Speaking at Experts Live in Prague!

It´s a late announcement, but I´m happy to tell the world that I´ve been accepted to speak at Experts Live in Prague November 20-22!

It will be my first Experts Live, but from what I´ve already have experienced in terms of organization and how they´ve have handled me as a speaker – I´m VERY excited!

Ill be presenting a session on Windows Virtual Desktop and how it integrates and enhances (and gets enhanced) by Microsoft 365. A session I´ve presented a number of times and that always gets the attendees to think in new directions and understands how WVD is democratizing End-User Computing.

I´m of course happy that Alexander have been accepted as well and will present two sessions as well.

Other than that I´m of course looking forward to the keynote with Joey Snow and Rick Claus of Patch & Switch fame as well as sessions from Marius Skovli and Alexander Benoit among others! You can check out all the sessions in the session catalogue which you can find here:

https://www.expertslive.eu/sessions-catalog

But don’t forget what conferences are all about, its learning and connecting. Therefore it will be great fun to spend so much time socializing with all the speakers and attendees during the different networking events. So take the opportunity to reach out to me before or during the event. Perhaps we´ll even invite you to be a part of our Knee Deep in Tech podcast? 😀

Looking forward to seeing you in Prague!

Mackmyra Intelligence – How AI blended technology and whisky

Before I begin – please always drink responsible. If you feel that you have an unhealthy alcohol consumption level or pattern, there´s help to get. This post is not written to encourage alcohol consumption nor has Mackmyra in any way had any influence on the text or the blog as such.

This will be a kind of special blogpost, but I do hope that ill get more opportunities like this one.

One of my passions in life is whisky, and oddly enough what made me discover this interest was my work in IT. Many years ago, on my first trip with Atea, we went north to a (by then) new (and Sweden’s first) distillery – Mackmyra. We of course did a lot of other fun things during that trip, but one of the highlights were to visit the building site of what came to be the world’s first gravity distillery – and we of course were given an opportunity to taste the different casks type you could order at the time.

After that if tested hundreds if not thousands of whiskies. If visited close to every distillery in Scotland, and Sweden, that allows visitors and I have a made a start towards a decent collection of wonderful whiskies.

When an opportunity shows to that allows me to combine my interest in technology with my interest in whisky – I jump at the chance! And this is what´s happened.

Two bottles of Mackmyra

Mackmyra, together with Microsoft and the Microsoft partner INSERT have created the worlds first whisky designed by AI, Intelligence. I will do my best, together with my much more AI-knowledgeable friend Alexander to get more information on the actual progress, dataset and what´s ahead but what we know is that Mackmyras Master Blender Angela D’Orazio were presented with a number of recipes, which usually consist of which kind of barley, the phenol-level (the smokiness of the whisky), the jeast, the fermentation, the cuts and so on, but that Angela then choose how to mature it. Angela choose recipe number 36, because the AI can’t understand which part that don’t mix well. It understands the data it’s been feed, the recipes and the ingredients and probably how successful the previous whiskies of Mackmyra have been.

The back label of Mackmyra Intelligence

In the end – and that´s vital to remember before we get to the tasting notes – a whisky was created, with the goal of being like of as many as possible. An easy drinker and a proof that the concept works and that an AI (with some assistance from a human) can create a very successful whisky. So, after that, lets head into my tasting notes of the Mackmyra Intelligence AI:01, at 46 % and without artificial coloring.

Tasting notes (neat)

Color:

Its rather light in color, close to an Instagram-filter, hay and not particularly oily.

Comment: Nothing out of the ordinary. Mackmyra uses a lot of bourbon and new Swedish oak barrels and the whisky is probably rather young so this is to be expected.

Smell:

Oaky, some alcohol vapors (or what could be felt as that, probably a lot of wood again), sawdust, juniper, a light touch of vanilla, dried fruit, peach, old raisins and a maltiness.

Comment: To me, the woody smells with the sting of alcohol is very typical Mackmyra and I personally have always loved it. I like the apparent oakiness with the juniper (which comes from Mackmyras usage of juniper when they smoke their barley). It’s a complex smell, not everyone will like it, but its great fun to find new smells while it warms up.

Taste:

The first taste is very light, almost watery and I was kind of disappointed but the longer you keep the whisky in your mouth, it grows. A clear tannin/alcohol sting combined with freshly cut wood and white pepper. Later a very, very light smokiness, more black pepper and a number of different kinds of wood. It finishes of with vanilla, burnt sugar and warm marzipan/frangipane.

