Tag Archives: both

VMs vs. containers: What Windows admins need to know

Virtual machines and containers are both types of virtualized workloads that have more similarities than you may think. Each serves a specific purpose and can significantly increase the performance of your infrastructure — as long as they are employed effectively.

Microsoft unveiled container support in Windows Server 2016, which might have seemed like a novelty feature for many Windows administrators. But now that containers and the surrounding technology — orchestration, networking and storage — has matured on the Windows Server 2019 release, is it time to give containers more thought?

How do you make the decision on when to use VMs vs. containers? Is there a tipping point when you should make a switch? To help steer your decision, let’s cover the three key abilities of containers and virtual machines.

Reliability

When it comes to weighing the options, the difference in reliability is one of the first questions any engineer will ask. Although uptime ultimately depends on the engineers and engineering behind the technology, you can infer a lot about their dependability by analyzing the security and maintenance costs.

VMs. VMs are big, heavyweight, monoliths. This isn’t a comment about speed, because VMs can be blazingly fast. The reason they’re considered monoliths is because each contains a full stack of technology; virtualized hardware, an operating system and even more software are all layered on top of each other in one package.

The advantage of utilizing VMs becomes apparent when you drill down to the hypervisor. VMs have full isolation between themselves and any other VM running on the same hardware or in the same cluster. This is highly secure; you can’t directly attack one VM in a cluster from another.

The other reliability advantage is longevity. People have been using VMs in Windows production environments for about 20 years. There are a large number of engineers with vast amounts of experience managing, deploying and troubleshooting VMs. If an issue with a VM arises, there’s a good chance it’s not a unique occurrence.

Containers. Containers are lightweight and less hardware-intensive because they aren’t running a full suite of software on top of them. Containers can be thought of as wrappers around a process or applications that can run in a stand-alone fashion.

You can run many containers on the same VM; due to this, you don’t have full isolation in containers. You do have process isolation, but it’s not as absolute as it is with a VM. This can cause some difficulties in spinning up and maintaining containers when determining how to parcel out resources.

Additionally, because containers are so relatively new compared to VMs, you might have trouble finding the engineers with a similar amount of career dedication to their management. There are additional technologies to bring in to help with their administration and orchestration, the learning curve to get started is generally seen as higher compared to more traditional technologies, such as VMs.

Scalability

Scalability is the capability of the technology to maximize utilization across your environment. When you’re ready for your application to be accessed by tens of thousands of people, scalability is your friend.

VMs. VMs take a long time to spin up and deploy. Cloud technology such as AWS Auto Scaling and Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets build out clones of the same VM and load-balance across them. While this is one way to reach scale, it’s a little clunky because of the VM spin-up time.

For a one-off application, VMs can host it and work well, but when it comes to reaching the masses, they can fall short. This is particularly true when attempting to use non-cloud-native automation to scale VMs. The sheer time difference between a VM deployment and a container deployment can cause your automation to go haywire.

Containers. Containers were built for scale. You can spin up one or a hundred new containers in milliseconds, which makes automation and orchestration with native cloud tooling a breeze.

Scale is so innate to containers that the real question with scale is, “How far do you want to go?” You can use IaaS on AWS or Azure using your own Kubernetes orchestration, but you can even take this one step further with the PaaS technologies such as AWS Fargate or Azure Container Instances.

Manageability

Once you have your VMs or containers running in production, you need a way to manage them. Deploying changes, updating software and even rotating technologies all fall under this purview.

VMs. There are scores of third-party tools to manage VMs, such as Puppet, Chef, System Center Configuration Manager and IBM BigFix. Each does software deployment, runs queries on your environment, and even performs more complex desired state configuration tasks. There are also a host of vendor tools to manage your VMs inside VMware, Citrix and Hyper-V.

