Category: Microsoft

Microsoft Ignite The Tour Milan 2020

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2020 Milan

After our leading Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference in Orlando in November 2019, and my first two stops in Shenzhen, China, and London, I am happy and honored that my third stop of Microsoft Ignite The Tour will be in Milan, Italy. By the way, if you are interested in taking a Microsoft certification exam for free, check out the following blog post: Free Microsoft Certification exam voucher at Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2020.

  • Date: January 27–28, 2020
  • Location: Milano Convention Centre

Microsoft Ignite The Tour Milan

Our industry-leading conference is hitting the road—and coming to a city near you. You don’t want to miss the very latest in cloud technologies and developer tools with guest speakers, industry experts, and more. Get on the list today!

I will be speaking in the Microsoft Ignite The Tour learning paths. I am thrilled to show you some cool stuff about PowerShell, Windows Server 2019, Windows Admin Center, Azure Arc, and much more! I will be presenting the following sessions:

THR30033 - Top five new features of Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 is Microsoft’s most rapidly adopted server operating system. With Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 end of support upon us, learn about some of the amazing new features included in the latest version of the Windows Server operating system. In this session, learn about the top new features in Windows Server 2019, including Windows Admin Center, Storage Migration Service, hyperconverged storage improvements, System Insights, Cluster Sets, Azure integration, Linux Containers, and Kubernetes integration.

MSI20 - Hybrid management technologies

Tailwind Traders has now migrated the majority of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. Now, they are interested in the Azure hybrid technologies that are readily available to them. In this session, learn how Tailwind Traders began using Windows Admin Center and Azure Arc to manage its fleet of Windows Server computers and integrated hybrid technologies, such as Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery, and Azure Update Management, to improve deployment performance and manageability.

MSI30 - Migrating IaaS workloads to Azure

Now that the migration of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019 is complete, Tailwind Traders wants to begin the process of “lift and shift”: migrating some of their on-premises VMs they’ve been running in their datacenter. In this session, learn about how Tailwind Traders began the process of migrating some of their existing VM workloads to Azure and how this allowed them to retire aging server hardware and close datacenter and server rooms that were costing the organization a substantial amount of money.

MCO20 - Azure governance and management

Tailwind Traders’ deployments are occurring in an ad hoc manner, primarily driven by lack of protocol and unapproved decisions by various operators or employees. Some deployments even violate the organization’s compliance obligations, such as being deployed in an unencrypted manner without DR protection. After bringing their existing IaaS VM fleet under control, Tailwind Traders wants to ensure future deployments comply with policy and organizational requirements. In this session, walk through the processes and technologies that will keep Tailwind Traders’ deployments in good standing with the help of Azure Blueprints, Azure Policy, role-based access control (RBAC), and more.

I am looking forward to speaking at Microsoft Ignite The Tour (MITT) 2019-2020 in Milan. Let me know in the comments if you are going too, and I hope to see you there!



Free Microsoft Certification Exam at Microsoft Ignite The Tour

Free Certification Exam Offer at Microsoft Ignite The Tour

You may remember some of my blog posts around Microsoft Azure Certification, like Why you should become Azure Certified or how to pass an Azure Certification exam. Now you have a great chance to get a free exam offer. If you are attending one of the Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2019-2020 events, you are getting a free certification exam voucher for one of the following exams. You don’t need to take the exam at the event itself. You will get a voucher that will allow you to register and schedule an exam later. And yes, if you were at Microsoft Ignite 2019 in Orlando, you can register for that too.

Offer details

If you attended Microsoft Ignite 2019 or a Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2019-2020 event, you may be eligible to receive one free Microsoft fundamentals, role-based, or specialty certification exam. The free exam offer is available for redemption from the beginning of the event, which you are attending, and is valid for 180 days after the last day of the event. If you do not schedule an exam within that timeframe, you will not be able to redeem your offer.

Free Microsoft Azure Certification Exams at Microsoft Ignite The Tour

Here are the Azure certification exams you get a voucher if you attend Microsoft Ignite The Tour. You can also take other exams for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform. If you need to know more about how to pick the right Azure Certification path, check out my blog.

