When Public Cloud Isn’t The Answer – Matt McSpirit – Ep 16

The power, flexibility, scale and simplicity that comes with “cloud” services is something that many of us have embraced.

The ability to deliver quickly and easily, complicated application and platform infrastructures is very appealing, especially for those of us who are continually challenged to deliver solutions to business problems ever more efficiently.

Public cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and IBM are a great answer to many of the modern technology challenges we are faced with, but, what happens when public cloud can’t be the answer to our challenge?

There are many reasons that a public cloud solution isn’t right,technical, commercial or of course, security driven, privacy and data sovereignty are concerns of many a business as they consider cloud.

What do we do? we can see the benefit, but also understand why we can’t take advantage of the solution.

The answer?

Build your own, deliver your own on-premises cloud solution. But How? how do I build my own Microsoft Azure, where on earth do I start?

Well you’ve come to the right place, in part two of my conversation with Microsoft Technical Evangelist Matt McSpirit, we discuss Azure Stack, Microsoft’s forthcoming private cloud converged solution, currently available in Technical Preview, ahead of it’s launch later this year, Azure Stack gives you all of the flexibility and deployment efficiency of Azure, with all the control, security and privacy of delivering it from your own data centre.021317_1151_EmbracingDe1.jpg

In this episode we discuss  what Azure Stack is, who it is (and is not) for, as well as how you to get your hands on it.

It’s a fascinating technology solution and Matt provides great insight into why it may be for you and how you get started finding out.

Enjoy the show.

Matt mentioned a range of resources that you can get your hands on to find out more about Azure Stack;

The Main Azure Stack page for more background and detail on the solution

Click here to access the Azure Stack Tech Preview

Check out the very informative sessions from Microsoft Ignite.

You can find Matt on Twitter @mattmcspirit

And if  you missed part one of our chat, don’t worry, it’s here .

If you enjoyed the show and want to make sure you don’t miss the next one, then why not subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud or wherever else you get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening.

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Embracing DevOps with Microsoft – Matt McSpirit – Ep15

This week we explore a bit more DevOps as I chat with Microsoft Tech Evangelist Matt McSpirit.

Matt is based at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond and produces lots of great and helpful content in his role as a tech evangelist. He can also be found sharing insights on Channel 9 as well as one of the hosts of the Microsoft “The Ops Team” podcast.

In the first of a two-part chat, we explore Matt’s two current areas of focus, AzureStack which we will cover next week and, in this first part, we get a Microsoft take on the DevOps movement, how they see it, and how it is affecting how Microsoft deliver their own technology to their customers.

We also look at some of the principles you should follow as you look to build a DevOps approach to your business, as well as discussing whether DevOps is something that stretches beyond the world of just software development.

Enjoy the episode;

You can find Matt on Twitter @mattmcspirit

Catch up on the excellent DevOps fundamentals videos on Microsoft Channel 9

Check out the DevOps dimensions videos on channel 9

Want Some DevOps education? – try Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft Parts Unlimited Workshops

Hope you enjoyed the episode and next week in Part 2 of my chat with Matt, we look at Microsoft’s on-premises cloud solution AzureStack.

If you want to make sure you grab the next episode, then why not subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud or wherever else you get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening.

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DevOps Hipster

IT loves a trend and right now there is nothing more hipster than DevOps, it’s a constant topic of conversation, there’s even a DevOps novel (check out the excellent Phoenix Project), but why, what is it all about, can I buy myself a DevOp?

It’s a topic that I’ve just started to learn about and thought that I’d share what I’ve found so far by way of a DevOps intro BLOG.

Let’s start with what DevOps isn’t;

You can’t buy a DevOps

It certainly is not a product, you won’t find a DevOps as a SKU from your favourite IT supplier, nope you certainly can’t go buy a DevOps.

It’s not a framework

I don’t think DevOps is a framework or a methodology either, it’s not an ITIL or Agile, it’s not a set of processes laid down that you qualify in and follow. This isn’t a criticism of those approaches, but if that’s what you want, then you won’t get that with DevOps. It can certainly be a part of a methodology, a DevOps culture in a more formal framework I would suggest is fine, but it isn’t a framework in itself.

What is it then?

If you can’t buy it and it isn’t a framework, then what it?

I referenced earlier The Phoenix Project, which is, genuinely, an IT novel that looks at the trials and tribulations of our hero Bill Palmer at Parts Unlimited, a fictional account of project delivery in business (it is much more engaging than it sounds!), A friend of mine said;

“if you’ve not read The Phoenix Project you probably don’t understand the challenges of your customers”

Now while that may be a little strong, certainly reading it has given me a whole different view of how modern businesses technology departments are challenged. In a world that changes increasingly quickly, we cannot allow our competition to be more agile than we are, delivering services faster and better and taking our customers with them.

