Vol. 35, #8 - June 24, 2013 - Issue #935
No Reboots Necessary
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- No Reboots Necessary
- 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
- Tech Briefing
- Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner
- London Council Uses Private Cloud to Cut Costs and Support Flexible Working
- vSphere Storage - A VAAI Primer
- Step-By-Step: Managing Multiple Versions of the Same Application via System Center Configuration Manager
- Step-By-Step: Migration of Exchange 2003 Server to Office 365
- CommVault Simpana Software - Voted MSExchange.org Readers' Choice Award Winner - Backup & Recovery
- Monitoring and Blocking Network Access Based on Geographic Location using Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010
- Optimizing server power usage
- Windows Server News
- What cloud bursting and disaster recovery mean for hybrid cloud
- Boosting VDI performance with SSDs
- Troubleshooting the top five virtual machine migration errors
- Making the case for virtualizing business-critical applications
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Powerful, easy to use Hyper-V Backup – FREE for 2 VMs
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTERso 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 why organizations might want to consider deploying Windows Server Core in their IT infrastructure. We welcome Adiy Qasrawi, Infrastructure Consultant at Microsoft Consulting Services, who has provided us with a guest editorial on this topic.
But Windows Server Core is definitely something datacenters should be interested. But as this XKCX comic illustrates, it's not the only core you should be concerned about:
Wow, would it be safer if I went upstairs?
From the Mailbag
Reader feedback to our issue Tiptoeing Towards Windows 8 (Issue #932) still keeps trickling in. A reader named Chris said:
I disagree with several of your assertions, but maybe I am just being stubborn. A computer is a tool, and in that regard, it is ALL about efficiency. Vista proved to be a big step backwards for me, because most things took more mouse clicks, hence longer and less efficient. Windows 8 so far, is the same. It just takes too long to get things done with it.
But I suppose what it is you are trying to do is the big question. Launching apps: search start menu for antivirus folder, then executable, then click. Windows 8: what was it called? Is AV installed on here? Even on my own computer where I know what is installed I browse the list of programs to see what can do what I want to do at the time, different tools or different games. Maybe you can find games consolidated in a "games" search, but I haven't seen other apps with that organization. Even if there was, I wouldn't know the hierarchy. I focus on the time it takes to get to system settings, which keep getting buried deeper and deeper as new versions come out.
The biggest reason I am still upset is the refusal to allow a classic mode of any kind, boot to the desktop, a start button(maybe somewhat corrected in Blue), and other classic features. The only reason I can see for removing them is to force people to use the new elements. But again, that assumes that the new elements work better for the user. The user they target seems to be small, single monitor types(something else addressed in Blue), obviously touchscreen, tend to be mobile, who tend to be young and learning new architectures is a given anyway, and likely have or will be buying phones and tablets. I have four monitors and frequently remote into other computers. Trying to slide up from the bottom on the right edge when the screen is just a window on my computer is aggravating as it does not fill my screen. Windows 8 apps like to fill the screen, which is pretty ridiculous on my large monitors since they are made for smaller screens.
Power users are not supported in Windows 8, casual users are. It is an OS for mediocrity. There certainly are some advances on the technical side which I love, really like drive pooling and the enhanced task manager, but drive pooling only makes sense if I am using it as a file server. As a workstation the UI is the main ingredient. Stubborn or not, I am not "tiptoeing" anywhere until they answer these problems, and from what I've heard 8.1 ain't it. Filling us in on the new developments is great, but opinion pieces just irritate me.
I agree with some of what you say but not all. First, I agree that efficiency (i.e. end-user productivity) is important, probably the most important thing as far as end-users are concerned. But it's not everything. IT and the businesses they support also have to be concerned about other things like security, manageability, supportability, new functionality, and so on. I had said in my editorial that in the area of security Windows 8 really shines with its support for UEFI Secure Boot, Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM) for Internet Explorer 10, and so on. That's a solid reason for at least considering deploying Windows 8 in your organizations.
I also believe that ensuring end-users can be productive with their PCs isn't solely the responsibility of the software vendor i.e. Microsoft. It's also the responsibility of your Human Resources department to develop and deliver training that can help your users perform their work efficiently using their PCs.
