January, 2008

  • Notes From the field: Virtualization, Data Protection Manager and Operations Manager

    As promised I'm writing another post about what feedback I receive from our IT Pro's in the IT Pro Momentum Program.

    Hyper-V: Installing W2K8 and Hyper-V was very easy.  We’re heavily using Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 and Virtual Machine Manager, and there’s virtually no learning curve in moving to the new version.  Testing of one machine proved that it functioned as expected.  However, it’s only one piece in the puzzle, and with our previous solution, Virtual Server is only one of three distinct parts: Virtualization, Management with VMM, and backups with DPM.  Since the VMM and DPM portions aren’t available, it becomes a solution we can’t truly put through its paces.  I’m anxiously awaiting the Beta of each of those before we get any further.  Also, we plan on soon testing clustering, but are awaiting the installation of a Compellent SAN in February before we can proceed with that piece.  My hope is that by the time we have the SAN installed, the VMM and DPM products will have released their betas, and we’ll be able to fully implement Hyper-V for our Test environment.

    SCOM: Installing SCOM was very easy.  Finding and installing the Management packs proved a bit more difficult.  It took me awhile to find the Virtualization Management pack, as I think several websites/blogs/etc. said it should be on Microsoft Connect, but the Beta was already closed.  I think I may have been looking in the time between the Management Pack’s Beta and RTM phase, but I’m not sure.  Looking back and trying to remember, I think the management pack had once been called a virtual server management pack, but then it’s name was changed to Virtualization Management pack.   I also had trouble finding the Data Protection Manager 2007 Management pack, though the 2006 MOM pack was available.  I also had trouble finding the current Dell Management pack, and once found, I had trouble using it.  The installation was simple enough, but once installed, it started generating an enormous amount of errors on all the machines.  I’m not sure why.  The errors were WMI related.  It may have had to do with versions of OpenManage, firewalls, or something totally different.  Not sure on that one.

    The part that I’ve found most difficult so far with SCOM is customizing the overrides and rules.  Just installing the management packs and walking away results in an extreme number of unnecessary emails, so for the time being, I’ve turned email off.  For example, I might get twenty emails that servers can’t be contacted, followed by twenty emails 1 minute later saying that the problem is resolved.  I didn’t find configuring overrides for these emails to be as intuitive as I’d like.  I’ve not yet had time to find a book that describes how to properly configure the overrides, so that’s where this installation is waiting at the moment.

    Deploying and managing an infrastructure is not always the easiest thing to do it requires a lot of skills, skills that can be learned through either the TechNet sites or by following a training in one of our training centers. A course, webcast or whitepaper's are different ways to increase your knowledge but you will (and I did) learn the most in real life environments. It's great to hear how IT Pro's are using our Technology within their infrastructure, do you want to share your experience with other IT Pro's just let me know and I'll put it onto this blog.

    If you are looking for the Virtual Server 2005 Management Pack for Operations Manager 2007, stop looking you can download it from here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=de65b061-49bb-4619-9b2c-31d0f165221f&DisplayLang=en


    Data Protection Manager 2007 Management Pack Guide for Operations Manager 2007

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=81a7287d-4e55-499a-b7e3-4ea8cc992fb3&DisplayLang=en

    Data Protection Manager 2007 Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=fe7b09bd-cef0-4b96-9ffd-910e6be7fcea&DisplayLang=en

     

  • TechNet Briefing Luxemburg - Feb 13 - What’s new in System Center Configuration Manager 2007?

    What’s new in System Center Configuration Manager 2007?

    This session will start with an introduction to System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (aka SCCM 2007), formerly named Systems Management Server or SMS for short. The introduction should help new SCCM administrators understand what features the newly released SCCM 2007 brings, and how these features can help maintain a large computer park. By the end of this session I hope you'll never know how you managed to get by without Configmgr 2007.

