This post is brought to you by Ed Baker, Windows Server Instructor at Firebrand Training
Prior to Windows Server 2008, to allow different groups of users to have different password requirements or lockout policies, the user would have to implement multiple domains or password filters. Both of which were complex and costly.
In the 2008 flavour of the Operating System, Microsoft provided a work-around to this. This was also complex and convoluted, to say the least. It was almost as if it had been grudgingly allowed, but was so difficult to implement that most of us wouldn’t bother trying.
The R2 implementation added some ease-of-use functionality, but with Server 2012 Microsoft has finally embraced the concept as a day-to-day admin requirement.
Well, for a large organisation with many levels of user and security, it is often necessary to set different requirements for the password complexity and for the lockout policy. For example, the office admin assistant may not require the same levels as the research and development department.
The solution in Windows Server 2012 is implemented entirely through the Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC). ADAC was available in Server 2008 R2 but was generally ignored by ‘true admins’. It is essentially a GUI front-end to PowerShell Cmdlets - allowing creation, editing and deletion of any Active Directory object in the ntds.dit database.
ADAC is back, and it’s on a mission. The tool is now the only place to carry-out several important administrative functions (apart from PowerShell version 3.0, where you can now do just about everything to do with Server management and administration).
To implement Fine-Grained Passwords you have to deploy a Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller, with the domain functional level set at Windows Server 2008 or above. You can now accomplish this task in ADAC (provided you ‘run as administrator’).
To be able to develop your skills in this area, it is also best practice to create a number of test groups and users, so that any changes you make do not impact on your day-to-day work. It’s better to test this on a sandbox set up, but if one is not available, having test accounts, groups and OUs will prevent any disasters.
In the scenario below, I have set-up FGP_User1, FGP_User2, FGP_GP1, FGP_GP2 - you can name yours as you choose. This can be done in AD Users and Computers, in ADAC or in PowerShell 3.0.
In the application, select Tools and ADAC. In the ADAC window select Tree View (easier to see what’s important), then select the domain you want to work with. Expand the tree until you can select the System container, expand that and select Password Settings Container.
Right-click and select: New à Password Settings.
The Create Password Settings window opens. There are several mandatory selections, most of which are pre-selected - you have to enter name and precedence. (Note: the lower the precedence number, the higher its priority!)
Here you can amend all the settings for this password object (Length, Lockout etc. - see image below).
Best practice is to enter a description of the policy, then click Add in the Directly Applies To area. Select your previously created group from the AD, and make sure that your policy has all the correct settings which relate to the password and lockout.
In this example I have added my User to a group with two FGP policies applied with different precedence settings
To determine which the valid password setting object is, select the user concerned, and right-click:
Choose View resultant password settings... This opens the policy that is active. For those of us who lived with the old way – this is a huge leap forward in usability.
Editing a policy is as simple as expanding the AD tree and selecting the correct policy within the Password Settings container. Right-click Properties; or double-click opens the policy for editing.
To delete a policy (not forgetting that by default AD objects are protected against accidental deletion) remove the check from the Protect From Accidental Deletion box. Save the policy, then right-click it and select Delete.
Unlike Users, it is not possible to enable or disable a policy. If it exists, it is active for any object that it is directly applied to. Don’t forget you can apply Policies to users or groups, as can be seen in the following image. This also allows you to see what will be affected when you delete the policy.
This is set to be one of the Windows Server 2012 ‘Big Five’ areas of functionality. The ability to add and remove Fine-Grained Passwords at will - with little difficulty or deep-down AD knowledge - is a huge boost to those who have asked for the feature year-on-year.
To refresh your memory, when this feature was first implemented in Windows Server 2008, it was necessary to use ADSIEDIT to create the new Password Settings Object AND all the attributes of that object (in this case Length of Password, Lockout details, etc.). It was also necessary to set the ‘applies to’ objects in ADSIEDIT. Not a friendly tool at the best of times.
Microsoft has implemented a much-wanted feature and developed a tool that now has much more usability than its first few variants.
And remember, ALL of these steps can be carried out with PowerShell 3.0, with relative ease.
Guest Post by Julie Caulfield who works for Veeam who won the 2012 Partner of the Year for Management and Virtualisation.
