Vol. 19, #31 - August 4, 2014 - Issue #991

Consolidation, modernization and the cloud

  1. Editor's Corner
    • NEWSFLASH!
    • Ask our Readers - Help for Windows 8.1 noobs
    • Ask our Readers - Got an IT problem?
    • From the Mailbag
    • Consolidation, modernization and the cloud
    • Tip of the Week
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Microsoft Virtual Academy
    • 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 Ask the Expert Webinar: MS Office 365, Azure, and More
    • Register for Webcasts
  5. Tech Briefing
    • Cloud computing
    • Enterprise IT
    • Microsoft Azure
    • Networking
  6. Recommended TechGenix Articles
    • Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
  7. Windows Server News
    • Analyzing IBM BlueMix for Cloud developers
    • Even your DaaS provider thinks you need an exit strategy
    • Hyper-V replication over low-bandwidth connections
    • How to solve sluggish memory performance
  8. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • Cut a Watermelon
    • Loading Logs on Truck Russian Style
    • Amazing Flying Machines
    • The Red Envelope
  9. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • SolarWinds free Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer - Don't Let Bandwidth Hogs Slow Down Your Network

 

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Editor's Corner

This week's newsletter is all about a good reason for consolidating disparate IT resources i.e. to modernize them. Cloud computing is often (but not always) the vehicle for such modernization as it can be less costly to deploy a new infrastructure in the cloud than on premises. It takes great wisdom however to know how to properly consolidate things. It might even take someone like this Modern Renaissance Man to accomplish such a feat as the following Dilbert comic strip explains:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407154895519

NEWSFLASH!

You may have noticed a new section called Recommended TechGenix Articles in the last couple of issues of this newsletter. This new section contains links to some of the latest articles from the websites in the TechGenix Network, which includes:

Be sure to check out each of the above sites and read the articles there. You can also subscribe to realtime or monthly email updates listing the latest articles on each of these sites by going here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407155091817

Ask Our Readers - Help for Windows 8.1 noobs

In Issue #990 The Importance of Roadmapswe included the following request from a reader named Marguerite:

Is there a newsletter for non-server ordinary win8.1 users?

Dennis, a Network Administrator in California, USA, responded with:

While not specifically Windows 8 focused, Windows Secrets is a very good newsletter for anyone using desktop versions of Windows. There are free and paid versions. I have been subscribing to the paid version for years and have found many good bits of information. Even their archive of old articles has been useful. It's worth a look.

Several other readers also recommended Windows Secrets, and you can subscribe to their newsletter on their website:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407155358288

See also the Recommended For Learning section in this issue for some books that may be useful for users who are new to Windows 8.1.

Ask our Readers - Got an IT problem?

WServerNews has 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at [email protected]

From the Mailbag

In the Mailbag section of Issue #990 The Importance of Roadmaps I responded to a reader's feedback concerning SNMP by saying the following:

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.

A reader named Steve who is a Network Architect in California, USA, strongly disagreed with my statement as follows:

Aarrrghhh, Mitch!! You should not have said that. The Ethernet protocol was developed in the 70's, standardized in the early 80's and adopted by the IEEE as the 802.3 standard by 1985. And it was a bit more than the 10 years before it began evolving to include IPv6. And, sure, we have 100Gb Ethernet too. But the fundamental fabric of the primary network in use on the planet earth is based on protocols which began development in the 70's & 80's and standardized in the 80's and 90's. And some have seen a lot more than 10 years pass before they made a significant evolutionary step. So…don't be so quick to dismiss a standard because of how long it's been since the standard was changed.

And…there are other examples too!! Let's see, you've got the TCP/IP protocol, standardized back in 1989. How about DCHP? Still getting those IPv4 addresses from that DHCP server? That'd be RFC 2131 back in, oh…1997. The list goes on…

I think the true test of a good product is how well it's function and usefulness can stand the test of time and, in the case of our industry, the onslaught of a cyber-attack which probably drives most current evolution cycles.

Please understand that I fully support the evolution of the components in our network stack and industry; but not simply for the sake of hitting a random time cycle. Wouldn't we all rather see real value and return on an evolved (or replacement) standard. Sadly, Microsoft's WS-Management takes the proprietary route which, is an oxymoron when it comes to the standardization process in the IT industry. That seems regressive to me, not evolutionary.

Thanks Steve but I'm not sure it's fair to characterize WS-MAN as "Microsoft's proprietary route" although Microsoft was one of the founding members of the DMTF that developed WS-MAN and perhaps the key member of that alliance. My reasoning is that while WS-MAN is not an IETF standard like SNMP, it was in fact adopted last year as an ISO/IEC international standard as explained here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407156535030

and that's a pretty important validation of the framework. So I still think the future of network management and monitoring is WS-MAN and not SNMP.

Issue #990 The Importance of Roadmaps also included a discussion of Microsoft's roadmap for Office 365 and why I think it's important for Microsoft in this new era of rapid release cycles (see Issue #943 Rapid Release for more concerning this) to let their business customers know what changes are coming to existing products--and to clearly communicate these changes before they're rolled out. So I asked readers if they knew of any other good sources of information about upcoming Microsoft product releases other than watching recorded TechEd presentations on Microsoft's Channel 9, and one reader named Jon pointed us to the following resource:

Directions on Microsoft is the main resource for learning about Microsoft's plans for future product releases.  Thing is, it costs $3300, which is more than the $0 I'm willing to spend. 

I can't afford that either, but for those who want to subscribe to Directions on Microsoft you can do so here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407156552108

And now on to the main topic of this issue...

Consolidation, modernization and the cloud

The following headline in the Times Colonist online newspaper grabbed my attention this morning:

Canadian spy agency says Chinese hacked into NRC computers, network shut down

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407156991407

Basically, what the article says is that the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada has discovered that it's information system was hacked so they've shut it down and are working on making it more secure, which the NRC indicates might take up to a year to accomplish.

A year?

Of course, the reason that headline grabbed my attention was because of the Chinese hacker angle. A non-technical individual who read this story might conclude that our national infrastructure is in danger from infiltration by state-sponsored Chinese hackers, that the Chinese government must therefore be evil, that good nations like Canada need to work hard to protect their computer networks, and so on.

But the real story here might be something entirely different. For example, another online Canadian newspaper called the Ottawa Citizen published the following article this morning:

National Research Council expressed concerns about IT security

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157010095

While this Ottawa Citizen article describes the same intrusion as the Times Colonist one, the focus of this second article is quite different. What the Citizen seems to be saying in a nutshell is this:

  1. The Canadian government has created a "project" called Shared Services Canada (SSC) whose goal is to consolidate 485 different government datacenters into just seven datacenters and to consolidate 63 different government email systems into only one system.
  2. The intention of the SSC initiative is not just to save money through consolidation but also to make government information systems more secure by modernizing them i.e. retire antiquated IT systems and replace them with state-of-the-art systems.
  3. Six months ago NRC refused to get on board with the SSC initiative, indicating that they didn't want to give up control of their IT infrastructure because "any changes could interfere" with the NRC's operations.
  4. Fast forward to today, and the NRC's supposedly antiquated information services have now been hacked, and repairing the damage may take months or even a year.

It seems to me here that the Canadian government's goal here is a good one: IT modernization through consolidation. There are always consequences of course whenever any kind of consolidation occurs. People either lose their jobs or they get moved around and have to adjust to new responsibilities. Big consolidation projects can fail too because of the sheer weight of all the changes involved. And while a single, consolidated email system may save tons of money over running 63 different email systems, it can also represent a new single point of failure for all departments involved.

While replacing antiquated IT systems with modern ones can indeed improve security, the main reason driving such consolidation is typically the cost savings that can be realized through such consolidation. However, I would actually argue however that the main driver for any IT consolidation project should simply be modernization, not saving money. Modernization can increase the availability, reliability and security of an information system, and the mandate of government IT should be to deliver services that are reliable, secure and always available.

I'll be very interested to see how the SSC initiative plays out over the next several years to see whether the promised cost savings have actually been achieved or not. But whether the initiative saves taxpayers' money or balloons into costing more to run than the multitude of presently existing government IT systems, I'm nevertheless pleased that our government services are finally being moved off of antiquated IT systems onto modern systems that I suspect will be largely cloud-based in their final implementation.

In conclusion, I like how Computer Economics, an organization that provides metrics for IT management, summarizes this initiative at the end of their article titled "Shared Services Canada: IT Consolidation on a Grand Scale":

IT program risk generally increases with program size, and the SSC initiative ranks among the largest consolidation programs ever attempted. On the other hand, the program is highly targeted on infrastructure consolidation of the government's data centers, email systems, and network--not attempting the more ambitious goal of consolidating applications. By focusing the effort, the risk of failure is mitigated. If successful, Shared Services Canada could become a case-study in the benefits of large scale IT consolidation.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157026064

What do readers think of such ambitious consolidation projects? I'm especially interested in hearing from readers outside North America and especially in countries where antiquated government IT systems have already been consolidated and modernized to a much greater degree than we've been able to do here. Send us your thoughts by emailing us at [email protected]

Tip of the Week

In the Mailbag section of Issue #988 Windows 8.1 Migration Planning a reader named Vern explained how to make the computer description field visible in network views of Explorer by making it a Comment field. A reader named Rich added some additional information on this hack as follows:

Thanks for the tip on showing the comments field in W7/8!  I had to re-search on this since mine didn't show the comments.  Discovered I needed to change the view to details (wasn't default).

In this vein, in researching, I found a link to a command that will show the "old" printers view:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157192737

Briefly, make a batch/cmd file with "start shell:::{26EE0668-A00A-44D7-9371-BEB064C98683}\0\::{2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D}"  (no quotes)

Hope that helps someone as well.

Thanks!

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]

Recommended for Learning

This week we have some books for those who are new to Windows 8.1:

Windows 8.1 For Dummies
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157350629

Teach Yourself VISUALLY Windows 8.1
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157352988

Windows 8.1 Inside Out
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157355269

Windows 8.1 In Depth
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157358082

Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157361222

My Windows 8.1 Computer for Seniors
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157363019

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Some announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:

August 8:  Introduction to Office 365 Development

Do you have questions about Office 365 development?  Get them answered in this half-day session with live Q&A, "Introduction to Office 365 Development," on August 8. Experts from the product team walk you through demos and real-world scenarios to help you reach the 1 billion Office users around the world. 
Register here: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157461348

On-demand from MVA:  Windows 8.1 UX Design Jump Start

Designers, here's your chance to showcase your current design skills, express your brand, and design exciting Windows Store apps for Windows 8.1. In this –n-demand UX Jump Start, see how to use windowing for efficient multitasking and find out how the search contract can make your app discoverable to millions of people. 
View the course here: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157463661

Quote of the Week

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." --Abraham Lincoln

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 [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

Virtual-First Backup Appliance - the world’s only appliances (Desktop to 4U) built for protecting VMware & Hyper-V environments. Plug and play. Up and running in 5 seconds (ok, really 15 minutes).
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157687224

Turn your smartphone into a PC Peripheral with ROCCAT's Power Grid
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157689349

Keep your notebook cool with the Logisys NP19 Notebook Cooler Pad:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157691678

The Kenu Airframe portable car mount is simple, elegant and hands-free:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407157694006


Events Calendar

Americas

Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158111680

Europe

TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158124618

Asia Pacific

TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158151149

Add your event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]

 

Webcast Calendar

MSExchange.org Ask the Expert Webinar: MS Office 365, Azure, and More

Join our expert panel of Exchange MVPs to benefit from their insights into Office 365, Azure and other top issues and questions facing Exchange Administrators, as obtained by a July 2014 survey of the TechGenix audience.

This live online event, sponsored by Kemp Technologies and hosted by  MSExchange.org, takes place on Wednesday, August 20, 2014, at 12N PDT | 9AM PDT. You'll hear a wide range of topics discussed by this panel of experts which includes MS Exchange MVP Steve Goodman, MS Exchange MVP Michael Van Horenbeeck, and MVP and MCM Bhargav Shukla of KEMP Technologies.

Register here.

Just a few examples include:

You'll also be able to get your live questions answered by the experts. Don't miss this unique opportunity.

Click here now to register!

Register for Webcasts

Add your Webcast

PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]

 

Tech Briefing

Cloud Computing

Report: Rackspace Leads Europe's Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Market (Data Center Knowledge)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158371854

Microsoft Touts Partner Momentum, Launches Azure Certification for Software Vendors (Data Center Knowledge)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158373869

Amazon Intros 800-Pound Gorilla Into Cloud Storage and Collaboration Space (Data Center Knowledge)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158375994


Enterprise IT

MDOP 2014 brings upgrades to App-V and BitLocker management (4sysops)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158454682

Are we there yet? (white paper) (Microsoft Download Center)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158456729

Upgrading Active Directory using virtualization (4sysops)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158462979


System Center

Management Pack Development Training (MPAuthor)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1406294146444

Discovering Multiple Services of an Application (MPAuthor)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1406294150741

Microsoft Azure

BYOD lab in Azure – Demos and user settings (4sysops)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158546230

Migrating to a Hybrid Server Environment with Microsoft Azure (Microsoft Download Center)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158548214

Disadvantages of an Azure lab (4sysops)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158550558

Networking

Industry Vendors Form CLR4 100G Alliance for 100G Optics Specification (Data Center Knowledge)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158637746

HP Boosts SDN-Enabled Unified Networking Portfolio (Data Center Knowledge)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158639918

Mellanox Releases 40 Gigabit Card for Open Compute (Data Center Knowledge)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158642199


Recommended TechGenix Articles

Security-as-a-service, Cloud-Based on the Rise (Part 1)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407160317419

The Growing Strength of Microsoft Azure
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158898247


Microsoft Azure: The Network Operating System of the Future, Today (Part 1) - Why You Should Care
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158900309


Creating and Managing a Virtual Machine in Microsoft Azure
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158902403


Troubleshooting Virtual Machine Crashes
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407158904622

 

Windows Server News

Analyzing IBM BlueMix for Cloud developers

IBM recently announced a new Platform-as-a–Service (PaaS) offering known as BlueMix.  While still in beta, it is available for testing and therefore, open for discussion.  Hear what cloud developers have to say about BlueMix, and get an inside look into what IBM's PaaS standout is all about.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159005294

Even your DaaS provider thinks you need an exit strategy

Having an exit strategy for your Desktop as a Service (DaaS) plan is a crucial piece of the DaaS puzzle most organizations often overlook.  Despite the counterintuitive-ness, you need an exit strategy to protect yourself from external problems that can arise at any time.  Don't be left in the dark – learn how to formulate an effective contingency strategy so you can be prepared for anything.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159007590

Hyper-V replication over low-bandwidth connections

Creating up-to-date copies of VMs in a recovery site is easy and economical with Hyper-V replication, so long as bandwidth can keep pace with a VM's rate of change.  Find out what other considerations need to be factored in when it comes to Hyper-V replication over low bandwidth.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159013700

How to solve sluggish memory performance

vSphere memory performance suffers if pools of resources are exhausted, but can be almost as easily mended by expanding resources or decreasing noncritical consumption. Get a detailed look at the four key levels to monitor for quality vSphere performance and to prevent it from getting a sluggish memory.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159016075


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 [email protected]

Cut a Watermelon

Here is an easy, fast, and clean way to cut a watermelon.  Enjoy!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159179262

Loading Logs on Truck Russian Style

Russian tree loggers made a simple and easy attachement to automatically load the logs onto their truck:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159181215

Amazing Flying Machines

A compilation of some amazing and beautiful flying machines:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159183965

The Red Envelope

David Sousa performs his award-winning act 'The Red Envelope' for the French TV show The World's Greatest Cabaret:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1407159185715

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Don't Let Bandwidth Hogs Slow Down Your Network

SolarWinds free Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer identifies bandwidth hogs by determining the types of traffic on your network, where itís coming from and where itís going.

DOWNLOAD 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 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.