Thursday, 14 June 2012

"stop arguing and go cloud" (because I said so)

Strange title I know but it's from a comment left on a previous post.

Well....I'll stick by it. Go Cloud!

Even Nasa have gone cloud and they are reported to have saved $1 million a year. If that is not a reason to go cloud then I don't know what is. The world of computing is looking to the cloud. Thin clients are fast becoming fashionable devices with the need for power hungry computers becoming a thing of the past. Even gaming can be done over the cloud now with onlive gaming. Companies who feared going to the cloud are now embracing it and reaping in the benefits of low licensing costs, reduced IT power costs of upto 90%, not needing in house IT staff, not needing to renew hardware but mainly the knowledge of knowing your applications will work and your data is safe by simply paying a subscription fee.

I get a warm geeky feeling when I go into a hospital or a doctors surgery and see that they are using thin client machines. We are now seeing banks, solicitors, recruitment companies, universities, government support agencies and yes even NASA using and recommending cloud companies.

All the major computer companies are investing the majority of their time and money into cloud computing, surely this is a good sign that it is the future. Yes you will get computer professionals everywhere saying don't goto the cloud just as you get apple users saying don't use android. Why? Cause they either don't understand it and fear they will lose their jobs to it or they don't understand it so have a unfounded loyalty to what they know. You will find these people saying stuff like "cloud will never work" "who wants their data somewhere else?" "It will never replace the desktop" and other such nonsense.

Why would you not want to pay less for a more specialised, more secure, more accessible, and more efficient IT experience? Because you have loyalty for your in house IT department who fob you off with long waiting times and excuses that something cannot be done because they cannot understand it while they sit back and don't seek out further knowledge, experience and qualifications cause they feel they don't need it? I don't think so. These people would not survive in the cloud computing world as it is changing so fast and requires people who have an actual interest in what they do and want to constantly increase their skills and experience to deliver a strong service that their customers require.

Now companies have the choice of who they want to support them with a simple subscription rather than the lengthy process of hiring IT staff. Imagine if when you want a mobile phone you had to hire a team to come in and work for you while you had the phone? What if you had to hire electricians and gas workers? That would be crazy. In years to come (not so far in the future) people will be saying that about IT. Why have an in house server room or IT offices in your company?

So yes, Stop arguing and go Cloud! You will thank me for it.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Enough Already! Cloud Computing Is Here to Stay

Enough Already! Cloud Computing Is Here to Stay

Can we put down the weapons and at last agree that the cloud is here to stay? Have your say, below.


In psychoanalysis, “being in denial” is a defense mechanism used by a person faced with an unpleasant situation too uncomfortable to accept or too ghastly to contemplate. The person rejects reality and insists it is not true, despite overwhelming evidence.

I am constantly confronted with people in denial about the cloud. These naysayers are mostly individuals within the technology services industry. So let’s first examine some facts, as well as some arguments against cloud computing.
Cloud computing facts

These are proven facts, not future predictions. It is easy to argue against predictions, but pretty hard to argue with the past.

According to AMD (1/12), 70 percent of businesses are either using or investigating cloud computing solutions.

According to an IBM survey (2011) of 2,000 midsize companies, two-thirds were planning or had already deployed cloud-based technologies, and 70 percent were actively pursuing cloud-based analytics for greater insight and efficiency.
90 percent of Microsoft’s 2011 R&D budget was spent on cloud computing strategy and products.

In a 2011 Avanade-commissioned study of C-level executives from 18 countries to learn how cloud computing is being used in the enterprise, it found:

60% reported cloud computing as their highest IT priority.

74% are already using some form of cloud computing technology.

64% are investing in training new and current employees on their cloud expertise.

Worldwide IT spending on cloud computing has increased more than 25 percent from 2008 to 2012.

30% of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) used cloud software in 2011.

A study by Mimecast in 2010 found that 70 pecent of companies that were using cloud computing services are willing to and will move new applications to the cloud.

48 percent of U.S. government agencies moved at least one workflow to the cloud following the new requirement that federal agencies adopt a “cloud-first” policy.

41 percent of senior executives say they are using or plan on using some kind of private cloud.

Cloud providers have increased personnel from nil in 2007 to over 550,000 in 2010.

