Posted by: kurtsh | March 30, 2020

INFO: Teams Live Events resources & documentation

Interested in managing a Teams Live event and looking for some resources?

imageMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Employee Q&A: Program Playbook
This is an interesting resource:  It includes "Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Employee Q&A: Program Playbook”, a 15 page document that was created internally initially, that goes over how we provide Q&A for live events with 20,000 simultaneous viewers.  Areas include:

  1. Our Q&A strategy and its purpose and role in employee communications
  2. How we manage format and content
  3. Production logistics and best practices
  4. Creating a dialogue – learning and listening your employees
  5. Making events accessible

Download it from here:

Note: To access the videos, you need to register at:

Posted by: kurtsh | March 27, 2020

NEWS: Microsoft acquiring Affirmed Networks

imageMicrosoft has announced an agreement to acquire Affirmed Networks, the “virtualized, cloud-native mobile network” startup.

The acquisition will help Microsoft as networks transition to 5G. In the past, “wireless networks have been based on purpose-built hardware,” writes Yousef Khalidi, Corporate Vice President, Azure Networking. “We believe that with innovation in software and by making use of broadly available cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure, operators can deploy and maintain 5G networks and services more efficiently, more cost effectively, more rapidly and more securely.”

That’s where Affirmed Networks comes in. The company offers “Affirmed UnityCloud™ 5g core (5gc) is a cloud-native solution built on an open, webscale architecture that enables mobile operators to build the most innovative 5GC network, and dramatically reduce the costs of operating the network up to 90% by simplifying and automating network functions. UnityCloud converges ‘Any G’, including 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G core networks, and wireline core, onto one unified platform, greatly simplifying the overall network architecture.”

Combined with Azure, Affirmed Networks’ platforms will give Microsoft an edge in the competitive 5G landscape.

Read more here:

Got Office 365? This is a must read if you never considered your infrastructure would need to sustain a “remote work-from-home” scenario for your whole company.

imageOver the past few weeks, Microsoft, and more specifically the Office 365 Network team have seen a large influx of questions from customers around how best to optimize their Office 365 connectivity as they work diligently to plan for a large amount of their userbase suddenly working from home. We’ve also seen similar queries from customers looking for best practice whilst rapidly enabling their Office 365 benefits, Free Teams plans or free 6 month E1 trial recently announced to rapidly roll out Teams to allow their business to continue to function and allow users to collaborate effectively without being in the Office. 

The recent COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak has caused many customers to rapidly enable, or proactively plan for the bulk of their employees working from home. This sudden switch of connectivity model for the majority of users typically has a significant impact on the corporate network infrastructure which may have been scaled and designed before any major cloud service was rolled out and in some cases, not designed for a situation when it is required simultaneously by all users.

Network elements such as VPN concentrators, central network egress equipment such as proxies, DLP etc, central internet bandwidth, backhaul MPLS circuits, NAT capability and so on are suddenly put under enormous strain due to the load of the entire business using them, with the end result being poor performance and productivity coupled with a poor user experience for those users forced to adapt to working from home.

A simple diagram of a traditional network model can be seen below, where remote user’s connectivity is forced in and back out of the corporate network to reach critical resources as well as branch offices using MPLS circuits to reach the services offered at head office. It is an incredibly common network model for businesses around the world, but it was designed to be effective for a pre-cloud world.

Read the rest of this very thorough article here:

imageHere are the resources that would be helpful to understand the best practices for CDN’s in SharePoint Online and optimizing performance.

  1. SharePoint Performance Series – Office 365 CDN video series
  2. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs
  3. Use the Office 365 Content Delivery Network (CDN) with SharePoint Online
  4. Taking applications and content to the edge
  5. Overview of Microsoft Azure compliance
  6. Branding SharePoint: The New Normal
  7. Introduction to performance tuning for SharePoint Online
  8. Build your modern intranet on SharePoint in Office 365
  9. Intrazone Podcast by Mark Kashman

imageIn a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not only important to deliver medical care but to also provide information to help people make decisions and prevent health systems from being overwhelmed.