Comment: It has all what I expect from a Mackmyra, but its obvious that its been toned down to suit a broader audience. Its representative and a good whisky to try on someone who just have started to enjoy whisky. My wife, who is a keen whisky drinker, likes easy drinkers with character – and usually don’t like Mackmyra, but when she tasted this her comment were: “Oh, that´s very good!”.

Finish:

Short, more of a feeling than a taste, dry (because of the oakiness and tannins) but more elegant than expected. White pepper and dry wood.

Comment: To me, aftertaste is almost more important than the actual taste. I would have hoped for more here. Not because its bad, its not, but because I would have thought that it would be something that others would enjoy and therefore the AI would have chosen a recipe to reflect that.

A poured glas of Mackmyra and the opened bottle

Water and whisky

I always taste my whiskies neat at first, and then add a few drops of water. In my experience, Mackmyra whisky should not go under 46 % (apart from the MACK-whisky) but I wanted to try it. To following now is my additional tasting notes for the Intelligence with a few drops of water. If you haven’t tried that in your whisky, I highly encourage you to do it.

Smell (with water):

Warmer, more smoke and peatiness, a nice, calm fire outside, fruitier and sweater with more vanilla.

Comment: Smell-wise, it’s totally different and in some perspectives an improvement.

Taste (with water):

Almost sour to start with, getting watery very quickly. Later, burnt sugar, caramel, burnt marzipan and a more obvious taste of juniper. Woodier and with a more obvious alcohol taste and aftertaste.

To me, drink it neat at room temperature and take your time.

Conclusion:

It’s a whisky I do like, but its not on my list of the best whiskies I´ve had. If I were to grade it from 0-100 (which many does) this would probably be somewhere between 75-80. Where 50 would be drinkable and 100 the best you´ve ever tried. I would recommend you to by one, either if it is your first Mackmyra or if you like the Mackmyra-taste – or if you just like the idea of owning the world’s first AI whisky.

In terms of the technology part, Ill do my best to find out more about it. I think that this is a very good way to learn about the limitations of AI and where humans still are required to achieve the task at hand. I´m very happy that I purchased the bottles (yes, I have two 😊) and I´m looking forward to the next one. For that, I would love to see a more advanced whisky, based on as much data as possible from other whiskies (as well as Mackmyra) which have been given praise across the world. Until then, Slainte!

 

A Swede went to Finland, spoke and learned

A couple of weeks ago now, I was focused on preparing for, and speaking at, Techdays in Helsinki, Finland. I was really happy to be accepted for the conference after Alexander spoke there last year and praised the arrangement. I was also very happy that Techdays choose to accept my session on Windows Virtual Desktop, since this is one of the topics I’m most passionate about and involved in currently.

I have presented this session previously, at Igel Disrupt, but this time I had another kind of audience. With more mixed backgrounds and focused more on “regular” client management. In the end, it turned out great!

I felt that I had a very good interaction with the audience and I’ve received a number of questions during and after the event. Also, the feedback has been amazing and I’m very glad and humbled by that.

So, why do I think that WVD is such a big deal? Well, I’ve said it before and to me the first and most obvious benefit is that this till democratize the, so called, EUC (End User Compute) landscape. The technologies out there today is usually pricey and fairly complicated to configure and maintain (and yes, that includes Windows Server RDS). They usually also require you to buy a number of licenses up front, or at least do the implementation as a project.

This have prevented some, especially smaller, organizations from going down this route, even though they would like to. This is made possible with WVD. You can scale DOWN to a 1 user on 1 VM if you like, and that’s fine. You don’t have any upfront cost, you can for your consumption (even thought it actually can be cheaper to buy reserved instance and pay for it upfront). It’s a very, in the simplest configuration, an easy solution with implement and manage.

You of course get all the benefits that any, or most, EUC solutions have today in terms connect-ability, security and mobility.

