Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • System Center 2012 Unified Installer: The Screencasts

    Happy Friday!

    I thought I’d just take this opportunity to again share my three-part screencast series with you; this time all in one place. 

    The topic: System Center 2012 Unified Installer

    The goal: Help you prepare for and use the Unified Installer to build your lab for testing and trying the System Center 2012 components out

    The added benefit: You get to see my pretty metro-style (I like to call them “metrofied!”) PowerPoint slides.

    Enjoy.  And enjoy even more in full-screen, and 1280x768 if you can…

    Here is Part 1:

    Here is Part 2:

    And here is Part 3:

  • Does Exchange play well with Hyper-V Dynamic Memory? (So many questions. So little time. Part 21.)

    We got this question at our TechNet Event back in January.  The person didn’t give their name, so let’s call him Jooblety-Goop.

    “Dynamic Memory and Exchange 2010 - What happens in that scenario?”

    Microsoft ExchangeWell JG, I assume you’re asking about how Exchange Server 2010 works as a virtual workload (Short answer: Just great!), and more specifically if there is anything special about how (or if) virtualized Exchange Servers can take advantage of Hyper-V Dynamic Memory.  (For those of you not familiar with what Dynamic Memory is, check out the first few pages of this Dynamic Memory Whitepaper.)

    Dynamic memory is great for adjusting the memory used by a virtual machine when the need for additional memory is temporary, and when there are no applications that are tuned to assuming a certain pool of memory will simply be there continuously.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon which product group you work for), applications like Exchange Server and SQL Server (and many others, I’m sure) grab as much much memory as possible right up front (I may be oversimplifying, but this is basically the idea) in order to manage their memory pool in the way that best suits their needs, or tuned for performance given the existing limits of the hardware.  That’s really smart; but it also means that they simply work better when they can depend upon a fixed set of memory to work with. A sudden change in the amount of memory available can actually have a negative impact on performance.

    So the recommendation for Exchange Server 2007 and 2010 running on top of Hyper-V R2 w/SP1 is that you do not take advantage of Dynamic Memory for those virtual machines. 

    Here are some additional resources on the topic:

    Understanding Memory Configurations and Exchange Performance – to understand, you know, the memory configurations and, like, how performance of, say, Exchange Server is impacted.

    Microsoft Support Policies and Recommendations for Exchange Servers in Hardware Virtualization Environments – Recommendations of support policies from Microsoft for how, like, Exchange Server will work on, you know, environments of virtualized hardware.

    Hyper-V Dynamic Memory Configuration Guide – to guide you, you know, through the configuration of dynamic memory in Hyper-V

    (In case you haven’t noticed, I have been, like, you know, talking with my teenage daughters a lot lately, and it’s, like, rubbing off.)

    And huge props to the Hyper-V.Nu blog for this post, which lead me to personally understanding this topic better.  Nice work!

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    How are you configuring virtualization to handle your Exchange workloads?  Let us know in the comments!

  • Kick-Start your Azure Cloud Development Skills

    Don't forget: we have tools for IT Pros to manage both Private and Public CloudsAre you interested in learning the ins-and-outs of working with Windows Azure?  Wondering how to get started cheaply - as in “for FREE”?  We’re giving you a chance to spend a day with some of the nation’s leading cloud experts and for you to learn how to build a web application that runs in Windows Azure.  You will learn how to sign up for free time in the cloud, and how to build a typical web application using the same ASP.NET tools and techniques.  You’ll explore web roles, cloud storage, SQL Azure, and common scenarios. Get your questions answered via open Q&A, and learn what workloads should not be moved to cloud. 

    This will be a hands-on learning experience.  The invite links below have the details needed for setup your machine.  Of course we’ll have help onsite to get the right software installed as well.  Lunch will be provided, and prizes awarded.  You can use the registration links below to get registered. 

