Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 - I think, therefore IPAM. (Part 23 of 31)

    I suppose a more correct title for this article might have been, “I manage IP addressing, therefore IPAM.”

    Windows Server“IPAM?  What’s that?”

    IPAM is a FLA (Four-Letter Acronym) that stands for IP Address Management.  More appropriately, Internet Protocol Address Management.  In Windows Server 2012 we have added a capability that addresses (get it?) a need to efficiently (and centrally) manage IP addressing in large and often complex environments.  Specifically, you’d like to be able to both track manage the configurations of your DHCP and DNS servers in a consistent way, and all from one central console.  This is what IPAM allows you to do.

    IPAM Features

    IPAM is a discovery, tracking, reporting, and auditing tool.  The initial use for the tool is to do an inventory and discover the DHCP, DNS, and NPS servers in your environment.  Once that is accomplished, you can view and organize IP addressing and address utilization into default or custom IP address blocks, address ranges, and individual addresses. 

    Once organized, you will use the tool to track and audit configuration changes, to track operational events, and to watch user DHCP leases and user logon events collected from Network Policy Server (NPS) and DHCP servers.

    You also use it to monitor the availability of your DHCP and DNS servers.

    IPAM Architecture

    You can use IPAM either in a distributed method (one IPAM server per site) or centralized (one IPAM server only).  Here’s a diagram showing a distributed IPAM deployment:

    IC564249

     

    In either case, after you’ve done your discovery of servers, and configuring them manually, or automatically using Group Policy Objects that can be generated for you, you can manage the servers the various roles they play in IP addressing. 

    Installing IPAM

    Installation involves including the IPAM Server feature on a Windows Server 2012 server.

    Add Roles and Features Wizard

    Once that’s installed you have the local management tool already available from the Server Manager.  Optionally you can also  install the IP Address Management (IPAM) Client, which is one of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) on another server or Windows 8 workstation to allow for remote management.  You will notice that in either case you are also installing DHCP, DNS, and Group Policy management with the inclusion of IPAM management. 

    After the installation, you need to configure IPAM by provisioning the IPAM server, configure and launch server discovery, choose servers to manage, and finally retrieve data from the managed servers.  These operations can be easily found from within Server Manager:

    Server Manager and IPAM 

    HINT: If you’re going to use Group Policy to configure your servers, make sure you remember to configure it using on the IPAM server using the PowerShell Invoke-IpamGpoProvisioning command, in an elevated (run as Administrator) PowerShell window.

    Using IPAM

    Once configured and with managed servers answering and available for duty, you can define and manage IP Address Blocks and IP Address Ranges.  You can discover and reserve (or reclaim) unused addresses.  You can create and manage DNS entries.  You can use custom fields to logically organize addresses by their purpose or department.. or however you want. 

    Server Manager and IPAM

    Wham! Bam! Thanks, IPAM!

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    I’m really just scratching the surface here.  For more information, be sure to check out the IP Address Management (IPAM) Overview.  And as a great first experience, I highly recommend installing and trying out IPAM in a test lab by working through the Step-by-Step: Configure IPAM to Manage Your IP Address Space.

    CLICK HERE for the recap and our full list of our "31 Days of our Favorite Things".

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    Have I piqued your interest?  Are you considering IPAM now, but have some additional questions or concerns?  Let’s hear about them in the comments!

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 Versions (Part 22 of 31)

    Shopping for Server LicensesToday we need to talk about the versions and the licensing options you have for Windows Server 2012.  There are some pretty significant changes to A) what you can purchase, and B) what those versions include.

    “So it’s not just Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter?  Are you making it even more complex?!”

    Absolutely not.  In fact, we’re making it much MUCH more simple.  Instead of 3 versions of Windows Server (not counting our “Essentials” product for small business), we now have just two license type: Standard and Datacenter.

    “Ah.. so, the Datacenter version includes all capabilities for a higher price, and Standard is a less capable version with fewer features?”

    Nope.  Datacenter and Standard do exactly the same things.  They have the same features and scale to the biggest, most capable hardware you can purchase today (and beyond). 

    “I’m confused.”

    Then how about you let me finish by outlining the versions and how you purchase them.

    “Okay.  Please continue.”

    Thank you.

    Updated Windows Server 2012 Licensing

    (Click to see a larger version)

    License Type

    You now buy Windows Server licenses per TWO physical processors.  Regardless of the number of cores in a processor, if you have a two processor server, then you only need to buy one copy of Windows Server 2012 – either Standard or Datacenter.  If you have four processors, you buy two copies.  And so on. 

    Features

    There is no difference.  Standard and Datacenter do exactly the same thing.  For example, a server running Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition is just as capable now for being a member of a Windows Failover Cluster.

    Virtualization Rights

    This is where they differ, and really why at some point of creating more and more virtual machines, you’ll decide that buying Datacenter is more cost effective and makes more sense. 

    With every license of Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition, you are granted TWO (2) virtual instances of the operating system.  So even though I can run as many VMs as my hardware will allow, the licensing gives you TWO virtualized server licenses.  To add more VM licenses, you can buy (and stack) additional Standard licenses on a server – each one giving you the license for two more VMs.

    With every license of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition, you are granted UNLIMITED virtual instances of the operating system.  So, yes, it’s more expensive, but on that 2 processor / 8 core server, with one license of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter, you are given the licenses for as many virtual machines as you can fit on that box.  For ultimate flexibility in your virtualized datacenter, it just become a matter of having enough licenses to cover the physical processors on your server hardware, and you basically can run and migrate and use as many virtual machines as you can physically support.

