Selecting the right collation when setting up your SQL Server instance for your System Center 2012 SP1 components

Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 is a great product for managing your modern private cloud. The System Center suite has been moving closer and closer together in integration with one another, and I believe that this will continue to be the trend for obvious benefits of a tightly integrated solution. For now, in my opinion, they are rather involved to setup and integrate together, but for what they deliver I believe it is well worth the trouble. Which is why I am investing in my MCSE Private Cloud certification. ūüôā

However, in working to integrate the components in my lab environment I found that selecting the right collation (ex.¬†SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS) ¬†for your SQL Server instance is paramount unless you want to encounter issues when linking them together. This turn out to be a rather deep issue after searching online and comparing system requirements for the System Center components, and I came upon a very helpful and informative article, “Clarification on SQL Server Collation Requirements for System Center 2012” by¬†Travis Wright¬†at Microsoft. I recommend reading this article as I cannot explain it any better.

I will say, this little Collation tab has never stood out so much until now.

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VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 Series Walkthrough

At VMworld 2013 in some of the break-out sessions and booths presenters have been using the VMware Product Walkthrough demos that were created by VMware’s Technical Marketing team to demonstrate some new features with VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 series. It was announced today that they have been made available online for those walking to see it first hand. It is easy to do as it doesn’t require any registration or login.

You can walkthrough the new Virtual SAN feature, vSphere Data Protection, vSphere App HA, vCloud Director, vSphere Replication, and vSphere Flash Read Cache.

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Anyhow, sometimes it helps to see an overview before you dive in and learn about all of the nuts and bolts behind the scene.

Here is the link to get started:

http://vmwarewalkthroughs.com/vCloudSuite5-5/

VMworld 2013 Session on Virtual SAN at a High-Level (Video)

If you are like me and can’t make it to every tech gathering, but love to stay in the loop on cutting edge tech. Check out this VMworld session for an overview on the Virtual SAN (vSAN).

I wouldn’t rush this into production, but more and more of the datacenter is becoming software defined and will continue to lower TCO and ROI on your infrastructure. So, stay on it and move with the momentum.

VMware vSphere 5.5 Brings vSAN for Storage Replication (beta release)

One of the exciting things coming out of VMworld 2013 and the revelations about vSphere 5.5 is the Virtual SAN with continues to improve the capability of the software defined datacenter. It allows you to easily use the DAS (directly-attached storage) in your ESXi hosts to create a clustered storage pool that is replicated across the hosts, and really is best described with this picture.

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Duncan Epping from R&D at VMware wrote a good article at Yellow Bricks that I definitely recommend checking out!

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2013/08/26/introduction-vmware-vsphere-virtual-san/

For additional features and to get started check it out at VMware:

http://www.vmware.com/products/virtual-san/features.html

MCSE Server Infrastructure Certification Journey

Today I passed the fifth exam to obtain my MCSE Server Infrastructure certification and this is definitely a milestone for my career certifications. I have seven years of professional experience working with server infrastructure, but I have to say that there are so many new features of the new Microsoft Cloud OS that staying up-to-date with certifications is a must! I have been studying through lunches, in the evenings, and on the weekends to accomplish this for the last two months. I have really learned so much in this process. My virtualization experience of the last two years has been primarily with VMware, so stepping into the Microsoft way of virtualization has been a huge learning experience. At first look I thought it was entirely too complicated in comparison, but after journeying through the material and the labs I really see the benefits and the big picture to what makes it great.

I have to give a shout out to my beautiful wife, Amy, who I could not have done this without her love and support. I¬†am very thankful for the material that is published by CBT Nuggets¬†as the provided me with a classroom like environment for training, and best of all on my time with the ability to pause and even speed up the tempo. I would not have gained so much from my studies without my VMware Workstation 9 lab environment that allowed me to nest Hyper-V servers, and that with my Vyatta router allowed for a fully production like environment. Microsoft’s Born To Learn wiki and forums were a great avenue for references to relevant TechNet articles to dive deeper than the books went a long way. I really appreciate all of the experts who take the time to post articles on new technologies and to provide walkthroughs on setting them up. To sum up my advice for learning the content and passing the exams, it is to dedicate the time to reading, understanding, and getting your hands-on experience in walking through each step.

I will get going this week on moving on to studying for MCSE Private Cloud to gain more insight into the Microsoft Cloud OS and specifically how System Center works together for an enterprise private and hybrid cloud.

Two things to consider in your IaaS SLA terms

This is a quick post to bring out two things to be sure to consider when taking that step to extending your infrastructure to a cloud service provider, and comparing the SLA between those providers.

First, calculate the offered SLA uptime on a site such as http://uptime.is/ and determine what the downtime is, and plan for what this would mean for your business and how you can have contingency plans in place. Moreover, be sure to consider what dependencies your service will have with the provider. For example, they may have a separate SLA for the storage as they do the compute, although an outage in either could potentially disrupt service. This means you practically need to consider combining the calculated down time for each dependency.

Second, and this is the one most people seem to forget. Look for those special words “service credit” as this is where the rubber meets the road in regards to them taking the uptime of your business as seriously as you do. Put simply, they are committing to back their SLA with dollars and cents!