Monday, 22 November 2010

Microsoft has released Update Rollup 14 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Server

For more information about this release, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 2389019:

Also applies to Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data Migration Manager, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Language Packs, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 E-mail Router.

Podcast and Overview:


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

More info on the Hyper-V Cloud announcement at TechEd Europe 2010

Hyper-V Cloud was announced at Microsoft TechEd Europe 2010 in Berlin yesterday in a a keynote by Microsoft’s Brad Anderson (Corp. VP for Management & Security Division)

Following the announcement of its platform-as-a-service offering Windows Azure at PDC10, Microsoft showed further detail of its cloud strategy, which stretches across public and private cloud, with solutions to meet the needs of various businesses.

The announcement of Hyper-V Cloud uses the Windows Server platform to build out private cloud infrastructures.  Hyper-V Cloud includes a set of programs and initiatives designed to accelerate the deployment and success of these clouds.
There are multiple elements to Hyper-V Cloud, including:
  • Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track: Microsoft is collaborating with Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM and NEC to deliver a broad choice of pre-defined, validated configurations for private cloud deployments.
  • Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider Program: A group of more than 70 service providers around the world offering infrastructure as a finished, fully-hosted service built on Microsoft’s technology that customers can use to implement a private cloud. 
  • Hyper-V Cloud Deployment Guides: Allows customers to build their own private clouds on top of existing infrastructure investments through new tools and guidance.
  • Hyper-V Cloud Accelerate: To tie it all together, Microsoft is making significant investments to help customers and partners fund assessments, proofs-of-concept, and production deployments.
It's another example of how Microsoft is enbracing the world of cloud computing and are helping their partners on this journey.


Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 is RTM!


Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0

VMMSSP (also referred to as the self-service portal) is a fully supported, partner-extensible solution built on top of Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, and System Center VMM.

You can use it to pool, allocate, and manage resources to offer infrastructure as a service and to deliver the foundation for a private cloud platform inside your datacenter.
VMMSSP includes a pre-built web-based user interface that has sections for both the datacenter managers and the business unit IT consumers, with role-based access control. VMMSSP also includes a dynamic provisioning engine.

VMMSSP reduces the time needed to provision infrastructures and their components by offering business unit “on-boarding,” infrastructure request and change management.

Now you can download the release of SSP 2.0 on this link


TechEd Europe: the Lync user experience

Session UNC201 - Jamie Stark on stage. Dublin Room. Tues 09-Nov 10:30

The aim of Lync is to unify the communications experience - single user authentication, a common interface, connected services and information from across information sources - mail, calendaring, SharePoint sites, multiple devices etc.
To make things simpler, Microsoft have renamed the family to Lync. A common name for the server product (which was Office Communications Server 2007 R2) and the clients (Office Communicator client)

Lync Client
If you're familiar with the old Office Communicator client then you'll notice a number of key difference. The focus is on people, you see pictures of their faces, people in your organisation and those you connect with externally. It's showing people not devices, phones or addresses.

Lync uses a single entity for each user, straight from Active Directory. BTW, those pictures in AD are used by default by Lync for each person, but you can replace that by specifying a URL for an external picture if you wanted to use something else - from LinkedIn or Facebook for example.

There's an Activity Feed in the Lync client too, when you update your status/location/OOO etc. it looks like a mini Twitter feed. Useful within a business to see what your colleagues are up to, where they are etc.

Conversation History is managed withing the client now, that's a good addition, it was held as text in Outlook with the previous clients. You now get the full conversation and participants recalled into the client interface. You can restart that conversation/call also.