    For More Information

    See the Windows Server 2012 “how to buy” page.

    Check out the Windows Server 2012 Pricing and Licensing FAQ document (.PDF Download).

    Also read Aidan Finn’s excellent blog post on Windows Server 2012 Licensing in Detail

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    In summary – Microsoft has greatly simplified the choices, making it easier for you to determine and select the appropriate purchase choices of Windows Server 2012.

    CLICK HERE for the full recap of our "31 Days of our Favorite Things".

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    This is by no means an exhaustive description of licensing, and I’m sure you may have questions.  Feel free to ask them in the comments.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Stupid Active Directory Tricks (Part 25 of 31)

    Windows Server 2012Active Directory has been around for awhile (Remember Windows 2000 Server?), and with every new release of the server platform Microsoft has an opportunity to make things better.  Windows Server 2012 was no exception.  There are many improvements to Active Directory, and to the management tools and capabilities, introduced in this most recent version.

    “Well.. what are they?”

    I’ll tell you.  Actually, today I’m going to let Keith Mayer tell you.  It’s his turn to deliver the next article in our “31 Days of our Favorite Things” series.  In his article today, he introduces you to three new neat and nifty tricks (not necessarily in that order) that you now have in your trick bag in Server 2012.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

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    Are you excited for some of the new capabilities and manageagility (Hey!  I made up a word!) that you get with Windows Server 2012?  Let’s talk about it in the comments!

  • LIVE NOW: Watch it here: Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface Launch

    UPDATE: This was live on Thursday, Oct 25, 2012.  Obviously it’s no longer live, so I’ve removed the embedded video window from this post.

    You can find both the Windows 8 launch and the Surface launch here:   http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/presskits/windows/liveevent2.aspx

    You may have to click around on the bar to find the place where the actual events start, because it currently looks like they just recorded the whole day and put it all in one long continuous recording – including the hours of waiting in-between.

    I do highly recommend taking the time to watch them.  Smile

    I want one!

  • I love these kinds of new-feature surprises (Office 2013)

    Isn’t it fun when a new feature just shows up in front of you before you even knew about it?  I recently installed Microsoft Office 2013 on my production laptop, and was working on an outline of questions for an upcoming TechNet Radio show we’re recording in a couple of days. 

    When finished, I created an e-mail that I had intended to attach the document to. 

    Office 2013 Preview“Attach a document?  Why aren’t you just storing them in SkyDrive or SharePoint?”

    Baby steps, my friend.  Baby steps. 

    Anyway.. what freaked me out (in a good way) was when I hit SEND…

     

    Sweet!

     

    Yeah.. like most of us have done at least once in our lives, I hit send before I remembered to attach the file.  But in the text (or context?) of the message, I simply mentioned attaching something.  So Office 2013 Outlook gave me this message basically saying to me, “Hey Kevin.. um.. duh!  I bet you meant to attach something here, but you didn’t.  So.. what are we gonna do about that?”

    I love little surprises like that.  Red heart 

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    Do you?  Let’s discuss in the comments.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Windows Server 2012 (Part 30 of 31)

    There’s nothing remote about the chances that Microsoft would make big improvements in nearly all aspects of the platform that is Windows Server.  And Windows Server 2012 is no exception.  In this instance, we’re going to discuss Remote Desktop Services – otherwise lovingly referred to as RDS.

    Configured Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012

    “Lovingly?  That’s a bit much, isn’t it, Kevin?”

    Okay.. perhaps to you.  But there are more and more people every day who depend upon this platform for bringing the Windows experience to the devices they love.  So any technology that lets my users and my business get their work done from wherever, on whatever device; that’s something I love.  It’s a true BYOD love story.

    In today’s next-to-last (wow!) installment of our “31 Days of our Favorite Things”, my Milwaukeen friend Brian Lewis writes about the “three main buckets” of changes and improvements in RDS for Windows Server 2012:

    1. Management of Remote Desktop Services
    2. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
    3. The RDP protocol

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    PS – I am personally looking forward to using RemoteApp  from my new Microsoft Surface, for those few desktop applications that I want to use but can’t locally install.

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    “’Milwaukeen’?  Is that a word?”

    I don’t know…  Milwauker?  Milwaukite? Milwacko? Milli Vanilli? 

    If you know the answer, please let us know in the comments.

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  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Yes, there is an “I” in Team. The NIC Team in Windows Server 2012 (Part 7 of 31)

    NIC TeamingHappy Sunday!  It’s my turn again to provide today’s article in our series of “31 Days of our Favorite Things”.  And today I am pleased to introduce to you the topic of NIC Teaming.

    “’Introduce’?  But, Kevin… I’ve been doing NIC Teaming for years now.”

    Sure.  But not as a built-in feature of Windows Server.  Long requested and desired, Microsoft has finally made NIC Teaming a native, built-in feature of the Server in Windows Server 2012

    To start things off, let me ask you a couple of questions: If you’re currently doing NIC teaming, you are probably doing it through some NIC vendor’s solution, right?

    “Yes.”

    And if you go to that vendor and say/ask, “I want to team your NICs with this other NIC from another vendor.  Can I?”, what do they say?

    “They won’t let me.” Sad smile 

    Right.  And that’s understandable.  Every vendor has their own proprietary solution and implementation, and they can’t (won’t, can’t support, etc).  Their solutions work great; but at the expense of real choice or flexibility.  So Microsoft has finally added NIC Teaming into Windows Server 2012 that:

    • Doesn’t care what the NIC vendor is,
    • Doesn’t’ care about the NIC’s network speed, and
    • Actually doesn’t care if it’s wired or wireless. 