This exam offer is not valid for, and may not be redeemed by, either: 1) government officials; or 2) residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, or Sweden. *This offer is not available to government officials or residents of the countries noted as it exceeds the limits permissible under Microsoft policy and local law. You can find more terms and conditions for the free Microsoft Certification Exam offer at Microsoft Ignite The Tour here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Cloud Solutions Architect Podcast

Azure Cloud Solution Architects Podcast 11 – Azure Hybrid using Stack & Arc

I had the chance to be part of the Azure Cloud Solution Architects Podcast to talk about Azure Hybrid Cloud using Azure Stack and Azure Arc. Anand Kumar, who is a Cloud Solution Architect (CSA) at Microsoft, created a great podcast and already had a couple of great guests, like Sarah Lean or Mike Pfeiffer from CloudSkills.fm, on his podcast.

“Cloud Solution Architects” podcasts brings you the wealth of wisdom from solution architects across the globe working on azure solving critical business problems and changing the world with azure. We also talk to the human side and explore what it means to be successful in the cloud computing space.

In this episode we talk with Thomas Maurer who works as a Cloud Advocate in Microsoft. We talk about how Azure Stack helped his customer realize the value of Azure even when there were compliance need for the data not to leave the customer’s datacenters. Tom talks about how he keeps himself up to date with everything that’s happening in the Cloud world and his e-commerce website too.

You can find Azure Cloud Solution Architects Podcast Episode 11 here.



Presenting and Creating Great Tech Demos

How to Create Great Tech Demos and Presentations

I didn’t keep track of the exact number, but I did many presentations at different conferences around the world. Since I am doing a lot of tech presentations and demos, I am always looking at how I can improve and get better. I start to realize that there are a lot of things you need to consider when delivering tech demos during presentations, to make it better for the audience. I started to work on my demos a lot, and I realized that these things also work when you are recording demo videos or screencasts. That is why I came up with the idea to write this blog post with tips and tricks on how you can create great tech demos and presentations.

Create and tell a story, make sure people can see the result 🎬

People have a short attention span, so if you are switching to your tech demo, and in the first couple of seconds, your audience is already lost because they cannot read what is on the screen or they have no context at all, you lost them for good. You need to make sure you create and tell a story, and you show them how to solve a specific challenge. A tech demo is not just good if you can show how you address a particular challenge, but people need to understand it. For example, I have seen many tech demos, that tell you here is the problem, here is the setting to solve it, and done. They didn’t complete the full demo and showed that it is now working. Yes, of course, sometimes showing the setting is enough, but a lot of times you want to show here is the challenge, it is not working now, I do this, and now you can see it is working. This gives attendees a way better experience and understanding of your demo.

Create video recordings of your demos 📽

Live demos are great, but sometimes it is just not possible, or the experience of the attendees isn’t great. For example, if you start a task that takes 5-10 minutes to complete, you don’t want to wait for it to complete as your time is limited in a session. Which leaves you with three options. The first option, you prepare an already finished scenario to jump on like they do in cooking shows. Secondly, you show something else and let the task complete in the background, and jump back to it once it’s done. And the third one, you cut a video before and use your video editing skills to make the waiting time shorter. While option one and two, often work, I realized that jumping away from a specific scenario or using another object which already completed, may confuse people, they lose context and doesn’t give them a great experience. Recording a video can help with that. For example, one of my demos is replicating a virtual machine named VM1, and these can take 30mins to even a couple of hours. I could have prepared a VM2, which would have been already replicated and move on with that one. However, during a lot of presentations, I realized it makes it easier to follow for people if I can use the exact same VM name, during the whole demo.

Creating videos also has an advantage when you run into issues. This can be due to lousy conference Wi-Fi or something just broke out of your control. Even if you plan to do the demo live, it is always great to have a backup, especially if you are doing a demo-heavy presentation, where things build on top of each other.

Resolution and Scaling 💻

You can have the most fabulous demo of all time, but if people can’t see it, it doesn’t matter at all. Rule number one, if you have to ask if people can read it, people can’t read it. So make sure that you are 100% sure that people can see what is going on. My recommendation is, please set your screen resolution to whatever the projector supports. Most of the time, this will be Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) resolution.

Presentation Demo Screen Resolution and Scaling

Presentation Demo Screen Resolution and Scaling

Early in the days, we didn’t have scaling in Windows, so people were using lower resolutions to make everything appear bigger. Guess what, Windows 10 supports scaling, so I usually use Full HD (1920×1080) and 150% scaling, this makes an excellent size to see what is going on the screen but also makes the picture sharp and not blurry. Most of the applications can handle it, and most of the web portals also work the ways they should. That said, I know that not all applications and scenario scale very well. Depending on what you are showing, you need to decide how you want to present it.

