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sharepoint.pngMicrosoft SharePoint 2013 is a collaboration and content management platform that brings new capabilities to share knowledge, organize projects and discover people and information. This application is used by 80% of Fortune 500 companies.

SharePoint provides more control over the infrastructure with more efficiency managing multiple workloads, additionally with the benefit of virtualization technologies you can increase server consolidation reducing the amount of administrative effort and reducing costs.

 

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 provides new functionalities for Cloud and Office 365, Enterprise Social, Enterprise management and Mobile Apps. These new capabilities increase value protecting business application, reducing cost and management as part of IT Transformation.

SharePoint farm is a set of sites, lists, libraries and items stored in content databases. EMC offers a variety of Solutions to provide availability, protect, consolidate, and improve performance with low cost.

 

EMC VNX Unified Storage for Microsoft SharePoint

 

EMC provides different solutions to improve performance and availability in SharePoint environments to support business applications.

 

 

Data Protection

 

EMC Data Protection allows you to protect SharePoint environment in your recovery time and recovery objective requirements

This is a simple solution for Enterprise SharePoint farm for your Datacenter and remote offices.

 

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EMC Data Protection uses VSS interface to collect all the SharePoint farm information about servers and the location of the databases and files.This information will be use to recover the full farm or for a granular site level recover. The backup could be done to disks or to Data Domain system using deduplication technology.

 

EMC Data Protection provides item level Recovery via Ontrack PowerControl; this is a very efficient solution for small and large SharePoint Farms. We can recover SharePoint web applications, site collections, sites, lists, libraries and son on.

 

Metalogix and Ontrack PowerControl Solutions for Microsoft SharePoint BLOB Data

 

Microsoft SharePoint is growing very quickly during the last years relying on SharePoint as business critical application. Files, videos, office documents are an example of unstructured data that are stored in SharePoint content database with the associate metadata.  BLOB data can consume lots of space in the SQL database and would impact in the performance of some of the normal SharePoint daily tasks.

 

To improve performance, management and reduce costs we can store BLOB externally reducing SQL Database storage size. EMC and Metalogix have partnered to bring Enterprise solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Applications.

SharePoint BLOB Storage Solution with Metalogix and EMC Isilon Scale-Out NAS Solution provides efficiency externalizing BLOB data outside the SQL Server database and increase performance with EMC Isilon scale-out NAS.

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  • Externalizing BLOB Data with Metalogix StoragePoint and SharePoint EBS/RBS provider shrink SQL Databases by up to 95%.
  • Transparent to end users
  • Increase efficiency with over 80% storage utilization for BLOB data with EMC Isilon scale-out NAS
  • Simplicity management with monitoring and reporting tools.

 

Isilon scale-out NAS is simple to install and use. EMC Isilon OneFS operating system distributes data uniformly across all the nodes in an Isilon Cluster, this feature reduces costs, complexity and risks for scaling storage.

 

Metalogix StoragePoint recognizes when multiples copies of the same BLOB are stored in SharePoint library and will maintain only one copy improving storage efficiency.

Microsoft SQL Server stores all the data in Tier 1 block storage, which is very expensive; externalizing BLOB data will reduce the size of your SQL Database and the space on Tier 1 storage. Metalogix and Isilon Solution enable SharePoint to store BLOBs on a cost effective Isilon scale-out. To optimize BLOB storage resources, Isilon SmartPools software helps to automate storage tiering infrastructure.

By now, everybody knows that flash is the go-to technology for high performance workloads. The marketplace is being flooded with all-flash arrays from established storage companies and startups alike to capitalize on the demand. Each vendor is eager to say “Me, too!” and check off all of the features that everyone would expect from an enterprise storage solution. However, when evaluating the right solution for your SQL environment, it is important to know how effective and efficient these features have been implemented.

Performance

Consistent IOPS and low latency are the keys to predictability of performance in any SQL environment. Not all flash arrays deliver this consistency and in some cases they can perform wildly inconsistently depending on whether data services are turned on or off or if system-level garbage collection kicks on, these are not issues for the X-Brick configuration.

