In-Depth

TechEd Returns to the Big Easy

Microsoft and its partners reveal what's next for the cloud and datacenter at the annual gathering of IT pros and developers.

Microsoft has geared up for its annual TechEd North America conference, taking place June 3-6 in New Orleans with an encore later in the month in Madrid, Spain. TechEd is the company's largest annual gathering of IT pros and developers. At the show, Microsoft will emphasize existing and forthcoming technologies aimed at fleshing out its so-called "Cloud OS" vision, consisting of a common infrastructure for datacenters running Windows Server and its public Windows Azure service, both managed by System Center.

In addition to providing more economical and agile infrastructure, Microsoft sees this transition as critical to enabling modern apps that can run on a broad variety of devices. It's unclear whether Microsoft will tip its hand at TechEd regarding the next release of the Windows client, code-named "Windows Blue," which is key to its modern apps transition. Microsoft has said it will give the full Windows client story at its BUILD conference in San Francisco later this month. Microsoft officials did confirm the company's Server and Tools Division will reveal new products and services.

"Our strategy is to continue delivering against our Cloud OS vision, helping customers embrace the big trends and challenges of the new era of IT: cloud computing, the new generation of connected apps and devices, big data, and the consumerization of IT," said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of program management in the Microsoft Windows Server and System Center group, in an e-mail statement. Anderson is scheduled to give the opening keynote at TechEd.

It's safe to presume he'll carry over the theme of his keynote from the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS), held just six weeks earlier, where he emphasized the growing parity of Windows Server and Windows Azure and the role System Center plays in enabling IT to build hybrid clouds. "Windows Server is the foundation our online services run on, [Windows] Azure and all your datacenters," Anderson said at MMS. "Delivering that consistency is what enables you to have the agility to move your apps from one cloud to another."

In advance of TechEd, Redmond magazine reached out to the Microsoft third-party partners exhibiting at the conference. Some were reluctant to reveal their plans in advance, but the following nine gave a heads-up.

A10 Networks Launches High-End ADCs
System and network load-balancing supplier A10 Networks Inc. will release its recently announced Thunder Series platform, the company's largest-scale system and network load-balancing offering yet to date. The new system is designed to protect critical systems and work with cloud-based services.

Based on an upgraded version of its Advanced Core Operating System (ACOS), the new Thunder Series offers the functionality of an application delivery controller (ADC), server load balancer, DNS application firewall, Web application firewall and intercept. It provides distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection and application access management.

The Thunder Series also offers carrier-grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT), IPv6 migration and IPv4 preservation. The company will add all of these features without tacking on licensing fees, says Kelly LeBlanc, A10's head of worldwide marketing. "We believe this will be quite disruptive in the market," she says.

When A10 launched its 64-bit AX Series ADC at TechEd three years ago, it was noted for the introduction of IPv4 preservation and the ability to divvy into 100 partitions. LeBlanc says the new Thunder Series can now take that to 1,000 partitions.

Centrify Adds Office 365 to the Mix
When Centrify Corp. launched its DirectControl for Software as a Service (SaaS) late last year, it extended its single sign-on (SSO) capability to key SaaS offerings such as Box, Google Apps, Marketo, Postini, Salesforce.com, WebEx, Workday Zendesk and Zoho, among others. But it lacked support for one major SaaS offering: Office 365.

Centrify will take that issue off the table at TechEd when it announces support for Office 365. Centrify for Office 365 is a Windows Azure-based service that will let organizations provide SSO access to Office 365 without having to use Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).

"We reduce the number of components and servers that you need to be able to deploy and manage users' access and identity for Office 365," says Cory Williams, Centrify's senior director of product management.

By eliminating the need for ADFS, Williams says, organizations can still provide SSO to Office 365 and other enterprise systems as well as the SaaS applications supported by DirectControl.

ExtraHop to Optimize Hyper-V
ExtraHop Networks Inc. will add Hyper-V to the roster of platforms in the Microsoft stack that its application performance management (APM) software and appliances support.

The company added SharePoint 2010 and 2013 support to its application monitoring solution earlier this year. ExtraHop Discovery now tracks and correlates every SharePoint transaction from the user to the different server tiers and the database and network. By tracing the paths, it automatically maps and correlates SharePoint instances and their relationships to the database, storage and transactions without modifying the applications.

At TechEd, ExtraHop will launch its first agentless APM offering that runs as a Hyper-V virtual appliance, utilizing the new Hyper-V Virtual Switch capability. That will let customers achieve cross-tier operational visibility of a Hyper-V implementation, allowing IT pros to correlate metrics across the application, database, network and storage tiers. It will also let administrators monitor private cloud and Windows Azure-based public cloud environments.

Idera Refines SCOM SQL Management
While Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is available with a SQL Server Management Pack, Idera Inc. is looking to give both database administrators and IT managers more granular capabilities. Idera will roll out its SQL diagnostic manager (SQLdm) Management Pack for SCOM at TechEd.

While Idera has offered SQLdm for DBAs for more than a decade, the new Idera SQLdm Management Pack tied to SCOM lets DBAs as well as systems administrators troubleshoot a configuration in real time using historical data, while letting them create workflows to set alerts when a SQL Server instance hits a threshold defined in SCOM.

The advantage of the Idera tool over Microsoft's own SQL Server Management Pack is that the latter requires deep knowledge of the internal architecture of SCOM -- especially when looking to utilize anything other than the default configurations, says Vicky Harp, Idera's lead developer for SQLdm.

"Most of the expertise required is greater than most organizations have and as a result they have to hire consultants to tie it to SCOM," Harp says. "[Our product] is easier for DBAs to use and lets the configurations just flow into SCOM."

