Microsoft Core OS Virtualization Advancements Improve the Life of the SQL and CRM Server Engineers

April 15th, 2014

Let’s say you are a Microsoft shop, but using VMWare still to host things like MS SQL Server images, CRM Servers and SharePoint Servers.  Are you losing anything by trying to use the VMWare hypervisor stack instead of the MS Hyper-V solution? It looks like the answer is increasingly yes. One example that impacts engineers every day is running test copies of VM’s in local environments, and trying to work out the kinks before deployment into local private cloud.

I saw a neat blog on just this topic, focused on Windows 8.1, which now supports Hyper-V in the desktop mode directly. Check out Jonathan Hassell’s piece here.

He hits on five key points, here is a quick summary of them. I particularly like the first one, which given a pure Microsoft stack world, finally moves us from the “emulation” of physical servers in a VM world to the purity of operating systems engineered for virtualization. The end of the era of trapped BIOS IRQ calls could not come soon enough for me. Long live Hyper-V and Generation 2 virtual machines. This will make life better for the SQL and CRM server engineers, from the desktop up to the private and public cloud spaces, and only works in the Hyper-V world.

1. Generation 2 virtual machines

Windows 8.1 is designed to work within what Microsoft calls a “generation 2 virtual machine,” a new type of VM available exclusively under Hyper-V. This VM essentially strips away all pretense of virtualizing legacy PC deployments. Generation 2 VMs are UEFI-based, rather than relying on a BIOS, and there are no emulated devices. These VMs boot directly off a virtual SCSI and network adapters and also support secure boot — the preferred way to ensure only signed kernels are permitted to boot within the VM.

2. Deduplication for VDI deployments

If you want to run Windows 8.1 in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment, with scores of hosts running Windows 8.1 guests in VMs that users log into as their daily drivers, then the Windows Server 2012 R2 deduplication feature can save an enormous amount of space while increasing performance.

3. Storage Quality of Service

Network Quality of Service (QoS) allows administrators to define caps for certain types of network traffic to ensure enough bandwidth exists for other activities and no one type of traffic sucks up the entire network pipe. Similarly, Hyper-V in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 supports storage QoS. This feature lets you restrict disk throughput for overactive and disruptive VMs, which is great if you have a long-running process in one VM and you don’t want the overall I/O performance of your host machine dragged down. Since this feature is dynamically configurable, you can even adjust the QoS settings while the VM is running so you don’t interrupt the workload of a given VM.

4. Online VHDX resize

Have you ever had a VM that runs out of disk space? If you set up the VM with a fixed-size virtual disk rather than a dynamically expanding disk, this could pose a problem. However, the new Hyper-V in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 allows you to increase and decrease the size of virtual hard disks of a VM while the VM is running — a hot resize, if you will. The VM in question can be running any guest OS, so there are no limitations to running Windows XP or even Linux with this feature. But the virtual hard disk file must be in the newer format (VHDX) as opposed to the older (more popular) VHD format.

5. Enhanced VM connect

Hyper-V in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 offers what Microsoft calls “enhanced virtual machine connect,” which is the ability to use the remote desktop protocol to connect to a VM — even if the network within the VM is down. Hyper-V uses VMBus, the internal communications channel for connecting VMs to the hypervisor. It then transmits RDP over the VMBus independent of the network connection. As part of this enhanced mode, you can drag and drop files between the host and the VM, which makes use of the clipboard sharing capabilities, and you can redirect local resources like smart cards, printers and USB devices right over that VMBus connection. This makes it easier to perform troubleshooting tasks and simple administration. This enhanced mode is enabled by default if you’re running Hyper-V on Windows 8.1, but disabled by default if you are running it on Windows Server 2012 R2.

Remember, quite a bit of this is Hyper-V specific. Read Jonathan Hassell’s full piece by clicking here.

Tons of file-based data to share in the cloud? No problem, with SharePoint Online!

March 28th, 2014

Recently, Microsoft announced that SharePoint Online’s site collection limit has been increased to a full terabyte, up from 100 gigabytes previously, giving the cloud storage quite a boost.Cloud storage with the rain of the social symbols; Eps10

Along with the new site collection limit, Microsoft announced that businesses can better scale their storage on SharePoint Online. They have seen an impressive 485 percent growth in user access and a 500 percent [year-over-year] growth in customer content storage.

In an FAQ, the company revealed that 1TB site collections and unlimited tenant storage affect select Office 365 plans, including Enterprise E1, E3 and E4 and Education A2, A3 and A4, and does not apply to Home Premium users.

Finally, while site collection total storage limits are growing larger, it is still a good practice to keep individual SharePoint Online single libraries from growing beyond 2000-3000 files per library, to keep performance at its peak. Instead, add extra libraries if extra file count is needed. And avoid exceeding 5000 files per SharePoint Online library or list, this has been known to create real headaches.

To view the original article, click here.

The Role of CIO in a Digital Transformation Project

March 21st, 2014

Have you ever wanted to learn about the role a CIO plays in a digital transformation project? This infographic breaks it down.

Click on the image to make it larger.

CIO-Digital-Transformation-Inforgraphic (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the original source, click here.  

 

Now Available: SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1

March 7th, 2014

Capture

 

 

 

Microsoft just announced the latest release to SharePoint Server 2013: Service Pack 1 (SP1). SP1 includes performance, reliability and security fixes. The Service Pack also includes the most common scenarios that you may face when moving to the cloud such as deploying cloud-based workloads in your organization faster, and with less complexity.

The improvements to SharePoint 2013 on-premises include:

Seamless hybrid connection to OneDrive for Business in Office 365

In SP1, new functionality allows an IT administrator to selectively configure redirection of OneDrive for Business, sites, and pages to the cloud while providing familiar IT controls. By combining OneDrive for Business and existing hybrid solutions, such as Search, IT can deploy rich cloud-based experiences for users and maintain control and visibility of the content users create.

