Office 365 – Microsoft doesn’t do backup

It is a shock to many customers to find out that Microsoft is not backing up their email in O365…

There are several third party utilities out there to backup Office 365.

EMC’s solution is called Spanning…

Spanning can backup Emails, Calendar appointments, and OneDrive.

Regardless of what Microsoft says about this topic, I would always recommend backing up your data…


Back at it for my blog…

After a long hiatus from updating this blog, I’m committed to keeping it updated.

I plan to take the content that I regularly use to present to my customers and publish it into small video updates.

I plan to talk about:

Microsoft SQL – AAG, Virtualization, Performance, D/R, and Licensing

Microsoft 2016 updates


check back soon for the new content…



EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) ver 3.7 released

EMC is pleased to announce the release of EMS Storage Integrator (ESI) version 3.7 for Windows as of today, April 21th, 2015.

EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Windows Suite is a set of tools for Microsoft Windows and storage and application administrators.
This release adds support for:
EMC VMAX3 and the VMAX3 service level objectives (SLO) provisioning feature
VNX advanced snapshots
XtremIO snapshots
SCOM Management Packs for  XtremIO and VMAX3.
The ESI PowerShell Toolkit adds new SQL Server PowerShell cmdlets.
The download can be found here:
The suite includes, ESI RecoverPoint Adapter, ESI Microsoft SharePoint Adapter, ESI SQL Server Adapter and ESI Microsoft Exchange Adapter. The suite also includes the ESI System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Management Packs, and the ESI PowerShell Toolkit. ESI also supports application protection using App Sync. ESI for Windows enables you to view, provision, monitor, and manage block and file storage for Microsoft Windows, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange.
ESI supports the EMC Symmetrix VMAX series, EMC VNX series, EMC VNXe series, and EMC XtremIO series, as well as VPLEX.
ESI also supports storage provisioning and discovery for Windows virtual machines running on Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.

Questions to consider about Office365

Office365 – hmm…??

It looks cheap … All the other kids are doing it … The Microsoft rep said it is awesome … I can shave some costs today …

  1. Multi-tenet only – no dedicated cloud environment, virtually provisioned and isolated.
  2. SLA = 99.9% (availability only, not performance)– Dial tone SLA only. Service up = Web browser to inbox, send/receive only. Not measured for your phone or Outlook client.

    – Data protection SLA? No guarantee there is actually mail in your inbox.

    – Major outages in 2014

  3. Feature / Functionality – Auto update – No control about when or what changes occur.
  4. Email integrated 3rd party apps most likely won’t work– FAX solutions, Legal dept solutions (client/matter), eDiscovery solutions
  5. Not all functions work when federated– Delegated access, send on behalf, resource scheduling (conf rooms, projectors)
  6. Customer IP protection?– Can Microsoft mine your data for advertising? Google does…
  7. eDiscovery process– If you have a litigation event, how do you find the legal records (aka emails) and maintain chain of custody?
  8. Price – when can Microsoft raise?
  9. Back out process?– How do you go back to full on-premise if you don’t like the service?


  • Deploy hybrid Exchange … and keep hybrid environment long term
  • Clearly understand the license agreement … You are now subscription based, don’t miss a payment or your Excel will turn off on your laptop …
  • Perform a 6 year financial analysis … Subscription is more expensive versus Perpetual licenses over time
  • Understand your strategic Cloud roadmap …  Are you whole hog Microsoft (Hyper-V, System Center, Azure, o365) or are you a VMware shop?

Tactical decisions made today (based on a price point) equates to a long term strategic decision tomorrow …

Which road will take you to your 3rd platform? Microsoft can, but so can others..

I’m not saying “Don’t go to Office365”,

but rather approach this decision with eyes wide open and good dose of skepticism…

You must choose, but choose wisely…

Microsoft Azure – ExpressRoute

Microsoft has a major investment into their Public cloud offerings. These cloud services have been around for several years, and are hosted in Microsoft datacenters across the world.

The two distinct Microsoft cloud offerings are:
Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365

slide 3

These two clouds are different and distinct from each other, in terms of: Services offered, Subscriptions, Pricing, and SLAs.

Microsoft Azure includes: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service.

These services are such as, Compute (virtual machines), Networking, Cloud storage, SQL and Web services, Application services, Developer services, just to name a few..

