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Vol. 19, #30 - July 28, 2014 - Issue #990
This week's newsletter is all about roadmaps that tell you where you are and where you're headed if you're an IT pro who works with Microsoft products and cloud solutions. A map is essential if you're planning a trip so you can ensure you reach your destination. Roadmaps are also essential for IT pros so they can prepare their environment for platform updates and new product versions coming down the line. Of course there are other ways of learning where you're headed besides looking at a map as this Dilbert comic illustrates:
I guess that's where we're all headed eventually, right?
But not yet.
While the target audience of this newsletter is fairly tech-savvy, we by no means want to ignore the noobs among you. So while we can't directly focus on providing noob-friendly content for our newsletter, we can however ask our readers if they can offer a suggestion to the following reader named Marguerite:
Is there a newsletter for non-server ordinary win8.1 users?
I don't know of any such newsletter, but maybe some of you readers do? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can point Marguerite and other "ordinary" (as opposed to "expert") users in the right direction.
In the previous Issue #989 Future-Proofing Server Monitoring we included a number of reader responses to the following question from a reader named Antonio:
A lot of articles are suggesting to use unique passwords for each site or account, especially for sensitive activities such as online banking. And lots of authors suggest the use of a password manager which I agree that it is a good idea. However I wonder if you know of any good portable password manager. I would prefer to be able to login to sites on more than just 1 computer. I know there are some portable tools available such as Password Safe etc. What would you recommend?
We've received a few more responses we thought were worth publishing. First, a reader named Hugo from Brazil says:
I use for several decades Password Safe (initially from Bruce Schneier). I have the Password Safe database in my OneDrive/SkyDrive folder (in the past I used Dropbox, same idea). In the OneDrive folder I have also the Password Safe setup utility so I can easily install it on any computer. I have access to the same database in my home desktop, at work, notebook, etc.
Wow, it's rare that a software utility remains useful for decades. You can download Password Safe from SourceForge here:
Another reader named David who is a Network Manager based in Israel recommended using SplashID for managing passwords:
I have been using SplashID for a few years now. Lately I have upgraded to SplashID Safe. I am very pleased with the product. I have run it on all my iOS and android devices and my pc at work. They all synchronize together and there is a backup program as well.
You can get SplashID Safe here:
Finally, a reader named Jonathan who is an IT Manager in Systems Engineering - Operations recommends Passwordstate from ClickStudios:
Absolutely the best solution I have seen for the enterprise:
In Issue #989 Future-Proofing Server Monitoring we talked about ensuring that your network and server monitoring platform will continue to meet your needs as the future inexorably rolls towards you. In particular we mentioned how SNMP is now deprecated in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, and suggest that if you want to future-proof your network monitoring and management, you should start thinking about how you can move beyond SNMP and in particular towards WS-Management. Readers Jeffrey and Mary Jane responded to this as follows:
Concerning Microsoft's direction on SNMP: From one perspective, SNMP has been somewhat limited (in many respects, security, functionality, flexibility for implementation) in managing Windows-based systems. And the security aspects of SNMP have resulted in its banishment from many high security environments. However, SNMP is the central management framework for many network equipment vendors (i.e., Cisco and HP) and VMware that still seem to invest heavily in it. So rather than one management framework for an enterprise, it seems as though there will be two -- one for computers/servers (primarily Windows, but possibly other operating systems as well) and another for everything else. That is not to say that that separation is not already occurring, but Microsoft seems ready to make it a permanent divorce.
Wisely said. Another reader named Tony who is a Network Consultant in the UK took a somewhat harsher position concerning Microsoft's decision to deprecate SNMP:
Microsoft are, once again, trying to dictate the market and push sysadmins to MS's own tools. While I agree SNMP is an older protocol now, it is still the defacto standard for network/server monitoring. All Enterprise monitoring tools support it, and will continue to support it for a long time. By depreciating SNMP in Server 2012, and pushing people to WS-Management, MS are in effect saying 'our management tools fully support this. Make sure your shop is entirely Windows based, and deploy System Center to manage your entire estate' -- at a cost of course, and you find yourself slowly slipping into becoming walled into the MS garden. I've no doubt 3rd party management tools will add WS-Management to their list (if they haven't already), but SNMP is still evolving, and is used by pretty much every vendor on the market offering remote management. Don't you think it's interesting how MS never added SNMPv3 to Windows?
I'm not sure I agree that one can describe SNMP as still evolving since its most recent version (SNMPv3) was standardized by the IETF in 2004. A technology that hasn't evolved any further in a decade sounds to me like it's dying not evolving. Agree? Disagree? Email me at email@example.com
One thing I learned from reading Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is that it's a lot less stressful to be proactive than reactive. That's especially important for me because by nature I'm a procrastinator, and procrastination leads to stress.
IT pros also need to be proactive if they want to survive the stresses of their jobs. One way of being more proactive is to actively seek information about what's coming in future releases of the software platforms they have deployed on-premises--or in the case of cloud computing, what's coming in future releases of cloud applications and services.
Recently I stumbled across just this for Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based version of their popular Office suite of applications. Microsoft's roadmap for Office 365 summarizes the platform updates that have already been launched, are now being rolled out, are still in development, and whose release has been cancelled. Here it is:
This got me thinking about what other roadmaps similar to this Microsoft has published recently. So I did some searching around and discovered that the above Office 365 roadmap is pretty much the only roadmap available that outlines where a specific Microsoft platform or product is going.
I guess that's expected really since vendors usually hold their cards close to their chest when they're preparing a new release of a product. But for businesses that rely on the cloud, such secrecy can be more detrimental than helpful as far as supporting customers is concerned. The reason is simply that if you're going to be constantly releasing new versions of cloud-based applications (as opposed to the interval of several years between the releases of traditional software products) then you absolutely must give your customers some heads-up as to what's ahead for them. This is especially true for enterprise customers since they are very process-oriented in terms of deploying software updates and new versions of products as they require extensive internal compatibility testing to be performed before rolling these out.
While I applaud Microsoft for providing such a detailed roadmap of coming features for Office 365, one shouldn't have to attend TechEd (or watch a bunch of recorded TechEd sessions on Channel 9) just to try and get a few ideas of what's in the cards for other Microsoft cloud services like Microsoft Azure or for software products like Windows Server, SharePoint, Exchange, or SQL Server.
And considering how important end-user PCs still are even in a so-called BYOD (bring your own device) mobile-first world, it's really important that Microsoft avoid doing things like changing the service/support baseline for client Windows without announcing such changes in advance. Informing your enterprise customers that they only have 30 days to install Windows 8.1 Update 1 if they want to continue receiving security updates for Windows 8.1 as Microsoft did in its April 2014 security bulletin not only forced Microsoft to "blink" by extending this deadline for another 30 days, it also caused some enterprise customers I know to get angry--very angry--that Microsoft laid this on them without a lead time of several months to think through the update deployment planning issues.
The bottom line is that if you have a track record of delivering new releases according to a specific paradigm (e.g. RTM, Service Pack 1, etc) then you better not change the paradigm without spending a good deal of time communicating to customers how the new paradigm will work, why it's being changed, and how it can benefit them. In other words, give people a new roadmap before you start moving the roads around.
Send us feedback
Does Microsoft provide you with clear enough roadmaps for upcoming releases of their platforms and products? Are they better or worse than other vendors (both hardware and software) whose products you have deployed in your company? Let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week's tip was submitted by Nirmal Sharma, a Microsoft MVP in Directory Services:
There are several ways to execute a command on remote computers. You can use PSExec.exe, Windows PowerShell PSRemoting, and any other freeware tool which supports executing a command remotely. Most of the Windows Administrators do not know that there is a built-in tool available, called WMIC, to execute "any" command on the remote computers. WMIC, known as "Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line" is a WMI scripting interface that allows you to access WMI data on local or remote computers from Command Prompt.
Let's assume, you want to update Group Policy Settings on a remote computer by using GPUpdate.exe. If you need to update GPO settings for one computer, use this command:
WMIC /node:Computer_Name process call create "cmd.exe /c GPUpdate.exe"
Since WMIC does not support executing commands on multiple computers, you need to use FOR loop as shown in the below command:
FOR /F "Tokens=*" %L IN (Computers.TXT) DO WMIC /node:%L process call create "cmd.exe /c GPUpdate.exe"
You can replace "cmd.exe /c GPUpdate.exe" with a choice of your command. Here is an example of stopping a service on a remote computer:
WMIC /node:Computer_Name process call create "Net Stop service_name"
About Nirmal Sharma
Nirmal Sharma is a MCSEx3, MCITP and was awarded Microsoft MVP award in Directory Services. In his spare time, he likes to write articles/tips and manages the following site that provides tools and other resources for system administrators:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at email@example.com
This week we're listing some books like Covey's that can help you stay on top of your work as an IT pro or IT manager:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
The One Minute Manager
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
An announcement from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
August 6-7: Developing Universal Windows Apps (C#/XAML) Jump Start
Windows and Windows Phone developers, get real-world guidance for developing universal Windows apps and yourself save valuable time when creating apps for today's mobile workforce and consumer marketplace, in this live Jump Start from Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) August 6-7. Don't miss it! Register here:
"You know, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. I think that has kept me young at heart more than anything else." --Fred Trump as quoted in "The Art Of The Deal" by Donald TrumpUntil next week,
Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.
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Is managing users and computers on Active Directory too cumbersome? Download SolarWinds terrific trio of Active Directory Admin Tools today & start saving time on Active Directory management tasks.
The GCS1204G from IOGEAR is a highly-recommended 4-port Dual-Link DVI KVMP Pro switch:
PS/2 to USB adapter converter for keyboards:
Connect two PS/2 connectors to one USB port/hub with the Adesso PS/2 to USB Adapter:
Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact email@example.com
Registration is open for MS Exchange CON 2014, an information-packed annual event designed for busy IT Professionals within the global MS Exchange Community. This online event is hosted by MSExchange.org and begins at 10am EDT | 7am PDT | 3pm BST on Thursday, September 18, 2014. Participation is limited to 1,000 attendees, so register today!
This online annual live conference is a cost-effective and convenient opportunity to learn from many leading experts and vendors who serve the Exchange Community. Examples of focus session topics include:
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
2012R2 iSCSI Target Settings for Configuring a Specific Network (Ask the Core Team)
Microsoft RDS Policies explained (Part 1) (WindowsNetworking.com)
DSC Resource Kit Wave 3 (Windows PowerShell Blog)
What's in a name? Using prefixes in PowerShell (Windows PowerShell Blog)
Management Pack Development Training (MPAuthor)
Discovering Multiple Services of an Application (MPAuthor)
Office 365 Multi-Factor Authentication (Part 1) (MSExchange.org)
RBAC Made Easy (Part 1) (MSExchange.org)
Storage planning for Hyper-V Hosts (Part 1)
Storage planning for Hyper-V Hosts (Part 2)
Troubleshooting Hyper-V Network Virtualization (Part 1)
Verifying Active Directory Delegation is Accurate
Believe it or not, private clouds fail all the time, so it is important to take the necessary steps to make sure yours is one that doesn't. In this exclusive resource, learn why private clouds fail and get a head start in preventing these common shortcomings and failures from happening to you.
While you can technically still use Windows XP, its end-of-life can now lead to decreased security and an increase in hardware compatibility problems. Fortunately, organizations can overcome these challenges by including virtualization. Get an expert look at the problems with Windows XP, and learn the best methods and options for overcoming the issues associated with it.
Choosing a Hyper-V migration technology is not as easy as you might think -- it can be challenging to find a technology that helps you meet end goals while staying within budget. Learn how to make the right selection in this article from SearchServerVirtualization.com, complete with an expert comparison chart of your options.
To prevent slow VM migrations and optimize ESXi networking, admins in an ESXi environment need to set up and adjust multiple networks to avoid potential issues with congestion or hardware failures. Access this in-depth tutorial, complete with helpful visual guides, to learn how to add a new virtual switch and then configure it to split different kinds of network traffic.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at email@example.com
Who needs a vacuum cleaner, when you can have a hamster do the job for you?
A moving company in Taiwan has a clever way of using two forklifts to get their truck loaded quickly and efficiently:
There is nothing stopping the 'Duecker Universal Extender' to keep the German streets neat and clean:
A cat feeding device that uses facial recognition technology to allocate fixed food portions to each cat:
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.