One of the feedback points I received both in Munich and in Helsinki were that I almost sound overly positive and don’t present the downsides of the service. For this, I’m sorry. Its actually not intentional and therefore I would like to point out a few downsides I currently see with the service (based on publicly available fact):

  1. Its great to run apps and desktops in the cloud, but you need to consider your apps first. This will be the showstopper for many organizations. If you have systems that required connectivity to your local datacenter as an example, its perhaps not great from a performance perspective to put the client in the cloud. You can of course see this as an opportunity as well – you are moving your stuff to the cloud, but consider that first.
  2. Second, authentication. Personally, I do feel that the current solution could be highly improved, but could require more cross product group work. The RDS cant sort this out by themselves, they need help from the Windows, AD and Azure AD among others. Ill dig deeper into this in time of the public preview.
  3. Since this is some kind of hybrid if we compare it to other solutions, we need to have tools that makes it easier to manage the service, especially the VMs. You don’t need to manage and maintain the actually underlying infrastructure – but you need to configure it, secure parts of it and manage your VMs. This will also require some cross PG work, and this (as well as security) is where I see that I personally can make a difference.

There are of course other downsides as well – and I’m really looking forward to getting more information of the final decision on licensing of the service. We’ll see.

This is however feedback I’m struggling with. I do get it, I do see it as important and I do want to be better at not just look at the good sides of it, but also (in blogs or when I’m speaking) give my audience a realistic picture. Again, I’m not trying to hide anything, its just a matter of me focusing on the amazing technology.

I’ve actually had this challenge before. In the beginning of Windows 10 I did a customer presentation on Windows 10 and why that would be the best OS for this customer. They found the presentation interesting, they saw the benefits but then they asked me a question: “So, what’s bad with Windows 10? There needs to be something, or else we wont be able to trust what you are saying.” I do get that feedback, especially now a few years later. So, moving forward ill do my best to present a more nuanced picture whatever I’m presenting on.

So, we’ll for sure have reasons to get back to WVD in coming blogposts, but for now Ill be focusing a lot of my “core” technologies which is especially Windows 10 and EMS.

Take care and remember to follow the blog and listen to the Knee Deep in Tech podcast. You can find us wherever you find pods including iTunes and Spotify.

Azure ASM (Classic) and migrating to ARM

Hey, Toni here again. Some customers are still stuck on using Azure classic for their deployment. Microsoft has done a lot of work for many years to convince everyone to move over to Azure Resource Manager (ARM) model and with good success as well. Did you know that they offer good tools (well scripts actually) for the migration itself?

Microsoft has also primarily been developing all the cool new features for ARM and only maintaining the classic (ASM) model. A few years ago, not everything was available in the ARM management model but today, most of your services will run fine (better) with ARM.

The nice thing with migrating is that Microsoft actually provides you with tools to verify the success of the migration in advance, so you’ll know what you have to fix (or break, in some cases) to manage the migration successfully. The migration will check for problems, once those are fixed, it will go to a “prepare” phase. Once there, you have the option to do the migration or abort, if you wish to do that. So a very flexible operation.

One thing to note is that if you are running VM backups, those will need to be disabled before migration (and remove the extension from the VM). Once you are on the ARM model, you can re-activate your recovery plans to create new backups. The old ones will become obsolete. Also, the prerequisite check will complain about the BG-info extension, however that will be automatically removed anyway, so there is no real reason to remove it beforehand.

The only issue I’ve had with the migration thus far, was a subscription where the customer was using Azure Traffic Manager. That broke for some reason which meant I had to, quite quickly after migration, create new endpoints for the Traffic Manager. Load balancers where migrated just fine.

Once you have migrated over to ARM, you will be offered a plethora of features that you previously did not have in the portal. New services, functions, RBAC access and many, many more.

So please, consider migrating to Azure Resource Manager. It will make your life easier… and who want’s to use tech from 10 years ago anyway?

More details here:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/windows/migration-classic-resource-manager-ps

Azure vNet peering and why it’s great

Hi, my name is Toni aka “The Finn” from some guest appearances on the show. I was invited to write some stuff here so here goes.
I have recently been doing some Azure work and want to share some of that with you.
Building your applications and infrastructure in multiple Azure networks or even regions is a common practice nowadays. But some of you might not know that you can very easily stitch together those different virtual networks by using Azure’s own back-bone instead of creating elaborate VPN solutions that used to be the case many years ago.

Let’s say you have a production network and a developer network that you want to interact in between. Pretty much all you need to do is to go to your respective network and create the peerings. Very easy and straight forward. Within an Azure Site, you can even allow a network to utilize the gateway to give access to your on-premises networks with a check-box.

Once you have your peerings connected, you will need to make sure that your network security groups allow traffic between the networks and also, don’t forget the local firewall on your server.

That’s it! Enjoy connecting your Azure regions and networks together without complex gateways or VPNs.