In my opinion, it’s an attitude, a cultural shift, a different way of working, of attacking the problems we are presented with. It’s the idea of bringing together disparate groups inside an organisation to ensure the delivery of better and more timely solutions to solve the challenges that modern organisations face.

Why is DevOps even a thing?

For many of us working in IT it’s fair to say we’ve seen real changes over the last few years in how we deliver technology, be it virtualisation as a more flexible way of deploying servers and desktops. Smartphones, which have changed the way we interact with technology and consume applications or, of course, the cloud.

The way we consume cloud applications and infrastructure is possibly the final nail in the coffin of “traditional” IT deployment, we need a new server, bit of software or service, what do we do? wait 6 months for traditional IT to deliver? or do we jump over to AWS or Azure, credit card In hand and order it, having it delivered in minutes and ready to go.

These changes have moved us from a world where we were OK with an IT project taking months to deliver, to one where, if we do that today, we’d probably be looking for a new job.

It is this that has driven the need for, not only an organisations IT team, but for the entire organisation to look at new ways to react more quickly to changing business needs and challenges.

How do we make sure Internal IT doesn’t become redundant?

How do we then make sure that as an IT team, or even as an organisation, we don’t become redundant?

Let’s face it, we love the convenience of the app store or a cloud deployment, so why wouldn’t we want that in our business? Why not be able to deliver a new service with a couple of clicks, a system that is automated, built on templates, accessed by a catalogue and deployed the same way every time, it has lots of benefits, from efficiency to security, so we are all doing it aren’t we?

Well maybe not, because, it can be hard, our developers aren’t talking to test, who aren’t talking to infrastructure teams and often IT isn’t talking to the business and the business isn’t talking to IT. The more responsive our organisations need to be to challenges, the less acceptable this becomes and the more pressure IT comes under to deliver, often leading to short cuts which can lead to problems and failures.

It is this that has made IT and business sit up and look at new ways of delivering solutions and of course DevOps is one such way. An approach that allows us to speed up and de-risk project delivery, encourage better communication between what the business needs and how those deploying technology can help them to achieve it, as we all know modern IT cannot be the department that says “no” to everything.

To do that we need to embrace new practices, technologies and ways of working, but importantly, not just IT, the entire business needs to embrace this way of thinking or else it will fail.

But we don’t do development, is there a point to DevOps?

Maybe the most fascinating part of DevOps for me, Is I think it goes beyond just ways to get software delivered faster, it can definitely stretch more into the daily lives of IT departments in more “traditional businesses”.

If we look at DevOps practices, like deployment templates and desired state configurations, we can adopt them right into daily operations, the idea that my deployments are delivered against my company standard, every single time is very attractive. Think about securing data, having the ability to have a desired and secure state quickly re-applied to a machine is very powerful, both from a management and audit perspective.

Is DevOps for me?

Of course, I couldn’t say and I’m certainly no DevOps expert, but from what I’ve seen so far, the DevOps mentality certainly has significant benefit as we look to modernise how we manage and deliver technology to our businesses and in my opinion moves beyond the scope of just software development, I can see possibilities in how we run our IT in organisations of all types.

And whether it’s DevOps or something else, there is no doubt, to ensure we remain relevant to our organisations, we need to modernise our approach to IT, how we talk to our businesses, how we understand their needs and how we ensure we get solutions into our organisations quickly.

I hope these initial DevOps thoughts have answered some of your basic questions and if you want to find out more, I can certainly recommend The Phoenix Project and below I’ve pointed out a couple of other useful resources giving a range of insights into starting a DevOps practice.

Thanks for reading.. now go buy yourself a DevOp!

Microsoft Channel 9 DevOps Channel

Tech Interviews Intro to DevOps with Richard Fennel of Blackmarble

A great 20 minute video discussing DevOps from NetApp Insight (Where you may hear the quote I mentioned earlier!)

Gene Kim’s The Phoenix Project

Release your inner dev child with DevOps – Richard Fennell – Ep 14

This is the second of our series of episodes looking at emerging technology trends and this week we jump in with one of the most high profile, DevOps.

I attended an event recently ran by Microsoft partner Blackmarble discussing building a DevOps practice using Microsoft tools. There was some great stuff covered so after the event I grabbed a little bit of time with Blackmarbles’ Engineering Director Richard Fennell.

