For the first time ever, I went to TechEd (TechEd North America 2014) a few weeks ago. I was not sure what to expect from the event, but was hoping to see new software features and processes to make daily systems administration easier. I was not disappointed, there were several in depth sessions that gave me ideas to improve what we as an IT group are doing today.
I will discuss my favorite sessions and tell you what I, as a systems administrator, got excited about. But first, I have to tell you, this year’s TechEd was heavily focused on Azure and “the cloud.” It’s certainly cool technology, and I am sure it will become more widely used in time. But today, I believe most enterprise IT departments are still hosted in their own data centers, and will be slow to transition to a hosted cloud solution. Microsoft calls this “on prem,” short for on premises. Each session was so slanted toward Azure solutions that the biggest cheer and applause came from the DFSR session in which the presenter said “I’m not going to talk about Azure or the cloud”. After the applause died, the presenter asked “wonder what my boss will think of that?” If I could have responded, it would have been, “Don’t forget about ‘on prem’ IT departments; we are still your biggest customers, Microsoft.”
Enough of my soapbox. On to the sessions! Each session from TechEd is posted on Microsoft’s Channel 9 website, and I will provide a link to the sessions I discuss.
Key Metric, Performance, and Capacity Monitoring Using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager
I liked this session because Raymond Chou went into depth about what performance counters to monitor to know if your virtual servers are over-utilized or under-utilized. This is extremely important, to get the maximum usage from your existing equipment and to plan future expansion. So if you want to be ahead of the curve, and know your virtual servers are reaching capacity before they catch on fire (not after), check out this session.
Windows Performance Deep Dive Troubleshooting
Who hasn’t had to diagnose and remedy a Windows performance issue? Wow, the tools they discussed are great, some I have no experience with but am excited to put to use. A large part of what I do is analyze performance problems and try to resolve them, so adding to my collection of diagnostic and troubleshooting applications makes me very happy. I can’t wait to master Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT). If you want to get in the nuts and bolts of Windows, check out this session.
Cluster-in-a-Box Using Windows Server 2012 R2: Solutions and Applications
This was a fun session for me to see what hardware manufacturers are doing to provide more redundancy at a lower cost, and how Microsoft is partnering with them to allow the operating system to leverage such equipment. The idea here is everything is redundant, and contained in one 3-5 U unit, to provide high availability at an affordable price. Some manufactures use a chassis with blades, some densely pack two of everything into a 3 U server. Either way, who doesn’t like to see the newest hardware ideas?
And there you have it, some of my favorite content from TechEd 2014. But maybe you are not interested in systems administration? Head over to Microsoft’s recorded TechEd sessions at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2014#fbid= and I guarantee, if you do technical work for a living, there is content you will find interesting and useful.
David Simms, AKA the Smoking Monkey