Pssst. Keep this under you hat, and you didn't hear it from me, got it?
The ops team at microsoft.com has opened a blog. They have invited you to share your top ops pain points, then they will share some of their tips, tricks, solutions.
Can you say blank check?
Go now and read their blog, post a comment, start picking their brains.
I missed this over the summer, tasked on other products and projects, but if you haven't read the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Security Hardening Guide yet, go download it now.
Updated July 21, 2005, and available in 9 languages, the guide is designed to provide you with essential information about how to harden your Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 environment. In addition to practical, hands-on configuration recommendations, this guide includes strategies for combating spam, viruses, and other external threats to your Exchange Server 2003 messaging system. While most server administrators can benefit from reading this guide, it is designed to produce maximum benefits for administrators responsible for Exchange Server messaging, both at the mailbox and architect levels.
Did you already know about this? Or because search engine crawlers do not cover the download center, is this blog the first you've heard about it? How did you find this blog entry? Leave comments so we can begin to understand the influence blogs have in helping you find things in the download center.
FYI Others who downloaded Exchange Server 2003 Security Hardening Guide also downloaded:
Scoble did a nifty webacast last week. Quick cull of the chat transcript nets you some Blog-related links below. If you haven't checked them all out, then....unh, you should....
Here are some nifty Exchange Server 2003 migration planning/perf optimization planning tools for you,a nd check out the link at the bottom of this post to the new tools newsgroup:
ExBPA 1.1 programmatically collects settings and values from data repositories such as Active Directory, registry, metabase and perfmon. Next, comprehensive ‘best practice’ rules are applied to the topology, yielding a detailed report with recommendations you can use to boost performance, scalability and uptime. Run before you start a test with Jetstress, Loadsim, ESP in your test lab, and before you go “live” in production.
Jetstress helps you stress-test your pre-production disk performance by simulating Exchange disk Input/Output (I/O) load. Specifically, Jetstress simulates the Exchange database and log file loads produced by a specific number of users. You use Performance Monitor, Event Viewer, and ESEUTIL in conjunction with Jetstress to verify that your disk subsystem meets or exceeds the performance criteria you establish. Run Jetstress if you are concerned about your storage subsystem, or if you only need to size for I/O capacity.
Run Jetstress if you are concerned about your storage subsystem, or if you only need to size for I/O capacity.
Loadsim lets you test your design assumptions by simulating MAPI client load. Loadsim can reproduce many different types of user load over different transports. For example, testing public folder access over RPC/HTTP.
ESP lets you sim a wide variety of protocols and loads. You can run modules concurrently from multiple hosts, thereby more realistically simulating physically separate client machines. There is no limit to the number of computers on your network that can host ESP modules. Run Loadsim or ESP if you need to evaluate the effect of 3rd-party solutions on an Exchange environment or evaluate client experience.
Also check out:
new Extools newsgroup
Exchange Server 2003 KB RSS Feed
I love this company. I'm an alumn of the Microsoft IT group, and proud of it (especially if it gets me an invite to the upcoming charity poker tournament that would give me a chance to play against Microsoft execs Rick Devenutti and Ron Markezich).
These guys know how to run Exchange. The ops team runs at 4 9s (including planned downtime) using Microsoft software and MOF processes in an environment that includes 130K user accounts, and 300K+ devices in the network. Now you can get their tools, process and knowledge for running high-availability Exchange in a service offering called Microsoft Operations Consulting Offering for Exchange (MOCO).
I wish I was able to post screenshots -but our blogging set up here makes that more difficult than I think it should be.
Seeing is believeing. Have a look at the live demos that they showed in the webcast: "TechNet Webcast: Managing Exchange Service Levels with the SLA Scorecard Solution Accelerator (Level 300)"
The solution requires SQL Reporting Services, IIS, and .NET, SQL2000, MOM2003, Exchange 2000/2003
For further information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
A researcher has just completed a prelim analysis of Microsoft employee bloggers. Some interesting observations:
Although MeadWestvaco's transformation is still ongoing, to date the company has eliminated more than $100,000 annually in IT maintenance contracts and recognized a 10 percent gain in operational stability. McGrane credits these gains and savings to ITIL. Read the whole article here.
