!

For those of you who have criticised my reaction to blog copiers then I ask you this …

How many of you spend countless hours of your personal time at night and at the weekends learning this stuff and sharing it freely, then to find someone taking credit for your work?  How many of you spent 6 months writing a book to find it on warez sites 2 weeks after it was published?

Sure, I reacted very strongly.  Absolutely I did.  And you know why?  These people who blatantly copy other someone else’s work to get hits on their sites should have more than enough common sense to know it is wrong.  The previous individual was in the IT business and in his 50’s or 60’s.  The latest “poor baby” is in university, and even ignored the copyright I now place on every single blog post.  They know better and still feel OK with ripping off other people’s work.

If you’re having pity on criminals then I’m sure there’s some poor misunderstood gang members on a local street corner you can go adopt.  Come talk to me after you’ve hugged a hoodie in your home.

Until then, if I catch ‘em, I’ll cripple ‘em with the truth.

Elias Khnaser, Honorary vmLimited Ambassador, Talks About Shared Nothing Live Migration

Back in 2009, Elias Khnaser posted a very badly informed article on InformationWeek with on why you shouldn’t deploy Hyper-V.  I gave it a good bashing, tearing down his points one by one with actual facts.  Well, just in time to be hired by Tad, Elias is back and at it again!

First off, let’s look at the title of the article:

Shared-Nothing Live Migration: Cool, But Not a Game-Changer

Hmm, I have to disagree.  No one else does this right now and it’s a real problem for some.  Think of a large data centre going through a hardware or network refresh.  They can’t afford down time while the export, carry, and import VMs.  They want to be able to move those VMs with the minimum of downtime, and maybe even eliminate downtime.  Shared Nothing Live Migration achieves this.

… entertain this scenario for me: a VM with 1 TB virtual disk … wait, Eli, you are not realistic, you might be thinking … fair enough — what about a VM with 500GB virtual disks? Moving that amount of data over a 1 GB Ethernet or even a 10 GB Ethernet is not quick or feasible in most environments …

Firstly, the vast majority of VMs are small.  And while Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V can support 64 TB VHDX, they will the tiny minority.  And to be honest, not only will these size VMs be few and far between, but I’d expect them to run on clustered hosts with shared storage so Share Nothing Live Migration wouldn’t be needed … except for well planned and scheduled migrations to another part of the data centre.

If you do have lots of 1 TB VMs to move around, then you’re a very large data centre and you’ll have lots of budget for big networking such as Infiniband with RDMA to speed things along.  For the rest of us:

  • DCB and converged fabrics
  • Everything from 1 GbE to Infiniband
  • RDMA
  • QoS
  • Many ways to architect our networking based on our needs

In my opinion, the market that will make most use of Shared Nothing Live Migration are the public clouds or hosting companies.  To keep costs down, many of them are using non-clustered hosts.  And from time to time, they want to replace hardware … a planned operation.  They can do this with this new Hyper-V feature.  And I can speak from experience: most hosted VMs are very small and would cause no issue to move, even over a 1 GbE network.

… this would only be used as a maintenance technique which is what it was slated for anyway.

Of course!  As a virtualisation expert, Elias, I’d trust that you know the difference between high availability (HA – normally reactive) and LIve Migration (LM – normally proactive and planned).  But if one is stuck with working with vSphere standard, then one probably never gets to implement these features because of their high vTax.

To think that you will constantly be copying large virtual disks between hosts is not practical and is not scalable.

Really?  Elias have you even looked at why Shared Nothing Live Migration exists?  It’s not there for load balancing or as an alternative to Failover Clustering HA.  It is there to allow us to do strategic moves of virtual workloads from one cluster to another (or a standalone host), one standalone host to another (or a cluster), from one part of the data centre to another, or even from a private cloud to a public one.  If you’re doing this all of the time with all of your VMs then you need to take a long look at yourself and your planning.

… you cannot use high availability with this feature, and that makes sense since you need a point of reference for HA to work. How can you recover a VM when its files are on the host that failed?

You’re confused and you’re wrong:

  1. You don’t need Shared Nothing Live Migration within a cluster because, strangely enough, there is shared storage in a cluster. With the VMs storage on a CSV, you don’t need to move the VHD(X) from one host to another, or from one storage device to another, to LM a VM from one host to another.
  2. You can use Shared Nothing Live Migration to move a workload from/to a cluster.

Live Migration (proactive VM move) is not HA (reactive failover).  Yes, LM has been separated from Failover Clustering, but they are certainly not mutually exclusive.  And anyone who sees Shared Nothing Live Migration as an alternative to HA needs to reconsider their career path.

I expect that when VMware does feature catch up with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Elias might have a change of heart regarding Shared Nothing vMotion Winking smile  But until then, I expect we need to beware of bogus nastiness and stay vmLimited.

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Caught A Guy Copying My Blog

I decided to scroll down through the posts in my pinned Hyper-V Twitter search just before I went to bed last night.  And there I found some guy (Wagner Pilar, Brazil, with his Twitter ID claiming he was a NOS3 –or-something lead in Dell) I never heard of posting about Windows Server 8 Hyper-V Virtual Fibre Channel.  I wondered if he was linking to my post so I had a look.  Nope, it was to his on WordPress blog.  But the article looked very familiar.  I ran a translation and it was my blog word-for-word with a small piece removed.  This cheeky frakker was ripping of my blog and letting people think it was his own.

I tweeted the offender and CC’d @Dell seeing as he claiming he was working for them.

Not long after, he started following me on Twitter, maybe hoping I’d follow him back – arse to that!  Then he pinged me, hoping I’d be OK with a credit.  Again, arse!  He can link to my article, but not rip it off.  It was too late.  He sinned, now he had to be punished.  I demanded the removal of the post.

Another few messages via different mechanisms went out to Dell to let them know a person was using a profile with his relationship with them be used in this way.  I am evil that way Smile

This morning I awoke to find that:

  • He had locked his Twitter handle
  • He had deleted/disabled his entire blog

Don’t worry Wagner, I’m sure Dell know someone in Twitter and WordPress if they want to investigate if their employees are plagiarising someone while showing their employment status with Dell in their profile.  Or of course, they could just search the Google cache.  Compare that with my original post, called Windows Server 8 Hyper-V Virtual Fibre Channel.


Ah, don’t you love how the Internet never forgets?

I’m not precious about my stuff. I’m far from being the only blogger on Hyper-V.  Plenty of others are busy in their communities, and I love to find them and recommend them for MVP status if they’re putting in the hours and showing the expertise, especially if they are original in how they do it.  I was delighted to spend some time last week with some people I nominated who do just that.  Like me, they found a niche, and did the work.  If someone is doing their own thing and doing it well, I’m happy to link to them and see them “get theirs”.  They, like me, spend time learning and writing.  We don’t make money from this, but we don’t want to be ripped off either.

Here’s how he could have done everything correctly and I wouldn’t have broken his balls over this:

  1. Write a blog post that links to and credits my blog post
  2. Quote small pieces from my original post, and add his own original comments
  3. Not rip me off by just copying the entire post – and in his case translating it, thinking that Google translator wouldn’t be able to figure it out.

We swim in a very small pool.  If I hadn’t found you, one of my friends would have.  Given how the blog-o-sphere works, I’m sure there are others doing this, and I’m sure I’ll get to kick someone else in the virtual nads too.