Category: Cloud

Joining Microsoft

Joining Microsoft

Today is a great day! I’m excited and proud to announce that as of February 1st, 2019, I’m joining Microsoft. I will join the Microsoft Azure Engineering team as a Senior Cloud Advocate. After being a Microsoft MVP for 7 years and working very closely with Microsoft the last couple of years, this is a great new opportunity and an exciting time ahead.

Microsoft Cloud Advocate

Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocate

The Microsoft Cloud Advocate Mascot by Ashley McNamara

My role is part of the Microsoft Developer Relations group and more specific the Cloud Advocates. I’m joining the team of Rick Claus, which many of you know from Channel9, Microsoft conferences and his overall work at Microsoft. Our team is focused in the IT Ops and IT Pro community. This allows me to do what I love most, which is being an advocate for customers in the Azure product group, sharing knowledge and engaging with the community.

We are advocates for the IT community within Microsoft. Using the products, listen to customers and help the product teams to prioritize their work. We develop tools to help use the products, we write documentation and tutorials, and we build connections between the community and the engineering teams.

Our team’s charter is to help every technologist on the planet succeed, be they students or those working in enterprises or startups. We engage in outreach to developers and others in the software ecosystem, all designed to further technical education and proficiency with the Microsoft Cloud + AI platform.

A large part of our mission is to make Microsoft Azure the best platform to run your applications and services, as well as making migration to the Microsoft Azure ecosystem simple. Our team looks for common pain points and works with the product teams to address them. In other cases, we build the missing pieces like tools and documentation.

My focus is going to be on the Azure and Microsoft hybrid cloud strategy. Besides the Azure services, this will include products and services like Windows Server and Azure Stack. Which will help bringing that consistent cloud experience to life, so our customers can make the best out of the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge.

If there’s anything you would like us to improve reach out to me or to our team. We listen to your needs and take your feedback into consideration in our future developments.

Why joining Microsoft

Thomas Maurer at Microsoft

Microsoft Ignite 2018. Picture by Kristopher Turner

When Rick Claus first approached me back in Summer 2018 and explained me that he starts a team which is focusing on IT Ops advocacy, I got super excited. I agreed that Microsoft had a large focus on developers, which is good, but didn’t really focus yet on the large group of IT Ops/Pro people. This team is built to change that and to give the IT Ops community a louder voice inside the Azure Engineering team. When I had the first talks with Rick and the team, I realized that this is the job I want to do!

After I have been working with Microsoft for a while now, I strongly believe in their vision, strategy and culture. Especially, I believe that in the Cloud era, Microsoft and the Azure team under Scott Guthrie are doing a fantastic job. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but I think Microsoft is in a perfect position.

I also believe that Microsoft as a company, is taking the company’s social responsibilities seriously. Projects like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and making the cloud more green are great examples.

Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

 

The decision to leave my current job wasn’t easy. I was super happy in my job at itnetX. I was working with a lot of great people for years and we were working at some super cool projects. However, I realized that after 7 years, it might be time to step out of my comfort zone and accept a new challenge, meet new people and keep on learning. I’m joining a team of rock stars, and I’m excited to learn from the team and the community as well as bringing my experience into the team.

There are many reasons why I decided to join Microsoft. In short, I would summarize it like this; stepping out of my comfort zone to keep learning and joining a great and talented team, doing the work I love, in a company which is shaping the future.

Time to say goodbye!

As exciting as this is, it is also a sad moment for me. Seven years ago, I joined itnetX as a Cloud Architect. The last couple of years I worked as a Lead Architect with customers and the community, helping them transforming to the cloud. It was a great time and I had the chance to learn a lot. I will definitely miss working with my colleagues and friends. I want to thank itnetX for the great time and opportunities I had. Especially, I want to thank Markus Erlacher, Dieter Gasser, Philipp Witschi, Marcel Zehner and Chris Greuter. I also want to thank my colleagues for supporting me. Over these years, I had the chance to work on awesome projects, focus on exciting technologies and engage with Microsoft and the community.

Microsoft MVPs

Microsoft Hyper-V MVPs at the MVP Summit 2015 in Redmond. From left to right: Alessandro, Didier, Carsten, Thomas, Aidan, Charbel, Tudor, Brian

Joining Microsoft also means that I won’t be a Microsoft MVP anymore. This is another big part which I will miss. However, my new role will allow me to engage even more within the community. It also means that I keep on doing what I did for the last couple of years. I am sure I will work together with a lot of friends from the Microsoft MVP community and of course I will join the MVP Reconnect program. With that I also want to thank the MVP community and a lot of people within Microsoft.

