A round-up of this weeks posts!
Have a great Sunday!
by Diego M. Oppenheimer
For the last couple years I’ve been meaning to pull together some of the tips that I’ve learned working on the Excel team about how to make nice looking spreadsheets. Well, last week, Rob Collie (a previous Excel Program Manager, and now CTO at Pivotstream and author of PowerPivotPro.com) beat me to it with his post “In the Browser, Aesthetics Yield a Greater Return.”
I had a quick chat with Rob and he was nice enough to let me pile on with my tips, which got posted to his blog on Tuesday. So, rather than spoil any of the surprise here, head on over to PowerPivotPro and check out 15 Spreadsheet Formatting Tips. And, while you’re there, you’ll definitely want to check out PowerPivot - it can take your Excel to a whole new level!
Go there now: 15 Spreadsheet Formatting Tips
Originally posted on the Office Excel blog
Taken from our Virtualisation with Microsoft® Hyper-V eBook (available to view and download below).
We recently published a post about deciding on the technology for your virtualisation scenario in your school. Now we are going to address how you choose your hardware. This means working out how many host servers you will need to buy, and to what specification. The factors governing this decision include – • Number of virtual servers • Network bandwidth required • Memory requirements of virtual servers • CPU requirements of virtual servers • Storage
All these will have an impact on your virtualisation design and purchasing so let’s look at each one in more detail.
Number of virtual servers As we saw in the virtualisation scenario, the number of virtual servers you plan on hosting can have a large effect on your hardware decisions. If you only ever plan on hosting a small number of servers then you may very well get away with just one virtualisation host, but remember that this will not give you any redundancy if your host dies, or any room for growth.If you plan on hosting a large number of virtual servers, then this will force you down certain paths about the number of hosts and the storage of the virtual hard drives.
Network bandwidth required
When you are designing your host servers then the network resources required by each virtual server will have an impact on the number of network interface cards (NIC) that you will have built into the host server. You need to consider that if you host 5 servers on a host and only have 1 NIC then all data traffic will be going down that one network card. This may have a detrimental effect on your user’s experience. Later, we’ll discuss the setting up of the management side of virtualisation, which will take up at least one NIC for management traffic across the network.
Memory requirements The amount of available memory has a massive effect on how any computer performs. This is no different in servers and in some ways it is more important. When designing the memory requirements for your host servers you will need to consider both the memory requirements for the host server and also for all of the virtual servers. Let’s look at the setup.
Let’s assume that each of these servers has 10Gb of memory and we are going to virtualise all of them except the Active Directory Server. A quick calculation shows us that for the virtual servers we will need 30Gb of memory and if we give the host the minimum of 4Gb then the host server will need 34Gb of memory.
That seems simple, and to some extent it is. But as we’ll see later, if you are planning for redundancy, then that minimum is not enough. Instead, you will need to allow enough total memory on your host servers to cope with the failure of 1 or 2 of them, and the consequent failover of the virtual servers installed on them to the remaining hosts. In Hyper-V this is called failover clustering and is the best way to ensure that your users are not affected if you suffer the failure of one or more virtualisation hosts.
Central Processing Unit (CPU) requirements Designing your CPU requirements for your host servers is done in a very similar way to the memory requirements. You need to consider how much CPU activity, and what load, each of your virtual servers will take – plus the load that will be required by the host operating system. You also need to give consideration to what will happen in the event of a host failure and the failover of other virtual servers to the remaining hosts.
Connectivity How you connect to your storage solution is also a key factor. Two of the main choices are iSCSI and Fibre Channel. Which you choose can be affected by a number of factors, but the common choice among education is iSCSI mainly because of the cost.
Once you have chosen your system of connectivity then you need to consider how much traffic will be travelling between your hosts and the storage system. You also need to consider redundancy. Again, a single point of failure could be introduced if you connect all your hosts to your SAN or NAS using a single network cable and switch.
A simple scenario is shown in the diagram below, this shows two routes for each host to access the storage system. This will remove the connectivity single point of failure.
Throughout your planning and implementation of virtualisation, you need to have an eye on the future. This means knowing whether, and how, you can readily expand the capacity of your system.
