Free Download: SQL Server Management Studio 17.4

SQL Server

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is an integrated environment for accessing, configuring, managing, administering, and developing all components of SQL Server. SSMS combines a broad group of graphical tools with a number of rich script editors to provide developers and administrators of all skill levels access to SQL Server.

Microsoft has announced the latest release of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) in October. This release features improved compatibility with previous versions of SQL Server and a stand-alone web installer.

Get it here:

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CASB Explained

CASB - @SeniorDBA

A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) acts as a gatekeeper between your company’s endpoints and the multiple cloud services they use, and is positioned on the network perimeter. CASB software allows your company to extend your security policies to SaaS applications such as O365, Salesforce, Dropbox, and IaaS platforms such as Azure or AWS. A CASB simply helps a business secure communications end-to-end from cloud to device and vice-versa, regardless if the device is managed or unmanaged, from any location or any user.

In addition, modern BYOD policies can leave businesses staring liabilities in the face as employees begin to use cloud services without the IT department’s knowledge. This so-called ‘Shadow IT’ leaves data in the dark. Businesses have a responsibility to keep track of sensitive data, and with GDPR around the corner there’s no room for complacency. CASB can help enterprises make a compliant move to the cloud.

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Troubleshooting RDP connections to an Azure VMs

RDP - @SeniorDBA

One of the most important aspects of placing your computers on Azure is the ability to connect to them using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to your manage your Windows-based virtual machines (VM). The issue with RDP can be with the Remote Desktop service on the VM, the network connection, or the Remote Desktop client on your host computer. We will attempt to guide you through some of the most common methods to troubleshoot and resolve common RDP connection issues.

The steps are displayed in the general order, but you should try reconnecting to the VM after each troubleshooting step.

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10 Facts About Deploying Microsoft Office 365

O365 - @SeniorDBA

Microsoft Office 365 is a popular choice for enterprises that want a cloud-based suite of productivity and collaboration applications. The latest version of Office 365 gives you access to online Microsoft Office solutions anytime and anywhere on multiple Operating System platforms.

Microsoft’s marketing description of Office 365:

Microsoft Office 365 now includes Office 2016 and gives you the full Office experience. With access to the latest Office applications as well as other cloud-based productivity services, whether you need Office for home, school, or business, there is an Office 365 plan to meet your needs.
Our Office 365 subscription plans include Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal, Office 365 University, and Office 365 for Mac. With each plan, you can install the 2016 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote (Access, and Publisher are also included only for PC users). When a new version of Microsoft Office is released, you’ll get instant access to it so your applications are always up-to-date – and because Office 365 is optimized across your devices it’s easy to get anywhere access to your stuff on your laptop, phone, tablet and more.

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Understanding StorSimple

StorSimple - @SeniorDBA

Microsoft is selling an appliance named StorSimple, that can be used for archiving files, a network backup target, or even as a file server. Microsoft bought the company named Xyratex, a former subsidiary of Seagate, to acquire this solution. This appliance was originally not very useful, because:

  • It shared storage via iSCSI only so it didn’t fit well into a virtualization stack, especially Hyper-V which has moved more to SMB 3.0.
  • The file storage engine that decided which files stayed local vs. were moved to the Azure cloud was almost useless.
  • The physical appliance required space in your server rack, when virtualization is the focus for most solutions.
  • While the box was free, it did require a purchase of an enterprise agreement and paying for moving files out of Azure as some files were accessed.

Microsoft has improved StorSimple over the years and now the product is much more useful.

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Microsoft Plans Office 365 Upgrades

Office 365 - @SeniorDBA

A few months ag0 Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would receive major updates just twice a year, scheduled for September and March. Based on feedback from enterprise customers wanting a more tolerable schedule, Microsoft moved to make their release schedule more predictable.

What some people missed is that they also announced an identical schedule for corporate subscribers to Office 365. They aligned the update schedule with Windows 10. Microsoft says they plan to deliver and support Office 365 ProPlus updates, starting in September.

Microsoft also extended support 50% from 12 months per update to 18 months. The additional six months means your IT team can choose to push updates just once or twice a year.

Office 365 update channels, showing the new update channel names and release cadence

The twice-a-year feature updates will be named Semi-annual Channel (Pilot) and Semi-annual Channel (Broad), each describing how Microsoft envisions them being deployed in the enterprise. Most people will probably just refer to them as simply “Pilot” and “Broad”.

You can get more information here.


Economics of the Cloud

Cloud Economics

For most companies, maintaining a large IT presence implies large capital expenditures and a non-trivial amount of accounting and record-keeping to track depreciation, tax considerations, and so forth. When you purchase the hardware and the software, they become yours (in every sense of the word) and your long-term responsibility.  The traditional model of enterprise computing is a capital-intensive function that requires expensive data centers (electricity, air conditioning, servers, networks, storage, etc.) and operations staff (hardware swaps, networks, backups, OS updates, upgrades, etc.) to keep it all running effectively. With an on-premises data center, you must plan and provision for maximum utilization, which is financially inefficient.

Data Center

The appeal of cloud computing includes the ability of enterprises to pay for only what they use. If demand decreases and you no longer need the assigned capacity, you can turn off systems and you are no longer charged for those systems. Since the cloud is a subscription-based model, it is an “operating expense” model. Computing becomes a service for which businesses are billed a monthly charge that is metered by actual usage. The more (compute, network, and storage resources) that you use the more expensive your monthly bill. The less you use, the less you will be charged.

Another way to save money is cloud operations frees your enterprises of the costly tasks of system backups, routine network maintenance, software patches, etc. because you cloud provider can handle these tasks.

Azure Spend

Most IT organizations find wide variations in system utilization. Some applications are seasonal and other applications run for a short period of time before being shut down. You might have other applications that are simply unpredictable and you can’t apply a cost saving model.

Building your server infrastructure in a cloud environment can save your business money and allow for greater innovations for less money.