Welcome to Monday, our first official day of TechEd, which begins with a Keynote Presentation by Microsoft's Brad Anderson. I didn't go to that? Why? I didn't feel like I needed to hear from a Microsoft Exec about how Wonderful Microsoft is. I'm here to learn, not be convinced of anything. That being said- I did have a really productive day! I ran into many KACE Customers, folks that could obviously benefit from a KACE appliance (or 3) and a lot of really smart and great people. I also spent some time exploring some of the hardware and software soutions that plague many of our customers. Sure, a lot of what I saw had little or nothing to do with systems management/deployment but we in the training group like to be prepared to help no matter what comes up. Just knowing what products are out there can be huge. 

 

Okay, enough about my wanderings- you're here for Office 365 info. Well, I'll be honest- I got a lot less out of the Office 365 stuff than I'd hoped, but here goes...

 

Microsoft approached 365 with some basic design goals. Make it better, make it more reliable, and make new features easier. My guess is the latter is the main motivation- by rolling it out as a SaaS model they get more of our money more often and can occasionally throw in some new features to string us along. The benefit to you and I of course is that we don't manage, fix, deploy, or fuss with Office as much. Not sure which is better.

Enterprise challenges:

     Build- scalable, reliable, and efficient software as a service
    Manage- controlled, secure, and compliant.

From a datacenter perspective-  Microsoft divides office 365 into geographical regions for legal, regulatory, and manageability reasons. microsoft data centers are configured with data centers, edge nodes, metro stations, and then final node. "We try to partition as small as possible so we have more scalability and lower point of failure." MS has really highly distributed servers; services are planned in usage units of 200,000. Whether it's exchange, share point, or something else. There's no focus on the tenants needs or the end users evidently.  Just a few numbers real quickly though- Each tenant for SP can get up to 25TB of storage, 7.5GB per user, for about $250. Without needing to buy, deploy, manage, and account for servers and whatnot. Again, like I said- not a terrible tradeoff. I'll part with some cash for peace of mind and massively explandable flexibility.

 

This reliability is not only achieved by redundancy, but also resiliency , and workload distribution. This is the design they've built in for service continuity. While there's a lot of automation, it's not fully automated. There's human backup making sure the automation is humming. Microsoft says this is something new, and they think that's why things are running better. 

 

Inspectability and predictability is a bit of an issue for them. 4-TB of log files a day seems difficult to sift through and analyze. They've built in complexity avoidance and graceful degradation with standardized hardware

 

They've built some really big systems, but it appears to me that they have forgotten about Bob in Houston. Sure, they've built an impressive foundational service architecture, and even a hell of a product, but Bob doesn't even blip on the radar as far as the human element goes. 

 

Bottom line- if you're looking for a highly available, and ready to use system, at a reasonable  subscription price for Microsoft servers like exchange/sharepoint/etc. this is a cool solution, but don't expect your end users to factor into Microsoft's design of the thing. Microsoft is in the business of selling; selling a lot. They've got multi-tenant backspace and services for any size office. 

 

Microsoft has been putting a lot of thought and effort into perfecting the efficient datacenter. Starting with co-located, then moving towards dense centers, then contained DC's, and now the trend is modular centers. Stack em up like legos: everything you need is in a box.These new modular DC's allow for a faster time to market and delivery, and they use outside air to cool them. This is all about efficient data centers that can scale quickly. THey call them generation 4. The dublin datacenter uses all outside air, and is 99% waste free. 

 

From a control standpoint, the role base access controls help us keep people with the right access rights. Actions are requested, and thereby audit able and grants least privilege required to complete a task. This allows admins to access things they need, temporarily. Think of it like UAC for AD. The operations models that microsoft has evolved into an engineered operations model allowing for direct escalations, operations applied to specific problem spaces. This emphasizes software and automation over human process. The engineers started getting pretty irritated answering phones and built better software to avoid it. When there's software aided processes that fix problems and address what people need, support calls go down.

 

Security in Office 365 is a core component that is seriously considered at every turn. RMS, Encryption, Policy, and other compliance considerations are all available. The concerning word to me was "available"...

 

Hey! Is genericize a word? Silly Australians, making up words. ;) This poor instructor was put in front of a room of about 300 people to more or less sell office 365 by talking about everything EXCEPT what it can do. He did a good job, and was obviously very excited about the product and it's infrastructure, but no points for effort, sorry.