Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008) launch & NMB the largest International pre-release deployment

Today EBS 2008 launched along with SBS 2008 as part of the Windows Essential Server Solutions (WESS).

The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) have been at the forefront of this exciting product development having worked with Microsoft on the EBS Technology Adoption Program (TAP) since early 2008 (we’d actually signed up on Microsoft Connect for what was then known as Centro in January 2007!).

To participate in the TAP you need a customer who’s willing to participate in deploying and trialling early release software known as Release Candidates.  Our customer deployment was with a London City based insurance and reinsurance broker call Newman Martin and Buchan (NMB Insurance –
www.nmbinsurance.com
).

Our old mate, business associate & mentor (for all things PR & communications), John Dean (COO of www.showmethegolf.tv) helped us put together release that announced this exciting project, it went out to coincide with the global WESS launch event and is available online via PRWEB (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/11/prweb1607324.htm), but also below for your enjoyment!:

 

PRESS RELEASE – For release Wednesday 12th November, 16:00 GMT

 


Step Jump for NMB with Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server 2008

 

Largest International pre-launch Deployment Completed

 

 

United Kingdom, November 12th, 2008 Newman Martin and Buchan Limited (NMB – www.nmbinsurance.com), a leading independent Lloyd’s insurance and reinsurance broker, announced today that they had completed a successful migration to Microsoft’s brand new mid-market server product, Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008 – www.microsoft.com/ebs), which launches globally today.

 

EBS 2008 has been developed to help IT managers increase the security, reliability and manageability of an organisation’s IT infrastructure, so they can focus more on strategic projects to boost business results.

 

NMB were invited to trial EBS 2008 as part of the product development phase in January 2008, and are the largest international pre-launch deployment client for the new product.

 

In June 2008 NMB migrated to a pre-release version of the product known as Release Candidate Zero (RC0).  The trial was supported by both HP and Microsoft, who worked in tandem with Microsoft Gold Partner ‘The Full Circle’ to implement the project.

 

Based in the financial centre of the City of London, NMB has over 150 staff. The business was previously supported by a Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server infrastructure, with a small proportion of users accessing Email and calendaring remotely via Outlook Web Access.  The majority of remote Email access was provided using Blackberry mobile devices to around 80 users.

 

With limited remote working, especially in terms of the range of mobile / handheld options available, the existing user experience had become dated. Providing and maintaining remote working required significant administrative and required the use of a complicated VPN infrastructure. As the existing infrastructure platform was at the end of its life, the need to upgrade both server-side hardware and software had become a business imperative.

 

NMB were therefore ideally positioned to gain significant benefit from Microsoft’s Essential Business Server 2008, which was in the process of being developed to support up to 300 concurrent users, and offer an easy migration path supported by simplified administrative & reporting capabilities.

 

According to Simon Edwards, I.T. Manager of NMB: “We appreciated that we would be in the sweet spot for what Windows Essential Business Server 2008 could offer, and were ready to accept the risks surrounding a full scale pre-release migration, and be part of the learning process, in order to enjoy the benefits of a brand new infrastructure.”

 

He added: “We are enjoying the productivity and capability benefits from the key component upgrades such as System Center Essentials (SCE) & Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), plus Exchange Server 2007 with Forefront security technologies.  We are also looking forward to consolidating a number of legacy databases with SQL Server 2008 as included in the Premium version of EBS 2008 we are running.”

 

He concluded: “Most importantly, our staff now enjoys a far more dynamic experience, including mobile and remote access, plus collaboration and document management via SharePoint. It’s been a major step jump for the business, but one that we are delighted we have taken.”

 

The Project was initiated and implemented by London based Microsoft Gold Partner, The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com). Reuben Cook, Managing Director of The Full Circle, commented: “We have worked closely with Microsoft for a number of years resulting in our Gold Partner status and were delighted to work with NMB in deploying Essential Business Server 2008.  NMB were an ideal fit to benefit from the improvements contained in EBS 2008, and we were the ideal partner to help deliver them”

 

Cook added: “During the pre-release testing stage, NMB were the largest deployment outside of the US, NMB’s implementation provided unique and valuable feedback to Microsoft.  A number of the experiences we had with NMB had direct results in honing and refining the eventual released product”.

