Lync Ignite | 19-21 November | Dubai

by Shijaz Abdulla on 17.09.2013 at 13:06


Microsoft is conducting the Ignite Summit Dubai, 19-21 November 2013.  This summit will be held at the Conrad Dubai. 



The Ignite Summits are a series of limited invitation 3 day workshops for Microsoft’s most valued customers and partners providing deep-dive technical readiness on all productivity workloads from Microsoft product experts.  Ignite Summit Dubai will feature over 70 breakout session titles for the Office 365, Developer, Exchange, Project, SharePoint, Visio/Visio Services, and Yammer tracks. 

For partners in pre-sales technical roles, we are also running an exclusive partner-only Drumbeat Sales Readiness day one day prior to the Ignite Summit on 18 November.  The Drumbeat Sales readiness day provides partners with best practice sales training for Office 365.  The Drumbeat Sales day is at the same venue and you are welcome to attend both. 

During both of these events, you will also have the opportunity to interact and learn from your industry peers and representatives from Microsoft.

  • Please note that accommodations for the Ignite Summit and Drumbeat Sales day are not included, however there are discounted rooms available at the Conrad Dubai on a first come first serve basis.  Details are posted to the registration site.
  • There is no charge for this exclusive training, however we will be imposing a no-show fee of $600 (USD) if you register, but do not cancel your registration within ten (10) business days before the start of the first event.

Space is limited. RSVP today!

We look forward to having you participate in this exciting event! If you have questions, please contact the Microsoft Ignite Registration Desk.

Build a Windows Azure portal on-premises with the Windows Azure Pack!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 05.09.2013 at 20:31

Have you used Windows Azure’s clean and simple management portal and wished you could build the same kind of portal for your Private Cloud?

Well, now you can – with Windows Azure Pack.

Releasing soon, Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server is a collection of Windows Azure technologies, available to Microsoft customers at no additional cost for installation into your data center.


It runs on top of Windows Server 2012/Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and, through the use of the Windows Azure technologies, enables you to offer a rich, self-service, multi-tenant cloud, consistent with the public Windows Azure experience.

This can make your Private Cloud interface look like one from a real service provider.

Windows Azure Pack Management Portal

Windows Azure Pack includes the following capabilities:

  • Management portal for tenants – a customizable self-service portal for provisioning, monitoring, and managing services such as Web Sites, Virtual Machines, and Service Bus.
  • Management portal for administrators – a portal for administrators to configure and manage resource clouds, user accounts, and tenant offers, quotas, and pricing.
  • Service management API – a RESTful API that helps enable a range of integration scenarios including custom portal and billing systems.
  • Web Sites – a service that helps provide a high-density, scalable shared web hosting platform for ASP.NET, PHP, and Node.js web applications. The Web Sites service includes a customizable web application gallery of open source web applications and integration with source control systems for custom-developed web sites and applications.
  • Virtual Machines – a service that provides infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities for Windows and Linux virtual machines. The Virtual Machines service includes a VM template gallery, scaling options, and virtual networking capabilities.
  • Service Bus – a service that provides reliable messaging services between distributed applications. The Service Bus service includes queued and topic-based publish/subscribe capabilities.
  • Automation and Extensibility – the capability to automate and integrate additional custom services into the services framework, including a runbook editor and execution environment.

At the moment, the Windows Azure Pack is in “Preview”. Subscribe to this blog to be alerted when Windows Azure Pack becomes available!

Citrix announces VDI support on Windows Azure

by Shijaz Abdulla on 16.07.2013 at 10:30

You can now run VDI on Windows Azure with Citrix. Think of all the possibilities – Desktop-as-a-Service, your personal desktop on the cloud, accessible anytime, anywhere.

Citrix has announced that version 7 of its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) product XenDesktop can now be deployed on a Windows Azure virtual machine. This is now possible because Microsoft has made Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Subscriber Access Licensing (SAL) available on Azure, paving the way to install XenDesktop on a VM running on Azure.

In order to support this announcement, Citrix published two new Design Guides detailing how to design a VDI environment running on Windows Azure.

Oracle announces support for Hyper-V, Windows Azure

by Shijaz Abdulla on 25.06.2013 at 08:07

This has to be the biggest Oracle announcement of the year!

333932-oracle-logoOracle and Microsoft are announcing a partnership today where our joint customers will have increased choice and flexibility for deploying Oracle workloads in Windows Server private clouds, Windows Azure, or a hybrid of both. Just as enterprises have depended on Windows Server for years to run Oracle workloads on premises, they now will be able to run those workloads in Hyper-V virtualized environments or Windows Azure, with full certification and support from Oracle.

