Microsoft is developing an Exchange SLA scorecard. The userguide introduction explains:
"As we move into more complex and interdependent applications, it becomes increasingly difficult to track the capabilities of various IT services. Furthermore, it seems that there is no single formula or presentation mechanism to easily roll up the data and demonstrate that IT is in fact meeting the needs of the business and achieving its service level agreement (SLA) targets.
Microsoft IT has become a world-class IT organization, possessing much experience in managing a large enterprise and achieving great success in messaging service delivery. Microsoft IT is diligent in its operations management processes and metrics management. They track key components and derive measurements that truly show how IT services are performing against business needs. They measure service delivery based on IT scorecards and SLAs. These metrics and measures allow them to fine tune services and achieve high availability with the Microsoft® Exchange Server messaging platform. However, since there is no industry standard for measuring services, customers frequently ask, “How does Microsoft do it?” The SLA Scorecard Solution Accelerator for Exchange provides customers with best practices for measuring the service delivery of Exchange."
The official name of the Beta is Microsoft Solutions for Infrastructure and Management Exchange SLA Scorecard.
Beta 2 of the scorecard is in use by a small group for customers in the Technology Adoption Program under NDA and other formal agreements. The TAP program is closed to new customers for getting official support from Microsoft. However, anyone can download the SLA materials, with BetaPlace registration, which includes signing a EULA. These "open beta" customers only get limited best-effort email support from the product team as time allows, but can still enter bugs and suggestions.
You can download the SLA Scorecard Beta 2 at http://www.beta.microsoft.com with the user name MSIMExchangeSLA (Case sensitive).
The beta includes the following components and features that are compatible with Exchange 2000/2003:
The scorecard shows more than just service uptime. It roles up availability by Exchange server role for all Exchange servers in the enterprise. It allows you to configure your SLA target metrics and aggregates MOM event and performance data, displaying actual availability vs. SLA target.
In addition, there are about 11 measures that give you a picture of the "workload" the infrastructure is doing. You can use this to help tune performance to more effectively achieve the SLA target. For example, using a version of the scorecard accelerator to monitor outage maintenance, Microsoft IT is able to categorize each particular outage and export the entire outage table to Excel. This helps Service Managers and IT Managers demonstrate that from an end to end perspective an email outage is more than an application outage. By slicing and dicing the outage data in prep for Service Review Meetings they can present where the majority of outages are occurring and focus efforts in those areas as appropriate. This makes a nice tie-in to change/problem management.
UPDATE: If you are interested in the SLA scorecard, you will definately be interested in this webcast.
TechNet Webcast: Defining and Monitoring Desired Configuration Across a Messaging Service (Level 300)Wednesday, September 21, 2005 - 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific TimeEdhi Sarwono, SYSTEMS DESIGN ENGINEER, Microsoft CorporationRobbie McAlpine, SR PROGRAM MANAGER, Microsoft CorporationDo you consider it a challenge to monitor a configuration across a messaging service? This webcast presents a new solution: the Desired Configuration Monitoring (DCM) Solution Accelerator, which will be released in September. Learn about the DCM Solution Accelerator, how configuration manifests are generated, how the configuration check is processed and about the resulting reports of non-compliant services. The Solution Accelerator provides tools to alert users of differences or non-compliance between their present configuration and baseline or desired configuration. It also provides environmental configuration data to aid configuration management.Register for this webcast
This article says that Microsoft's research indicates that 85% of corporate users and 97% of consumers are running their machines as administrators, according to Neil Charney, a director of product management at the software vendor. Charney said the company is hoping those percentages will decline as a result of the User Account Protection feature.
Read up on UAP here.
The Visio 2003 IT Professional Resource kit provides you with three ISV solutions, a $1200 value at a fraction of the original cost ($199); including products from the following vendors:
Your attack surface just got a little bigger. PDFs are now a poential security risk in your enterprise - have you examined the risk and made contingencies? Do you know how many employees use Adobe Acrobat and Reader in your enterprise? Does your patch management strategy cover PDFs? For example, do you allow Adobe users to "auto-update"? Adobe posted a notice of a buffer overflow vulnerability Tuesday that affects Adobe Acrobat and Reader for Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Solaris and Adobe Acrobat for Windows and Mac OS. Fixes are available and linked in the advisory
The following are publicly available docs from Microsoft IT detailing best practices used internally at Microsoft. These were written after Code Red, Nimbda, Sasser but apply to Zotob/Variants and can help enterprise customers struggling with patch management.