Microsoft Office 365, is: Software as a Service.

Office 365 is different from Azure and is end-user focused.

Office 365 includes services such as, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync, OneDrive, just to name a few.
Most importantly, Office 365 (in the higher subscription tiers) includes a full copy of Microsoft Office for local deployment. Office typically represents the largest share of a customer’s investment in Microsoft licensing.

Specifically Microsoft Azure is broken in various service categories.

  • Compute
  • Network Services
  • Data Services
  • App Services

slide 4

All these services run in a Public multi-tenet infrastructure which is hosted in Microsoft datacenters located globally. Each customer’s subscribed services are virtually provisioned and virtually isolated from other tenets.

slide 5

ExpressRoute is an Azure networking service. Microsoft began offering this service in early 2014.

The ExpressRoute service provides a direct connection into Azure. This connection is either from the customer’s private data center or a service provider’s co-location facility.

The ExpressRoute connection traverses private connections and does not go over the Public Internet.

Each customer’s traffic over ExpressRoute is isolated and secured from other customer’s traffic.

As a result of implementing ExpressRoute, the customer can gain the benefits of:

Higher Security and Increased performance

slide 6

The ExpressRoute service directly benefits the customer in terms of:

  • Security
  • Quality of Service
  • Data Sovereignty
  • Flexibility
  • Performance

As a result of developing the ExpressRoute service, Microsoft has addressed it’s customer’s reluctance to moving workloads into Azure.

Since ExpressRoute creates a private direct path into Azure, it enables the deployment of a hybrid-cloud with on premise Hyper-V.

EMC’s interest in ExpressRoute is because it enables workloads to move to Azure and still leverage on-premise EMC storage. This allows EMC to deliver value and open the door for additional EMC opportunities.

slide 7

ExpressRoute is offered in two service offerings:

  • Exchange providers
  • Network Service providers

Exchange providers have a co-location datacenter where the customer’s equipment is hosted. This equipment is accessible both from Azure and the customer’s network. This model allows for unlimited data ingress into Azure, however it does have a tiered subscription plan for data egress out of Azure back to the co-location site. Egress traffic over and beyond the subscribed plan will result in additional charges per GB.

Network Service providers only offer network services from the customers datacenters directly Azure. This allows for the customer’s equipment to stay in their own datacenter. This model allows for both unlimited data ingress and egress to/from Azure. The network connection is a virtual connection (VPN) from the customer’s datacenter.

There are two separate sets of charges for leveraging ExpressRoute.

1.Charges from Microsoft

2.Charges from the service provider

Charges from Microsoft are different between the two models. The Microsoft charges are significantly less for utilizing an Exchange provider, however there are data egress caps.

The charges from the service providers are in addition to the Microsoft charges.

This chart shows a quick comparison of the two different provider models.

slide 8

slide 9

As you can see by this service availability chart that there is limited Network Service provider locations. Additional access points will be added over time as the service matures.

As far as Exchange Providers, Equinix has the most locations available.

EMC has partnered with Equinix to offer EMC equipment and services in the Equinix facilities.

slide 10

Not all of the Azure services are supported by ExpressRoute.

Specifically, many of the App Services are not supported. These services are primarily “Platform as a Service” services. Microsoft is wanting new application development to remain in their cloud.

slide 11

There are several pre-requites for each Service Provider model.

The relationship to either an Exchange or a Network Service Provider is independent of the relationship with Microsoft.

Separate contracts and pricing will be established with Microsoft and the Providers.

The technical pre-requites are detailed on Microsoft’s website and vary between the two models.

slide 12

The Express Benefits for the customer is:

1> Data Sovereignty

By having a private and secure connection to Azure, the data will be protected with encryption.

The data also can reside in the customer’s data center and retain any existing data control measures.

2> Availability

ExpressRoute implements dual-redundant connections between the customer site and the Azure cloud.

ExpressRoute also eases the implementation of Azure for D/R by creating the private connection that is always on and available.

3> Backup

By having Compute in the cloud and retaining the Data on-premise, the Data can be protected by existing Backup methods and policies.

4> Quality of Service

By Expressroute not utilizing the Public Internet and with Service provider SLA’s, the customer can be assured of improved performance and lower latencies from Azure back to the On Premise resources.

