Woohoo! Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 is now available for you to trial on TechNet. If you don’t know what it’s all about, read on:
Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 simplifies and improves endpoint protection while greatly reducing infrastructure costs. It builds on System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and R3, allowing customers to use their existing client management infrastructure to deploy and manage endpoint protection. This shared infrastructure lowers ownership costs while providing improved visibility and control over endpoint management and security.
Evaluate your socks off.
At this time of year it’s traditional for everyone to start planning for next year but what are the most important things for an IT Professional to do in the coming year? Next year is going to be the year when we start to see widespread cloud (both public and private) adoption now that some of the big players have proven the path. It’s going to be a year where things need to be completed and where you get things ready to take on the next set of challenges. You need to have your client and cloud in alignment and ready to work seamlessly together. So here’s my top list of 10 new years resolutions for the IT Pro.
1. Complete (or start if you haven't) your Windows 7 upgrades
Lots and lots of people have already started on the path of upgrading their clients to Windows 7. Tools like the WAIK, MDT and System Center make it easier than ever to migrate and technologies like XP Mode, App-V and Med-V and help from toolkits like ACT 5.5 take much of the pain out of ensuring application compatibility. 2011 though is the year you need to be running Windows 7 so that your users can have the best experience that you as an IT Pro can give them, better support, easier use and frankly it’s not fair to make them use an OS that had training materials distributed on VHS!
2. Eradicate IE 6 from your company, replacing it with IE8
Internet Explorer 6 is the the scourge of web developers everywhere. They need to develop separate fixes to make things run in IE6 that need to in other browsers, costing more in development, testing and management time. Moving up to IE8 (which you can do on XP or along with your Windows 7 upgrade) is the way to go. “Ahh but IE9 is on it’s way with all it’s beauty” you say. This is true, 2011 will see IE9 land and yes, it’s true you’ll want to deploy that too, but the move to IE9 will be much easier from IE8 and besides IE8 is more manageable and more secure than any other browser(thanks to InPrivate Browsing and Filtering and being part of your regular patch infrastructure) .
A modern browser means you are protecting your customers, your company and your own reputation.
3. Start understanding and using cloud services like BPOS, Office 365, Windows Intune
2010 has definitely been a year of excitement about the cloud, it’s literally everywhere – even on a CNN panel debate a couple of days ago where they just used the term “cloud” because it was cool. 2011 will be the year that businesses start to derive value from cloud solutions, the fastest of which will be email and BPOS and Office 365 are poised to do that with true enterprise class email. More over though the ability to manage your environment will start the move to the cloud with Windows Intune being a very good starting point.
4. Learn new skills; upgrade your certifications
For lots of people “get a new job” will be top of their new years resolutions list. Make it easier on yourself by upgrading your certifications. It’s something I’m currently doing having just sat all the IT Pro entry level MTA exams. Certifications might not mean that much to you in your current role but when you go looking having certifications on your CV gets you through that level of Recruitment consultants that are just looking for you to tick some boxes. The most important thing though is the knowledge that you gain from doing the courses and that’s what helps you perform better in your current job.
5. Do your number one alpha geek project
It can’t all be about work. Get your Media Center working at home. Learn how to take great photo’s or make excellent videos with the camera you got for Christmas or in the sales. Get yourself a Home Server to keep all your family memories safe or create your quadro-copter / UAV.
6. Use free virtualisation solutions
Microsoft give you virtualisation for free in Windows Server 2008 R2. Turn on the Hyper-V role and as long as you don’t install anything else on your Hyper-V server you can use your Windows 2008 R2 license again on that box. That means you can get great density from that single bit of hardware and because it’s Windows – not some Lunix distro with hard to find drivers that needs specific hardware – you can use Hyper-V on almost any server made in the last few years. And yes Hyper-V does the cool stuff like live migration too.
7. Build applications for the cloud
Azure is a true cloud platform that uses almost any language that you want to build your application in so that you can architect a solution that really makes the best use of the clouds elasticity to grow and shrink and your applications and data needs. Tim Anderson even thinks it’s ready to rock. For a great example of an application built on Azure take a look at
8. Get Silverlight onto every corporate desktop
Silverlight is bit of an unsung hero but it should be a part of your standard Windows 7 deployment. It’s used by Office 2010 to make synchronising to the cloud (public and private) slicker and to train your users with free interactive training built into Office 2010. SharePoint 2010 uses it to look even slicker and you can share corporate insights with simplicity with SharePoint and PowerPivot. Not only that but your Developers can create super slick applications and reuse code simply thus reducing development time and costs.
9. Make sure you have good anti-malware protection
2010 saw us make Microsoft Security Essentials free for businesses of 10 computers or less and it has always been free for home use. Install it on any machines without AV and make sure you keep it updated.
10. Get fit and loose weight
Come on you know you need to do this one too….
Simon May is an Evangelist for Microsoft specialising in Client and Cloud. Simon’s blog covers Windows deployment and Microsoft Public Cloud, when he’s not writing for TechNet or explaining technology he’s normally playing with Media Center PCs, taking photos or renovating houses.
These eLearning offers are only available until 31 December, so get in fast.
To help you deploy Windows 7 and gain your MCTS certifications, C.B.Learning are offering a buy one, get one free deal on Windows 7 70-680 and 70-686 online training courses – that’s a saving of £199.99.
You can also save £250 on a Microsoft Training 365 IT Professional Subscription, which provides access to over 500 official Microsoft IT Pro online training courses for a year (usually £749 excluding VAT, now £499 excluding VAT).
More details here.
I’m a huge fan of IE9 which is why I made a bunch of videos about it but what I like is that we’re really pushing ahead with innovation in the space and it feels like hardly a week goes by without there being something (really) good to say about it. The thing is it’s still in beta and not what people should be using right now you should be deploying Internet Explorer 8 as part of Windows 7 and as an upgrade to anything else. Which is why it’s super news that IE8 is included in these figures. NSS Labs have just released a report that – independently – proclaims Internet Explorer 8 and 9 the most secure browsers on the net. Oh how things have changed!
Internet Explorer 8 stops 90% of all malware attacks and IE9 builds on this by stopping another 9% with things like Application Reputation. To provide contrast that’s 5X more than Firefox, 9x more than Safari and 33x more than Chrome.
What does this mean to me, your average IT Professional?
It means lots of things, depending upon your point of view…
You can trust Internet Explorer 9 because of Built-in security, reliability, deployment and control
Try IE9 and check out the Internet Explorer Tech Center on TechNet
Whichever industry you’re in, you have processes to deal with. Some processes are similar regardless of industry; claiming expenses follows similar patterns even if there are variations from company to company. Other processes vary by industry or region. Some are unique to an individual organisation. A lot of these processes involve people outside of the organisation. An obvious example is the retail industry, where purchases start with a customer but then get processed by staff. There are examples for virtually all industries where someone outside of the business plays a part in a business process.
SharePoint is a great platform for handling business processes. You have SharePoint Designer for those simple, linear workflow and Visual Studio which can handle processes as complex as they come. SharePoint allows you to bring together document management, collaboration, BI, and task management in a single unified platform, with links to other systems in your organisation, so that your processes can flow smoothly into the operation of your business. If you’re running a SharePoint intranet, you can make use of the workflow capabilities to help speed up your internal business processes.
But what about those processes that have external factors? What about those situations where a process is kicked off by a form on a website?
There are all sorts of ways that this can be handled, with information being pulled into SharePoint via the Business Connectivity Services, or communicated via web services, or using technology such as BizTalk.
But wouldn’t it be so much simpler if everything was on the same foundation?
SharePoint is generally thought of as being a product for building intranets. People often forget that it can be used to produce rich websites. If you build your internal portals and external sites on the same, SharePoint platform, then suddenly it becomes much simpler to have your processes flow from external to internal people. If you’ve already invested in building up the skills to automate your internal processes, then those same skills can be applied to these external processes.
A basic example of this might be a process around requesting contact. In this scenario, the organisation has a SharePoint farm with (at least) two site collections. One site collection forms the intranet, with collaboration spaces, mysites and portal pages. The other site collection is the company’s internet site. On this site is a simple form for requesting contact, designed in InfoPath with data validation to ensure it is correctly filled out. When the user clicks on the submit button, the form updates a list in the internal site collection. A workflow automatically activates, adding a task to an appropriate member of staff, after performing some logic to determine who would be the best placed to respond. That staff member then has the details from the form in a SharePoint task list. When the task is completed, the list is updated by the workflow to remove this item. Throughout the whole process, a business intelligence portal uses the SharePoint lists as data sources to surface information about the number of contact request, speed with which they’re dealt and even which staff members respond most promptly. By having both sides build on the same platform, information can flow from website to intranet, meaning processes that can be completed quickly and are easy to maintain.
Through the whole procedure, you can make use of those features of SharePoint which make automating business processes so much simpler: rich web forms from InfoPath, workflow visualisation in Visio, data connections through BCS, as well as seamless integration to the wealth of other capabilities SharePoint provides.
If you want to know more about building workflows, both inside and outside the firewall, then there is reference reading, examples and planning guidance available in the TechNet libraries. You can also visit the SharePoint TechCentre for the latest information and comparisons of SharePoint products.
Enjoy festive times on the Hey, Scripting Guy! blog as the lads talk Windows PowerShell with Ebenezer Script, Bob Snippet, and Tiny Shim. The A Windows PowerShell Carol series of posts comes courtesy of Microsoft MVP Sean Kerney – find out more about him on the HSG blog. You can also follow the scripting guys on Twitter.
At PDC10 last month, Microsoft announced several enhancements for the Windows Azure Platform. Today, we're happy to announce that several of these enhancements are ready for you to try as a Beta or Community Technology Preview (CTP). You can find more details about these new features in the announcement on the Windows Azure team blog or in the webcast “Getting Started with the Windows Azure November 2010 Release”. If you are new to Windows Azure, you might want to read this post first, which contains guidance on getting you up to speed with the platform.
Download today the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio release 1.3 and the new Windows Azure Platform Developer Training Kit and start exploring the new services and features in the Windows Azure Platform.
Developers and IT Pros have several cost-effective choices to try the Windows Azure Platform including the Introductory Special with 25 hours per month at no charge and in addition to these offers, MSDN Premium and Ultimate Subscribers are eligible to a 16-month free access for development & testing purposes. Learn more about your MSDN Windows Azure Benefits and how to activate your account today.
Now that you have installed the tools and activated your Windows Azure account you can use the following resources to learn and get hands-on experience on some of the key services and features on the Windows Azure Platform.
Learn – Webcast
Explore – Hands-on Lab
New Service or Feature
Building, deploying & managing Windows Azure Apps
Introduction to Windows Azure HOL
Full IIS; New Developer Portal; Remote Desktop; Apps Deployment; Apps Diagnostics
Migrating and Building Apps for Windows Azure
Advanced Web And Worker Roles HOL
Windows Azure Virtual Machine role; Elevated Privileges for Web & Worker roles; Full IIS; Remote Desktop
Inside WA Virtual Machines
Virtual Machine Role HOL
Windows Azure Virtual Machine role
Understanding Windows Azure Connect
Connecting Apps with Windows Azure Connect HOL
Windows Azure Connect
Building High Performance Web Applications with the Windows Azure Platform
Windows Azure CDN HOL
CDN Dynamic Content Caching; Full IIS; Elevated Privileges for Web and Worker roles
If you haven’t yet heard about the launch of Microsoft Lync Server 2010, then shame on you, you haven’t been reading the blog regularly. Someone who’s always in the know is our very own evangelist Simon May, and he’s had a chat about all things Lync with Vicente Fraser, CIO at The London School of Business and Finance. Watch it here.
We’ve also got a series of three 15 minute Live Meeting overviews for you at 12pm on the following dates – how’s that for a lunchtime treat?
Sandwiches at the ready on the following dates:
13th Dec: Lync: better together with Exchange and SharePoint
!5th Dec: PBX: Integrate or replace
17th Dec: On-premise vs. the cloud
We've set up this intro to Lync Server 2010 to bring together everything you need to know about Lync, and we'll also post the on demand sessions from the Live Meetings here as soon as they're available.
SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service for businesses of all sizes that helps them create sites to share documents and insights with colleagues, partners, and customers.
Rather than install and deploy SharePoint Server 2010 on premises, businesses can subscribe to SharePoint Online to provide employees with the collaboration, business intelligence, and information management capabilities available.
In the new SharePoint Online Planning and Administration area on TechNet, you’ll find info to help you plan, operate and customise SharePoint Online for your needs.
New for you - Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) 2010 Service Pack 1 provides an easy and secure remote access solution with a focus on application intelligence and granular access control. Forefront UAG 2010 SP1 is the one solution to fit all of your remote access needs, as it provides centralised management and policy control across all users, devices, and network resources.
Visit TechNet to download.