    By the way.. If you have an MSDN Subscription you already have free cloud benefits!  This video shows you how to get your risk free access to Windows Azure to explore and learn the cloud.  Or activate your MSDN Cloud benefits here.  If you have questions, send our Azure team members an email:  msnextde at microsoft.com

    Here is the schedule.  Click the date to get location details and to register.  Do it soon, because seats are limited.

  • What does AVIcode do? (So many questions. So little time. Part 20.)

    In Saint Louis at our TechNet Event several weeks ago now, Chuck S. asked about AVIcode

    “App Insight - performance data?  Component timing?  Event Logs?  Database events?  (what is tracked in AVIcode?)”

    This guy is evaluating System Center 2012.  Why aren't you?That is a very good question. 

    For those of you not already aware of what AVIcode is; it is a product that enables “deep application insight”.  Working in concert with Operations Manager, it monitors .NET application performance.  It looks for code problems, performance issues, security, and connectivity of application components, and then through Operations Manager it alerts you if there is an issue.  And once found, it even lets you drill down into the details of what it found.  What part of my app is performing badly?  Where was that error?  In fact.. show me right down to the very line of code that caused the problem.  In a “Dev-Ops” world, where the Developer blames the datacenter, the datacenter blames the Developer, and the App Ops person isn’t sure who to believe.. now the App owner can better determine who to bring the problem to, with solid data to support what they’ve found. 

    “That sounds great, Kevin.  But is this a product that works only with Operations Manager 2007 R2, or will it work with the new System Center 2012 Operations Manager, too?

    The good news is that Microsoft is including the AVIcode functionality as a part of System Center 2012.  It’s no longer a separate purchase.

    Read more about what AVIcode can specifically do and how it works on the AVIcode page.  It should be easy to find, because every mention of the name AVIcode in this post has a URL behind it.  Handy, eh?

    And if you’re just interested in trying AVIcode with System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, you can download the trial HERE.

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    What do you think?  Are you a party to the struggle that is trying to make DevOps work?  Will you consider AVIcode?  Give us a comment!

  • Can I do that with Office 365? (So many questions. So little time. Part 23.)

    Alex M asked several questions about Office 365 at our TechNet Event in Kansas City:

    “Do we need to purchase Office 365 for resources (for example: conference rooms)?”
    ”Can the user access Office 365 from work PC as well as his personal PC from home?”
    ”If we are using cloud services, why do we need any servers (including virtual servers)?”

    And my initial answers are: “No”, “Yes”, and “Because”.  

    “Can you address these more specifically?”

    Whoa.. pretty demanding there, Alex.  Okay…

    ---

    The best world-class productivity software that anyone has to offer.  Period.Your first question was…

    “Do we need to purchase Office 365 for resources (for example: conference rooms)?”

    The Exchange Server running in Office 365 is no different than if you have Exchange in your datacenter.  But I think what you’re really asking is: Do I have to pay for a user license if I’m creating a mailbox that represents a room resource or some other schedulable resource?  And the answer to that is still NO.  According to the first paragraph on page 34 of the Microsoft Exchange Online for Enterprises Service Description document…

    Conference room mailboxes represent a company’s meeting rooms or other facilities. Users can reserve rooms by adding the conference room email alias to meeting requests in Outlook or Outlook Web App. Conference rooms appear in the Global Address List in Outlook and Outlook Web App, and administrators can create conference rooms in the Exchange Control Panel or through Remote PowerShell. Administrators can also use the Directory Synchronization tool to synchronize conference rooms from on-premises Active Directory. The mailbox quota for conference rooms is 250 MB. Conference rooms do not require a user subscription license. Custom resource properties cannot be added to conference rooms in Exchange Online.

    So that’s good news.

    ---

    Your next question was…

    ”Can the user access Office 365 from work PC as well as his personal PC from home?”

    And my answer is absolutely YES, if you’re talking about accessing Office 365 e-mail and documents from a browser.  You can do that from anywhere you have connectivity.  However, if you’re asking about the subscription levels that include the desktop installation of Office 2010 Professional Plus, and whether nor not you have the right to install it onto more than one PC… Well, what do you think?  Would Microsoft give you the ability to install more than one copy of Office?  And if so, how many should we let you install for a subscribed user?