VMs require care and feeding. Usually when you create a VM, there is a lifecycle it follows from the spin up to its sunset date. In between, it requires maintenance and monitoring. This is contrary to newer methodologies such as DevOps, infrastructure as code and immutable infrastructure. In these paradigms, servers and services are treated like cattle, not pets.

Containers. Orchestration and immutability are the hallmarks of containers. If a container breaks, you kill it and deploy another one without a second thought. There is no backup and restore procedure. Instead of spending time modifying or maintaining your environment, you fix a container by destroying it and creating a new one. VMs, because of the associated time and maintenance costs, simply can’t keep up with containers in this respect.

Containers are tailored for DevOps; containers are a component of the infrastructure that treats developers and infrastructure operators as first-class citizens. By layering the new methodology on new technology, it allows for a faster way to get things done by reducing the complexities tied to workload management.

Which is the way to go?

In the contest of VMs vs. containers, which one wins? The answer depends on your IT team and your use case. There are instances where VMs will continue to have an advantage and others where containers are a better choice. This comparison has just scratched the surface of the technical differences, but there are financial advantages to consider as well.

In a real-world environment, you will likely need both technologies. Monolithic VMs make sense for more solid and stable services such as Active Directory or the Exchange Server platform. For your development team and your homegrown apps utilizing the latest in release pipeline technology, containers will help them get up to speed and scale to the needs of your organization.

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R.I.P. Office 365, Long Live Microsoft 365

Microsoft just made sweeping changes to the Office 365 ecosystem, both for personal subscriptions (Office 365 Personal and Home) and Office 365 for Business, sunsetting the Office 365 brand and replacing it with Microsoft 365. This was put in place as of April 21, 2020.

This article will look at what these changes mean, explore the differences between Office 365, Microsoft 365 and Office 2019 and the subscription model underlying these offerings as well as make some predictions for the enterprise services that are still under the Office 365 name.

Office 365 Home and Personal

Let’s start with the home and family subscriptions. Over 500 million people use the free, web-based versions of Word, Excel etc. along with Skype and OneDrive to collaborate and connect. Then there are 38 million people who have subscribed to Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal. Both provide the desktop Office suite (Word, Excel etc.) for Windows and Mac, along with matching applications for iOS and Android and 1 TB of OneDrive space. These two plans are changing name to Microsoft 365 Personal ($6.99 per month) and Microsoft 365 Family ($9.99 per month) respectively. Personal is for a single user whereas Family works with up to six people (and yes, they each get 1 TB of OneDrive storage for a maximum of 6TB). Otherwise, they’re identical and provide advanced spelling, grammar and style assistance in Microsoft Editor (see below), AI-powered suggestions for design in PowerPoint, coaching when you rehearse a PowerPoint presentation and the new Money in Excel (see below). Each user also gets 50 GB of email storage in Outlook, the ability to add a custom email domain and 60 minutes worth of Skype calls to mobiles and landlines.

Office 365 Microsoft 365 Plan Choices

Picking a plan for home use is easy

Microsoft Editor is Microsoft’s answer to Grammarly and is available in Word on the web, and the desktop Word version, along with Outlook.com as well as an Edge or Chrome extension. It supports more than 20 languages and uses AI to help you with the spelling, grammar, and style of your writing. The basic version is available to anyone, but the advanced features are unlocked with a Personal or Family subscription. These include suggestions for how to write something more clearly (just highlight your original sentence), plagiarism checking and the ability to easily insert citations and suggestions for improving conciseness and inclusiveness.

Settings for the Microsoft Editor browser extension

Settings for the Microsoft Editor browser extension

Money in Excel connects Excel to your bank and credit card accounts so you can import balances and transactions automatically and provides personalized insights on your spending habits. Money isn’t available yet and will be US only in the first phase when it rolls out over the next couple of months.

