Free Microsoft exam vouchers for Azure and Office 365 exams

Microsoft is running a MCP campaign offering free vouchers for the exams listed below:

  • Exam 71-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (beta) – This exam is currently in beta.
  • Exam 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
  • Exam 70-346 Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements
  • Exam 70-347 Enabling Office 365 Services

Vouchers can be redeemed at for you to schedule your exam. Make sure to schedule your exams using the voucher before the end of December 31 2014!

To earn Microsoft Certified Specialist in Azure, pass one or both of these exams:

71-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (beta)

70-533: Implementing Azure Infrastructure Solutions

To earn Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in Office 365, pass both of these exams:

70-346: Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements

70-347: Enabling Office 365 Services

Register for your vouchers here.

Two free StarWind, Veeam and 5Nine webinars

StarWind Software  together  5Nine is offering 2 free webinars on data protection, high availability and Microsoft Scale-Out File Server.

webinar Dec3

1.      Building The Highly Available Hyper-V Cluster on Free Microsoft Hyper-V Server – Practice

Wednesday, December 3, 11 am ET / 4 pm GMT

Featured Speakers: Alexander Karavanov, Virtualization Security Engineer, 5nine Software
Max Kolomyeytsev, Product Manager, StarWind Software

Experts from 5nine Software and StarWind Software proceed with their break-out session on the creation of cost effective and highly available Hyper-V failover cluster. Join them to continue receiving the essential insight.

If you haven’t seen the first webinar – be sure to check it out right here (


webinar Dec9

2.      Live Webinar: How to build Microsoft Scale-Out File Server without SAS JBODs

Thursday, December 9, 9 am PT / 12:00pm ET
Featured Speaker: Max Kolomyeytsev, Product Manager, StarWind Software

Microsoft Scale-Out File Server is a new efficient storage solution for Hyper-V and SQL.
SoFS uses SMB 3.0 to eliminate all the complexity of traditional shared storage and leverages the clustering capabilities to maintain true storage high availability.
While most of the vendors show how SoFS is configured with shared JBOD storage, we will show you how to configure it with just local storage and zero additional hardware.

Join StarWind expert Max Kolomyeytsev and learn how:

  • How to reduce deployment costs by excluding shared SAS JBOD infrastructure
  • How to enable the use of local high capacity SATA, high speed PCIe SSD, and commodity SATA SSD as storage for SoFS
  • Leverage RAM cache from read-only to a distributed write cache


Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines in future will remain active when host reboots for planned maintenance

Currently virtual machines running on Microsoft Azure require a reboot when the Azure host hypervisor is rebooted after software patches and upgrade are applied.

For single instance application this implies downtime. 

Microsoft is working on technology which has a “rebootless” hypervisor so virtual machines will remain running on the host during patching. There is no live migration to another host involved. 

By offering this new feature Microsoft Azure is extending from being a PaaS platform meant for cloudaware apps to a much broader platform supporting traditional legacy enterprise applications which rely on availability features of the infrastructure.

While Microsoft did not release a releasedate this new feature will likely become available in 2015. 



Microsoft Azure is a best effort cloud or hyperscale cloud. This means the infrastructure (hosts up to the hypervisor) has a limited number of availability features. Hosts do not have redundant components and hypervisor does not offer live migration. This is by design to keep costs down and keep it simple. By reducing technical complexity less can go wrong and issues can be resolved quicker. The Keep it Simple principle of design.

This architecture of Azure requires applications to have built in redundancy. There should be no single point of failure in an application running on Azure.

While greenfield developed applicaties offer this redudancy by using multiple nodes for the same role (multiple webservers, applications servers, databases servers) traditional , legacy enterprise applications are not designed for the type of platform like Azure.

These applications have single points of failure. Think about that critical fileserver of CRM server running on-premises.

No SLA for single instance

Currently Microsoft does not offer a SLA for single instance virtual machines. Customer are required to have at least two virtual machines part of the same availability set to ‘get’  a SLA from Microsoft.