Organizations that are succeeding with ITIL are keeping the silos for management structure, but modifying performance measurement and compensation to begin reflecting enterprise, not silo goals. They are also re-engineering and driving the flow of IT work at the enterprise level--through a consolidated system approach. One system, with visibility for all—going from request to outcome. Properly designed, they are balancing both corporate IT governance needs and local operating flexibility. Read the whole article here.
Using ITIL isn't easy, because it demands major changes in how IT organizations are run. Consultant Malcolm Fry offers some reasons why ITIL projects fail:
Read the whole article, then read some follow-on thoughts from Randyy TN blogs:How the MOF Process Model corresponds to ITIL guidance MOF Team Model and mapping ITIL flows to your IT Org ChartReducing IT Costs, Design a Service Catalog
There has been another labrat sighting - check out this nifty tip from his blog - you are reading his blog, right? Um, here are the results from one customer engagement with the services labs (labrat territory): "After the 3 week lab engagement, the end results were significant. Retalix, Ltd. achieved the following scalability improvements for each application tested:
Get it? So here's his tip:
On your taskbar, you'll notice an Outlook 2003 icon. If you click on it, you'll see options for you to turn on or off such as "Show network warnings" and the like.
However, if you hold down the CTRL key while clicking on that icon, you'll notice a new option, "Connection Status". Selecting that option will show you all kinds of useful information about your connection to your Exchange Server(s).
Step 1> Get out your cellphone
Step 2> Find your pri1 emergency contact
Step 3> edit that contact to begin with the letters ICE, for In Case of Emergency
Step 4> Rinse, repeat for pri(N) contacts, using the ICE(n), as in ICE2, ICE3, etc
Now you have helped anyone who is trying to help you in an emergency quickly find the right number to call on your phone (assuming they are able to get in there and you are not able to talk or help them).
Why? Most people do not mark their contacts with the thought of helping a stranger help them in an emergency. Read the details of the original concept (and offered add-on services) here.
Bloglines has a nifty search that lets you see who is citing you. A quick search this morning on "blogs.technet.com" shows 2526 citations.
Way to go TN bloggers!
Not to be competitive or anything, but multiple searches this morning for the number for blogs.msdn.com citations yields: There is a problem with the database. Please try again later
Find out whether your existing apps are compatible with Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2). The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 4.1 was designed to help minimize the risks associated with changes to the operating system and to deploy Windows XP SP2 quickly. Check out the excellent launch page that includes some handy associated links and tools, like VPC, Virtual Server, the AppVerifier, and TechNet's #1 most handy resource you should know about if you don't already - the Script Center.
The Microsoft.com operations guys have a blog. Stop, think for a minute. The ops guys who run the largest website in the world have a blog where they share tips, tricks, gotchas and best practices. Consider the strategic value you can get from what they are giving away for free. What other enterprise IT shop offers this? None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Example: this excellent post on their experience running microsoft.com on 64 bit Windows. Or, look at the one about setting up baseline perfmon logs. They'll even be sharing their scripts.
If you are involved with enterprise IT, you should run-not walk- to your nearest RSS aggregator and subscribe these guys forthwith.
Jim Collins, a former professor at Stanford Business School and founder of his own management research laboratory, author of Good to Great (HarperCollins, 2001), is quoted on ChristianityToday (emphasis mine):
"How do Good to Great companies treat their employees?
We came across a number of paradoxical findings. Clearly the notion of people came first, but not in the way you normally think about it. We learned that people are not the most critical asset. The right people are. So much so that great companies will put picking the right people ahead of picking the right strategy. Secondly, these Good to Great leaders were in service to their company, not to their people. This is a different idea from servant leadership.
So these great companies were bipolar—they were great places to work for the right people. But they were terrible places for the wrong people. Great company leaders didn't see it as their objective to make it a great place to work. There was an absence of motivational programs. That's because they had the right people: those who wanted to be part of an environment that succeeds and wins, and whose values connected with the values of the institution.