I have a fuller BLOG post talking about DevOps coming soon, but it’s fair to say that as a trend and way of working, DevOps, in my opinion, is something well worth understanding. Although DevOps was certainly born from a need to change software development and delivery practices, I personally wouldn’t ignore the topic just because you are not a developer or in IT operations, I think there is an awful lot that we can take from DevOps across all parts of our business as we look to be more efficient and effective in the way we meet challenges.

During our chat we discussed definitions of DevOps, what it is and what It isn’t and why we should look at it, what problems are we solving and we also consider some principles that we need to look at to start building a DevOps practice in our business.

Do enjoy the episode, I think Richard gives a great introduction for those looking to develop an initial understanding of DevOps and also some great practical steps you can take to get started, as I said, don’t think of DevOps as just something for software developers, the development of a DevOps culture across a business can have much more wide ranging benefit than that;

If you want to find out more about Richard, Blackmarble and developing a DevOps practice then check out the following resources;

To find out more about Blackmarble and DevOps try here

For some practical tips, try the Blackmarble BLOGS

And lastly if you want to stalk Richard on Twitter you can find him @richardfennell

If you have any other questions or comments on the show, then please leave a comment on the site or find me @techstringy

Next week is the first of two episodes speaking with Microsoft Technical Evangelist Matt McSpirit (@mattmcspirit) first up we share more DevOps love as we discuss the Microsoft view and how it’s changing their approach to the world and the following week we look in detail at AzureStack.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, or you’ve enjoyed this week then please subscribe to the show;

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Tech Trends – Object Storage – Robert Cox – Ep13

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve chatted about some of the emerging tech trends that I expect to see continue to develop during 2017 (Have a read of my look ahead blog post for some examples). To continue that theme this episode of Tech Interviews is the first of three looking in a little more detail at some of those trends.

First up, we look at a storage technology that is growing rapidly if not necessarily obviously, Object Storage.

As the amount of data the world creates continues to grow exponentially it is becoming clear that some methods of traditional storage are no longer effective. When we are talking billions of files, spread across multiple data centers across multiple geographies, traditional file storage models are no longer as effective (regardless of what a vendor may say!) that’s not to say that our more traditional methods are finished, in fact a long way from it, however there are increasingly use cases where that traditional model doesn’t scale or perform well enough.

For many of us, we’ve probably never seen an object store, or at least think we haven’t, but if you’re using things like storage from AWS or Azure then you’re probably using object storage, even if you don’t realise it.

With all that said, what actually is object storage? why do we need it? how does it address the challenges of more traditional storage? what are the use cases?

It’s those questions that we attempt to answer in this episode of Tech Interviews with my robert-coxguest Robert Cox. Robert is part of the storage team at NetApp working with their StorageGrid Webscale object storage solution.

During our chat we focus on giving an introduction to object storage, why is it relevant, the issues with more traditional storage and how object overcomes them, as well as Robert sharing some great use cases.

So, if you are wondering what object is all about and where it maybe relevant in your business, then hopefully this is the episode for you.

Enjoy…

If you’d like to follow up with Robert with questions around NetApp’s object storage solutions you can email him at robert.cox@netapp.com

You can find information on NetApp StorageGrid Webscale here 

And if you’d like a demo of StorageGrid then request one here

Next week we take a look at one of the most high profile of tech trends the emergence of DevOps, to make sure you don’t miss out you can subscribe to the Tech Interviews below.

Hope you can join us next week, thanks for listening…

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Through the IT Looking Glass – Hannah Breeze – Ep 12

When we spend all our time in the technology industry sometimes we can get a little close to it, to close to certain vendors or solutions and it can be very useful on occasion to step back and try to look at a wider picture.

This week we try to do just that as I chat with technology journalist Hannah Breeze. Hannah is deputy editor at CRN (Channel Reseller News) and writes about the relationship between vendors, distributers and sellers of technology,or as it is known, the IT channel.hannahbreezeheadshot-230x230

As part of her role she is invited to many of the industries key channel and customer events. As someone who also attends a few of these events, I found an article she wrote at the end of last year an interesting outsiders view of the industry ( Her “four things I’ve learned” article can be found here) and talks about the goals, strategies and messaging of four of the technology industries biggest players HP/HPE, Cisco, Dell/EMC and NetApp.

After reading it I thought it would be a great opportunity to have a chat with Hannah and share that as a podcast.

We talk about what she heard from a range of vendors last year, their messages, their focus, how the channel feels about those messages and whether we think vendors really are dealing with the challenges we, delivering IT in to our organisations, are actually seeing day to day.

So, I hope you enjoy this different view of the technology industry, here’s the episode.

I’d like to thank Hannah for her time, if you’d like to read up on Hannah’s work you can find here in the following places.