    For new and experienced system administrators alike, the session also lists the new features that were added to SCCM 2007 since the release of SMS 2003, including old functionality that was removed. Don't worry, SCCM 2007 administrators received plenty new things in return for anything that was removed. Some of these enhancements might seem like relatively small changed, but most of them are implementations of longstanding Design Change Requests, and by consequence are things that have been asked by the SMS/SCCM 2007 community for quite awhile. Small as these changes might be they are bound to make your life as a systems administrator easier, and I bet you will be thinking "Finally" when hearing about some of these enhancements. Trust me, SCCM 2007 is a thrilling new release where the product team did as much as possible to steer systems management in the direction where systems managers told them to go.

    Speaker : Michel-Vincent Leriche, Avanade

    Date/Time: Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

    Location: Microsoft Luxembourg offices

    Register now: Click here!

    Quoi de neuf dans System Center Configuration Manager 2007?

    La session démarrera avec une introduction à System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM 2007), anciennement Systems Management Server (SMS, en abrégé). L’introduction donne aux nouveaux administrateurs SCCM des informations sur les apports récents de la version 2007 et comment ces fonctionnalités vous aident à gérer un nombre conséquent de PC. A la fin de cette session, vous pourriez vous demander comment vous avez réussi à fonctionner sans Configmgr 2007 jusqu’ici.

    Pour les administrateurs expérimentés, cette session démontre les nouvelles fonctionnalités de SCCM 2007 par rapport à la version 2003, y compris un comparatif avec les anciennes propriétés qui ont été remplacées. Certaines améliorations sont le résultat de demandes faites par la communauté SMS/SCCM 2007 depuis un certain moment, ils sont donc le reflet de pratiques d’administrateurs systèmes. Durant la présentation, vous pousserez sans doute un ‘enfin !’ en entendant certaines transformations. Ne vous y trompez pas, SCCM 2007 est un lancement d’importance pour les utilisateurs que nous sommes, la nouvelle version reflète le travail d’une équipe produits qui tout-à-fait adapté son outil dans le sens de l’utilisateur.

    Orateur : Michel-Vincent Leriche, Avanade

    Date/Heures: Mercredi 13 février, de 13h30 à 16h30

    Lieu: Microsoft Luxembourg offices

    Inscriptions: Cliquez ici!

     

  • Heroes Happen in Ghent - TechDays 2008

    TechDays 2008 Early Bird discount ends soon

    {Windows Server 2008 Roadshow}
    The TechNet Windows Server 2008 roadshow is well underway and is extremely well received. With over 500 attendees we had to close the registrations. We'll post the sessions on TechNet Chopsticks soon. Judging by how fast the available seats for the roadshow were taken, I think the TechDays 2008 and 2008 Launch Day will sell out very quickly as well. So don't wait too long and
    register today.

    {TechDays 2008 - agenda & speakers}


    I'm sure many of you have been eagerly awaiting the first agenda and speaker update for the TechDays 2008 (formerly the Developer & IT Pro Days). So I'm very happy, after weeks of hard work by the content team to, to announce we now have the first
    sessions and speakers confirmed.

    {TechDays 2008 - Early Bird discount ends on January 31}

    To finish this TechNet Flash, I'd like to draw your attention to our TechDays early bird discount. As we did last year for the Developer and IT Pro Days, we have a 15% Early Bird Discount for the TechDays 2008 until the end of January. So for 289 EUR you get two full days of technical content by top speakers and the chance to connect with the TechNet and MSDN communities.

    Take advantage of the Early Bird offer and
    register before January 31.

    See you at the TechDays 2008

  • Hyper-V WMI API's publicly available

    Hyper-V WMI APIs. Hyper-V uses WMI APIs (similar to the Virtual Server COM API) to create, manage, monitor, configure virtual resources.

    The Hyper-V WMI APIs are publicly available here:

    http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc136992(VS.85).aspx

    Important: This documentation is preliminary and is subject to change.

