Tired of having to maintain a local DevTest lab or cobble one together on crappy hardware leftover in your office in order to support a project? How about thinking outside of the box and migrating that workload up to Microsoft Azure in order to run it on demand up in a secure public cloud? Does it run off physical hardware, VMWare or Hyper-V? No problems. Try out Azure Site Recovery as one way to move that Dev-Test workload / project up into an Azure Datacenter near you.
Picture it. An exact synchronized copy of what you are working on – replicated and failed over to an isolated environment. ASR is one tool you can use to do this.
I’m going to be talking about this on a webinar tomorrow morning (10 am Pacific time) and showing you how to get started with a trial.
This has been a long time coming, but it is finally here. I am pleased to announce the event I have been wrangling for months has now finally come to fruition. It’s a 4 day LiveStream activity (December 1st to December 4th) with over a DOZEN engineers from a number of teams – all focusing on various aspects of Azure specifically targeting IT Pros and SysAdmins. Yup – a soup to nuts interactive event covering everything from windows workloads to hybrid connectivity, Linux and OSS to PaaS and SharePoint solutions.
I’ll be acting as Host and will be joined by some very cool folks! Here is just a sample of some of the heavy hitters who will be involved in the delivery of this event.
Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure will kick the event off with a session on what’s important for IT Pros and SysAdmins
Corey Sanders, Partner Group Program Manager for Azure IaaS team diving deeper into all things IaaS and changes to the IaaS platform
Drew McDaniel, Principal PM Manager on Corey’s team will guide us though the Windows Server workload best practices and architecture
Madhan Arumugam, Principal PM Manager on Corey’s team will cover off the Linux and OSS workloads running on Azure
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s lined up. Stay tuned for more details and full agenda for this event.
Note: some have suggested I use the built in magnifying feature of Windows. Good point – but I find it lacks two things:
It requires the Desktop Interface which is something I wouldn’t load on a server system.
It lacks the ability to highlight areas of the screen with drawing or typing that ZoomIt provides.
To each their own – so long as you magnify the screen and keep movement to a minimum or else it becomes distracting.
Ultimately what we are talking about here is visibility
What about more complex demos that require multiple machines to be “output” the display to the screen? Obviously you can either remotely connect from a single system to a bunch of servers someplace or you can run with a server OS installed and virtualize the required systems in the room with you.
I tend to go with the second option where possible as you need less of a backup if internet connectivity is down. We’ll talk about “backup” to demos in a future post, for now let’s discuss the local server running a virtualization solution.
You basically have two options:
use a “viewer” that can show you the “window” into the virtual guest, regardless of what guest OS it is.
use remote connectivity like Remote Desktop Client to remote into the Guest VM (provided it is running windows).
Each solution requires some consideration and setup / prep to work correctly. My main advice – Remember the golden rule: Set your Resolution correctly on the Host as well as within EACH guest you will be showing. Slider bars are your enemy!
Because this is once again visual – here’s a quick video on how I approach selecting either the Viewer option or RemoteDesktop option for my demos.
Use the Built In Viewer:
If you require a full window of restarts / reboots or if your guest OS is NON Windows.
If you don’t mind opening each instance of the viewer for warming up the demo.
If you close a VMGuest accidentally – you will need to launch Hyper-V manager and open the guest – no quick access.
you don’t require more then basic copy and paste between Host and VMGuest
Use Remote Desktop Services with “Internal networks”
If you don’t require full windows restarts.
if you are running Windows Clients and want a richer connection experience (graphically optimized)
prefer pinning and desktop icons to launch / re-launch systems quickly
If you like to share files and services between Host and VMGuest – you can use “internal network” for connectivity.
It should be noted that you can also combine the two or use the “Internal Network” option with the Viewer as well. This gets you connectivity into the virtual switch and therefore allows your Host system to interact with all the VMGuests as required for setup / running of the demo.
What’s the right setup for you? Do you approach this differently for remotely managing systems and delivering your demo?
By the way: Feel free to give me some feedback to let me know if these posts are useful and if you have any specific questions around Demo delivery.
Lets face it – we all do demos as IT Professionals. It doesn’t matter if you are a helpdesk guy/gal who has to help someone complete a task or do something more efficiently OR if you are in a pre-sales consulting engagement and you need to showcase why your solution / services are the way to go. We all demo – even if we aren’t aware of it.
I have been having a conversation with a number of the folks who do Demos here within Microsoft regarding this series. Their comments range from “Seriously – this stuff is the standard, isn’t it?” to “Aw Man – good point on that one – I never thought of that”.