I was lucky enough to attend Microsoft Tech-Ed this year in Amsterdam and was very impressed with the new functionality Microsoft has managed to cram into its new release of Server 2012. It has massive scalability advancements such as with the new VHDX file format, lots of new hardware interaction and plenty of DR focused features to keep your private\public cloud floating. At the same time I was pleased to see that they hadn’t forgotten about the SMB IT shops that run a small number of servers but are also looking to benefit from virtualisation. Options like shared nothing live migrations and the use of CSV file servers to host virtual disks for the Hyper-V hosts themselves will allow SMBs to fully embrace virtualisation without massive hardware costs.
It is the use of virtualisation in the SMB space that makes me stop and take note because it is critical to make tools available in this market to ensure that virtualisation adoption is readily available, no matter what size your organisation may be. This new functionality from Microsoft fits right in with the Veeam Essentials bundle which has recently been simplified to offer enterprise class data protection, monitoring and reporting for use on up to 3 physical hosts (6 CPU sockets) purchased in 2 socket bundles. With Windows Server 2012 offering so many great virtualisation benefits a SMB could now just as easily run an enterprise class infrastructure with high-speed backup and replication with very minimal investment.
Windows Server 2012 coupled with Veeam Essentials will help to deliver the essential toolkit of virtualisation - a cost-effective solution that is easy to use and intuitive, allowing IT to build a functioning virtual data centre as well as a spontaneous data protection solution on a shoestring budget. The Veeam on-host proxy gives the added benefit of using the Hyper-V hosts as backup servers pushing Veeam data moving services into the Hyper-V kernel itself reducing the infrastructure footprint.
Ease of use and affordability screams out – make things simple and affordable – Veeams agentless technology means no need to install anything into the virtual servers themselves. Veeam Essentials leverages storage based snapshots and integrates with VSS to give the IT manager transaction consistent backups directly across the SAN fabric to any location on their network as a backup repository. The inline block level de-duplication and compression of VHD files minimises the size of the resulting backup files and in turn minimises storage usage on the repository.
The graphical user interface is easy to use; additionally all functionality is accessible via PowerShell scripts for automation of tasks. Restoring couldn’t be easier or quicker with the ‘Instant restore’ feature allowing you to run a virtual machine directly from a backup file bringing restores down to a few minutes and then running a full restore behind the scenes.
But the ultimate cherry on the cake or should I say the final tool in the SMB toolkit comes with the Veeams bundle including a monitoring and reporting solution for your Hyper-V deployment giving you real-time alerting on CPU, memory, network and disk performance which is hardware agnostic. The monitoring and reporting dashboards allow you to identify bottlenecks and trends in your virtual environment so you can resolve them quickly and before they cause service outages.
Try it for Free
We have just got the initial details of the Windows Server 2012 technical launch event that is due to happen here in the UK. Get into your diaries and save the date! 25th September 2012!!! Trust me you NEED to be there! I’m still twisting arms to get the details of where this event will be but for now get the date in your diary.
To go along with this event we are running a couple of competitions. The first is a bit of a geeky design competition and I think it’s right up your alley! Here’s why…
We have 29 HP ProLiant MicroServer’s to give away in association with Servers Plus at the Windows Server 2012 Launch event in association with Servers Plus for attendees at the launch event on 25th September 2012 (Terms & Conditions available here). But that’s not all!!! There’s a second competition!!!
It’s summer time and everything should be bright and fun -that includes the MicroServer! That’s where the design competition comes in!!! You will need all your design skills to the ready as you will need to personalise, pimp or otherwise customize the server! Be as wicked and wild with your designs as you like!
Here are the judging criteria for the design:
To help you with creating your design we have a template that provides you with the dimensions that you are designing for. Here’s the template (PDF). The design here was one used by Servers Plus from a competition they ran last year and submitting it does not count as an entry!
To enter the competition:
You can also share your amazing designs with one another on our Facebook Page or on Twitter.
You can use the MicroServer for your own testing and personal use. Why not install Windows Server 2012 either standard or the bare metal version. Try setting up a virtual server host and guest, create a storage pool or simply familiarize yourself with the new management console. If you are feeling a little daring try your hand at some PowerShell with the new PowerShell console and one of the many new commandlets.
So get designing now! And remember to sign up for the technical launch event to claim your prize in person and see who wins machines with your design on them!
Windows Server 2012 Design Competition Terms & Conditions
1. ELIGIBILITY. This promotion is open to any person resident in the United Kingdom who is eighteen (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. ENTRY. Visit http://blogs.technet.com/b/uktechnet/archive/2012/08/01/announcing-the-windows-server-2012-uk-technical-launch-event-amp-competition.aspx and submit a link to your design, name and email address.
