Category: Hardware

Ruggedized Azure Stack

Ruggedized Azure Stack at the extreme Edge

Azure Stack is part of Microsofts Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge offering, and extends Azure services not only into your datacenter, but also on into more challenging remote locations. Today, Dell EMC and Microsoft announced the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack, a ruggedized and field-deployable product for Azure Stack.

Tactical Azure Stack is the first and only ruggedized Azure Stack product available for tactical edge deployments. Based on our proven all-flash Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, it brings an Azure consistent-cloud to operating environments with:

  • Limited or no network connectivity
  • Fully mobile, or high portability (“2-person lift”) requirements
  • Harsh conditions requiring military specifications solutions
  • High security requirements, with optional connectivity to Azure Government, Azure Secret, and Azure Top Secret

This new offering demonstrates how Dell EMC leveraged our server design expertise and our exclusive partnership with Tracewell Systems to develop a new platform that expands Azure Stack use cases. For customers, it provides a familiar environment and consistent experience for Azure-based services in the field. In addition, Tactical Azure Stack incorporates Dell EMC features including automated patch and update capabilities, PowerEdge hardware management, and integration with Isilon, CloudLink, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Customers also benefit with one call to Dell EMC for service and support of the entire hardware stack.

 

The product’s core components are identical to our currently shipping all-flash Data Center Azure stack offering. For cloud operators, developers and tenants, there are no differences between the Tactical Azure Stack and Data Center Azure Stack. Our industry exclusive firmware update automation and Dell EMC services and support are all consistent whether you’re running in a comfortable data center or in a harsh, mobile, or forward deployed environment.

 

The management case includes the hardware lifecycle host, 25GbE Top of Rack switches, as well as the baseboard management switch. Additional “core” transit cases, each holding two T-R640 scale unit servers can be added up to the full node limits of Microsoft Azure Stack. At just 41.5” high, and 25.6” operating depth, the Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack unlocks a wide variety of use cases for government, military, energy and mining applications. It can also be ideal in forward deployments and mobile environments in marine, aerospace and other conditions that require MIL-STD 810G compliance.

The availability of these ruggedized Azure Stack systems, enable a lot of new scenarios, and I am looking forward to see what is next.



Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

Surface Go – My first Impressions and why I bought it!

I just received my Microsoft Surface Go. Yes, in Switzerland it was released just now, a couple of weeks after the US. The first review videos out there, did convince me that this is the right device I was looking for, but more to that later. In this short blog I want to give you a look at my first impressions of the Surface Go.

Why I bought the Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go

First, let me tell you why I bought the Surface Go. I am a long time Microsoft Surface user, since the first Surface Pro. I went to several iteration of the Surface family and currently I am using a 15-inch Surface Book 2 and a Surface Pro. Surface Book 2, I like because of the power and screen size, and it is perfect for me to do some serious work. The Surface Pro is more less my light travel work devices to day.

As you know I spend a lot of time travelling at conferences or to customer for meetings. Every weight and space I can safe during traveling is basically a great thing. A lightweight device for doing some simple work like mail, browsing the web or working with office would be enough for most of the tasks. Another tasks I need my device a lot for is taking notes. Since I started to use OneNote, I never took notes on paper again. Most of my note taking I do with the Surface Pen. Especially during meetings, it is much nicer to take notes on an almost flat surface, instead of hiding behind a laptop. The Surface Pro and the Surface Go are prefect for this, since with the kickstand. They let you switch easily from taking notes with a pen, to using the keyboard.

Benefits I expect from the Surface Go

I think the Surface Go would have all these requirements and benefits:

  • Lightweight and small
  • Surface Pen support
  • Full Windows 10
  • Touchscreen and Keyboard with trackpad support
  • Great built quality like other Microsoft Surface Devices
  • Enough power to still do some simple work
  • LTE to be always connect

I know the Surface Go LTE version, comes later this year. I think this would be perfect, but with conference and travel season coming up, I didn’t want to wait. Let’s see if I upgrade later to the Surface Go LTE version. These always connected devices running Windows 10, cannot come soon enough.