Where I perhaps feel that Microsoft has fallen down however is in not making a strong enough case for how Windows 8 can make business users more productive with their desktop PCs and laptop computers. It's all well and good to show a commercial about how Siri herself says that Windows 8 tablets are cooler than iPads. I get that, it's how you sell stuff to consumers, especially those who are younger. But where are the commercials (or blog posts or Channel 9 videos) that demonstrate how a business user can perform his or her work more efficiently using Office 2013 on a Windows 8 tablet as compared with using Office 2012 on a Windows 7 laptop? Maybe there are some blog posts or videos out there that demonstrate this, but I for one haven't seen them yet. And if they're not there, then either Windows 8 can't make users more productive than Windows 7 or Microsoft is failing to get the word out the way they should be doing if they really want to drive adoption of Windows 8 as a business computing platform for end-users.
Next, a reader named Jurriaan from the Netherlands shared the following:
A graphic interface like in Windows 8 is nice for the consumer. Sometimes for the pro also. But, what the Redmond guys have forgotten is the fact that there are still people working 'on bare metal'.
For our workflow and (semi-automatic) archiving we work directly with data in directories (folders). This means that every interface like the native interface of Windows 8 is not desirable. The 'Classic Windows' interface is very convenient for that. Items in libraries are confusing. We use the data folders in a hierarchical way, each folder is numbered and had its own location. We also use (sometimes temporarily) folders with a certain purpose.
Another aspect is security. For security reasons we separate all data from the operating system and applications. Strictly in our security model, data residing on a system disk, is like cursing in the church.
Besides, there is another reason for the separation. The OS and applications in our workstations are situated on a SSD. Read/write access on such a device is limited in connection with the service life.
Optical effects such as Aero or other nonsense functions may contribute heavily to the 'W8 Experience' of the non professional consumer, they contribute absolute nothing to a functional processing of our data and are eating resources. For us Win8 is pure Mickey Mouse.
However, please do understand me very well, I don't have anything against Mickey Mouse. In a free world everyone is entitled to celebrate his own party. But it would be very kind towards the heavy user to leave the possibility of a real functional interface intact.
I used to use a similar directory structure for my work machines, but since Windows 7 I've been relying more and more on Windows Search to help me quickly find what I need. I also wonder whether workflows such as the one described above might not be better managed and accessed from the command-line instead of with Windows Explorer (or File Explorer as I think it's now called in Windows 8).
As for the issue of securing data by separating it from the system volume, you should check out the Folder Redirection feature which allows user directories like My Documents and My Pictures to be automatically and transparently redirected to a file share on your network file server. Folder Redirection has been around since Windows XP if my memory serves me correctly, and you can find lots of information about how to set it up on TechNet:
Finally, Ricardo, a system and network administrator based in BC, Canada, sent us the following comments:
My particular experience with Windows at the beginning, pretty much mirror yours; but having accustomed myself to use the keyboard more frequently helped me deal with not having to change from one "environment" to another. My decision to start using Windows 8 came from the fact I was using XP still then; it was working for me but I was feeling the shortcomings of this old OS and wanted something fresh.
So on 25 of Oct, as soon as it came out I got it and installed it on six year old Dell Precision M65; everything was good except for the NVidia driver, which took me a while to hunt down. It was a pain to get used to the new Start menu, but slowly I started to not needed on my daily tasks. I mainly do System and Network administration, tech support and email and browsing. I got all the shortcuts I needed on the desktop and the most frequently used ones in the taskbar. Also the Windows Key + X combination was a God send.
There are a few quirks I still hate; for example in Windows 7 you can click on the icon of your Ethernet connection and a little pop up will let you click on a link to open the "Network and Sharing Center". There is not such a link on Windows 8; you have to either: hit the Windows Key + X combination and select Control Panel and from there select the "Network and..." OR hit the Windows Key + F to get the search function and then before start typing select the "Settings" item in the list. If you leave the selected by default "Files", searching for "network" will find the "Network" app to browse the network.
Other workarounds I built out of the frustration of the changing environments as you describe was to add a taskbar for the "Programs" and another with a "Restart" and "Shutdown" shortcuts. Typing to search for a program is fine, but clicking is better, at least for me.
