Archive for the ‘Exchange’ Category

Free Training, Labs, Videos and more from Microsoft, VMware and @TrainSignal!

January 28th, 2013

From 2001 until 2006 I would regularly do presentations on OMG THERE’S FREE TRAINING OUT THERE WHY AREN’T YOU USING IT. Which even culminated in the release of a Technical Offerings training deck as noted in this blog post I published in 2006 (Yes, Seriously, in 2006) Well, guess what. A lot of that data is STILL highly relevant even today! So… Let’s get started! :)

Training Videos


Kicking off the realm of training videos I’d like to highlight our good friends at Microsoft with their release of the Microsoft Virtual Academy!

Microsoft Virtual Academy - Learn about Windows 8

The MVA has a LOAD and I mean a serious LOAD of information, from Training Videos, Courses, Tutorials, Walkthroughs, even Tests and points and contests to increase not only the ‘fun factor’ but provide additional context in your education.   For those of you VMwarriors out there who will discard this and say BLAH, SHOW ME THE VMware STUFF.   I even did a little search for VMware in the “Quick Search” button and lo and behold lookie at the results!

Microsoft gets serious with VMware Virtualization solutions in Microsoft Virtual Academy 

So whether you are a rockstar, a seasoned professional or someone looking to get started and want to know where to get some good and valuable information without spending hours and $$$ in a classroom, this is definitely an excellent way to get started, so jump on in!


I know some of you are fighting the constant battle of “Damnit, can I attend Microsoft TechEd or not…” And with TechEd 2013 going to be in New Orleans I cannot blame you in the LEAST! But for those of you who just truly cannot find the time, the ability and are able to get away… something you should know.


Yea. Seriously. It is.  It actually has been for like the last… Oh I don’t know… since 2004 I believe? And all of that past-content since they started posting and making it available online has been posted online.   For some reason I’m only able to find the 2012 content and the 2011 Archive but who really needs access to material on product versions which may not even exist or are supported anymore, if you truly need that let me know and I’ll find the link!

The Microsoft TechEd 2012 Content Catalog (and prior) are freeeeeeee!


A lot of you are familiar with TrainSignal and the loads of great content they create, produce and respectively sell out there (You can get access to their paid training video series and content on their website,  But when I reached out to their President asking, “Hey, you have any freeeeeee stuff!?!?!?” He pointed me over by here!  So here is a whole bunch of videos freeeeeeeeeeeee of charge!  And of course, don’t hesitate to check out the amazing content produced by the likes of Scott Lowe and David Davis and others!

OMG TrainSignal does Free Training Videos too?! Available on Youtube? Booyah!

Ya know… as an example here! :)

That should get you going on quite a load of stuff from Microsoft, to VMware, to Citrix and Cisco and beyond!   But let’s drill down a bit into VMware now…


When it comes to VMware there are loads and loads (and loads) of information in the world, and often we never really know where to start… Well, here is a place to start and it’s home is in YouTube!

OMG VMware has a LOT of Channels on YouTube!

Yea, that’s lame right? I mean on YouTube there’s like a dozen channels?!?! Well, there are. Just go and use them. BAM, and BOOYAH.

VMworld Presentations are FREE TOO LIKE TECHED?!?!?

Well, no. Not exactly. Sorry!   Although this last year VMUG Advantage did have a brief offer for free access to the VMworld content if you signed up for that…  I’m unable to find any data on it at the moment, so that may have expired, but it’s still worth checking out!


You asked for Labs and here they are! More labs than you can shake a stick at!

This picture 'borrowed' from !

Err, okay, maybe that was a little too literal!   Let’s get on with our labs though!

FREE Hands On Labs from Microsoft!

The thing about Microsoft is… for 8+ years they’ve had FREE access to all of their products in a Try-Before-You-Buy model where you can DOWNLOAD any Product and play with it (okay, seriously that’s been around for going on 20 years) but they also instituted the Hands On Labs where the lab environments would BUILD themselves, provide you with a Lab guide to follow (or ignore) and learn and play with it that way.   Not to mention all of the content they’d have in the Hands on Labs at TechEd would be POSTED and made available for you to go in and learn, explore and beyond!