    Oh.. and it’s just included for no additional cost.  Smile

    “Nice.  What are the benefits of having a NIC team?”

    In general there are two benefits: Resiliency and Performance.

    By resiliency, I mean that if any one of the network paths (or network cards) becomes disconnected or somehow fails, the remaining NICs in the team are in place to continue making sure that traffic is getting through.

    And in terms of performance, your team is able to take advantage of the aggregate of all bandwidth available.  So in theory, your 4 x 1 GB NICs should be able to give you 4GB of bandwidth.

    “Fantastic!  How does one set this up?”

    It’s pretty easy from Server Manager.  Let’s say your local computer area looks like this:

    image

    See the area I’ve circled?  There you can see the fact that this server has 4 NICs all currently getting their IP addresses through DHCP.  And you can also see right above those that NIC Teaming is currently disabled.

    Click on the word “disabled”.  This brings up the NIC Teaming window.

    image

    Notice that under the TEAMS section, I don’t have any.  Above that section, click on Tasks…

    image

    And select New Team.  That will bring up the New Team Window.

    image

    Notice that I’ve named my team (Go Vikings!), and selected all four of my NICs to become members of the team.  ALSO, I’ve expanded the Additional Properties area to show you that you have additional options available for configuration.

    Click OK, and now you’ll see that I have a team.

    image

    When I close this window and refresh the Server Manager window, now you’ll see that I only have one NIC being used by the server.  But underneath we know that this is really a team of 4 physical NICs.

    image

    In fact, if you click on the NIC here, you’ll be taken to the Network Connections window, where you’ll see all of the physical as well as team NICs.

    image

    The properties and the status of this team “NIC” look just like any other ordinary NIC.  Notice that the status shows that my 4 x 10 Gbps NICs are giving me 40 Gbps!  (Not really, in my case, because this is a virtual machine with virtual NICs all associated with the same Virtual Switch that connects them to my 1 Gbps laptop NIC.  But you get the idea.)

    image

    But interestingly, when I open the properties of any of the other four actual NICs that are members of the team, they have only one item selected: The Microsoft Network Adapter Multiplexor Protocol.

    image

    That’s obviously the protocol used to drive this NIC as a member of a NIC Team.

     

    So in summary: NIC Teaming is included in Windows Server 2012 to provide aggregated network performance and resilient connectivity for physical servers running Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server, as well as virtual machines running virtually on those platforms.

    For the complete rundown of NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012, plus greater detail on configurations, traffic distribution algorithms (yawn), using NIC teams in virtual machines, and other errata, CLICK HERE for the TechNet NIC Teaming Overview.

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    Have you had a chance to try this out yet?  Are you hoping to do NIC Teaming for the first time, or to perhaps augment what you’re already doing with your NIC vendors?  If you’d like to comment, or if you have any questions, be sure to post a comment below.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: You want everything, and you want it for FREE? (Part 9 of 31)

    It's here, and it's FREE.  And it does everything!In today’s “31 Days of our Favorite Things” series, Matt Hester is giving away the store.

    “Huh?”

    Unlike our main competition in the area of virtualization and all things private cloud, Microsoft believes that virtualization is just a ubiquitous part of the datacenter today.  And as such, it should be available and optionally installable as a part of our server platform that is Windows Server 2012.  So.. everything you can do, and no matter how big you want to scale or be flexible on our virtualization platform, you can do with what is simply included in Windows Server.

    Can you say “64 virtual procs in a single VM”?  I knew you could. 

    How about handling up to 8000 virtual machines in failover cluster of 64 nodes?  Or a no-additional-cost platform that does live migration, live storage migration, and even shared-nothing live migration (which is the LIVE move of a virtual machine between to virtualization hosts with no shared storage… just a network path between them.  Yeah.. you heard me right.  I move a VM from the C:\ drive of one Hyper-V host to the C:\ drive of another host, and the VM never goes down or loses connectivity)?  I could go on and on.

    But…

    “Ah ha!  There’s a catch!”

    Hold on there, buckaroo.  No catch.  I was just going to say: But if you want all of that scale and all of those same capabilities supported by a FREE  hypervisor without having to purchase Windows Server for the virtualization host OS, you can get it all in Hyper-V Server

    “But seriously.. your competition has a free hypervisor, too.”

    Does their free hypervisor do everything that their top-of-line hypervisor does?  Can you do every form of vMotion..er.. Live Migration imaginable with it?  Or do they require you to buy their super-ultra-mega-enterpri$e-plu$ edition? 

    “Um..”

    Exactly.  Hyper-V Server is full-featured.  Anything you can do with Hyper-V as a role on Windows Server 2012, you can do with Microsoft Hyper-V Server

    Make sure you CHECK OUT MATT’S ARTICLE on the subject.  And then download the free Hyper-V Server and give it a try.

    We can't believe it's free!---

    Are you interested in this?  Have any concerns or questions?  That’s what the comments are for.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Replica (Part 5 of 31)

    Hyper-V POWER!

    Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 (and in the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server include an easy start to a good disaster recovery solution: Hyper-V Replica.  With Hyper-V Replica you can easily create and maintain an off-line copy – a replica – of a virtual machine on a separate virtualization host.  This means, for example, that if your main location or host for an important virtual machine goes down becomes unavailable, you can easily fail-over to the replica.  The copy will start up and be available in short-order.

    “That sounds really great, Kevin!  But what does it cost to set this up?”

    Absolutely nothing, other than what you’ve already paid for (the OS).  Hyper-V Replica is just a capability that is included with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and Hyper-V Server

    “How do I set it up?”