On the other hand I really love the performance, even in this old clunker, and the fast boot and shutdown and the fact that I can use Hyper-V to have my test and tutorial building environment without installing any other software on top of the OS.
I'm using Windows 8 Pro and feature wise I wish Windows To Go was included on this version as well. Other than that I think that resistance to the deployment mainly comes from the lack of the Start Menu and the changing screens between the two modes. You never know what will throw off users and in this case MS really didn't listen to users when they complained during the test releases and it has cost them dearly. Funny thing though, it has cost businesses as well since by being scared of the new interface they have missed on other good stuff, and that for me is the worst part.
Thanks for your feedback.
No Reboots Necessary
And now on to our guest editorial by Adiy Qasrawi...
No Reboots Necessary
No reboots necessary on this Windows Server for the entire year!
Great! Now that I have your attention, let's discuss Windows Server Core. Windows Server Core was first introduced as an installation option in Windows Server 2008. Windows Server Core installations are lightweight Windows Server installations removing the GUI interface most familiar to Windows Server administrators. This allowed for a more optimized installation which reduced disk requirements and in some cases memory usage. Security administrators loved the fact that Server Core did not include GUI components such as Internet Explorer as this was one less component they needed to update on "patch Tuesday". Microsoft's Windows Server team published on their blog a significant reduction in reboots associated with updating Windows Server 2012 ranging from 40% to 60%:
Can you imagine not having to reboot your Windows Servers for 10-28 months? This is exactly the claim the Windows Server team has publicized based on historical data.
But despite this very tangible business benefit, I see very little interest in Windows Server Core in production environments. When I discuss it with my clients, they either did not evaluate it or want to evaluate it because they were too familiar with the Windows Server GUI and management tools.
There are certain use cases not suitable for Windows Server Core of course. Actually, there is exactly one I have come across. This is when a business application requires or interacts the Windows Server UI. In such cases, I would fully support Server GUI installations. I would, however, encourage you to evaluate Server Core for all other deployments. I try to highlight some of the tips I've come across to help ensure the success of your Server Core installation.
I want to preface these tips by saying I have focused on Windows Server 2012 here. There a few reasons I focus on Windows Server 2012. They are
- Windows Server 2012 increases built-in roles support for Server Core to 13 roles. They are listed here:
- In Windows Server 2012, it is the recommended and in fact the default installation option for Windows Server 2012.
- Windows Server 2012 introduced the ability to freely switch between core to full GUI installation options using PowerShell. Simply enter Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell –Restart from a PowerShell prompt and a few minutes later you're back in full GUI mode. Tired of GUI and want Server Core? Simply enter Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra –Restart from a PowerShell prompt and you're transformed in Server Core mode.
- Windows Server 2012 introduces a minimum GUI interface mode. Affectionately referred to as "MinShell", this Server installation option makes graphical management tools such as the new Server Manager and the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) available but removes desktop applications such as Internet Explorer. To active MinShell mode, enter Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra –Restart from a PowerShell prompt.
Figure 1: The desktop of Windows Server Core
Figure 2: The desktop of Windows Server Core with minimum shell
Here are proven tips to ensure your Server Core deployment is a success:
Know your friend: sconfig
Microsoft provides the sconfig tool as an easy to use Server Configuration tool. The tool allows you to get your server up and running and joining the domain. Once on the domain, you can use your corporate management tools which may include the new Server Manager to remotely connect to the server core installation. Sconfig allows you to configure TCP/IP parameters, domain membership, RDP connectivity and various other basic server configuration parameters. Sconfig is not a replacement to PowerShell or Server Manager but rather a tool to get you up and running so you can use these other familiar tools.
Figure 3: The sconfig utility
In-box remote management tools
Windows Server 2012 provides you with a minimum of two mechanisms to remotely manage your Server Core installations. They are:
- PowerShell - PowerShell should be your command line management tool of choice! PowerShell remote allows you to execute PowerShell commands on a remote PC or Server. This allows a full system administration environment of your Windows Server without having an RDP connection. For Windows Server Core, this means another full system administration environment and a feature rich remote-enabled scripting engine. This allows you to fully interact with your server from a Windows 8 PC for instance. More info about PowerShell remote is available on TechNet here.