What is next?

We are a global team, with a few team members located in Redmond (USA), and many of us working remotely worldwide. For now, I’m staying in Switzerland. My first day at Microsoft is on February 1st, where I will start in the Microsoft office in Wallisellen (Switzerland). The day after, I’m already flying to Seattle to visit the Microsoft HQ in Redmond. I am looking forward to connecting with my team and the product groups.

After that, I’m looking forward to being part of the Microsoft Ignite The Tour. Ignite The Tour has several stops in Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States.

I will start building content for the Azure team. I will also join the Microsoft ITOps Talk blog, where my team covers interesting topics for IT Ops, focusing on Microsoft Azure. That said, I will also continue writing on my own blog on ThomasMaurer.ch.

I am very excited to start in a couple of days, and I am sure there will be a lot more to say and write in the future. Stay tuned and Azure on.

Thomas



Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Passed Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Today I am on my way to Geneva for a customer meeting. Before I left I quickly check my email and had some exciting news in my inbox. I got the confirmation that I passed the Microsoft Exam AZ-302 Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Certification Transition, which together with my previous exam, 70-535 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, gives me the certification as Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

Earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification demonstrates skills and knowledge to advise stakeholders and translate business requirements into secure, scalable, and reliable solutions. Candidates have advanced experience and knowledge across various aspects of IT operations, including networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data management, budgeting, and governance – managing how decisions in each area affects an overall solution.

I took this exam as a beat exam back in September at Microsoft Ignite 2018. For people who do not have already done 70-535, you will need to take AZ-300 and AZ-301 to get the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect certification. The AZ-Series are basically the new edition of the Microsoft Azure Certification path. These exams were announced at Microsofts Partner conference, Microsoft Inspire in 2018.

There is a great blog post by Chris Pietschmann, about the state of the current Microsoft Experts exams.

I am happy about getting the confirmation about my second successful Microsoft Azure exam this year, after passing AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals last week.

If you want to know more about the exam and the skills measured in this exam, check out the official Microsoft Exam page for AZ-302. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Congrats to all the others which got the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification today. Otherwise I wish you good luck taking the exam, let me know how it was in the comments.



Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell

Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell

There are multiple ways to interact and manage resources in Microsoft Azure. You can use the Azure Portal or command line tools like the Azure PowerShell module or the Azure CLI, which you can install on your local machine. However, to set up a cloud management workstation for administrators and developers can be quite a lot of work. Especially if you have multiple machines, keeping consistency between these machines can be challenging. Another challenge is keeping the environment secure and all the tools up to date. This any many more things are addressed by the Cloud Shell.

Cloud Shell is not brand new, Microsoft announced Cloud Shell at Build 2017. This blog post is about how you can master Azure with Cloud Shell and to give you an overview about the possibilities of Cloud Shell.

What is Cloud Shell

Cloud Shell Azure Portal

Cloud Shell offers a browser-accessible, pre-configured shell experience for managing Azure resources without the overhead of installing, versioning, and maintaining a machine yourself. Azure Cloud Shell is assigned per unique user account and automatically authenticated with each session. This makes it a private and secure environment.

You get a modern web-based command line experience which can be accessed from several end points like the Azure Portal, shell.azure.com and the Azure mobile app, Visual Studio Code or directly in the Azure docs.

In the backend Azure uses containers and automatically attaches an Azure File Share to the container. You can store the data on it, so your data is persistent. This persist your data across different Cloud Shell sessions.

Cloud Shell Bash and PowerShell

You can choose your preferred shell experience. Cloud Shell supports Bash and PowerShell and included your favorite third party tools and common tools and languages. If something like a module is missing, you can simply add it.



Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will both be out of extended support within the  next 12 months (detailed dates below). This means if you have these versions, you’ll need to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server or Windows Server or buy Extended Support soon to maintain support and receive security updates and fixes. Buying Extended Support is not cheap. Customers with active Software Assurance or subscription licenses can purchase Extended Security Updates annually for 75 percent of the full license cost of the latest version of SQL Server or Windows Server. A lot of customer should start migrating to newer versions of these products to avoid these extra costs.

