More UK TechDays on System Center 2012 and Windows 8

Our good friends in the UK TechDays team have announced another raft of events in their fantastic IT Camps series. I’m hoping to be there for at least on of them and if you’re at all interested in Windows 8 or System Center 2012 I cant recommend them highly enough.

No slides, no marketing – just technical content, demo driven with as much audience participation as they can manage. Everyone I’ve spoken to at previous camps has enjoyed them and learned a great deal.

I’ll be helping with the server camp in York on the 5th of March and you might see me at other camps too.

Enough of the gushing plug, here are the dates and venues, with links so you can register:

Date Event Location
12th February 2013 Windows 8 Glasgow
13th February 2013 Windows Server 2012 – Virtualising Servers Glasgow
14th February 2013 Windows 8 Camp Glasgow
19th February 2013 System Center 2012 Manchester
21st February 2013 System Center 2012 Birmingham
5th March 2013 Windows Server 2012 – Virtualising Servers York
6th March 2013 System Center 2012 York
17th April 2013 Windows 8 Southampton


If you want to know more about forthcoming Techdays keep an eye on the main events page.

Upcoming presentations

It’s the start of a new year and my engagement diary is filling rapidly. Once again I am covering a wide range of topics for an equally broad audience which is something I really enjoy.

  • January 15th will find me in Manchester at a Microsoft event for Fire Services. I’m giving an overview of Windows Azure PaaS and IaaS services and how they might be used to complement as well as replace existing IT systems.
  • January 30th is the annual Black Marble Tech Update. For our tenth year we have changed the format slightly. The morning will be focused on IT and the afternoon on Development. IT Managers attending the morning session will hear myself, Andy Dawson and Andy Davidson run through the recent releases and upcoming changes to Microsoft product and service offerings in order to help with strategic planning for the coming year. The afternoon session will be similar, but for Development Managers.
    Find out more on the Black Marble web site.
  • March 5th is the next UK Techdays IT Camp that I will be helping out at. This one is in York and will cover Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.
    Find out more on the UK Techdays events page.
  • March 6th takes me to London where Robert Hogg and I will deliver a Tech Update for the Public Sector at Cardinal Place.

Also this year Black Marble are pleased to be involved with the Microsoft Imagine Cup once more. Teaming up with Andy Westgarth and our friends in Sunderland, we are running an Imagine Cup Hackathon on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd February, where a number of us will be on hand to give teams from the region help and advice on development and technical matters, but also presentation techniques, business plan and other areas important to success.
Find out more on the Imagine Cup site.

My Boss has brought his iPad! Consumer devices in corporate networks

There’s a new term in town – Consumerisation of IT. All of us who work in IT should care about this because it’s going to have a deep impact on the approach many of us have taken when deploying services to our organisations.

I don’t profess to be a thought leader on this topic, although I find it interesting that I have been dealing with the ‘problem’ here at Black Marble ever since we started up many moons ago. I may well post more about what we deliver in terms of services and solutions within the organisation later, but this article is intended to drive your attention to two important places.

The first is Simon May’s great article that briefly summarises some of the technology that’s already out there to help you embrace ‘unmanaged’ devices that want to access your services.

The second is to make you aware of the consumerisation-focused IT Camps that Simon May will be running, with the help of a few of the usual suspects (and myself). Simon’s plan is to take the same approach as we did at yesterday’s virtualisation camp – hand-on, grab the technology by the scruff of the neck and fasten together an example solution during the day. I’m really excited about this, because the area covers such a broad range of technologies, including Network Access Protection (NAP), Threat Management Gateway (TMG), Unified Access Gateway (UAG), Exchange, Forefront, System Centre and more. The first of those events is in Newcastle. Sadly I can’t make that one, but I will be at the Manchester event on May 9th. Take a look at the event series – there should be ones in a city near you. Register quick, though – they are filling fast.

IT Camp Leeds Roundup


Yesterday was great fun and I was really pleased to see so many Black Marble event regulars at the IT Camp. It was great to hear so many requests for more events like it in Leeds. We’re all keen to run more, but we need people to attend and give us feedback in order to be able to do that.

I hope those of you who were there took away useful knowledge from the event. Andy and Simon were very keen that it should not be a day of PowerPoint and canned demos and we certainly delivered that. Did we have technical issues that meant we had to change plans on the fly? Sure! Certainly nobody we spoke to seemed to mind. All of us from Black Marble thought the concept for the day – one of interaction, audience participation and trying to build systems on the fly – should be fun and we thought it was.