 

 

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their registered owners

 

 

Ends: 647 words

 

 

For more information, press only, contact:

 

Newman Martin and Buchan – Simon Edwards, simon.edwards@nmbinsurance.com

The Full Circle – John Dean, press@thefullcircle.com

Microsoft  – Matt Lambert, Matt.Lambert@infernopr.com

 

Publically available web resources:

www.nmbinsurance.com

www.microsoft.com/ebs

www.thefullcircle.com

Simon Edwards (NMB) & Reuben Cook (The Full Circle) post deployment to RTM code of EBS 2008
Simon Edwards (NMB) & Reuben Cook (The Full Circle) post deployment to RTM code of EBS 2008

VMware Virtualisation Seminar – 12th November, Global Knowledge, London

Wednesday 12th November, 2008

As founder and CTO of a London based IT consultancy ‘Full Circle Technology Limited (aka The Full Circle – www.thefullcircle.com) I often attend various trade shows and events, however these are often complimentary or supportive of our position as a Microsoft Gold partner.

Virtualisation has always been hot on our agenda, indeed it is in the business plan from when we launched our consulting business in 2003.  It has continued to be a growth technology we have implemented for several clients over the years using Microsoft Virtual Server, and more recently Hyper-V (www.microsoft.com/uk/hyper-v).

I’ve also been an early user of PC based virtualisation since 2001/2, where as CTO of a technology services company I’d insisted that our support & engineering team use virtual machines (VMware workstation at the time) for testing in relation to support & development (the main reason being to minimise the impact of breaking their production machines by ‘playing’ with flakey software! ;-))

Anyway, today I went along with a keen new associate of ours, Will Darbey, to an excellent seminar event hosted by a leading UK training organisation, Global Knowledge (www.globalknowledge.co.uk).
The seminar was exclusively about a technology that could be viewed as just ever so slightly competative to Microsoft in the virtualisation space… VMware (www.vmware.com).

It must be said, that if in the market for VMware training and certfication, then Global Knowledge is well worth a serious look in… (http://www.globalknowledge.co.uk/courses__certifications/vmware_training.aspx).

A most excellent use for the corner of the BSG building (City Road, London)

The agenda for the day was split into two halfs:

AM Session: Business Briefing-Aimed at people who are considering virtualisation for their business and the benefits it can bring to an organisation.

  • 10:00 – 11:30 Management Briefing
    Introduction to VMware
  • Virtualisation the Datacentre Initiative
  • VMware Infrastructure
  • Virtualisation Benefits
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Green IT
  • Government Legislation
  • Virtual Desktop
  • VMware lower total cost of ownership
  • 11:30 – 12:00 Q & A
  • 12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

PM Session: Technical Briefing –The session is for technical people responsible for evaluating VMware ESX Server and VirtualCenter; including IT managers, system architects, and system administrators.

  • 14:00 – 15:30 Technical Briefing:
  • Reliable Foundation
  • The Hypervisor
  • Architecture
  • The Management
  • Create, Convert, Deploy, Patch, Protect, Deliver
  • Guided Consolidation, Upgrade Manager, SRM Shared Services
  • Resource allocation
  • Live Migration
  • High Availability
  • Resource distribution, Power management Integration
  • Hardware and Guest OS support
  • Conversion and Capacity Planning
  • 15:30 – 16:00 Q & A

Speakers:

  • David Day –David comes from a 10 year Cisco and Microsoft background, and currently manages the technical delivery program for VMware Authorised Training Centres. Originally from South Africa, David is now based in the UK, and has been with VMware for four years.
  • John Churchhouse –John leads the VMware Strategic Partners team which covers all OEM and System Integrator/System Outsourcer relationships in the UK and Ireland.  Prior to VMware, John worked for Sun Microsystems where he managed the System Integrator partner sales team.

