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    Software plus Services – "Live Mesh" tip of the iceberg example

    Posted by RicksterCDN on August 18, 2008

    I noticed on both the Canadian Developer and IT Professional blogs that we’re expanding the invitation to join in the technology preview we’re calling LiveMesh to include Canada, Ireland and India. I checked back with the LiveMesh team blog and confirmed that it’s true – there is no longer a wait-list or geography restriction to join the program and check out what could be possible as Software plus Services resolution to the age old problem of file synchronization.

    I do have to mention that this is an example of what a Software plus Services approach to the problem looks like and it really expands beyond that far deeper into what is possible as you step back to think of other issues it can solve for your business. I did some further reading on the LiveMesh team blog to expand my horizons on what is possible and understand what makes up the platform and how people can use it. Have a read here, where Noah Edelstein, Group Product Manager for Mesh Platform Experiences talks about what a platform experience is.

    Have you thought about leveraging Software plus Services into your traditional IT departments? Are you going to reactive and enforce a “shields up” approach and block technologies like this or a proactive approach and explore the possibilities for where it makes sense to include them? Have your IT staff had a chance to explore mesh and other technologies yet?  They can get LiveMesh now from www.mesh.com.

    I’m curious to see where you think S + S will go and what you think it can do for you. Care to share your thoughts?

     

    Rick 
    Team Blog | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

    Posted in LiveMesh, S + S, Technology Preview | Leave a Comment »

    Integrating ‘Software-plus-Services’ into your IT Environment

    Posted by RicksterCDN on August 11, 2008

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    ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) continues to be one of the industry’s hottest buzzwords. In fact, the growing popularity of SaaS is forcing IT managers and technology implementers to consider how this new software delivery model might affect their current IT infrastructures, since SaaS and on-premise software are not mutually exclusive.

    This month, Ruth Morton, Mark Relph (Microsoft Canada) and Barb Cummings (Brodie Computers Inc.) are discussing the difference between ‘Software as a Service’ and Microsoft’s vision of ‘Software-plus-Services,’ as well as tips on how IT pros can choose the right mix of on-premise, hosted, and client software within an IT environment.

     

    Additional Resources:

    Learn more about Microsoft’s vision for ‘Software-plus-Services’:
    www.microsoft.com/softwarepuleservices
    http://www.brodie.com/
    http://www.davidchappell.com/S_S_in_the_Microsoft_World–Chappell.pdf

    Download and learn more about SaaS:
    http://www.software2008.com/downloads/mckinsey_software2008_survey.pdf
    http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2008/04/surveying_the_n.php

    This podcast is available in both MP3 and WMA formats. Full video interviews as well as more information about the IT Manager Podcast series can be found on the IT Manager Podcast web page.

    download MP3 download WMA

    Rick 
    Team Blog | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

    A Rookie’s Initial Experience with Hyper-V

    Posted by RicksterCDN on August 6, 2008

    The Team and I got back from Seattle this past weekend. We were there soaking up the internal Kool-Aide on new and existing technologies. Unfortunately – most of them we can’t share with you just yet, you will have to be a little patient. One thing that I can share is my enthusiasm for our latest virtualization technology (Hyper-V) and how it is changing the virtualization space. I attended numerous sessions around our entire virtualization stack and will be pooling resources with the other team members to whip up some really Amazing sessions for the upcoming year – targeting readers in BOTH Enterprise and Smaller/Mid-market sized shops. If you are a “Jack/Jane of all Trades” and you haven’t had the chance to try out Hyper-V yourselves, you’d be surprised at the low level of entry for hardware. I forget that a lot of people have not tried Hyper-V as of yet.  This guest post came in last week from Graham out west sums up his experiences with using some re-purposed hardware to setup a lab machine to hone his skills.  If you have hardware you’ve picked up in the last year or so – it’s worth flashing the BIOS and checking it’s Hyper-V hosting potentials.

    To his credit – I only had to chat with Graham a couple of times via email to answer his questions. As always – I like his post for it’s frankness and to the point remarks. Keep ’em coming Graham!   As for “the Idiots guide to Hyper-V”….. hummm… maybe you are on to something there. Any publishers listening?

