Meet the Team Series – Part 1 (Fergus Stewart from the Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides Team)

Not too long ago, I caught up with Fergus Stewart, Sr. Program Manager from the Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides Team, and talked about his IT background and his latest project called Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide for SCVMM 2008 (System Center Virtual Machine Manager).  Here's our conversation...

MAP Team:   Fergus, where are you from?
Fergus:         I am originally from the UK - Northwest England to be specific.  The weather there is very much like Seattle and we often needed to wear a sweater during the summer days.  I subsequently moved to Hong Kong and grew up there.

MAP Team:   Interesting.  So, tell us more about your background?  How did you get involved with IT?
Fergus:         I started my career at IBM in the UK working with enterprise customers from the insurance and manufacturing sectors.  Later on, I moved to the US on assignment to work in  IBM’s Redbooks group, where I developed a lot of guidance for IT professionals.  Before joining Microsoft, I also worked at Tivoli as a Technical Evangelist and Product Manager for System Management solutions for 7 years.

MAP Team:   What brought you to Microsoft then?
Fergus:         About 2 years ago, I had an opportunity to join the System Center product team as a Product Manager and a year later, I moved to the Microsoft Solution Accelerators team to develop guidance documentation called Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides. 

MAP Team:   I see.  For our reader's benefit, can you give us a quick summary on what the Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides project is about?  How does it benefit an IT professional?
Fergus:         Sure. The Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) Guides project is designed to accelerate the successful deployment of infrastructure solutions - mostly importantly, we want to help you do it quickly and successfully - i.e. get it right the first time!  Each IPD guide takes the reader through a set of infrastructure planning steps for technologies like Hyper-V and App-V.

MAP Team:  Can you tell us what the main goals of the IPD guides are?
Fergus:         As you know, IT professionals like your team blog's readers here are very busy people who often have to fight "fire drills" on a daily basis.  It is very important to help them plan quickly and effectively before implementing Microsoft infrastructure, so that they can get it done right first time, and not have to spend precious time changing things or fighting fires once it’s up and running. Unfortunately, in many cases, IT planning approaches are typically not found in software/product manuals.  A typical product manual or book often takes you straight to something like "Let's get started with installation of Product X" - well, assuming that you've already done your part - the planning piece.  What if you need guidance to PLAN?  That's where the IPD guides come into play.

MAP Team:   I see.  Can you give me more concrete details about the IPD guides approach?  What can we find inside a typical IPD guide?
Fergus:          Well, first, we start off the guide with definition of Business and IT Goals.  You must go through these goals and define them before implementation.  Also, each guide has a Requirements section - i.e. find out what does your IT customers need.  After the requirements collection phase, the guide covers what servers you may need, and how to size them. Let me walk you through a customer scenario to illustrate how the recently released IPD Guide for SCVMM 2008 would help speed up the planning process.

As you may know, with Hyper-V virtualization entering the virtualization market, more and more, our customers want to consolidate multiple servers onto fewer host machines.  Interestingly, before virtualization/consolidation, individual servers were managed and owned by individual business group within the organization. 

Now, using Hyper-V consolidation, different business groups (say Accounting and Finance) may co-own the same physical machines (as hosts).  So how do you ensure solid performance and manage these virtual machines effortlessly?  The System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (SCVMM) and System Center Operations Manager 2007 (Ops Manager) products provide the answer. 

However, very importantly, if they want to manage their virtual machines with an integrated Operations Manager and SCVMM experience, you will need to carefully plan how you deploy Operations Manager Management Groups and SCVMM instances for each VM host. This kind of planning guidance is the added value that you’ll find only in an IPD guide. 
We lay out the planning steps in the form of a Decision Flowchart (see picture below from the server virtualization planning guide).

MAP Team:  That's great.  These IPD guides sound to me are essential to any IT planning!  So where can our readers get a FREE copy of the IPD Guide for SCVMM 2008?
Fergus:        Well, you can check out this IPD Guide for SCVMM 2008 web site and learn more.

MAP Team:  Thanks Fergus.  Congratulations again to your recent release of the IPD Guide for SCVMM 2008!  It's a great addition to the Virtualization Solution Accelerators family of guidance and tools.

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