Symantec and Citrix working together


Veritas Virtual Infrastructure (VxVI) is the new product forged from the combined fires of Symantec & Citrix as their entry into the world of virtual server management. This combination of Veritas Storage Foundation & Citrix XenServer is able to manage 1000′s of VM’s and all their associated storage from a single interface.

It will offer “direct control of block storage from a guest virtual server, block storage functionality, including mirroring across heterogeneous arrays, and SAN-based multi-pathing for data availability.” XenServer enables the sharing of common boot image across multiple virtual servers to help streamline the provisioning process.

“We worked with Citrix at the engineering level to make VxVI more than just a collection of bundled stand-alone products,” says Sean Derrington, Symantec’s director of storage management and high availability.

VxVI will allow users to manage servers and storage from one screen and perform advanced management tasks, including mirroring and striping LUNs, dynamic reconfiguration of layouts, or copying and moving volumes around from subsystem to subsystem.

Veritas Virtual Infrastructure should be available in Q4 2008 and is expected to cost $4595 for a dual processor server.

More info on this, and related subjects can be found at InfoStor

Microsoft Windows Cloud


Microsoft Windows “Cloud” was mentioned by MS CEO Steve Ballmer at their S+S (Software Plus Services) seminar in London today.

“We need a new operating system designed for the cloud and we will introduce one in about four weeks, we’ll even have a name to give you by then. But let’s just call it for the purposes of today ‘Windows Cloud’,” said Ballmer.

More info will be revealed at the PDC, which takes place the end of this month in LA.

More info can be found at:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/01/steve_ballmer_windows_cloud/

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 released


Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 has been released.

“What are you talking about? It’s been out for months!” you say…nearly but not quite.

This is the standalone Hyper-V server, so while it includes the core parts of the kernel as related to Hyper-V, there are no other roles available for installation. This is a pure Hypervisor that site on bare metal, and allows you to run up to 192 VM’s on a single machine!!

It doesn’t have much of a GUI (Graphical User Interface)-bit of an old school vibe but hey, that’s cool! Also, you can manage it from a Windows Server 2008 installation or indeed a Vista SP1 machine with the Remote Server Admin Tools Pack installed.

Microsoft expect the main uses for this product to be:

  • Test and Development
  • Basic Server Consolidation
  • Branch Office Consolidation
  • Hosted Desktop Virtualization (VDI)
  • You can download HYper-V Server 2008 here

    and

    More info can be found over at Matt “VirtualBoy” McSpirit’s blog here

    Microsoft Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008


    Microsoft Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008 is set to be released on 12//11/08 (12th November), along with Small Business Server (SBS) 2008.

    What is it?

    Windows Essential Business Server 2008 provides a unified Administration Console to manage an integrated IT infrastructure with the latest versions of management, messaging, and security server technologies.

    EBS 2008 is aimed at medium sized businesses and the aim is that it will make your infrastructure more efficeint, cost effective and easier to manage. There are 2 version of EBS 2008..

    Standard Edition includes:

    • 3 x Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
    • 1 x Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Standard Edition
    • 1 x Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007
    • 1Yr subscription to Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange
    • 1Yr subscription to Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway, Medium Business Edition

    The Premium Edition includes all the above as well as:

    • 1 x Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition (making a total of 4)
    • 1 x SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition

    From a licensing point of view, EBS allows up to 300 users and there is a single Client Access Licence (CAL) that gives access to all the included programmes.

    Licensing:

    There are two types of CAL for EBS 2008. Standard CALs for all users/devices connecting to any part of the EBS network and Premium CALS for any users/devices connecting to the PREMIUM features of EBS (so SQL Server).

    Another change is that CALs will be available individually as well as in 5, 20 & 50 packs. The ability to purchase CALs on their own makes it more cost effective when adding new members of staff.

    One thing to note is that you are NOT able to downgrade the components of EBS 2008 to previous versions. To this end, Microsoft have made SQL 2005 available as an EBS 20008 component to prevent any possible issues with customized Line-Of-Business (LOB) applications. This will last for approx. 1 year.

    EBS 2008 aims to make medium sized businesses more efficient and cost effective, and helps to reduce the workload for system administrators. The inclusion of System Center Essentials means that admins will be able to track assets, install patches and updates, deploy software packages and more all from the EBS Central Admin Console.

    Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2007 Licensing


    As a follow on to my MOSS 2007 post, here’s some information on the various versions and how they are licensed…hope it helps!