    Rick 
    Team Blog | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

     

    ————————————————————–

     

    Graham Jones (Surrey, BC)

    Before I start I would like to thank Rick Claus and Danielle and Nelson Ruest (MVP’s) for getting me to first base so that this “rookie” no longer feels like a complete Hyper-V virtualization idiot. I should point out that I started down the Hyper-V road with very limited virtualization experience in general. Hitherto I had “played” with Virtual Server and Virtual PC to a very limited extent. So what was my purpose? It was quite simply that I felt that I ought to learn more about it so that I would at least be able to converse with those people who clearly know way more than I. Besides my daughter-in-law has just given me some spare PC’s from her business (my son and I just re-architected her systems to use SBS and TS on a new server) and a spare PC is something like an itch that has to be scratched. It turned out that one of the PC’s had a half decent ASUS mobo [M2A-VM which at ~$65 is great value] for the purpose  (up to 8GB DDR2 RAM and 4 SATA sots). So with the purchase of 4GB RAM, the use of 3 spare drives and my MSDN subscription I was all set to go. The PC came with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ CPU which I anticipated would be perfectly adequate for “playing” purposes and so far has proven to be the case.

    The other question regarding the processor is, “will it run Hyper-V”. In the case of AMD there is a feature called AMD-V which is supported in the Athlon 64 X2 series of processors (and others but not all). Intel has a similar feature (VT) and you will have to check to see which processors are supported. There is an AMD utility which checks to see if your system will support Hyper-V. When I first ran it I got a very disappointing “No”. However, a BIOS upgrade to the latest release soon solved the problem. There is also something called DEP (hardware data protection) which is a feature of 64bit processors but I won’t confuse matters by getting into that.

    Having installed WS08 x64 Enterprise and turned on Hyper-V I was all excited with anticipation to create my first VM. I decided to choose WS03 x64 R2 Enterprise. Being the IT guy I pressed ahead on instinct. Why the heck would I need to read any instructions? I had heard that this was easier than falling of a log! Creating the actual VM is pretty straightforward and I remembered not to put it on the system drive (default location). I had planned to put the VM’s (more on which later) on the 2 non-system drives. Installing the OS was straightforward, ie. just like a regular machine, once I figured out how to re-boot the VM with the media in the DVD drive. The first time through I suddenly realized that I might be installing on the host machine and quit. Once installed one of the “pains” of VM’s came flooding back to me – capturing the keyboard and mouse to move between the guest OS window and the Virtual Machine Connection window. I will say that the whole interface is significantly better and more intuitive than with Virtual Server. Let’s face it, it had to be! OK, so now I had a working VM but it couldn’t “talk” to anything which is kind of useless. So my next excursion was into Virtual Networks. It turns out that there are 3 different types (External, Internal and Private) of which the External is of most interest to me at the moment, ie. connecting to the LAN/internet. So I proceeded to create an External VN with a binding to the single physical NIC on the machine (Realtek). Confident that I could now add the WS03 VM to the VN and all would be well I pressed on. But opening IE was a big non-event. I had no connectivity. Rick suggested that I needed to add the Integration Services via the Action menu (Insert Integration Services Setup Disk) on the Virtual Machine Connection. What the he… are the Integration Services (IS). You mean that this thing simply doesn’t work out of the box? Besides I don’t have a Setup Disk! Just for the hell of it I clicked on the menu item and big surprise – nothing happened.

    Having done some internet hunting I found a reference to a file called vmguest.iso in the System32 directory of the host OS. I duly made a CD and popped it into the drive. It ran and declared that the services were now installed. I don’t know if there is another way to do this; hopefully there is a simpler way. Now did that mean on the host OS or on the VM? It didn’t make too much sense to have to go through this for every VM. Besides I still couldn’t access the LAN. So I thought that I would click on the Action menu item again (having sworn for the millionth time about having to press CTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW to move out of the guest OS window) and low and behold things started to happen. I now had Integration Services on my VM and I had LAN/internet connectivity. A further bonus is that you can now move freely between the guest OS window and the Virtual Machine Connection window, sigh! Hold on, don’t get too excited. There are some limitations. IS is only supported on WS03 R2 and WS08. Gnashing of teeth! At this point I hadn’t realized this and proceeded to install XP x64 Pro. By now creating the VM and installing the OS was child’s play (no references to a 5 year old could do this, please). Grinding halt. I can’t connect to the LAN again. At this point I got my education extended on how Hyper-V and NIC’s work thanks to the Ruest’s. The following blog post is quite helpful: http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2008/01/08/understanding-networking-with-hyper-v.aspx. Armed with my new found knowledge about Legacy Network Adapters (LNA’s) [the blog explains] I was sure that I would now have it solved. What, it still doesn’t connect! A little digging and I discover that XP x64 does not support  LNA’s nor IS. Sigh! So be warned. It would seem that if you want to get outside the host machine with XP x64 you are screwed.

    My next adventure was with WHS. I already have WHS running on a separate PC but I also wanted a test machine. My first install attempt produced a BSOD. So I moved on to Vista x64 which by now went like clockwork because it supports LNA’s which incidentally appear as emulated Intel NIC’s. I wonder why Intel? J. However, you are still stuck with CTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW to move around. Sigh! When I say like clockwork that was after I extended the IP range for the DHCP on my router (duh!). Where is that 5 year old when you need one? Not deterred by my first experience with WHS I gave it another go and low and behold it installed – go figure. The tide at the local beach must have come in! Since WHS is based on WS03 R2 I figured that IS would work and guess what; all I had to do was click on the Insert Integration Services Setup Disk menu item under Actions and the IS’s installed. I didn’t put a disk in which suggests that when I first ran vmguest the IS’s were somehow added to Hyper-V.

    Now I was on a role but didn’t have a copy of XP installed. I wanted Vista and XP to try with the WHS VM all within the host machine. So XP x86 was my next target. With my previous experience this was totally straightforward since it supports LNA’s. Next I installed the WHS Connector on the XP and Vista VM’s with the WHS VM as the target, having first installed WHS PP1 to get Vista x64 support. Everything went well and the following morning the XP and Vista VM’s had been backed up to the WHS VM. Of course, this is not a practical environment for WHS (test only) because WHS requires multiple separate physical disks on its own machine to work its “magic” correctly. I haven’t tried yet (nor figured out) how to add a second VD to WHS so that I can try folder duplication in a virtual environment.

    As I suggested at the beginning of the article the CPU hasn’t been a problem in this learning/test environment. So far I am using a total of 3.5GB RAM with all 4 VM’s running.  I put 2 VM’s on each of the 2 non-system HD’s. My purpose in writing this article is hopefully to provide a little help to others with pretty much zero knowledge to get out of the starting gate with Hyper-V. It isn’t necessarily to promote Hyper-V versus its competitors since I don’t have the knowledge or experience to do that. What did occur to me along the way is that although there is a lot of info on the web and on the Microsoft site I didn’t come across what I would call the true “Idiots Guide to Hyper-V” for people like myself who started from absolute scratch and had to go through perhaps more learning pain than is really necessary. We all know that it isn’t possible to write the perfect guide. There will always be an element of “experimental” learning involved but let’s not make it harder than it need be. If we want people to adopt new technologies we must flatten the learning curve and in particular highlight the “gotchas” which are great time wasters and frustration generators.

    Graham Jones

    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

    Management and the Midmarket Myth

    Posted by RicksterCDN on July 11, 2008

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    Canadian midmarket companies are rapidly expanding their networks by adopting the latest mobile and collaboration technologies.  However, a reactive management environment can make it more difficult to quickly deliver security and application upgrades and instead forces IT staff to spend their time putting out fires. So what is keeping midmarket companies from investing in tools that will help create a well-managed IT environment?  This month, Ruth talks with Rod Kreutzfeld (Compugen), Alex Saltman (Bonnett’s Energy) and Derick Wong (Microsoft Canada) about the three most common management myths, the benefits of adopting management technology, and how system management tools can help save time and deliver greater security across company networks.

     

    This podcast is available in both MP3 and WMA formats. Full video interviews as well as more information about the IT Manager Podcast series can be found on the IT Manager Podcast web page.

    download MP3 download WMA

    Rick 
    Team Blog | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

    Hyper-V RTM’ed – what you need to know.

    Posted by RicksterCDN on June 26, 2008

    I am a little stoked right now. I’ve just finished up reading all the announcements on Hyper-V that RTM’ed today and I thought I should share some of that excitement with you – in small relevant chunks.

    • You can get it from Windows Update starting on July 8th. Existing Windows Server 2008 systems configured with Windows Update will see it as a download.(Exact package name&number to follow).
      • Note: Windows Update scales out and staggers updates so it might not be there FOR YOU exactly on the 8th, but should appear soon thereafter.
    • You can get all the key information on Hyper-V (our hypervisor based server consolidation solution) from www.microsoft.com/hyper-v.
    • Build Number 6.0.6001.18016
    • Get the final bits as of 3PM EST (noon PST) from the Microsoft Download Centre. If links are not live – be patient as they take time to propagate.
    • Guest Operating Systems that are supported as of RTM are
      • Windows Server 2008
      • Windows Server 2003
      • Windows Server 2000
      • Windows Vista
      • Windows XP
      • Novel SUSE Enterprise Linux
      • (more on the way)
    • Upgrade Scenarios – no changes required to existing system infrastructure. you can keep all of your existing RC machines (RC0, RC1 etc).
      • Saved States and Online Snapshots (since they contain saved states) are NOT supported. They need to be discarded BEFORE going RTM (or prior to resuming the machine)
      • Integration Components need to be installed on all old machines. No uninstall required – just close off “new hardware detected” windows and then choose action – insert integration services setup disk from remote management window
    • There are a number of case studies from TAP customers who have been using Hyper-V RC in their production environments.
      • Coolest factoid for me? TechNet and MSDN are run from Hyper-V web servers.
      • Even cooler? How about virtualizing www.microsoft.com? a 16 VM cluster is handing 25% of the load (25% of 15,000 requests per second, 1.2 billion page views per month, and 280M worldwide unique users per month) right now with more to come. Details over on the Windows Server Division Blog.
    • Very cool process called SVVP (Server Virtualization Validation Program) has spun up (announced last February) which allows any hypervisor vendor to validate their solution of running Windows Server in their virtualization offering.
      • This means that if a product (i.e: server applications like Exchange) is supported to run on a SVVP validated solution, it will get the same level of support regardless of the SVVP validated virtualization offering.
      • Look for more clarification on this in upcoming blog posts.
    • As mentioned above – support for Applications like SQL, Exchange and SharePoint – product teams are producing support statements – you can hear about them here once they are public.
    • Cool tool to help you determine what you can do with your environment: MAP (Microsoft Assessment and Planning) It will be updated to include information on server consolidation / virtualization with Hyper-V.
    • I’ve been asked on a number of occasions on how to do Bitlocker on the Virtualization Host system (parent partition) to help with stolen hardware scenarios that might come up in Branch Office deployments (lots of branches in Canada)… I noticed in the new fray that we’re published a whitepaper on it and it is now available for the public.

    Tons more stuff on virtualization on the way – keep your RSS feeds updating and keep in the loop – wicked crazy stuff is on the way.

    Rick 
    Team Blog | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

    Posted in Hyper-V | Leave a Comment »

    Connecting with Students – Grabbin’ a pint with future ICT Pros!

    Posted by RicksterCDN on January 4, 2008

    As an IT Professional who has worked in the industry collecting a salary for over 17 years (man I am dating myself) I am psyched to have a job where I have an opportunity to connect with students who have already made a commitment to train and work within IT or are on the fence and contemplating “jumping in”.  By connect – I mean start a dialogue with them – listening to what they have to say and answering questions they might have on almost any topic they want to talk about.

    One of the things my team wanted to do this year was start to engage with the academic community a bit more – like our Developer advisor team mates do.  Planning started a while ago on which colleges and universities we had prior relationships with and we reached out to the Deans of IT and the ACCC to see if they were interested in having us stop in while we were on the road and talk with their faculty and students when we are in town.  We don’t necessarily talk about “product” – we’re talking about working in the ICT industry, what they can do to better prepare for entering the workforce and trying to dispel any myths that might have been engrained in their minds about working in IT. Oh yeah – we leave as much time as possible for questions during the short time we have, but at the end, there are always people who want to talk further or get contact information shared out. Once in a while there’s even an interest to go out and connect in a more informal setting (coffee / pizza / pints) later to continue the conversation.

    I was approached by Algonquin College to talk with students in March as part of a discussion panel on the ICT community.  It happened to be taking place the day after I returned from the Vancouver Launch stop – I was beat, but jumped at the chance to connect with over 100 students and faculty. As a result of the short talk I ended up re-connecting with Richard – one of the CS Professors who I met last time I was there and continue to interact with in the online community.

    Richard followed up with me the following week to see if I was available for an informal chat – I suggested we meet up at a local establishment (the Clocktower Pub) which hosts a lot of “tech” meetups, *camps / after *camps. Hey – it was St. Patricks day – I couldn’t resist. 🙂

    It was great!  I got to meet some members of the first class of students about to graduate from Algonquin’s Computer Systems Technology program (an additional year of study on top of their two year Computer Systems Technician Diploma program.) Cool program – gets them additional skills around IT Project Management, how to run a small business, wired and wireless network setup, security analysis to name a few – plus the opportunity to double up on “General Education electives” in the fields of personal and social development or cultural understanding.

    I want to shout out to Gemen, Chris, Harri, Drew, Dave and Scott – Awesome meeting with you. Study up for those finals, eh? I’ll connect back up with you a little later when things settle down!

    I love going out to talk with Students. I believe as an IT Pro and working in the ICT field – it’s one way I can help out the industry as well as excite people coming into the biz. Heck – maybe we should start talking in HighSchools – BEFORE people make up their mind to get into a program…. hummm….

    I’m scheduled to connect with students at the HEC in Montreal on the 7th and NSCC in Halifax on the 16th. Are you interested in having one of us come out to your college or University to chat? Drop us an email with the EMAIL button at the top to connect up and see what’s possible!

    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »