Vol. 55, #8 - November 11, 2013 - Issue #955
Keeping it simple
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Keeping it Simple
- 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
- MSExchange.org Webinar: Resolving your PST Nightmares Once and for All
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Windows Server
- SharePoint, Exchange, and Office
- Windows PowerShell
- System Center
- Windows Azure
- Windows Server News
- Taking back networking control with Amazon virtual private cloud
- Brian Madden: The state of desktop virtualization in 2013
- Don't let system management software problems leave you in the dark
- Choose a Microsoft Office 2013 license based on user number, devices
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Simple and secure virtual desktop and application delivery
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about keeping it simple when it comes to managing IT infrastructure and projects. Most of us know what happens when an IT project spirals out of control. Temperatures rise. Costs escalate. And heads may fall. What should you do if you realize your foundering IT project will likely be cancelled? The Pointy-Haired Boss may have the answer in this insightful Dilbert cartoon:
From the Mailbag
I was travelling for a few weeks and then was down with a cold so we had a series of guest editorials last month. But I'm back in the saddle (cough cough) and raring to take the reins again. Let's start by digging into our Mailbag.
A reader named Ken from Seattle sent us the following feedback concerning Issue #951, Secure File Transfer:
I must be missing something? Nowhere in your Vol. 51, #8 - October 14, 2013 - Issue #951 did I see anything remotely tied to "Secure file transfer" as indicated by the email title.
Our mistake, sorry. The title of that issue should have been "Migrating mail to Office 365" as per the topic of that issue's editorial. I've asked our website manager to update the title in our newsletter archives to reflect this.
Continuing with Issue #951 (which should have been titled "Migrating mail to Office 365") we received a couple of helpful emails from a reader named Tony in the UK based on his own experience migrating to Office 365. First, here's the email he sent us right after this issue was published:
Good article. I am in exactly the same place -- half way through the process. Again, the intention is to save having to look after my own Exchange (on SBS2008), two main mailboxes. Another spur was the announcement that Microsoft was discontinuing the Action Pack subscription next year. My SBS clients are faced with either more complexity or the cloud.
My solution, which I am setting up for myself, is a Synology NAS and Office 365. A mixture of private cloud and public cloud seems appropriate for both home and business use. And I am in the limbo half way through transferring my DNS records from my ISP to myself. I am told it will take a few more days.
I had planned to migrate my existing mailboxes in exactly the same way -- via PST. In fact, I have a number of PSTs into which I move stuff that I don't need when out and about, but want to have to hand, which I will continue to keep locally.
Tony then sent us this second email about a week later:
Hi Mitch, I mentioned that I was in the process of doing this. Naturally it didn't go smoothly, but thanks to some good support from Microsoft it was fixed.
There are two tips that I can add:
1) When setting up Outlook, in the various configuration tabs most people are used to setting up the proxy settings (which includes setting it to basic authentication). However, you also need to change a setting on the security tab -- to anonymous authentication.
2) If you are working on a domain connected computer, it turns out that the default method Outlook uses to find an email server is SCPLookup, which will naturally find your local Exchange server, if, like me, you still have it running to catch stuff in the changeover. In this case, from an elevated command prompt, run the command
reg add HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\AutoDiscover /v ExcludeScpLookup /t reg_dword /d 1 /f
which then excludes this so that it can work properly.
The other thing of note, and this is more general, there is a great set of online tools at
for testing all sorts of connectivity, for Exchange, Office 365 and more.
I did find a difference between what Outlook Autodiscover came back with as my server name and what the Outlook RCP/HTTP connectivity tool came back with. For Outlook 2010/Windows 7, Outlook 2013/Windows 8 (and probably most combinations), it turned out to be the line
attempting to ping RPC endpoint 6001 (Exchange Information Store) on server [email protected]
where "mydomain.com" is your actual domain. Yes it looks like a GUID turned into an email, which seems bizarre as a server name -- at least to many of us who are used to more traditional mail gateway names of mailgate.mydomain.com. Yet this is the email server name that you need if you are manually configuring Outlook to work with Office 365. Some documentation (and what you may find on the net) refers to a more traditional server name of nnnnnnn.outlook.com which is what is returned by Outlook Autodiscover. This was used before an Office 365 upgrade (and may well be used by some older systems -- I don't know, so I cannot pass a definitive comment).
One last thing for Outlook. Because you can't get rid of your original Exchange connection, you need to set up a new profile and make the default connection of the new profile the Office 365 connection.
Before starting, I copied everything into a PST file for safety -- if you use the folder mode (middle icon of three in bottom left corner on Outlook 2010), you can see the calendar, contacts, tasks etc to be able to copy them across. If you want to be more selective with the calendar items, on the calendar, go to the "view" tab and then select "change view", and go for list mode (for example) where you can now order them and select them much more easily.
Had I known some of the above before I started, I could have saved myself several hours.
Thanks for the terrific feedback!
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter...
Keeping it simple
Keeping your IT environment simple is the key to keeping it manageable, usable, and secure. That's because the more you customize your environment, the harder it will be to maintain, the more likely things will break, and the more likely you'll get hacked.