As usual I made a few scribbles from the day…

“Virtualization will be the highest-impact trend changing infrastructure and operations through 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. Virtualization will transform how IT is managed, what is bought, how it is deployed, how companies plan and how they are charged. As a result, virtualization is creating a new wave of competition among infrastructure vendors that will result in considerable market disruption and consolidation over the next few years.”
– Gartner

 

The day was split into two parts, the morning session with John Churchhouse on the business angle, and the afternoon a technical deep dive and demonstration with David Day.

Morning session: John Churchhouse, Manager Strategic Partners, VMware

VMware by the numbers..

Founded 1998

2007 rev. $1.33B projected $1.8-1.9B

6100 employees (almost doubled since Jan, current hiring freeze)..

50% year on year growth for last 8 years, limited

120,000 customers, 87% deployed in production, 43% standardising on VMware Infrastructure (i.e. VMotion, HA, Backup, etc.)

 

3rd software company to maintain 50% revenue growth after reaching $1B (other two being Microsoft & Oracle)

 

reasons/uses for virtualisation (with VMware of course! ;-)) 

 

Server Consolidation & Containment – eliminate server sprawl by deploying systems into virtual machines…

Infrastructure Provisioning – reduce time to provision new infrastructure to minutes with sophisticated automation capabilities and standardised machine templates.

Business Continuity – reduce cost and complexity of BC by encapsulating entire systems into files that can be replicated and restored to any server

Test and Development– rapid provision and re-provision of test & dev environments; store libraries or pre-configured test machines

Enterprise Desktop / Virtual Desktop Infrastructure– secure unmanaged PCs. Alternatively, provide standardised enterprise desktop environments hosted on secure, reliable, centrally managed servers.

Legacy Application re-hosting – migrate legacy O/S & apps to virtual machines running on faster and newer hardware for better/improved reliability.

 

TCO on server consolidation typically 6 months… ?!? www.vmware.com/go/calculator

 

Greenness– Qualcomm – reduced 900+ servers, 11.2 tonnes of CO2 per server saved!

 

ESXi / VMware Virtualisation Layer – 32MB, free download – smaller, tighter, less to go wrong!

Can be specified and shipped pre-installed with servers from HP & Dell..

 

Trigger points for VDI… hmmm I missed that one…

 

2008: the year of automation!

Automation = Business Agility

Automate IT processes (Lifecycle management from machine birth through death/retirement)

Create resource pools

Capacity on-demand

 

Disaster Recovery

DR in the virtual world is orders of magnitude simpler in the virtual world.. e.g. hardware and firmware levels can be different across DR sites as the virtual layer is consistent

Turn manual recovery run books into automated

 

Test & Development

Developer productivity – >75% reduction in server to staff ratio, 10x reduction in system config time, 20% acceleration in system development lifecycle time

 

A UK ‘small’ business example..

BT consolidated 1503 servers, est 375 racks of x86 ay 5 sites replaced with 30 at 3 sites

4509 network ports down to 168!
 

Afternoon session: David Day, Technical Services Director, VMware
David’s session was a fast paced, technical deep dive into various aspects of VMware virtualisation, including some complimentary technologies.  He also ran through some demonstrations including an unplanned, unrehearsed demo (always a brave thing to do) – everything worked like a dream! (its good stuff this VMware ;-).

I’d love to give more detail other than David clearly knows his stuff and then some!, however and unfortuantely I was against the clock getting our EBS 2008 PR submitted – had to be out of the door for a 16:00 release… see http://reubenjcook.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/windows-essential-business-server-2008-launch/

Will & I did, however, have a chance to look somewhat confused with VMware… (before the event of course!! ;-)).

 vmware-will  vmware-reub2

 

 

Show Me The Golf TV at ‘the Serge’

Met up with Tim Southwell & John Dean (of www.showmethegolf.tv fame, plus other minor titles such as Golf Punk, oh and some lads mag… Loaded! ;-)) to discuss amongst many things our PR piece for the launch of Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008 – www.microsoft.com/ebs) tomorrow.

