Hi folks, Ned here again. Despite the reputation for cutting edge technology, a lot of IT departments can get stuck in the now or worse, the past. Since it’s a new year, a new economy, and winter is coming to a close, here are some articles you should find interesting if you are looking to the prospects of your company. I picked technologies that have seen huge increases in advisory cases and general chatter within Microsoft 3rd tier Windows support in the past 12 months. Don’t be left behind in your knowledge (if only because your next employer might care more than your current one).

This is not limited to Directory Services topics as most AskDS readers don’t have the luxury of that boundary. I stayed within Windows at least.:).

Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 

Single-Sign On, SharePoint integration, and inter-company authentication; that covers a lot of buzzword bingo. The volume of ADFS cases has increased so much in the past year that half of all the US Directory Services engineer were pulled out for a week of depth training .For years we got by with only two experts; those days are done. Get familiar with ADFS now, it’s complex technology that’s difficult to learn under a deadline.

File Server improvements from Windows. Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 R2. 8 items for 8 years…

Jose Barreto has compiled a very useful article that covers a variety of enhancements in the most common Windows server role – File Server. Like insane improvements in the scalability of chkdsk, file transfer, and file sharing. It includes many benchmarks and much further reading. Datasets are only getting bigger – five years ago I might see one server a month with a terabyte of data. Now questions around serving 10TB datasets are common.

Upgrading Active Directory Domains to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 AD DS Domains

Far and away our most common Advisory case, the end of Windows Server 2000 support and 2003 mainstream support opened the floodgates. This guidebook is the most comprehensive reference you can find, including checklists, recommended hotfixes, compatibility lists, and known issues. If people would read this end to end before upgrading their domains I’d be out of a job.

Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is another oncoming storm, especially now that SP1 has been released with RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory. Remember when we said service packs would not contain new features? Virtualization is so hot we decided to break our own rule.

Windows HPC Server 2008 R2

High Performance Computing clusters were once as rare as an English dentist. Now they seem to be popping up everywhere, thanks to many more HPC applications from vendors and the open source community. I was frankly surprised at how many mainstream uses HPC has now and your business probably fits at least one.

Cloud Computing for IT Pros

Finally, you can’t go five minutes without hearing someone mention clouds and much of it is marketing BS. Fortunately, Yung Chou takes time to explain Microsoft's cloud solutions and how they are going to matter to you as a real IT practitioner. And trust me, they will matter if your CEO has anything to say about it – this cloud thing is real and gaining a life all its own.

That’s probably more than enough for now, I reckon.

In case you were wondering, the this post’s title is from William Gibson. Every so often he drops a gem.

Ned "not as pithy" Pyle