To the extent that entry requires the submission of user-generated content such as photos, videos, music, artwork, essays, etc., entrants warrant that their entry is their original work, has not been copied from others, and does not violate the privacy, intellectual property rights or other rights of any other person or entity.
Entries will be ineligible for the prize draw if they:
· are incomplete;
· exceed the maximum number of entries allowed per person;
· violate the rights of any other person or entity; or
· are received outside of the Promotion Period set out below.
Only one (1) entry per person will be accepted. No purchase necessary to enter the promotion. Entry constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. Microsoft is not responsible for lost, corrupted or delayed entries. Microsoft reserves the right to disqualify anyone who violates these Terms and Conditions.
3. TIMING. This promotion runs from 12.01:00 am GMT on Start date, 1st August 2012 until 11.59:59 p.m. GMT on End date, 26th August 2012 (inclusive) (the “Promotion Period”).
4. USE OF YOUR ENTRY. Personal data which you provide when you enter may be used for future Microsoft marketing activity if you indicate your consent on the entry form (if applicable). Otherwise your personal data will be used by Microsoft and agents acting on Microsoft’s behalf only for the operation of this promotion.
5. SELECTION OF WINNERS. All valid entries will be judged as a finalist.
Winning entries will be determined by a panel of judges with at least one independent judge on 27th August 2012. Judging will be based on:
· Originality & Uniqueness of entry
· Inspirational, amusement and entertainment of entry
· Cleverness of incorporating aspects of Windows Server 2012 into the design
A maximum of one prize per eligible entry is allowed. Winners will be notified by email to the address provided by the potential winner by 25th September 2012. If a potential winner has not confirmed receipt of the notification within TEN (10) days after the first attempt, an alternative winner will be selected on the same basis as described above (either at random for prize draws or according to the same judging criteria for competitions). Winners may be asked to provide identification proving their eligibility before they are entitled to receive the prize. Winners may be required to participate in further publicity or advertising.
6. PRIZE(S). There will be one prize in total. The prize will be as follows:
· One HP ProLiant MicroServer with winners design printed on decal (£230 approximate value)
Prizes are as stated and are not transferable. No cash alternatives available. Microsoft reserves the right to substitute the prizes with prizes of equal or greater value. All prizes will be sent by Microsoft or its agent no later than 28 days after the prize draw has been made by Microsoft. Unless otherwise stated, all prizes are subject to their manufacturer's warranty and/or terms and conditions.
Prizes may be considered as a taxable benefit to the winners. Winners will be directly responsible for accounting for and paying to HMRC, or other relevant tax authority, any tax liability arising on their prize. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any query related to the taxable amount for reporting to HMRC, or other relevant tax authority.
7. WINNERS LIST. Each winner consents to his/her surname being made publicly available upon request. Winners names will be available for a period of 28 days after the selection of winners by written request to email@example.com.
8. OTHER. No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this promotion 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 promotion at any time but only before the delivery of prizes, without notice.
Participants in this promotion agree that Microsoft will have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, costs, damage, disappointment or losses of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly from acceptance, misuse or use of a prize, or from participation in this promotion. Nothing in this clause shall limit Microsoft’s liability in respect of death or personal injury arising out of its own negligence or liability arising out of Microsoft’s fraud.
Microsoft cannot guarantee the performance of any third party and shall not be liable for any act or default by a third party.
9. SPIRIT OF THE COMPETITION. If an entrant attempts to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this promotion by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from that entrant to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we will disqualify that entrant’s entry to this promotion and may ban the entrant from participating in any of our future promotions, so please play fairly.
Promoter: Microsoft Limited (“Microsoft”), Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG, England
Thomas Lee is a UK IT Pro, with over 40 year’s experience in the IT field. He’s presently a PowerShell MCP and is very busy doing writing, consulting and training around some of the key Microsoft technologies including PowerShell, Lync and Windows Server/client. In his spare time, he lives in a small cottage with wife, daughter, a nice wine cellar and a large collection of Grateful Dead live recordings.
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s virtualization solution. It was first released with Server 2008 and improved with Server 2008 R2. The latest version comes with both Server 2012 and Windows 8. The inclusion of Hyper-V in both the client and server version is a great step forward and for me, at least, it means the end of 3rd party virtualization products I needed to use in the past.
