TechNet UK

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August, 2011

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  • Fed up with ‘reply all’ emails? Get the NoReplyAll Outlook add-in

    Oh, how welcome this is. Microsoft Research have a free NoReplyAll Outlook add-in download available which, as you might have worked out from the name, stops people replying to all the recipients of a message or forwarding it on.

    Get the add-in and some more info  here from the Microsoft Research website.

  • Free download – Black Book of Core Infrastructure References

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    Featuring a wide range of customer references, covering Server Virtualization (Hyper-V), Datacenter Management (System Center), Identity & Security (Forefront), DirectAccess/BranchCache (Windows Server 2008 R2) and Desktop Virtualization (VDI), the Black Book of Core Infrastructure References is free to download. Among the contents you’ll find customer stories from:

    · Welsh Rugby Union (Server Virtualization)

    · Strathclyde Fire & Rescue (Server Virtualization & Management)

    · Paul Smith (Server Virtualization & Management)

    · Outsourcery (Server Virtualization & Management)

    · Wiltshire Council (Management)

    Download and have a read today.

  • Installation, set up and implementation of Windows 7 Professional Pack for SBS 2011 Essentials Add-in

    Self-confessed Small Business Server enthusiast and TechNet forum contributor Robert Pearman recently wrote a great piece about the Windows 7 Professional Pack for SBS Essentials Add-in. Follow Robert’s installation, set-up and implementation and find more SBS tips and tricks here on his blog, Title (Required).

  • Windows 7 migration expert needed!

    Calling all Windows 7 experts, we want YOU to present the closing slot at our upcoming ‘Windows 7 Deployment – Why and How? ’ online conference (more info about that to follow shortly). If your company is currently migrating to Windows 7 or has already successfully moved, we need you to help others rise to the challenge.

    The Windows 7 Deployment online conference will take place on 25 October, providing IT pros with the opportunity to learn why Windows 7 is the desktop operating system of choice for your business. We’ll discuss the security, compatibility, productivity and deployment aspects from both a technical and business viewpoint before taking a technical deep-dive covering the most challenging aspects of Windows 7 deployment as suggested by TechNet readers.

    This is where you come in. If you have experience of carrying out a company migration, be it on-going or complete, and are available to discuss your experiences at Microsoft Campus in Reading on 25 October, we want to hear from you!

    To nominate yourself, email Alex Guy at t-alexgu@microsoft.com with “Windows 7 Conference Entry” in the subject line by 15 September, telling us in no more than 100 words why you’re the expert for the job.

    As usual with this kind of thing there are a few terms and conditions, so have a read before you enter.

    Terms and Conditions

    1. ELIGIBILITY: This competition is open to any person resident in the UK who is 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Employees of Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising or promotion agencies are not eligible, nor are members of these employees’ families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouse and life partners).

    2. TO ENTER: Send an e-mail to t-alexgu@microsoft.com explaining in no more than 100 words why you should be chosen to present at the ‘Windows 7 Deployment – Why and How?’ online conference.

    Microsoft is not responsible for lost, corrupted or delayed entries. Only one entry per person will be accepted. No purchase necessary. Entry constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. Microsoft reserves the right to disqualify anyone in breach of these Terms and Conditions.

    3. TIMING: This competition runs from 09.00:00 am BST on 31 August 2011 until 11.59:59 p.m. on 15 September 2011(inclusive). Completed entries must reach Microsoft no later than the closing date.

    4. USE OF DATA: Personal data which you provide when you enter this competition shall be used for the purposes of this competition only.

    5. SELECTION OF WINNERS: The winner will be determined by a panel of 3 judges on 16 September 2011 based on the following criteria:

    - Level of experience in deploying Windows 7;
    - Relevance to the audience attending the conference;
    - Clear communication of why they are best suited.

    The panel of judges will include at least one independent member. The winners will be notified by email by 16 September 2011. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, through no fault of Microsoft, within FIVE (5) working days after the first attempt, an alternative winner will be selected. The winner may be required to become involved in further publicity or advertising.

    The winner must prepare content for presentation and to email this content to Alex Guy at t-alexgu@microsoft.com no later than 09:00:00 on 26 September 2011. The winner’s opportunity to partake in the conference is subject to review of this content. If the content provided is determined to not meet the above criteria by a panel of 3 judges, including at least one independent member, then the winner forfeits their prize and Microsoft may choose another speaker at its discretion. Microsoft will in good faith offer the Winner assistance in revising their presentation prior to 26 September 2011.

    6. PRIZE: The prize consists of a 30 minute presentation slot and 30 minute Questions and Answer session during the ‘Windows 7 Deployment – Why and How?’ online conference, to be held on the 25 October 2011.

    Prizes are as stated and are not transferable. No cash alternatives available.

    7. WINNERS LIST: The winner consents to their first name and surname being made publicly available. The winners surname will be available for a period of 30 days after the closing date by emailing Alex Guy at t-alexgu@microsoft.com.