Use ZoomIT, and use it wisely 🔎

One of the most excellent tools for presentations is Sysinternals ZoomIT by Mark Russinovich (not PowerShell this time, sorry Jeffrey 😉). ZoomIT is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations, and as the name says, it lets you zoom. This helps you not just to make things more readable, but also to highlight a specific part of the screen, to show people where they need to focus on.

ZoomIt is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image. I wrote ZoomIt to fit my specific needs and use it in all my presentations.

ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can use pen input for ZoomIt drawing on tablet PCs.

ZoomIt

ZoomIt

While ZoomIT is excellent, you need to know how to use it right. Place the mouse where you want to zoom and then zoom in, don’t move the mouse too much after you have zoomed in, you don’t want people to become sick 😵. As you can see, ZoomIT also allows you to do screen annotations, to mark specific things on the screen. Again, use this feature wisely before you start painting on the screen. The great thing about it, you can also use a pen, like the Surface Pen, to draw on your screen.

Font Size and Editor Light Theme 🔠

Okay, one of the many problems I see with many tech presentations is happening when people show code. Coming back to what I said earlier, if you have to ask the audience if they can read it, they can’t read it, so please use a font size they can easily read. Even in Notepad and Terminal, you can easily zoom these days with CTRL + Mousewheel.

Notepad Zoom

Notepad Zoom

If you are showing code in an editor or even in a web portal, a dark theme makes you look cool. However, it is horrible to read. So please help the audience and use a light theme in your editor like Visual Studio Code or in the Azure portal.

Light Theme Editor

Light Theme Editor

By the way, I am not saying that you only should use light PowerPoint slides. Dark PowerPoint slides can be a very powerful tool if they are used right. However, for editors, it is just very simple and way better to view if you are using a light theme. One of my favorite Visual Studio Code themes to present is the PowerShell ISE theme. This theme gives you a simple and light theme, with great color options for syntax highlighting.

Clean up 🧹

You want to make sure that people in your presentation and during your demonstration are focusing on the right thing and don’t get distracted by any clutter. So before your presentation, make sure you clean up:

Close all unnecessary applications

Especially any messengers like Microsoft Teams or Slack, you don’t want to receive any notifications at all during your presentation (Except you are showing Microsoft Teams demos 😉). By shutting down all these applications, you also make sure that you have enough resources like Memory available.

Turn off notifications

Focus assist

Focus assist

In Windows 10, you have a feature called Focus assist, and this allows you to pause all notifications on your PC.

Hide all icons from your desktop

Hide Desktop Icons

Hide Desktop Icons

Yes, there is an option for that! Right-click on your desktop -> View -> Show Desktop Icons.

Browser

Browser

Browser

If you are doing a demo using a browser, make sure your browser is also cleaned up, hide your Favorites Bar, and any additional browser extensions, which might take the focus away.

Taskbar

Keep your taskbar clean, you don’t want people to focus on all the icons there and the program you have installed. You want to make sure there is as little distraction as possible.

Hide System Icons and Time

Windows 10 Turn system icons off

Windows 10 Turn system icons off

This might not always be needed, but if you want to make it cleaner and especially during video recordings, you can also hide the system icons and time. If you are opening the settings app and search for system icons, you can go and hide them.

Full screen

This is a simple one, but if you do a presentation, you don’t want your windows overlapping each other and be confusing, so run your applications in full screen. Exception for this is when you want to show two things in comparison to each other.

Use the Azure Mask browser extension for your Azure demos

If you are doing demos in the Microsoft Azure Portal, you want to have a look at the Azure Mask browser extension. This is a browser extension that will mask GUIDs (such as Subscription IDs), email addresses, keys, and connection strings with a blur. The extension intends to make it easier to do screen recordings without revealing sensitive personal account information that may show up on the screen. It will only run and apply against Azure portal URLs. It’s available in Chrome, Firefox, and also works with the new Microsoft Edge (Chromium).

Virtual Desktops to switch to your tech demo 💻

I am a huge fan of the Virtual Desktop feature in Windows 10. This basically gives you unlimited desktops on your Windows 10 PC, which is excellent for productivity. But I am also using Virtual Desktops during presentations, for example, for switching between the PowerPoint deck to a demo. One the first desktop, I keep my PowerPoint presentation in full screen open, and with CONTROL + WINDOWS + ARROW RIGHT/LEFT, I can switch to other desktops where I, for example, already have my demos ready. You can create new Virtual Desktops by pressing WINDOWS + TAB. This makes switching between PowerPoint and demonstrations, less messy.

