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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, May 31, 2004 (Vol. 9, #22 - Issue #478)
BIG News from Tech.Ed 2004
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • TechˇEd 2004 Was A Big Success
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • TechˇEd 2004 Personal SuperComputing Demo
    • 'High Performance' Windows
    • Redmond Bundles Its Firewall With Hardware
    • MS Small Business Server: Unqualified Success
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • BIG News from TechˇEd: 10 Year Support Term
    • Exchange 2003 Gets Basic Spam Filter
    • Microsoft's New Caller ID Against Spam
    • First Demo Of "Client Inspection And Isolation" Tool
    • OK, So How Is Redmond Going To Make Life Easier?
    • Another Freebee From Seattle
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • Double-Take Wins Best of Show at TechˇEd 2004
    • TechˇEd System Tools News Roundup
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • BOOK: Hardening Windows Systems
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  EDITORS CORNER

TechˇEd 2004 Was A Big Success

Looks like the shine is coming back to IT. We've had a few lean years but if this year's TechˇEd shows the future I need my shades! It was sold out with 11,000 attendees, the sessions were filled up, the tradeshow was busy all the time and most people visiting were more upbeat about their prospects compared to last year. There was a tremendous amount of news at TechˇEd and I'm going to limit this issue to news relating to system management stuff mostly. I did take a few shots of the Trade Show of things I thought were interesting:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531ED-TechEd

A short Editor's Corner this time. Let's have a look at all the TechˇEd News, but first, here is another fave RSS feed. It's called TechˇEd Bloggers. You should REALLY get yourself an RSS reader and get your fave sites hooked up, including W2Knews! Here is the feed:
http://techedbloggers.net

Quote Of The Week:

  • "Funny, I don't remember being absent minded." -- Unknown

    Warm regards,
    Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])

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      TECH BRIEFING

    TechˇEd 2004 Personal SuperComputing Demo

    There was a special booth at TechˇEd. They called it the "cave". It was three screens rigged into a 'right-view, left-view and floor' setup, so you looked into a corner of a virtual world. (See the picture in the TechˇEd Shots towards the end.)
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531ED-TechEd

    Redmond likes developers to start porting and testing apps and drivers for 64-bit. That's why they put this pretty cool booth there. Only a couple of years ago it would have required a multi million dollar supercomputer to do the kind of demonstrations they gave. Now it is possible to do it on standard hardware and software at a fraction of the price.

    They were running several simulations: Walk through of architectural structures and water flow simulations. The architecture simulations allowed us to walk around and into buildings as well as interact with the exterior and interior. The hardware it ran on was a HP cluster of totally 16 Itanium 2 processors. Each with 4 GB Ram (64GB). The clients were Intel pre release machines with Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology, however they were running them as standard 32-bit machines. The clients each had an nVidia Quadro FX 3000 card. The results of the simulations were rendered by the three client workstations, each being responsible for projecting a 3D image to the screens.

    Windows XP (with SP2) ran on the clients and the servers ran W2K3 Enterprise Edition, for 64-Bit Itanium-based Systems Covise from the HPC department (HLRS) of the University Of Stuttgart. According to IDC 80% of all new servers will be 64-bit capable by the end of 2005. In fact, we know that almost all volume servers (dual proc) will be 64-bit capable already by the end of 2004.

    'High Performance' Windows

    Redmond is going to work on a version of the OS, specifically for computers that are geared for speed. The initiative is generally seen as an attack on Linux, as current super computers are often created from cheap Linux clusters. MS created a new High Performance Computing team, and the version is going to be called 'Windows Server HPC Edition'. More at News.com:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531TB-High_Performance

    Redmond Bundles Its Firewall With Hardware

    Redmond announced at TechˇEd that it would start selling its ISA Server network security software pre-installed on computers, moving into a market dominated by appliance security vendors.

    They said they are working with hardware partners such as HP and will launch the bundle later this year. Jonathan Perera, senior director at Microsoft's security technology unit, said the software was designed to run right "out of the box" without complicated installations. "It's really the first turnkey solution that we're going to deliver to our customers as a security appliance," Perera said. MS and HP said that in some environments with the ISA Server running on an HP blade server, the thing was up and running in three minutes. ISA Server 2004 will be available in the third quarter of 2004, at a price of $1,499 per main microprocessor chip, per server.