The above numbers are only a handful of facts on cloud computing adoption. Just a few of those figures should be enough to convince those still in denial, yet the naysayers persist. Let’s look at a few of the arguments I have been presented with.
Arguments against cloud computing

Cloud computing is just another iteration of SaaS and ASP, which ultimately failed
Technology has changed dramatically since the days of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and application service provider (ASP). Processing power has increased many times over, which makes it more profitable to run cloud applications and lowers the cost of doing business in the cloud. Additionally, bandwidth is enormously cheaper, and more available, which was one of the huge impediments of SaaS and ASP. SaaS and ASP were the right technologies at the wrong time.

Security and compliance are weaker in the cloud
I keep hearing this one, but nothing to support the claim. According to a 2010 survey by Mimecast, 57 percent of respondents agreed that cloud computing actually improved their security. Another study found that, “Improved Reliability and Security of Data” as the second most important benefits of moving to the cloud. While there will always be risks with having your data anywhere; security concerns in the cloud are for the most part unfounded. Still encryption and other technologies will help minimize concern, especially for transfer of data, in and out of the cloud.

Cloud computing is too expensive
There are some cases where moving to the cloud can be more expensive. But commoditization is already happening. Last week Google, Amazon, and then Microsoft, cut their cloud prices. With the increase in computing power, the increased cloud adoption, and decreased migration costs, cloud is getting less expensive to implement. According to Microsoft, it saved DenizBank, $12,000,000; and saved Convergent Computing $1,200,000 a month by going to Microsoft’s private cloud. In another study by Cloud HyperMarket, 74 percent of respondents say that using the cloud has reduced their infrastructure costs. Cloud prices will continue to drop and this argument will be heard less and less.

The landscape for technology professionals is changing; the landscape for computing and how technology is delivered is changing. So what is to be done? First of all, don’t sit around and wait for things to happen. Start developing a strategy that exploits cloud advantages for your organization. Determine what kind of cloud services you need solutions for, and meet with cloud providers to find the best long-term fit. If you are an IT professional, it would be advantageous to update your certifications to more cloud and security-friendly certifications. I did not mention any of the cloud predictions, but they are big. In short, start moving!

Todd Nielsen
posted in Blog, Featured ⋅ March 14, 2012 1:14 pm

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bring your own device. The future of Cloud computing

With cloud computing fast becoming the way of the future, what does this mean for our standard office desktops?

Thin clients are becoming more and more popular due to the limited resources needed to work within the cloud but there is however another option that is becoming more popular: Bring your own device.


What does this mean?

Bring your own device means exactly what it says, bring your home laptop or tablet into work and use that. Crazy you say! Since you are accessing a secure location it now does not matter what you do with your home laptop as long as you can connect to the internet. Your private and work data need never mix. This will become a popular choice for employers as they will save on hardware equipment.


The future of bring your own device.

For me there is only one option for BYOD and that is the mobile phone. In the future I expect that people will simply walk into work dock their phone and start working. This would be possible now even. All it takes is the phone manufacturer to make a docking station similar to a laptop one. Ok it will look more like a phone cradle but the principle would be the same. You could dock your phone and see exactly what you see on your phone screen on your monitor only now it is attached to the monitor, keyboard, mouse and even headset. From here you can launch your cloud interface and use your apps exactly like you do on your computer. Using IP phone software similar to Skype you can also make and receive calls.


Could your mobile really replace your pc and phone system?

Yes and it's only a matter of time. We are in an age of less is more, we are now focusing less on power and more on design and saving power! The mobile phone will do both. Phones are becoming more powerful and with applications like Citrix receiver it is already possible to get your full desktop on your phone. If manufacturers have their head screwed on they will be creating laptop and tablet docks so you can literally stick your phone into the back of a laptop shell or a tablet shell. Your phone would click in just like your battery clicks into your laptop now.


What does this mean for computer providers?

Computer providers will merge more with phone providers, just like Microsoft and Nokia are teaming up now. Samsung and Apple already make both mobile phones and computers. This will give them the lead in the market, they are literally one product away from this solution. Microsoft already has office365 integrated with your phone all they are missing is the device to bring it onto a bigger screen. Just think, you’re finished work but you still have a few things to finish, just undock your phone and carry on working on the bus or tube. The best thing of it all is that if everything is cloud based and you get your phone stolen your data is still secure.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Why your business should move to the cloud

Many small and large businesses will have either considered or be considering moving their IT over to a Cloud based solution. Change is the hardest thing to consider as it's hard to see the value without the risk. You need to consider the change in performance, service and ultimately value.