I’ve obviously struck on something.
In the last post – I talked about Machine Prep and some basics on setup of the demo environment. I ended with a section that talked about VISIBILITY. If the people in the front row yet alone the ones at the back of the room can’t see what you are typing your are dead in the water. Besides command line stuff – what about GUI stuff? I referenced ZoomIt and it reminded me that I could do a whole POST just on how to use this simple tool.
Well – here it is.
ZoomIt can make or Break your demo. It’s not enough to just use it – It has to be fluid and not overused. It has to come across as complementary to what you are talking about and it can’t overtake your delivery. In short – it has to be natural. How? Lets get started with the basics.
Zoomit Download and Setup
On every system you plan on showing as part of your demo – go and download ZoomIt from here. Launch it on each system, accept the software license agreement. At the initial configuration screen – enable the “Run This at Startup” checkbox.
Move he mouse to the location WHERE You want to zoom THEN activate the zoom function. You wouldn’t believe how many people DON’T do this simple first step and end up zooming IN and having to adjust after the fact – causing motion sickness for the audience.
After you have targeted the zoom area – press you zoom key. Which one? CTRL+1 for a static zoom with markup options or a CRTL+4 for a live zoom. (I use CTRL 1 personally.)
Don’t move the mouse once you have zoomed in. CLICK the mouse button to lock the screen in place. Now you can move the mouse for accent options.
Click and Drag for freeform line.
CTRL+SHIFT for arrow (I use this one a lot).
CTRL and drag for boxes
TAB and drag for ellipse or circles.
ESC key to get back to a live screen / non zoomed screen.
People tend to do two things with ZoomIt during a demo.
Overthink / Overuse ZoomIt. It comes off as unnatural. You’ll have to practice to find your natural rhythm and determine when you are over using it at times.
Load it and forget to use it! It comes as an afterthought when they are done and they take the time to review what they did, only to realize that “crap – you really can’t see that from back there, eh?”
This whole topic is rather visual – so I recorded a quick example of how I use zoomit and configure it on my systems for demonstrations. Have a look – what do you think?
Words of advice – get it, rehearse how you will use it in your demo BEFORE you get up and do something. Get comfortable with it – honestly – I have ZoomIt installed on my NON demo machines – just so I can use it at times.
We’ll have you working like a pro like Mark Minasi (I’ve seen him have good and bad days with it – mostly good) or the creator Mark Russinovich himself (he’s really good with Zoomit… How could he not be?)
Part of my job involves creating and delivering technical demos / presentations with audiences ranging from small groups of individuals to large conferences / keynotes (both online and in person). It’s something I’ve been doing for many MANY years working for Microsoft and previous companies over the years as a consultant, pre sales engineer and general all around IT guy. I firmly believe learning HOW to deliver a good technical presentation / demo is an essential skill for everyone working in IT.
I’ve seen (and created) great demos over the years. I’ve also had demo bombs and seen some dogs where I wish the person delivering would have done some simple things to make the experience BETTER. Check out this demo Christian Beauclair and I created and delivered as part of an internal demo competition.
We came in second overall – I believe the judging was rigged! but I digress…
I am finally putting pen to paper (or is that fingers to keyboard) to try to help out.
The following is in no particular order and I’m VERY interested to hear your thoughts on what could be done to improve upon the list I have below. Even if you consider yourself a demo-master-level-17-ninja, you can learn from others and their approaches to deliver demos.
Are you running the right version?
Stupid question – but believe it or not, it makes a big difference. I demo different builds of software in the development cycle – so this might apply more to this situation more so then others but step back and ask yourself: What version is the audience expecting to see and what version can I show them that will have the biggest impact? If you’ve been carrying that “demo kit” along with you for a while and it is out of date – keep it fresh.
Do you have all the right drivers installed?
Sometimes I run with a Server install on my laptop and it requires some extra driver love to get things working smoothly. I try to ensure I have all the drivers up to date, but pay particular attention to the proper VIDEO driver from the manufacturer. If you don’t have one and you are flying with the default video adapter – be prepared for a world of hurt. I also like to make my laptop functional with sound, wireless and storage drivers for ease of use. Personally I don’t go so far as to make my “server” completely like a workstation with full desktop experience – I try to keep it close to the spirit of what I talk about – which is mainly Windows Server.
Resolution and I don’t mean new years.