 

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Performance is just the first step; flash-optimized workloads need to leverage this for the new application services for things like real-time analytics, database workload development, test instance consolidation, and in-memory cloning and provisioning at enterprise scale. This is the true goal for all-flash arrays in the simple, agile 3rd platform data center- workload acceleration, workload consolidation, and workload services.

Scale

As a scale-out design, XtremIO reaches higher performance and capacity levels by creating clusters of multiple X-Bricks. These XtremIO clusters outperform all other arrays without compromising availability, data services, or simplicity. Both the aggregate capacity and aggregate performance increase linearly with every additional X-Brick in the cluster. This is accomplished through XtremIO’s powerful combination of:

 

  1. X-Brick building blocks to scale processing and I/O with capacity
  2. RDMA Infiniband fabric combined with in-memory global metadata
  3. XIOS software that ensures inherent software balance and data protection across the cluster.

 

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XtremIO leverages its multi-controller scale-out design and direct memory-to-memory RDMA fabric to maintain all metadata in memory.  This makes it impervious to changes in workload – it doesn’t matter what LUN sizes are used, whether there are random or sequential access patterns, or if there is locality of reference or not. The performance is consistent and predictable all the time.  And best of all, heavy metadata operations like inline deduplication, thin provisioning allocations and internal array copy operations are conducted entirely in memory, at instantaneous speed, without impacting I/O to the SSD portion of the array.

Simplicity

Whether you are leveraging 1,2 or 4 X-Bricks in your cluster, the management of your XtremIO array remains simple and straight forward. Every volume on XtremIO inherently gets the full performance of the array. You no longer have to think about how to map indexes, tables, logs, journals, temporary space, and archives to appropriate RAID levels and spindle counts in order to drive performance. Just create a volume with just a few clicks and put the entire database structure in it.

Single Instance

Another key to unlocking the remaining benefits of XtremIO for your SQL environment lies in the industry’s leading data reduction technology with a combination of deduplication enabled by powerful content addressing and metadata management. XtremIO calculates a unique fingerprint for every data block based on its contents and uniformly distributes data based on its fingerprint value. For duplicate fingerprints, it never writes the data, but replaces duplicate data with pointers to previously written data before it is written to disk.   This content-based data placement not only delivers better performance, better flash endurance, and makes the array easier to use, it has the secondary benefit of telling the array what it needs to know to de-duplicate data inline in the data path at full speed.

Snapshots/Clones

With such effective single instancing in place, we can now make use of the in-memory metadata sharing to create zero-impact copies for use in test/dev or for reporting/analytics.

Test/Dev

The majority of test/dev environments suffer from a limited number of copies due to a lack of capacity or performance. On top of this, the amount of time it takes to copy the data wastes time and causes a performance impact on the production environment. XtremIO changes the dynamic.

 

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With XtremIO, even multiple high-performance databases can be consolidated onto a single array with plenty of performance headroom. And with XtremIO’s instantaneous zero-copy volume cloning feature, multiple copies of a database can be created for development and test purposes without consuming additional space in the array and with the full performance potential of the parent database--all without threatening the production database SLA in any way. This improves application roll-out times since every developer can get a high-performance, personal sandbox of the production database. You can even run analytics on the same storage, eliminating the need for expensive ETL exports. Re-imagine your database and analytics workloads without the old limitations.

Reporting

With XtremIO’s consistent performance and data services, you can consolidate your analytics and do new things. React instantly to change by running interactive reports while OLTP is running. Adopt flexible business practices for reporting against OLTP schema. Now users can avoid extracting data in ETL operations, and instead query the live database.

 

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In Closing…

XtremIO addresses much more than just performance for your SQL Server environment.

 

  • Database consolidation- with unmatched performance, and free space-efficient cloning
  • Storage capacity- with inline data reduction, thin provisioning, and the lowest data protection overhead in the industry
  • OPEX- with the simplest management, deployment, and test/dev agile data management in the industry

 

It’s time to accelerate, simplify, consolidate, and virtualize your database and analytics workloads. It’s time to take control with XtremIO.