    “Um.. I dunno… in the past you gave us some home use rights for some licenses.. so, maybe 2?”

    How about FIVE?

    “Seriously?”

    Yep.  Check out the Office Professional Plus description page, where it says right there:

    Office Professional Plus description page

    (Highlighting and smiley-face added for extra emphasis and fun.)

    So, yes.  Each subscribed user can install Office Professional Plus on as many as 5 devices.

    ---

    Your final question was…

    ”If we are using cloud services, why do we need any servers (including virtual servers)?”

    And my answer is simply “Because”.  Because you might want Active Directory in-house for local authentication and policy application for your managed computers.  Because you might want local file services in some cases.  Because you have other applications besides the productivity suite that is Office 365.  There are lot of “becauses”, but it’s all going to depend on your situation.  Sure, if you’re a professional or business that can do everything they need using Office 365 and managing user accounts entirely in the cloud, then you may not need servers at all.  Just a good Internet connection.

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    Did I answer your questions sufficiently?  Have any more?  Care to share some comments/criticisms/sarcasm?  It’s all fair game!  Enter a comment and let’s talk!

  • How many VMs can VMM M? (So many questions. So little time. Part 22.)

    At our TechNet Event in Kansas City a couple of months ago, Travis asked:

    “How many virtual machines can a single VMM instance manage?”

    This guy is evaluating System Center 2012.  You should, too.That’s easy: As many as you want, and as your hardware can handle.

    “But how many are supported?”

    Ah.. well, that’s simply a matter of how many Microsoft was able to test and verify.  Currently the supported number is 400 virtualization hosts, and 8,000 virtual machines.  But that isn’t a hard-limit as far as what is possible given the proper hardware.  With the hardware that they had at the time, those were the numbers they decided they could officially support.

    The Planning for Hosts and Host Groups article in TechNet has the details for SCVMM 2008, R2, and R2 w/SP1.

    ”Oh.. that was for SCVMM 2008?  What about the System Center 2012 version?”

    I confess.. I wasn’t able to find any official statement on how many we support in the soon-coming version.  When I find that – or if you find it and let me know in the comments – I will update this post.

  • Screencast: System Center 2012 Unified Installer (Part 3 of 3)

    Hey!  You!  Get onto my Private Cloud!Whoo boy!  Finally!  Part 3 of 3!  The story so far…

    In Part 1 we showed you how to download all that you need, and put it in its proper place.

    In Part 2 we setup and pre-configured the destination servers properly.

    And today in our final chapter, we actually run the Unified Installer.  Oh joy!

    NOTE: It is viewed best in full-screen, and 1280x768 if you can.

    So.. that wasn’t so painful, was it?

    “Actually, yes, it was.  But I’m going to give it a try anyway.  Thanks, Kevin!”

    You’re quite welcome.  Tell your friends.

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    Did you find this useful? Are you doing this install along with me? Let us know in the comments.  Share your experiences here with the rest of the massive community that is “the people who read my blog”.  Smile

  • Just Released: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 RC

    I received an e-mail late last night informing me of the release of a new RC (Release Candidate) for the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012

    MDT 2012?  Does that mean…”

    Yes.  This version is being built to support the latest-and-greatest solutions and technologies that are on the near-horizon and coming soon, such as Windows 8 and System Center 2012.

    Here is the text from that e-mail, describing the new features and functionality (with hyperlinks added by yours-truly):

    Download page for the MDT 2012 RC on Microsoft ConnectSupport for Configuration Manager 2012 RC2: This update provides support for Configuration Manager 2012 RC2 releases. MDT 2012 fully leverages the capabilities provided by Configuration Manager 2012 for OS deployment. The latest version of MDT offers new User-Driven Installation components and extensibility for Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012. Users now also have the ability to migrate MDT 2012 task sequences from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012.