If you don’t have the right driver for your video card – give up now. You need the one from the manufacture, not necessarily the WHQL one from windows update. Why? The extra “tools” that will allow you to have better control of the output resolutions, refresh rates as well as control the Duplicate display or Extended display settings AND finally – the scaling settings. I run as high as a resolution as I can for work, but presenting I have to scale down to usually a 16:9 1280 x 720 resolution (also standard for HD web video). Really – you need to know your target audience and the projection / capture device and it’s inputs it accepts. GET THIS EARLY from whoever you are working with. As mentioned – I typically prep for a 1280×720 which requires SCALING on my laptop monitor otherwise I am looking at a small display with lots of black border around it. This scaling is only controlled by NVIDA driver control panel, not the default one presented in windows control panel.
Test your connections
Simple right? You got the details from your contact where you will be presenting. You did your homework, did your resolution test – but didn’t test it against a projector or external montitor. OOPS. Or maybe you need to try different outputs like HDMI, DVI, Mini-HDMI, Micro-HDMI or some other strange-Non-VGA connection. Do the test before you get to the location or before your record where possible. If it’s not – get there early and be prepared to fiddle around with things.
Cleaning up your host system Desktop.
Sounds simple once again right? Your host system display is a reflection of how you work, what you want to be perceived as and also is the initial sharing of your presentation style and personality. Based on what image and brand you are trying to convey – you have a lot of latitude to work here. You’d be surprised at how many people screw it up.
My suggestion – keep it simple and keep it clean.Minimal distractions of icons, documents and shortcuts. I remove all the things I don’t need / use to a folder off the desktop instead of the easier “hide all icons”, because most of the time I use icons on the desktop to kick off demos.
Don’t forget the nifty option of “presentation mode” on windows 7 and windows 8. It allows you to turn off things like screen shutoff, sounds alerts and set custom presentation backgrounds when you are in presentation mode. You can switch from your kids background for work to a clean “windows server” bitmap for demo mode if you like. Very handy and also keeps the system notifications to a minimum.
Pinning items to your taskbar
Need to launch a couple of apps, explorer windows, IE tabs or MMC consoles for your demo? Either have shortcuts on the desktop (see minimalist notes above on how much is too much) or have pinned icons on your taskbar.
I’ve got two tabs in IE open, Windows Explorer, LiveWriter, Remote Desktop Connections, Hyper-V manager, Services control panel applet, Advanced Firewall Settings and PowerShell ISE pinned to my demo system right now. No need to hunt and peck to find anything.
Cleaning up your taskbar
This is often overlooked. Pin the icons you need to do demos to the taskbar and remove the others. Likewise – change the system notification area to turn off notification icons like power levels, wifi / network connectivity, sound and most importantly TIME AND DATE. You can do all this in Windows 8 by choosing properties of the taskbar, clicking on the Notification Area Customize button,
Choosing to turn Icons ON or Off hyper link
And selecting OFF for all the options.
I can’t tell you how much you’ll inadvertently offend people if you have the wrong date and time in the corner if you work in multiple time zones. I find it disrespectful if someone hasn’t taken the time for this little personalization – it shows that you really don’t care enough about the whole picture of showing them something that is really only partially configured. Maybe I am going to far here – but just do it, ok?
Can you see this back there?
Set your command prompt / PowerShell prompt to as large as you can – people can’t see it if you have to ask them – so set it before you ask them, right?
I change my background command prompt to a dark gray and set a high contrast text colour.
I also set the font-size to a Consolas TrueType font and set it for 20 or 24 font size. Same goes for custom editors like PowerShell ISE or visual studio or other IDEs. Just make things bigger, better contrast and easier to look at if you are not 2 feet from the screen and attached to the keyboard. Cool thing you might not know – Powershell ISE has a “Presentation Theme” that sets a bunch of defaults that you can use. Go to Tools / Options to make the switch!
Use Zoomit, but use it well
First off – go get it from here. Once installed – PRACTICE with it please. I have seen so many people try to use it and fail horribly (ever supposed experts!). It takes practice and skill to use it well, so put some effort in. If you’re doing anything in the GUI environment – you NEED this tool or something like it in order to allow people to see things correctly in large environments. My recommendations on HOW to use it?
Start it up automatically before you start the demo – either by a startup group or a RunAlways policy or even a manual start in your pre-demo setup check. Just get it running!
Move he mouse to the location WHERE You want to zoom. SO many people DON’T do this first and end up zooming IN and having to correct – causing motion sickness for the audience.
When you are targeting the zoom are – press you zoom key. CTRL+1 for a static zoom with markup options or a CRTL+4 for a live zoom. I use CTRL 1 mostly personally.
Don’t move the mouse once you have zoomed in. CLICK the mouse button to lock the screen in place. Now you can move the mouse for emphasis options. Click and Drag for freeform line. CTRL+SHIFT for arrow (I use this one a lot). CTRL and drag for boxes, TAB and drag for ellipse or circles.
ESC key to get back to a live screen / non zoomed screen.
Go on – practice – you will become addicted to this little guy and will carry it on USB keys till you take your last breath.
Know where your demo files are
People don’t want to see you searching around for your demo files – put them in a simple to remember place that is easy to get to from Windows Explorer or from command prompts you are opening for your demo. Ensure all your files are there and you can quickly get to them as well as know WHICH files you will need to open for the demo.
I use c:usersrclausDemoFiles folder because it’s right off the command prompt starting point and I also create a shortcut in windows explorer to the location.
This is just the start. Have I missed anything? Does this list jog your memory so that you have thought of something else to add to the list? Comment below and share so that we can all benefit!
Don’t worry – there’s more to come. So far – we only have the machine basically prepped… stay tuned for Part #2
I am in the final days of prep work to get ready to head down to TechEd New Zealand and TechEd Australia. I had a great time down there last year and apparently they liked my stuff enough to ask me to come back again! I have slightly different speaking schedule for the two conferences – here’s the links to the different event schedules.
and a NEW one just added – Multi-Server Management and Beyond with Server Manager (link to be added – it’s still SECRET)
I’ll be joined by my teammate David Tesar – his first time in Australia. We are two of the hosts on The Edge Show on Channel 9. Earlier this week we decided to do a little promo trailer for our trip down to TechEd Australia. Have a peek:
I have the good fortune of working with some great folks here at Microsoft HQ – some of which I have been following for quite some time. Last week at TechEd NorthAmerica Jeff Woolsey was on the main keynote stage demonstrating a whirlwind of functionalities and achievements of the next generation of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012. I’ve pulled out two things that interest me VERY much I thought I’d share.
Specifically – the VM Guest capability of getting 3x the IO throughput via the new virtual HBA adapters then VMware guests can get. We almost hit 1 million IOps with this demo on stage, but I swear I saw it over a million in rehearsal that morning and the night before.
Also of interest is the IP portability demo that was part of the TechEd North America and Europe “foundation” session I produced. It was called “Modernizing your Datacenter” which was well received. Taking the keyboard for the demo is my friend Michael Leworthy to show us what Windows Server 2012 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 can do for scenarios like Hosters or Mergers and Acquisitions.
I’ve been working with Windows Server “8” since last September when it first peeked outside of the internal deployment servers at the Build conference. Because I was not part of the engineering group or product team – I had the same level of access all the rest of the public had. Time moved forward and things changed in January when I moved to “The Mother Ship” and joined the Corp Evangelism team. A little more access, but mostly connections to some really smart people talking quite candidly about Windows Server “8” and the upcoming Beta release. Now it’s getting even closer with an RC coming around the corner soon.
I believe it’s time to take this to the next level and share the goodness that is Windows Server 2012.
Are you ready for some serious pay dirt on Windows Server 2012? Are you ready to evolve your Datacenter (regardless of it’s size) and your skills to a new level of capabilities?
I’ve created and will be delivering a 2 day online FREE event with Microsoft Learning called a JumpStart. It’s going to take place on June 20th and 21st in-between TechEd North America and TechEd Europe. I recruited my good friend Corey Hynes to help deliver this monster of a online event and will have a plethora of help from product teams, IT geeks and helpers all around answering questions and interacting in the live chat room. In short – it’s going to be an all around Windows Server 2012 party my friends!
Here’s the official write up.
Windows Server 2012:
Preparing for the Datacenter Evolution
Windows Server 2012 provides a dynamic, highly available and cost-effective server platform for the modern datacenter and the cloud. Its impact scales from a few servers all the way to multitenant-aware, multisite environments in the largest organizations. Windows Server 2012 is one of the most significant releases of Windows Server to date, and there is a vast number of new features in this release that will enable you to Cloud-Optimize your IT.
Leveraging the popular “Jump Start” virtual classroom approach, Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist Rick Claus and Microsoft Partner Corey Hynes will walk you through their personal favorite feature sets while answering why and how each one will have a positive impact on improving your day-to-day IT environment. These accelerated, engaging and demo-heavy sessions are guaranteed to get you excited and ready to try them yourself.