    Virtual hard disk format. The virtual hard disk (VHD) format is a block based format used to store the contents of a virtual machine. After receiving a few requests from customers, we decided to make the virtual hard disk specification available via a certified license agreement in late April 2005, a FULL YEAR before VMware made their VMDK spec available. Licensing the VHD specification was quite successful, but we knew we could do more. So, October 17th 2006, we made the VHD specification available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (OSP). The timeline looks like this:

    • Microsoft VHD Spec available via certified license agreement:                    ≈ 05/2005
    • VMware VMDK Spec available:                                                                                  ≈ 04/2006
    • Microsoft VHD Spec available via OSP:                                                                    10/17/06

    The virtual hard disk format is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/techinfo/vhdspec.mspx

    Hyper-V WMI APIs. Hyper-V uses WMI APIs (similar to the Virtual Server COM API) to create, manage, monitor, configure virtual resources. We expect the Hyper-V WMI APIs to be used widely in a variety of ways such as:

    • By third party management vendors who want to write tools to manage WSV (examples, HP Openview & IBM Director)
    • By enterprises who want to integrate with an existing management solution
    • Developers who want to automate virtualization in a test/dev environments through scripts

    Important: The WMI APIs are the preferred method to programmatically managing Hyper-V as opposed to the Hypercall APIs…

     

    Hypercall APIs. Hypercall APIs are a programmatic interface to the hypervisor. A few of the higher level functions include:

    • Partition management (created, delete, manage partition state)
    • Physical hardware management (system physical address space, logical processors, local APICs)
    • Guest physical address spaces
    • Intercepts. Parent partition may need to handle certain situations on behalf of a child partition
    • Virtual interrupt control.
    • Inter-partition communication.
    • Partition save and restore.
    • Scheduler. (set scheduler policy management for CPU reserves, caps and weights)

     

    Microsoft Hypercall Interface:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=91E2E518-C62C-4FF2-8E50-3A37EA4100F5&displaylang=en

     

  • Remotely manage Hyper-V from WS2008 32 Bit edition

    I’d like to install the Hyper-V MMC on Windows Server 2008 to remotely manage another Hyper-V System. How do I do this? Can I do this on Windows Server 2008 x64 and x86 Editions? Yes you can.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Launch Server Manage from the Start Menu

    2. Click Add Features

    3. Under Remote Server Administration Tools  - Role Administration Tools

    a. Enable Hyper-V Tools and click Next.

    4. Click Install.

    5. After the reboot, go to Administrative Tools in the Start Menu and you will see the Hyper-V Manager.

    clip_image001

    After you install the Hyper-V Tools and reboot here’s the Hyper-V MMC!

    clip_image002

  • Configuring Windows Server 2008 Server Core

    I'm currently preparing my demo machine that I will use during the roadshow next week. I wanted to have all my demo's running on Hyper-V Beta so I decided to start from scratch and create a complete new environment. I've installed the Hyper-V Beta and configured everything to start deploying my Virtual Machines.

    I deployed a WS2008 DC, 2 WS2008 IIS server to show how the shared configuration works, one WS2008 Terminal Server, a TSGateway and as last machine a WS 2008 Server Core. If you're not used to use the command line to configure the different network settings like IP Address, DNS settings or changing the name of the server, adding the server to a domain, can be time consuming. So therefore to help you and have a reference for myself I will list all the steps and commands needed to configure a server core in an Active Directory domain.

    So first thing first you install the Windows Server 2008 Server Core (SC) and at first login you need to change the password, very easy process to do using the GUI.

    Now you have a SC up and running with the default settings after the installation. So let's configure this server step-by-step now:

    • Configuring the Server Name
    • Configuring an IP address
    • Joining a domain
    • Configuring Windows Updates
    • Enabling remote  functionality like  MMC, Remote RDP, Windows Firewall and Remote Shell
    • Activating the server

    Configuring the Server Name

    You can use different commands to identify the name of a server, I usually use the hostname command but you could also make usage of the environment variables and use for example set c and set u to find out the computer name and your username.

