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Vol. 19, #29 - July 21, 2014 - Issue #989

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Future-Proofing Server Monitoring

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Ask our Readers - Best Password Manager
    • From the Mailbag
    • Future-Proofing Server Monitoring
    • Tip of the Week: Choose your Active Directory Domain Names Wisely
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Events Calendar
    • Americas
    • Europe
    • Asia Pacific
  4. Webcast Calendar
    • MSExchange.org Exchange CON 2014 - September 18
    • Register for Webcasts
  5. Tech Briefing
    • Hyper-V
    • VMware
    • Citrix
    • Security
  6. Windows Server News
    • Google goes for AWS in IaaS arms race
    • Need-to-know info on VDI and end-user experience monitoring tools
    • Red Hat embraces containers in RHEL 7
    • Map out which scaling direction is right for you
  7. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • Crossroads Without Traffic Lights In Ethiopia
    • I Didn't Think An Airliner Could Do This
    • Selyna Bogino Juggling Five Balls World Record Attempt
    • Cats Stealing Dog Beds
  8. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • World's First Backup Appliance for Virtual-Only Environments - Protect physical servers for no extra charge.

 

World's First Backup Appliance for Virtual-Only Environments - Protect physical servers for no extra charge.

Unitrends' portfolio of purpose-built backup appliances are designed to offer powerful, affordable options for virtualized environments. Backup, archiving, disaster and instant recovery with support consistently achieving 98% customer satisfaction.

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Editor's Corner

This week's newsletter is all about ensuring that your network and server monitoring platform will continue to meet your needs as the future inexorably rolls towards you. Of course, it's difficult to predict the future unless you have a vehicle that allows you to travel through time. Did you know you can use a kayak to visit the future? See how in this xkcd comic:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405592593515

OK so maybe physicists do have a lousy sense of humor...

Ask our Readers - Best Password Manager

Last week in Issue #988 Windows 8.1 Migration Planning, a reader named Antonio who is a sysadmin in Sydney, Australia, asked for help on the following matter:

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 received several responses from readers on this question. Several of our readers responded by recommending LastPass:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405592598780

For example, a reader named Eric who is an IT Administrator working for a virtual call center in Georgia, USA said:

We have been using the Enterprise version for over a year and are quite pleased. I have been using it personally for a number of years (5 or 6?) and am the primary reason we are using it here.

Another reader named Rich said:

I've found and used LastPass for several years now and LOVE it. It's not "portable" meaning you can't plug in a USB drive and have it work. However, you CAN log into the LastPass website with your credentials and have access to all your sites and passwords. I also use the form fill ability as well. Very handy for many things.

Ricardo, a Systems and Network Administrator for a group of companies based in BC, Canada, recommended another product called KeePass:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405592608312

I've been using KeePass for the last 2 years; there are versions for Android (KeePassDroid) and iOS (MiniKeePass). The Android version integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive. This means that everywhere you go the password database goes with you. The PC program has tons of features such as auto typing on websites login pages, password categories, password generators, database search, etc. Never had a single problem and the security is really good.

Jim, an Application Architect based in Texas, USA has been happy with RoboForm:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405592644187

I've been using RoboForm for about 8 years, now, and have been very pleased. I'm currently running RoboForm Everywhere which allows me to install RoboForm on multiple computers and have access to all my logins on each one. They also offer a web-based login which gives you access to your logins without leaving traces on the computer you have used, and also a portable format which can be loaded and run from a USB key.

John, who works for a graphic design company in Massachusetts, USA takes a different stand on password management which is actually closer to my own personal view on the subject:

This may sound pedantic and off-putting. The best security is your own memory since having a password manager on the computer(s) is a better chance of getting hacked by someone gaining physical access to one of your computers or through malware. This is also why I don't have browsers remember my passwords for websites other than simple forums, and these passwords get cleared periodically when I flush cookies anyway.

In general memorizing something such as a password is quite easy if it is done properly. The problem is most people memorize using muscle movement instead of true associative memorization. This is true of musicians as well and is obvious when a performer gets lost. This is also why passwords get mixed up. People don't "know" the password; they only know the finger motion that was used to type it. If the password, or music, is memorized through association, then the information is intact no matter the interruption. Passwords, as you should know, need to, as in really must contain, non-alpha numeric characters. Use something that is strong yet you can associate with easily. Once you know the password, but more than just the finger movement, you can then associate it with the website. One way to memorize a password, is to say and type the characters at the same time instead of just looking and typing. Saying is similar to writing and this helps "burn" the information into the memory, unlike typing which doesn't have the same effect.

For accounts that are accessed rarely, write them down and lock the paper or small book away. Don't put it under your keyboard as we're apt to see occasionally!

This may have not been the answer you have been looking for, but consider the implications of a password manager as that puts all the eggs in one basket as the old idiom states.

Which is probably why I keep all my cash stored in 23 different banks...

If any readers have other password management solutions to suggest, or if you have a question of your own that you'd like us to throw out to our readership seeking answers, let us know at wsn@mtit.com

From the Mailbag

In Issue #986 Finding Tech Support Online we talked about how to get effective tech support from online forums. One of the sites we recommended for this was Microsoft's TechNet Forums:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405592984564

When I pointed readers to these forums I also mentioned that the "integrated" user interface for these forums is a bit cumbersome to use. A reader named George had more to say concerning this usability (or non-usability) issue of the TechNet Forums:

I have been using TechNet for more than a decade and have found that it has become much harder to use of late. It has changed from a fairly well organized help file and forum structure to what seems to be a jumble of various blogs and other social media constructs. I find the search facility to be almost useless. I have yet to figure out how to limit a search to a particular software version or even a particular product, so if I search on something like "Server 2012 print error xxxxx" I get thousands of results referring to everything from SBS2003 to Windows 8.1. I find that the best way to look for answers to a particular problem is to try posting a question and then follow the links offered to similar posts. I have also noticed a decline in the quality of answers suggested by the official Microsoft forum monitors.

Unfortunately I feel that I have to agree with this reader. While I frequently Google (or Bing) the TechNet Forums for answers concerning specific issues by including the string "site:social.technet.microsoft.com" in my search query, I rarely try posting questions to the TechNet Forums because of the kludginess of how the forum selection control works (or doesn't work). And like most so-called "social media" web properties today, the TechNet Forums seem to get redesigned from time to time, forcing one to relearn how to use them effectively. It almost makes me long for the good old days of USENET. Or maybe I'm just an old dog that has trouble learning new tricks.

What do you think of the current UX (user experience i.e. usability) of the TechNet Forums? Email me at wsn@mtit.com

And now on to this week's main topic...

Future-Proofing Server Monitoring

Network and server monitoring is something we've examined in the past in this newsletter, most recently in Issue #968 Enterprise Monitoring Strategies which talked about the challenges of monitoring IT environments in today's enterprises. However, recently I was looking into some of the current offerings available from monitoring vendors and suddenly I remembered that Microsoft had marked SNMP as deprecated when Windows Server 2012 was released--see Issue #893 Deprecated Features for details. This got me thinking, because a lot of existing monitoring platforms use SNMP for discovery and/or monitoring of network devices and systems.

What might happen then if Microsoft follows through someday and pulls SNMP functionality entirely from its Windows Server platform? Will you still be able to use your existing network monitoring software to effectively monitor servers running the latest version of Windows Server? Or will you need to rip out your existing monitoring platform and find another solution for monitoring the health and availability of your infrastructure?

Fortunately this might not be as big an issue as it first seems.

First, Microsoft will eventually be removing SNMP functionality from future versions of Windows Server. That much is clear from the following TechNet page:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593026236

and also from here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593031283

However, on that page Microsoft also gives the reason why they are going to remove SNMP:

"SNMP is deprecated. Instead, use the Common Information Model (CIM), which is supported by the WS-Management web services protocol and implemented as Windows Remote Management."

What's really being said here is that Microsoft is simply pointing out that SNMP is a very old technology that worked fine for environments that had servers running Windows Server 2003 but which is behind the curve for environments running more recent versions of Windows Server. Specifically, over the last decade Microsoft has been transitioning its server monitoring technologies, first from SNMP to Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) which is Microsoft's implementation of the Common Information Model Object Manager (CIMOM) developed by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). Then in 2005 Microsoft together with twelve other companies submitted a new SOAP-based management protocol called WS-Management (Web Service Management) to the DMTF. Once WS-Management received recognition by the ISO as an international standard, Microsoft then implemented WS-Management on the Window Server platform in the form of WinRM (Windows Remote Management). And today, Microsoft System Center products like Operations Manager can use WinRM to monitor both Windows and Linux-based servers and also network devices that support WS-Management such as switches and routers that support the DASH (Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware) and SMASH (Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware) initiatives from the DMTF.

To sum up then, WS-Management is the future while SNMP is the past. Here's a post from the Windows Server Blog that outlines the above evolution of Windows management/monitoring:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593041096

So if you want to future-proof your network monitoring and management, you should start thinking about how you can move beyond SNMP.

However, note that while SNMP is now deprecated in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, that doesn't mean it will necessarily be pulled from the next version of Windows Server. If enough enterprise customers tell Microsoft that they still need the SNMP provider in the next version of Windows Server, Microsoft will probably leave it in, though they likely won't make any changes or improvements to the provider since development is generally frozen as far as deprecated features are concerned. So you will probably still have a few years to plan a smooth and orderly transition from using SNMP monitoring to WS-Management monitoring. And this also means that the vendor of your current monitoring platform will also have a few years to update their product so it supports WS-Management if they haven't already done so.

Send us feedback

Does your current monitoring platform support WS-Management? Are you concerned about Microsoft's decision to deprecate SNMP in the Windows Server platform? What are some other steps you can take to help future-proof your current IT infrastructure? Let us know at wsn@mtit.com

Tip of the Week: Choose your Active Directory Domain Names Wisely

I can still remember way back when Microsoft introduced the /renamedomain option for the Netdom.exe command-line utility so enterprises could rename their Active Directory domains when things like company mergers and acquisitions occurred. Those of you who still look back with affection towards Windows NT may want to take a trip back memory lane with this KB article:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593046049

However, in a real enterprise is domain rename ever a wise thing to attempt? Probably not. The simple reason is because domain rename is no longer supported by most (if not all) current versions of Microsoft server applications. For example, if you have Exchange or SharePoint deployed in your forest and you try renaming the domain, you might end up having to flatten and rebuild everything.

What should you do then if your company is merging with or acquiring another company and their existing domain name is unsatisfactory or won't work for you? Use the Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) to migrate the old domain and its resources to a brand new domain or into an existing domain:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593051080

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Recommended for Learning

This week we have some books for you on server, network and cloud monitoring to check out:

Mastering System Center 2012 Operations Manager
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593055299

System Center 2012 Operations Manager Unleashed (2nd Edition)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593059565

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor : Deployment and Administration
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593063408

Monitoring and Securing Virtualized Networks and Services
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593067190

Nagios: Building Enterprise-Grade Monitoring Infrastructures for Systems and Networks (2nd Edition)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593071127

Monitoring with Ganglia
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593075236

Puppet Reporting and Monitoring
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593078783

Quote of the Week

"In football [soccer] everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.." --Jean Paul Sartre

Until next week,
Mitch Tulloch

Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at wsn@mtit.com and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

Free Eval Appliance. Test for yourself the world’s first backup appliance built for virtual environments.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405597675232

Do you know which users have access to sensitive files or directories? Using Permissions Analyzer, you’ll be able to easily see what permissions a user or group of users has for an object and why.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405597678419 

The Top Ten Things Every IT Pro Using Hyper-V Needs to Know. This paper will arm readers with the most important ten things every Hyper-V using IT Pro needs to know. Download free!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405936698921

Amazon Web Services and Metalogix Virtual Private Cloud provide organizations with a highly secure and scalable Exchange and Files archive solution. Take it for an Instant Test Drive Today.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405597680904
 

Clone Dropbox with a Raspberry Pi and BTSync:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405597703169


Events Calendar

Americas

Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593084252

Europe

TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593086268

Asia Pacific

TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593088237

Add your event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact michaelv@techgenix.com

 

Webcast Calendar

MSExchange.org Exchange CON 2014 - September 18

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!

Register Here  

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:

Sign Up Now!

Register for Webcasts

Add your Webcast

PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact michaelv@techgenix.com

 

Tech Briefing

Hyper-V

Is it Better to Run Hyper-V on Windows Server or as a Standalone Hypervisor (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593152112

Leveraging the Hyper-V Extensible Switch in Windows Server 2012 R2 (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593155643

 

VMware

Monitoring vSphere Virtual Machines in the vSphere Web Client (Part 1) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593159831

Getting Started with VMware vSphere OpenStack Virtual Appliance (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593163659

 

Citrix

Is Session Reliability Good or Bad? (The Citrix Blog)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593167675

Driving Telework in Federal Agencies – Slowly but Surely (The Citrix Blog)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593170831

 

Security

This Interactive Map Shows Global Cyberattacks As They Happen In Real Time (Business Insider)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593177112

How to Achieve an Effective Patch Management System (WindowSecurity.com)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593182347


Windows Server News

Google goes for AWS in IaaS arms race

While Google Compute Engine is still considerably new, it is having a huge impact already, making its case against AWS. Get an in-depth look at Google Compute Engine's benefits and capabilities, and find out what the experts have to say about its bright future.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593186206

Need-to-know info on VDI and end-user experience monitoring tools

End-user experience monitoring is a crucial task for VDI deployment, but it can be extremely difficult to know what exactly to look for in a monitoring tool. Learn about the experts' picks for best monitoring tools, such as Liquidware Labs, Lakeside Software, and more, and find out what separates these options from the pack.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593189597

Red Hat embraces containers in RHEL 7

Thanks to Red Hat, the term "containers" has a whole new meaning. And now, Red Hat has teamed up with Docker to bolster its appeal as a cloud computing platform. Get an exclusive sneak peek at how Red Hat is redefining containers in RHEL 7, and learn what its competition has been up to, too.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593193315

Map out which scaling direction is right for you

Planning ahead is crucial when it comes to ensuring that there is enough storage and compute resources to prevent a decrease in company productivity. Get a detailed look into three expert vSphere infrastructure scaling options that will help you prepare for when you need to provide more resources in your virtualization environment.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593197878

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

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 wsn@mtit.com

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Crossroads Without Traffic Lights In Ethiopia

It is amazing how well the traffic flows without traffic lights at a major intersection in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593203878

I Didn't Think An Airliner Could Do This

I didn't think an airliner could do this ... until I saw this video of Boeing test pilots practicing with their Dreamliner 787-9 for the Farnborough Air Show 2014:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593207300

Selyna Bogino Juggling Five Balls World Record Attempt

Selyna Bogino from Italy is practicing to break the world record of the longest and most difficult 5 balls routine ever. Wow!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593211831

Cats Stealing Dog Beds

Cats love to have their own space to sleep. All too often that space also happens to be the dog's bed:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1405593215456

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

World's First Backup Appliance for Virtual-Only Environments - Protect physical servers for no extra charge.

Unitrends' portfolio of purpose-built backup appliances are designed to offer powerful, affordable options for virtualized environments. Backup, archiving, disaster and instant recovery with support consistently achieving 98% customer satisfaction.

Request Free Eval Unit Now >

 

WServerNews - Editors

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 from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-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 Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.