My first impressions of the Surface Go

Surface Go Kickstand

Let’s talk about my first impressions of the Microsoft Surface Go. The most important part is obviously the formfactor. The Surface Go is crazy small and light. It really feels great in the hand and it seems to be the right size for a small and light travel device. It is almost cute if you put it to the 15inch Surface Book 2. The build quality is great as expected from Microsoft Surface hardware. The performance feels great for the tasks I am looking for. Microsoft Edge and Outlook and the other office apps feel fast and responsive.

The Surface Go also comes with a Surface Connect Charger, which is a great magnetic charging port. With that it can also easily connect with the Surface Dock and power my external monitor. However, the Surface Go also has a USB Type-C Port, and you can also charge the devices using a UBS charger.

I also got the Signature Type Cover, which is a smaller version of the Type Cover which comes with the Surface Pro. It is small but typing feels great. It takes only a quick moment to get used to it. Great is the huge glass trackpad which on the Type Cover.

Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

I think this is the first Windows tablet I really can use as a tablet. With the size and weight, it is ideal to also use it as a tablet. For example the Surface Pro is only a little bit larger, but it makes a huge difference when you want to use it as a “portable tablet”. I found myself using Windows 10 in tablet mode a lot, and using the Surface Go in landscape and portrait mode.

Audio quality seems to be very good for a device in that price category. And the front facing stereo speakers make the difference to other tablets.

What I also really like is the great quality cameras which Microsoft has build in. If you record videos or if you do Skype for Business Calls and video meetings, the quality is way better than other tablets or even notebooks.

These were my first impressions of the Surface Go. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about it



HPE Azure Stack

HPE OneView for Microsoft Azure Log Analytics

Today, I got some great news, which I missed in the last couple of weeks. HPE announced that their HPE OneView for Microsoft Azure Log Analytics 1.0 Preview, or short OV4ALA, is now available. OV4ALA is a integration that provides a bridge between HPE hardware infrastructure and Azure Log Analytics. This basically allows you to extend your HPE hardware monitoring to the Microsoft Cloud.

The OV4ALA is an Azure Resource Manager solutions which provides you with dashboards for your on-premises HPE hardware infrastructure. This includes systems like:

  • HPE OneView Appliances
  • Server Hardware
  • Server Profiles
  • Logical Interconnects
  • Physical Interconnects
  • Storage Systems
  • Storage Pools
  • Storage Volumes
  • SAS Interconnects
  • Drive Enclosures
  • Alerts

HPE OneView for Microsoft Azure Log Analytics Description

Every item in the dashboard provides a link to the underlying Log Analytics search query, which allows you to create powerful and detailed custom searches for long term event correlation and trend analysis.  Searches can also be combined with data from non-HPE sources, such as OS, VM, and application information. A set of pre-defined saved searches is included to help navigate the HPE log records generated by the solution.

It also includes Azure Automation runbooks that drive the automatic generation of log records from information collected from on-premise instances of HPE OneView and HPE Synergy, leveraging the Azure Hybrid Runbook Worker.

This solution requires an on-premises component (HPE PowerShell Module for Log Analytics) that must be properly installed and configured where HPE OneView and HPE Synergy are located. This module acts as a proxy between the on-premises instances of HPE OneView and HPE Synergy and Azure Log Analytics running in the Azure public cloud.

This solution is being released as a Technical Preview, and HPE does not provide any formal customer support for HPE OneView for Microsoft Azure Log Analytics at this time. This preview is provided “as-is” and is excluded from service level agreements and limited warranty. The customer assumes all risks in using this preview version. Features available in the preview are subject to change, including removal, prior to the general availability release. The fully supported generally available version is planned for later this year.

This is great news, especially when you run an HPE Azure Stack solution, which also comes with OneView. With the Azure Stack OMS Solutions you can send alerts and warnings from the Azure Stack software to Azure Log Analytics. Now with the HPE OneView for Microsoft Azure Log Analytics solution, you can also forward the HPE hardware monitoring of Azure Stack to Azure Log Analytics, which will make it a central place for your Azure Stack monitoring.