    I’m glad you asked.  There are really two simple requirements to make it happen:

    1. You need to be running Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V Role installed (or Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012) on both the source and destination virtualization hosts, and
    2. You need network connectivity between them.  (and don’t  forget the firewall)

    Here are my 6 steps to working with Hyper-V Replica:

    1. Configuring the Hosts to Allow Replication

    In Hyper-V Manager, right-click on, or select the host, and choose Hyper-V Settings…

    On the left, select Replication Configuration, and then enable and configure your replication options.

    image

    2. Setting up a Replica

    To configure the replica using Hyper-V Manager, right click on the VM you want to replicate and choose Enable Replication…

    Enable Replication...

    On the Before You Begin page, click Next

    On the Specify Replica Server page, Enter the name of the server that is to be the replication host.

    Specify Replica Server

    Click Next.

    The Specify Connection Parameters page is, um, where you specify your connection parameters.

    Specify Connection Parameters

    Click Next.

    Choose the hard disks you want to replicate on the Choose Replication VHDs page.

    Choose Replication VHDs

    Click Next.

    On the Configure Recovery History page, choose whether you want to keep just the most recent recovery point, or perhaps maintain a number of points in the past that you could recover to.  You also have the option to occasionally perform a VSS copy.

    Configure Recovery History

    Click Next.

    On the Choose Initial Replication Method page, notice that you have options on how you want that big initial replication to take place.  Maybe you don’t want to use the network for that initial large transfer, but instead would prefer to use UPS or FedEx.

    Choose Initial Replication Method

    Then click Finish on the summary page, and you’re all set.

    image

    If all was configured properly, you’ll see a new VM appear on the replication host that will be turned off.

    3. Verifying the Replica’s Status

    You can easily verify the status of your replica by selecting either your original VM or your replica VM in Hyper-V Manager, right-click the VM, click Replication, and then View Replication Health.

    View Replication Health

    Replication Health

    4. Testing the Replica

    You can test your replicated machine by right-clicking on the replica VM and under Replication select Test Failover…

    Test Failover

    Pick the point in time that you want to test, and click Test Failover.

    Test Failover

    This will create a linked copy VM with the text “ – Test” appended to the name.  Simply start up that VM (go ahead.  It isn’t connected to the network, so it won’t interfere with anything) and verify that it is a useable machine.

    5. Disaster Strikes!  Time to Fail Over

    The unthinkable has happened.  Time to act.  Your original and important production VM is no longer available.

    On the replica VM, right click.  Under Replication, select Failover.

    Failover!

    Select the recovery point, and click Fail Over.

    image

    And your replica will start up configured, networked, and ready to take on Dr. Proton.

    Recovered VM

    6. Removing the Replica

    Easy.  On both the source and replica VMs, right click.  Under Replication, select Remove Replication

    image

    Now you can safely delete your replica from the replication host.

    ---

    Simple, yes?  Do you have any questions?

    “Can I have the failover happen automatically?”

    Not natively.  In its most simple form, Hyper-V Replica is a manual failover.  However, because you can use PowerShell to drive this entire process, there’s no reason why you (or some third party) couldn’t develop a solution that monitors the state of the source VM and launches a script (or some automation in System Center 2012 Orchestrator) to launch the failover.

    “But do I need to have Active Directory?  Or do both of my virtualization hosts need to be in the same domain?”

    Actually, no.  You have the option of using certificate authentication to make the trusted configuration.  (CLICK HERE for details on how to use certificates for Hyper-V Replica.)

    “Do my virtual machines need to be running particular operating systems for this to work?”

    Nope.  There is nothing required of the guest operating system.  You could be running the original Duke Nukum on DOS 6.22 in your VM, and this will still work.

    “I’ve heard good things about using Windows Azure for hosting my virtual machines and extending my datacenter into the cloud.  Can I create my replica up in my Windows Azure account?” 

    Currently the answer to that is no.  But I’ve heard this question enough times, and really it does make sense.. so I have to imagine (and that’s all I personally have to go on) that Microsoft is considering doing that.  Consider the ramifications, though… setting up a replica means configuring something beyond just standing up a virtual machine in Hyper-V.. so the process has to have the ability to manipulate the hypervisor.  I could see it happening sometime, but I don’t know when.

    “Can I replicate machines that are in clusters?  And can I replicate into or out of another cluster?”

    Yes and yes.  You will think of the cluster as and treat it as a single machine.  And to do that there is a special role that you need to add to the cluster called the Hyper-V Replica Broker.  This defines a new named entity that becomes either the source or the destination for replicas coming into or out of a cluster.   For more details on this, check out this Wiki article.

    “What about PowerShell?  Can I use PowerShell to set up a replica?  Can I use it to do the failover or even get status on current replicas?”

    Yes, yes, and yes. 

    For example, to configure the replica destination host, you could use these commands to configure the firewall to allow inbound replication on the destination, and set a server up as a new replication host (each numbered line is a separate complete PowerShell command or script line):

    1. Enable-Netfirewallrule -displayname "Hyper-V Replica HTTP Listener (TCP-In)”
    2. Import-Module Hyper-V
    3. $RecoveryPort = 8080
    4. $ReplicaStorageLocation = “D:\Example”
    5. Set-VMReplicationServer -ReplicationEnabled $true -AllowedAuthenticationType Kerberos -IntegratedAuthenticationPort $RecoveryPort -DefaultStorageLocation $ReplicaStorageLocation -ReplicationAllowedFromAnyServer $true

    And then to create a replication (each numbered line is a separate complete PowerShell command or script line):

    1. Import-Module Hyper-V
    2. $ReplicaServer = “Recovery1.contoso.com”
    3. $RecoveryPort = 8080
    4. $PrimaryVM1 = “CRMVM”
    5. $PrimaryServer = “Primary1.contoso.com”
    6. Enable-VMReplication -VMName $PrimaryVM1 -ReplicaServerName $ReplicaServer -ReplicaServerPort $RecoveryPort -AuthenticationType Kerberos -CompressionEnabled $true -RecoveryHistory 0
    7. Start-VMInitialReplication –VMName $PrimaryVM1

    For the full story, here is the Microsoft online documentation of  Hyper-V Replica: Hyper-V Replica Overview - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134172.aspx 
    (NOTE: as of today, the online documents are still based on the RC code.  I’m sure it will be updated soon to work with RTM.)