    1. Determine the computername with the hostname command
    2. Netdom renamecomputer <computername> /NewName:<newcomputername>
    3. Reboot the server by using shutdown /R /T 0

    Configuring the IP Address

    By default the IP Configuration will be DHCP based, so to change it to a static address we will need to use the netsh commandline tool

    1. Netsh interface IPV4 sho interface (or use the shorter version netsh int IPV4 sho int)

      image

      In the above screenshot you see the results of this command and you only need to remember the Idx number or using the complete name of the network you want to configure.
    2. netsh interface ipv4 set address name="<ID>" source=static address=<StaticIP> mask=<SubnetMask> gateway=<DefaultGateway>

    3. netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name="<ID>" address=<DNSIP> index=1

      ID= Idx number of the Network Interface
      Add a number to the index for each DNS Server that you want to add.

    Joining a Domain

    At this stage the server has the correct name and IP configuration the next step I usually do is adding this server to the domain by using the netdom command.

    1. Netdom Join <machine> /Domain:<domain name> /UserD:<domain user name> /passwordd: *

      No there is no typo in passwordd you need to add the second d, using the * means that you will be prompted to enter the password.
    2. Restart the server shutdown /r /t 0

    Configuring Windows Updates

    To configure or view the settings of the Windows Updates you will need to use a script called Scregedit.WSF. Let's first have a look at the settings.

    1. cscript C:\Windows\System32\Scregedit.wsf /au /v

      By default you will get something like "Value Not Set".
      Now let's configure the automatic updates
    2. cscript C:\Windows\System32\Scregedit.wsf /au 4

    Enable Remote functionality



    Terminal Service settings

    Again here we will use the script that we have used to configure the automatic updates.

    To view current settings:

    1. C:\Windows\System32>cscript SCregEdit.wsf /AR /v

      If you see "1" in the script output, that means that TS connections will be denied. To change that you need to execute:
    2. C:\Windows\System32>cscript SCregEdit.wsf /AR 0

      Now we need to enable the inbound firewall rule to make sure you can connect through RDP port 3389
    3. netsh advfirewall firewall show rule name=all

      Find the name of the Remote Desktop Incoming rule.
    4. netsh advfirewall firewall set rule name="Remote Desktop (TCP-IN)" new enable=yes

    Enable Windows Remote Shell

    If you want to be able to use the new tool called WinRS (Windows Remote Shell) to administer a Server Core you need to configure WS-Managenement listener. The easiest way to do it is by using following command

    1. winrm quickconfig

      Winrm /? Will show you all the various options if you want to configure the listener differently. I’m just going to cover the quick setup and let you all experiment.

      You can also configure the listener through an unattend file, by adding the following in the <settings pass="specialize"> section:
      <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Web-Services-for-Management-Core" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" processorArchitecture="x86">
         <ConfigureWindowsRemoteManagement>true</ConfigureWindowsRemoteManagement>
      </component>

    Enable Remote Firewall Management

    If you want to use the MMC snap in to remotely manage a SC firewall you need to enable the remoting first onto the SC box.

    1. netsh advfirewall set currentprofile settings remotemanagement enable

      Now you can add the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security snap in onto your managament machine and configure the firewall through this mmc instead of using the netsh command line tool.

    Enable Remote MMC Management

    To enable remote management for any MMC you just need to use the following command:

    1. netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="Remote Administration" new enable=yes

    Activate Server

    To activate the server you can use the following command:

    1. slmgr.vbs –ato

    You can also do it from a remote machine by using the same script:

    1. slmgr.vbs –ato <servername> <username> <password>

    You're server is now up and running, the next step is to add roles and features to this server. I might explain this process in another post any soon.

  • IT Pro Momentum Program Notes from the field: Vista Assessment and Myths

    From now on I will post on a regular base the messages I receive from IT Professionals who are part of the IT Pro Momentum program, it's always interesting to hear what other people say about our Technology, the first post will be about a Belgian Consultant who did an audit to see if his customer was able to migrate from Windows XP to Windows Vista and if their could be application compatibility issues.

    Here is the quote I received:

    One of the joy of consulting is also to be able to audit environment.
    A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit and audit the environment of an electricity provider in Belgium and audit the possibilities for them to migrate from Windows XP sp2 to VISTA.