    Customize deployment questions: For System Center Configuration Manager customers, MDT 2012 provides an improved, extensible wizard and designer for customizing deployment questions.

    Ease Lite Touch installation: The Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) is now integrated with Lite Touch Installation, providing remote control and diagnostics. New monitoring capabilities are available to check on the status of currently running deployments. LTI now has an improved deployment wizard user experience. Enhanced partitioning support ensures that deployments work regardless of the current structure.

    Secure Deployments: MDT 2012 offers integration with the Microsoft Security Compliance Manager (SCM) tool to ensure a secure Windows deployment from the start.

    Reliability and flexibility: Existing MDT users will find more reliability and flexibility with the many small enhancements and bug fixes and a smooth and simple upgrade process.

    Support for Windows 8: The RC1 release of MDT 2012 provides support for deploying Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a lab environment.

    Key Benefits:

    • Full use of the capabilities provided by System Center 2012 Configuration Manager for OS deployment.
    • Improved Lite Touch user experience and functionality.
    • A smooth and simple upgrade process for all existing MDT users.

    New Features:

    For System Center Configuration Manager customers:

    • Support for Configuration Manager 2012 (while still supporting Configuration Manager 2007)
    • New User-Driven Installation components for Configuration Manager 2007 and Configuration Manager 2012
      • Extensible wizard and designer, additional integration with Configuration Manager to deliver a more customized OS experience, support for more imaging scenarios, and an enhanced end-user deployment experience
    • Ability to migrate MDT 2012 task sequences from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012

    For Lite Touch Installation:

    • Integration with the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) for remote control and diagnostics
    • New monitoring capabilities to see the progress of currently running deployments
    • Support for deploying Windows to computers using UEFIAbility to deploy Windows 7 so that the computer will start from a new VHD file, "Deploy to VHD"
    • Improved deployment wizard user experience

    For all customers:

    • Integration with configuration templates from the Security Compliance Manager Solution Accelerator, ensuring Windows is secure from the start
    • A simple mechanism for running Windows PowerShell scripts during a deployment, with task sequence environment and logging integration
    • Better partitioning support, creating the recommended partitioning structures on new computers and ensuring deployments work regardless of the current structure
    • A smooth and simple upgrade process for all existing MDT users
    • Many small enhancements and bug fixes

    Good stuff, eh?

    “What’s your favorite new feature?”

    Well.. I confess I haven’t played with this tool yet, but from what I read here I’m pretty excited about being able to “Deploy to VHD” more easily.  Supporting a test lab, you learn to appreciate virtualization really quickly.  But there are only so many things that virtualization can do.  Being able to deploy a .VHD file to a physical machine in order to try new stuff right on the physical hardware, and easily dismantle it when I’m done, is going to be great.

    “But what will this cost when it’s released, Kevin?”

    The MDT is (and likely will always be) a Solution Accelerator from Microsoft.  That means it’s “Tested guidance and automated tools to help you plan, securely deploy, and manage new Microsoft technologies—easier, faster, and at less cost. All are freely available and fully-supported by Microsoft.”  So, it’s FREE.

    So if you’re interested in evaluating it along with your Windows 8 and System Center, go to the Microsoft Connect Download Details page, download it, evaluate it, and give the team that built it some useful feedback.  They can’t make it better unless you tell them how to make it better.

    ---

    Have you been using the current MDT for your Windows 7

  • Screencast: System Center 2012 Unified Installer (Part 2 of 3)

    Hey!  You!  Get onto my Private Cloud!Continuing on where we left off from our part 1 screencast yesterday, when we discussed the downloads and the prerequisites and what you needed in place for the installation; today in part 2 we discuss how to configure your servers.

    “Is it really all that complicated, Kevin?”

    Actually, yes.  If you read the User Guide, you’ll see that there are several things you need to do to prepare the servers prior to using the Unified Installer to do the deployment to them.  So in today’s screencast, I walk you through that process.