Check out more information about OV4ALA on the HPE blog. Thanks for Roland Frehner from HPE for the link.



You can now watch Microsoft’s underwater Datacenter and fish on Live Webcams

A couple of months back Microsoft provided a look at Project Natick, which is basically Microsoft’s project to host datacenter in underwater. This brings obviously some challenges but also some advantages like cooling etc. Today Microsoft also added some public webcam streams to Project Natick, which allows you to watch the Underwater Datacenter and some fish.

Microsoft Project Natick Webcam

About Microsoft Project Natick

Project Natick seeks to understand the benefits and difficulties in deploying subsea datacenters worldwide. Phase two extends the research we accomplished in phase one by deploying a full-scale datacenter module in the North Sea, powered by renewable energy.

 

  • Project Natick is a research project to build an underwater datacenter. Microsoft is investigating the numerous potential benefits that a standard, manufacturable, deployable undersea datacenter could provide to cloud users all over the world.
  • The Natick Phase 1 vessel was operated on the seafloor approximately one kilometer off the Pacific coast of the United States from August to November of 2015.
  • Phase 2 of Natick aims to demonstrate that we can economically manufacture full scale undersea datacenter modules and deploy them in under 90 days from decision to power on. The Phase 2 vessel was deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre located in the Orkney Islands, UK in June of 2018.
  • Project Natick reflects Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud datacenter solutions that offer less resource intensive options, rapid provisioning, lower costs, and high agility in meeting customer needs.

If you want to know more about Microsoft Project Natick, check out the website:

Microsoft Project Natick Website

 



Toms Workplace 2018

My Workplace 2018 – How does yours look like?

Last week I was browsing the web and I found a lot of cool looking home office setups. I realized it is quiet interesting to see how people workplaces look like. With that I want to give a quick look at my home office and my workplace setup. Secondly, I would like to share your setup as well. If you want to share yours write a blog, link it in the comments or show it on Twitter, what ever you like.

This is it, this is my workplace if I am not on the road.

  • My main machine today is the 15-inch Surface Book 2 attached to a Dell curved-ultrawide monitor (Dell UltraSharp 38 Monitor – U3818DW), which with Windows 10 and the Snap feature is absolutely great to use.
  • I also have a Surface Pro as a company work machine, which I use mostly on the road when I need a real mobile work machine. It has enough powerful to do serious work and still gives you a mobile work experience.
  • I am obviously using a lot of Surface accessories like the Surface Precision Mouse, the Surface Pen, the Surface Dial and the Microsoft Modern Keyboard.
  • I also use some wireless Bose Quiet Comfort 35 headphones, not only for travel but also in the home office
  • I like the Surface Pen on my Surface Pro to draw some quick stuff or take some notes in Onenote.


Surface Peripherals

What Microsoft Surface Peripherals do I use

As you may know, the Surface devices are my work devices of choice since the first release of the Surface Pro back in 2013. I had a couple of different generations, like the Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, the Surface Book, and my current daily driver, the Surface Pro (2017). The Microsoft Surface devices are quiet known now. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Microsoft also creates some great Surface peripherals for your Surface or your PC. So I try to go through what devices and peripherals I am using with my Surface.

The Keyboard

Surface Pro Signature Type Cover

When I am on the go, I am using the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover for my Microsoft Surface Pro. I decided to go with the grey Alcantara version because the grey matches the other Surface devices perfectly, and the Alcantara has this high-quality premium touch. I always liked the Surface Type Covers, and Microsoft improved them a lot over the past years.

Microsoft Modern Keyboard

If I am at home and I connect my Surface Pro to the Surface Docking Station, which connects it to two external monitors. I use the Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID. This keyboard is the successor of the Surface Keyboard and brings the great feeling and quality from the Surface Type Cover and the Surface Book keyboard to the desktop keyboard world. I especially like that it can be not only be connected wirelessly using bluetooth but also wired using USB. The USB port also lets it charge the keyboard when the battery after four months goes down or in offices spaces where you want to use a wired keyboard. The big thing about the Microsoft Modern Keyboard is the integrated Fingerprint sensor, which allows you to use Windows Hello to login to your PC.

