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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The benefits of private cloud storage

Private cloud storage can offer many of the benefits of the public cloud on-premise, writes Mark Lomas. Public cloud storage services have been a useful resource for small businesses. Services like Microsoft OneDrive for Business and Citrix ShareFile provide reliable, functional resources for large and small businesses alike.

Public, off-site services aren’t the only option for companies wan ting flexible storage services, though. For various reasons, including flexibility, security, and regulatory compliance, companies may often decide to create their own private cloud storage infrastructures. These can offer many of the same characteristics as public cloud storage, while still residing on the company’s own premises.

These bring the confidence of having storage on-site, while retaining some of the characteristics of cloud-based services.

Private cloud storage provides a layer of abstraction from the inner mechanics of  the storage system. Users can simply save and go without worrying about where their information is held. This layer of abstraction is crucial for a key component of the cloud storage story: multi-tenanting.

Many users can access a private cloudbased  storage system as though it were their own, because it keeps users from seeing each other’s data. This is all made possible by something that you won’t find in a traditional Storage Area Network: the orchestration layer. This software layer controls the storage dynamically, and provides another key feature of any private cloud storage deployment: elasticity.

Dynamic provision
The dynamic provision and reallocation of resources is one of the basic tenets of cloud computing, and the same applies to cloud storage. These systems are able to adjust the amount of storage that they allocate to specific users and groups, based on what’s needed. They can reallocate storage that suddenly becomes free, meaning that everyone gets the storage they need.

This automated storage management makes the most efficient use of the underlying physical resource. It avoids leaving drives largely empty simply because they are ‘owned’ by a business department that isn’t using their full capacity.

Storage provisioning is an important part of that story. Historically, a business department may have had to go through an arduous and time-consuming process when it wanted more storage. With private cloud storage, departments can get access to the storage that they need from a virtual pool, often simply via a web interface, and often without draining the IT department’s administrative resources. Doesn’t that leave IT administrators with a potential problem? After all, if every department can simply slice off the storage that they need without thinking about economising, then it could lead to resource hogging and cost over-runs, even with private cloud storage.

Not necessarily. One of the promises of cloud computing in general is solid, detailed reporting. In a well-deployed private storage system, IT administrators can source storage usage metrics for individual users or departments. This kind of reporting enables them to treat business departments like internal customers, and potentially cap heavy resource users by setting limits.

With these kinds of flexible services available, private cloud storage may make perfect sense for companies who value efficiency and who want that little bit of extra control over their storage infrastructures.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

End of the line for Windows Server 2003: problem or opportunity?

Microsoft intends to end support for Windows Server 2003 this July, so how should the many companies still using the platform handle the situation?

No support means Microsoft will no longer send patches to fix vulnerabilities and leave machines still using the operating system open to attackers. According to industry analyst Forrester, however, eight million servers across organisations are still using Windows Server 2003 - while Dell estimates the figure could be up to 12 million.

Further research by Spiceworks has found that 68% of companies in the EMEA region are running at least one instance of Windows Server 2003. The IT service management organisation has drawn these
figures from its community of over 6 million IT pros worldwide. It found usage is still widespread across many sectors – 74% of manufacturers and 73% of government bodies, to name just a couple.

Mark Lomas, technical consultant at Icomm Technologies, says the readiness of companies to cope with the end of support is mixed: “While some organisations upgraded last year, some companies were aiming to upgrade and missed their deadline, while others made other moves to protect themselves.”

Apart from the cost of upgrading, another challenge is supporting the applications that are currently running on Server 2003. Windows 2003 is a 32-bit OS, which means that any applications that need to be migrated must be checked to see if they can run in the 64-bit environment of newer versions of Windows Server.

Lomas likens the end of support for Server 2003 to the end of support for Windows XP in some ways, but potentially more damaging. He says: “With Server 2003 the threat is more serious, as a threat to a server potentially has more impact on different areas of the business.”

The opportunity
Some organisations are seeing the necessity of an upgrade as good news, however, as it is providing an opportunity to modernise their overall architecture. That is the view from major IT suppliers like Dell and Intel.

Indeed, as the industry saw when support for the Windows XP desktop OS came to an end, there was a sales kick generated across the PC industry. Michael Tweddle, Dell’s executive director of Windows management, says: “We see it as a driver leading to broader projects, as there is a lot of Microsoft technology that organisations want to move to, but they need to clean up their underlying
infrastructure to properly do that.”

Companies upgrading have the option of migrating to either Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012, however, most are expected to jump straight to the latest version. Windows Server 2012 is also offering organisations better links to cloud services, like Microsoft Azure and the Office 365 productivity suite.

Overall, when compared to Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2012 has improved storage, networking, virtualisation, access and security features. One way or another though, organisations will have to make a decision soon as to what is to be done with Windows Server 2003.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Visual Studio Online

One of the things we’re working on with Visual Studio Online, formerly known as Team Foundation Service, is to make it work really well with continuous integration and delivery. Here are some key features of Visual Studio Online:

• It supports both Git (distributed) and TFVC (centralized) source control.

• It offers an elastic build service, which means it dynamically creates build servers when they’re needed and takes them down when they’re done. You can automatically kick off a build when someone checks in source code changes, and you don’t have to allocate and pay for your own build servers that lie idle most of the time. The build service is free as long as you don’t exceed a certain number of builds. If you expect to do a high volume of builds, you can pay a little extra for reserved build servers.