Extended Support dates

  • Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2019.
  • Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2020.

However, in mid-2018 Microsoft announced a new option for SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 End of Support. Customers running 2008 or 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server in Azure virtual machines will get Extended Security Updates for free. This will give customers some extra time to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server and Windows Server. Or even better, to Azure PaaS and serverless computing like Azure Functions.

The great thing about this, is that you can also combine this with your Azure Hybrid benefits, to use your SQL Server and Windows Server on Azure with your on-premise licenses.

Extended Security Updates on Azure Stack

If you are thinking to migrate to the cloud, this new option will bring down costs for you. However, not everyone is fully ready to move all their servers to the public cloud. You might still need or want to run some servers on-premise in your datacenter. This will leave you with buying Extended Support or what a lot of people don’t know, you can also run your SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack and get Extended Security Updates for free, since it is basically Azure!

This is great, especially since Azure Stack also comes with great IaaS capabilities. And if you are thinking about using Azure in the mid-term, Azure Stack provides you with Azure capabilities, but still allows you to stay in your own datacenter.



AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

Passed Exam AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

I just took a little bit of my time to do one of the latest Azure exams. The Azure exam AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals is, as the name suggests, a basic fundamental exam covering some general knowledge about Microsoft Azure. The exam covers a basic understanding of cloud concepts, core Azure services, security, privacy, compliance and trust, as well as Azure Pricing and support.

AZ-900 is a good exam if you are just starting with Azure and the cloud. It is not just a marketing and sales exam, even do it is a very light exam. you will need to have some technical know-how. If you are planning to take this exam I have some recommendations for you. Understand the benefits of cloud computing and the different cloud models. Go trough the list of Azure services, make sure you know what services are available and for what you would use them. Also make sure that you understand the concepts of Azure in general and in Azure governance, like Subscriptions, Management Groups, Azure Policies, Azure Resource Groups, Role-Based Access Control and many more.

You can find more detailed information on the Microsoft exam website. There you will find all the skills measured in this exam.

Microsoft Learn

I also highly recommend that you make an Azure free (or paid) account and try out different Azure services. But if you really wanna get ready for the cloud and especially for Microsoft Azure, and exam AZ-900, check out Microsoft Learn. Microsoft Learn is a great free learning platform, where you have free guides, walkthroughs and a hands-on experience. Microsoft Learn also provides you some more advanced trainings and guides, to get some deeper understandings of Microsoft services.

With that I wish you happy learning and good luck with the AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam!



Top 20 Microsoft Azure Blogs

Listed in the Feedspot Top 20 Microsoft Azure Blogs To Follow in 2019

Another great thing I found out about today. My blog, ThomasMaurer.ch is listed in the Feedspot Top 20 Microsoft Azure Blogs and Websites To Follow in 2019. I am super excited to be on this list, next to other top blogs and websites. As you can imagine you will find even more about Microsoft Azure on my blog in 2019. You can follow my blog on Feedspot or just check out my Subscribe page, to get my latest blogs.

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.

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing my blog! If you have some topics or ideas I should cover in 2019, please let me know!



Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox – Isolated Windows Desktop

Today Microsoft announced a new feature called Windows Sandbox. Windows Sandbox is built based on Windows Container technology, which allows you to spin up an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software. The software you run and install in the Windows Sandbox does not affect the host. If you shut down the Windows Sandbox all changes and all software you installed in the Sandbox are gone again. This sounds very similar to the technology Windows Defender Application Guard already used to build a sandbox environment for Microsoft Edge.

Windows Sandbox Overview

Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox has the following properties:

  • Part of Windows – everything required for this feature ships with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. No need to download a VHD!
  • Pristine – every time Windows Sandbox runs, it’s as clean as a brand-new installation of Windows
  • Disposable – nothing persists on the device; everything is discarded after you close the application
  • Secure – uses hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation, which relies on the Microsoft’s hypervisor to run a separate kernel which isolates Windows Sandbox from the host
  • Efficient – uses integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual GPU

Windows Sandbox brings the advantages of Windows Containers and also adds a desktop. If you compare this to a Windows 10 Virtual Machine, the Windows Sandbox will consume much less resources, it starts up match faster and will be much more efficient with hardware resources. You can think of it as a lightweight virtual machine, which can share the same hardware but also the same kernel and memory as the host system (like a container).