Posts Tagged ‘Server 2012 r2’

Cloud Options for SMBs

As some of you know, I have been doing a webinar series for the last few months. During this series, I’ve been discussing the features of Server 2012 R2 specifically for the SMB market. We’ve covered Hyper-V, Storage Spaces (my favourite), Remote Access, plus a handful of others. Our next session is on Cloud Options for SMBs; why not grab a coffee and join us Tuesday afternoon (the third) by registering here. I will talk about Office 365, Intune, and Azure and how these services relate to small biz. Again, here is the register link.

Samurai Series


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Storage Spaces – Big Storage Options for the SMB

Samurai SeriesIf it wasn’t obvious enough, I love learning about new tech, and when I  get really excited when I find a new feature in an operating system that benefits the SMB. Storage Spaces delights me! (Yes, I know I need to get out more). At the most basic level, Storage Spaces in Server 2012 allows us to connect drives to a server and provision storage on the fly. And why would this be exciting, you may ask? Think about your file server and what happens when you run low on disk space. Typically you would add another drive, but this would require shutting down the system, installing the drive, provisioning the drive, and in some cases it may also require reconfiguring your applications to take advantage of the additional storage. Now what if you were able to simply add a drive to your server, and with a few clicks of the mouse, add the storage and help protect your data? For the small SMB, this may be all that is needed to quickly provision more storage, but what if you were larger and were thinking a SAN was needed to provide resiliency as well as the storage? For most SMBs a SAN is out of budget, and this is where Storage Spaces comes in. Using Windows Server 2012, your operating system can provide SAN-like capability using commodity hard drives. Using trays of JBODs (just a bunch of disks) at a fraction of the cost of a SAN, we can easily add and provision storage as needed. Plus, we can take advantage of the built-in resiliency options, ensuring your data is protected.

To create a storage space, add block-based storage, then group the disks (SSDs or spindles) into storage pools. From there, virtualize the space into volumes and assign it as necessary. For example, let’s say we have 4 500 GB drives, we could create a storage pool using disks 1 and 2, creating a pool that was 1 TB in size. Then carve this TB up into various size virtual disks, apply a storage layout (Simple, Mirror, or Parity), choose our provision type (fixed or thin) and finally, create a volume. (It sounds like a lot of work, but really, it’s only 8 clicks or so.) If more storage is needed, simply add another disk and assign the space to either an existing storage pool, or create a new one.

This is just the tip of the Storage Spaces iceberg, using block based storage you can build cluster shared volumes, further providing SAN-like features at an SMB price point. If you would like to see a demo of Storage Spaces or would like to learn more, I’ll be doing a webinar on May 6 at 2 pm EST. Click here for details.

Virtualization for the SMB (Yes we are Doing it Now!)

I had the privilege to attend and present at a Lenovo build event last week. (I love my job). The group was mostly SMB IT consultants. I decided to talk to the group of them about Hyper-V and Server 2012 R2. Some of the group had used and implemented Server 2012, some had not, and a few had never seen Server 2012 and were still deploying Server 2008 R2. As it often happens when you get a bunch of IT folks in the room, we had a lively discussion about the current state of technology and what the attendees were currently implementing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the participants that were deploying 2012 and 2012 R2 were, for the most part, doing so in a virtualized environment. As we continued to chat, we started discussing how far SMB-specific IT has come. Only 18 months, or even a year ago, we wouldn’t have even considered implementing a virtualized environment in an SMB due to cost, implementation, and lack of understanding.

For those of you who don’t know, we IT folk have been virtualizing in the Enterprise for years now. Typically Enterprise would use VMware as their virtualization platform. But since the release of Server 2012, not only has Enterprise looked at Hyper-V differently, SMBs have also started looking at virtualization. So what is virtualization? Virtualization is the ablitity to use one server to host several other operating systems on that same server. Typically, the cost to do this was prohibitive at the SMB level, and most IT consultants felt the practise was not necessary in the SMB space. Along with this, the SMB had a difficult time understanding the benefits of running multiple operating systems on a single server. Personally, I won contracts based on the fact that I was not going to virtualize the environment. That was 3-4 years ago. The last project I completed prior to leaving my company was to replace an aging 2003 server and replace it with a newer model; and guess what I put in: Server 2012 (R2 was not available at the time). I did this because I knew that as the company grew, they could take advantage of the virtualization if they chose to do so. This was one of those contracts I won because I was not going to virtualize.

So why do we want to virtualize in the SMB space? There are several benefits, and here are just a few:

1. Cost savings – you can reduce the number of physical servers on-site, which reduces your equipment, operating, and maintance costs.

2. Easy out-of-the-box disaster recovery – because the servers are virtual and essentially just a file; it’s much easier to backup, move, migrate, and recover.

3. Testing and development – you can easily spin up a virtual machine for testing and troubleshooting issues without the cost associated with a physical machine. And when you’re done, you can just delete it!

As we march to the End of Support for Windows Server 2003, consider implementing Server 2012 R2 and taking of virtualiation that is included out of the box. If you would like to learn more about virtualization, I’ll be “Exploring Hyper-V” in the next Samurai Series webcast March 25, register here.

If you have questions, talk to your trusted IT professional about how your small business can benefit in the virtual environment.

Samurai Series

Getting to Know Windows Server 2012 R2

I know it’s been a few weeks – okay, maybe six – since my last post. Things at work have been really busy, I came down with that awful bug that was going around, and there were some changes in my personal life. Now that things have settled down and I’m in a new routine, I will be able to get back to posting IT for SMBs. Sorry for the delay. 

ImageOne of the awesome projects I am working on at Microsoft is a webinar on Server 2012 R2 that is scheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 24. I’ll be talking about the need to move from Server 2003, and how to do it. Yes, it’s coming to an end and we need to start planning for it. And if you are on SBS 2003, what are the options you have to move to Server 2012 R2? (Trust me there are some great solutions for the SMB.) We will also talk about CALs and why you need one for every user or device in your office. We will also chat about ROK, the re-seller option kit; it’s a great option for SMBs. 

Why not grab a coffee and join us for the hour? Plus there will be giveaways! No, it’s not an Xbox One, but that would be awesome. To register follow this link


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