Vol. 17, #41 - October 8, 2012 - Issue #900
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Hybrid Drives
- Tip of the Week
- Recommended for Learning
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Paul's take on Windows 8
- Microsoft’s cloud service SkyDrive is great, and no one has noticed
- Windows Server Posters–in an App!
- Explaining Network Virtualization with VMM part 1
- Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Compatibility Cookbook
- A look at a Microsoft Office 365 installation -- one year later
- Configuring and provisioning production-ready SMB 3.0 storage
- VMware virtualization techniques on a shoestring
- Q&A: Chewing on virtual desktop recovery methods
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- # 1 Price/Performance Load Balancer for Server High Availability
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to email@example.com if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's issue of WServerNews is all about hybrid drives, which Wikipedia defines as "different from standard hard drives in that it integrates a cache using non-volatile memory or even a small solid-state drive." Yes I just quoted something from Wikipedia--you can now see the depths to which this newsletter has plunged.
But hybrids are really nothing new. Consider the Terminator for example, who as a cyborg might best be described as a hybrid of Arnold and a Meccano set. Terminators are commonly considered destructive, but did you know they can also be MOTIVATED BY LOVE?
Hint: Click your mouse pointer on the comic to display the hidden alt-text.
And if you don't know what Meccano is, go here:
Meccano is your friend for defending yourself in the coming Robot Wars :-)
From the Mailbag
Before we get to this issue's main topic, let's briefly dig into our Mailbag:
An anonymous reader has added to our growing list of deprecated and removed features in Windows Server 2012 with the information that the following command-line tools have now been marked by Microsoft as deprecated:
For more information, see this TechNet page:
Bryan from Illinois had one more remote access to recommend to our readers:
You missed the best company of them all Aruba Networks. I know they make wireless gear, but the VIA client and the Remote Access Point (RAPs) are excellent. I love having all my work SSIDs broadcast for me to use if I need to connect.
You can find their products on their website:
Todd, an IT manager with many years of experience, voiced his response to the term "cloud" as follows:
When management hears all the annoying "Cloud" hype, they get all glassy eyed with big smiles, thinking that some IT miracle has landed. The term "Cloud" has clouded many senses of reality into thinking this is some new invention. Of little importance is the origin of the term: a cloud was an icon we placed on network diagrams indicating that there was a connection to the Internet. Now suddenly any online service, (email, data backup and storage, document management, etc.) to which you are willing to relinquish control, security, and reliability becomes a "Cloud" service.
So, other than the catchy new "Cloud" name, what has really changed? Did I fall asleep and miss out when we suddenly built an entirely new Internet infrastructure? Seems this is more of an ingenious marketing ploy to convince the unknowing that they absolutely must move their company's IT needs to the "Cloud" or they will be in the stone-age.
I am already hearing the grumblings of those who didn't fully realize that productivity now depends on the reliability of their ISP and those "me-too" service providers.
Thanks for listening to my grumblings and chuckles. As you can probably tell, I have been in IT for over 32 years :)
I definitely agree that from a marketing standpoint "cloud computing" has been overhyped to the point that almost any Internet service now constitutes a "cloud service" from the typical provider's perspective. But my point in the last issue was that NIST has come up with a clear definition of what "cloud computing" should look like from an enterprise perspective, and the more serious vendors basically agree with this definition. I suggest that it's useful to have the NIST definition at your fingertips so when a vendor comes to you and starts babbling cloud this, cloud that, you can hold your fingers up and start counting them off with questions like these:
- Can I access your cloud from any device? How does the experience compare on each device? Are there any devices that your cloud doesn't currently support? (NIST cloud attribute: broad network access)
- Can I use self-service to provision my business with additional resources from your cloud? What tools do you provide for this purpose? Can you demonstrate them for me? (NIST cloud attribute: on-demand self-service)
- What kind of architecture do you use to isolate resources from different customers within your cloud? What sort of scalability does your cloud provide? (NIST cloud attribute: resource pooling)
- What are the different subscription plans you offer? Can I switch between plans? What usage metrics can I get if I want to see how much resources I've been consuming? How often are your metrics updated? Is billing based on average usage, peak usage, or some other kind of metric? (NIST cloud attribute: measured service)
- How elastic is your cloud? What kind of uptime do you guarantee? If I suddenly need to ramp up my usage by a factor of 10, would there be any problem with this at your end? (NIST cloud attribute: rapid elasticity)
But I'm sure all you 30-year-plus MIS types already know what the right questions are to ask of vendors ;-)
Hybrid drives have been around for a few years now, and enterprises have started using them for both clients and servers. Why? What's so special about the hybrid drive?
Understanding the need
A traditional hard disk drive (HDD) can consume about 15% of the power for a laptop. HDDs are also shock prone, slow to spin up, and create a performance bottleneck because of their seek time and rotational latency. HDDs are basically the most common point of failure for mobile computers, and failure isn't good because it can mean loss of data which can impact business productivity.
Hybrid drives on the other hand combine magnetic platter storage with a relatively large non-volatile solid-state cache. The key here is the non-volatile cache, which can store information when the spindle is spinning. This means data stored in the cache can be accessed instantly at startup, which results in faster boot and resume times for computers that use hybrid drives. Data in the cache can even be accessed when the spindle isn't spinning, and this means hybrid drives can work in a "low power" mode where the OS spins down the spindle and data is retrieved only from the cache. This low power mode typically utilizes only about 2% of the system's total power. Shock resistance is probably about the same between HDDs and hybrid drives however, so try not to throw your laptop against the wall when you get mad at your boss.
Not for every computer
One thing worth mentioning is that replacing the HDD of an existing computer with a hybrid drive may not always result in significantly faster boot times even if the operating system is optimized for hybrid drives (as every version of Windows since Windows Vista has been). This is because the BIOS comes into play here as well. Ideally, on a system that has a hybrid drive the BIOS should exit the POST stage of the boot process as quickly as possible. The BIOS should also be able to resolve the mappings between cache and disk before the drivers load. And of course the boot order in the BIOS should also be configured to boot from the hard drive first to avoid any further boot delays.
Should I use a hybrid drive or SSD?
Let's say you want to purchase a new desktop, laptop or server. Should you buy one with a hybrid drive installed or a solid state drive (SSD) installed?
It depends on your needs:
- If you need the fastest system possible, choose SATA SSD because SATA SSDs are faster than SATA hybrids, which are faster than SATA mechanical drives, which are faster than old-fashioned IDE mechanical drives. But performance of hybrids is also workload specific. For example, if you frequently use the same applications then a hybrid may feel like it is performing as well as an SSD.
- If you need the best possible battery life for a mobile system, choose hybrids and compromise on speed a bit compared with SSDs.
- If you need a large amount of storage, choose hybrids because 512 GB SSDs are still pretty expensive (about $400).
- If reliability is important to you, choose SSDs as they tend to fail less frequently than spindle-based drives do, especially in offices where people throw their laptops around a lot.
- And if you need speed, good battery life, lots of storage, and reliability, then...well, good luck and keep on dreaming as someday your dreams will be a reality (but not yet).
Where can I find some hard data?
A good place to look for raw benchmark data about the performance of hybrids and SSDs is Storage Review. For example, check out this review of the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB hybrid:
You can tell it's probably a good review when they actually take the thing apart piece by piece :-)
Want to suggest other good websites that review storage devices? Or want to share your own experience using hybrid drives? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tip of the Week
The following tip was submitted to us by Don, who is a CISSP working in Information Security at a university in Minnesota:
I was searching for information on anyone trying to find a way to get Port Reporter working on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. I finally gave up because no one has been able to. It just doesn't work and won't work until Microsoft updates the tool, which I doubt will happen.
I saw your article on using Port Reporter (on the O'Reilly website) to monitor network traffic. I realize that the article is 7 years old, so it isn't up-to-date. And I certainly agree with you that Port Reporter is a very useful tool….on XP or Server 2003. It comes in very handy for those OS's. But it doesn't work on anything else (I don't count Win2K because, after all, who still uses Win2K).
[Editor's Note: Here's a link to the article by me that Don is referring to:
The article is indeed old, but like soldiers it seems that old websites never die.]
I just thought I'd point out, in case people contact you looking for an alternative, that there is an effective alternative. Not one you would want to run 24x7 forever but one that is very useful for troubleshooting the cause of unusual network traffic. That is Mark Russinovich's Process Monitor (Procmon.exe). It monitors all activity related to processes, including network activity and logs it to a file for as long as procmon is running. So unlike snapshot tools like TCPView for Windows, it keeps a historic log of the activity that you can go back through to look for whatever network traffic, on the system in question, that you are trying to find. I just recently used it to track down some mysterious Apple traffic that a Windows box, with no Apple software on it, was generating out to a computer on Apple's presence on the Internet.
Of course, if you were to try and run it permanently (like Port Repoter), it would quickly eat up all your available disk space. But as a per incident troubleshooting tool, it works exceedingly well and does everything Port Reporter does.
[Editor's Note: You can download Process Monitor from the Windows Sysinternals site:
Got tips of your own that you'd like to share with our readers? Email me at email@example.com
Recommended for Learning
Here's a really fun book from O'Reilly that you can use to learn the basics of forensic science hands-on at home:
Illustrated Guide to Home Forensic Science Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture
The book is just one of several in their All Lab, No Lecture series. What I like about them is that the experiments aren't dumbed down in any way, they're accurate and the procedures are rigorous (to a degree) and well-detailed. Check out the above link and you'll see other titles from this series listed as well.
Quote of the Week
"All types of knowledge, ultimately leads to self-knowledge." --Bruce Lee
Until next week.
Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
Free Download - #1 Price/Performance Load Balancer – Traffic Optimization for Exchange, Lync & Win servers
Download a free, fully functioning 30-day trial of Patch Manager from SolarWinds and get visibility into patch compliance with an extensive collection of simple, built-in reports.
Open source cloud software that's perfect for use inside your company and comes in both Business and Enterprise editions with extensive support:
Determine the health of your hard disks using Acronis Drive Monitor:
Get a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks, and display the results in your Web browser:
- NEW! - Last chance to pre-register for the 2013 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 7-11, 2013 in Houston, USA
- Microsoft Build on Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2012 in Redmond, USA
- Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2012 on Nov 12-15, 2012 in Las Vegas, USA.
- VMworld 2012 on October 9-11, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain:
Add your event
Contact Michael Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.
Register for Webcasts
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Paul's take on Windows 8
Read what Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has to say about Windows 8 in what may be the most balanced and intelligent review yet concerning the new platform:
Microsoft’s cloud service SkyDrive is great, and no one has noticed
In his guest post on Venture Beat, investor Brad Feld explains why he things SkyDrive is a "stunningly awesome" service:
Windows Server Posters–in an App!
Ben Armstrong a.k.a. The Virtual PC Guy has posted some cool info on his blog about the Server Posterpedia application:
Explaining Network Virtualization with VMM part 1
Kristian Nese, the cloud evangelist with a passion for Microsoft Private Cloud and Public Cloud, has just posted this to his blog Virtualization And Some Coffee:
Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Compatibility Cookbook
This free download from Microsoft provides guidelines for developers to verify the compatibility of their existing and planned apps with the new operating systems:
A look at a Microsoft Office 365 installation -- one year later
When one IT organization installed Microsoft Office 365 a year ago, they weren’t sure what to expect. Find out the six key reasons why – even after experiencing some challenges – they’re still leveraging the cloud-based collaboration service today.
Configuring and provisioning production-ready SMB 3.0 storage
While taking SMB 3.0 storage to production can yield many benefits, before you go beyond your test environment, there are critical factors you must consider. Inside this exclusive guide, learn key tips and tricks for configuring and provisioning production-ready SMB 3.0 storage in your business.
VMware virtualization techniques on a shoestring
For organizations on a tight budget, the significant benefits that VMware virtualization techniques offer have traditionally been out of reach – until now. In this essential tip, learn how your business can build an advanced VMware infrastructure without breaking the bank.
Q&A: Chewing on virtual desktop recovery methods
While establishing a disaster recovery plan for your virtual desktops can be more complex than establishing one for your traditional PCs, it’s just as critical. Access this resource to review key insights that can help you successfully back up and recover your virtual desktop infrastructure.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
Mark the date October 8 on your calendar because that's when Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will attempt a supersonic free fall to become the world's highest skydiver:
The incredible Lego machine sorts and moves little balls along an incredible path of robots and contraptions. It took over 2 years to build:
The Brazilian driver who won the "24 Hours of Nürburgring 2010" Augusto Farfus took his wife Liri on a 'tour' of the Nürburgring circuit in Germany.
Any similarities with other husband and wife teams are purely coincidental.
Flyboard, a new water-powered flying surfboard built by French water sports fan Franky Zapata, lets you surf 30ft above as well as under the water:
Dave is an extremely gifted 'clairvoyant' who seems to know a lot about others - even the most detailed financial information:
Researchers using the Hubble Telescope have assembled a new and improved portrait of our deepest-ever view of the Universe (released Sep 25 2012).
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.