Written by James Cordes and John DeLuca


Azure is "Cloud"; it's not "applications".  As IT Professionals, we bring our applications to The Cloud.

But WHICH applications should we bring to The Cloud?  All, some, none, the big ones, the small ones, the ones that can't go down, the ones that CAN go down??  How do we choose? How can we know if we were right?  How do we know where to start?!

One of the most considered candidates is Messaging -- Good 'ol email.  Looking into the past, we have seen messaging providers come and go.  Back in 1998, we had early multi-tenancy offered by a handful of ISPs or ASPs as we called them… Exchange was a different animal back then.  Microsoft had no intention of making Exchange a multi-tenent application for Cloud.  Heck, "Cloud" didn't even exist back in 1998.  But Microsoft has become a leader in responding to customer demand.  They are about the best there is, from a pure software perspective.  The Exchange product group took it upon themselves to rewrite the Exchange Mailbox role to reduce the number of Critical Situations (a term coined by Microsoft's Premier Alliances Group back in 2001/2002 following the horrific events of 9/11.  Critical Situations occurred when a customer was facing a serious "service down" scenario.  The complete outage of an Exchange environment, for example.  Microsoft Product Support Services and Microsoft Premier worked arduously to determine the root causes of their Exchange CritSits.  They came up with a list of five things.  SAN Zoning, Multi-Homed Server NICs, Windows Clustering Configuration Errors, Unrecoverable Hard Disk Errors, SCSI Bus resets related to backup devices residing on the same SCSI network as the Cluster Disks.  The point is, Microsoft's Exchange Product Group worked for more than seven years to re-engineer the Exchange Mailbox Role to eliminate these CritSits.  Long story short, Microsoft decided that a hosted Exchange environment would give customers the most ideal environment with the highest customer satisfaction rate.  A hosted Exchange environment meant that Microsoft, itself, would install and operate Exchange.  Ten years later, we have the result: Office 365.

Many of my customers ask the same questions that you're asking about Office 365, and they usually start with "Why wouldn't I do this? It seems to make sense."  So let's look at the facts.

1) Microsoft is running this service;  how bad could it be?

2) I have a clear definition of what's being offered

3) I can free up my existing staff to do what they want to do instead of running exchange servers

4) I get 50 GB mailboxes! That's way more than I could possibly offer my users today

5) it comes with an SLA that's three nines; I would have to spend a lot of money in order to get to that level of service.

6) it comes with Office for iPad?! I can't do that today!

7) I can include Lync and Sharepoint services too?! All on the same monthly bill?! I'm having trouble figuring out why I wouldn't do this."

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Here are some factors you may not have considered as you look at this seemingly great list of features.  Of the things to consider, we divide them into three basic categories. The categories are Trust, Cost, and Features.

Trust comes in a number of forms in this scenario.  The first one is who's looking at my data and do I know if they are. Keep in mind that your data will be housed at a public facility. This means that, not only can Microsoft look at your data, but also any law enforcement organization can submit a subpoena to Microsoft.  This action, allowing the law organization to look at your data and neither Microsoft nor the law organization has to tell you that they are doing so. Furthermore since your data is in the public facility, we can only imagine the number of attacks that happen at Microsoft Azure data centers every day. Simply do a Google search and you'll see the number of reports that leak out for Microsoft every day.  If you were at all concerned about who's looking at your email, your Sharepoint information, and your Lync traffic, this could be a concern for you.

From a cost perspective, it gets complicated quickly.  Running a messaging environment includes hard costs and soft costs, operational costs and capital expenditures.  When comparing the cost of an Office 365 monthly license, it's easy to forget all of the expenses that you incur in your current messaging environment. It's simple to tally up salaries and racks and power and cooling and cabling and disk drives and repair bills and software updates but what about the things that are difficult to account for?  What about the new spam filter that I just spent $50,000 on? That was a shared expense. Can I still use that for other things or does that cost go into this bucket? And my cool new F5 load balancer cluster? What am I going to do with that?  Do I count that as sunk cost?  Consider such factors such as: Did I just purchased a new VBLOCK that I should be installing Exchanging into?  How much time will my Exchange administrators need to build-out the Active Directory Federation?  Since Office 365 doesn't come with any sort of Helpdesk, how many people will I need to keep on staff to support my users? When there is an outage at Office 365, Microsoft will give me money back, but what about the loss of productivity? Who pays for that?

And lastly let's talk about Flexibility.  Sometimes we talk about flexibility in the form of functional requirements. For example, do I have third-party applications that plug into my current Exchange environment? ..that might plug into my current SharePoint environment? …there might be gateways to my Mail environment, are they the same ones used to archiving mail into a secondary failure domain by using SourceOne. Does that link to Office 365. If it doesn't, have I evaluated, and do I like the native archiving that Microsoft provides me in Office 365? Many consumers of Office 365 come back with the answer that they don't like...

At the end of the day, the services that you offer your end-users are all that matter. When Joe from accounting is using his iPad to check his mail when he's at his daughter's soccer game, he could care less which server model you installed his mailbox on. He does care, however, that there are messages in his inbox from an undesirable website. He also cares about the mail that he forwarded to the automated mail dispatcher that's linked to Sharepoint, and that the workforce application actually notifies his manager that he needs to be on vacation the week of July 14.

Let's face it, IT is complicated these days and chances are very good that you've created a fairly complex system of interworking parts to service the needs of your users. If your desire is to get out of the email business, this is easily accomplished by working with one of EMC's Service Providers. We can get you what you need without sacrificing any of what you want.  And, the costs will be in-line with or less than the long-term costs of Office 365.

Exchange is a critical application for you and having control over messaging applications and data is important to the end users of messaging systems. EMC Exchange Solutions dictate that Exchange and its data stays within your control.  This means that data sovereignty and data governance is not at the mercy of another organization. Exchange data and its access remains under your control, within your security and privacy mandates, and is compliant by being auditable, attestable, and discoverable.  Finally, control means streamlined infrastructure management, automation, and proven best practices delivered through EMC Exchange Solutions.

Many IT organizations may believe that outsourcing Exchange to Microsoft Office 365 is their low-cost option.  That is usually not true.  Earlier this year, Wikibon demonstrated for any organization with more than 300 Exchange seats, Office 365 is more expensive than well-managed on-premises Exchange deployments.  And, larger enterprises needing high-availability Exchange from Microsoft can expect to pay 47% more than high-availability in-house deployments.  Customers deploying converged infrastructure can realize even greater levels of economic benefit.  Furthermore, an well-known SLA can ensure you even greater cost controls as you grow. Similar cost benefits can be had over Google and many other hosted Exchange service providers.

Flexibility is central to many messaging architects. This means that you are not limited in your choice of add-on software.  Because you are not limited to the options of a service provider, you can add third-party messaging tools and deeper application integration.  This means that Exchange is not disconnected from other critical business applications and the organization is better able to integrate and expedite their business processes.

Finally, protection and availability are what your end users demand.  In a mobile-connected world, systems must be available constantly.  By owning and controlling Exchange infrastructure, you are assured that disaster recovery and business continuity meets your business requirements.  Privacy and security is managed in-house as opposed to trusting another organization.  High-performance and high-availability is assured as opposed to promised by others.

Some organization, however want to "get out of the email business entirely".  This means that they want to use email, they simply don't wish to run email.  Certainly, you have more Exchange hosting options than ever before, but these options are not limited to the list gathered by Gartner.  There are compelling, value-based arguments to deploy EMC Exchange Solutions on-premises, but some organizations will be dead-set on outsourcing Exchange.  For these companies, EMC Partners are trusted service providers.  These partners are distinguished by using the same EMC infrastructure and uphold these same value propositions around your customer’s critical Exchange environment.  Often times, these EMC Powered SPs can actually take your existing infrastructure and either manage it for you, or transfer it to their Co-located Data Centers and run it there.  It's not often that you get to have your cake, and eat it too.

When looking at your options for messaging, there are few reasons to settle for less than what you want.  EMC is the company who can help you achieve your messaging goals at the lowest cost, highest levels of trust, with unmatched flexibility.

EMC World 2014 was, as usual, a whirlwind.  I saw a good number of sessions, but not nearly all that I wanted to see.   That's pretty much how it's been the last few years I attended.  But this year is different.  Because the EMCW sessions were recorded, I can go back and catch the ones I missed, and watch those that had way too much content to ingest the first time around.  Here's what I plan on taking a look at again (or in some cases, the first time):

 

 

Now, that's about 18 hours of content, but I know I missed something.  What did you see - live or virtual - that I missed?  What matters to you that I didn't include?

The entire Microsoft Global Solutions Marketing (GSM) Team attended Microsoft TechEd 2014: 6 of us in total.  Another 10 EMCers attended from EMC PreSales and EMC Product Groups.  The following summary was created and compiled by the GSM team in a cooperative effort to understand and interpret Microsoft's Technical and Marketing content that we gathered from TechEd 2014 in Houston, Texas May 11-15, 2014.

 

Looking at what Microsoft was positioning to its customers at TechEd 2014, we have ascertained the following:

The main message this year for Microsoft's TechEd conference was "Cloud-First, Mobile-First". As part of IT transformation, Cloud strategy is the key for Microsoft's customers.  In Microsoft's terms, Cloud strategies will come with a variety of questions and decisions in order to achieve a successful deployment: build your HA and DR plans, management, security and education for your technical teams.


Cloud is the understood enabler for all things Mobile.  Therefore, Cloud-First, because Mobile is the most important aspect of an individual user's work style.  A mobile user needs a broad array of devices in order to accomplish the work-life balance he/she needs, and those devices need Cloud in order to be of value to their owners.  Educating customers came in two basic scenarios: 1) IT Infrastructure, and 2) End-User Capabilities.  Microsoft's curriculum for TechEd2014 was specifically tailored to IT Professionals who's main purpose was to meet the needs of a mobile workforce.


We categorized our findings into the four following topics:

  • Azure Public Cloud Services including Office 365: The Keynotes, breakout sessions, everything… was about Azure Cloud; Microsoft delivered a very clear cloud category definition: Public In-Cloud (Azure) and SP/On-Prem (Windows Azure Pack, System Center, Windows Server 2014/Hyper-V) which formed the whole hybrid cloud diagram from MS’s cloud vision.
    • New Azure product offerings are coming to market every quarter: Azure Remote App, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Express Route, Azure Compute-intensive "A8" & "A9" VMs that will provide a variety of tools to integrate, manage and orchestrate customer applications in the Azure Cloud.  According to Microsoft, more than 57% of Fortune 500 companies are using Azure, but at this point we don’t know which kind of applications or development are using in this environment.
    • Microsoft Public Cloud has been approved by European Union for: Office 365, Azure, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune.
    • VM Mobility with Live Migration SMB Live Migration, Live Storage Migration and Share Nothing Live Migration
    • Scaling for Mission Critical Workloads
      1. Highest level of performance for Microsoft workloads

      2. SAP is certified to run on Azure

      3. Oracle software supported on Windows server Hyper-V and Azure!
    • SharePoint Server SP1 and SharePoint Online offer a Hybrid Cloud Solution for your organization, using Single-On feature providing Directory Synchronization in the entire SharePoint solution.
  • Visual Studio is the central focus for all mobile development efforts: Microsoft is embracing choice (as is EMC).  While not using the "Agile" label for their developer framework, clearly Microsoft is skillfully responding to the radically improved development process that an Agile development framework offers.  Microsoft is leading with "choice" by allowing .NET developers a broad range of target devices, languages, and browser types.  In fact, the only choice Microsoft doesn't offer is whether or not you can use Visual Studio to create your applications in or Windows Server to run your applications on!  Microsoft has worked arduously over the past fifteen years to build-out its .NET development framework to include a broad array of mobile device targets and multiple browser types and vendors.  You can even write in a variety of languages ranging from C to Ruby.
  • Windows Server and the Microsoft Cloud OS:  Centered deeply on the capabilities of System Center to achieve the full potency of Windows and Azure, Microsoft presented a rich and functional operational plan to achieve the needs of a mobile workforce. 
  • SQL Server: Microsoft SQL Server 2014 bringing new functionalities delivering better performance in memory built-in Hybrid cloud solutions. Lots of interest and emphasis in Business Intelligence and Big Data; how to discover, manage, process and display data. Power BI and analytics managed by Office 365 for critical business applications.  The combination of SQL Always-On replica and Hyper-V Replica will cover different DR scenarios between SQL On premises and Azure. At this time they have to work to improve performance and reduce times in the replication, but the solution is very interesting.


So what about "the competition"?

This year VMware was on the Expo Floor — even awarded TOP VIRTUALIZATION at the show. And some breakout sessions had comparison slides, talking about the advantage of Hyper/System Center against VMware/vSphere/vCenter/vCAC, more about specs and features. Azure Cloud is a much grander diagram when compared against VMware’s cloud capabilities (on-prem only — no comparison were made to vCHS!). Azure is now becoming the key differentiator when talking about "the competition". Example here is the MSFT storage solution (storsimple + Azure), the DR solution (MASR to Azure), etc.To no one's surprise, very little was said about AWS or Google.  It was very clear that Microsoft Azure, backed by the capabilities of System Center, was an entirely different ballpark.


Unexpected Lessons from TechEd:

  1. Microsoft is openly supporting all  device types — they have given-up on attempting to rule the world by having Windows on every device and in every home.  With developer tools supporting every viable mobile device, Chrome, Mozilla/Firefox, even Safari, Microsoft he's learned that it will not win a world dominated by it's own products.
  2. EMC did not have a booth on the Expo Floor; customers were confused by this.  When told that EMC had enlisted its Federation-member, VMware, to exhibit on the Expo Floor, this confused them more...
  3. Cloud and Mobile are one thing.  With a customer-base that demands to be "constantly productive", Microsoft has determined a licensing model that allows them to bring Office to nearly any device.  iPads can now run Office, Web browsers can run Office, even Android phones run Office.  Microsoft has learned that Office is what people want to create documents with and it has learned that the device/mobility is more important than Office.  The value-add for any device is the ability to become productive with it — Office makes that happen.
  4. This year, MSFT focused on step-by-step deployment/migration to MS cloud. Many sessions described exact deployment steps; very straight forward. Microsoft introduced several key advantages regarding the choice of Azure Cloud: Azure Active Directory, Application development and deployment considerations; Azure RemoteApp (Desktop as a service) from mobility perspective; Microsoft Azure Site Recovery and other features for security, etc. The most important thing was that Microsoft had introduced its huge investment of the Azure Data Center all over the world, this is amazing data, showing MSFT’s ambition on its Cloud strategy and this investment is very convinced when selling Azure to customer.
  5. Lastly, it is difficult to ignore how much "bashing of SAN" went on during the week. It wasn’t until the second day that we managed to get through an entire session without the speaker making a leading comment about the "high cost" of SAN. There was even one session where the presenter said “…and if that is on EMC SAN, it is going to be pretty costly.”  Microsoft is attempting to teach its customers what Software Defined Storage is.  Microsoft is has usurped the term "Software Defined".  It is attempting to teach its customers that Microsoft's definition of Software Defined is complete and accurate.  The fact is that Microsoft is teaching customers that reducing the length and complexity of the IO path will increase performance and drive costs out. This lesson has little to do with Software Defined Storage, but we trust that customers already know that fact.

Conclusions:

It's been two weeks since TechEd began.  In that time we have discussed many aspects of Azure, System Center, and EMC's role in our customers' data centers.  Azure is evolving to meet Microsoft's customers' needs. It is an impressive collection of products and services.  It is also limited in what in can do, and what it allows its customers accomplish.

EMC leads with choice.  Giving customers choice is built into everything EMC does, thinks about, and presents.  Simply look at the vast number of storage choices that EMC brings to market, not to mention the number of options available to backup, replicate, restore, control, secure, and expose your data.  Look at the number of hypervisors EMC supports.  Most customers believe that choice is the reason that EMC is #1.  EMC expects CHOICE to dominate our market presence and we look forward to providing choice to you as you transform your data centers into the enabling technologies that your customers and consumers demand.

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