    8. OTHER: No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this competition or these Terms and Conditions. In the unlikely event of a dispute, Microsoft’s decision shall be final. Microsoft reserves the right to amend, modify, cancel or withdraw this competition at any time without notice.

    Promoter: Microsoft Limited, Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG, England

  • Build and brand your website with this step-by-step guide to SharePoint web content management

    Hop on over to TechNet and bookmark this excellent SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites course.

    The course describes how to implement and brand a SharePoint-based public website using SharePoint web content management (WCM). No development experience is required, but experience with HTML and CSS is recommended.

    Here are the chapters you’ll work through:

    1 Basics of WCM

    2 CSS and Master Pages

    3 Design Tools

    4 Deployment Tools

    5 Branding

    6 Navigation and SEO

    7 Content Query Web Part

    8 JavaScript

    9 Custom Publishing Artifacts

    10 Putting It Together

    11 Social Media

    12 Multi-Lingual Sites

    13 Performance and Caching

    14 Security

    15 Managing Deployment

    Let us know what you think.

  • Join Microsoft and Oxford Computer Group for a half-day Office 365 technical briefing

    This half-day technical briefing, with sessions from Microsoft and Oxford Computer Group will provide vital information on transitioning to Office 365 and cloud apps. Including presentations, round table discussion and solution demos, we'll provide an overview of Office 365 and the critical issues to consider when moving to the cloud. Topics will include: key security considerations, how to provision users and accounts, managing entitlements, simplifying access and how to provide Single Sign-On.

    Here’s the agenda:

    • 09:00 - Coffee and Registration
    • 09:30 - Microsoft Office 365 Overview and demo
    • 10:15 - Transitioning from on-premise apps and BPOS to Office 365
    • 11:00 - Break
    • 11:15 - The role of Identity and Access Management in preparing for Cloud
    • 11:30 - Managing users with Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) 2010
    • 12:00 - Claims, Federation, Authentication & Single Sign-On
    • 12:30 - Q&A with buffet lunch

    Find out more and register here.

  • The week that was on the UK TechNet blog: 22-26 August

    Your regular round-up of the week’s posts awaits. Have a good weekend and remember to check in next week- we’ve got a couple of great competitions coming up.

  • Take the Microsoft Virtual Academy Challenge – you might just win a new laptop!

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    Max Cooter, editor of Cloud Pro, has challenged himself to complete all the cloud and virtualisation courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). Being the competitive type, Max has extended the challenge to you – if you can outscore him, you could win a new laptop and top of the range coffee machine.

    Find out all about the MVA Challenge and how you can take part in Max’s first steps in the Microsoft Virtual Academy - taking the plunge on virtualisation.

    Here are some helpful downloads to aid your MVA progress:

    Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1
    Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1
    System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3
    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2
    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 SP1
    System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Beta 2
    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Beta

    You’ll find more useful info in the TechNet Cloud Hub.

  • Get the SQL Server Code Name ‘Denali’ CTP3 product guide

    Over on the SQL Server team blog you can find out what’s included in the new SQL Server Code Name ‘Denali’ Community Technology Preview 3. Among other things you’ll find useful product datasheets, demos and presentations.

    Grab all the details, and the download, here.

     

  • Top skills for the IT professional

    Rachel has asked us (Simon & Andrew) to identify the key skills that will help your career survive and thrive as businesses start to transition some or all of their services to the cloud. We aren’t suggesting you learn all of these, but if you focus on at least one technology plus  the ‘soft’ skills below your future will be more secure as a result.  We’ve also pulled in some resources to get you started.  

    Authentication and Identity

    No matter where your data and services are, your users are going to need to get at them, and to do that they need to identify who they are and be accorded the appropriate privileges.  Traditionally Active Directory has been providing this service in the local data centre and has been extended over the years to allow users and services on other operating systems e.g. Linux and Apple Macs, and more recently iPads, to work seamlessly across them to get mail, docs and services.  Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), extends this interoperability to the cloud - not just  Microsoft’s, but third parties like SalesForce - and supports OpenID used by Yahoo Google and others. 

    To find out more:

    Database

    I am an ex-DBA so my top recommendation is to get to know SQL Server. SQL Server has provided me with a great career and is another area of technology that won’t be much changed by the cloud.  First of all no matter where the data is, DBAs will be needed in some capacity to manage it.  Not only that but databases are only ever-increasing as storage becomes cheaper and cheaper.

    Not every database will move to the cloud, and alongside the CloudPower messaging from Microsoft you’ll also see that in partnership with the server manufacturers there's a raft of new appliances specifically designed for different workloads of SQL Server e.g. business intelligence, data warehousing and OLTP (On-Line Transaction Processing), so there will still be some high-end databases that remain un-virtualised. Many organisations will be moving to hybrid clouds – I can see many web applications having a SQL Azure backend database, and SQL Azure does actually remove some of the work of the DBA e.g. high availability and configuration.  However it also presents new challenges such as synching data between cloud and local, audit, query optimisation.

    A final thought: typically 12% mention SQL Server as a skill on any of the top job sites.

    The best resources for learning what SQL Server can do are

    Process and automation

    Given that cloud is supposed to be about agility you would think that standardising business processes and adopting ITIL standards for process management might be at odds with each other.  The answer is simply process automation – taking those standard procedures and making them happen across the disparate systems in your infrastructure.  So as well as looking at getting ITIL accredited you might want to think about putting your processes into code.   You could become a PowerShell/PowerCLI guru and write miles of code to do this but there is a better way -  System Center Orchestrator (SCOrch), the glue and gaffer tape in the System Center armoury.  This allows you to hook your help desk up to the hardware, the hypervisor (theirs or ours), the virtual machine , the operating system and the application itself and map out your process so the business can understand it and sign it off.  This then gets rid of the drudgery, leaving you to get on with the new project work that's been backing up on your desk over the last year.

    It's an interesting time to get into this space, as the System Center lineup is in the process of being completely overhauled. There are beta releases of some of the new versions available now including SCorchVirtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager,  and  Configuration Manager, with more due over the next couple of months.  This will mean more detailed training on the Microsoft Virtual Academy, as well as various events we will be running in the UK this autumn.

    Networking

    Not really my world but the network engineers are all doing very well out of the cloud, the storage explosion, and the challenges of running lots of virtual machines on consolidated physical servers.   

    Marketing

    I put this in partly to be controversial but mostly because it’s too important to be left to the marketing department.  The IT department and its members in particular need to be much better at promoting their work to the business and setting out the services on offer. On an individual level you need to build your internal brand, hopefully as a can-do trusted advisor who understands the business.  Some of this is part of the day job - the way you respond to requests and follow through to see that your users are happy - some of it should be proactive, like going to business meetings to brief them on your latest projects and ideas.  Building your brand outside the office can also be useful, so joining special interest groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, and helping and asking for advice on Twitter and forums can establish your credibility for your next role.

    Cloud Connectivity

    Not so much a networking role as skills around bringing different parts of cloud architectures together as one holistic unit.  I think it's difficult for businesses to identify solutions that can be "pure cloud" beyond those Internet-based services that they moved long ago and new solutions they create from scratch - a far more realistic approach is hybrid cloud in which public and private clouds are stitched together.  In addition to the networking and identity/authentication skills above, there's a strong need for people who understand the plumbing.  That is, how to connect a cloud service to data stored in a private data centre or how to connect two public clouds together.  Parts of this role depend on having some developer skills and some IT pro skills.

    Systems Management

    You'll see increasingly from Microsoft that management of the public cloud is a BIG deal.  It's not just about a place to put something and have it run cheaply (although it partly is), it's also about being able to make sure that what happens there is what you expect is happening.  To that end you'll see more and more that Windows Azure and System Center work well together. Right now the best thing to do is to try out monitoring a Windows Azure application using this evaluation for Windows Azure monitoring with SCOM.  You don't even need an application to monitor as there's one included in the eval.  As we move forward to System Center 2012 you'll see even more deep integration and you can try the betas for System Center here: System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Beta 2 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Beta

    Data Security Architecture

    Deep understanding of data and what it contains has always been a pivotal part of security, and this is going to become even more important in the future.  We currently live in a world without harmonised data laws and that means it's hard to place all your data into the public cloud immediately. What you can do is place safe portions of it there.  By understanding the data you know what's safe to place in the cloud and what could create too much risk for your business to accept.  This role is much more about providing insight back to the business to enable it to make better decisions about what to do, rather than preventing it from doing anything.  It's important not to paralyse your business by over analysing risk without understanding of reward. 

    Summary

    The list above doesn't really look all that different from one we'd have written a couple of years ago; the roles and the content of those roles have changed somewhat. but guess what - that's the nature of our industry.  Technology changes.  The really big shift here is one that's been happening for years, it's the integration of business skills and understanding them as a core of the technology skill set.  Are we seeing this spread happen across all segments?  To answer that lets look at things simplistically - big businesses and small - big having large dedicated IT depts and small having as many as four IT guys.  IT guys in small businesses have always had to have many strings to their bow, often requiring them to have more general skill sets and giving them less time.  These folks have always needed broad business knowledge as a part of that skill set. For them, cloud technologies, especially public cloud, are likely to free up more time to do more interesting things.  In large IT teams business skills were often forsaken for deep, deep technical skill sets that the business didn't understand so they needed more people to translate those deep skills back to the business.  Today we see a shift towards the end users becoming more tech savvy and so the need for translators is lessened as there's a smaller gap for the deep, deep techies to fill when translating things back to the business.  It looks as if that gap is shrinking further as some of the clunky work done at that deep level is automated with the cloud, again giving the deepest of techies more time to do what the business actually values.

    Further resources:

    Microsoft Virtual Academy

    Microsoft Learning