    MS Small Business Server: Unqualified Success

    A few weeks ago, Sunbelt Software and the Yankee group did a survey among small business users. Here are the results!

    Microsoft Corp.?s Windows Small Business Server 2003 is an unqualified success with Small and Midsize Business (SMB) customers, Microsoft Value Added Resellers (VARs) and consulting partners alike.

    That?s according to the nearly 500 responses we received from you in our last joint Yankee Group/Sunbelt Software survey on SMB purchasing and deployment trends. An overwhelming 86 % majority of SMB survey respondents that said they were currently using or planned to deploy Windows Small Business Server 2000 or Windows Small Business Server 2003 SMB shops with 1-to-75 users, are installing Windows Small Business Server in record numbers for its unparalleled functionality, ease of use and economic price tag.

    At $599 for the base-level Standard Edition and $1,499 for the Premium Edition, there is simply nothing like it for the money. For that matter, there is simply no bundled package that can match Windows Small Business Server at any price in the SMB space.

    The product is actually a collection of application server software. It incorporates the following: Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft IIS, Shared Fax Service, Shared Modem Service, Microsoft Front Page, the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and the Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA) in the Premium Edition and a variety of tools and utilities.

    It is an incomparable bargain and there is simply no other bundled offering that rivals Windows Small Business Server in the SMB space. The survey also found that Linux and Open Source vendors have no products that individually or collectively can compete with the bundled feature set of Windows SBS 2003, customers say. Small businesses and Microsoft VARs and consultants also told the Yankee Group that Windows SBS 2003 has a near immediate ROI.

    Survey Highlights

    The survey netted approximately 500 responses from SMB customers. The largest majority of respondents -- 80 % -- have one to 30 computers at their sites. The results showed strong support for Windows Small Business Server 2000 and Windows Small Business Server 2003.

    Among the survey highlights:

    • 21 % said they are presently using or plan to purchase Windows Small Business Server 2000
    • 51 % said they are presently using or plan to purchase Windows Small Business Server 2003
    • Only 3 % said they plan to purchase Novell Small Business Suite
    • And only 11% said they are using or plan to purchase Linux. At this point, the respondents indicated that their Linux servers are mainly used as Internet gateways or Web servers.
    • Cost is by far the primary purchasing inhibitor by a wide margin. Some 53 % of customers cited cost of licensing and 36 % said overall cost might keep their firms from purchasing Microsoft Small Business Server. Security was surprisingly far down on the list and was cited as a concern by only 18% of companies. Only 14 % of organizations are concerned about support -- so that is a big plus for Microsoft.
    • Ease of manageability and compatibility were called out as potential migration inhibitors by 23 % and 22 % of companies, respectively. Ease of use doesn't appear to be much of an issue, only 18 % said that it might keep them from migrating to Small Business Server.
    The survey also highlighted some key SMB purchasing trends and underscored the fact that SMB networks are becoming extremely sophisticated in scope.
    • For example, 42 % of the small business respondents said they have dedicated network administrators. An additional 22 % said they have a combination of internal staff and external system administrators.
    • A majority 85 % of the SMB customers said they have a network with a central PC or server to store files and share printing loads.
    • And as for purchasing trends: 45 % of the SMB companies indicated they plan to upgrade their network or PC; 33 % said they will add additional PCs; 7 % will purchase their first server or dedicated file share PC and 15 % are undecided as to their next purchase. The timeframe for these upgrades is within the next 12 to 15 months.
    Laura DiDio
    Senior Analyst
    The Yankee Group
      NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

    BIG News from TechˇEd: 10 Year Support Term

    Microsoft announced a new long-term support policy at TechˇEd. Andy Lees, their Veep of server and tools business, said they will now guarantee a minimum of 10 years of support for all business and developer products. That's big news, and very welcome to boot.

    Redmond currently shuts down most basic support levels after eight years, to everyone's chagrin. Lees stated the new policy provides more reliability for corporate customers. "From the time of shipment, you can guarantee a much more predictable level of support," he said.