It's one of the most demeaning, barbaric things to think of human beings as a lump of inert coal that can be fired on with a ray gun called motivation. Great companies find people who are intrinsically self-motivated. If they're only motivated because someone motivated them, they're the wrong people. The key in management is not to de-motivate people who are motivated."
new Turing Test website has a clever twist - detect of the "other?" is a human or bot by communication over IM. Aside from the computer-science, marketing and philosophical implications, this site has some hilarious/surreal dialogue:
I'm begging you. Say goodnight already.
jabberwacky: I am your superior.
user: No, I am YOUR superior! Bow to me and make me an apple pie!
jabberwacky: Good god, no. I'm not an American. A nice steak & kidney pie, or a fish pie.
user: You... You're not American? Do... Do you know what mud-running is?
jabberwacky: Smoked haddock in an ideal world, with some prawns, peas and chives in a white sauce and topped with mashed spud... Can't beat it.
user: I loathe how you completly just dodged my question.
jabberwacky: Hahaha. You make me laugh.
user: You puny insect. I will conquer your country and make my slave; I will chain you upside down, place a clock right in front you, and then tell you you will be hung there for the rest of your natural life.
user: That's right! Bow to me!
jabberwacky: I didn't really. Make sense or I will have to leave you.
user: Bow to me!
jabberwacky: Yeah right.
user: BOW TO ME!
jabberwacky: I shall.
user: Good. DO IT! And then make me an apple pie!
jabberwacky: Always and forever you and me, That's the way our life should be.
user: I love you too man.
jabberwacky: You don't know me.
user: Come on! Share a little love, brother!
jabberwacky: I'll share it with you.
user: Me too! Hugs all around!
jabberwacky: Evil is nothing more than ignorance, and we can clean that away.
user: I am evil. I am so good at it, that I have figured out how to conquer the world, and I am actually implementing this plan as we speak.
jabberwacky: I don't understand.
user: It's like this - I take over the world, and everyone in it will be my slaves.
jabberwacky: Hah yeah RIGHT!
user: Yeah! Right! You're already in with the program; how wonderful!
I love this company. I love NPR. Bill Gates recently recorded his entry in the NPR series "This I Believe". Here is the text, but you should listen to his recording at the link above.
Bill Gates: "I've always been an optimist and I suppose that is rooted in my belief that the power of creativity and intelligence can make the world a better place.
For as long as I can remember, I've loved learning new things and solving problems. So when I sat down at a computer for the first time in seventh grade, I was hooked. It was a clunky old Teletype machine and it could barely do anything compared to the computers we have today. But it changed my life.
When my friend Paul Allen and I started Microsoft 30 years ago, we had a vision of "a computer on every desk and in every home," which probably sounded a little too optimistic at a time when most computers were the size of refrigerators. But we believed that personal computers would change the world. And they have.
And after 30 years, I'm still as inspired by computers as I was back in seventh grade.
I believe that computers are the most incredible tool we can use to feed our curiosity and inventiveness -- to help us solve problems that even the smartest people couldn't solve on their own.
Computers have transformed how we learn, giving kids everywhere a window into all of the world's knowledge. They're helping us build communities around the things we care about and to stay close to the people who are important to us, no matter where they are.
Like my friend Warren Buffett, I feel particularly lucky to do something every day that I love to do. He calls it "tap-dancing to work." My job at Microsoft is as challenging as ever, but what makes me "tap-dance to work" is when we show people something new, like a computer that can recognize your handwriting or your speech, or one that can store a lifetime's worth of photos, and they say, "I didn't know you could do that with a PC!"
But for all the cool things that a person can do with a PC, there are lots of other ways we can put our creativity and intelligence to work to improve our world. There are still far too many people in the world whose most basic needs go unmet. Every year, for example, millions of people die from diseases that are easy to prevent or treat in the developed world.
I believe that my own good fortune brings with it a responsibility to give back to the world. My wife, Melinda, and I have committed to improving health and education in a way that can help as many people as possible.
As a father, I believe that the death of a child in Africa is no less poignant or tragic than the death of a child anywhere else. And that it doesn't take much to make an immense difference in these children's lives.