Outlook on the web will let you add personal calendars, not only marrying your work and home life but also providing clarity for others seeking to find appointment times with you – of course, they won’t see what’s penned in your calendars, only when you’re not available. Play My Emails is coming to Android (already available on iOS), letting Cortana read your emails to you while you’re on the go. The Teams mobile app is being beefed up for use in your personal life as well. Finally, Microsoft Family Safety is coming to Android and iOS devices, helping parents protect their children when they explore and play games on their devices.

You’ll have noticed that nearly all of these new features and services are on the horizon but not here yet. If you’re already an Office 365 Home or Personal subscriber your subscription just changed its name to Microsoft 365 Family or Personal but nothing else changed and until these new goodies are available – nothing has changed, including the price of your subscription. Note that none of these changes applies to the perpetual licenses Office 2019 which is Word, Excel etc. that you can purchase (not subscribe to) and that Office 2019 doesn’t provide any cloud-powered, AI-based features, nor gets the monthly feature updates that its Office 365 based cousin enjoys.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Apps, Standard and Premium

Of more interest to readers of Altaro’s blogs are probably the changes to the Office 365 SMB plans (that top out at 300 users). As a quick summary, (for a more in-depth look at Office & Microsoft 365, here’s a free eBook from Altaro) Microsoft 365 Business Basic (formerly known as Office 365 Business Essentials at $5 per user per month) gives each user an Exchange mailbox, Teams and SharePoint access, the web browser versions of Word, Excel etc. and 1TB of OneDrive storage.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business (old name Office 365 Business, $8.25 per user per month) provides the desktop version of Office for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices and 1TB of OneDrive storage.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard (prior name Office 365 Business Premium which is a name change that won’t confuse anyone weighs in at $12.50 per user per month) gives you both the desktop and web versions of Office.

Finally, Microsoft 365 Business Premium (formerly known as Microsoft 365 Business, again not confusing at all, at $20 per user per month) gives you everything in Standard, plus Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Intune based Mobile Device Management (MDM) features, Online Archiving in Exchange and much more.

Microsoft 365 Management Portal

Microsoft 365 Management Portal

In a separate announcement, Microsoft is bringing the full power of AAD Premium P1 for free to Microsoft 365 Business Premium. This will give SMBs cost-effective access to Cloud App Discovery which provides insight and protection for users in the modern world of cloud services, including discovering which applications your staff are using. It’ll also bring Application Proxy to be able to publish on-premises applications to remote workers easily and securely, dynamic groups make it easier to make sure staff are in the right groups for their role, and password-less authentication using Windows Hello for Business, FIDO 2 security keys and Microsoft’s free authenticator app.

Note that none of the Enterprise flavors of Office 365, E1, E3 and E5, F1 for first-line workers, the A1, A3 and A5 for education, nor the G1, G3 and G5 varieties for government organizations are changing at this time. My prediction is that this will change and before long, all of these will be moved to the unifying Microsoft brand.

Philosophically there are a few things going on here. As a consultant who both sells and supports Office / Microsoft 365 to businesses, as well as a trainer who teaches people about the services, there’s always been a pretty clear line between the two. Office 365 gives you the Office applications, email and document storage. If you wanted mobile device management (Intune), advanced security features (Azure Active Directory, AAD), Windows 10 Enterprise and Information Protection you went for Microsoft 365. These features are all available under the moniker Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) so essentially Microsoft 365 was Office 365 + EMS.

Adding Microsoft 365 Licenses

Adding Microsoft 365 licenses

This line is now being blurred for the small business plans which can make it even more difficult to make sure that small and medium businesses pick the right plans for their needs. Remember though that you can mix and match the different flavors in business, just because some users need Microsoft 365 Business Premium doesn’t mean that other roles in your business can’t work well with just Microsoft 365 Business Basic.

And this isn’t a surprise move, even Office 365 administrators have been using the Microsoft 365 management portal for quite some time, here’s a screenshot of the old, retired Office 365 portal.

Office 365 Admin Center

Office 365 Admin Center

More broadly though I think the brand changes are signalling that Office 365 is “growing up” and using the same name across the home user stack as well as the SMB stack (with the Enterprise SKUs to follow) provides a more homogenous offering.

