Microsoft Ignite: An Infrastructure Specialist's Perspective

Jamie Bryant is a Cloud Strategy Specialist at Comms-care|Platform. He spends the majority of his time designing and implementing Microsoft CloudOS technologies, and working with clients to outline their technology strategy moving forward. 

After spending less than 24 hours back on home soil in the UK its back to the daily grind, but just before lets just re-cap the week I’ve just spent with 23,000 likeminded individuals in Chicago for Microsoft’s first ever Ignite event which was designed to combine all the major Microsoft conferences into one. Did it go well? In summary yes but I think Microsoft have learnt a lot of lessons for next year’s event which will also be in Chicago from May 9th to May 13th 2016. The sheer scale of the operation was quite astounding and one which Microsoft should be very proud of, few teething issues with Wi-Fi and the catering but let’s not dwell on that. To re-iterate how big the exhibition centre was I walked just over 84km in the 5 days I was there, certainly was a blessing in away as donuts for breakfast needed to be worked off somehow.

So me, I’m an IT Pro focussed on all things Azure Infrastructure, Hyper-V and System Center and some announcements around these products really got me excited and certainly maximised the value of the trip for me and my employers let me share a few of the key ones with you.

Microsoft Operations Management Suite

The public preview of the Operations Management Suite, OMS for short was announced during the keynote. This brings an amalgamation of existing tools such as Azure Operational Insights more commonly known as what was System Center Advisor, plus a whole suite of other new features including central Backup and Disaster recovery management from the cloud.  Essentially it will be a single plane of glass to manage your on premise and cloud hosted workloads, its set to be quite an impressive toolset for IT Pro’s but as it stands the pricing isn’t finalised but it will in my eyes have a similar ethos of how System Center is currently licenses in that the more of the features you use the more cost-effective it becomes. More information can be found here.

System Center Data Protection Manager

I think this session on Data Protection Manager (DPM) I attended was the most worthwhile of the week, the days of it being seen as a dead product and purely Microsoft workload focussed are gone. Support for VMware host level backups were announced and I suspect this will launch in Q3 this year going on what the product managers have said. This is a total game changer for some of my customers who have made investments in DPM whilst migrating to Hyper-V but still have legacy environments running VMware.  This will allow them to stop paying out for other products and have one system to do the entire job. We can now also add to the very soon list of the much sought after de-duplication feature, currently it is only supported if your backup storage is located behind scale out file server (SOFS). The DPM team are working closely with the Windows Server team to get local storage supported, which will be a welcomed addition to SMB customers who can’t afford to invest in SOFS technology.

I was fortunate enough to get to the front quickly after the session and grab one of 30 invites to a roundtable discussion with the product team for DPM. It was a constructive session and they welcomed all of our feedback. The main item on the agenda was Item Level Recovery for Exchange, with other backup products you can but it isn’t supported by the Exchange Team, so watch this space for a voting form to get this changed as the DPM are 100% with us ITPro’s on this one.

Microsoft Azure Stack

Building on the current fantastic Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft is bringing the very same code and APIs that runs the Public Azure Platform to your own on premise datacentre. We are expecting the preview release this summer and once I get my hands on it I will be writing a separate blog post. But for now the key facts around the Azure Stack will bring much more than Virtual Machines and Websites, with the latest developments in Windows Server 2016 being at the forefront. Microsoft Azure Stack will continue to merge the barrier between on premise and public cloud or allow those with higher security requirements to take advantage of Microsoft’s investment in the cloud and host on premise. It is worthwhile checking out the following video on the Microsoft YouTube channel.

In conclusion the week was a success and have come back with some fresh ideas after networking with the wider community which is what these events are about. The countdown to Ignite 2016 starts now! See you there!

Did you go to Ignite? Tell us your experience in the comments section via @TechNetUK

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