This isn’t something new, it’s been around FOREVER, Here are links to where you can access it (as it’s actually available in several places).

Disclaimer: When I wanted to test something out, I’d spin up a lab which was designed to ‘best practice’ and go in and do whatever I wanted, I mean it was a lab environment available in minutes. Why not? 

Interesting Fact, some of the types of labs and solutions available out there which you can play and learn from:

  • How to setup a product from scratch, like Sharepoint, Microsoft Exchange, SQL
  • How to MIGRATE a product from one version to another (like those products mentioned above and more)
  • How to Develop in a language like C#, Visual Studio, Azure, PowerShell and more
  • How to do other advanced types of things
  • Alllllllllllll the labs that were available at TechEd, so you know what that means… and if not, check it out!
  • You can find TechEd Labs in the Additional Content section here with this Microsoft TechEd Virtual Labs flask icon next to it!
  • Here at the MSEvents site there are a number of Virtual Labs on the “Virtual Labs” tab to choose and play from!
  • At the TechNet Virtual Labs site you can dive a little deeper on more Microsoft Technologies…
  • Looking to dive even deeper, the MSDN Virtual Labs site will take you there.

So if for a minute you thought this was going to be easy, or a single click site with all the answers. HAH.


Well, not exactly.. I mean, sort of, kind of… but, well, let me explain.   VMware recently announced “Project Nee” my dear friend Simon Seagrave talks about about it here at his blog.  But ultimately, what Project Nee is intended to be is… VMware Hands On Labs publicly available online.  However it is still in Beta at the moment.   You can follow details of the VMware Hands On Labs by going here to the VMware Hands On Labs community!


Some additional places not even mentioned but you should check out, and all of the cited links for easy access and consumption:


So hopefully those of you out there who are looking to stay relevant, continue educating yourselves, maybe even heading down the certification track and whatnot will find this of benefit.   I won’t lie to you, I’ve used these resources countless times over the years and I encourage others to.   If you have any other sites to suggest, toss em into the comment section… This is an epic resources to reference from here until well.. until I write another one ;)

Educate and Enjoy!

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Posted in .NET, Careers, Certification, Cloud, Education, Evangelist, Exchange, Free, Hyper-V, Informational, Licensing, MCT, Microsoft, Sharepoint, SQL, TechEd, Technology, Virtualization, vmware, VMworld, Windows Server | Comments (6)

Happy Virtual Holidays; Best Practices for Virtualizing Mission Critical Applications, Storage and Hyper-V!

December 13th, 2012

Hey everyone out there!   I hope this finds you well and your holidays are off to a festive start.   I find no better gift to you within the community than the motherlode and brainshare of information I’ve collected, assumed, and delivered throughout the years and even a rare ‘sighting’ of my own delivery of said material in case there is ever anything you’re wondering about the what, the where and so forth!

A little bit about this source material; The emphasis and focus on this is intended to be around virtualizing Exchange and SQL.   And while some of you hardcore VMware zealots expect me to only discuss VMware it does take into heavy consideration and discuss the materials at hand on how to go about addressing this within the body  of work that is Microsoft Hyper-V as well – So happy holidays to all virtualization! :)

To start I’d like to focus on my most recent delivery of this presentation material for our good friends at Windows IT Pro, Power IT Pro, and more specifically the instance of the discussion was with VM Tech Pro!

VMtech Pro - Virtualization Strategies - Putting VMware to Work for you 

There by clicking on the handy dandy image, or even by this embedded link you will have access to the live presentation I delivered for the folks over by there and the some ~130 or so attendees who were on the line (submitting questions, so on and so forth).   As most of you know this is something I’m particularly passionate about (Virtualization, Best Practices, Mission Critical Apps) all of that, and I do love to share my body of work to help make your day to day jobs even easier.    I definitely encourage you to go through the link to check out the live version of events (slides can only tell so much of the story, and I share a lot of stories not reflected directly in the slides) but I also encourage you to check out the links below which will have the original source material and SPEAKER NOTES OMG THE SPEAKER NOTES!  Those are filled with every ounce of material you need to help make your case and continue to make your case when it comes to virtualizing and driving your story home; it’s something you won’t regret having on hand. :)

I do encourage you to use this material to help make your case, if you’re going to publicly share the slides or use them in your own source (as many have done) I appreciate a reference or just letting me know (sometimes I update material and I’d hate for you not to have the latest material :))

Also anyone who wishes to contribute back into this living body of work, don’t hesitate to in the comments.   We’re only as good as our information and any chance to improve that I’ll be sure to reference back to you as well!   Thanks, and here is the rest of it! :)

Slides delivered for the Virtualization Strategies session (Hyper-V material had been hidden)

Slides delivered for The Experts Conference 2012 #TEC2012 – Best Practices for Virtualizing Mission Critical Applications

Slides delivered for The Experts Conference 2011 #TEC2011 Session (material was later updated in 2012, but I am full disclosure :))

… And just for good measure since I’m sharing… here for a little of storage is…

Slides delivered for The Experts Conference 2012 #TEC2012 Session of Storage, Backup, Recovery for HyperV

… And the holidays wouldn’t be proper without adding one last mini-gift! My Post-VMworld 2012 Update – Cherish :)

Slides delivered for the St Croix Solutions community with the Post VMworld 2012 Recap!


So a hearty happy holidays to you and your kind, as we launch into a brand new year… Oh the exciting things we will have to share when that time comes! :)

Stay tuned :)

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Posted in emc, Evangelist, Exchange, Hyper-V, Informational, Microsoft, Sharepoint, SQL, Storage, Technology, Virtualization, vmware, VMworld, Windows Server | Comments (0)

Leading with the Unified EMC VNX – Watch, Look and Listen [Contest Entry too]

March 30th, 2011

Hi guys! You’ve seen me produce videos in the past I’m sure, although it is not that often that *I* am actually IN the videos where you can see me, if even for a moment.  (You let me know if you like that, or not ;))

Through a series of events, I ended up recording this video.  For your reference: This IS a first draft, in an infinite style of regularly updating my style for delivery.  [This was done using a little camera and a tiny mount on not a whole lot of space on a whiteboard… if I went Pro for the next one… you’ll be all OMFG :)]

Initially, I had drawn up some notes of how I’d present this.. so in the effort of WTF and Full disclosure (You know me all too well ;)) These are those preliminary whiteboard/notes.

Unisphere, Silos, FAST-VP, FAST Cache Ease of Use, Maximum Efficiency, Consistent Performance

I did have some other pictures which showed bits and pieces.. but I’m sure you get the gist of it!  So what exactly am I saying with this video, with these whiteboards.. with this.. you know, whatever it is I’m doing here. :)

Three things actually.   One of the cool things about the VNX is that it provides you with:

  • Ease of Use – With simplicity of management using Unisphere, vCenter Integration, Single Pane for all arrays
  • Maximum Efficiency – With FAST-VP, You can go Thin, and use the right tier at the right time with auto-tiering
  • Consistent Performance – The magic of EFDs, QOS, FAST Cache, Wide-Striping, Consolidate and guarantee SLAs

I know what you’re saying “OMFG CHRISTOPHER, ARE YOU IN MARKETING?” No. And I usually stand by that, because I get things done ;).  Yes, I intentionally chose fitting points which happen to coincide with the acronym EMC, you know why? Because for one thing it’s easier to remember. :)  Not to mention, things should truly be easy to work with, and enjoyable; all the while providing an accurate picture of the story at hand!

Look forward to some future series where I actually go into the guts of the system and show you (from my perspective) the how’s and the why’s of these things [Time permitting ofcourse ;)]

So, for now, I leave you with this video.  Take it with a grain of salt, it IS a first-draft cutting room floor version.  As soon as I get my new mbp (April 1st?!) You should see some far better *Perhaps Annoying* videos coming from me ;)

And I know that some of you love me in videos sometimes… so for those of you who want to see me unplugged in an off-the-cuff impromptu interview (No, I’m not drunk), here is the infamous “I’m CXI, I’m from the Internets!” video!

I hope you enjoyed that.   Now, I’d love to hear your feedback. Where you say “Wow, I never thought of it that way” Or, “OMG You’re a total tool!” Yea, I’m game for either of those – Whatever you have to offer up, constructive or otherwise!

Oh, and I also submitted this for an internal contest (Which if I win.. will give me a sweet wrap-around terrace suite at EMC World [Yes, you can all come hang out in my room ;)] So, support away in every way possible! :)

Watch this space for more stupidity, err I mean great content in the future!

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Posted in Celerra, Efficiency, emc, Exchange, FAST, Microsoft, NAS, Oracle, SAS, SATA, Sharepoint, SQL, SSD, Storage, Technology, Virtualization, VNX, WTF | Comments (0)

Exchange 2010 Blasphemy, Virtualization and Rock Star Bloggers!

October 11th, 2010

Today I was cleaning up my mailbox when I came across some BLASPHEMY about Exchange! Okay, not blasphemy per se, but I continually hear from folks who are being incorrectly told “Exchange cannot be virtualized”.  I’m not exactly sure who started this ‘trend’ but that’s neither here nor there!   So I did a little digging [and you know, digging for me tends to turn into a blog post ;)]  And I came across not only some AMAZING Material! But I also want to make sure you’re following up on regularly posted updates from a Rockstar who’s clear focus is on Exchange!

Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange 2010 with Confidence  Microsoft Exchange 2010 Zero-Data Loss Virtualization and Replication

These are two very SHORT and to the point, giving you the high-lights letting you know what is required to kick things off and something you can hand up to mgmt! So it’s great to not spend a lot of time trying to figure out what it’s saying!

One thing I’d like to bring particular attention on these papers is that these are not EMC Papers, but are in fact co-branded collaborations by Microsoft, EMC and others (the one below was Microsoft, Cisco and EMC, and some of the others involve Dell and Brocade) but either way, Microsoft was directly involved in their creation as opposed to ‘slap a tag on it’

STOP THE PRESS! (vicki vale!) – Check out this paper though!  It is definitely longer! 84 pages!  Filled with raw technical example, use cases, all that jazz! Great must read paper and not just words! Lots of pretty pictures!  Yes it is Hyper-V but that cmon, this was co-branded Microsoft.. :)  And note: Published October 2010! So Vicki Vale did get one thing right!

Business Continuity for Microsoft Exchange 2010 Enabled by EMC Unified Storage, Cisco Unified Computing System, and Microsoft Hyper-VWow, look at those DAGs!

Okay fine! Here is another paper! This one is a little older but I know you wouldn’t let me get away without giving you some VMware love! So here is one, with less pretty pictures!

 Microsoft Exchange 2010 Efficiency, Flexibility, Performance, and Availability at Scale Enabled by EMC Symmetrix VMAX, Virtual Provisioning and VMware vSphere VMAX it up!

Alright, one more then! This one was from August – not a whitepaper only a basic Reference Architecture, but I found it to be pretty damn cool looking!


EMC Virtual Infrastructure for Microsoft Exchange 2010 Enabled by EMC Symmetrix VMAX, VMware vsphere 4, and Replication Manager Pretty Reference Architecture

Okay, enough of these (albeit amazing papers!) With no further adieu I’d like to introduce you to Dustin Smith! I’d tell you all about him, but Brian interviewed him here so you can find out all about how he’s an MVP, MCM and so many other things!

So, Dustin has his own blog where he talks almost exclusively about Exchange (okay, I think it’s all about Exchange, but whatever! this is MY BLOG! ;))

Exchange In the Private Cloud is definitely a must check out blog if you care anything about Exchange, or have to deal with it!

I’d like to highlight a few of his blog posts here for you to check out:

  • Yes, Exchange Server is being virtualized!
    • Within EMC, our entire 40,000+ user infrastructure is virtualized on Exchange Server and the organization as a whole is moving towards virtualization of most all applications. Most all of the infrastructures we design and showcase within our Proven Solutions are geared toward virtualization, either with VMWare vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V. See my previous blog post on what we recently did with the Tested Exchange Solutions Program case with Cisco and Microsoft where we showcased 34,000 users on Microsoft Hyper-V with Cisco UCS blade servers and EMC Unified Storage.
  • EMC Whitepaper, Exchange Tested Solutions Program
    • What we are showcasing in this whitepaper is a result of our joint solution development with Microsoft and Cisco that was deployed and tested in Microsoft EEC labs in Redmond. In the whitepaper you will find the reference architecture for 32,400 users across a three site Exchange DAG scenario leveraging Microsoft Hyper-V, EMC NS480 Unified Storage, and Cisco UCS B-series blade servers along with analysis of testing results and key best practices on virtualizing Exchange Server 2010 on Hyper -V on EMC Unified storage and Cisco Unified Computing System.
  • Exchange 2010 Backups? I don’t need any stinkin backups?!?
    • I think overall, the backupless/Exchange Native Data Protection option certainly brings a new element to the Exchange 2010 architecture discussions and different options for providing recovery when bad things happen. VSS based options (hardware and software based) are  still heavily used options to protect Exchange data that have been popular since the Exchange 2003 days and have increased with features and functionality into Exchange 2010.
  • Getting Exchange Server 2010 into the Private Cloud
  • Yes, EMC can do Exchange for SMB too

So, there are some teasers there of just some of the content that Dustin is putting out (There is obviously more.. but I’ll let you do the reading up on it! It’s definitely worth reading! – How so though, I just discovered Dustin TODAY and I’m sharing him with you a few hours after that point, So, yea I consider that to be pretty compelling :))

I want to leave you with links to all of the resources I mentioned above, so you can forth to gain access to the WP’s I mentioned and others I didn’t include pictures for!

There are so many more than just these links alone – I actually was surprised on how much content there was at ! – So check it out, and as always let me know if I can help you in a particular way :)

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Posted in Celerra, Cisco, CLARiiON, Cloud, DMX, emc, Exchange, FAST, Hyper-V, Iomega, Microsoft, SATA, SSD, Storage, Symmetrix, UCS, V-Max, Virtualization, VMAX, vmware, VPLEX, vSphere | Comments (7)

Getting your beta on for the holidays! (Exchange and WinMo6.5)

November 25th, 2009

Firstly, let me start out by thanking Krista Wall and Gerry O’Brien of the Microsoft Learning Team for publishing the official Beta Exam Invites!

And with no further adieu, here are the published invites! (Hooray!)

Windows Mobile 6.5 Developer Beta Exam Invite

Exam: 71-580, TS: Windows Mobile® 6.5, Application Development

Registration begins: November 11, 2009 – Beta exam period runs: November 30, 2009– December 21, 2009

Please use the following promotional code when registering for the exam: WEMOD

Windows Mobile 6.5, Configuring Beta Exam Invite

Exam: 71-579, TS: Windows Mobile® 6.5, Configuring

Registration begins: November 11, 2009 – Beta exam period runs: November 19, 2009– December 11, 2009

Please use the following promotional code when registering for the exam: WEMOI

Exchange 2010 Pro beta exam available—Register now!

Exam: 71-663: Pro: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

Registration begins: November 20, 2009 – Beta exam period runs: December 1, 2009– December 21, 2009

Please use the following promotional code when registering for the exam: EPROJ

Well, this is a pretty straight forward breakdown of the exams! If you encounter any of the exams closed (from the codes being over used, be sure to let us know! :))

Good luck, and good testing! (I’m scheduled for the Exchange exam, but my post mortem won’t come until Dec 21st – so too late for the rest of you :))

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Posted in Certification, Education, Exchange, Microsoft | Comments (2)

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