PowerShell is Microsoft’s strategic task automation platform which has been significantly upgraded to Version 3. PowerShell Version 3 is included in all versions of Windows Server 2012, and Windows 8. A downloadable version will also be made available at some point for Windows 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2. Beta versions of PowerShell v3 are available in the mean time for down-level operating systems, but you’ll want the full V3 once that’s available.
The cool thing, or should I say one of the many cool things, about Hyper-V and Server 2012 is that you can manage Hyper-V using PowerShell. There is a new Hyper-V module that ships, in the box!, for both Windows 8 and Server 2012. However, the module and the Hyper-V features are neither installed by default. On Windows 8, you need to bring up Control Panel, click Programs, then click Turn Windows feature on or off and then select Hyper-V. For Windows Server 2012, you can use Server Manager GUI, or the Server Manager PowerShell Module and use the Add-Windows Feature cmdlet. Personally, I find the latter quicker in most cases.
On a Windows 8 and Server 2012 systems, you can install the Hyper-V software itself and the management tools (i.e. the PowerShell module) separately. This enables you to manage a set of VMs remotely.
The Hyper-V module contains a huge number of cmdlets, 164 in total. That’s a lot of cmdlets – but there’s a lot to manage in Hyper-V! The first thing to remember about this module – you need to be in an elevated prompt in order for the cmdlets to work. I got a bit of a fright when I ran the Get-VM cmdlet on my windows 8 box (which had a number of VMs) and had it return nothing (not even an error).
The Hyper-V module allows you to manage all aspects of the virtualization package. You can manage VMs, VHDs, network witches, network adapters and other fundamental objects. You can also manage all aspects of running Hyper-V in a clustered environment with SANs, ,etc.
To create a VM, using the Hyper-V module, you just use the New-VM cmdlet, as shown here:
As you can see from this screen shot, there are just three cmdlets to run in order to create a simple VM: New-VM (to create a new VM and VHD virtual disk drive), Set-VmDvdDrive to add a DVD into the VM (in this case the Server 2012 installation DVD), then Start-VM to start up the virtual machine. If you then run the Virtual Machine Connection applet, you see the following
Now if I’d been clever, I could have done a whole lot more, including injecting a floppy disk into the VM containing the unattend.xml file that would automagically configure the installation, in this case, of Windows Server 2012.
Once the server has been started, I can go back to PowerShell and view the VM using the Get-VM cmdlet, as follows:
This screen shot shows the Get-VM and some of the properties of the newly created VM (there are a total of 54 separate properties you can make use of!
I’ve been using the Hyper-V module throughout the Server 2012 beta period to create and manage VMs. Most of the VMs I’ve created are server VMs, but I’ve also created several Windows 8 Beta VMs. I can’t be bothered to create an unattend.xml file, so I’ve been just creating a basic VM as you see it, using the VMC applet to just ‘next-next-next’ through the installation. Once I have a basic VM created, I can run a Configure-VM.ps1 script that configures the system (changes hostname, updates the IP configuration etc). I have further scripts that do further configuration. I can now setup a 5vm ‘farm’ including a DC/DNS/CA system, a SQL server system, an Exchange server plus a couple of additional basic servers all in around half an hour.
I’ve found the Hyper-V module great for most things, but there are a few omissions. For example, I cannot create a virtual floppy disk on a host machine and write directly to it (then remove it from the host and add it to the vm. This makes unattended setups harder than I’d like.
There are a lot of cmdlets in the module and they operate at a fairly basic level. I found it took a few hours of playing around to find all the things I needed. But having said that, it isn’t that difficult – I found myself writing scripts as I went along and by the end of a few days playing, I had a wealth of provisioning scripts that will keep me in good stead.
For many of you, PowerShell is still a bit of an unknown quantity. If so, consider coming on the Windows PowerShell PowerCamp weekend training course I’m running over the weekend of October 27/28. For fuller details, see my blog at http://tfl09.blogspot.com. The PowerCamp, which will be held in Microsoft’s Cardinal Place offices, is intended to take you through the basics of PowerShell V3 and I plan to spend some time looking at the Hyper-V module.
While not perfect, the module is a lot faster, for me, than using the GUI, especially given the number of VMs I regularly create. For some users, the Hyper-V module might be a good alternative to using a VM management tool such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager. You could write all the scripts to create/manage VMs, do VM Checkout, etc!
All in all, the combination of Hyper-V, Windows 8/Server2012 is a great set of virtualization and virtualization management software.