The reason for this is because of planned maintenance and unplanned downtime.

Microsoft uses Hyper-V as the hypervisor for Azure. Just like Windows Server on-prem, Azure hosts require frequent software updates. At least once a month but likely more frequent Azure hosts receive software updates. And thereafter the Azure host will reboot.

Until now virtual machines running on that host will reboot as well. If such a virtual machine does not have at least another node running on another host, the application will be unavailable during the time of rebooting the host and virtual machines.

Microsoft is working on a solution to prevent downtime due to planned maintenance. This solution will not be Live Migration. Live Migration will consume too much precious East-West network bandwidth. This capacity is needed for regular server to server communications. Think about his: there are over
1 .000.00  Azure hosts in a single datacenter. These need regular patching. There will be constantly Live Migration network traffic. The soon to be available G-serie virtual machine will offer up to 448GB  of internal memory. That is a lot of bytes to tranfer over a wire!

Instead Microsoft is working on a technology which will ensure that virtual machines remain operational on hosts which are in the process of software patching. No details are known at the moment but Microsoft is quite far in the process of creating this new cool technology. It could be similar to live update technologies available for Linux. KernelCare is an example of a no-reboot solution.

It is likely Microsoft will then also offer a SLA for single instance virtual machines.

More details will be provided once they become available.


Webinar: Virtual SAN: The “New” Storage Meme for Virtual Server Environments

At November 7 StarWind Software will have a webinar on their Virtual SAN product. The webinar is called:

Virtual SAN: The “New” Storage Meme for Virtual Server Environments
StarWind Software’s Complimentary Technology for Realizing the Virtual SAN Vision

Monday, November 17, 11:00am PT / 2:00pm ET
Featured Speaker: Jon Toigo, Toigo Partners International

Server-side storage, now increasingly called “Virtual SAN” with VMware’s adoption of the term in 2014, is not a new idea. The strategy, involving the nodal clustering of locally-installed or direct-attached silicon and magnetic storage, was first articulated by StarWind Software in 2011. StarWind was working to develop a storage architecture that would help early adopters of server hypervisors realize the promised cost efficiencies from their investments. Storage remains a significant cost in server virtualization, creating a barrier for large and especially smaller firms seeking to drive down IT costs while enabling better service levels. And StarWind brings a hardware-minimalistic and flash-friendly solution which compliments the VMware hypervisor delivering a more robust and capable Virtual SAN at a lower cost.

Join storage expert, Jon Toigo, to learn more about Virtual SAN, the capabilities of VMware’s preliminary offering, and the complimentary product from StarWind Software. Jon will be joined by Max of StarWind to dig into the technical details of the product and how it provides storage high availability and fault tolerance and enables cost reduction for businesses of all sizes that are increasingly adopting the VMware vSphere/ESX hypervisor. Register today!


vExpert 2015 applications are open

Time flies! Nominations for the vExpert 2015 program are open! Nominate yourself or someone else but do it before  December 12th at midnight PST. 

vExpert 2015 announcement will be on February 5th 2015.

A vExpert is recognized by VMware as someone who contributes to the VMware community by sharing knowledge (via blogs, a book, presentations etc),  being a VMUG leader or tool builder or being an  enthusiast.

Benefits for being a vExpert are fame, the honour, having access to beta programms, enjoy vExpert parties during VMworld and Partner Exchange, get access to services like vCloud Air, access to briefings about to be released products etc. Other vendors appreciate vExperts as well. Last year benefits were for example:

  • Pluralsight one year of free, unlimited dev and IT training
  • free  NFR license of HP StoreVirtual VSA
  • free 180-day NFR license for 2 sockets of Veeam Backup Management Suite
  • and many more benefits

Slight change compared to 2014. In 2015  there are two voting periods for the vExpert program. This first period and then second voting period in Q2.

More information and apply here.