John and Tim are seasoned publishers and marketeers, and have been helping The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) with our PR & communications activities since our launch in 2003.  This usually involves a few pints, a good old chinwag, and various guidance on technology matters – the latest being blogging from the iPhone… a marvelous device!, see http://reubenjcook.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/blogging-from-a-mobile-device-iphone/ for more yadda.

Tim Southwell with his mate 'pint'

We met in a rather splendid little pub called ‘The Dolphin’ near Haywards Heath, it was formerly ‘The Serge’ to those who drank in there 20+ years ago (that’ll be John & Tim then!)
see http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=dolphin+haywards+heath for more guff about this not bad boozer.

Drinking from the Virtualisation mug…

...drinking from the mug of Virtualisation!
...drinking from the mug of Virtualisation!

On the drinking from the virtualisation mug, I really am and just the very next early morning after the Execuitve Briefing Center event…

okay, I’d forgotten to put the dishwasher on the night before, but after a quick audit & rinse of the physical environment, Microsoft virtualisation provided much needed ‘capacity & volume’ to support the morning peak workloads and saved the day!… okay the coffee (I’ll get my coat! ;-).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Virtualisation (Hyper-V & VMM2008) Executive Briefing…

Tuesday 22nd October, 2008

 

Attended an invite only Microsoft Virtualisation Solutions Partner event at the Microsoft UK Executive Briefing Center, Building 3, TVP, Reading…

 

The event was focused around Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, plus the other supporting System Center technologies.  The event was a small, select gathering in the Executive Briefing Center at TVP of only 6-7 attendees plus some key Microsoft UK Virtualisation team members led by Mike Peers.  On the partner/attendee side it was mostly VMware partners with a view to converting and capturing them with Microsoft’s latest kit – believe it or not, they were very, very impressed (esp. with VMM2008).

 

-))
Microsoft EBC Virtualisation event (Hyper-V, VMM2008, etc. :-))

 

Green IT Expo – London 5th November

Wednesday 5th November, 2008

As founder and CTO of a small IT consultancy & Microsoft Gold partner ‘Full Circle Technology Limited – www.thefullcircle.com – I often attend trade shows and events.  On Wednesday I went along to the Green IT Expo (www.greenitexpo.co.uk) at the Barbican Center in London, and made a few scribbles from the day…

“Gartner predicts that Green IT will be the No.1 Strategic Technology for 2008, accelerating and expanding the focus that came to the forefront in 2007.”
Source – Gartner Inc

I had some very interesting conversations with various vendors and attendees on various things Green IT related, and some not so… I also attended some very interesting seminars, these stood out for me:
 
Virtualisation as an IT Optimiser

Hosted by Tikiri Wanduragala, Modular Systems Senior Consultant, IBM

Today’s enterprises are confronted by a rapidly growing stream of disruptive forces, e.g. globalisation, mobile devices, new collaboration models, energy management and emerging economies. At the same time, information technology is rapidly expanding to make many new applications economically viable. However, the cost of managing IT has doubled since 2000, putting the datacentre at risk. As corporations intensify their focus on delivering innovation and globally integrating their business design, pressure to improve datacentre efficiency and agility will continue to grow.

Virtualisation, the de-coupling of resources from the physical environment, offers a solution through greatly improved resource management and will render non-virtualised IT obsolete over the next 3-5 years. Successful organisations will make virtualisation an essential part of their data centre optimisation plans. IBM will outline four specific actions you can take now to help improve efficiency and agility through virtualisation.

x86 systems are the driver, simply because of the numbers involved.

25 new x86 servers coming on-line every minute and they are switched on 24×7!

A play station has 8 cores, more powerful than most x86 servers!
Why? Because we all demand faster, quicker, shorter…

Centralised computing is back in as opposed to the 80’s-90’s distributed dream

Server consolidation is just the start, the desktop will happen, further centralisation.