What this means:

  • Our customers can run Oracle software on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and in Windows Azure with full support from Oracle.
  • Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to use their existing Oracle licenses to run Oracle software on Windows Azure.
  • This makes Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V the only non-Oracle hypervisor that Oracle supports
  • This also makes Windows Azure the only properly licensed and fully supported public cloud option for Oracle customers.
  • This will give us a huge boost in accelerating the momentum we are already seeing in Hyper-V and Azure, and should be positioned as a significant vote of confidence in our Cloud OS vision of providing a consistent platform across private and public clouds.

For additional information:

Cisco Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V now available!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 10.06.2013 at 23:05


Cisco Cloud Networking and Services Platform team announced the availability of Cisco Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V as a part of their hypervisor-agnostic cloud networking strategy. This represents a major milestone for the Nexus 1000V platform which already has more than 7000 customers. 

They are also shipping Virtual Services Gateway (VSG) and Virtual Network Management Center ( VNMC)  for Hyper-V. With this introduction, enterprise and cloud provider customers will be able to extend Nexus experience to Hyper-V virtual environments.

Industry Award    
The  Nexus 1000V is already a winner – Winner of Best of Microsoft TechEd 2013 award in the Virtualization Category.

Cisco Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V Solution Highlights

  • Advanced NX-OS features and associated partner ecosystem to Windows Server 2012
  • Consistent operational model across hypervisors (vSphere & Hyper-V)
    Innovative network services architecture (via vPath) to support secure multitenant environments
  • Tight integration with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) as well as support for PowerShell    

Cisco Nexus 1100 Cloud Services Platform also supports Nexus 1000V for Hyper-V to host VSM and VSG virtual appliances.

Features and Functionality

Capability Features
Switching    L2-Switching, PVLANs, QoS, ACLs, port security etc
Security    DHCP snooping, Dynamic ARP Inspection, and IP source guard
Monitoring NetFlow, packet statistics, SPAN, and ERSPAN
Manageability SNMP, NetConf, syslog, REST-APIs etc
Virtual Services vPath architecture to enable services like VSG etc.

Note: Nexus 1000V feature-set will be consistent across all hypervisors

Pricing and Orderability
Nexus1000V pricing is consistent across hypervisors. Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V is available in two editions:
•         Essential edition is available at no-cost
•         Advanced edition (includes VSG for Hyper-V) is available at $695/CPU

•       Cisco Nexus 1000V for Hyper-V external page:
•       Cisco Nexus 1000V Public Community:
•       Cisco-Microsoft partnership page:

Video: How Aston Martin uses Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012

by Shijaz Abdulla on 04.06.2013 at 23:04

Find out how luxury car maker Aston Martin uses System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012 to accelerate efficiency in this interesting video case study.

Click here to view case study.


Interesting changes in Windows Azure services

by Shijaz Abdulla on 03.06.2013 at 22:07

Here are some interesting changes to the Windows Azure services as of June 3, 2013:

  1. The following services to be billed by the minute versus being billed by the hour:
    a. VMs, Web Roles and Worker Roles
    b. SQL Server and BizTalk Server running in Virtual Machines (no longer rounding to the nearest hour and no minimums).

    Windows Azure is the only cloud provider today that bills you by the minute!

  2. The billing will stop for stopped VMs. No need to delete instances to manage and reduce compute costs.
  3. Reduced rates for MSDN subscribers when they use Windows Azure VMs.
  4. Public Endpoint Access Control Lists (ACLs) for VMs
  5. More Gateway Device Options when setting up Windows Azure Virtual Network: Citrix, F5 and WatchGuard.
  6. Windows Server 2012 R2 will be available after preview (also to be added to Virtual Machines Image Gallery, as a pre-built image).
  7. SQL Server AlwaysOn will be demo’ed during TechEd- to be generally available later this year for Virtual Machines. 


DOHA EVENT: Data Availability in the Hybrid Cloud Era

by Shijaz Abdulla on 14.05.2013 at 20:57

Below is an invitation to a joint event between Qatar Datamation Systems, Microsoft, Commvault and HP focusing on Data Availability in the Hybrid Cloud.

It is time to re-think your IT investment and infrastructure to address the exponential growth and availability of data, there is a compelling need for a strategic alignment of the backup recovery, archiving and disaster recovery.
See beyond today and focus on sustained business operations that can withstand threats and pitfalls that befall today’s business establishment.
We are honored to invite you in collaboration with Commvault, Microsoft, and HP to demonstrate the approach for the unified Data Protection & Availability across the software, hardware and cloud stack. We will share our thoughts on what are ahead and compelling insights into investing in the business outcomes and the concept of the Hybrid Cloud Data Protection.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Sharq Village & SPA


08:45 – 09:30     Registrations & Welcome Refreshments
09:30 – 09:45     Keynote
09:45 – 10:45     Commvault: The exponential way forward in Data
10:45 – 11:00     Coffee Break
11:00 – 12:00     Microsoft: Realizing the Hybrid Cloud With Windows
                          Azure & SQL
12:00 – 13:00     HP: The Converged Storage Approach
13:00                 Lunch


Creating a shortcut to change the default audio device in Windows

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.05.2013 at 15:25

Most of us use multiple audio devices. Sometimes its a headset, at other times it’s the default laptop speakers, and at other times it might a speaker system connected to your docking station or even a webcam microphone.