The video and calling demo worked well, with scale-up to full screen HD, full fidelity sharing of presentations (it's using Silverlight to do this). Interestingly you can use policies to control the number of calls and video calls on specific network links.
(sidenote:  It's well worth checking Jamie's Voice Infrastructure session on Wednesday. UNC304: Wed 0900-1030 in Paris-2 - Lync Server 2010 Voice Deployment)

Lync Developer integration
There was a simple Contoso demo using Lync Chat from a sale website into an internal contact centre. It's the same functionality of LiveChat and similar tools available today, but it was interesting to see that the Lync SDK had been used to add some context to the chat session - the Contoso agent could see which item in the sale website shop was being browsed at the time of instantiating the chat session.
The website also showed the status of the contact centre agents and the number of agents available for chat. The Lync client had been extended to show customer information and stock data from other data sources.

The second demo showed the development and integration capabilities for extending and using Lync to automate business process.   We saw a workflow which used the presence status of people to determine the best recepient to instantly sign-off a document, i.e. is chose someone that was available, not someone that was busy or away.   The link to the document was presented in the Lync client, it was checked out of the SharePoint site, approved etc.  When the document status changed to approved, Lync was used to notify the persons involved in this workflow - 3 people in a conversation sharing the Word document.   It was a simple example, but showed the powerful possibilities - it would be simple to connect Lync with SharePoint and Dynamics CRM to improve day to day productivity within a business.


Monday, 8 November 2010

TechEd 2010 Keynote - Random notes from Day-1

It was a return to form for the TechEd Keynote this year. On my way in I heard stories about previous keynotes which didn't hit the mark, but this year Brad Anderson delivered some announcements, impact and demos that did the job for me! TechEd Europe is home to 6000 delegates for the week and it's a sold out event.

The keynote focus was on the "Long-term journey" - the long-term change towards platform as a service, via SAAS (software) and IAAS (infrastructure) and the sweeping change - marrying rich devices and the cloud. Ok, so it's a promo for Windows Phone… available in Europe already, in the US today, through 9 devices and 60 carriers in 30 countries.
Microsoft are clearly pushing the application channel here - there have been 30 million downloads for the SDK to date, 50% of these are from Europe - leading the way in app development.

So, the key announcements - Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 - now with RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory, and news on how these apply to VDI.

RemoteFX virtualises the graphics CPU (server-side GPU) and enables VDI solutions to be presented & displayed in the same way as a local desktop - full fidelity HD, Aero Glass etc. Citrix have integrated these features into ZenDesktop too btw.
Dynamic memory - 40% improvement in density for VDI. Brad made the claim, "we will have the highest density of VDI sessions in the market"
SP1 is due to release in Q1-2011… that's a move on from November as previously thought.

Office 365 demo - a tidy Control Panel demo by Dave Anderson, and it's clean looking Control Panel btw, to create an extranet SharePoint online site. It's nothing that hosting companies haven't been doing for many years and no cool features were shown really, but it may have been the first time that many IT pros in the audience had seen a web-based control panel for managing online services.

#TEE10 announcement: ForeFront Endpoint Protection 2010 - RC available today. Fully integrated into System Center for centralised management - one interface, one toolset, one set of management servers.

Infrastructure as a Service was up next and Brad made perhaps the biggest announcement of the keynote with news of a new solution to enable the rapid deployment of private cloud solutions with Hyper-V Cloud
This is a set of reference architectures and fast-track deployment programmes with 6 key vendors - HP, Dell etc. There were a couple of key vendors missing from the list, but that's no surprise really given another cloud alliance that's going on at the moment!
HP and Microsoft are partnering: Cloud Foundation - HP Blades, System Centre and Hyper-V Cloud.
See for lots more on the Hyper-V Cloud solutions

The final announcement really was left for System Center and we saw (VMM) Virtual Machine Manager 2012 CTP. A super-cool demo (described as "insane!" by some) of the Virtual Machine Planner showed a 3-tier production cloud deployment using drag and drop service templates - backend DB, mid-tier, web application layer (load-balanced etc.) capacity and capability profiles were used to show resource sharing and management using System Center. Self-service management was shown to deploy apps into the Hyper-V Cloud that was just created. Very cool and due for release in H1-2011.

All in all there are a number of good solutions and key technology releases being shown at TechEd Europe this week, but private cloud, virtualisation and systems management seem to be the key themes.