This, of course, includes your storage solution, and that’s where what’s called “Dynamic LUN expansion” comes in.
When setting up your storage system, you will purchase two distinctly different items, the physical hard drives and the ‘housing’ for them to go in. The housing is the piece of equipment that will manage your hard drives, the iSCSI connections and the partitioning of the hard drives into what are called LUN’s which then you can connect to your hosts. Here’s where, if you haven’t considered how your environment will grow, you could lock yourself into a situation where if your storage system becomes full you may need to remove all the current LUN’s before you can increase the amount of available storage space.
That’s because some of the low end storage solutions will have the basics, such as RAID array ability, dual controllers, dual iSCSI connections but will not have dynamic LUN expansion. This basically means that once you set the size of the LUN on the storage box it is fixed and if you ever want to increase the size you will need to backup all the data, delete the LUN and then rebuild it with the increased size. Some of the more expensive storage solutions, though, do have dynamic LUN expansion, which is the ability to increase the size of a LUN as you insert more physical hard drives. As so often, the major factor in this decision is obviously cost. The more features in a storage solution the higher the cost.
You can view and download our Virtualisation with Microsoft® Hyper-V eBook below.
Windows Azure, Windows 8, Devices and Open Source - The Microsoft Cloud Day on June 22nd at the Vue Cinema in Fulham, London is a free conference for public sector developers where you can find out more about the latest innovations in Microsoft technology for the cloud and open source.
If you are building or considering building applications for the cloud, our one-day conference will provide invaluable insights and information on our latest innovations.
There are four tracks in the Microsoft Cloud Day agenda:
Registration for the Microsoft Cloud Day on June 22nd, 11:30-18:30 is free for developers and IT professionals from the Public Sector.
You can find out more and register to attend the Microsoft Cloud Day here:
Registration code for Public Sector developers and IT professionals: CG150SAMSMQ
This week’s roundup of posts -
How students can develop an advertising campaign using Kinect Sports
Contextual hubs for learning–gaming in education
10 things you didn’t know your Nokia Lumia could do
Take a guided tour of System Centre 2012 and the Microsoft private cloud
Webinar: Intro to OneNote
Instructional Writing with Kinect Sports
Six Tips to Make SkyDrive your Cloud Backpack
The common language of games
Virtualisation in your school: deciding on hardware
Microsoft Certified Trainers Explain MCSE
Taken from our Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education eBook by Ollie Bray (available to view and download below)
I’ve seen lots of badly dubbed films but I have never seen a badly dubbed computer game. Yet children play the same games in different languages all over the world.
In 2010 I took a group of young people from my school to Alaska and, amongst other things, we spent over two weeks canoeing above the Arctic Circle. We finished our canoe trip at the small Inuit village of Noatak.
The people who lived at Noatak were the first people we had seen in weeks and naturally our young people talked and socialised with their young people. What did they talk about… computer games! The games talk established a common interest and the feeling of security followed by all sorts of wonderful conversations about culture, lifestyle and the environment. Xbox LIVE® ID’s were exchanged and relationships around this internet of games continue to be developed online between young people who live thousands of miles apart on different continents.
Games bring people together and they always have. That is why the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup are so important. Used in the right way, computer games can achieve a similar objective and I believe that global online games to the current generation of young people will be as important as large sporting events are to mine. Most importantly, online gaming encourages conversation between young people across cultures and I strongly believe conversation in the long term can reduce conflict. How can games be used in schools? There are a number of ways that games can be used in schools including supporting existing educational outcomes, as a stimulus for thematic learning and also to get young people creating content rather than just consuming it through computer games design.
This week’s roundup of posts -
Kodu student activity: eating apples
New online safety features coming in Windows 8
Microsoft Kinect SDK 1.5
University of Southampton sends a Nokia Lumia 800 to 105,000 feet
“We must stop seeing education as a competitive process; between schools, communities and nations, and realize that the most successful systems are founded on collaboration.” – UK
Virtualisation in your school: deciding on your technology
Moodle 2.0/2.2 OpenSource Solution for Azure
RM Technical Seminar, Birmingham
Collaborate and communicate from anywhere with Lync Server 2010
Happy Jubilee Weekend from everyone here in the UK Education team!