How could moving to the Cloud benefit your business?

Energy costs:
It is shown that moving to a Cloud solution and replacing desktops and in house servers with think clients and remote Cloud server can save upto 90% on your companies energy bill. With the cost of energy rising this is a major factor in considering change.

Staffing costs:
Many companies feel that they pay too much for their IT department but realise that there are many parts to an IT infrastructure and this generally requires a group of people to support each part. Cloud services already have a skilled team who cover all these parts for you and generally only the top technicians in their field get to work for these companies after years of study and experience. Offloading your IT to the cloud could cut your IT staffing, training and HR costs down by 80%.

Data security is an important part of any IT infrastructure and inhouse security can often be lacking. By offloading your data to the Cloud you can ensure that all your important data is secure on servers in secure datacenters not local on a laptop that could be stolen or left on a train. Many government organisations have moved to the Cloud after recent scandals with data being lost due to theft. This is a real indicator of how secure Cloud solutions are.

Servers are becoming more and more powerful each year and having your virtual desktops or applications hosted on these servers rather than an old slow PC in the office can vastly improve performance. The main thing companies who move over to the Cloud notice is speed, how much faster things load and how much more productive their staff can be due to this.

Many Cloud solutions offer an any device anywhere policy. This means whether you are using your laptop, desktop, tablet PC or even your smart phone you can connect to your service and work. This has allowed many companies to allow their staff to work away from the office saving them even more money. As the digital revolution means that more and more people are using their phones the same way they use their laptop more and more people can now check their emails from work on a Word document or spreadsheet. There has been a big shift from people traveling by car to now traveling by train to allow them to connect to their Cloud solution using either 3g or the trains wifi and continue to work. The work hours gained from this could be reason alone for switching for some companies.

Licensing costs:
New subscription based licensing costs that Cloud services offer mean companies can save hundreds even thousands of pounds on software costs each month. Using a pay as you use method you only pay when you are using the product rather than having to pay the full price for all your software generally each year.

Cloud computing is making IT more of a utility rather than an in house necessity. How many times have you wished you could just get another company to handle all your IT needs? Cloud computing makes this possible. We don't have electricity providers and gas providers in each company providing a service and costing companies thousands each year so why do we need to do the same with IT? With Cloud computing we don't!

What does this mean for IT staff?

As we know the economy everywhere is suffering and many companies are cutting their IT staff down and suffering by keeping few staff to carry out the work of many. IT candidates are experiencing these difficult times but there is nothing stopping them gain the necessary qualifications and skill to work for a Cloud based company. As more businesses are moving to the Cloud more staff are needed. This is a major shift for IT staff but we have a responsibility to keep up with current times to stay in the game.

You may be asking the question "why should we move to the Cloud?" now but if you wait you may find yourself asking "Why didn't we do this a long time ago?"
One UK based Cloud computing solutions company who are leading in their field are AtlasIM
and thier vision of "A PC off every desk" sums up the benefits of moving to the Cloud.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter for more news and updates on Virtualisation and Cloud computing @cloud42tweet

Friday, 17 February 2012

Intel Cloud Computing Vision

Exciting stuff

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The Virtualization Wars: Microsoft and Citrix vs VMware

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. Read the case study about how Intel Xeon processors and VMware helped virtualize 12 business critical database applications.

Watch this battle unfold. The virtualization wars are just getting started.
On one side we have Microsoft, which announced changes in its licensing structures this week. The change reflects an understanding that the customer wants full access to its virtualization platform and not be charged a tax for that right to access it on a PC, no matter if it is at work or in their home.
And in true fashion, Microsoft is on the attack, Citrix at its side, in a full on fight with VMware for the virtualization market.
On the VMware side, we see a company ready to move into Microsoft's customer base by offering more than virtualization as witnessed with its recent acquisition of Zimbra. VMWare is gearing up to tap into the Microsoft Exchange market by combining its virtualization technology with the Zimbra email platform.