Just as with the name changes to the personal plans there’s nothing for IT administrators to do at this stage, the plans will seamlessly change names but all functionality remains the same (including the lack of long term backup, something that Altaro has a remedy for).


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Author: Paul Schnackenburg

Salesforce adds new features to Trailhead Live and Go mobile app

Salesforce has added two new features to both Trailhead Live and the Trailhead Go mobile app, making it easier to connect with other users and learn on the go.

Trailhead Live, which features training sessions about Salesforce-related topics with instructors in real time, now includes expert-led Q&As during live broadcasts, enabling viewers to ask instructors questions during sessions. Sessions can also now include live chat capabilities, giving viewers the opportunity to speak with one another. Live is no longer only available to desktop users; it is also available on the Trailhead Go mobile app.

“While it’s great to follow a recorded video, the reality is that at some point you want to be able to interact in real time with a trainer,” said Nicole France, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Live training sessions — even virtual ones — are the only way to do that.”

Learning on the go

Live was one of the most requested Trailhead features on both the mobile app and desktop site, said Amber Boaz, a Salesforce MVP and Salesforce solution architect at Rapid7.

“Lots of users learn in different ways, and Trailhead Live fills a hole in Trailhead functionality,” Boaz said.

Trailhead is Salesforce’s free customer success learning platform, enabling both users and nonusers to gain skills in the CRM giant’s systems.

Greg Grothaus, a Salesforce administrator at Cloud Pathfinder and a platform app builder, has logged 20 to 30 hours on Trailhead Go since its launch at Dreamforce 2019, and three to five hours with Trailhead Live. For the most part, he finds the app helpful when he doesn’t have access to his laptop or a full web browser and is a way to fill his time when he has a few minutes to spare.

In the old days when we had downtime during a commute, we would listen to audiobooks. Now we can get job skills, for free.
Greg GrothausSalesforce administrator, Cloud Pathfinder

“In the old days when we had downtime during a commute, we would listen to audiobooks,” he said. “Now we can get job skills, for free.”

Grothaus is currently working toward his third Salesforce certification — Sales Cloud consultant. This is the fourth most-sought certification after administrator, platform app builder and platform developer I, according to the Mason Frank Salary Survey 2019/2020. The survey also showed that 94% of survey respondents use the Salesforce training tool.

Boaz also uses the Go app in her spare time, in place of mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or playing Candy Crush.

“Hour for hour though, I do more Trailhead on my laptop than my phone,” she said.

Trailhead Go shortcomings

While the Trailhead Go mobile app makes it convenient for Salesforce users to study for certifications and learn more about the product, it is not a replacement for the desktop site.

Trailhead Go screenshot
This personalized homepage on the Trailhead Go app provides a link to Trailhead Live materials.

Trailhead Go users are able to do the reading portions of training modules from the app, but when they need to do any hands-on work in a sandbox, the app asks users to open a Salesforce training environment, moving them from the app to the full website version of Trailhead.

“To do the work in the sandbox, you really need a mouse and a keyboard,” Grothaus said.

Trailhead Go is currently only available for iOS, while the full site is available on any device.

The reason for an iOS-only mobile app is that a high proportion of the Trailhead audience is likely on some form of iOS device, France said.

“Nevertheless, Salesforce is definitely missing a trick in not making it available to Android users as well,” she said.

Trailhead users who want to take advantage of real-time broadcasts can view the schedule in advance on the Trailhead Live webpage.

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For Sale – HP Z27n 27 inch IPS 1440P Monitor & Viewsonic VA2448-LED 24 inch 1080p Monitor

I have two monitors for sale, neither monitor has a stand but both have VESA mounts. As I don’t have packaging materials they are collection only from Luton.