• It supports continuous delivery to Azure.

• It supports automated load testing. Load testing is critical to a cloud app but is often neglected until it's too late. Load testing simulates heavy use of an app by thousands of users, enabling you to find bottlenecks and improve throughput—before you release the app to production.

• It supports team room collaboration, which facilitates real-time communication and collaboration for small agile teams.

• It supports agile project management.

For more information about the continuous integration and delivery features of Visual Studio Online, see Visual Studio Lab Management and Visual Studio Release Management. An application monitoring feature, Application Insights for Visual Studio Online, is in preview (available to try but not released for production use yet).

If you’re looking for a turn-key project management, team collaboration, and source control solution, check out Visual Studio Online. The service is free for up to five users, and you can sign up for it at

Source of Information : Building Cloud Apps With Microsoft Azure

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What can you build with Azure Cosmos DB?

Globally distributed mission-critical applications - Guarantee access to users around the world with the high-availability and low-latency capabilities built into Microsoft’s global datacenters.

IoT - Instantly, elastically scale to accommodate diverse and unpredictable IoT workloads without sacrificing ingestion or query performance.

 Personalization - Generate personalized recommendations for customers in real time, using low-latency and tunable consistency settings for immediate insights.

Retail and e-commerce - Support in-depth queries over diverse product catalogs, traffic spikes, and rapidly changing inventory.

Gaming - Elastically scale your database to accommodate unpredictable bursts of traffic and deliver low-latency multi-player experiences on a global scale.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Increase Of Extreme Weather Events

• It is likely that tropical storms (cyclones) will become more frequent and more intense as a result of increased sea surface temperatures and moisture in the air

• Sea level rise will have devastating effects during storms due to surges

• Based on a range of models, it is likely that future tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and more heavy precipitation associated with ongoing increases of tropical sea-surface temperatures.

• There is less confidence in projections of a global decrease in numbers of tropical cyclones. The apparent increase in the proportion of very intense storms since 1970 in some regions is much larger than simulated by current models for that period.

• Extra-tropical storm tracks are projected to move poleward, with consequent changes in wind, precipitation and temperature patterns, continuing the broad pattern of observed trends over the last halfcentury.

• Some recent studies suggest that erratic weather events have serious impacts on wildlife and will further contribute to a decline of biodiversity.

Source of Information : Climate Change: A Silent Threat by Sylvain Richer de Forges

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Impacts Of Climate Change On Human Health

• The health status of millions of people is projected to be affected through, for example, increases in malnutrition; increased deaths, diseases and injury due to extreme weather events; increased burden of diarrhoeal diseases; increased frequency of cardio-respiratory diseases due to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone in urban areas related to climate change

• Increase in global temperatures will significantly increase the occurrence and severity of smog events in urban areas

• This will significantly reduce air quality

• Babies and the elderly will be most affected by a decrease in air quality

• Change in climatic and weather patterns will affect the distribution of infectious diseases

• Many viruses have restricted areas of occurrence due to natural physical barriers which are governed by temperature gradients

• Diseases such as Malaria and Dengue will move north as temperature rises

• The number of occurrence of infectious diseases will significantly increase.

• A rise in the case of people infected by such diseases has already begun to occur in some areas which were not of concern a few decades ago

• As indicated on the graph, the number of case of reported Dengue is sharply increasing worldwide. Many scientist believe this is a direct consequence of rising temperatures.

Source of Information : Climate Change: A Silent Threat by Sylvain Richer de Forges

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Impacts Of Climate Change On Societies

• More than 80% of the worlds population will live on the coast lines and in urban areas by 2050

• Sea level rise/floods and droughts will displace millions of people creating environmental refugees and is likely to trigger world instabilities leading to conflicts for resources

• Many agricultural lands will be flooded and even greater surfaces are likely to become contaminated by salt making them unusable for agriculture

• Some small island states with low elevations (< 2m) will entirely disappear (ex: The Maldives)

• Some low lying countries such as Bangladesh and the Nederland's will loose very significant landmass

• In addition to loosing significant land mass, many of the most threatened places are also in areas vulnerable to tropical storms. The storm surges during such events will have even more devastating effects.

• Some cities like Venice and New Orleans are already experiencing serious troubles due to sea level rise and are responding by spending billions on preventive measures (but what will happen to cities and countries which cannot afford such measures?)

Source of Information : Climate Change: A Silent Threat by Sylvain Richer de Forges

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Impacts Of Climate Change On Water Resources

• Another major concern of climate change will be increasing pressures on fresh water supplies

• Climate change will significantly affect the distribution of rain around the globe

• While some areas will drastically start running out of water others will experience frequent flooding due to stronger monsoons and heavy rainfalls (both of these events lead to a diminution of available water)

• Groundwater storage is already running out in many parts of the world. Many of these supplies are also contaminated and unusable

• Some areas will become much dryer, raising concerns about the availability of fresh water for millions of people (e.g. Central Africa)

• Many lakes will dry out as a result of increased temperatures and evaporation

Source of Information : Climate Change: A Silent Threat by Sylvain Richer de Forges