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January, 2011

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  • Tech.Days 2011, 23-25 May – save the date!

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    Introducing Tech.Days Live 2011, 23-25 May

    Nine events (and counting), two locations, one week. The main attraction will be three one-day events at the London Vue Cinema, Fulham Broadway, London. In addition, there will be evening activities across town in Victoria at Microsoft's offices in Cardinal Place. We'll be releasing registration details on Twitter as they become available, so follow us to stay informed.

    What’s on?

    Just like last year, we’ll be running two tracks during the event, one aimed at IT professionals and one at developers. Here’s a taster of the content we’ll be covering:

    IT Professional

    - Deploying Windows 7 and Office 2010

    - Virtualisation, Hyper-V and the private cloud     

    - Moving infrastructure and platforms to the public cloud

    Developer

    - Building and deploying applications onto the Azure cloud computing platform

    - The latest features and futures for Windows Phone 7

    - Building rich applications with Silverlight 5

    - Deep dives on the web platform, IE 9 and the HTML5

    Save the date in your diary now and keep your eyes peeled for more details coming here soon.

  • A Day in the Life of David Lynch, Microsoft Senior Support Engineer

    Welcome to the first in our new series, A Day in the Life. We’ll be talking to a variety of techy Microsofties about what they get up to during the old 9-5. We’d love to hear your suggestions for upcoming interviewees, so please post your suggestions in the comments box below.

    We kick off with David Lynch, Senior Support Engineer in the EMEA Global Technical Support Centre UK. David, it’s over to you…(anyone remember Through the Keyhole?)

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    I specialise in supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer, or IE, as it’s more commonly referred to. This is my primary support area and although it may sound like a small topic to focus on, it’s really not. IE is actually quite a large area to support because you have to cover every angle. It’s not just knowing about the product’s functionality inside out, it’s about knowing how to deploy it with IEAK, how to manage it with policy and also how to troubleshoot it with the appropriate tools. It requires a rock solid understanding of its architecture – the binaries that make up IE, how it integrates with Windows, how it communicates over TCP/IP to web servers and proxy servers and how they communicate back, and it doesn’t stop there. You need to know how to code in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, .net, XML, AJAX, C/C++, provide advice on streamlining performance, debugging hangs and crashes and leaks etc., and of course, know a bit about the opposition! We also have an on-site offering in the service catalogue - an IE8 workshop which we typically deliver in one day, covering the new features in IE8, its settings, management, connections, tips on troubleshooting, ActiveX controls and, if the customer wants, some information about IE9. The workshop is becoming increasingly popular and can be utilised by organisations looking at migrations or ramping up on specific areas.

    As well as IE, I cover the Windows Shell and I’ve recently added MSI to my troubleshooting skillset.

    Today is a typical Tuesday for me, my busiest day of the week. It starts like any other, checking if any incidents have happened over night that might affect the team, looking through email communication and briefly triaging my cases and checking through my calendar to see what work I have to do today. What makes Tuesday different is that it’s triage day for IE in the Global Technical Support Centre (GTSC), for which I am responsible. I start by compiling a list of Premier and Professional customer support cases that are currently with our frontline engineers in Bangalore before emailing it out to the team. This is followed up with a scheduled conference call between the UK and India teams, addressing each case to make sure it’s on track, to highlight any issues, mark any that are due for escalation to the UK team and make sure both teams are aware of all the current cases. After the meeting, I report back  with a summary of the current actions for these cases which are then logged against them. Typically we would triage 25-35 cases depending on how busy it is. Triage is a very important part of the week – aside from the fact that our customers benefit from having their support cases regularly discussed, the team as a whole has the chance to speak to each other by voice, instead of typing in an IM conversation, so it helps to build those team relations.

    Around the triage activities, I need to focus on my own support cases which are all escalations from our front-line team in India or, from other front-line teams around Europe where volumes are particularly high or, from other escalation teams who need collaboration from an IE support specialist. A case load of around 15 is average but when it gets busy, or when colleagues go on holiday, I have gone up to 21-22 cases which can get pretty manic!

    At the end of the day, it’s good to do something different. I like going down to the on-site gym to relax my mind and revitalise my body to help keep a balance to the day.

    Apart from triage, meetings and case load, on a weekly basis, a typical engineer spends time mentoring the front-line engineers or colleagues in the UK team to help bring them on, keep up to date with what’s going on in the business and around their areas, look for opportunities to further develop their own skills or identify areas where we can help develop others or our products to increase market share. Being able to respond to high priority issues around security, cumulative updates and high severity issues is also required. It’s all very customer focused, there’s rarely any free-time, but always time to develop.