    The news was part of a blizzard of product announcements and technology demos that included the release of Redmond's new "Common Engineering Roadmap" and a preview of the refresh for Windows Server 2003 that is due out next year. More at the SearchWin2000 site:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531RN-10_Year_Support

    Exchange 2003 Gets Basic Spam Filter

    Exchange has an impressive 31 % share of the corporate messaging software market, and by year-end 2004 it is estimated the corporate Exchange installed base will total 114.2 million mailboxes. Exchange V5.5 currently accounts for 40 % of the corporate installed base. MS Outlook accounts for 74 % of the worldwide corporate e-mail client installed base. At TechˇEd it became clear that Redmond will allow all Exchange 2003 customers to download and install the Intelligent Message Filtering (IMF), an add-on that blocks spam. They expanded this from only customers enrolled in the expensive Software Assurance licensing plan.

    The change is part of the release of E2K3 Service Pack 1, the first major bunch of updates. A spokesperson said: "given the customer needs we're seeing around spam, we decided IMF needed to be available to all customers". Ummm, well if that were entirely true they would have bent over backward and also worked out something for E2K and Version 5.5. As I see it this is just as much a carrot to entice people to upgrade faster to E2K3. But the IMF really is very basic. Some "first look" observations are:

    1. Not granular (it's an all or nothing approach)
    2. Difficult to get a good handle on message scores for tuning, can't tune on an individual or group basis
    3. No custom rules, just global whitelist/blacklist
    4. User only get whitelist/blacklist if they use OWA or Outlook 2003
    5. Appears to require all Exchange Servers be 2003, no E2K boxes will work
    There are still questions about its usability regarding POP users, mailboxes accessed by multiple people, public folder support, discussion list whitelisting, and centralized quarantining.

    It assigns a Spam Confidence Level (SCL) based on Microsoft's SmartScreen technology (an SCL is basically like iHateSpam's spam threshold score).

    There are two levels of filtering -- at the entry point, and then at the client level. At the entry point, you can have an email archived, deleted, rejected, etc. based on meeting the SCL. It works with Outlook 2003/OWA 2003, integrating with the Junk Mail folder, Block Senders and Allowed Senders. However, you do not need Outlook 2003, but then you do not get whitelist and blacklists. The IMF is basically a tab in a dialog box, with just a couple of settings. No word yet as to how they are going to keep it updated; it will probably provide decent spam filtering, but a spam filter like IHS SE layered on top of it will result in extremely high detection and way more granularity.

    We are working on a good amount of additional functionality to IHS SE such as antivirus (using multiple engines), content filtering and content auditing. Spam detection is only becoming a starting point for mail hygiene/security -- now the goal is to completely secure and protect enterprises from email-borne threats and nuisances. And in our case, we'll do it effectively and inexpensively. Look out Trend, Sybari, Symantec... [grin]

    You could use IMF on a gateway server to reject a percentage of messages and then let a third party spam tool like iHateSpam Server IHS do the fine work, but then you'd need to buy a license of E2K3 for that Gateway and that is expensive. Hmmm. Here are the release notes of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531RN-Exchange_SP1

    Microsoft's New Caller ID Against Spam

    Redmond is working on technology to verify the sender of a message, and in that way enable you to block "spoofed" junk messages. They plan to release the technology next year in the new Exchange Edge Services. The latter is a security-focused add-on for Exchange that you will hear more about soon, but here is a preview on the MS website:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531RN-Edge_Services

    First Demo Of "Client Inspection And Isolation" Tool

    The first major change in W2K3 will have a cool new piece of software thrown in. It inspects PCs trying to connect to your corporate domain (including VPN's) to make sure that the PC that tries to connect is correctly configured for basic security. They described it as: "You get to frisk the client, make sure it's clean...before you let it into your network." If that machine is found lacking a security feature, like the AV software is not updated, you can tell the server to remotely update it before allowing the PC to connect to your domain. Sounds promising but I would not want that thing to turn of the new WinXP firewall automatically because that could break a whole bunch of existing applications.

    OK, So How Is Redmond Going To Make Life Easier?

    It's called "Common Engineering Roadmap". At TechˇEd they rolled out their long-term initiative fully named the Windows Server System Common Engineering Roadmap. It's geared to make certain chunks of code of ALL Microsoft servers internally consistent and/or standardized with each other to simplify things.

    The Common Engineering Roadmap (CER) is also their way to implement their Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), that I told you about earlier. DSI is Redmond's version of self-managing and self-healing systems. The CER criteria are going into effect Jan 1, 2005. To make this a bit more real here is an example. One of the criteria is to include using MOM 2005 to remotely manage and monitor all Windows servers. (If you can afford MOM, that is)

    Redmond told attendees that the criteria are a form of integration that we often complain is lacking. They also announced general availability of Windows Storage Server 2003 Feature Pack that will integrate with E2K3 and store Exchange database and log files on NAS devices to consolidate storage.

    Oh, and don't forget the SQL Best Practices Analyzer Tool, run it and you may be surprised what you can do to improve your SQL installations. Get it now and play. The results might shock you.
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531RN-Analyzer_Tool

    Another Freebee From Seattle

    In the same vein as the item above, MS released a new tool announced at TechˇEd called the Server Performance Advisor 1.0. It is for Windows 2003 server only, not W2K.

    Service Performance Advisor is a server performance diagnostic tool developed to diagnose root causes of performance problems in the W2K3 operating system, particularly performance problems for IIS 6.0 and the Active DirectoryŽ directory service. Server Performance Advisor measures the performance and use of resources by your computer to report on the parts that are stressed under workload. Other server roles include system overview (hot files, hot TCP clients, top CPU consumed), print spooler, context switch data and preliminary File Server trace data.
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531RN-MS_Freebee

      THIRD PARTY NEWS

    Double-Take Wins Best of Show at TechˇEd 2004

    Windows & .NET Magazine Network announced the winners of the Best of TechˇEd 2004 Awards in 10 categories. The field included more than 260 entries, and the judges evaluated products based on their strategic importance in the market, competitive advantage, and value to the customer.

    The Windows Infrastructure Solutions (Software) category winner was Double-Take. "Double-Take offers an inexpensive solution for geographical replication of database servers and a range of offerings for customers," said Chernicoff. "This product provides the most functionality to the largest number of IT professionals."

    Winners in the other categories were often new companies no one ever heard of, but the editors must have seen exciting new features and ideas in them, so if you want to read about these, go to:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531TP-Best_of_Show

    At the same awards ceremony Windows.Net Mag announced that they will change their name to Windows IT Pro and released some survey data showing the current pain points of the Windows IT Pro:

    1. Spam
    2. Limited budgets and expanding responsibilities
    3. Security and system hacking
    4. Patch Management
    5. Outsourcing
    6. Explaining IT ROI to management
    7. Keeping up with technology
    8. Interoperability and legacy systems
    9. AD and Group Policy
    10. Mobile and remote
    11. NAS and SAN storage
    12. Open source
    Sounds familiar? [grin]

    TechˇEd System Tools News Roundup

    Here are short takes of a whole bunch of add-on company product news and other things worth knowing:

    AutoProf announced its Group Policy-based patch management solution called Policy Maker Software Update -- Winternals Defrag Manager achieved W2K3 Certification -- ConfigureSoft's new Configuration Manager Module ensures SMS is properly installed and configured -- Ecora released the Beta of their Patch manager V4.0 -- ScriptLogic announced the new generation of their Desktop Authority -- Security vendor Shavlik Technologies announced commercial availability of a new, agent-based patch management tool -- Advanced Systems Concepts announced V 5.0 of its ActiveBatch product, a cross-platform job scheduling and management app -- Sybari Enterprise Manager, Advanced Spam Manager, and Antigen 8.0 for Exchange and SMTP Gateways are now available as Release Candidates -- LEGATO Software and NSI Software both announced support for the Windows Storage Server 2003 feature pack -- Polyserve announced their Matrix Server product that allows you to build 16-node clusters hooked up to a SAN -- NetIQ unveiled a security suite, which bundles their latest Vulnerability Manager, Patch Manager and Security Manager -- PatchLink and Harris Corp announced a partnership to make their products operate together -- With the acquisition of Aelita, Quest Software now offers the industry's broadest set of Active Directory solutions

      FAVE LINKS

    This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

      PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    BOOK: Hardening Windows Systems

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    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040531PW-Hardening