    NOTE: It is viewed best in full-screen, and 1280x768 if you can.

    Make sure you come back tomorrow for part 3, where we actually run the Unified Installer, and deploy the entire set of components in System Center into my test lab!

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    Did you find this useful? Are you doing this install along with me? Let us know in the comments. And I’ll see you back here tomorrow for Part 3.

  • NEW System Center 2012 CTPs for Windows Server “8” beta

    (CTP = Community Technology Preview – which means “earlier than beta”) 

    Late on Friday the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Blog released a post enthusiastically titled “System Center 2012 CTP for Windows Server ‘8’ Beta support now available!!!”.  It would seem the System Center team is looking for early feedback on running System Center against the next version of Windows Server (currently codename Windows Server “8”).  And they are particularly interested in people trying out even newer Virtual Machine Manager and Data Protection Manager components, to test how they work with some of the new and exciting features in Server 8.

    An EARLY version“But…this is a CTP?  I thought System Center 2012 was already in the Release Candidate phase.”

    It is.  But the soon-coming release of System Center 2012 won’t have support for Windows Server “8”, which will still be in beta (or maybe RC – I don’t know the exact timings here) when System Center is released.  Support for Server 8 features such as the new VHDX disk format, “shared nothing” live migrations, and live storage migration won’t be directly supported in System Center 2012 until after Server “8” is released, probably in the form of an update to System Center.  These CTPs are the first publically available versions of those updated System Center components.

    “These ‘CTPs’?  There’s more than one?”

    Well.. I say that because what you’ll be getting is not the entire System Center 2012 product set, but only the CTPs of new Virtual Machine Manager and Data Protection Manager components that have the necessary new functionality.

    So..

    1. CLICK HERE to get the CTPs of VMM and DPM, and
    2. Give your FEEDBACK HERE.

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    Are you going to try this out?  I will, very soon.  Let us know your thought or experiences with this in the comments (after providing feedback to the SC team, of course).

  • How fast does a touchscreen really need to be?

    Geek out!  (Le Geek, C'est Chic!)I thought this was pretty interesting.. so for a lighter, geeky-cool post on a Friday afternoon, as I’m busy waiting for large file copies in my home office lab to complete, I thought I’d share it with you.

    Microsoft Research recorded a demonstration of how responsive a typical touchscreen operating system is, and how much better the experience could be if the latency (the time between the screen sensing the finger move and the visual feedback of something moving on the screen) could be reduced. 

    Check it out:

     

     

    (Credit: @TechCrunch’s tweet about Chris Velazco’s article on Tech Crunch – found HERE.)

    Do you want that kind of experience?  I sure hope our hardware partners are going to give us this kind of amazing experience with Windows 8

  • BREAKING NEWS: Windows Server 8 Beta is now AVAILABLE!

    Finally!  After the long wait, and expectation growing as the day approached, we are finally able to announce to the world that the Beta of the next version of Windows Server, currently codename: Windows Server “8”, is now available for download.

    Download the Beta here!

    From the download page:

    Windows Server "8" is the broadest, most scalable and elastic platform for web and applications. Its consistent, open set of tools and frameworks give developers the flexibility to build and deploy applications on-premises, in the cloud, and in a hybrid environment. Windows Server "8" will empower you to deliver:

    • Flexibility to build on-premises and in the cloud: Developers can use the same languages and tools to build on-premises and cloud applications, allowing them to build applications that use distributed and temporally decoupled components.
    • An open web platform: Windows Server "8", combined with Internet Information Services (IIS), offers a solid platform for both open-source web stacks and ASP.NET, opening up a wide range of choices for application development.
    • A scalable and elastic web platform: Hosting providers can use new features in Windows Server "8" to increase density, simplify management, and achieve higher scalability in a shared web-hosting environment.

    Need more information? See the product details page.

    Click the photo of the handsome IT Pro above to go to the download page, or click http://aka.ms/Server8

    “Wait.. aren’t all IT Pros handsome, Kevin?”