    David Lynch
    EMEA GTSC UK Core IE Shell Support Engineer
    Microsoft Customer Service & Support

    Coming next week: Microsoft Technology Centre intern and loveable geek, Jon Lickiss tells us about a typical day in the MTC. Let us know if you have a burning question for Jon – post it in the comments box below.

  • TechNet Flash technical article: Inframon on Fighting the War on Cost with System Center

    Huge thanks to Inframon’s Sean Roberts and Gordon McKenna for this post.

    Fighting the War on Cost with Microsoft System Center

    Inframon was founded in 2005 which was right in the middle of what now can be described as the ‘good times’. Since then we’ve had a major global economic meltdown and a number of our customers have been severely impacted by this with IT budgets slashed and head counts removed. Some of our customers have managed this change well and come out of this relatively unscathed as faster, leaner and better organisations. Others have not fared so well and have disappeared, merged or been restructured to something unrecognisable. None have remained the same.

    The current economic state for the European Union is  somewhat grim. This is clearly demonstrated in the Gross Domestic Product figures you can see on your screen. From 2007 to 2009 we saw a massive contraction of 9% in economic growth.

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    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the total economic output of an area. When this moves into negative figures as we see in 2008 the economy is contracting and therefore, we’re in a recession.

    This had some pretty far reaching implications for the economy as a whole:

    1. Unemployment across the EU grew to 8.3% from 6.7% just a year earlier.

    2. Foreclosures on houses quickened

    3. Credit lines to business dried up

    4. Business started going bust

    The bottom line is – people are spending less.

    Some countries were impacted more heavily than others such as Ireland, Spain, Greece and the Baltic states. It wasn’t just the EU that was affected by this; the entire world was affected.

    Whilst we can see a small recovery in the UK economy, overall it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily in the clear. Ireland for instance has now officially tipped back into recession (known as a double dip) and has recently been bailed out by the EU. We’re not sure yet if other countries such as the UK, who responded to the crisis with massive stimulus packages and are now embarking upon slashing public spending, will also follow Ireland into the double dip, but there are increasing fears of ‘contagion’ amongst other European nations, including Portugal and Greece. Further to this the UK now faces the renewed challenge of above target inflation figures.

    It is natural of course that the credit crisis and economic turmoil would have an impact upon ICT as a whole. Despite our best efforts the reality is that aside from a handful of businesses, IT is still regarded as a cost centre to the business.

    Across all of our customers we have come to recognise that there is a war going on, this is the war on cost. At its essence the war on cost dictates that we must now deliver more value to our end users, with less resources and in less time.

    There are a number of far reaching implications of the war; we’ve seen a huge swing from build to buy, from insource to outsource, from onsite to cloud. This war has forever changed the face of IT, from IT Professionals to Executives.

    Recently Inframon hosted for the second time an event called The War on Cost (www.waroncost.com) at the Churchill War Rooms. This historic site set the theme for the day as a multitude of world class Microsoft and non-Microsoft speakers demonstrated how we can all fight the war on cost using the Microsoft System Center suite of products. Covering the current and future set of products attendees were able to gain unique insights and tips how to plan, architect and deploy System Center to help them fight the war on cost. Feedback from attendees was excellent and today we’re happy to announce that those who didn’t attend are now able to access the content at www.waroncost.com. You’ll also find links to each session at the end of this post.

    Hopefully you too can use System Center to fight the war on cost in your organisation.

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    If you need a little inspiration then remember the words of our wartime leader.

    "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.

    Give us the tools, and we will finish the job."

    Winston Churchill - 9 February 1941

    Sean Roberts\Gordon McKenna – Inframon

    Inframon are a Microsoft Gold Partner specialising solely in the Microsoft System Center Suite of products. Their Microsoft MVP-led team help help businesses across the UK realise the true benefits of utilising Microsoft System Center to drive down costs across their IT infrastructure.

    www.inframon.com

    Watch the War on Cost event videos on Showcase:

    Attack the Costs and Complexity of managing mobile devices in your enterprise
    Microsoft Private Cloud Story
    Microsoft Keynote - Desktop and Security Convergence

    Keynote from Gordon McKenna, CEO at Inframon

    Microsoft keynote - Datacenter to the Cloud
    Heterogenous Management with Operations Manager 2007
    Operations Manager R2 and V.Next
    Service Manager - the Better Together Story

    System Center Configuration Manager v.Next Highlights
    Datacenter IT Process Automation (Opalis)

  • Tech.Days online – live webinars for IT professionals

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    Updated with new resources.