Microsoft Offers Some Flexibility

Historically, Microsoft has charged for separate licenses to access Windows operating systems in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment. Until now, there would be separate licensing fees for people to access their virtual desktops from secondary devices like home personal computers.
The licensing issue in all of this gets complicated pretty fast. According to Simon Bramfitt:
"Right from the start Microsoft showed that it had been listening to its customers' feedback. As of July 1st Microsoft is rolling Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) into the Windows Software Assurance (Windows SA) program. This means that anyone with Software Assurance can deploy desktops locally or in the data center at no additional cost. At the same time Microsoft is extending the remote access rights so that remote isn't tethered to a single PC in the primary users' home. This awareness of the fact that users want flexibility around when and where they work is the key element that has been missing from Microsoft's virtualization strategy since day one. If this wasn't enough, Microsoft is introducing a new desktop virtualization license called Windows Virtual Desktop Access (Windows VDA) costing $100 per year per device and aimed at organizations who are using endpoints that do not have a Windows SA license - Contractors PCs, devices that are do not run Windows (e.g., thin-clients, smart phones and Apple Macs) and yes, PCs with OEM licenses. Hang-on, isn't that just the same as the old non-SA VECD license? More or less, yes; it's certainly cheaper, although at $100 per year not by much. What's more important is that Windows VDA is now a first-class citizen in the Microsoft licensing hierarchy with all the benefits of Software Assurance (e.g., 24x7 support, upgrade/downgrade rights), and as a desktop virtualization license it gets the same extended roaming rights offered to the a full member of the SA club."
VMWare, in smart retort, praises Microsoft for the move and bowing to "intense customer pressure."
Raj Mallempati, director, product marketing, calls it an opening for VMWare View.

You know it's competitive when you see this kind of rhetoric:
By loosening up the restrictive desktop virtualization license policy (VECD), Microsoft has finally bowed to intensive customer pressure. This validates the acceleration in demand in the desktop virtualization industry that VMware helped start and continues to lead. Microsoft's move here is extremely positive for the industry.

But what is Citrix part in all of this?

At the beginning of the year, VMWare offered the opportunity to exchange Citrix XenApp licenses for VMWare View. In response, Microsoft and Citrix announced a partnership this week aimed right at VMWare with some pretty attractive licensing deals.

The promotion intends to undercut VMWare by reaching into its customer base with offers to trade in as many as 500 licenses in exchange for a Microsoft integration offered with Citrix.
To kick it off, the two companies plan a 100-city tour.
But what this really represents is Microsoft providing some flexibility in its virtualization licensing agreements. That move alone will help open up the market.

And VMWare? The company has 80 percent of the virtualization market. Any move on its customer base should be expected. VMware's vision for Zimbra is another matter. That's a battle it is taking right back to Microsoft - square on its home turf.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Part 14 – Setting and checking quota schedule on Exchange 2010 setup Multi-Tenancy

Once you have the quotas set for Exchange you need to set when they are checked and when people will receive warnings.

To set the quota schedule use the following command

Set-MailboxDatabase -Identity "Mailbox Database" -QuotaNotificationSchedule "Mon.01:00-Mon.01:15","Tue.01:00-Tue.01:15","Wed.01:00-Wed.01:15","Thu.01:00-Thu.01:15","Fri.01:00-Fri.01:15","Sat.01:00-Sat.01:15","Sun.01:00-Sun.01:15"

Set the times accordingly

To check when your quota schedule is set at use the following command

Get-MailboxDatabase | fl Name, QuotaNotificationSchedule

Private Cloud Computing Explained

2012 is the year of private cloud computing, as there is a growing trend that organizations are moving back their data from off-premise cloud (a.k.a. the public cloud) to be hosted on-premise, in a private cloud environment. One of the main reasons for the move is to gain better control of their data, as there are yet-to-be-fully-resolved cloud issues, such as cloud outages and security.

It’s time for you to take a closer look at what private cloud computing can offer you, including its pros and cons. If you are still looking for a better explanation about private cloud computing, I have a video infographic I recommend you to view…

The cloud computing video infographic – brought to you by edCetra Training, a company offering custom content developer for educational and training purposes – will explain you in plain English about the concept of private cloud computing, including some facts about cloud computing trends and how organizations go for private cloud computing, instead of public cloud computing.