Stick with the defaults
The more you try to customize a solution, the more difficult it can be to maintain. Each customization you introduce into your environment adds complexity to both your infrastructure and your repository of documentation (change history). A good example of this is custom code developed in-house as "plumbing" for connecting different system components together in a way they were never designed to be connected. Just because you've invested many man-hours in maintaining such code for a number of years doesn't mean you should double-down your bet by continuing to do so, especially when the component systems themselves have exited lifecycle and are no longer available.
Customized solutions can also be more fragile than out-of-the-box solutions and often result in a broken user experience. For example, customizing the desktop layout for user's computers might make them easier to use at first, but when the next release of Windows comes out and desktop environments are upgraded, existing customizations might not work. Just ask any admin who has migrated desktop computers from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8, or who has upgraded from Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services to Windows Server 2008 or later Remote Desktop Services.
Customized solutions are also frequently less secure than out-of-the-box solutions. A good illustration of this is the administrator who asks which "unnecessary" Windows services can be safely disabled to reduce the vulnerability footprint of Windows clients or servers. The correct answer is "Don't disable any services that are enabled out-of-the-box" because the testing matrix when Windows was being developed didn't examine what might happen if you randomly disable various services.
Organizations often put a lot of pressure on their IT departments to customize solutions so they will harmonize with existing business processes and practices. My own thinking however is that IT needs the courage to push back on this sometimes because the "best" solution may often be to modify a business process to make it better match the capabilities of the IT solution instead of the other way around. As long as IT makes it clear that their ultimate goal is not work avoidance but ensuring the connection between business processes and IT systems is maintainable and secure, they just might succeed in convincing senior management in this regard.
What do you think?
By the way, Aaron Margosis wrote a really good blog post about this stuff several years ago called "Sticking with Well-Known and Proven Solutions" and if you haven't read it yet, you should stop and read it now:
Do you agree with Aaron's position on this subject? Or is he oversimplifying things? Share your thoughts with us at [email protected].
Born to fail
Customizing IT systems however is only a small part of implementing them, so let's talk for a moment about the world of IT projects--especially big projects.
"Recent research from Oxford University's Said Business School found large IT projects are 20 times more likely to fail than large projects in other sectors, such as construction."
Twenty times? Wow.
Stop and read that article as it includes several experts who weigh in on the reasons big IT projects have a high probability of failure.
Now list what you believe are the three top reasons why IT projects frequently fail and then send your list to me at [email protected] so we can share your thoughts with other readers.
Here are my own top three observations why IT projects tend to fail:
1) Overpromising so you can snag the work. No, that's not right. What's actually the problem is WHY you (i.e. the consultant or consulting company) have overpromised. It's likely because you don't have a realistic view of your own technical and management capabilities. You're living in fantasy instead of reality. As Robert Ringer once said in his classic book Winning Through Intimidation, "Reality isn't the way you wish things to be nor the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are. You either acknowledge reality and use it for your benefit or it will automatically work against you." So if you are an IT consultant or consulting company taking on a project and you're not really prepared for the job, things are likely going to work against you--and probably badly.
2) Allowing business processes to always trump IT processes. There's got to be some give and take between business and IT, and business needs to start seeing IT as an enabler and not just a utility they can turn on or off. This can be argued in various ways depending on the kind of industry sector involved, but the basic idea is for management and IT to see each other as collaborators and not as competitors. And giving in is just another form of overpromising.
3) Not keeping a long term perspective. The goal of a consultant or consulting company should be to build a long-term business. The key to doing that is to be successful with each and every project. That means taking on projects you will be able to succeed with and rejecting offers where failure is likely. After all, if you want to grow big and strong, you don't just eat everything in sight--you eat the right things in the right amount at the right time. I learned that from my personal fitness journey, see
Which reminds me, it's time for my workout.
Send us feedback
Have you been involved in large IT projects that have failed disastrously? Why do you think it happened? What can we learn from such failures? Share your thoughts with us at [email protected]
Tip of the Week
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
What are Update Rollup packages?
Microsoft has recently been releasing Update Rollup packages for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. What are they exactly? And are they cumulative?
Update Rollup packages are basically a bunch of fixes that are released monthly by Microsoft for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Most of these fixes are not released separately and are only released as part of an Update Rollup package. These packages are not cumulative, otherwise they'd quickly grow in size and become comparable to service packs.
For a more detailed explanation, see this post on the Ask Premier Field Engineering (PFE) Platforms blog:
Recommended for Learning
Here are a couple of announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
November 19-20: Server Virtualization w/ Windows Server Hyper-V & System Center Jump Start
Join the next Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) Jump Start free online training event on November 19-20, featuring senior technical evangelist Symon Perriman, who will give you the expert instruction you need on Microsoft Server Virtualization with Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager—whether you're already familiar with VMware or Citrix or you're new to the technology. Plus, you'll get a free voucher for the new Microsoft virtualization certification at the same time. Register here:
November 14: What's New in Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals
Fast track your organization from Windows XP or Windows 7 to a more productive Windows 8.1 enterprise desktop environment. Attend this one-day free online course from MVA to learn what Windows 8.1 has to offer for mobile productivity, secure IT, and easy-to-manage infrastructure. It's the fastest and most secure OS from Microsoft for desktop, laptop, or tablet. Register now at:
Quote of the Week
"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Carl W. Buechner
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Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
Download 2X ApplicationServer XG to deliver virtual desktops and applications from a central location, providing continuous availability, resource-based load balancing and complete end-to-end network transparency for administrators.