    And to give Windows Server 2012 a try,

    UPDATE: CLICK HERE for the full list of our "31 Days of our Favorite Things".

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    So what do you think?  Good stuff?  Let’s discuss in the comments.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 and “Storage Spaces” (Part 6 of 31)

    Happy Saturday!  But that doesn’t mean we get a break.  We promised 31 days of our favorite things in October, and we’re going to give you 31 days of our favorite things in October. 

    “Seriously?”

    Yep.  I hope you had a super weekend, and that you’re reading this on Monday.  (Or even Tuesday if you get Columbus Day off.)

    About Keith Mayer ...Today my friend Keith Mayer has created a super post about exciting and useful new storage capabilities available in Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Hyper-V Server called “Storage Spaces”

    For example: Did you know that storage is the largest single cost category in most IT budgets?

    “I didn’t know that.  But I need the performance of the solution that I have.”

    Well then you’d better check out Keith’s article.  Not only does he discuss the solution, but also describes how the performance of Storage Spaces can rival the high-end storage solutions out there; for much less money.

    READ KEITH’S ARTICLE HERE.

    And make sure you come back tomorrow (Sunday) for my article on NIC Teaming

    Or check out the rest of the "31 Days of our Favorite Things" articles.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Network Virtualization in Windows Server 2012 (Part 8 of 31)

    What is virtualization?

    “It’s when you have a computer that is, um.. virtualized.. and it’s all like ‘Hey.. I’m running on my own hardware’, but really it’s not.”

    Hyper-V Network Virtualization OverviewOkay.. what you’ve described there is a kind of virtualization.  I’d call it Machine Virtualization.  And there are other kinds such as Desktop Virtualization and Application Virtualization.  What’s common about all of those is that there is a disconnecting of something that was once tightly connected.  Operating Systems that were running directly, and with sole ownership of hardware are now running on “machines” that can be picked up and moved around without caring about the physical box they’re running on.  Desktops can run as sessions on local or remote servers.  Applications can be “installed”, but not really, so that they can be simply copied locally and run easily in their own sandboxes, and yet be configured, managed, and updated centrally. 

    And now: Networks can move from place to place. 

    “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”  (reference)

    The idea is that, like virtual machines, a virtual network (that is, a defined subnet that allows computers to communicate with one another) can be defined that allows you maintain networks of computers that reside in many different physical locations and still maintain their network configurations.  Or place them on physical infrastructures without concern for the other “networks” that use the same wire, because they will never be able to see each other.

    “Sounds cool.  But what is it good for?”

    This is going to allow some pretty amazing flexibility and convenience.  For example, your hosting provider won’t require you to re-address the virtual machines you’re moving out of your datacenter and into theirs, because you’re simply extending your existing network.  And they’re able to securely allow this because, even though there may be other customers of theirs running on their network fabric that have similar IP addressing schemes to yours, the “networks” won’t conflict.

    The Virtual Switch in Windows Server 2012 and the new Hyper-V network virtualization capabilities make this possible.

    There is soon coming a day when businesses will define their networks of virtualized resources as logical entities on top of what could span many physical boundaries, all so that they can take advantage of the flexibility for resource distribution that this provides.

    For a detailed description of how this is done – today’s “31 Days of our Favorite Things” author is Keith MayerCHECK OUT HIS ARTICLE for the details!

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    This may be a new concept for many of you.  Are you intrigued?  Have any questions?  That’s what the comments are for.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: The Windows Server 2012 Blog Post Series (Part 1 of 31)

    Windows Server 2012

    Happy October!  And Happy Monday! 

    “Grrr…”

    Ah.. Somebody hasn’t had enough coffee yet.  Well… trust me.  It is a great day.  It’s the first day of a new blog post series that me and my central region IT Pro Technology Evangelist buddies are facilitating.

    “Who?”

    IT Pro Evangelists Matt Hester, Brian Lewis, Keith Mayer, and I. 

    “and me.”

    Yeah, you too.  We are dedicating October to a series of 31 daily blog posts that will discuss and/or demonstrate our top favorite features and functionalities in Windows Server 2012.  And today is day #1.  So, for today, I’m going to briefly answer the question: “Why Windows Server 2012?” by sharing some overview thoughts, and leave you with some useful resources.