I'm still very much an optimist, and I believe that progress on even the world's toughest problems is possible -- and it's happening every day. We're seeing new drugs for deadly diseases, new diagnostic tools, and new attention paid to the health problems in the developing world.
I'm excited by the possibilities I see for medicine, for education and, of course, for technology. And I believe that through our natural inventiveness, creativity and willingness to solve tough problems, we're going to make some amazing achievements in all these areas in my lifetime."
Acting as tech support for your friends and family getting to be a drag? OneCare is on the way. Check out this article - excerpt:
If computers are so smart, why can't they take care of themselves? Keeping a PC in proper trim involves a host of niggling little tasks, many of them confusing and all of them easy to forget. It's not fair.
Computers are good at remembering stuff. Surely they could remember to practice their own digital fitness regimen. Plenty of programs offer some degree of automated maintenance.
Most decent antivirus programs run themselves once a week and can download regular updates from the Internet.
But that's just one of several crucial tasks, so later this year, Microsoft Corp. plans to introduce Windows OneCare, an online service for broadband users that's designed to automate a computer's most important maintenance and security tasks.
OneCare is just one of several indications that Microsoft has finally grasped the critical importance of computer security. Remember the Zotob worm that swept across the Internet a few weeks ago? Probably not.
Earlier plagues like Code Red and Slammer afflicted millions of PCs. Zotob nailed a fraction of that number and then only computers that ran older versions of Windows. Windows XP users had nothing to fear; a happy hint that Microsoft is starting to get it right.
Still, there's a lot more to OneCare than security against malicious software. It oversees a number of other important tasks that most people neglect, disk defragmentation, for instance. When data is stored on a hard drive, it tends to get chopped into little fragments and scattered all over the disk. It's as if you filed a 100-page report by putting each page in a different drawer. If files were consolidated, the computer could find them faster.
Besides, looking up fragmented data puts a lot of stress on the mechanical components of the hard drive. Running a defragmentation program could help your computer last longer. Nearly every version of Windows has the program Disk Defragmenter built in; hardly anyone runs it. OneCare remembers to do it automatically.
Better yet, OneCare automates the most neglected job of all, data backup.
Paving my Tablet PC today in prep for a new role. As I am loading tools and add-ins, I find that in the top 10 are 2 OneNote powertoys that I cannot live without.
Fall in love today with the Send to OneNote from IE PowerToy and the Send to OneNote from Outlook PowerToy.
Got cool applications of these toys to share? Leave comments here.
Speaking of cool stuff that makes life easier - have you noticed the "What Others Are Downloading" feature on these pages? Find one of them, scroll down, and you find the link to the other one. Cool.
Ff you are a parent of a student with computers in your home or at school, then you should check out the Shared Computer Toolkit V1.0 released today.
Things in the Toolkit you can use on your home computers, or bring to the attention of your school's IT or computer-lab folks include Windows Disk Protection, which protects the computer hard drive from being modified without administrator approval. Disk changes made are cleared with each restart unless the administrator chooses to save them. You can restrict user access to programs, settings, and Start menu items. The tool also allows you to lock shared local user profiles to prevent permanent changes. (This tool is specifically for use in workgroup environments that do not use Active Directory and Group Policy. A Group Policy template is also included for use in Active Directory environments.) The Profile Manager helps you create and delete user profiles. You can use this tool to create user profiles on alternative drives that will retain data and settings even though Windows Disk Protection is on. You can delete profiles locked by the User Restrictions tool.
I love this company.
Before you read this press pass announcement of US$9M (so far) donated by Microsoft and its employees for Katrina relief, keep in mind that what you read here is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many inspirational folks in this company, most are not mentioned in this link. My hat is off to them in gratitude and respect.
I love this company.
Meet MAX. From the website, launced today:
Microsoft® Codename Max is not like any other product. That's because it's not a product—it's your opportunity to try an exciting new user experience from Microsoft. Today Max lets you make lists of your photos and turn them into beautiful slide shows to share with your family and friends. Tomorrow...who knows?