    The main and most common edition is:

    Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007: This is licenced with a single server version and then 2 editions of Client Access Licences (CAL)-Standard and Enterprise. It is the CALs that determine which features are avilable to the users and they are “additive” meaning you must have both the Standard AND Enterprise CALs to receive the Enterprise features, which include:

    • Line of Business Data Search
    • Business process and forms capabilities (such as Web-based Microsoft Office InfoPath forms)
    • Business intelligence capabilities (including report center sites, the ability to build interactive dashboards, and Excel Services)

     Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Internet sites: This version is licensed per server only and is used for running extranets and internet sites. This means it cannot be accessed by internal employees “creating, sharing, or collaborating on content which is for internal use only”. As there are no CALs required, this edition includes the functionality of both the Standard AND Enterprise editions.

    Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007: This licensed via the Server/CAL model so each client accessing the server needs a CAL.

    Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 for Internet sites: As with MOSS 2007, this is per server licensing only, cannot be used for internal only projects and includes full Enterprise functionality.

    Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007


    Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007 is one of the most exciting, and the fastest selling, Microsoft products of ALL time. Sharepoint can be used for so many things in so many ways by so many people-it’s highly functional, easy to use and extremely versatile.

    My aim with this post is to show you what Sharepoint is, how it works and most importantly, how it can benefit your business.

    Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 gives companies a single, integrated location where employees can collaborate with team members across the globe, locate internal resources, manage content/workflow and analyse Business Intelligence data and much more.

    Collaboration: Allow teams to work together effectively, collaborate on and publish documents, maintain task lists, implement workflows, and share information through the use of wikis and blogs.
     
    Portals: Create a personal MySite portal to share information with others and personalize the user experience and content of an enterprise Web site based on the user’s profile.
     
    Enterprise Search: Quickly and easily find people, expertise, and content in business applications.
     
    Enterprise Content Management: Create and manage documents, records, and Web content.
     
    Business Process and Forms Create workflows and electronic forms to automate and streamline your business processes.
     
    Business Intelligence Allow information workers to easily access critical business information, analyze and view data, and publish reports to make more informed decisions.
     

    One of MOSS 2007′s big advantages is it’s tight integration with the Office 2007 family. There are countless ways that the two can work together, but here are a few examples to give you an idea.

    Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007:  Create a library of PowerPoint slides that can be shared with other users on an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site.
    Microsoft Office Access 2007:  Take a SharePoint list offline and use the reporting features in Office Access 2007 to view the data and create reports while travelling. Forms and reports that use the SharePoint list are fully interactive — and Office Access 2007 can later synchronize the local list with the online list when you bring your laptop back online.
    Microsoft Office Outlook 2007:  Take document libraries offline. SharePoint folders are displayed just as other Outlook folders are.
    Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007:  Design browser-compatible form templates, publish them to an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site, and enable them for use in a Web browser.
    Microsoft Office Excel 2007:  Save worksheets on a SharePoint site so that users can access them by using a browser. You can use these worksheets to maintain and efficiently share one central, up-to-date version, while helping to protect any proprietary information, such as financial models, that is embedded in the worksheet.
    Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007:  Create and customize Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites and workflows. Create your own master pages and content pages, so that your site has a consistent look and feel, or customize sites by using the latest ASP.NET technology, established Web standards such as Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) code, and cascading style sheets.

    A good introduction to MOSS 2007 and some of the things you can do can be found at:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointserver/HA101732171033.aspx

     There can be confusion around the differences between Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) and Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007, hopefully I’ll be able to clear that up here.

    WSS is included free of charge with Windows Server 2003/2008 and provides low level collaboration functionality to keep workforces together and to help them work efficiently. It is on this base that MOSS 2007 is built.

    For a complete breakdown of the differences between the two products, please visit:

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/d/c/1dc632e8-71e1-466f-8a2f-c940f1438e0a/SharePointProductsComparison.xls

    and download the Product Comparison Chart. A quick overview of the differences can be seen below:

    A brief overview of the differences between WSS & MOSS 2007

     Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Document: Transform Your Business With SharePoint Products and Technologies: Download whitepaper here.  

     You can download a trial version here or use the VHD files from my other post here.

    Once you’ve tested Sharepoint and decided it’s just the ticket to help your organisation move forward, you’ll need to decide which version you need..so here’s my

    Guide to MOSS 2007 Licensing:

    Symantec Backup Exec 12.5


    Symantec Backup Exec 12.5 is nearly upon us (06/10/08 – 6th October) and it has got some great new features. A lot of people felt that V12 wasn’t a huge leap forward and so kept their infrastructure on 11d, but I really think Backup Exec 12.5 is worth it…particularly it’s advances in relation to Virtualisation.