- The new Server Manager - Server Manager has been greatly expanded to further support remote management of servers. You can perform nearly all common system administration tools on any remote server installation simply by adding it to the list of managed servers. Once the server is added, you can run the classic MMC-based tools or even open a PowerShell remote console on that server right from the Server Manager. If you are on Windows 8 PC, Server Manager is available via the RSAT download here.
Figure 4: The new Server Manager
This is the simplest rule: make sure your application vendor supports Server Core installations. If the vendor does not provide a support statement, then stick to the classic (GUI) mode. There are a number of roles or application however that should be run in a Windows Server core installation. As a general rule, place the most critical workloads on Server Core. These are the workloads with high business impact requiring continuous availability. The most obvious is SQL Server 2012. Most SQL Server DBAs are used to remote management already so this is a very logical choice.
When in doubt: GUI
Finally, if your team of Windows Servers is still uncomfortable with remote or command line management via PowerShell, then your default install should be the classic GUI installation with a clear plan on moving to Server Core. The plan should ideally include PowerShell training. I have seen customers fail their Windows Server Core installations and have had to re-install to the classic UI mode simply because their admin staff wasn't ready or lacked the training necessary to manage Windows Servers from a shell.
About Adiy Qasrawi
Adiy Qasrawi is an Infrastructure Consultant at Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS).
Send us feedback
Got questions or comments about anything in this issue? Let us know at [email protected]
Tip of the Week
Here's a tip on how to choose the right DHCP server availability solution for your network. The tip is excerpted from my recent book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 (Microsoft Press, 2012) which available from Amazon here:
Traditionally, DHCP server availability has been implemented on Windows Server–based networks using one or more of the following methods:
- Split scopes This approach involves splitting the IP address pool of a scope between two DHCP servers, typically by assigning the primary server 80 percent of the addresses in the scope and the secondary server the remaining 20 percent of the addresses. That way, if the primary server goes offline for any reason, DHCP clients on the subnet can still respond to lease renewal requests from the secondary server.
- Server cluster This approach involves using the Failover Clustering feature of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 to cluster DHCP servers so that if the primary DHCP server in a cluster fails, the secondary server can take up the slack and continue leasing addresses to clients.
- Standby server This approach uses a hot standby DHCP server with scopes and options configured identically to your production DHCP server.
Each of the preceding approaches has the following disadvantages, which make them of limited usefulness in ensuring DHCP server availability:
- The split-scope approach provides limited IP availability during outages. As a result, some clients might not receive addresses during a long-term DHCP server outage. In addition, if your DHCP server scope is currently running at high utilization--which is common for Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) networks--splitting the scope might not be feasible.
- The DHCP server-cluster approach has only one DHCP database located on the cluster shared storage. That means there is a single point of failure for DHCP services on your network. In addition, implementing Failover Clustering requires relatively complex setup processes and maintenance tasks.
- The hot-standby approach requires both careful configuration of the standby DHCP server and manual intervention on the part of the administrator to ensure the failover transition when your production DHCP server fails or goes offline. There is also additional complexity in this approach when DHCP is configured to automatically update DNS records, as is recommended in an Active Directory environment.
DHCP failover is a new approach to ensuring DHCP availability that is included in Windows Server 2012. With this approach, two DHCP servers can be configured to provide leases from the same pool of addresses. The two servers then replicate lease information between them, which enables one server to assume responsibility for providing leases to all clients on the subnet when the other server is unavailable. The result of implementing this approach is to ensure DHCP service availability at all times, which is a key requirement for enterprise networks.
You can find more information about the DHCP failover feature of Windows Server 2012 here:
Contact me at [email protected] if you have a tip you'd like to share with our readers.
