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You've probably noticed that each of my first few newsletters have focused on some specific theme. For example, last week's issue was about hardware troubleshooting while this week's is about deployment. The reason I've begun doing this is because I want you to be able to save these newsletters for future reference. That way, whether you need to troubleshoot some hardware problem or are planning a major deployment project, you can quickly refer back to these saved newsletters where you'll find helpful tips, best practices, links to tools and other resources that can help you do your job as an IT pro.
So be sure to save these newsletters so you can refer back to them later when you need them!
From the Mailbag
I received some excellent feedback from a number of readers concerning the last issue Hardware Hell. Here's a brief sampling:
Concerning systems that endlessly restart during the POST stage of the boot process, several readers offered helpful suggestions:
One reader even went all the way down to the electrical component stage:
You missed what is, in my experience, the most common reason for any piece of hardware that edges towards failure (rather than suddenly fails). Look on the PCB for cylindrical capacitors with the cross on the top. Is the bit with the cross flat or bulging (or even burst)? Unless every one of them is flat, ditch it. Not worth going any further, ever.
Another reader chewed me out for making a glaring error in my suggestion on using an Ir thermometer to detect possible failing memory on a system:
You said "The theory behind it is that the resistance of a stick goes up when it's about to fail, and the higher the resistance the more heat is generated." That's obviously incorrect. If the resistance goes up, the current must fail (V=IR, V=Voltage, I=Current and R=Resistance). So the temperature would fall. It must do, since the Power=Current x Voltage. As Current has just fallen
and Voltage is constant, Power must drop. And Power consumed is the Heat that is generated.
The reader continued:
Actually, a common cause of failure is that when static hits a chip, a small lightning track is caused across an insulating substrate layer. It is perhaps only an atom or two wide and has no immediate impact. But bit by bit, extra current flows through the path and it gradually burns wider and wider. At some stage it gets into runaway mode and the chip goes short circuit. It is at
this stage just before the runaway failure that the current goes up enough to heat up the chip noticeably. As well as chips (ICs, integrated circuits) this phenomenon takes place in discrete diodes, transistors and ceramic capacitors. This is why you MUST observe antistatic precautions! The damage is unseen and unnoticed at first. But at some stage (tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe next year) the device will fail. Guaranteed!
It sounds like that reader knows what he's talking about, so mea cupla for the error. Still, if Dell engineers use the Ir thermometer approach then it must work even if the theory about why it works is a bit confused...
Another reader offered more input on troubleshooting audio as follows:
My kids complained their sound was crackling. I update drivers, disabled and re-enabled those horrible sound control apps manufacturers give you ? even swapped out a mobo. Ended up being a faulty cable to the speakers causing the crackling.
Several readers had additional suggestions on how to replace the little rubber feet when they go missing from your laptop:
A couple readers pointed out I forgot to include the link for Sugru, so here it is: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326531725625
Finally, one reader responded with:
Great article! Now you've put me out of business...
Oops, sorry about that! ;-)
Best Practices for Deployment
And now on to this issue's theme: deployment. Of course, deployment is an awfully big topic, so my brief editorial below will focus on only a couple of many possible best practices in this area. But first, here's the obligatory XKCD comic. Unfortunately this is the only XKCD comic I could find that seemed to deal with anything close to the topic of deployment, and please be forewarned--this comic is for a MATURE AUDIENCE ONLY:
SCCM or MDT?
If you're a large shop with thousands of systems you need to deploy Windows onto, which tool or approach should you use for this:
Use both. Use MDT for building your master images, then deploy these images ZTI using SCCM OSD integrated with MDT. There are several advantages of this approach:
If you need to migrate thousands of Windows systems using SCCM and you need to migrate user data using User State Migration Tool (USMT), how long can you expect this to take? How many systems can you migrate in a single all-nighter without saturating your network with USMT traffic?
It depends. Will you be using hardlink migration or storing USMT data on a network share? Using the hardlink migration feature available in USMT 4.0, some shops I've heard about have been able to migrate up to 1,000 or more systems per night, though that's pretty aggressive. If you're storing USMT data on a network share however, expect to be able to migrate only a fraction of that. Here's a blog post on using hardlink migration with SCCM 2007:
Bandwidth won't be an issue if you are using hard-link migration, but transferring Windows images around can quickly saturate your network. Multicasting with Windows Deployment Services is your friend here. There are no hard limits on how many systems you can use Windows Deployment Services to deploy Windows to using multicasting, so 1,000 multicast clients is quite achievable if everything else is in place. Having a gigabit network backbone can help too.
Migration limits also depend on your staffing resources. For example, you may need to set up a special "war room" manned with dedicated support staff to respond to user questions during and shortly after the migration process.
Finally, don't forget readiness. For example, do you actually know which systems are ready to have Windows deployed on them? Good planning takes the guesswork out of the deployment process.
What About Apps?
Most enterprises deploy applications as well as operating systems to client systems. Baking your client apps into your reference image increases the amount of time it can take to install the image on a machine. And if you use SCCM OSD to deploy the image you created using MDT but configure SCCM to push out your applications to target systems after the task sequence that deploys Windows has run, it can take even longer until users can use these apps.
It's better to install your applications as packages from within the same task sequence that is used to deploy Windows to the systems. Or follow a mixed approach and bake some core applications like Microsoft Office in your Windows reference image, then use SCCM to push out less frequently needed applications so users can install them as needed. You can also speed up deployment of Microsoft Office by pre-caching the local installation source files for Office 2010 as explained here:
Another possible alternative is to virtualize client applications and deliver them to users' machines using things like:
The bottom line is, every situation is different and you need to use the right tools and processes to achieve your goals.
Finally, don't forget to check out the next version of System Center Configuration Manager and related products: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326532309687
And if you have any deployment best practices you'd like to share with our readers, feel free to send them to my mailbag at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip of the Week
Instead of including a tip here on the topic of deployment, here's a link to all of the Windows 7 deployment tips in the Admin Knowledge Base on WindowsNetworking.com:
Be sure to also check out the 29-part series of articles on Windows 7 deployment that I wrote for WindowsNetworking.com: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326532363968
Recommended for Learning
I forgot to mention in the last issue Hardware Hell my FREE ebook called What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support published by Microsoft Press. This short ebook is intended for home users and information workers and gives them tips on how to troubleshoot various kinds of hardware issues on Windows 7 computers. It's available as a free download from the Microsoft Download Center from here:
If you're looking for some good books on Windows deployment, these two are definitely the best:
Deployment Fundamentals, Vol. 1: Migrating to Windows 7 using MDT 2010 Lite Touch and WDS
Deployment Fundamentals, Vol. 2: Deploying Physical and Virtual Servers Using MDT 2010 and SCVMM 2008 R2
Both of these books were written by two well-known experts in the field, Johan Arwidmark and Mikael Nystrom. I highly recommend these books and IMO every IT shop should have them on their bookshelf.
If you want something FREE to get you started on deploying Windows 7 in your organization, you can download Deploying Windows 7: Essential Guidance from the Windows 7 Resource Kit and TechNet Magazine which is available in electronic (e-book) form as a free download (PDF, 6 MB). This e-book includes selected chapters from the Windows 7 Resource Kit along with articles from TechNet Magazine and provides IT pros with guidance on deploying Windows 7. This free e-book has already had over 100,000 downloads and has been mentioned on over 300 blogs.
If you want to get a head start learning about SCCM 2012 (the next version of System Center Configuration Manager) you can take a quick course on this at the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Finally, here are a couple more books I'd like to recommend:
Joe Celko's SQL for Smarties, Fourth Edition: Advanced SQL Programming from Morgan Kaufmann is one of my favorite SQL books. I turn to it whenever I have a thorny problem with SQL programming, which isn?t very often but often enough to make the book extremely useful to me. The reason is because I?m not an expert with SQL and don?t have time to be, so I rely on the expertise of others like Joe to help me out when I get stuck on something. The more SQL programming you have to do as part of your job, the more you?re likely to find this book really useful. Buy it for your bookshelf, or whatever they call the bookshelf on that new-fangled Kindle thingie all you kids like to use nowadays, LOL. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326532745390
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Best Practices from Microsoft Press delves deep into properly managing your Exchange 2010 SP1 servers. The books in Microsoft Press?s Best Practices series are written as a collaboration between experienced authors and the Product Groups inside Microsoft, so the practices being presented here have been tested both in the lab and in the field. In other words, this book offers good advice you can rely on for managing your Exchange environment. Good planning is always key to the success of any big project, so much of the book is taken up with preparing your environment for Exchange and designing various aspects of your Exchange infrastructure. The final part of the book then deals with installing or upgrading to, managing, operating and troubleshooting Exchange 2010. If you?ve followed the various recommendations in this book during your planning and design stage, your Exchange infrastructure should then be relatively easy to manage once you?ve deployed it.
Email me at email@example.com if you have feedback about anything in this newsletter. Also let me know if you have any tools to recommend, tips you?d like to suggest or stores you'd like to share and I'll be happy to consider covering them in a future issue of this newsletter.
Be sure to forward this newsletter to a friend or colleague who hasn?t seen it.
Follow me on Twitter at http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326532853078
mPowerTools - an AD admin essential! 200+ reports, bulk import/export, scheduling, GPO/File Share Reports. Eliminate scripting! ONLY $1,499!
Accident or Malicious? Learn whether suspicious activity on Windows Servers is a result of unintentional actions?or malicious insider. View Demo:
Tired of your Active Directory management tools? Centralize and simplify all Windows and AD management without scripting.
You should check out these great monitoring tools, a must-have for anybody in charge of Windows servers and workstations.
Readiness is an essential part of any successful deployment plan, and the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit can help you assess the readiness of your current IT infrastructure. MAP 6.5 provides a powerful inventory, assessment, and reporting tool to simplify the migration planning process:
The Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7 helps you to install, customize, and deploy the Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows ServeŽ 2008 R2 family of operating systems:
The Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) Supplement for Windows 7 SP1 is an optional update to AIK for Windows 7 that helps you to install, customize, and deploy the Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 family of operating systems:
Be sure to read this Q&A on Michael Niehaus' blog concerning before you use the Windows AIK for Windows 7 SP1: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326532972593
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 Update 1 is the newest version of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, a Solution Accelerator for operating system and application deployment. MDT 2010 Update 1 supports deployment of Windows 7, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008 R2 in addition to deployment of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP:
Finally, in the January 2 issue Managing Change there was a tip about kiosk computers. Mark Minasi (yes, even Alpha geeks read this newsletter!) sent me an email afterwards to let me know that he has developed a giveaway tool called Steadier State that lets you create a "snapshot" of a physical Win 7 Enterprise/Ultimate computer and then reset the system to that snapshot in under four minutes with one click. Thanks Mark!
System Center Universe 2012
There's still time to get in on System Center Universe 2012, a one-day event in Austin, Texas on January 19, 2012. The conference focusses the powerful new capabilities of the System Center 2012 family or products.
Microsoft Management Summit 2012
MMS is where skilled IT professionals can meet to increase their technical expertise through hands-on training, breakout sessions and interacting with industry leaders in desktop and device management, datacenter, and cloud technologies. MMS 2012 will be in Las Vegas from April 16-20, 2012, and January 27 is the last day for Early Bird Registration and a savings of up to US $275 off the standard registration price.
Microsoft Enterprise Webinar: Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud
January 17, 2012 - Speakers include Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business; Brad Anderson, corporate vice president at Microsoft's Management and Security Division; Jacky Wright, vice president for Microsoft's IT Strategic Services; and Rand Morimoto, CEO at Convergent Computing.
VMware Webcast: Introduction to Virtualization
January 18, 2012 - Covers virtualization basics including the VMware vSphere 5, the new vSphere Storage Appliance and VMware GO. The webcast targets those with little or no virtualization experience and helps understand how virtualization and VMware can help organizations down capital and operational costs.
O'Reilly Webcast: Using Virtualization tools in Windows 7
February 2, 2012 - Mike Halsey, the author of Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out explains how you can use free virtualization tools in any edition of Windows 7 to keep valuable and useful older software working in a safe and secure way. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326533298078
O'Reilly Webcast: Demystifying FAST Search for SharePoint
February 15, 2012 - Chris Givens, CEO of Architecting Connected Systems and Sr. Architect of the eBay SharePoint 2010 Upgrade will dive into the features and architecture of FAST Search, the setup and configuration of FAST, as well as how to leverage FAST Search to implement customizations like geo-coding and geo-search. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326533347750
IT Security Predictions for 2012
Orin Thomas weighs in with his IT Security Predictions for 2012 in his blog on the Windows IT Pro community site: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326533456921
SkyDrive for iPhone and Windows Phone
Did you know you can now use Windows Live SkyDrive with your iPhone or Windows Phone? http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326533487015
Microsoft Answer Desk is Now Live
Microsoft Answer Desk is a premium service provided by Microsoft that provides a convenient, friendly and easy way to get the most out of your PC. The Answer Techs at Answer Desk are trained to diagnose and troubleshoot Microsoft software-related issues and can also train you in Microsoft's latest software such as Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010. Note that the Microsoft Answer Desk is restricted to US visitors only:
Working exclusively with Office Web Apps
Can a business get by using only Office Web Apps instead of deploying Office 2010 on users' computers? Here's one that tried:
Cloud predictions for enterprise IT in 2012
Ask around and you?ll hear it over and over again: Enterprise IT shops are worried about using the cloud. This year will be no different. But instead of keeping the cloud at arms? length, which many enterprise IT shops did last year, 2012 will be the year for taking the plunge. If you?ve been sitting on the fence, here are some thoughts on what to expect this year that might push you over the edge.
Top 10 server virtualization news stories of 2011
New technologies, new products and new controversies made headlines in 2011. Find out which stories were most popular among readers and most important to users in this top 10 list.
Christmas might be over for this year, but it?s never too early to start your wish list for the coming year. Discover one expert?s desktop virtualization wish list, and why he thinks some may become a realty sooner rather than later. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326533777578
Top Windows Server tips of 2011
On the surface, 2011 was a "bridge year" of sorts for Windows admins ? Windows Server 2008 R2 reached maturity (if not majority adoption), and Windows Server 8, partly unveiled in September, won't be available until sometime in 2012. There was still plenty of information to explore, though; the year's top tips cover everything from performance monitoring tools to Active Directory troubleshooting to PowerShell administration. Read on to relive the year, one tip (and Tweet) at a time. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326533820703
Many thanks to Hubert Heller for contributing all of this week's FAVE links as I didn't have time to ferret out any fun links myself.
Vinnie Jones demonstrates hands-only CPR to the beat of Stayin' Alive:
Cockpit view of an incredible aerobatic display with the C130J Hercules transport plane at Paris Le Bourget Airshow 2011:
Kien Lam quit his job, packed a bag, grabbed his camera and bought a one way ticket to London. 17 countries later he compiled a time lapse of these amazing places:
Billiards trick shots of almost magical quality. I'm not a pool shark but those curves are perfection:
And since I live in Winnipeg, Canada, Hubert also thought I might appreciate this one: the 'Snow Vehicle' made by Armstead Snow Motors in 1924 is able to drive in the deepest snowdrifts with ease:
I want one of those!!
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. 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. She is also a Content Expert for Jones International University where she co-developed the four-course Information Security Management specialization of the Masters of Business Administration program.