Need Feedback on Microsoft Technologies for Branch and Mid-Market IT

Need Feedback on Microsoft Technologies for Branch and Mid-Market IT

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We want to hear from you and get your feedback.  What are the challenges that you face – technology, business, and environmental – in managing your Branch Office and/or Mid-Sized business IT infrastructures?  Use the comments below and join the discussion!

 

From our research we have identified 5 areas where our customers have expressed increased concerns:

·         Enabling an increasingly mobile workforce

·         Working within the constraints of tightening IT budgets

·         Disaster recovery and data backup planning

·         Providing secure and highly available server operating systems

·         Reducing hardware costs and providing more, easily managed, services

We want to help you solve these challenges, but first we want to know if you agree with our initial findings.  Over the next several months we will be collecting your feedback and proposing solutions to help solve these challenges.  We will also highlight other ideas and solutions that are geared towards helping those managing Branch and Mid-Market IT infrastructures.

 

Who are we?

I’m Mike van de Merwe – a 10 year Microsoft veteran representing the Mid-Market customer voice in the Windows Server organization.

And I am Manisha Patel - representing the voice of the Branch Office customers in the Windows Server organization.

 

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  • Not sure if this is the correct forum, but my most recent beef with Microsoft was over software leasing plans. Maybe they're good for the States, but for me the amount of dough I'd have to spend was simply unbearable. I wish Microsoft would make additional plans for the SMBs worldwide.

  • I'm assuming we post our feedback here...I would agree that these are the challenges. I work for a national construction company and it is always a challenge balancing performance versus cost. The items in the post are exactly what we struggle with on a day to day basis. I would be interested in any follow up surveys.

  • Integrate Home Server features into the main server platform.

  • Regarding point 5, "easily managed services"...

    The biggest challenge I have found is IP administration.  When you add a new subnet, you must manually enter it in three places:  AD Sites & Services, DNS Reverse Zone, and DHCP.  There is no integration with Windows IP management (although several 3rd parties play in this space).  It would be a huge time savings if we could somehow AD-integrate DHCP, and then tie it in with AD Subnets or Reverse DNS somehow.

    On a related point, we really need PowerShell cmdlets for DHCP and DNS.

    Thanks for listening.

    Ashley McGlone, Microsoft PFE

  • I completely agree with most of the points. One of the biggest areas in the environment where I work is the ability to provide scalable enterprise services in segmented and secure fashion. The windows 2k8 family has been fantastic with the decreased attack surface but with the proliferation of web services the next big area is the ability for us to set up private clouds to provide application stacks in a highly secure and scalable fashion, almost as needed.

  • The new server 2008 backup methodology is a complete bust..  its not 100% your fault but its 50/50 between you and your 3rd party backup providers.  For example, netback up cannot backup the new unlettered image partition, but if i image it yet again I can back it up.  So I have to image things twice to move it off the server??  There maybe a fix for this but I have not found it.  The inability to restore system state to a new server server now is just bad ..

  • On the mobile workforce front; computer accounts. Could we move to a new model here, perhaps using certificates? It may be easier to associate computers with AD domains with a cert. Perhaps it can be in multi domains?

  • We love to impliment Remote Desktop Services to enable an increasing mobile workforce and reduce the IT support costs for branch offices and remote workers. However, the cost of the Microsoft Office purchase for everyone that will be using the server often kills the deal. Typically we have to move them from OEM to volume licensing for Office in order to implement the solution. The cost of getting into Office volume licensing usually equals or exceeds the cost of the TS cals and hardware combined, making it stick out like a sore thumb.

  • I would agree with the concern "Enabling an increasingly mobile workforce", along with the comment above regarding RDS licensing costs for CALs and Office licenses. We'd love to be using RemoteApp but can't afford to have a seat of Office for every single client that will be connecting.

    The biggest challenge I face related to Server operation and branch offices is data management; we want to foster collaboration and teamwork between our offices, but having files stored in each branch office causes issues with slow access (due to latency) and isn't feasible for actual work. Despite the improvements made in SMB for Server 2008 and up, it isn't enough of a change to validate this type of workflow.

    Alternatives are WAN acceleration ($$$ and doesn't work for everything) or file replication. We're currently using DFSR to solve this problem, with 1 TB of data replicated across offices, however DFSR doesn't manage file locking so we're still at a disadvantage and struggling to find a great solution.

    I think this is one area that EVERY company with more than one location has to address at some point, so if Microsoft brought a killer idea to the table and implemented it well, it would do a lot for the Server product.

    I've heard suggestions for using things like Sharepoint, but that's not a real solution; sharepoint just doesn't cut it when you have 300 personnel who are used to the simplicity of folder access within Windows Explorer. Nothing really compares to that ease of use and speed of access.

    Whether the ideal solution is DFSR with file locking, or some HTTP interface that emulates Windows Explorer and removes the issue with SMB traffic and latency, this is a prime area for Microsoft to show some real innovation.

  • One of the big challenges I've had in moving VM's from Windows 2003 (+R2) to 2008 (+R2) is that the base OS disk footprint increased from under a gigabyte to about 4 GB.  After patching this seems to jump to around 8 or 9 GB.  I was able to run many more VM's at 10 or 15 GB each with Win2k3, but now I can't deploy Win2k8 on less than 35 GB.

    For physical servers, this isn't a big deal.  Disks keep getting bigger and cheaper.  But for VM's sharing a disk array, this is a big challenge.  Backing up whole VM's and creating VM templates creates similar disk-footprint overhead.

  • ...One more thing - Mac/Windows compatibility is a mess.  Mac laptops are pretty common in the SMB space (at least, in metro Boston) and performance/compatibility/ease-of-integration in Windows-based networks is highly variable.  Part of the challenge is that Apple has no enterprise-oriented support for Mac OS client systems, so there isn't really anyone to go to for advanced troubleshooting.

    Most of the time, client/server functions work just fine, but when they don't, there aren't a lot of resources.