We’re loosely going to be breaking this up into for chunks over two days. The breakdown is organized into the following categories:
Remote access / networking
Go check out the registration page for more details on what is being covered from a technology perspective.
After mulling things around for a while, consulting anyone who had an opinion on the topic and consuming various beverages over time – I finally sat down and planned out my portable demo lab for Windows Server”8” things. I’ll be using it to create demos to share with the community and showing them off at various public events over time. I had some criteria to adhere to:
Has to be portable.
Has to have significant muscle to virtualize a large number of hosts.
One system has to dual boot to my “corporate image” so I can stay productive (this requires a bitlocker’d drive)
support multiple drives for better disk IO for virtualization
Large enough screens to work on stage
I’ve mostly settled on these two systems for my base configuration.
Lenovo W520 with 32 GB ram, internal SSD (160GB for OS) and DriveBay extended 2nd SSHD (250 GB for VMs).
Lenovo T410 with 8 GB of ram, internal 500GB HD. Smaller – lighter, but still powerful
I am trying to get the size and weight down – I do have to carry this around with me on flights. My issue is the screen size. I need a large screen in order to have a more comfortable demo experience.
(maybe I am just getting old)
That being said – I will probably switch out the T410 for my much loved Dell-A-Saurus a.k.a. Precision mobile workstation M6500. It has 16 GB ram, dual hard drives and a large screen.
Setup for the system? Windows Server “8” obviously. The Hyper-V role installed. I am starting with the GUI to get things configured – then I will be REMOVING in order to walk the walk and talk the talk of best security configurations and headless management capabilities. More on the exact configuration in my next post.
Networking? well – For now, since it’s setup time – I am using a simple consumer grade router to NAT my internet connection and isolate the two systems from the corporate network. Works well if I need to plug into something like a hotel internet / conference internet and share it between the systems. I’ll be hard coding the IPs and making them self sufficient so that I COULD just have an Ethernet cable between them and still pull off Live Migration demos.
I’ll be documenting and sharing my setup experiences and demos here on the blog. stay tuned for more details and posts on setup configuration and demo scenarios you can build yourself.
It’s for Technical Professionals / Geeks / Pro-Sumers / SysAdmins / LanAdmins / Security Experts / basically anyone that works in IT or has a passion / interest in IT.
It’s not your traditional “event” from Microsoft – or at least one that you would expect.
Using the *.Camp approach to a dynamic event (i.e. audience PARTICIPATION), IT Camps are something that our team is putting on whenever / wherever we can as we’re out and about for TechDays, DevTeach or quite frankly – any port of call – provided there is interest in having an “IT Camp”. We’ve decided to mix it up a little and using an “un-conference style” of format – we’re looking to partner with anyone who would like to host an IT Camp and participate.
So what do you get when you decide to show up for one?
Find out who’s coming! Registration is encouraged, not not mandatory. We’re using Eventbrite to keep thinks non intrusive. Registration gets the word out AND it gives us an idea for how many people could be in attendance.
Personal networking opportunities. Grow your support network. There’s normally 30 minutes or so of time set aside from when the doors open to when the camp actually starts.
It’s dynamic / interactive. Whoever is hosting the event locally would be able to get a feel for what people wanted to talk about or see over the course of the event – heck, people can request “content” demos on the fly, if the participants are willing to step up and show something. We’ve come prepared with some cool demos that are 10-15 minutes each in chunks – they could follow a theme or if like the IT Camp last night at TechDays Toronto – Damir opened it up to the crowd to decide.
Reverse Panel or Mystery Panel. Time permitting – we’ll throw out some topics and hold a panel discussion on relevant topics – you choose!
Hands on Challenges – again – time permitting or logistics permitting – there’s an option for some “capture the flag” infrastructure challenges or team competitions to solve issues as a group. I mention “logistics permitting” because it depends on what we can bring together as resources for the camp – each and every Camp is different.
Lightning talks – got a story to share? you’ve got your opportunity for 5 minutes of fame to talk about how you solved an issue, implemented a cool technology or helped out someone in a bind – whatever. If you can fit it into 5 minutes – you can talk about it.
And MORE. Got an idea – share it with me. I’d love to talk about what to include.
We’ve been noodling with the format and we’ve tried it out in Toronto this week. Next week as part of ITPRO Teach / Dev Teach – we’ve got an opportunity to try again.
Here’s a list of events we’ve committed to over the next while and their registration links. Sign up – it’s FREE and it’s cool. Want to host one in YOUR city – give me an Email and we can talk about options and opportunities. firstname.lastname@example.org