I believe that the TechNet UK folks were tweeting and posting links to some of the things we talked about yesterday but I thought it would do no harm to round some of them up here.

  • When we were talking about configuring remote management of hyper-v servers I mentioned HVRemote. This is a script written by John Howard that has been really useful for Andy and myself in the past. John’s blog has lots of really useful information about hyper-v and management, although he’s not posted for a while now.
  • Also a great source of information on hyper-v and virtualisation is Ben Armstrong (VPC-Guy).
  • The Virtualisation Team Blog is a good place for product info, announcements and knowledge.
  • Richard Fennell posts regularly on Lab Manager, which builds on Hyper-V and SCVMM to deliver great things for your dev and test teams. I thought either he or Andy had blogged about how we got Lab Manager 2010 working with a hyper-v cluster but it appears not. We’ll see if we can get something written up in that space.
  • Core Configurator  (currently at version 2.0) was something that was shown as a handy tool to control some of the settings on your Hyper-V server.
  • The Microsoft iSCSI Target is a free download. The Virtualisation Team blogged on it’s release.
  • For those of you who played with the Surface, we have some videos on YouTube of the Retail, Concierge and O7 game that were filmed at NRF 2012.

I’m really looking forward to other camps. Andy and Simon want to keep the hands-on approach so you can look forward to playing with an installed SCVMM solution in the follow-up virtualisation camp, and the consumerisation of IT camp should be wild as we try to cover how IT pros can deal with the variety of devices that our staff (and our bosses) want to use!

As always, the page of details about the events is here!

Hands-on Microsoft IT Camps–we’ll be there and you should too!

Andy and I are really pleased to be able to help our friends at Microsoft with their latest idea for engaging with IT Professionals. Next week (Tuesday 28th February) sees the first in a series of new IT Camps taking place in Leeds. The idea is to run a full day event that is very light on PowerPoint and heavy on the hands-on, roll up your sleeves and install things as a group.

You can find information about the series of camps online. The magnificent Simon May and Andrew Fryer from Microsoft will be leading the camps, with support from myself, Andy and a range of great IT Pro MVPs. For instance Jon Noble, PowerShell MVP and NEBytes organiser will be helping with the Newcastle event.

Tuesday’s camp is all about Virtualisation and promises to be both engaging and educational. You’ll also find Black Marble faces assisting with a Virtualisation camp in Manchester on April 25th and also in Manchester on May 9th where the subject will be on consumerisation of IT and how we can manage mobile and desktop devices securely.

See you there!

See you at @media09? Tickets are still available

Lauren and I set off for London later to today. It’s @media time again and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. As usual Patrick Griffiths has lined up a fantastic group of really inspirational speakers and, whilst smaller in the light of the current climate, I have no doubts that it will be useful.

I’ve been to every @media since it started and I’ve always had a great time. If you have the time, I’d urge you to make this year the sell-out it’s been in the past!

Speaking at VBUG Newcastle in July

Andy Westgarth and the guys at VBUG Newcastle very kindly invited me to speak about and demo some of what I consider to be key features in Windows 7 and Server 2008. If you read the blog and would like to see what I really look like, are interested in the topic of the talk or interested in VBUG in general, come along!

The venue is Newcastle University (a campus I’ve never visited before so I’m quite looking forward to that). For more information Andy has details on the VBUG site. In order to make sure the event doesn’t wither through lack of interest, please register yours on the VBUG site. To copy some of it here, however:

Topic: Key features in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2
Key features in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. A look at the new features in Microsoft’s upcoming operating systems that will really make a difference to how we work. The session will a broad overview of new features with demos of the cooler ones to add an element of risk to proceedings. Come along if you want to learn more about technologies such as BranchCache, DirectAccess, Virtual XP Mode and more.

Location: Room 118, Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, GB

Price: FREE

Community Launch Events

A big thanks to everybody who came to the Server 2008 launch event last week. Andy and myself had a great time presenting to such an enthusiastic crowd. In the end we ran long because of the amount of dialogue around the new features of Server 2008 and I hope everyone went away having got something useful.

Now I need to reduce the two hours of material down to a perky 45 minutes for delivery at the VBug-hosted launch event on April 30th. Richard is there too, and Iain is also speaking, making up the triumvirate. It’s my first non-Black Marble community event and I’m quite looking forward to it.