    Insert Innovation Here!The Cloud Platform

    Windows Server 2012 was built with “the cloud” in mind.  Now before you completely tune out just because someone from Microsoft yet again said the words “the cloud”, hear me out.  When I say “cloud”, I mean a dynamic, elastic, scalable, secured, self-service, flexible datacenter.  So call it what you want, but that’s basically what I mean when I say “cloud”.  Microsoft created Windows Server 2012 to be the foundation of your clouds by improving or including new features and functionality that address the needs of a dynamic datacenter.  How big do you want to create virtual machines?  How easy should it be to move or migrate resources around?  These are the questions that Windows Server 2012 tackles head on

    Cost Savings and Increased Efficiencies

    How many servers does each IT Professional manage in your organization?  On average, it’s probably something like 40-50 servers at most, if we take into account all organizations and their varied sizes.   Server 2012 includes new tooling that makes it easier to fully configure and manage many more servers and a wider range of resources all from one console, so you can be more efficient with your time.  And new options for providing and managing storage – even storage using cheap disks – that provide new flexibility for allocating and managing capacity while being able to add to the back-end capacity by simply adding more cheap disks into the pools (technology we call “Storage Spaces") means that the next time you’re thinking about adding capacity to your expensive SAN solution, you can also consider maybe moving some of the less-critical stored files or data to a much cheaper, yet fully reliable solution supported by the server operating system.  These are just a couple of examples of how we make you more efficient, and save your organization some money.

    Support for a Modern Workstyle

    Does your company own every device that your users use to connect to your infrastructure and the applications and data you support to allow them to get their jobs done?  If you answered “yes”, then you are in the minority.  And even then you’re probably still being asked again and again, “How can I use my new iPad to connect to my stuff?”  (Or some variation on that theme.)  So you’re looking for ways to securely grant people access to the data or applications they need, maintaining data security and integrity, even while they’re using their devices of choice.  Windows Server 2012 introduces or improves upon many of the technologies that can support this “Consumerization of IT” so that, for example, your users with Internet-connected tablets can easily use a remote desktop session (whether session based or VDI) to do their work.  Or perhaps for your company owned and managed, domain-joined machines, you want to provide a secured, always-on “DirectAccess” connection back to the corporate network.  No special VPN connection process required.  These are things that Windows Server 2012 can support for you.

    ---

    So that’s a quick summary of “Why Windows Server 2012”.  In the coming days (30 to be exact), we’re each going to drill down into the details of the new features; each on our own blogs.  Additionally, even on the days that I’m not the main author of the topic, I’ll still create a post with a summary and link to the main author’s post.  We sincerely hope that you enjoy and can make good use out of what we share with you! 

    ---

    As promised, here are some important resources relating to Windows Server 2012…

    Windows Server 2012 Download Center - http://aka.ms/Server2012

    Hyper-V Server 2012 Downolad – http://aka.ms/HVServer2012

    Windows Server Team Blog – http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/

    Windows Server Launch - http://www.windows-server-launch.com/Home

    Richard Fichera of Forrester Research: Microsoft Announces Windows Server 2012 - http://blogs.forrester.com/richard_fichera/12-09-05-microsoft_announces_windows_server_2012

    Windows Server Jump-Start Recordings  - http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde/archive/2012/06/29/windows-server-2012-jump-start-recordings-released.aspx

    Windows Server 2012 Virtual Labs - http://aka.ms/Server2012VLabs

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

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

    Hyper-V Overview – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831531

    What’s New in Hyper-V – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831410

    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

    Hyper-V Support for Scaling Up and Scaling Out Overview - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831389.aspx

    SMB 3.0 Overview - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831795.aspx

    Hyper-V Replica Overview - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134172.aspx

    Hyper-V Replica - Prerequisites for certificate based deployments - http://blogs.technet.com/b/virtualization/archive/2012/03/13/hyper-v-replica-certificate-requirements.aspx

    Live Migration Shared Nothing Video - http://www.aidanfinn.com/?p=12287

    High-Performance, Continuously Available File Share Storage for Server Applications Technical Preview - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831399.aspx

    Understanding and Troubleshooting Storage Spaces - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29002

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

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

    Microsoft Hyper-V Virtual Machine Converter RC - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh967435.aspx

    Windows Server 2012 Licensing Datasheet (.PDF download) - http://download.microsoft.com/download/0/4/B/04BD0EB1-42FE-488B-919F-3981EF9B2101/WS2012_Licensing-Pricing_Datasheet.pdf

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 Server Manager (Part 2 of 31)

    Get the Server 2012 trial!

    The first time you start up Windows Server 2012, and you login, it is the first thing you see. 

    “Even when I install it as a Server Core installation?”

    Oh.. okay.. no.   When you install “Server with GUI”, you see this: Server Manager.  Server Manager is the one-stop, do-everything, manage-it-all application.  No, this is not the same tool as was in Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, or the original in Windows NT.  Remember that one?  (And here’s a little tidbit for you.  If you need to manage Windows NT 3.51 or NT 4.0 from Windows Server 2003, you can actually download SrvMgr.exe)

    Today’s blog post in our 31 day series is by my buddy Brian Lewis: http://mythoughtsonit.com/2012/10/31-days-of-our-favorite-things-windows-server-manager-2012/.  In it he lays out the “whats” and “whys”, and even some “how”.

    CHECK IT OUT HERE! 

    Want to see more?  Download the evaluation!

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 and the shell of POWER! (Part 3 of 31)

    Get the Windows Server 2012 evaluation!In today’s installment of our "31 Days of our Favorite Things" in Windows Server 2012, Matt Hester summarizes the key benefits, plus a couple of really slick improvements available with PowerShell in its newest form.  He specifically focuses on just a couple of his favorites: PowerShell History, and the new Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE), and then concludes with some useful related resources.

    CHECK OUT PART 3!

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: It’s like vMotion, but better. It’s Hyper-V. (Part 4 of 31)

    Hyper-V POWER!

    Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 include some really exciting and flexible new capabilities for moving virtual machines and their resources (storage) around from here to there – all without any virtual machine down-time.  In today’s installment of our “31 Days of our Favorite Things”, my friend and coworker Keith Mayer contributes a very rich discussion of Live Migration (you VMware users call it “vMotion”), and even shows off his PowerShell prowess with some cool examples of driving migrations using PowerShell. 