    Tech.Days online will be bringing you IT insights and debates most Tuesdays from February to June, between 2 and 3pm. Watch the teaser video from presenters Simon May and Andrew Fryer here. They’ll cover the topics of desktop, private cloud and public cloud; and each webinar will contain clues revealing how you could win a Samsung 42inch plasma TV, Canon EOS 1000D camera and an LG DVD home cinema system. The links below take you directly to the sessions and the website will host on demand sessions for those of you who can’t make it on the day.

    08 February The Modern Desktop

    15 February Microsoft cloud for the IT Professional

    22 February What is Hyper-V cloud

    08 March Practical Deployment

    15 March Creating Your Own Private Cloud

    22 March Security integration with the cloud using Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS)

    05 April Desktop Virtualisation

    12 April Automation and the Private Cloud

    19 April Managing the cloud

    03 May Deployment with the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP)

    10 May Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

    17 May Office 365 for the IT Professional

    07 June The Dynamic Duo, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

    14 June Mixing and moving services between the private and public cloud

    21 June Governance Risk & Compliance in the cloud

    Get more info on TechNet.

  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard trial now available

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    Not only can you now evaluate Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 Standard, but the team have updated the Windows SBS website with new resources materials to help you find out how Windows SBS 2011 can assist your business.

  • Microsoft Business Intelligence Seminar 2011

    Save a space in your diary for the upcoming Microsoft Business Intelligence Seminar 2011, taking place on 2 March. Here’s an overview – if you’d like to know more you’ll find the full agenda and registration details here.

    Overview

    Business Intelligence enables your organisation to turn facts and information hidden in your data into valuable insight. Companies that use BI perform and compete better than those relying only on instinct or casual analysis. Microsoft provides a mature and complete platform for building BI solutions that empower every knowledge worker in your organisation to make better business decisions.

    Our BI workshop has been designed to give you a good understanding of Microsoft's BI strategy and its platform consisting of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, and SQL Server 2008 R2. You will also hear about future direction for BI that takes advantage of Cloud Computing, the emergence of BI Appliances, and the newest innovation in powerful, advanced, yet easy to use analytics.

     

  • Win with the Windows 7 deployment learning portal

    Have you taken advantage of our Windows 7 Deployment Learning Portal offer yet?

    Take this free online assessment to help you identify the strengths and gaps in your knowledge around Windows 7 deployment and provide some targeted learning steps. If you take the assessment now you could get your mitts on a FREE Windows 7 Resource Kit (worth £54.99; while stocks last), along with 40% off a wide range of MS Press titles. If you’ve already qualified for one of the Windows 7 Resource Kits but have yet to claim, please do remember to do so by the end of February.

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  • Here’s the first TechNet Flash newsletter of 2011

    We’re back! We missed you, so this fortnight’s newsletter is a bumper edition all about making Windows server management easier. We’ve got a feature article from the lovely folks at Inframon, along with the usual round up of top stories and downloads, and no less than two chances to win some amazing goodies. We’re also trying to track down the winners of our letters to Father Techmas competition. Where are you guys?!

    Read the newsletter here and sign up to get your own copy every fortnight.

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  • Want to know more about using Bing Maps as a business intelligence solution?

    Are you a decision maker in your business? If so, Bing Maps and The Ridgian Group would like to invite you to join them on 1st February for a Live Meeting about Corporate Business Intelligence using Bing Maps. Come and find out how you can use Business Intelligence to address your key business priorities, such as:

    • Attracting and retaining new customers
    • Reducing costs
    • Targeting customers & markets more effectively
    • Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness
    • Business Intelligence incorporating Bing Maps
    • Business Intelligence using Bing Maps with SharePoint and SQL Server 2008

    Products discussed include Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft SQL Server, among others.

    The agenda is as follows:

    • Introduction – Microsoft and Ridgian
    • Bing Maps Overview
    • What does Business Intelligence mean:
    • To an organisation?
    • To a department?
    • To an individual?
    • Bing Maps as a B.I. solution today
    • Cherwell District Council
    • Q&A

    Register here

  • More Windows Small Business Server Standard 2011 info

    Last week I blogged about Windows Small Business Server Standard 2011 – you can find a more detailed summary here on the official SBS blog, including a list of the new and enhanced features.

    Here are some more bits and bobs to help you find out more:

    · SBS 2011 Standard learning snacks

    · What’s new in SBS 2011 and Migrating to SBS 2011

    · Try and buy