5> Cost Control

Microsoft Azure is a pay-as-go pricing model. Only the services utilized are billed. This is very attractive for D/R scenarios where the stand-by servers are either warm (up and running) or cold (power-down VMs). The cold machines are not charged until they are powered on.

slide 13

This first use case  of Azure’s ExpressRoute that I would like to detail is “DR as a Service”.  In the depiction, you will see the production data is at  the customer’s location with the Disaster Recovery Site split between a co-location Exchange provider, in this case Equinix and Azure.

DR as a service allows customers, who may not have a dedicated DR facility, to move critical applications to the cloud.  In this case, the data itself would be replicated to an Exchange Provider’s datacenter while the compute component would be replicated to Azure.

The advantage of using an Exchange Provider, such as Equinix, for ExpressRoute in this use case is that the customer can create a true DR situation by controlling the replication and storage of their data residing at an alternate facility.  Additionally, the compute component can be easily replicated from the customer location to Azure and will be available in a DR event as needed.

DR as a Service provides a customer with necessary site protection via the cloud while being both agile and providing data sovereignty.

slide 14

A second use case for ExpressRoute is Business Intelligence.  The biggest feature of this use case is the elasticity of the computing environment while maintaining complete data sovereignty.

There are two different ways to think about this use case. The data can either be in the customer’s datacenter with the computing nodes lcoated in the Azure cloud, or the source site repository can be replicated to a co-location Exchange Provider with the computing nodes again, in the Azure cloud.

This benefit of using Expressroute for this use case is that the data is entirely under the customer’s control while they have a direct, non-public link between the data and the computing nodes.  It’s easy enough to spin up a few servers for the big data analytics project that has suddenly popped up making the customer Business Intelligence platform agile and elastic.

slide 15

Another compelling use case for Azure’s ExpressRoute Service is around the topic of End-User Computing.  So many of our customer’s today are interested in or evaluating the use of a VDI infrastructure.  With ExpressRoute, there is a secure connection between the computing environment and the end user’s data which can remain in the customer’s control.

In this case, the virtual desktop will be housed in the Azure Cloud while the user’s file shares, home directory and other user centric data can be stored either in the customer’s datacenter or in a co-location facility.

The ease of implementation , management and use of a cloud based VDI infrastructure is compelling and yet the most worrisome component is protecting the end user’s data.  In this proposed use case, data sovereignty is intact and within our customer’s full control.

slide 18

In conclusion, it’s important to have the cloud discussion with your customers and more importantly, it’s important to ask your customers what their Microsoft cloud direction is.

From a competitive standpoint, EMC loses footprint – whether it’s existing or potentially – for any workload that moves to Azure without ExpressRoute installed.   Remember, ExpressRoute allows customers to keep their data in-house and on-site – whether that site is their own datacenter or an Exchange provider’s.

For those customers that use Microsoft based hypervisors, ExpressRoute provides them with the ability to take advantage of the best of Azure services while continuing to leverage the best of our EMC solutions.

By having a conversation about their Microsoft goals and explicitly ExpressRoute, you can help your  customers with hybrid cloud opportunities while defending our install base and creating new upsell opportunities.

This truly positions EMC as the infrastructure leader in ALL clouds – private and public, VMware and Hyper-V.

Microsoft Windows 10

  • Expanded Start menu. The familiar Start menu is back, providing quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most, and it includes a new space to personalize with favorite apps, programs, people and websites.

  • Apps that run in a window. Apps from the Windows Store now open in the same format that desktop programs do. They can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing users to maximize, minimize and close with a click.

  • Snap enhancements. Working in multiple apps at once is easier and more intuitive with snap improvements. A new quadrant layout allows up to four apps to be snapped on the same screen. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping, and it will even make smart suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps.

  • New Task view button. The new Task view button on the task bar enables one view for all open apps and files, allowing for quick switching and one-touch access to any desktop created.

  • Multiple desktops. Instead of too many apps and files overlapping on a single desktop, it’s easy to create and switch between distinct desktops for different purposes and projects — whether for work or personal use.