Her articles on CRN are here

And on twitter at @Hkbreeze

If you enjoyed the episode then please subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud or at podcast.techstringy.com

In the next few episodes I’m going to be looking at some key technology trends as we discuss Object Storage, DevOps and Hybrid IT, I hope you can join me.

Thanks for listening.

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This ain’t no predictions BLOG

Last week I was fortunate to be asked to appear on one of my favourite podcasts, Arrow Bandwidth. I was joined by a group of my technology peers and was asked to do the thing that people like to do this time of year and make some predictions for 2017.

I’m not much of a predictions person and not licenced to drive a crystal ball, so thought it would be better to, rather than try to predict things that were going to take us by surprise in 2017, focus more on things from 2016 that will potentially grow more rapidly in 2017.

I’m not going to steal the thunder of my co-conspirators on the episode, you can check out the entire episode at the bottom of this post, but I did think it would be worth sharing those handful of topics that I expect we will see a lot more of this year;

Overall Theme – Data
data-fabric_thumb.jpg

Pretty sure no shocks here, how we store, secure, protect and get
the best from our data is going to continue to be a very significant part of IT focus in 2017 and will drive many of the key trends that I think we’ll see develop and dominate the tech landscape this year.

Governance and Control

This really accelerated last year and I can’t see any slowdown in 2017, hot topics like GDPR will ensure that control and security of data is high on the list of many a tech leader.

(Wondering why should you care about data privacy? Check out my chat with Sheila Fitzpatrick here to find out more)

It will be imperative to know the

  • What
  • Where
  • Who
  • When
  • Why

of our data. Not knowing who is accessing it, where it is, what it contains and why it is accessed will become increasingly unacceptable for leaders of an organisation. If it isn’t, you may want to ask the question why isn’t it?

I’d expect to see the continued growth of tools that provide behavioural analytics as the only realistic way of managing this problem, it’s no good working with tools that are based on knowns, they have to be things that can understand what is the norm and when that norm is deviated from.

Getting the most from your data

I think this is a truly fascinating area and fits with my belief that the most successful businesses will be the ones who know how to gain valuable insight from their d
ata.

The more and more data we gather, the more value can be gained from it if we know what is in it and have the tools to understand it. What excites me about this, is how the big cloud providers have truly democratised the ability to do this. The likes of Microsoft, Amazon, data-analyticsGoogle and IBM means that any organisation with a need for data analytics can access these services easily and cost effectively.

Increasingly these tools are getting easier for us to exploit, take something like Microsoft’s PowerBI plugged into familiar applications like Excel, allowing us to use powerful analytics from the comfort of our own desktop.

A word of warning though, to truly gain value from data you do need to know what you are doing, I read this great article in Forbes recently on this very subject. But even with that in mind, I have no doubt this will continue to be a fascinating area of growth..

End User Data Analytics

This took off at a real pace last year. Modern IT has to focus on delivering an effective experience to users, but for many of us, we realise how difficult dealing with a call that goes something like “my machine is running a bit slow” is. The problem is  many of our current IT monitoring tools only ever look at our core infrastructure, networks, servers, storage and often we’ll see these things with lots of green lights thinking all is well.

However, last year saw a rise in tools that started to look at IT performance from a user perspective, quickly identifying things like performance dips and configuration changes allowing us to spot poor performing software and badly written apps.

Spotting odd client device behaviour also has another benefit. Odd device behaviour is often the sign of a compromised machine, performance dips, machines connecting to sites they shouldn’t, or attempting to hit services they shouldn’t are all valuable warnings of a potential wider threat.

Our friend behavioural analytics again plays an important part, only technology that understands and learns the difference between normal and abnormal behaviour will be effective.

Make it Easier

Something I hope to see more of, is a drive toward simplification of our end user experience. Technology users today want to be able to focus on their work and not be lost and delayed by overly complex application delivery.

As those who deliver technology into our organisations we should understand IT cannot be seen as an impediment to doing business, we need to be able to react quickly to change, understand our business needs and how technology can help us meet them and not be the department that always says no, because if we are then our business will go around us, or maybe replace us with people who can be more agile and reactive.

DevOps isn’t just a buzzword but a way of working that we need to embrace and simplification of how we deliver our services, with better process and increased automation is a key part of this.

So in 2017, what am I expecting to see? A need for more understanding of our environments, of our data’s value, investment in data security and of course grasping the nettle of simplification.

It will continue to be a  fast moving and challenging world for technology pro’s but it’s an exciting one and a great opportunity to grasp.

So go grasp it and have a great 2017.

I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did, why not try out my tech interviews podcast at http://podcast.techstringy.com or you can find the back catalogue and notes on the Techstringy Interviews section of this site.

Check out the Arrow Bandwidth Podcast right here;