Kemp Gets Cozy with Cisco and Dell
Kemp Technologies Inc. is preparing to integrate its LoadMaster technology into the Unified Computing System (UCS) from Cisco Systems Inc. "With the recent discontinuation of Cisco's ACE load-balancing portfolio, the networking giant has a handshake agreement with Citrix NetScaler -- however, you have a lot of Cisco customers who are looking for a migration path and they'd like to continue to work with Cisco," Kemp CEO Ray Downes says.

Iain Kenney, Kemp's director of product management, adds that because the company's software will work inside the UCS fabric, customers will be able to gain more efficiency with the blades. "Obviously, with our LoadMaster for Cisco UCS running inside that fabric, we can load balance your middle-tier workloads kind of natively within the fabric and that's very important," Kenney says.

Meanwhile, Downes says Dell Inc. founder and CEO Michael Dell spent some time with Kemp executives in 2011, and that was enough for the company to move forward by adding several of Kemp's mid-range systems to its roster, though using the Kemp brand. Dell has added its high-end LoadMaster R320 and will provide complete support, and has integrated some of its functions into Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) and Lifecycle Controller for the company's PowerEdge servers, which will let admins monitor and manage the LoadMaster R320 and Dell app servers from one interface.

At TechEd, Kemp plans to announce the R320 will work in Microsoft Windows Azure. Now that Microsoft offers an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), customers can deploy their own server instances in the cloud. Downes says he believes a growing number of organizations will start deploying production workloads to Windows Azure.

Many of those workloads will be hybrid, meaning portions will be on-premises and customers will use Windows Azure for added compute or storage as needed, Downes says. By running LoadMaster in Windows Azure, customers will be able to manage those hybrid clouds, he notes, adding: "It will be the first load balancer to work within Windows Azure."

Lieberman Adds Windows PowerShell Support to ERPM
Lieberman Software Corp. will announce that Enterprise Random Password Manager (ERPM), its privileged identity-­management offering, can be managed using Microsoft Windows PowerShell. The Windows PowerShell support will appeal to large enterprises and services providers, who have significant multi-tenant, automated environments. Lieberman's new ERPM release has a programmatic interface designed to enable orchestration of privileged data and its usage.

Lieberman says ERPM can now orchestrate privileged account lists for management; discover and change for job management; secure files for upload, download, update or delete; and manage access control list (ACL) delegation, identity management and audit logs.

Stealthbits Taps Microsoft FIM to Audit Tool
The appeal of Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) is that it lets users manage their identity attributes and set their passwords, group memberships and credentials using Outlook or SharePoint. As Microsoft puts it, FIM reduces cost and risk associated with manual identity and credential management using role-based access that's established and managed by IT.

Those implementing FIM may want to better manage the risk associated with who has access to any given file shares. Stealthbits Technologies Inc. will unveil a management agent for its StealthAudit tool that lets administrators pull the data scanned out on all the file shares, take that data and pull it into FIM into the existing groups they've already incorporated from Active Directory.

"Our tool is an auditing tool that assesses access and risk on file system shares," says Steve Rellinger, Stealthbits' lead architect for data and access governance. "It's like a crawler. It goes out in your environment, crawls the file system shares, and scans and pulls back all of the permissions-related data for that particular file system share or SharePoint farm."

Viewfinity Tackles Security Threats
Zero-day and DDoS attacks are reaching new thresholds -- and a variety of solutions designed to help ward off these intrusions will be introduced at TechEd. Viewfinity Inc. says it will demo its new Application Control. As the name suggests, it will provide controlled access to applications by linking to Microsoft Group Policy.

Viewfinity President Gil Rapaport says the company has 300 customers that use its Privilege Management for Endpoints and Privilege Management for Servers tools, which provide privilege, policy and access rights management. Rapaport says the new Application Control will offer all of the features in the company's Privilege Management offerings, while adding automated whitelisting and blacklisting capabilities.

"It's important to customers to have better control and add an additional security layer to protect both desktops and servers in the Windows environment," Rapaport explains. "Organizations need much better control against advanced threats."

Viewfinity Application Control integrates with Windows XP and above at the client level, and on Windows Server 2003 and above at the system layer.

Double-Take Gains Added Cloud Support
Last fall, Vision Solutions Inc. extended its Double-Take backup and recovery software to cloud-based targets for implementations using VMware vCloud Director. At this year's TechEd, Vision Solutions is launching Double-Take 7, which extends support for public and private cloud environments while supporting backup and recovery in environments with multiple server platforms and hypervisors. It can also scale up to high-availability (HA) systems.

Double-Take 7 takes advantage of features in the new Microsoft Windows Server 2012, including improved agentless protection with Hyper-V. It also adds agentless protection for VMware vSphere, physical-to-virtual protection for Linux, and logical volume manager (LVM) support within Linux environments.

When used in Hyper-V environments, the new Double-Take 7 agentless capability provides real-time replication, making it suitable for mission-critical systems, says Karthik Balachandra, Vision Solutions' senior manager for product strategy for cloud and virtualization products.

"This is important when migrating your workloads into the cloud," Balachandra says. "These can be private, public or hybrid [clouds]."

Double-Take 7 offers sub-second recovery point objectives (RPOs) with full support for Hyper-V VMs on Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) and feature parity with Hyper-V Replica, Balachandra says. Administrators can also set their own point-in-time recovery objectives.

Balachandra says the software supports real-time, byte-level replication in multi-hypervisor environments. It will offer cross-hypervisor protection and optimized use of bandwidth when used with Hyper-V, Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), VMware and Xen hypervisors.

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