    You’re right.  That was redundant.  And the girls are all pretty.

    And in case you haven’t yet downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (the desktop/laptop/tablet OS), you can get it HERE as of yesterday: http://aka.ms/Win8Client

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    Have you tried it out yet?  What do you think?  Share your experiences in the comments!

  • Kevin’s “Being What’s Next in I.T.” Event Resources

    As usual, here is the online version of the event resources I’ll be handing out to my central U.S. IT Camp Event attendees for the next several months. 

    It is likely that this online version is even better, because A) it contains even more than what I could fit onto one page, B) items may have added since the printing of the copy you have, and C) you don’t have to type the URLs

    image“Being What’s Next in I.T.” - IT Camp Resources

    March-June, 2012

    Follow Kevin on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KevinRemde

    “Like” my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/KevinRemdeIsFullOfIT

    Technical Question E-mails: Kevin Remde – Kevin.Remde@microsoft.com

    Positive Feedback E-mails (my boss): Nathan Hancock – Nathan.hancock@microsoft.com

    IMPORTANT Software Evaluations – Get ‘em here: http://aka.ms/Evals

    "WAG" = Windows Administrator Groups (on LinkedIn):
    With Subgroups for user groups by geography – http://aka.ms/WAG

    Future Live, In-Person TechNet Events (for IT Pros): http://www.TechNetEvents.com

    Session Slides when they are available: http://aka.ms/FY12H2Remde

     

    Gearing Up for the Future

    Microsoft Virtual Academy - http://aka.ms/msvirtacademy

    TechNet Edge Video - Inside the new Server Migration Portal: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/Video/ff710737

    Migrate Server Roles to Windows Server 2008 R2 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd365353.aspx

    Active Directory Domain Services and DNS Server Migration Guide - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/librar

    What’s New in AD in Windows Server 2008 R2 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd378796(WS.10).aspx

    What’s New in Windows Server Manager in Windows 2008 R2 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd378896(WS.10).aspx

    What’s New in Server 2008 R2 AD DCs - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ff679947.aspx

    Active Directory Recycle Bin – Step by Step - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd392261(WS.10).aspx

    AD Fine Grained Password and Lockout Policy Step by Step - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc770842(WS.10).aspx

    Ask the Directory Services Team Blog (Ned Pyle – you’re my hero) - http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds

    Active Directory Recycle Bin (Joey Snow on Edge) - http://edge.technet.com/Media/Active-Directory-Recycle-Bin/

    The Future Is Sooner Than You Think

    System Center 2012 Evaluation Download Center – http://aka.ms/PvtCld

    Screencasts: System Center 2012 Unified Installer – http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde/archive/2012/03/09/system-center-2012-unified-installer-the-screencasts.aspx

    Windows Virtualization Home - http://www.microsoft.com/virtualization

    Hyper-V getting Started Guide - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732470(WS.10).aspx

    Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started with Hyper-V (download)
    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=BCAA9707-0228-4860-B088-DD261CA0C80D&displaylang=en

    The Private Cloud Home Page - http://www.microsoft.com/privatecloud

    Microsoft Cloud Home Page – http://www.microsoft.com/cloud

    Online Services - http://www.microsoft.com/online/

    Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services (The Datacenter People) - http://www.globalfoundationservices.com/

    Hyper-V Cloud Deployment Guides - http://www.microsoft.com/virtualization/en/us/private-cloud-get-started.aspx

    System Center Team Blog - http://blogs.technet.com/b/systemcenter/

    System Center on TechNet Edge - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/system-center.aspx

    System Center Central - http://www.systemcentercentral.com

    SCVMM Team Blog - http://blogs.technet.com/scvmm

    DPM Team Blog - http://blogs.technet.com/b/dpm/

    Windows Server “8” Beta Download Center – http://aka.ms/Server8

    Windows 8 Consumer Preview Download – http://aka.ms/Win8Client