Unfortunately, switching between the various audio devices can be tedious as you need to change the Windows “default device” or the “default communications device” each time for both recording and playback.

Today we’re going to see how you can create simple shortcuts on your taskbar that let you effortlessly switch between audio devices.


The three shortcuts you see in my little “Audio Control” custom toolbar let me switch between by Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 headset, Internal Speakers and Logitech c920 HD webcam microphone. Here’s how I created these shortcuts:

Note: I have tried this on Windows 8, but I am pretty sure it will work on Windows 7 too.

1. Download the NIRCMD utility and extract it to a folder on your computer, let’s call it C:\NIRCMD

2. Open your Windows Playback devices (Right click on your speaker icon on the taskbar).


Note the names of each of the devices you need to change. You can click on Properties to view the correct name. You will need the exact same name for the NIRCMD command to work. If you have two devices with the same name (example: “Speakers”) you will need to rename one of them so that they are unique. Click Properties if you need to rename devices.

Note the names in a text file for easy copy-paste.

In my case, the three playback device names are:

  • “Headset Earphone”
  • “Speakers”

3. Do the same with recording devices. Note the names in a text file. In my case the names of my 3 recording devices are:

  • “Headset Microphone”
  • “Microphone”
  • “C920 Microphone” (renamed)

4. Now open the C:\NIRCMD folder, create a new batch file for each device, let’s call them SPEAKERS.BAT, HEADPHONE.BAT, and WEBCAM.BAT

5. Use similar commands as below for each of the BAT files. Use the device names you copied earlier.


C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Speakers" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Internal Microphone" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Speakers" 1
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Internal Microphone" 1


C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Earphone" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Microphone" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Earphone" 1
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Microphone" 1


C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Speakers" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "C920 Microphone" 2


  • The “1” in the NIRCMD command line argument indicates that the device is set as “Default Device”. A “2” in the command indicates that the device will be set as a “Default Communications Device” (useful for Skype, Lync etc).
  • The device name string should be EXACTLY the same that is defined in Windows.

6. Test each batch file by double clicking on them and observing if the default device changed.

7. Create a folder "Audio Control” for your custom toolbar. Your NIRCMD folder should look like the below now.


7. Inside the Audio Control folder, create three shortcuts to the batch files that you created in step 5. Click Change Icon in the shortcut file properties if you want to change the icons like I have done.

8. Right click on an empty space on your taskbar and choose New toolbar.



9. Choose the C:\NIRCMD\Audio Control folder. You now have an awesome new Audio Controls toolbar.

You will appreciate the one-click ease with which you can now change your default audio device in Windows. Leave a comment and let us know your feedback! 🙂

Backup to Cloud Part 3: Using Windows Azure Recovery services with System Center Data Protection Manager 2012

by Shijaz Abdulla on 12.05.2013 at 16:48

With the announcement of the Windows Azure Recovery Services Preview, you can now backup data to Windows Azure using the Windows Backup Agent or from DPM 2012 using the DPM Backup Agent.

We explored how to backup data using the Windows Agent in a previous post.

Now, let’s see how we can use System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 (DPM 2012) to backup data to Windows Azure.


1. Install System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 Service Pack 1 with all latest updates.

2. IMPORTANT: Follow part 1 if this post to create a backup vault on Windows Azure, and to create a self-signed certificate from the computer that you installed DPM on.


1. From the computer running DPM, open your Windows Azure Management Portal. Go to Recovery Services and click on the vault you created in part 1.

2. On the right, click Download Agent.


3. Choose the agent that works with DPM and install it on your DPM server.



4. Open the System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 DPM Administrator Console. Click Management in the left pane. Click on Online in the left pane.


5. Click Register.

6. Select the certificate that you created in part 1. Then select the corresponding vault on Windows Azure. Click Next.


7. Choose an internet proxy if needed. Click Next.

8. If you are running Windows Server 2012, you have the option of setting internet bandwidth throttling. This option is unavailable in Windows Server 2008 R2. Click Next.

9. Choose a folder for temporarily holding recoverable items during a recovery. This is more like a staging area and you need enough space as the size of data that you anticipate recovering in parallel. Click Next.


10. Choose a passphrase for encrypting your data. Make sure you save your passphrase in a safe place or you will not be able to restore your data. Click Register.


Your DPM server is now registered with Windows Azure.

You can now configure backup jobs to backup to cloud. The steps to configure these jobs are similar to normal backup jobs, except that you choose Windows Azure as your backup destination.


See also

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