All posts by Tony Cai

Nerdio for Azure Core – What is Nerdio?

I work for a company called Nerdio and today our product team released a new product named Nerdio for Azure Core. Well what is it?

It’s simply an MSP friendly tool that helps manage the complexities of Microsoft Azure made for Managed Service Providers. It offers single pane of glass management to flip in and out between all your customers Azure accounts. Nerdio also helps with quoting using our NFA Cost estimator tool, helping MSPs package their solution and go to market with them. Once a deal is ready to go live, you go to our provisioning section and Nerdio will spin up your full IT environment in your CSP Azure tenant in just 1 hour. Now you’re ready to manage your Azure environment using our tool as well.

Fundamentally, Nerdio for Azure Core allows the MSP to use Azure as a server hosting company that leverages the hyperscale of the Azure public cloud. However, Nerdio doesn’t just allow for management of your IaaS servers. You will also be able to manage Office365, VPN’s, backup and DR, setup the Azure cloud environment for DRaaS using Azure Site Recovery. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Nerdio wanted to extend the use case for MSPs to adopt Azure for all their workloads, not just workloads that required RDS, VDI or WVD. Nerdio for Azure Core extends the uses cases to 100% of MSP workloads.

You can start with a simple domain controller for those who want to get rid of their on-premise DC. Then maybe offload the File Server to the cloud, then your app and SQL servers too.

At any time, you can click a button and perform an in-place upgrade to an RDS enabled account and start publishing your apps to your local PC’s or offer a full workspace or desktop as a service to your customer.

Nerdio is a one stop shop tool for Azure public cloud management for the managed service provider. No longer is a must to get all the Azure certifications to get started. Nerdio levels the playing field for any MSP to compete in Azure.

Does the Surface Pen work with the Surface Laptop?

So the Microsoft Surface Laptop “surfaced” earlier this week. I was disappointed that they did not announce the Surface Pro 5 on the same day. That was really what I was waiting for. I was holding off on purchasing a new laptop until that came out but to my surprise, they announced something a bit different. The Surface Laptop which is basically the Windows MacBook Pro. I decided that I would get the Surface Laptop for myself and have employer purchase the Surface Pro 5 for me when it comes out.

I’ve decided on the 7th Generation Kaby Lake Core i7 with the 8Gb’s of RAM and 256GB SSD. Now for my accessories… can’t have a Surface without a Surface Pen right? Hmm. thats where things get a bit foggy. According to Microsoft, the current Surface Pen is only compatabile with the Surface Pro 3, 4 and the Surface Book. There’s no mention of it work for the Surface Laptop. Now I don’t know if they just haven’t updated the product page to show that it works for the Surface Laptop or rumors mention that Microsoft has filed multiple patents for a new pen coming out.

So long story short, no one really knows the answer to that question but I would play it safe and hold off on buying a pen for the Surface Laptop until further notice.

Update: Another thought just popped into my head, its a Laptop, maybe it was never intended to be used with a Pen. Otherwise it would be designed as a convertible and you’d be able to flip the screen on its back and use it as a tablet.

Piece of Mind with AWAY Premium Carry-On Luggage

I purchased an AWAY carry-on luggage on my recent business trip to St Petersburg, FL. I’ve traditionally been the backpacker type with sporting a large backpack everywhere I went but I lacked a nice professional piece of luggage for my business trips. After much research, I decided to pay a premium for the cool startup that makes Casper beds, also the makers of the AWAY luggage carry-on.

AWAY comes in four different sizes, I’d recommend “The Bigger Carry-On” since it fits in all airplane overhead storage and is large enough to fit a few days worth of clothes. The little feature that they all have that makes this a nice touch are that it’s equipped with two USB ports with a battery for charging. It can come in handy in tight situations for sure. It also has a standard TSA approved combination lock.

The luggage is very simple, looks great and drives smooth. I’d expect nothing more, its just simply the perfect little luggage carry-on.

For $20 OFF your AWAY Carry-On:

Pao & Cha Cha delightful Chinese Venezuelan Fusion

Just to other day, my girlfriend and I hadn’t had breakfast yet and it was already mid afternoon. We found this little hole in the wall place on Astoria Blvd called Pao & Cha Cha a Chinese Venezuelan fusion spot. They were undergoing a menu change says the owner Pao. The owners wife had just finished the menu and we were the first to try the beef tostones with their special sauce topped with shredded cheese. It was quiet beautiful I must say and delicious. The tostones was perfectly crispy while the taco like beef was just the right texture. Portion sizes are on the smaller size but it hit the spot.

Check it out:
23-03 Astoria Boulevard, Queens, NY 11102

Datto BDR vs Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Backup

I have been selling Datto BDR to my clients for the past 4 years. Datto is a  BDR solution sold by many MSP/VARs in the IT management space. It features a private label SuperMicro chassis with linux based OS running Datto’s software. It touts hybrid virtualization which means you have the ability to spin up your servers virtually in the Datto cloud in a DR scenario or spin up the server locally on the Datto appliance itself (only available in select models). For the most part it works however it’s expensive as you start backing up larger amounts of data. Anything over 1TB becomes out of reach for most SMB customers.

Datto Pros:

  • One appliance takes care of it all
  • IT company manages health of the appliance and monitors backup
  • Centralized management portal for all Datto appliances in MSP fleet
  • Datto managed DR scenario – support from Datto Team
  • Backs up legacy OS, Windows 2003 included
  • Works with VMWare, Hyper-V and Physical Servers

Datto Cons:

  • Requires 50% of free space to provide adequate protection
  • Non salable growth: if you surpass unit GB allowance, you must upgrade to a larger unit
  • Expensive for a BDR solution for clients with larger than 1TB of data

Microsoft’s Azure Site Recovery on the other hand was designed to backup on-premise physical and virtual machines. Both VMware and Hyper-V environments are supported. Certain linux distributions such as RedHat, CentOS, Ubuntu and SuSE is also supported. There is a per instance fee of $25 per machine backed up but the costs are much more reasonable. The technology is also much better. Datto uses StorageCrafts backup technology which in my opinion is antiquated. Azure Site Recovery uses a Site Recovery dedicated machine and backups via site recovery agents. What you would have to do first is to design a Azure network used for your emergency workload. This means you are creating a vnet, a vnet gateway and a VPN back to your premise, setting up Azure Site Recovery, backing up your environment and testing your disaster scenario. If this is done right, you eliminate the need for having a high monthly Datto charge and you’ll end up with a highly flexible Azure solution.

Azure Site Recovery Pros:

  • Very salable, back up unlimited workloads and LOB applications – never run out of resources
  • Use Azure’s infrastructure for running your workload in a DR scenario
  • Priced very reasonably, $16/month for customer owned sites or $25/month to backup to Azure + the cost of Azure storage
  • Works with VMWare, Hyper-V and Physical servers
  • Allows pre-disaster orchestrating of a DR which will force you to think about DR before it happens
  • Can be used to migrate existing workloads to Azure

Azure Site Recovery Cons:

  • Requires more IT knowledge than Datto for set up and management
  • Requires Azure knowledge – vnet, storage, ASR and VPNs
  • Does not work with legacy OS, ie Windows 2003, older versions of Linux
  • Requires instance for ASR configuration server, essentially a backup management server

Moving to a New Web Hosting Company

This is my first post on my new reseller hosting plan from I transferred my cPanel accounts last week from JuguarPC formerly A few years back ResellerZoom provided decent services for rock bottom prices, then one day I got a bill from JaguarPC for the same services. A quick visit to the website showed that they either changed their name or an acquisition was made. Anyhow the quality of services went downhill quick. It was still cheap but they were over allocating server resources big time. My sites would crawl and sometimes wouldn’t load at all. For those of you who may be familiar with the Server Status on the WHM panel, the cache hard drives and memory were at its peak 24/7 but I decided to keep everything the way it was, after all I was still paying very low prices and it would be a pain to move all my sub accounts over to another host.

Then I found InMotionHosting while researching for a replacement. By this point a few of my clients had told me they noticed performance getting worst, I had to do something. InMotionHosting provides reasonable PREMIUM pricing for a server running cPanel and SSD hard drives. Being in IT sales, I knew SSD’s were the biggest bottlenecks on computers and servers. I had to have it if I was going to spend the effort to move it and so I did. I am running on the RS1000 plan that I got with a discount for prepaying 1 year of services.

Things I considered before picking InMotionHosting was going with a company like WP Engine but I did not want to pigeonhole myself with just a web host that specialized in running WordPress websites even though its one of the most popular CMS’s out there now, I still wanted that freedom of having just a regular cPanel linux web server which has been built on reliability I have grown to trust for so many years. The migration of all my accounts went very smoothly and at the end of it, I just had to update my A record on each domain’s DNS manager and BAM, websites now load 10x faster than they did before.

If you need a fast web hosting company, try InMotionHosting:

The 4-Hour Work Week

I spent much of last weekend laying in bed and brainstorming ways to earn extra income. Coming up empty, I stumbled upon Audible, an app I almost never open on my iPhone. Click! There is one audiobook I purchased years ago: Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. It was probably a assigned reading from work. I decided to browse in the Discovery section of the app to see what may be of interest to me. Audible has since changed its business model towards subscription based purchasing of books. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss caught my eye. I’ve heard of it before and decided to enroll in the trial to download the audiobook for free.

I’m glad I did. I’m only a quarter way though the book, only listening on my drive to work. It has reignited by passion for travel and side hustling for income like I once did prior to my college days. Tim Ferriss talks about Lifestyle hacking and gives endless tips on how to become more productive at work, the 80/20 rule, do more with less effort. I’m even thinking of hiring my own overseas personal assistant. Now I have to come up with enough work for them to do so it makes sense. I’ll write a review of it once I’m done with it. I will say that this book might be better consumed in its original text format rather than in audio. There are concepts that I wish I could go back to reference like links to specific tools, or acronyms that he frequently uses. This is true for any audiobook.

Anyhow back to my additional source of income. I used to make about $400 a month way back in 2004-2006 with my blog. I became a so called “subject matter expert” at age 16-18 and advertisers would contact me about placing links on my website. Little did I know at the time, there are people who make millions a year by just blogging. If only I had stuck with it then, who knows what it would have become 15 years later. Its moot to think about that now. I’ve decided to start blogging again to see where this takes me. My writing is a bit rusty I must admit. Composing hundreds of emails a day at work is quiet different than creatively writing. Time to sharpen my pencil and forge a clear path forward!