Virtual Desktop

Virtual Desktop

If you are presenting somewhere, where you can plug in two devices, you can also use the display switch to switch from your presentation machine to your secondary demo machine, which will have a similar effect. However, a lot of smaller events, don’t have that setup. By using the Virtual Desktops feature, you can clean up the process of switching to different technical demonstrations.

Change Desktop Backgrounds and console colors 🎨

Use different Colors

Use different Colors

If you do a presentation with multiple systems or consoles, you want to make sure people can follow on which system you are working. For example, if you have two different systems deployed to servers, you want to make sure people can easily identify which server runs which application. For example, you can change the color of the terminal or desktop background of VM1 to blue and the one of VM2 to red. If you are working with Windows, you might also use Sysinternals BgInfo, to write the name of the system on the desktop wallpaper.

The mighty Mouse pointer 🖱

Mouse Pointer

Mouse Pointer

If you want to explain something and point to something on the screen, the mouse cursor is a natural option. However, you can also do a lot of damage by using it wrong. First, make sure people can see the mouse pointer. In Windows 10, you can change the size and color of the mouse pointer, so people can easily identify it on the screen. Next, don’t move it fast and don’t go crazy. Move the mouse cursor slow and don’t try to circle things or jump around the screen with it; people will go nuts.

In many cases, it is better to use a tool like ZoomIT, to annotate on the screen.

Laser pointer in PowerPoint 👉

PowerPoint Laser Pointer

PowerPoint Laser Pointer

Many people use PowerPoint for their presentations. However, not many people know that PowerPoint can be an excellent presentation tool. It comes with a lot of features people don’t even know about, and with many of them, it is with any tool in the world; if you are using it wrong, it will not help you at all. One of the tools I want to highlight is the laser point feature in PowerPoint. If you are a presenter, you might have these remote presenters with a laser pointer on it, where you can point on a wall or projected screen. However, in many cases, that is not a good idea. Often the laser pointer is too small for people to see it or in some locations, you have multiple projectors, and you can’t point at all of them at once. PowerPoint can help you with that. You can use a simple on-screen laser pointer to highlight parts of your slides. This comes handy when you show a large technical diagram, which we often try to avoid, but in some cases, it is necessary.

Get prepared 🔧

To deliver great demos, you will need to practice them. First of all, you need to make sure that they actually work, but also that the timing is right. No one wants to wait and watch at the screen for five minutes until something has completed. I usually run through the demo at least twice before my presentations, to make sure that the demo also works multiple times. I usually also run through it a couple of minutes or hours before I go on stage. Especially with demos running in the cloud, I want to make sure that they are still working. It is not just about cloud technologies that can change fast; for example, I also saw software and container images expire.

What if something goes wrong? 👻

Even if you did prepare like crazy, there can always something go wrong. Don’t worry, people understand that things can break. As long as you are prepared, handle it the right way and have a backup plan, you will be fine. If something doesn’t work, you can try to troubleshoot it quickly. But don’t spend too much time on it and move on to the next one, because the audience doesn’t want to see you troubleshooting for minutes. In some cases, the audience can’t even see or doesn’t even realize that the demo didn’t work. In that case, don’t point it out, just move on if the demo is not essential to your presentation.

Conclusion to create Tech Demos and Presentations 😎

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how you can create great technical (tech) demonstrations (demos) and presentations. Let me know what your favorite tips and tricks for great tech demos are!



Microsoft Ignite The Tour Milan 2020

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2020 London

As mentioned before, one of our big projects this year is going to be Microsoft Ignite The Tour (MITT) 2019-2020. After our leading Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference in Orlando in November 2019, we started to bring Microsoft Ignite The Tour to 30 cities around the world. While I am traveling to Microsoft Ignite The Tour in Shenzhen, I am happy that my second stop of Microsoft Ignite The Tour will be in London. Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2019 London was already the first Tour stop for me, and the first conference after joining Microsoft, and I am thrilled to be back.

  • Date: January 16–17, 2020
  • Location: ExCeL London

Microsoft Ignite The Tour London

Our industry-leading conference is hitting the road—and coming to a city near you. You don’t want to miss the very latest in cloud technologies and developer tools with guest speakers, industry experts, and more. Get on the list today!