Gareth Hewitt is the Product Director for WhiteSky Studio, a configurable Platform as a Service that allows business users to rapidly and easily create their own applications. Gareth founded WhiteSky Studio in June 2011 and is now focused on growing the product through allowing partners to create, market and sell their own applications using this revolutionary platform. Gareth can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and @whiteskystudio.
The key to the future of web based services, and applications, is scalability. You need the comfort of knowing as your system grows in users, processing requirements, data size, etc. that you have a platform that supports this scalability. Re-engineering your system for each new scalable requirement is simply not an option. Windows Azure provides the technical infrastructure to support this, but as always you have to design with this in mind from the beginning – you can’t just copy your existing SQL database over to the Cloud and expect the database and services to be instantly scalable.
WhiteSky Studio is a revolutionary Cloud-based RAD tool that can be used by business analysts to build flexible and scalable systems without technical knowledge – you just need the business knowledge to design the functionality. We provide a cost and time effective alternative to traditional RAD based tools, industry specific packages, and online Cloud solutions. We have successfully configured applications for HR, Timesheets & Expenses, Retail Customer Records & Stock Control, CRM, Portfolio and Property Management, Financial Analysis, and many more. Such a diverse range of users, data sizes, processing requirements, peak demand times and performance requirements, means we needed a solid, proven technology that could scale to meet these challenges. Windows Azure not only provided the infrastructure but enabled us to provide value for money competitive offerings to our Clients demanding performance, scalability, resilience, and security.
Windows Azure provides services to support your system in a scalable fashion; there are many options to consider, including:
WhiteSky initially implemented Web and Worker Roles, caching, a mixture of SQL Azure and Storage Blobs and automatic scaling of the servers depending on work load and demand. We have now implemented federated databases (sharding) which has provided both security and performance benefits and look forward to improved features in the next release.
SQL Azure – Federations
Within four months of starting the Company we had Clients in 7 different sectors, ranging from 5 to 100 users and accessing applications from 4 countries. Windows Azure successfully provided the entire infrastructure we needed, and our next task was to ensure continuing scalability by implementing federated databases. Our first decision was whether to create an in-house implementation or to wait and use SQL Azure Federations. As with any architectural decision there is no single right answer that works for everyone, but with all the pros and cons, there were two features of SQL Azure that made our decision easy to choose SQL Azure Federations:
The biggest concern in using a custom solution was that no matter what implementation we created it was going to be technically difficult, if not impossible, to provide the ability to split a live database into two smaller ones without significant downtime. This was a major requirement for us, and we couldn’t see an easy way of providing it and meeting our performance and up-time SLA’s. SQL Azure Federations comes with such a guarantee, functionality we felt was at the core of any scalable model. The development roadmap for SQL Azure includes the ability to add database merging which will enable us to auto-scale the merging/splitting of the databases according to performance or demand requirements – much like the auto-scaling of the web and worker roles that we already have in place.
The SQL Server gateway service is a service Microsoft added to ensure you can still use the advantage of connection pooling within your existing code. This provides an incredible performance boost over a custom implementation which would require us to hold connections across several different databases. Whenever we make a call to a federated database the gateway service routes the call to the correct federated database without the need to create a new connection.
Any one of these features was enough to choose SQL Azure Federations over a custom approach, but both made it a no-brainer.
SQL Azure Federations – Implementation
To migrate our existing database to SQL Azure Federations a few structural changes were required. The first, and most likely issues developers come across, is that you cannot use the following table column types:
Both of these restrictions arise from the simple fact that SQL Federations has no way of guaranteeing a unique auto-increment field or timestamp without getting all of the federated databases communicating with each other – something that presumably would come with a large performance overhead. The first thing we had to do was add globally unique identifiers in place of auto-increment fields, and to replace our timestamp columns.
The auto-increment columns we were replacing were our primary keys and would be forming part of our new primary key in the federated table. We chose to implement the uniqueidentifiers in SQL with a default value of “CAST(CAST(NEWID() AS BINARY(10)) + CAST(GETDATE() AS BINARY(6)) AS UNIQUEIDENTIFIER)” as described in “The Cost of GUIDs as Primary Keys” article, avoiding much of the fragmentation and performance issues we would get if we adopted a completely new GUID. Versioning wasn’t such an issue for us as we didn’t require the uniqueness that a timestamp guaranteed, so a simple conversion to a date was sufficient.
We had to write our own custom migration application to update all our relationships, but that was an easy process to automate. We then created all the new tables and migrated our data into our new tables without the incompatible column types. This way we had a backup we could refer to in case any of our relationship updates were incorrect.