Microsoft Releases Azure Active Directory Sync Services Tool

” … Microsoft released its Azure Active Directory Sync Services tool on Monday… Azure AD Sync Services is notable for being Microsoft’s intended replacement tool for the Directory Synchronization (DirSync) tool. Both tools are used to synchronize (or copy) user identities managed through Active Directory in organizations. …”

EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) 3.5

For further details on the ESI Suite and all of its components click here

Click here to download a copy of ESI 3.5

EMC Microsoft Community site |

Great review of ESI 3.5 by Karsten Bott (@HyperV_Guy) | | ESI and RecoverPoint

Excellent ESI overview videos by David Lloyd (@davlloyd) | | | | | |

ESI and VNX |


EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Windows is the ultimate set of tools to ease storage provisioning for the Windows administrator. In addition, ESI will provision application level components (such as Exchange databases, SharePoint sites, and SQL databases). With ESI, the Windows admin will no longer have to wait for other teams to perform tasks on their behalf in order to provision storage for their applications.

The Windows admin will use familiar tools (such as MMC, PowerShell, and System Center) to work with storage. ESI combines the functionality of many desperate tools into one GUI interface and one set of PowerShell scripts. This will ease the learning curve and streamline the process for systems management.





Example process improvement:



Should you be a PowerShell scripter, ESI includes a rich set of PowerShell libraries for provisioning and managing of EMC storage.




In addition, the ESI suite includes full integration of EMC products into System Center (SCOM, SCVMM, and SCO)





Storage monitoring with ESI Management Packs (SCOM)




Storage management from within Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)





ESI System Center Orchestrator Integration Pack



Best of all, EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Windows is at no cost..!image

Product Overview

EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Windows Suite is a set of tools for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft applications administrators. ESI for Windows provides the ability to view, provision, and manage block and file storage for Microsoft Windows, Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint.

The suite includes:

  • ESI for Windows and ESI PowerShell toolkit
  • Storage System adaptors
  • ESI hypervisor support
  • ESI adaptors for: SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, Appsync, RecoverPoint
  • ESI SCOM Management Packs
  • EMC Hyper-V VSS requestor

EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Windows has a UI based on Microsoft Management Console (MMC). ESI can be run as a stand-alone tool or as part of an MMC snap-in.







ESI supports storage provisioning and discovery for Windows virtual machines (VMs) running on Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and VMWare vSphere and vCenter.


  • Create VHD and VHDX files, and pass-through SCSI disks
  • Create hosts disks and cluster shared volumes (CSVs)


  • Create VMDK files and raw device mapping (RDM) disks with or without virtual compatibility mode
  • Create SCSI disks
  • View datastores


  • Create VHD files and storage repositories

ESI supports the EMC Symmetrix® VMAX® series, EMC VNX® series, EMC VNXe® series, and EMC CLARiiON® CX® fourth generation (CX4) series of storage systems. ESI requires that you install the applicable adapter for your specific storage systems.

Summary of the key New Product Features included in this release (3.5):

  • Support for Microsoft SQL Server
  • Integrated Microsoft Active Directory role based access (RBAC)
  • Support for RecoverPoint and/or Appsync 
  • Support for Linux servers
  • VPLEX Health Monitoring

This release adds the following new functionality:

  • ESI SQL Server Adaptor to view and manage SQL Server databases and provision storage for SQL Server
  • ESI VPLEX Adaptor to monitor health of VPLEX systems in SCOM
  • ESI AppSync Adaptor to automate application protection with EMC AppSync
  • Use Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) or Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) with ESI to persist connection settings in a central location for all supported applications and systems
  • ESI Linux Adaptor to manage Linux hosts
  • ESI VNXe Adaptor to manage LUN groups and unified snapshots for EMC VNXe 3200 systems
  • ESI RecoverPoint Adaptor to manage EMC RecoverPoint Bookmarks
  • ESI Exchange Integration to update HA Extension with the ESI GUI for easy DAG and database failover operations


Storage System and hypervisor software prerequisites



Microsoft Office 365 (minus 1)…


Microsoft Office 365 (minus 1)… Well it is only a 99.9% SLA anyways…

Most customers might not deem their email as a tier 1 application, but just wait till it is down. Email is by most definitions is an important business application and should be treated as such. How long can your business survive without communications to your customers, partners, or employees?

Would you put your other business critical applications in the public multi-tenet cloud?

> Want credit for June’s Exchange blackout? File a claim

> Microsoft’s “Exchange Online” becomes “Exchange Offline” as service goes dark.