    Check it out HERE!

    ---

    Have you tried out Windows Server 2012 yet?  What about Microsoft Hyper-V Server?

  • You should like me.

    I’m almost at the big THREE DIGITS in the number of people who “LIKE” my “Kevin Remde is Full of I.T.” Facebook page. 

    Full of IT

    Go there, “like” the page, and push it over the top!

    “Gee Kevin.. that was a bit gratuitous.”

    Really?  Do ya think so?  Forgive me.  I’m in a silly mood.

    Smile with tongue out

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: I got yer document RIGHT HERE, thanks to BranchCache. (Part 10 of 31)

    Branch Cache ModesMany of you reading my blog are responsible for not only your local users and network and IT infrastructure, but also for supporting those poor folks who work remote branch offices.  And I say “poor folks” in the context of their access to the documents and applications that they would like quicker access to; because those are housed in the main office or at the corporate H.Q.  Those poor people probably have a WAN connection over the Internet that connects them to the stuff they need to do.  So.. even though they’re potentially working on the same web applications or the same documents as their local coworkers at the Scranton Branch, each time they have to work on that corp-based document requires the file to go across the slow WAN connection.  And that takes time and wastes bandwidth.

    But in Windows Server 2008 R2 Microsoft introduced technology called BranchCache.  With it, your branch office workers are likely to have local, automatically cached copies of the documents or applications they frequently use.  And it can be as automatic as using the PCs themselves to maintain the cached copies, or by setting up servers to maintain them.  But in either case, your branch office users won’t have to know or care about that.  All they’ll notice is that the file that usually took them 10-15 seconds to open is now there almost immediately. 

    Today’s “31 Days of our Favorite Things” author is Brian Lewis.  He’s going to expand upon and explain BrancheCache, and how it has been improved upon in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE.

    ---

    Care to share your impressions of or experiences with BranchCache?  Got a tip or a question?  That’s what the comments are for.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Wield the POWER of the SHELL with PowerShell Script Snippets. (Part 11 of 31)

    Today in our "31 Days of our Favorite Things", my friend and colleague Matt Hester has posted an article about a little-known improvement in the newest version of PowerShell: Script Snippets

    “PowerShell Script Snippets?  It’s fun to say.  But I’ve never heard of these before.  What are they?

    pshell3That’s what Matt is going to tell you.  But if I were to summarize what they are for you here, I’d borrow these two sentences from his article:

    “The Integrated Script Snippets are stored in the Integrated  Scripting Environment (ISE) and are designed to help us learn to PowerShell as well as write proper scripts.  When you access the snippets you can select from a list of script templates, select the appropriate template, and have partially completed script inserted into the editor. By default ISE ships with several script snippets to ease creating the commonly used programming syntax patterns.”

    “So.. it’s like inserting proper code into a script based on what you’re trying to accomplish?”

    Exactly.

    CHECK OUT HIS ARTICLE HERE

    ---

    Do you wield the power of the shell?  Or are you just getting started? 

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 and Deduplication (Part 12 of 31)

    In Windows Server 2012 Microsoft includes many improvements, but also many new capabilities “in the box”.  One of the new things we’re including is built-in support for data deduplication. 

    Now THAT'S a lot of data!“Wait.. you mean like when a process makes more efficient use of the space used on a storage volume by finding all blocks of data that are the same, just one copy of what will be used for more than one file, thereby freeing up disk space?”

    Congratulations.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  But here’s an even better description of the feature from the TechNet page on the subject:

    “Data deduplication involves finding and removing duplication within data without compromising its fidelity or integrity. The goal is to store more data in less space by segmenting files into small variable-sized chunks (32–128 KB), identifying duplicate chunks, and maintaining a single copy of each chunk. Redundant copies of the chunk are replaced by a reference to the single copy. The chunks are compressed and then organized into special container files in the System Volume Information folder.”

    In today’s installment of our “31 Days of our Favorite Things”, we are fortunate to have our former teammate Chris Henley (currently of Veeam) doing the writing for us. 

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE

    Chris Henley

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 and Easy(er) VDI (Part 13 of 31)

    For those of you not familiar with the acronym, VDI stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.  The idea is that I can provide my users their desktops via remote desktop connections…

    “Like Terminal Services?”

    An example of a NON-virtual desktop...Where have you been since 2007?  But, in a sense, yes.  Using the same (or a similar) remote desktop protocol connection, and from a simple (or even “thin”) client, a user can access a computing desktop – whether all their own or shared.  But in this case, instead of a user session on a Remote Desktop Session Host (you’d call it a Terminal Server), the user is connecting to a virtual machine running a desktop operating system. 

    “Oh yeah.. I’ve heard of that.  I’ve considered it, but it is complex.”

    It’s certainly not something you enter into lightly.  And we still suggest that you consider partners such as Citrix to add value to the implementation.  But the good news is that in Windows Server 2012 we make it much easier to configure, manage, and support a VDI infrastructure.

    “’VDI Infrastructure’?  Isn’t that redundant?”

    Shut up.

    Today’s “31 Days of our Favorite Things” article comes to you by my friend Brian Lewis.  He will give you all the details on how to set up VDI using Windows Server 2012 and, oh, about 11 mouse clicks.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    ---

    Are you considering VDI as a way to centrally provide and manage user desktops for some segment of your workforce?  Are you already doing this?  Share your experiences, or ask your questions, in the comments.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference. (Part 14 of 31)

    Happy Sunday!