The first is an HP Z27N Monitor.
27 Inch
2560 x 1440
Display port, DVI, HDMI connections
Headphone jack
USB Ports

£150
z27n new.jpg

Second is a ViewSonic VA2448-LED
24 Inch
1920×1080
DVI and VGA connections

£30

IMG_20191112_171201.jpg

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For Sale – Monitors: Acer ED323QURwidpx 31.5 inch WQHD 1800R Curved Monitor 2560 x 1440 @75Hz and Dell 24 Monitor SE2417HG 1920 x 1080 2ms @60Hz

Both Monitors used for about 6 months now no longer needed, as new in box, still have the protective plastic on the back.

The Acer comes with unused Display-port cable, power cables and instructions.

The Dell comes with unused VGA cable, power cable and instructions.

Just see the photos, my feedback, buy with confidence and grab a bargain.

Can be collected (preferred) for free from Northampton or posted at cost for the buyer.

Acer ED323QUR => £229 collected or + p&p

Dell SE2417HG => £75 collected or + p&p

IMG_0310.jpgIMG_0311.jpgIMG_0312.jpgIMG_0313.jpgIMG_0315.jpgIMG_0316.jpgIMG_0317.jpgIMG_0318.jpgIMG_0320.jpg

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For Sale – Monitors: Acer ED323QURwidpx 31.5 inch WQHD 1800R Curved Monitor 2560 x 1440 @75Hz and Dell 24 Monitor SE2417HG 1920 x 1080 2ms @60Hz

Both Monitors used for about 6 months now no longer needed, as new in box, still have the protective plastic on the back.

The Acer comes with unused Display-port cable, power cables and instructions.

The Dell comes with unused VGA cable, power cable and instructions.

Just see the photos, my feedback, buy with confidence and grab a bargain.

Can be collected (preferred) for free from Northampton or posted at cost for the buyer.

Acer ED323QUR => £229 collected or + p&p

Dell SE2417HG => £75 collected or + p&p

IMG_0310.jpgIMG_0311.jpgIMG_0312.jpgIMG_0313.jpgIMG_0315.jpgIMG_0316.jpgIMG_0317.jpgIMG_0318.jpgIMG_0320.jpg

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For Sale – M.2 NVME SSD / 3.5″ & 2.5″ Internal Mechanical Drives

Hi all,

I’ve got a couple few used mechanical drives.
Mechanical: are both Seagate Barracuda, 1Tb and 3Tb. Both at 7200RPM.
SSD: 970 EVO Plus – 256Gb
All are in excellent condition and were only used on a regular home desktop, not a server.

  • SSD – £40+Pp
  • 1Tb – £20+pp (2.5″)
  • 3Tb – £40+pp (3.5″)

If you want both, make me an offer.

Cheers!

Location
Salford
Price and currency
£100
Delivery cost included
Delivery is NOT included
Prefer goods collected?
I have no preference
Advertised elsewhere?
Not advertised elsewhere
Payment method
PPG

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For Sale – 3.5″ & 2.5″ Internal Mechanical Drives

Hi all,

I’ve got a couple of used mechanical drives. They are both Seagate Barracuda, 1Tb and 3Tb. Both at 7200RPM.
Both are in excellent condition and were only used to store documents. They were not in a server, just a regular desktop.

  • 1Tb – £20+pp (2.5″)
  • 3Tb – £40+pp (3.5″)

If you want both, make me an offer.

Cheers!

Location
Salford
Price and currency
£60
Delivery cost included
Delivery is NOT included
Prefer goods collected?
I have no preference
Advertised elsewhere?
Not advertised elsewhere
Payment method
PPG

Last edited:

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For Sale – 500gb and 1tb Seagate 2.5″ hard drives

Seagate’s third generation SSHDs (solid state hybrid drives), now for both laptops and desktops, are marketed as a replacement for HDDs and serve as a good option for those otherwise considering an SSD. SSHDs aim to offer users the price-point and robust capacity of HDDs while also utilizing…

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