If you virtualize you have to do the lot! I/O and storage, otherwise you loose the resilience benefits

Start thinking about servers or desktops as a file then the architecture changes accordingly

Virtualization 1.0
test & dev
slower than the real thing

Virtualization 2.0
business continuity – HA / DR
performance improvements – load balancing, resource streamlining, etc

Virtualization will drive architectural advancement – servers no longer being 10% utilised, but 80%+ utilised, however…

Your eggs will be in one basket, so it had better be a good basket!

Think Different! 😉

Virtualization enables consolidation, the more you consolidate the better the returns!

Management needs to be strong – people, process and technology

High Availability is critical!

Virtualization introduces standardization and therefore allows repeatable, scriptable systems management, deployment, etc.

However, if you do it badly it is a rope to hang yourself, and it will be a much swifter end!

Akin to moving from a relationship to a marraige!

 

Why Green IT & Virtualisation Should be Top of the Financial Director’s Agenda
Hosted by Adam Ryan, Strategic Services Director, Ben Stollard, Director of Consultancy Practise, VirtualizeIT

GreenIT and Virtualisation have become the latest IT buzzwords and every product or service is clamouring to establish its green credentials, VirtualizeIT will cut through the hyperbole to illustrate that the green revolution utilising Virtualisation is actually saving organisations hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst also enabling greater corporate environmental responsibility.

VMware’s EMEA consultancy partner of the year 2008

Cost benefits of server virtualization

Finance sector led the way

Ave IT spend 2.3% of turnover unlikely to change (costs per user relatively unchanged) – Gartner

VDI objection – reduction in local processing power is least popular…

Perception of utlisation is much higher than the reality!

No other company asset would be tolerated that is only used 3% of the time!

Industry ave for server utilisation is less than 9%

AIB had 450+ servers and haven’t bought a new server in 18months, now 43 servers but could be halfed although now fully FT DR capability with c.20 servers split across 2 DC’s

49 x DL380 c. 465w to 6 x IBM virtualized env. Saving £39K PA

The change has to be seamless – changing the engines of an airliner in flight analogy

Use your D/R estate also for test & dev to ensure utilisation numbers

Making a compelling investment case

Consultancy costs to virtualized…
S/W isn’t the main cost!

MS reckon on 10m virtual servers in the market within 18 months

Desktop revenue is falling! The move back to centralised computing is underway

VDI provides great opportunity for security enhancements

Difficult to justify on a basic utility an hardware cost is difficult, the management costs is where it’s at.

Although economies of scale factors – larger the estate, greater the returns

Blogging from a mobile device… (iPhone)

Well I’ve succumbed to the new Apple iPhone 3G and whilst it’s a fantastic device for consuming content, it’s virtual keyboard doesn’t make it the best for publishing… This said I’m comparing it to my Windows Mobile device (an Orange SPV M3100 / HTC Hermes) which has a great physical keyboard.

I’ve had the iPhone almost a week and have ported my number over from Orange (of 14 years!!) to O2 who are the only UK operator to have the device – I spoke with Orange before obtaining my PUK code and it was clear there are no plans for them to be offering this device, a shame and I’m sure many O2 will be getting a lot of new customers as a result!

Anyway, blogging from the iPhone. Today I found the wordpress blogging app (free :-)), and installed, which like almost everything on the iPhone was painless, quick, and without problems… Thus far and fingers crossed!

The wordpress app is the one for me as I already had a wordpress blog that I started earlier in the year after much resistance. As CTO of technology consulting firm ‘The Full Circle’ (www.thefullcircle.com) I’d been slow to give in and acknowledge the power of the blahhhg 😉

I’m writing this entry now and whilst the keyboard is a pain I’m getting quicker and more efficient (less errors) with every line – it can only get better!

I’m about to add a picture using the perfectly adequate built in camera (but wot no video!?!?!). The picture is of our pool, well not our pool but it is for a short time (holidaying in Portugal for a couple of weeks – bliss!) and will check out the results later – hopefully good and no flames in the meantime!