    I conducted the audit using tools available such as Vista Hardware Assessment toolkit, but also did some interviews.
    I was amazed to find out that there was already reluctance to migrate to Vista -just based on "I have heard" stories.
    Again to my surprise, even in a well managed environment, I found out that the general experience has a lot to do with perception.
    The perception that Vista was less stable than Windows XP.
    I spent a lot of time explaining that despite XP was more stable than Windows 2000, I had a couple of BSOD during the first year of using it. So far in Vista -NONE.

    The perception that Vista doesn't bring anything and sticking to XP is good enough.
    To this I had to argue the fact that yes XP is good robust and well known. However Vista brings a lot of features and a better control over security with UAC. (oh those millions question I do not want to answer) And there I discovered how little Group Policies were used and how little computers were managed.

    XP runs faster than Vista on my computer (Vista Premium hardware).
    my answer : Hell yes Windows 98 even faster..!!!!
    So this is a few of those experienced interacting with IT Professionals and still hearing these kind of comments.

    If you are a member of the IT Pro Momentum program and want to share your experiences with us please send me a mail arlindo.alves@microsoft.com

    If you are not participating on the program yet then read this post if you're interested to know what this program is all about.

     

  • Windows Server 2008 Security Guide - Beta Release

    Help your customers securely deploy Windows Server 2008 with the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide!

    Every day, adversaries are attempting to invade your customers’ networks and access their servers—to bring them down, infect them with viruses, or steal information about customers or employees.

    Your customers are looking to Microsoft and Windows Server 2008 to help them address these threats. To assist customers in taking full advantage of the rich security features in Windows Server 2008, Microsoft is developing the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide.

    When released in early 2008, the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide will provide IT professionals with best practices and automated tools to help strengthen the security of servers running Windows Server 2008.

    The guide is now in Beta release, and is available for your review on  Microsoft TechNet. Check out the Executive Overview by clicking here. To join the Beta program for the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide, click here.

    The Windows Server 2008 Security Guide provides the following benefits to your customers:

    Fast, easy deployment. Customers using the guide’s best practices and automated tools have reduced deployment times by up to 80 percent.

    More reliable. Automated tools eliminate many manual steps – you get faster, more reliable results.

    Comprehensive.  The guide includes information on hundreds of Windows Server 2008 security settings, with recommendations for each setting.

    Thoroughly tested. All security recommendations are fully tested in Microsoft labs, and verified by customers and partners under real-world conditions.

    Free.  When released in early 2008, the full contents of the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide will be available as a free download from Microsoft TechNet – including the guidance, settings, templates, and automated tools.

  • Bill Gates last day at Microsoft

    Internally I have seen quite a few spoof videos internally and this time they decided to show it publicly at the CES 2008 conference.

    During the conference they played the "Bill Gates last day @ Microsoft" which I posted hereunder, quite amusing :)


    Bill's Last Day: The CES Keynote video -
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  • New Beta Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint

    The Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint provides authoritative guidance and tools to deploy a pre-built, customizable SharePoint solution that teams can use to collaborate with partners outside the firewall.  The toolkit has a web-based interface, so it’s easy to use.

    Using this free toolkit, Administrators can set up a secure, SharePoint-based collaboration site in minutes.  End users can then easily create new site collections, posting sharable documents that are centrally located inside the firewall.  The toolkit also enables users to invite internal and external partners to collaborate on documents.  And the toolkit makes it simple for team leads to assign or revoke access rights for any team member.

    IT Pros can stay in control by configuring the system to require administrative approval for any of these actions.  Or they can allow end users to set up and manage collaboration sites on their own—freeing up scarce IT resources to focus on higher-value projects.

    The Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint helps enhance security by creating each collaboration site as a SharePoint site collection. This ensures that teams using one collaboration site will not be able to view documents on another site, unless they are explicitly given access.  In addition, the toolkit puts all external users in ADAM (Microsoft’s lightweight directory service), rather than in the organization’s primary internal directory.


    The benefits for
    your customers include:

    Boosts security. The toolkit allows team members to store and share documents centrally on their organization’s server, instead of e-mailing documents to others across the Internet.  And instead of giving VPN access to external team members (therefore granting them access to everything on the internal network), site owners can give external members access to just the team collaboration site.

    Easy to deploy.  Automated tools and step-by-step instructions allow customers to deploy this Solution Accelerator quickly and easily – in as little as two hours, instead of weeks or months without the toolkit.

    Easy to use. Once the toolkit is deployed, team members can set up their own SharePoint collaboration sites in minutes.  The toolkit’s web-based interface makes it simple for team members to share documents and collaborate with each other across the Internet.

    Reduces IT costs and boosts productivity.  Project team members can manage sites on their own, freeing up scarce IT resources to focus on higher-return activities.

    Thoroughly tested. The toolkit is extensively tested in our labs, and verified by customers and partners under real-world conditions.


    The Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint is now in Beta and available via

    MSConnect!  To learn more about the toolkit, click here.
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  • TechNet Briefing Luxemburg - Jan 16 : Microsoft Application Virtualization

    TechNet Briefing Luxemburg: Microsoft Application Virtualization (a.k.a Microsoft Softgrid)

    This session will explore the Microsoft Application Virtualization solution. It will explain you how you can easily change the way you do software delivery and how this will affect the numerous issues you are facing today with standard Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) solutions. We will also explore the different steps involved in the creation, publication and delivery of the virtualized applications to the end users.

    Date : 16/01/2008 - morning - English

    Registration : http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032364938&Culture=en-US

    Location : Paul Eischen

    Date : 16/1/2008 afternoon -  French

    Registration : http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032364939&Culture=fr-BE

    Location : Paul Eischen

  • SQLUG Event Jan 17: Technical Overview of the Next Release of Microsoft SQL Server : SQL Server 2008, codename "Katmai"

    In this session the SQLUG will provide an overview of the next release of SQL Server, SQL Server 2008, codenamed "Katmai". The session will cover the core value-proposition, major themes and scenarios, and the specific engine improvements, including the new Management Framework, datatypes (spatial,…), new Reporting Engine, FileStream, etc. We also cover the new development processes being used to build this release, the release timeline and the disclosure calendar.

    Level: 200 – 300
    Depending on the audience, we'll remain high-level (management / decision maker audience) or go more deeper (DBA, Developer or technical BI audience).
    Speaker:
    Gunther Beersaerts is a Senior Technical Specialist at Microsoft Belgium & Luxembourg.
    Agenda:
    18:00 - 18:30 Welcome
    18:30 - 21:00 Session with pause
    21:00 - 22:00 Drink
    Registration is needed, you can register
    here.

    Location and evening-sponsor:
    Ordina
    Boomsesteenweg 28
    B-2627 Schelle
    A route description to Ordina in Schelle can be found
    here.

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  • ProExchange UG event Jan 24: How to link your telephony system to your Exchange and/or OCS environment

    On Thursday 24 January 2008 ProExchange will host their next Pro-Exchange Event on a topic Microsoft has been busy promoting the last few months: Unified Communications and more importantly we will reveal how to link your telephony system to your Exchange and/or OCS environment!

    Here's what to expect:
    When? Thursday, January 24th, 2008
    Where?
    Astrid Park Plaza, Antwerp
    Schedule?
    6.30PM-7PM: Arrival
    7PM-7.30PM: Introducing Pro-Exchange & AudioCodes (Actis)
    7.30PM-9PM: Break-Out Session
    Targeted Audience? All members of Pro-Exchange.be
    Breakout Session?

    We will provide you with a technical overview and practical demos on how to link your telephony system to your Exchange and/or OCS environment.

    Want to attend?
    You will receive a Pro-Exchange Newsletter beginning next year, including an invitation. But, if you want to make sure you can attend, since space is limited, just click on the link below to secure your spot!

    Click here to Send a mail to Ilse Van Criekinge in order to register