    New Features:

    Perhaps the biggest change is that you no longer require an agent per virtual machine-now it’s an agent per Hypervisor-with an agent for VMware and a separate agent for Hyper-V. This will definitely help keep downs the costs of backup in this modern age!

    A blog post by Pat Hanavan, the VP of Product Management in Symantec’s Data Protection Group (the new name for Backup Exec & NetBackup) says:

    “Backup Exec understands the structure of the Hyper-V environment and presents the same logical structure in the backup administrator GUI, so backup administrators can manage backup and recovery functions for their physical and virtual systems via the console.”

    The full transcript can be found over at http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization

    Symantec’s Patent-Pending Granular Recovery Technology gives you individual file level recovery from a single backup-this applies to both Exchange & Sharepoint. This greatly reduces the time and cost associated with these backups.

    If your virtualisation plans have been on hold/slow to take off due to worries about cost and/or complexity around backup of VM’s, I think Backup Exec 12.5 will allow you to take that first step into the virtual world.

    More info on the new agents for Virtual Server can be found here.

    Price & Availability:

    The release date for this and Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 is 06/10/08 (6th of October 2008) and esitmated RRP (in dollars) is:

    Backup Exec 12.5 has a suggested price of $995 USD for a media server license. Each additional agent or option can vary in price from $395 USD to $3,195 USD MSRP; Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 has a suggested price of $1,095 USD per server and $69 USD per workstation.

    Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager 12.5:

    Another new product due out from Symantec is Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager 12.5. This is powered by Altiris software (following Symantec acquisition in early 2006) and aims to make simplify upgrades & patch management as well as reduce TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) through licence discovery tools. Another cool feature is it’s ability to give you a graphical map of your Backup Exec deployment :-)

    Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager 12.5 is due out “late Fall 2008″, so I’d say November is likely to be when it becomes available. It has a suggested RRP of $1995.

    Exciting times!

    Microsoft Hyper-V: Virtualization


    Virtualization is a hot topic (as Partridge would say) and Hyper-V is the new kid on the block. He’s not quite as big as the other lads nor quite as mature-but he’s handy where it counts and is constantly working out until he can take them all!

    Their entry into the Virtual world wasn’t the smoothest (delays on release dates, missing features etc) but ever since Codename “Viridian” was announced-people have been talking and wondering how much of a difference it would make. Yes it was a little late coming out and it wasn’t quite what we were expecting feature wise, but it’s still a damn good product that has already, in just a few short months, shaken up the industry in a way that only the Redmond Giant can.

    Here @ Bechtle, we’d gone down the VMWare route and trained up our guys (sales & technical) to push VMWare to those people looking at virtualising their infrastructure. We were doing well, generating interest and making sales..but how that Hyper-V is here, I’m hearing a lot more excitement when I talk to customers.

    The big attraction with Microsoft Hyper-V is that it is built in to Windows Server 2008, reducing your outlay substantially straight away. It’s a Microsoft product so it’s familiar to the vast majority of IT techs out there today, it’s easy to use and it’s full of great features.

    The biggest criticism Hyper-V receives is that it doesn’t do “Live Migration”, that is moving a Virtual Machine (VM) from one server to another without any downtime at all..and it’s true, it doesn’t. However Hyper-V’s “Quick Migration” gives only a few seconds downtime until everything is back as it was before. I understand that for some organisations (namely Fortune 500′s, large finance etc) even a few seconds downtime is too long and for now, until Hyper-V R2(?) is released, VMWare should be their product of choice.

    However, for all those customers who don’t require 100% uptime I’d seriously suggest looking at Hyper-V when you implement Virtualisation. I’ve put together a number of Hyper-V proposals, some on their own and some to compete with VMWare, and people are very happy with what is on offer.

    Microsoft have a ton of great info available online and a good starting point is:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/hyperv-overview.aspx

    If you want to take a look at Hyper-V in a trial environment, then head over to:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/trial-software.aspx

    You can get Windows Server 2008 trials and the Hyper-V add-in. There are a couple of extra requirements on top of those for running Win Svr 2008, these are:

    • A 64-bit system with hardware-assisted virtualization enabled and data execution prevention (DEP) is required.
    • It is also recommended to ensure that you have a clean install of x64 edition of Windows Server 2008 to be able to use the Hyper-V technology.

    Microsoft’s other key weapon is their System Center Management family, particularly Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) which I think is worthy of a separate post-so keep your eyes open!

    Cheers

    Rich