1. Incident Response—Managing Security at Microsoft
2. Server Security Patch Management at Microsoft
3. Systems Management Server 2003: How Microsoft Does Patch Management
4. Systems Management Server 2003: Deployment at Microsoft
5. Systems Management Server 2003: Desktop Patch Management at Microsoft
6. Improving Security with Domain Isolation: Microsoft IT Implements IP Security (IPsec)
7. IT Security at Microsoft Overview
8. Security Enhancements for Remote Access at Microsoft
9. Securing the IT Environment at Microsoft: Enterprise Security Compliance Management
SMS 2003 Scripting Guide
Software Updates for Dell Server Hardware Using SMS 2003
Patch Management Using Systems Management Server 2003
Scenarios and Procedures for Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003: Software Distribution and Patch Management
It is said that when CocaCola entered the mainland Chinese market, some of the first literal translations of the brandname into Mandarin came out "bite the wax tadpole". Of course, Coke marketing got a grip on the situation pretty quickly.
Blogs.technet.com is almost 6 months old, and I am wondering how blogging and branding play together? In some ways, blogging seems to embody the ultimate narrow-casting and brand-loyalty phenomena. It seems that the majority of blog readers (like me) read the bloggers that appeal to them, for totally individual reasons.
On the other hand, all corporate bloggers seem to start out with a switching cost that is tied to the mother corp's brand. And then there is the "blog smart" versus "don't interact with corp PR" debate.
Lastly, from the verbatims and metics we gather so far, it seems that IT Pro blog writers and readers are somewhat unique - different in significant ways from dev bog writers and readers, for example.
What do you think? Leave comments.
Microsoft Security Advisory (906267), published yesterday, warns of a new IE exploit in the wild.
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This e-week article says "Online criminals trying to pry passwords and other sensitive information out of companies have started using phony e-mails to pose as powerful executives of the targeted organizations, experts said on Wednesday.
Spear phishing can be devastatingly effective even among employees who are aware of online threats. At the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, several internal tests found that cadets were all too willing to give sensitive information to an attacker posing as a high-ranking officer, said Dr. Aaron Ferguson, a visiting faculty member there.
"It's the colonel effect. Anyone with the rank of colonel or higher, you execute the order first and ask questions later"."
This 15 page paper details how Microsoft deployed Data Protection Manager to reduce the time and cost associated with backing up critical company data for its 130+ remote sites. Includes comparative data and best practices to consider when moving away from tape backup technology as a primary means of protecting an organization's critical information for remote locations.
The company found that the 8-hour duration experienced by its Portland, Oregon branch office to protect 300 gigabytes using magnetic tape, has been reduced to about 10 minutes using DPM.
Eating your own dog food pays off!
The May 11 Security Advisory warns that there is exploit code in the wild for PNP wseucity issues addressed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-039. Bottom line, drop what you are doing and get your W2K desktops patched ASAP.
Read more on the MSRC blog and the Zotob guidance page.
This knowledge base article has all the steps needed to help make sure your Windows 2000 computers are automatically kept up to date.
As your kids head back to school check out the free trial of OneNote2003. If your kids don't want to try it, suggest that their teachers give it a try. I came from an Education IT background, tech-savvy teachers WILL thank you. There appears to be no reason you cannot order one for your favorite teacher - save them some time.
Oh, and, go here to order your free copy of Microsoft Student 2006.
Finally, pass the info below on to the computer lab person at your school, also free, they will thank you.
The Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP is a new set of software tools and documentation that helps make it easy for anyone, regardless of their IT background, to set up, safeguard, and manage shared computers running Windows XP. Specifically, it helps operators create restricted local user profiles, defend shared computers against unauthorized changes to the hard disk, and enhance the user experience. The Shared Computer Toolkit is an add-on to Windows XP and is available for download.
Read this new paper to understand some enterprise program management best practices from the Microsoft IT group.
Enterprise Project Management at Microsoft. Overview of how Microsoft IT uses Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management solution to provide a central project management repository that enables integration with other line-of-business and consolidated reporting systems.