The Mouse

Surface Arc Mouse



Surface Book 2

My First Impressions of the Surface Book 2

Last week I got my early (or late) Christmas gift to myself. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 15-inch version was finally shipping to Switzerland. The 13-inch version of the Surface Book 2, was already available last year. I am a long time Surface user, since I got my first Surface and my first Surface Pro back in 2012. As you might remember I got a new Surface Pro 2017 as a new company device, back in July 2017. I picked the Surface Pro as a replacement for my Surface Book which I used quite a while and I am very happy with it. It is a light and mobile device, perfect when you are traveling. I think the new Surface Pro with LTE would even be better if you are on the road.

However, one thing I always knew, was that I am more productive with a larger screen. Even the 13” Surface Book, made a huge difference against the 12” Surface Pro. The thing is simple, it is mobility versus screen real estate. I am often working on the go, which means I like the mobility. On the other hand I am also working a couple of hours on the device with no extra screens. Having some extra space on the mobile device, makes me more productive.

Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro

When Microsoft announced the new Surface Book 2 13-inch and 15-inch, I knew I want a 15” version. It would give me more screen real estate, more productivity, paired with the Surface quality and design. The combination of a 15” screen in a 3:2 aspect ratio, together with a touch screen and pen support, will provide you with the best possible work setup.

The Surface Book 2 also comes with some performance improvements. With the higher end models, you get new 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, which will provide you with the necessary performance. For me, these performance improvements are a nice addition, but not the reason I would upgrade. If you are a creator, designer, editor, you might highly benefit from the additional graphics performance. However, Microsoft also updated the disk to a faster NVMe SSD, and this you can see and feel in your day-to-day tasks.

Surface Book 2 – First Impressions

I haven’t used the Surface Book 2 long enough for a full review, but I want to share my first impressions.

  • Hardware and build quality are amazing as for all the Surface devices, no surprises here.
  • Performance improvements from the 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor, and the NVMe SSD are great. They are helping a lot if you are running Docker containers and Hyper-V on your machine. I can also imagine if you are doing graphic intensive work, you also benefit heavily from the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060.
  • The amazing 15” PixelSense display with the 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of  3240 x 2160 is just stunning and really makes a difference if you need screen real estate. The quality of the display is also amazing and you can switch between “Enhanced Mode” and sRGB. And as always I am very happy with the Surface Pen support.
  • Yes you can still detach the screen from the keyboard to use it as a giant 15” tablet.
  • Microsoft now includes 2 x USB type-A (version 3.1 Gen 1), 1 x USB type-C (version 3.1 Gen 1 with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0), 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 x Surface Connect ports, Full-size SDXC card reader. The only thing missing is the Thunderbolt port, but to be honest I never missed it before, but of course it would be nice to have it.
  • Of course the Surface Book 2 15” version is huge if you compare it to the Surface Pro or the Surface Laptop. With 1.9kg also heavier, but with the performance improvements, battery life and the larger screen, what else can you expect. However, if you undock the screen from the keyboard, the tablet part is still very light.
  • It also provides you with the necessary modern Wi-Fi standards a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology and built-in Xbox Wireless for the 15-inch version.
  • Since I am using it only since a couple of days, I cannot really talk about battery life. Microsoft claims up to 17 hours of video playback. To be honest the first Surface Book was already very good in terms of battery life. I think, with the Surface Book 2 I will make it trough a day.
  • Of course it also ships with a Windows Hello face authentication camera. A 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video and a 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video.

Overall my first impression of the Surface Book 2 is amazing. The Surface Book 2 is the laptop I was waiting for, for a long time. I think this is the best notebook I have ever owned. Are you owning one, or thinking about buying one for yourself? Let me know in the comments.