This week has so far been about courses. Well on Tuesday it was the Microsoft IT Roadshow in Edinburgh that I trundled off to. The course was all about Microsoft showing off its new Server and Cloud offerings and it promised to be very interesting.
First all the boring stuff. The hospitality was superb (did you expect anything else) with both food and drink in plentiful supply throughout the day. I was so full after lunch I really could have done with a lie down!!
Now onto the interesting stuff. Microsoft has recently tried to positioned itself as one of the leading cloud providers in the industry and is heading full steam ahead into the cloud. They feel that this is where the industry is heading (I agree with them to a point) and so their newest server offering Windows Server 2012 is all about virtualization and cloud computing and how to manage them successfully from one platform. The capabilities that Server 2012 offers is staggering and I was very impressed. This is coming from a Linux guy too!!
I currently run Oracle Virtualbox for my virtualization needs so one of the main objectives for me was to see what Hyper V offers. Hyper V is a completely different beast to Virtualbox. It looks very easy to use and has a lot more features than Virtualbox and all I need to do now is learn it. Looks like I am going to have to buy some new hardware to run it on as I currently don’t have a spare 64 bit machine lying around. Sorry kids it is back to spam sandwiches!!
Another cloud offering we were introduced too was Windows Azure. I will be honest and say I had never really paid attention to Windows Azure in the past as I have tended to use Amazon Web Services instead for testing software. Both offer a pay as you go service for any extra server capacity that your network might need along with the option of either Linux or Windows servers. Both are very powerful platforms.
One thing I kept seeing time and again throughout the day was Linux. During the demonstrations there were Linux virtual machines in both Hyper V and Windows Azure so I am guessing that Microsoft has finally come around to the fact that some businesses chose to use Linux rather than Windows (especially on servers). What Microsoft is banking on is that you use them to manage ALL your virtual servers whether they run Windows or not. From what I saw they are capable of doing just that.
After lunch we were introduced to System Center 2012 and some of its components (Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager to name just two). This was a very heavy session (boy did my head hurt) and all I can say is that you can manage just about anything on your network (inc iOS and Android software deployment) with System Center 2012. The type of clients I have will never use System Center 2012 and it is definitely aimed at the enterprise.
One of the surprises of the day was the Surface RT tablet I had a play with during lunch. I like!! It is a cracking piece of kit and I want one. There I have said it. Yes it is restricted to software from the Windows store but it comes with Office 2013 installed and has the ability to print. The keyboard (optional) was nicely laid out and even the mouse pad worked. Only the high price is holding me back form buying one. If they dropped the price they would sell a shed more of these I am sure but at this price (£400 +) they will struggle.
So what did I think overall?
I was surprised that Office 365 wasn’t mentioned especially with Microsoft marching full steam into the cloud and I was also surprised they only mentioned Windows Server 2012 Essentials in passing. Yes a lot of the software on show is aimed straight at the enterprise but Microsoft can’t forget the small businesses who don’t need virtualization rights or want to keep their stuff inhouse (lack of broadband speed anyone?) and for these Windows Server 2012 Essentials will be the software of choice. Most of my customers (if not all) would probably choose Windows Server 2012 Essentials when Small Business Server 2011 reaches end of life.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Surface RT and Hyper V and it will be these snippets I will take away from the course and learn more about.
About the Author
Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.
For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.