V1 of the Protect Your PC site launched in August 2003 as a response to the Blaster virus and has since helped protect millions of customers around the world. The new version of the site continues the mission and provides novice users the basic guidance they need to protect their computers online, with easy language that they can understand. Tell all your friends and family and get them of your backs (a bit). With this new and improved version you get:
Studies have shown that human error—primarily accidental file deletion or modification—causes over one-third of all data loss. The financial impact of replacing the lost data is at the least an inconvenience and at the worst a critical blow that can jeopardize daily operations for the IT staff, and cripple productivity for the hapless employee who mistakenly hit Save instead of Save As.
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 includes Shadow Copies of Shared Folders to help prevent inadvertent loss of data. Shadow Copies of Shared Folders helps alleviate data loss by creating shadow copies of files or folders that are stored on network file shares at predetermined time intervals. A shadow copy is a point in time copy that for all intents and purposes - to the end user- looks, talks, and acts like a backup. Once the IT department sets it up (it is NOT on by default), users can do single-file restore themselves.
"How do you like me so far?"
This white paper, written for IT architects and system administrators, describes the functionality of Shadow Copies of Shared Folders the fundamentals of how to design a shadow copy strategy, and the basic steps for setting up and using Shadow Copies of Shared Folders on both servers and clients.
After you read the white paper, read the caveat on Adi's blog. Then: turn on VSS, educate your users, and rock on with the extra time you will save.
Look at the results of your MBSA scans in Visio to get that right-brain stuff going on the problem. Use the Visio Connector for MBSA (Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer). The VCMBSA is a Visio COM add-in that allows IT administrators to view the results of an MBSA network scan on a Visio network diagram. How cool is that?
This was demo'd at MMS in Vegas and got a lot of buzz. It is one of those things you have to see to get - how ironic.
Oh, and did I mention lets you import logs from runs on other systems?
Check it out.
Exchange 2003 Clustering Features
Understanding Exchange Server 2003 Clustering
Redmond Magazine today lists the top 10 Microsoft blogs. 6 of them are on blogs.technet.com. Yay TN bloggers, keep it up. Less than 6 months old, and with zero "promotion" - you are having impact.
At TechReady1 both BV and SS mentioned reading Microsoft blogs in their keynotes.
As TechReady1 closes down, I am wondering about role-based bloggers. We have good evangelist representation, and some product dev and product support folks, where are the TSPs bloggers???
OK. 4 out of N IT Pro bloggers can not be wrong, right? One of the big ideas driving IT Pro blogs is that you start watching a couple of blogs because you somehow connect with the blogger. You read the blogs because the blogger "gets it". Let's test the theory, shall we?
Check out this link, Grins Guaranteed (maybe even LOLs). Let's see how far this "word of mouth" idea goes...
Note: Work Safe, but will waste a couple of minutes of your time with subversive marketing messages:-)
Interest in IT Pro blogging is heating up. Check out Robert Scoble's upcoming Technet Webcast. TechNet Webcast: Introduction to Blogging for the IT Professional (Level 100)Start Time: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 11:30 AM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) End Time: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 1:00 PM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) Description: Information technology (IT) professionals are starting Web logs ("blogs") by the droves. Are you to join the IT blog knowledgebase? Publications like ComputerWorld have started blogging services for IT professionals, providing a foundation for your Web log presence. You can use blogging and associated technologies, like Really Simple Syndication to expand your knowledge by keeping up on the latest news, information, and views from other IT Pros. This webcast provides help on building your own blog presence, brand, and traffic. See demos of newly available services that will get you blogging sooner.
Presenter: Robert Scoble, Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation, and Jeff Julian, Principal Consultant, Alexander & Julian Inc., and John Alexander, “.NET Practice Manager, Alexander & Julian Inc.
Check out the new IT Showcase MOF Case Study Video. Microsoft CIO Ron Markezich discusses how Microsoft IT uses MOF to improve IT operations.
The MOF Training video is a condensed MOF Essentials that enables the viewer to understand the concepts and language of MOF and enables them to find the other MOF resources that can help them with their challenges of decreasing cost improving quality and meeting their compliance requirements.
Warning: large files for download :)
Microsoft invites all customers and partners to attend a recorded webcast on September 15, 2005 that will include localized versions in English, German, French, Spanish or Japanese during four different times in your local region.
Senior Microsoft executives will introduce several new technology, support, planning, and training benefits that will boost the value of your Microsoft software investment and improve the way IT professionals deploy and manage technology. Register now to hear more about these exciting updates.
For more information about Software Assurance, visit http://www.microsoft.com/licensing