Top 5 Tools that IT Pros Love. Get them all now.
Need Hyper-V backup that’s easy to use and free? Download Altaro Hyper-V Backup – It’s free for 2 VMs for WServerNews subscribers (and it supports Windows Server 2012 R2!)
How to protect and recover SharePoint data. Microsoft SharePoint is an amazingly popular solution for sharing and centralizing control over important business data. Learn more in a live webinar.
RBAC Manager R2 is helps with role-based access control administration:
Project Conference, 2014 on February 2-5 in Anaheim, California
Lync Conference 2014 on February 18-20, 2014 at The Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada
SharePoint Conference 2014 on March 3-6, 2014 at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) coming in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
European SharePoint Conference on May 5-8, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
Add your event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
MSExchange.org Webinar: Resolving Your PST Nightmares Once and for All
Join Microsoft MVP, J. Peter Bruzzese, and Sherpa Solutions Architect, Rick Wilson, on Thursday, November 14th, at 1pm EST to explore the regulatory and operational challenges associated with managing PST files and gain insights into getting control of your organization's data once and for all.
During this live, informative webinar you'll learn:
- What common PST challenges do organizations face today?
- What are the key considerations with eliminating PST files?
- When upgrading to Exchange 2013 & Office 365, what are the benefits of reducing PST dependency?
- How can you gain control of PST files located on end-user storage?
You’ll also have the opportunity to ask your top PST & Exchange Management questions during a live Q&A.
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
This section is organized topically by platform/product and provides you with links to tips, tools, information and other resources that can help you in your job role whether you're an IT professional or an IT decision-maker.
Storage Spaces - Designing for Performance (TechNet Wiki)
Ways to find technical information on Microsoft Servers you might not have known about (Third Tier)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
#PSTip How to create a dynamic distribution group (PowerShell Magazine)
Working With Power BI, Office 365 and File Size Limits (The White Pages)
When Best Practice goes bad (Tony Redmond's Exchange Unwashed Blog)
Step-By-Step: Utilizing PowerShell History Viewer in Windows Server 2012 (Canadian IT Pro Connection)
What’s new in SMB PowerShell in Windows Server 2012 R2 (Jose Barreto's Blog)
Creating Styling HTML Reports with PowerShell (The Lonely Administrator)
Live cloning in SCVMM 2012 R2 (Virtualization and Some Coffee)
White paper - Hybrid Cloud with NVGRE (WSSC 2012 R2) (Virtualization and Some Coffee)
Getting started with Gallery Items in Windows Azure Pack (WAP) (Virtualization and Some Coffee)
Cloud Service Fundamentals – Caching Basics (Windows Azure Blog)
Windows Azure SQL Reporting- a Performance Case Study (TechNet Wiki)
Running Dell vWorkspace in Windows Azure (The Microsoft Platform)
Taking back networking control with Amazon virtual private cloud
Although enticed by cloud benefits, many IT pros are still resistant to the lack of control in a cloud environment. However, newer platforms, such as Amazon's virtual private cloud, enable users to maintain significant network control. Read on for a discussion of setup, management and pricing details.
Brian Madden: The state of desktop virtualization in 2013
If VDI isn't about saving money, simplifying management or improving security -- then why is it positioned as the cure-all for endpoint issues, particularly BYOD? Hear from industry guru, Brian Madden, as he analyzes results from a recent desktop virtualization survey on user trends, preferred vendors and effective tools.
Don't let system management software problems leave you in the dark
When your systems management software malfunctions, you can be left troubleshooting -- and frustrated -- trying to uncover the root cause of setup and compatibility problems. In this IT tip, our experts explain how to watch out for problems in the three key areas of software support, hardware support and network connectivity.
Choose a Microsoft Office 2013 license based on user number, devices
Microsoft Office licensing used to be simple -- now it's not so straightforward. With the proliferation of mobile devices, virtualization and cloud services, policies have gotten increasingly complex. Gain insider advice to help you understand and evaluate Office 2013 licensing policies.
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]
A reader named Pete from Tasmania (that place where the Devil lives) sent us this YouTube video. What if telekinesis was real? How would you react? Our hidden camera experiment captures the reactions of unsuspecting customers at a New York City coffee shop as they witness a telekinetic event:
Now for some geeky videos from Flixxy...
A peek at the early days of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab - a partnership between NASA, Google, and a 512-qubit D-Wave Two quantum computer.
A quantum computer works in a totally different way from a classical computer.
When you drop a magnet through a copper tube, some strange things happen.
How do you fit 100 billion transistors and several kilometers of conductors into a space no larger than a fingernail?
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