Here is the video – enjoy!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Green environmental consultancy save 90% energy costs moving to cloud

Another cloud computing client for AtlasIM

HOSTED desktop provider Atlas Infrastructure Management has added another client after encouraging environmental consultancy ECUS to try out its pay-as-you-go cloud computing model.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Part 13 – Database repair on Exchange 2010 setup Multi-Tenancy

In the event of a database corruption you can use the Eseutil tool to repair it. It is best to run this from CMD as you can run it from Exchange shell but you get limited options.

First check the status of your database using Exchange shell. To do this run:

Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus –Identity “Database name”

This will show you if the database is healthy and mounted. If you think the database is corrupt then there is a good chance it is not mounted.

Next you need to check the state the database shut down in. To do this run the following in CMD:

Eseutil /mh "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\Databasename.edb"

Change the red to match the location and name of your database.

The output will look something like this:

If the status is Clean shutdown then we can try and remount the database, If not we need to bring it into a clean state.

Clean state:

Locate the log folder for the database and rename it and do the same with the database folder. Then recreate these folders so what you will have is 1 or 2 folders depending on if your database and logs are in the same place with nothing in them named the same as they were before. Then copy (not cut) the database from the database folder you just renamed and paste into the new folder.

Now try to remount the database using the following:

Mount-Database -Identity 'Databasename'

If it does not mount then we need to try and repair it.

Dirty State:

Locate the log folder for the database and rename it and do the same with the database folder. Then recreate these folders so what you will have is 1 or 2 folders depending on if your database and logs are in the same place with nothing in them named the same as they were before. Then copy (not cut) the database from the database folder you just renamed and paste into the new folder. In the old log folder copy all of the logs (.log) except the E00 log. So basically all the logs which are around 8 characters long. Paste these into the new log folder.

To check you have all the log files and that they are in a concurrent state run

Eseutil /ml “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\Log folder"

This will check them and hopefully you should get a list with OK next to each log

If these are not concurrent and you do not have the full logs these cannot be run

Database repair

Once you have followed the above steps you are ready to try a repair. I recommend running the following

eseutil /r E00 /d "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\database folder " /s "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\System files folder" /l "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\Log files folder" /i /a

Change the text in red to match your file locations. If you are unsure about the system folder location chances are it will be the same as your log folder location.
In the database location only put the folder the database is in not the database file name.

If the database was in a clean shutdown state this should repair it. If it was in a dirty shutdown state and you have te ld logs in the log folder it will pay those logs and repair the database.

It’s probably wise at this point to defrag the database using the following command

Eseutil /d "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\database folder\Databasefile.edb"

Now try and mount the database again.

If this fails you can try a hard repair by using the following:
Eseutil /p "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\database folder\Databasefile.edb"

This will perform a hard recovery.

If the database is so corrupt it is un repairable please use a backup of the database file and replay the logs using

eseutil /r E00 /d "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\database folder " /s "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\System files folder" /l "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\Log files folder" /i /a

If you do not have a backup of the logs I recommend using a hard drive recovery tool to see if you can retrieve a suitable version. I would recommend using a tool called r-studio as this worked for me.

When you remount a database without log files already present it creates new ones and changes the signature of the logs. From this point an older version of the edb file cannot be used as it has a different signature. To identify if the log signature and edb signature match use the following commands:

For logs
Eseutil /ml “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\Log folder\1 log filename.log"

For database

eseutil /mh “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox\Database folder\Database.edb"

Change the red text again to match your location. The output will look like this

K:\sg1>eseutil /mh "mailbox database.edb"
Extensible Storage Engine Utilities for Microsoft(R) Exchange Server
Version 08.01
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Initiating FILE DUMP mode...
Database: mailbox database.edb
DB Signature: Create time:08/25/2008 22:54:52 Rand:4416518 Computer:
Log Signature: Create time:08/25/2008 22:54:50 Rand:4412688 Computer:
Operation completed successfully in 0.140 seconds.

L:\sg1>eseutil /ml e000000001a.log
Extensible Storage Engine Utilities for Microsoft(R) Exchange Server
Version 08.01
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Signature: Create time:08/25/2008 22:54:50 Rand:4412688 Computer:
1 k:\sg1\Mailbox Database.edb
Signature: Create time:08/25/2008 22:54:52 Rand:4416518 Computer:
Operation completed successfully in 0.60 seconds.

If the log signatures match then a repair is possible if not then you need to find a version of the edb file that does match the logs you want to replay.