I will be speaking in the Microsoft Ignite The Tour learning paths. I am pleased to show you some cool stuff about PowerShell, Windows Server 2019, Windows Admin Center, Azure Arc, and much more! I will be presenting the following sessions:

MSI20 - Hybrid management technologies

Tailwind Traders has now migrated the majority of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. Now, they are interested in the Azure hybrid technologies that are readily available to them. In this session, learn how Tailwind Traders began using Windows Admin Center and Azure Arc to manage its fleet of Windows Server computers and integrated hybrid technologies, such as Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery, and Azure Update Management, to improve deployment performance and manageability.

MCO20 - Azure governance and management

Tailwind Traders’ deployments are occurring in an ad hoc manner, primarily driven by lack of protocol and unapproved decisions by various operators or employees. Some deployments even violate the organization’s compliance obligations, such as being deployed in an unencrypted manner without DR protection. After bringing their existing IaaS VM fleet under control, Tailwind Traders wants to ensure future deployments comply with policy and organizational requirements. In this session, walk through the processes and technologies that will keep Tailwind Traders’ deployments in good standing with the help of Azure Blueprints, Azure Policy, role-based access control (RBAC), and more.

I am looking forward to speaking at Microsoft Ignite The Tour (MITT) 2019-2020 in London. Let me know in the comments if you are going too, and I hope to see you there!



Secure your Server with Azure Security Center

Use Azure Security Center with Windows Server on-premises

Windows Admin Center makes it easy to connect Azure Hybrid Cloud services to your on-premises Windows Server environment. For a while now we can connect services like Azure Monitor, Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management and many more to Windows Server. This helps us to make our on-premises environment even better, by using Azure Cloud Services. At Microsoft Ignite we also announced Azure Arc, which brings cloud-native management to your on-premises environment. With the latest version of the Windows Admin Center, we can now easily connect Windows Servers to Azure Security Center. Azure Security Center will help you to quickly strengthen your security posture and protect against threats. It will not just scan your Azure resources but also your hybrid resources, for example, servers running on-premises or at other cloud providers. You can add Linux and Windows servers to Azure Security Center, and Windows Admin Center makes it easy to onboard your Windows Server.

Azure Security Center is a unified infrastructure security management system that strengthens the security posture of your data centers, and provides advanced threat protection across your hybrid workloads in the cloud – whether they’re in Azure or not – as well as on premises.

Keeping your resources safe is a joint effort between your cloud provider, Azure, and you, the customer. You have to make sure your workloads are secure as you move to the cloud, and at the same time, when you move to IaaS (infrastructure as a service) there is more customer responsibility than there was in PaaS (platform as a service), and SaaS (software as a service). Azure Security Center provides you the tools needed to harden your network, secure your services and make sure you’re on top of your security posture.

You can find more about Azure Security Center here.

Add an on-premises Windows Server to Azure Security Center

To add an on-premises Windows Server to Azure Security Center you can install an agent or you can use Windows Admin Center.

Secure your Server with Azure Security Center

Secure your Server with Azure Security Center

Open Windows Admin Center and click on Azure Security Center in the menu. Click on Sign into Azure and set up. This will open the wizard to onboard the server.

Onboard Server to Azure Security Center with Windows Admin Center

Onboard Server to Azure Security Center with Windows Admin Center

The wizard will ask you to with Azure subscription, resource group and log analytics workspace the server should be connected to. After a couple of minutes, you will get recommendations which you can review in the Azure Security Center or directly for the Windows Server in Windows Admin Center.

Azure Security Center Recommendations

Azure Security Center Recommendations

Get Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is a free download to use with your Windows Servers, you can download Windows Admin Center here. If you want to know more about the Hybrid capabilities, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com. If you want to know more about Azure Hybrid Cloud, check out azure.com/hybrid.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you add Windows Servers to Azure Security Center using Windows Admin Center. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Top 20 Microsoft Azure Blogs

Feedspot Top 50 Microsoft Azure Blogs To Follow in 2020

The year 2020 just started and I already got some great news. My blog, ThomasMaurer.ch was again listed in the Feedspot Top 50 Microsoft Azure Blogs and Websites To Follow in 2020 as top 3. I am honored and happy to be on this list, next to other top Azure blogs and websites. This is the second time I am listed in the Feedspot Top Microsoft Azure Blogs list. The first time I was listed last year in 2019.

The Best Microsoft Azure Blogs from thousands of Microsoft Azure blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.

 

Subscribe to my blog:

As you can imagine you will find even more about Microsoft Azure on my blog in 2020. You can follow my blog on Feedspot or just check out my Subscribe page, to get my latest blogs. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing my blog! If you have some topics or ideas I should cover in 2020, please let me know!