Support for Yammer as the chosen social network, making it easier to replace the default Newsfeed

SP1 makes it easy for IT to replace the out-of-the-box SharePoint 2013 social experience (Newsfeed) with Yammer. Using simple controls in SharePoint 2013 Central Administration, IT can choose to activate (or deactivate) Yammer, redirecting users to their established Yammer network.

Support for JSON Light in OData v3 requests

SP1 includes notable improvements that support developers. SP1 introduces support for JSON Light, allowing developers to choose which level of metadata they would like in a response: no metadata, minimal metadata, or full metadata (previously the only option in SharePoint 2013).

In addition to the new functionality SP1 provides, this service pack includes a number of fixes designed to improve your experience with SharePoint 2013. It also includes all cumulative updates through December 2013 and public updates through February 2014. 

To view the original article, click here.

Want to add Service Pack 1 to your SharePoint 2013? Contact us today.

The History of DDoS

February 28th, 2014

Have you ever wondered about the history of DDoS? This infographic shares with you the history from 1990-2014. To view the infographic, click on the image to make it bigger.

To view the original article, click here.

Dreamforce 2013

November 15th, 2013

dreamforceSome of the TopLine Strategies Executive Team will attending the annual Salesforce.com DreamForce event in San Francisco, November 18-21.

This conference is the largest cloud computing event of the year and attendees will be discovering everything they need to know from industry leaders, customers and world-renowned professionals. Special guests include Sheryl Sandberg, (COO at Facebook), Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!), Deepak Chopra (MD , Founder The Chopra Foundation) as well as Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com.  

Attendees every year comment on the success of the event. 98% of attendees surveyed from last years event recommended it and 96% said their business improvements quickly outweighed the cost of going to Dreamforce.

If you would like more information about the event, please visit: http://www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/DF13/

MS CRM 2013 Release Guide

November 7th, 2013

As Microsoft launches Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, we wanted to share some of the updates associated with this most recent rollout. Microsoft is committed to delivering on the vision of making the user experience within CRM elegant, simple and intuitive. This new update creates a personal work environment by helping people across sales, marketing and customer care teams like never before.

View the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Release Preview Guide by clicking on the image to the right and learn more about new features and functionality including:

 · Reimagined User Experience

 · Process Excellence & Agility

 · CRM on the Go

 · Enterprise Collaboration

 · Platform Enhancements

Dynamics CRM 2013 Features

October 14th, 2013

Microsoft launched Dynamics CRM 2013 October 1 and we wanted to share one of the cool new features. In this blog we will discuss the “Guided Process.” The “Guided Process” offers a new way to track the progress of opportunities within CRM.

The UX has been upgraded to show a “progress bar” to keep track of the life-cycle of your opportunities. It is divided by Qualify, Develop, Propose and Close. This outline lets sales reps know exactly what needs to be done to move an opportunity forward. This can obviously be customized to meet your individual process needs as well. You create the phases and steps you want and all sales reps have a clear understanding of where they are at with in the purchasing cycle with a prospect.

  

 

This process can be applied to any entity within Microsoft Dynamics CRM as well, not just opportunities. So you can display multiple processes to people with different roles throughout the organization. This is just one of the many new features available with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. We will review and add more features in the weeks to come.

 

Top 10 Hottest Enterprise Apps of 2013

September 12th, 2013

Many people have associated apps created for mobile devices and tablets with solving the entertainment needs of consumers ie- gaming, social media usage etc. But as the app marketplace grows, organizations around the world have begun to create business oriented platforms that have proven to significantly increase business efficiency. With this in mind, Salesforce compiled a list of their top 10 hottest enterprise mobile apps for 2013. Here is that list with a brief description of their functionality and links to their websites if you would like to learn more.

Apttus – Quoting solution that allows users to quickly configure price and quotes for any product or service.

DocuSign – Allows users to quickly sign and send any document type straight from a mobile device or tablet.

Concur – Tracks travel and expense costs associated with business trips in an easy to use application.   

ServiceMax – A mobile and collaborative field service management software

Bracket Labs – Distributed, through the Salesforce App Exchange, this organization developed apps that share items such as marketing campaign calendars and shared to-do lists.  

Sylpheo – Enables sales people to make more phone calls and organize contact information easier.

Taptera – Allows for more seamless IT integration and security with syncing personal tablets with internal systems

Xactly –  A program designed to build, manage and audit sales compensation programs.

Geopointe – An integration of Force.com with Google maps, MapQuest and other geo-technologies. It is the top map app provider on Force.com

FinancialForce.com – Builds cloud applications for Salesforce CRM such as cloud accounting software, billing, online accounting, professional services and more.

 

Courtesy of: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2013/09/salesforce-enterprise-apps.html?d=70130000000tP4L

 

Salesforce.com Announces New Performance Edition

August 23rd, 2013

salesforce-com-logoSalesforce.com announced a new edition called “Salesforce Performance Edition” that will release November 4.

Alex Dayon, President of Applications and Platform at Salesforce.com stated, “Salesforce.com has consistently revolutionized the industry by delivering major innovations for sales and service, and we continue to get incredible response from our customers. Performance Edition will combine these capabilities in a single solution to make it easier than ever to become a high performance customer company.”

This new edition will combine the Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Salesforce Platform with Data.com, Identity, Live Agent, Knowledge and other sandbox functionality in a single application. The price per user will start at $300 per user, per month.

Please follow this link to the official press release for more details: http://www.salesforce.com/company/news-press/press-releases/2013/08/130812.jsp