Microsoft is helping with this challenge by offering its Healthcare Bot service powered by Microsoft Azure to organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response to help screen patients for potential infection and care.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people worried about infection, provide information and suggest a next course of action such as contacting a medical provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home.

The bot, which utilizes Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service, will initially be available on the CDC website.

For more information on the bot, please visit:

To try the bot, visit:

If you own Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection and you’re interested in getting the same deep & instructive security configuration assessments for your Windows Servers, you should check out this preview.

Timagehreat & Vulnerability Management Secure Configuration Assessment (SCA) now supports Windows Server 2008 R2 and later in public preview!

Effectively identifying, assessing, and remediating endpoint misconfigurations that deviate from security best practices is pivotal in running a healthy security program, hardening your surface area, and reducing organizational risk. Threat and Vulnerability Management already does this for Windows 10 endpoints today, but when it comes to misconfiguration detection and remediation, servers are just as important.

We’re extending our secure configuration assessment capabilities to cover Windows Servers 2008 R2, 2012 R2, 2016, and 2019. With this expansion, customers can now discover, prioritize, and remediate over 100 known Windows server unsecure configurations and improve their organizational security posture.

Read more at the announcement below:

Statement from the Windows IT Pro blog:

We have been evaluating the public health situation, and we understand the impact this is having on you, our valued customers. To ease one of the many burdens you are currently facing, and based on customer feedback, we have decided to delay the scheduled end of service date for the Enterprise, Education, and IoT Enterprise editions of Windows 10, version 1709. This means devices will receive monthly security updates only from May to October. The final security update for these editions of Windows 10, version 1709 will be released on October 13, 2020 instead of April 14, 2020.

Read the entire announcement here:

imageMany companies are moving their SQL Server databases from on-premises to Azure, allowing them to benefit from cloud elasticity and scalability at the lowest TCO.[1]

You can either:

In running SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines, you can benefit from Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server and SQL Server and three years of free Extended Security Updates for significant cost savings. 

If you choose to self-install SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines instead of choosing a preconfigured pay-as-you-go or bring-your-own-license from the Azure Marketplace, there are two reasons why you should register your SQL VM with our Resource Provider today:

  • Feature benefits – unlock auto-patching, auto-backup, monitoring, and manageability capabilities when registering with SQL virtual machines with Resource Provider. Previously, these were only available to SQL VM images from the Azure Marketplace.
  • Free management Registering with the SQL VM resource provider and all manageability modes are completely free. There is no additional cost associated with the resource provider, or with changing management modes.
  • Flexible Licensing: You can convert SQL Server license type to PAYG even if you self-installed SQL Server after registering with SQL VM RP. This can bring significant license cost savings for seasonal workloads.  Additionally, registering with SQL VM RP full fills the requirement to register SQL Server Licenses when on-premises Licenses are used on Azure VMs with BYOL (Bring Your Own License) or AHB (Azure Hybrid Benefit) rights. 

Read more about these benefits & how to register your SQL Server VMs at the blog post here:

Posted by: kurtsh | March 17, 2020

RELEASE: Azure Monitor for Virtual Machines

imageToday we’re announcing the general availability of Azure Monitor for virtual machines (VMs), which provides an in-depth view of VM performance trends and dependencies. You can access Azure Monitor for VMs from the Azure VM resource blade to view details about a single VM, from the Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS) resource blade to view details about a single VM scale set, and from Azure Monitor to understand compute issues at scale.

Azure Monitor for VMs brings together key monitoring data about your Windows and Linux VMs, allowing you to:

  • Troubleshoot guest-level performance issues and understand trends in VM resource utilization.
  • Determine whether back-end VM dependencies are connected properly and which clients of a VM may be affected by any issues the VM is having.
  • Discover VM hotspots at scale based on resource utilization, connection metrics, performance trends, and alerts.

Read the full announcement here:

Need to learn Microsoft Teams?  Administration?  Architecture?  Troubleshooting?  Deployment?

Use these training resources to educate yourself about Teams, teach others or run workshops.

Teams is central to the logical architecture of productivity services in Microsoft 365 – including data governance, security, and compliance capabilities.

This series of illustrations provides a view into the logical architecture of productivity services for enterprise architects, leading with Teams.

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