    As the title of this post suggests, today we’re discussing a couple of the little things that make your experience so much better when using Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.  For example, the Task manager…

    “Hold on.. the Task Manager has been the same for.. wow, I don’t even remember how many versions of Windows.”

    Very true.  And we’ve come to take it for granted.  But it’s an old friend whose time has come to retire.  Have you ever seen, for example, what the page of CPUs looks like in the old task manager when you’re running 32 CPUs on a single server?

    “No.. I haven’t."

    Well.. here you go…

    image

    And 32 isn’t nearly the capacity of what a virtual machine can have (64) or even a physical server (640).  That’s a lot of processors.. and the old interface just doesn’t cut it.

    In today’s installment of our “31 Days of our Favorite Things”, Keith Mayer will walk you through the new Task Manager, and perhaps a few other “UI Goodies”.

    CLICK HERE FOR HIS ARTICLE

    ---

    Are you going to miss the old task manager?  Me neither…

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: The Resilient File System (ReFS) in Windows Server 2012 (Part 15 of 31)

    New options for file storageNTFS is getting a little long in the tooth.  It has been, and continues to be, a rock-solid file system on which most of the world’s data on disk is stored.  And it is still the default disk format for installations of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.  

    Enter ReFS – the new Resilient File System available with Windows Server 2012.  In today’s “31 Days of our Favorite Things” article, Keith Mayer describes in detail the benefits of the new ReFS,  how it compares to NTFS, and when you might want to choose it as the format for a new data volume.

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Simply Connected using DirectAccess in Windows Server 2012 (Part 16 of 31)

    DirectAccess is easier in Windows Server 2012DirectAccess is not new, but it is improved in Windows Server 2012

    For those of you who are not familiar with DirectAccess, let me briefly describe a scenario that I live every week (or three)…

    It’s time to fill out and submit expense reports for my many travels and the associated costs to the company.  To do this, Microsoft has an internal tool that is lovingly called “MS Expense”.  It is a browser-based application that requires me to know an internal address.  So.. the address to this web site, plus many of the other internal resources such as HR / Benefits, News, SharePoints.. they’re all at named resources that don’t (and can’t) exist on the Internet.  I need to be on the corporate network.  But… I’m at home.  Or in a hotel / airport / coffee shop.

    “So yeah.. big deal.  It’s called a ‘VPN’, Kevin.”

    Ah.. but that’s where our experiences diverge.  You (and I, in the past) have had to first make that connection happen as an extra step.  But , with DirectAccess, all I need is to be on the Internet.  Those internal resources are as readily available to me as any Internet resource.  I simply go to “MS Expense”, and start lying.  Surprised smile  ..er… start filling out and submitting my expenses accurately and honestly.  Smile

    And for IT Organizations, an added benefit is that the PCs you’re responsible for are also accessible by you.  Inventories and updates and pushing policies or software works as easily as if those machines were on the corporate network, because, in a sense, they are.

    Today’s “31 Days of our Favorite Things” article is provided by Sumeeth Evans (@sumeethevans).  He’s going to tell you all about how making DirectAccess happen with a foundation of Windows Server 2012 is so much better than the original. 

    HIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

    ---

    Does this sound useful?  Have you been using it in Windows Server 2008 R2?  Have any questions?  That’s what the comments are for.

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Just when you thought SMB couldn’t get any better (Part 17 of 31)

    “SMB?  You mean Server Message Block?”

    Yep. 

    Your Server.  (Okay.. it was a stretch.)“Better?  It’s just the protocol for accessing files across a network, isn’t it?”

    Yes.  But can you use that file share storage for fast, highly available file access and use it for, say, a database file used by the database server?  Or as the location for a virtual machine’s hard disks and configuration; even for a virtual machine running on a virtualization plaform on another server?

    “No way!  SMB could never support that kind of performance?"

    Ah ha!  Guess again!  In Windows Server 2012 we have improved and included a new version of SMB: SMB 3.0.  (Here is the SMB 3.0 Overview on TechNet, in case you’re interested.)

    In today’s installment of “31 Days of our Favorite Things”, my good friend Matt Hester is going to share with you all the details.

    READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

    ---

    Can you imagine what kinds of possibilities this is going to give you?  It’s pretty exciting.  Let’s discuss it in the comments…

  • 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Continuously Available File Shares in Windows Server 2012 (Part 18 of 31)

    How much do you depend on a file share to be available at all times?

    “Not much.  After all, I don’t use them for anything much beyond file storage due to the performance of that kind of resource.”

    CAFS in Windows Server 2012Ah.. but back in Part 17 of our series, we told you that with the new SMB 3.0 protocol, the performance rivals other high-end network-based storage (iSCSI, Fibre Channel, FCoE).  It’s so good that you could, for example, run virtual machines whose storage is just on a file share.

    And if that’s the case, how important does availability of that file system become?

    “Pretty important.”

    Exactly.  So in Windows Server 2012 we introduce the Continuously Available File Share (CAFS), otherwise known as the Scale-Out File Server for Application Data:

    “Scale-Out File Servers are ideal for server applications that keep files open for a long amount of time, doing mostly data operations with infrequent metadata operations on the file system. Hyper-V virtual hard disks and SQL Server database files can be stored on a scale-out file share on servers running Windows Server 2012.”

    “So.. I can be guaranteed that the files in use for these kinds of applications will always be available?”

    Precisely.

    In today’s installment of our “31 Days of our Favorite Things”, guest author and PowerShell MVP Steve Murawski discusses the new continuous availability you can achieve using this new capability.

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE