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Vol. 17, #43 - October 22, 2012 - Issue #902
This week's issue of WServerNews brings you our top picks of books, training materials and other resources on the topic of Windows Server management. But first let's broaden the perspective a bit and take a look at the ENTIRE OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE as viewed from TOP to BOTTOM on a logarithmic scale:
But first let's dig into our Mailbag where we find out once again that your Dear Editor is often wrong.
As far as I'm aware, Microsoft doesn't actually run an IaaS cloud you can use for hosting your organization's virtual servers. What they do offer however are the tools that hosters can use for building such IaaS clouds.
I was of course wrong as a number of readers quickly pointed out. For example, a reader named Stephen who is a Partner Solutions Advisor at Microsoft responded as follows:
Unless I misread your Microsoft qualifier on IaaS, I would like to point out that Microsoft announced our hosted IaaS solution on Azure in June (although it's still in preview). I view this as different than our Azure PaaS offering that you referred to in your newsletter.
The IaaS service allows a customer to spin up a persistent image of Windows Server 2012, Windows 2008 R2, SUSE Linux, CentOS, Ubantu from our image library. We have also announced availability of several hosted services including SQL (different than SQL Azure), SharePoint, Active Directory, and storage along with the ability to upload your own VHD image to run.
More details can be found at:
and then clicking on the Features tile followed by the Virtual Machines link.
Another reader named Jay pointed me to a blog post where this had previously been announced:
I guess I have no excuse except to say that it's hard to keep up with everything that's happening in Redmond these days...and thanks to all who pointed out my error.
Hardware always seems to be a popular topic with our readers, and several of them responded with feedback concerning hybrid drives. Selim, who works as a .NET Web Team Lead for a company in California, jumped in to say:
Just a quick note after reading your editorial on SSD / Hybrids: you forgot to mention PCIe based SSDs that are even faster albeit a bit more expensive than the SATA based ones (see OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 for example).
Thanks for pointing that out, although to be honest I generally recommend Intel, Crucial, and Samsung as the best SSD vendors.
Our colleague Hubert Heller, who sends us most of the stuff for the FAVE Links section of this newsletter, also had something to say on this topic:
Excellent article on hybrid drives. I use a Lenovo W520 myself - same as was used in the test. (It has two Intel 510 SSDs in RAID 0 and it is fast!)
Regarding power consumption, you mention: "If you need the best possible battery life for a mobile system, choose hybrids and compromise on speed a bit compared with SSDs"
The Seagate review says: "Seagate lists an average idle power rate of 1.1 watts and an active seek rate of 3.3 watts."
Now compare that with the Samsung SSD 840:
As SSDs spend much of their time in the idle state, low idle power consumption is a key factor in overall SSD power management. Samsung's SSD 830 handled power management very well, but Samsung's published power benchmarks for the 840 Pro, 0.068 watts in active operation and 0.042 watts in idle, were shockingly low. When we asked Samsung how they achieved such mind-bending numbers, they were unable to answer, which makes us think they were chosen to meet the needs of the press release, rather than reflecting real-world values.
Update 9/24/12 - Samsung has responded as to how they got their extremely low power consumption numbers. "The results presented are based on MobileMark 2007 and require DIPM to be enabled. This test is geared towards laptops. If the test was on a desktop machine, DIPM is not enabled by default, and power consumption results will be significantly higher."
But even if you don't enable Device Initiated Power Management, SSDs tend to be more power efficient than HDDs:
Terrific feedback, thanks Hubert!
If you have other recommendations or feedback concerning hybrid drives, send it to us at email@example.com
Finally, if you're a regular reader and/or commenter on this newsletter then be sure to check out Trench Tales, a series of articles on WindowsNetworking.com where we publish additional tips and comments from our newsletter readers that we're unable to include in our Mailbag column due to space limitations. The articles published so far in this series include:
Trench Tales (Part 1) - Hardware Troubleshooting:
Trench Tales (Part 2) - Troubleshooting Slow Logons:
Trench Tales (Part 3) - Apple in the Enterprise
Trench Tales (Part 4) - More Apple in the Enterprise
Trench Tales (Part 5) - Logon Banners
Trench Tales (Part 6) - Keyboard Conundrums
I still remember the old days when you could get a full-blown print manual for products like Windows for Workgroups 3.11. Those were good times, weren't they? Well now software products come out right and left as fast as blazes with minimal built-in help and no official manual, and as admins we're expected to learn all we need to know by subscribing to RSS feeds for umpteen dozen blogs. Frustrating, isn't it?
Fortunately there are a few people out there who take the time to write good books about products like Windows, SharePoint, SQL Server and other Microsoft platforms. Of course there are also lots of good books about products from other vendors like VMware, and you can see a few VMware titles we can recommend in the Recommended for Learning section in this issue.
But for core Windows Server administration, in our opinion the following are must-have titles from Microsoft Press that every administrator should have on their physical or electronic bookshelf:
Windows Server 2008 Administrators Pocket Consultant
Active Directory Administrator's Pocket Consultant
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Best Practices
Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator's Companion
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Pocket Consultant
Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services Resource Kit
MCITP Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Administrator: Training Kit 4-Pack: Exams 70-640, 70-642, 70-643, 70-647
Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference
Be sure to read the reviews of the above titles on Amazon. You'll notice that I've focused on books about current products and not new or upcoming ones. That's because most of us still have to administer current or downlevel versions of Windows platforms and server applications.
Why is it important to subscribe to blogs if the above books are so great? Well, you may be wondering for example why there's a Windows Server 2008 Administrators Pocket Consultant but not a Windows Server 2008 R2 Administrators Pocket Consultant. The fact is (and I speak from personal experience here) it's a lot of work writing a book, and it takes time and effort to update it for a second or third edition. That's one reason why so many good books never end up getting revised when the product version is incremented. The other reason of course has to do with the realities of the publishing business, and as a writer I'll discreetly refrain from offering any opinions on such matters.
Hence the blogs, where you can often find information about updated versions of products that you can't find in books. Here are just a few of the blogs I recommended you subscribe to as an administrator who works with Windows Servers:
Server & Management Blogs
This blog is a subset of the Microsoft Server & Tools Blogs and covers a lot of ground on a ton of different management topics. If you only want to subscribe to one blog then this is it:
Aidan Finn, IT Pro
A Hyper-V blog, but you'll also find Windows Server, desktop, System Center, deployment, and so on.
Ask the Core Team
Microsoft Enterprise Platforms Support: Windows Server Core Team
Group Policy Central
Best Practices, Tutorials, News, Tips and Trick for all your Group Policy needs…
This Hyper-V Community was founded in 2008 in The Netherlands by Jaap Wesselius during one of the first Hyper-V deployments in The Netherlands:
Microsoft Press blog
Be the first to learn when a terrific new books comes out from Microsoft Press:
This blog focusses on advanced Windows debugging and troubleshooting:
Team blog of MCS @ Middle East and Africa
This blog is created by Microsoft MEA HQ near shoring team, and it aims to share knowledge with the IT community.
Working Hard In IT
A view from the trenches by Didier Van Hoye who has been at "IT" for over 15 years:
If you plan on deploying a bunch of servers with internal hardware RAID storage, it's better to buy all of the hard drives at the same time from a single vendor. That way all the drives will have the same firmware level which means they will less likely to have issues when used in RAID configurations. Plus your service and warranty management will be a lot easier.
Of course, before you do this make sure you research the literature for reviews of the make/model of drive you plan on buying to ensure you're getting drives that have a track record of reliability and not a bunch of lemons.
Got tips of your own that you'd like to share with our readers? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As promised here are a few titles from VMware Press that we can recommend for our readers:
Managing and Optimizing VMware vSphere Deployments
VMware vSphere 5: Building a Virtual Datacenter
Administering VMware Site Recovery Manager 5.0
Be sure to read the reviews of these titles on Amazon.
"Nothing happens until the mind sees it first." -- Dorian Yates, six-time winner of the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition
Until next week,
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Contact Michael Vella at email@example.com to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.
Contact Michael Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your webcast listed in our Webcasts Calendar.
Mitch Garvis in his day-to-day ramblings of an IT professional, trainer and community leader describes how Windows Server 2012 makes it easy to manage multiple servers:
Yong Rhee explains how to troubleshoot this issue on The Troubleshooters And Problem Solvers blog:
A review of the latest release of VMM by Kristian Nese on his blog Virtualization And Some Coffee:
From the blog of Jose Barreto, a member of the File Server team at Microsoft:
While cloud computing is rapidly gaining traction, many IT pros are still hesitant due to the complexities involved with implementing and managing the advanced infrastructure. Inside this resource, access detailed lists of tips and tricks that can help you minimize cloud challenges and streamline deployments.
Many organizations are looking to build their own private cloud to take advantage of cloud computing benefits without the added security risks. However, the process is not as easy as you might hope. Find out how Microsoft Hyper-V can help you simplify deployments and ensure private cloud success.
While the Microsoft User State Migration Tool (USMT) can help organizations simplify their Windows 7 transition, it’s not without its drawbacks. Find out what the USMT can and can’t do and how to leverage it for your migration in this essential guide.
When making plans to implement a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), it’s essential to design and build an effective storage architecture. Access this exclusive resource to find out whether direct-attached or shared storage is right for your new virtual desktop environment.
Austrian Felix Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest ever skydive by jumping out of a balloon 128,000ft (24 miles, 39 km) above New Mexico.
And if you think that was amazing, check out the LEGO version of Felix's record-breaking jump:
Just another day in the life of a dog:
Take a look at how Boeing assembled the 787 Dreamliner for Air India.
James May from Top Gear test drives an Ekranoplan , a new mode of transportation between a hovercraft and an airplane.
Watch the incredible close-up magic of French magician Etienne Pradier.
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.