After updating our server and client code to reflect the database changes, all that remained was the migration of the data into a Federated Database structure. We used the excellent SQL Azure Migration Wizard (Federation Version) to upload the data into five pre-prepared shards in our new database. When this process was complete we were live on a platform that now meets all of our scalability needs.
SQL Azure Scalability
It would have been impossible for us to offer the revolutionary capabilities of WhiteSky Studio without the scalable infrastructure of Azure. The up-front costs in both time and resources would have been too great. The platform-as-a-service offering of Azure allowed us to only pay for what we used as we grew our offering and started scaling the system. The advantage of automatically scaling our servers meant we weren’t paying to maintain the system’s performance during periods of low demands. It is this service based approach that is giving us a competitive and technological edge over competing products. We can offer a fully customizable and scalable enterprise wide business solution based on the custom requirements of any Client at the fraction of a cost for a similar hosted, packaged or bespoke solution.
As with most new technologies it is agile start-up companies that take the innovative steps and create a step change in the way services are delivered. WhiteSky takes advantage of Azure’s ground breaking technical ability to provide a value for money business orientated RAD tool with a global reach and scalable performance.
The UK IT Pro Team will be back on the road as of September delivering IT Camps to venues up and down the UK. After a brief break during the summer the team are back to deliver technical content in an IT Camp format.
We are pleased to announce the first set of dates to coincide with the launch of Window Server 2012.
Register by following the link below or booking by phone:
7thSept – Microsoft London - Register
Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6680 ref – 3785
13th Sept – DeVere New Place Hotel, Southampton – Register
Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3895
14th Sept – Jersey – Details TBC
18th Sept – The Lowry Hotel, Manchester – Register
Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3897
19th Sept – Etc Venues Maple House, Birmingham - Register
Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3898
26th Sept – Novotel London West – Register
Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3910
28th Sept – Etc Venues One Drummond Gate, Victoria – Register
Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3786
These hands-on session will give you an introduction to Windows Server 2012 and ample opportunity to discuss any specific issues and concerns you may have with Microsoft experts Simon May and Andrew Fryer as well as professional peers working near you. The agenda will be set by you, but here are some topics that are likely to be covered:
What’s new in Windows Server 2012
How to create Virtual Machines
High availability with clustering
We hope to see you there, but please be aware this is a zero-fee event and places usually go fast, so register early to avoid disappointment. If for any reason you can’t attend then please let us know, your non-attendance may have deprived someone else from attending.
The details have been finalised and we are all systems go for the UK Launch of Windows Server 2012 on 25th September 2012 in London! Join us at this exclusive Microsoft event in partnership with UK MVPs, Partners and the Windows Server User Group!
You will gain a first look at the coolest new features and functionalities within Windows Server 2012. We will be unveiling all of the capabilities in full for the first time, including keynotes from the technical experts within Microsoft’s UK and Corporate Server Divisions. We will have hosting partners in attendance and will be running a competition for attendees to win one of 29 custom micro servers.
This event is a must-attend for all technical specialists aligned to server.
Here’s what to expect:
Let your colleagues and friends know that you’re attending this event by clicking below or using the social buttons in the sidebar.
Tweet: I’m attending the Windows Server 2012 Launch Event: http://bit.ly/Og16BB #ws2012uk
09.00 Welcome & Registration 10.00 Keynote & Kick-off 11.00 Beyond Virtualization 12.00 Lunch 13.15 Power of Many Servers Simplicity of One 14.15 Any App Any Cloud 15.15 Break 15.45 Anywhere Working 16.45 Closing Drinks & Networking
09.00 Welcome & Registration
10.00 Keynote & Kick-off 11.00 Beyond Virtualization
13.15 Power of Many Servers Simplicity of One 14.15 Any App Any Cloud
15.45 Anywhere Working 16.45 Closing Drinks & Networking
Be in with a chance to win one of 29 MicroServers by attending this event! (Terms & Conditions)
Design the Vinyl Decal that will go on the 29 MicroServers given away at the Launch Event. The winning design will also win a MicroServer!!! Get the full Competition Details here. (and the Terms & Conditions)
Matthew Hughes is an Independent SharePoint Consultant and the Director or SP365 Ltd. He runs various SharePoint related websites such as sp365.co.uk and is the founder of the Office 365 UK User Group who hold their first physical meeting in London on the 4th September 2012. He is a MCTS, MCITP, MOS in SharePoint and can be found on tweeting regularly @mattmoo2. An advocate of the SharePoint and Office 365 products he can be found regularly speaking at conferences and User Groups around the world.
What a difference a couple of months make, if you didn't get excited in July when the Office 365 Preview hit the web (as well as a subtle mention of a certain SharePoint 2013) you will undoubtedly have gotten a little more excited when the powers that be over at Microsoft HQ mentioned the imminent arrival of Windows 8.
Of course the Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a little while but the RTM (Release To Manufacture) version was due on the 15th August to Technet / MSDN and Software Assurance customers, so imagine my excitement when I was able to go and grab the latest version of what promises to be Microsoft's most daring OS release since the crazy days of Windows Vista (it wasn't that bad if you had good hardware).
Now this is not another blog post about all the wonderful features of Windows 8 as we all know, there are plenty of them, however, this is a post about one specific feature namely, the addition of a traditionally Windows Server only feature called Hyper-V.
So you have been hiding under a rock since the release of Windows Server 2008 and you missed the addition of Hyper-V it is worth explaining exactly what it is?
Hyper-V is a Microsoft Role or Feature that allows you to create a Virtual Environment inside of your Physical Environment, this is to say that you can create a fully featured Server or desktop environment (guest) inside of your current physical hardware (the host).
Hyper-V requires your hardware to support Virtualisation or more to the point it requires you processor to support hardware virtualisation, whilst most newer CPU’s have this it is worth checking before you go getting all excited about the prospect of virtualising machines. Brad Rutkowski provides a short post about this on Technet.
Excited? Ready to go? Let’s take a look at how to get started with Hyper-V on Windows 8.
After installing Windows 8 you will not be able to find Hyper-V anywhere in the Metro style UI.
Hyper-V runs as a Windows Service so we wouldn’t want all of the, soon to be, millions of Windows 8 customers, having a service running that not everyone will utilise, therefore, we need to add the service via the “Turn Windows features on or off” in the usual way we have been accustomed to in the last couple of Windows Operating Systems. Given that it is a service the feature will ask you to restart.
Tip: You can also use this method to add just the Hyper-V Management Tools, which allows you to manage Hyper-V remotely.
Excellent, so now we have the feature we can open up the Management Tool and see what we can do.
In the screenshot above I have created three virtual machines a DC, SQL Server and SharePoint Server, these machines or guests, are now all running inside my host machine.
Also in the screenshot you can see I have the Virtual Switch Manager which allows me to create a private network for these machines perfect for separating them on their own network avoiding potential conflicts, alternatively I can set a network that connects them directly to the internet.
For IT Pros, Developers and Power Users the options prior to the inclusion of Hyper-V in Windows 8 were Virtual PC, VMWare Workstation, Virtual Server, Box and various other 3rd party Vitualisation products, now that this has become an additional feature to Windows 8, you can simple add the feature and you are ready to setup your development environments.
Of course, you will need to have a good level of hardware to support a couple of couple of virtual machines but laptops and desktops with 4GB – 8GB of RAM are becoming more common place as well as processors that support Virtualisation.
I mentioned that Hyper-V is a service so remember to shut down those guests when you’re not using them, it is easy to close the Hyper-V manager and assume that means the guests shut down too, this is not the case and they will continue to consume valuable resources unless you shut them down in the usual way.
I hope you find this article useful and welcome any feedback via my twitter account or email matt at sp365 dot co dot uk.
Does my CPU support hardware virtualization (Hyper-V)
The Windows team have just announced that Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 have both been released to Manufacturing! The wait is almost over!
For those of you interested in Windows Server 2012 get out your calendars and free up some time on September 4. That’s when Windows Server 2012 will be generally available for evaluation and purchase by all customers around the world. On that day we will also host an online launch event where our executives, engineers, customers and partners will share more about how Windows Server 2012 can help organizations of all sizes realize the benefits of what we call the Cloud OS. You will be able to learn more about the features and capabilities and connect with experts and peers. You’ll also be able to collect points along the way for the chance to win some amazing prizes. You don’t want to miss it. Visit this site to save the date for the launch event.
Also whilst you have your diaries out get the UK Technical Launch event date pencilled into your diary! It’s the 25th September. We’ve also announced a couple of competitions that we are running that relate to this as well!!!
People will be able get Windows 8 starting on October 26th either by upgrading for $39.99 or on a new PC or device. And if you buy an eligible Windows 7 PC today, you will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 (U.S.) through the Windows Upgrade Offer.
For Windows commercial customers, IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions on Aug. 15. Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization and Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers on Sept. 1.
In the meantime, if you’d like to give a pre-release version of Windows 8 a test-run, feel free to download the Windows 8 Release Preview! You can also read about my personal experience with the Windows 8 Release Preview here
Here’s the announcement on the Windows Team Blog
I have been asked to do a post on Windows Azure SQL Databases (formerly known as SQL Azure), but I think it might be more useful to discuss some of the wider issues so I put together a few FAQs that I often get asked.
Why use a public cloud service like Azure to store data?
Probably not to save money as you may have already invested in on premises data centres to store your data. Accountants love moving costs from capital to running costs, but most of us like to own things be it cars, houses or server so having someone else own your data seems a lot like losing control. Also there are often good reason to keep the data near the users particularly if you are doing BI.
There are good use cases or else there would be no market for this. The obvious one is that you have an application running on a cloud service that needs data to service it, perhaps nothing more complex than your online store backed by a database with orders, promotion details products prices and so on. This data might not even persist there – you’ll pull it down every night to load into your warehouse to get a holistic view of your business performance.
Some business don’t have all their users in place or their data. Uses might be working at home on customer site and rather then being limited by your outbound connectivity as a point of failure you could put your data and applications into a cloud service accessible form anywhere there is internet.
Sometimes it is the aggregation and collection of data that’s the problem as in shipping, manufacturing and geographic surveys where lots or remote sensors collect data which needs to be aggregated.
There are also startups chancing their arm on a new idea by running everything in the cloud on a laptop in a bedsit in docklands(I have actually met an outfit doing exactly this).
Other business models are built on sharing sets of data with others, like the ratings agencies.
Then there’s the new big thing in data management Big Data. This is simply data that is too big for your data centre to handle unless you are a government or an oil company, either because its to big, coming at you at more than your network can handle, or of a type that you can’t really process even if you have got it. Social media is an obvious example and the trick here is to take the processing to the data and reduce it down to a digestible form e.g. sentiment analysis.
What about Privacy?
As a Microsoft employee I am probably not the right person to convince you that your data will be kept private but here’s a couple of things,
You can of course encrypt your data with your own certificates, setup private networks, use ADFS to setup trust between what is on Azure and your own infrastructure.
Microsoft’s official Windows Azure Privacy Statement can be found here
What about compliance?
The most common problem in this error is data protection and the laws in the UK and Europe that limit what can be done with personal data. Microsoft policy on this is here in the section on the EU Data Protection Directive. The other common ask is around compliance for Payment Card Industry (PCI). Azure itself isn’t PCI compliance because its the application itself that will pass this tests. For example Zoura a Microsoft partner have developed a solution on Azure which is PCI compliant.
How should I store my data?
The NoSQL debate is actually older than relational databases, so I am not going to cover it here, except to say that if you are using Azure you absolutely don’t have to use a SQL database as part of your solution. For example you can just use the cheaper Azure Tables and Blob Storage to provide a NoSQL solution, depending on what you want to store. As with any application you might develop to run in a datacentre you simply use the right tools for the job.
Big data as I mentioned before has its own special problems and Apache Hadoop is a set of technologies which addresses these by federating the data and the computation performed on it. HortonWorks and Microsoft are working developing Hadoop for Azure and I have a post on this here.
How do I backup my data
In the case of there is no backup a SQL database there is no backup per se. When you create a SQL database you are actually creating 2 extra copies of it on other servers and any changes be that data changes or design changes are automatically replicated to the other copies. However that doesn’t cover user error so you’ll either want to use replication services to copy the database locally to you own servers or another SQL Database at periodic intervals.
What the difference SQL Databases and running SQL Server in a virtual machine on Azure
SQL databases, are Platform as a Service (PaaS), which means Microsoft controls the SQL Server environment, the underlying OS etc. and all you worry about is creating database and managing the data inside them. However that loss of control also means you loose some features notably the other bits of SQL Server you may want use such as analysis services. note you can run Reporting Services in Azure as PaaS with the restriction that the only source of data for the reports are SQL databases.
If you run SQL Server in a virtual machine then its exactly the same as running it inside your datacentre, you have to configure it, manage it, patch it, etc. so more control but more work for you. There is a gallery of virtual machines for you to use as templates e.g. SQL Server 2008 R2 running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or you can create your own.
Every 90 days or so Azure gets revised and new features appear so this post has a pretty limited shelf life so come back and check for updates!