Recommended for Learning
This week we have a couple more announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
What's New in Windows Server 2012 R2 (July 10-11)
Register now for a two-day live, expert-led online interactive experience highlighting the latest and greatest in Windows Server 2012 R2, with numerous scenarios and demos. Register here:
What's New in System Center 2012 R2 (July 15)
Join us for a full day Jump Start when Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist Symon Perriman and several presenters will go through the next version of System Center and how it delivers an end-to-end cloud management stack through advanced integration with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Azure. Register here:
Quote of the Week
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." --Dwight D. Eisenhower
I read this today in Coffee News (yes, I like to read stuff like that when I'm sitting at a cafe) and was struck by how powerful and accurate this statement is. I'm currently involved with over a dozen writing projects involving half a dozen teams of people at Microsoft and as a result I'm finding myself having to plan, re-plan, and re-re-plan all the time just in order to stay on top of things and make sure everything is headed towards a successful conclusion. If you're in a similar predicament, perhaps Eisenhower's insight can help. I also recommend you read his book Crusade In Europe, which not only describes his involvement in WWII but also gives you a lot of insight into what it means to plan (and continually re-plan) a huge enterprise involving millions of people and billions of dollars and under enormous pressures:
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 Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
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Exclaimer Mail Archiver is a fully featured, competitively priced archiving solution for Exchange that's easy to set up and maintain. It uses file system-based storage so it doesn't require SQL.
PCWorld suggested that this Asus RT-AC66U router may be the best 802.11ac router on the market:
Microsoft Build on June 26-28, 2013 in San Francisco, USA
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 7-11, 2013 in Houston, USA
Microsoft TechEd Europe on June 25-28, 2013 in Madrid, Spain
Microsoft TechEd Australia on September 3-6, 2013 in Gold Coast, Australia
Microsoft TechEd New Zealand on September 10-13, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand
Add your event
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Register for Webcasts
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Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner (Microsoft Virtualization Blog)
The Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica allows you to plan your Hyper-V Replica deployment based on the workload, storage, network and server characteristics.
London Council Uses Private Cloud to Cut Costs and Support Flexible Working (Microsoft Case Studies)
This case study describes how Newham Council has been using Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft System Center 2012 to provide secure remote access to 1,400 employees and make them more productive.
vSphere Storage - A VAAI Primer (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Scott D. Lowe begins a new series describing the various primitives that comprise vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI).
Step-By-Step: Managing Multiple Versions of the Same Application via System Center Configuration Manager (Canadian IT Pro Connection)
Microsoft MVP Colin Smith explains how System Center 2012 Configuration Manager's inclusion of requirement rules that are evaluated at install time eliminates the need for multiple collections to manage targeting of x86 and x64 versions of the same application.
Step-By-Step: Migration of Exchange 2003 Server to Office 365 (Canadian IT Pro Connection)
Microsoft MVP Kelsey Epps explains how to perform a cutover migration from a legacy Exchange 2003 system.
CommVault Simpana Software - Voted MSExchange.org Readers' Choice Award Winner - Backup & Recovery (MSExchange.org)
CommVault Simpana Software was selected the winner in the Exchange Backup & Recovery Category of the MSExchange.org Readers' Choice Awards. Lepide Exchange Manager and Backup for Workgroups were runner-up and second runner-up respectively.
Monitoring and Blocking Network Access Based on Geographic Location using Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010 (ISAserver.org)
Richard Hicks demonstrates some methods that security engineers and Forefront TMG firewall administrators can use to identify, monitor, and block network communication based on the geographic location of the source or destination IP address.
Optimizing server power usage (WindowsNetworking.com)
Mitch Tulloch examines the issue of power usage by servers, how to plan for it, and how to reduce it in order to keep your costs under control.
What cloud bursting and disaster recovery mean for hybrid cloud
When you think about the cost-saving features the cloud offers, cloud bursting and failover likely come to mind. For this reason, some organizations are looking to combine the two features in a hybrid cloud environment. Learn more about this new trend and the benefits it can offer inside this exclusive tip.
Boosting VDI performance with SSDs
While your first instinct when running into VDI performance issues may be to blame the network, storage often plays a critical role in causing these problems. Learn how investing in solid-state drives (SSDs) can help optimize VDI performance, reliability, and capacity without overstretching your budget.
Troubleshooting the top five virtual machine migration errors
If successful, a virtual machine (VM) migration delivers significant benefits – but if it fails, you're faced with a number of data center efficiency and availability issues. Inside this tip, explore the top five causes of failed VM migration so you can avoid these detrimental pitfalls and ensure a smooth transition.
Making the case for virtualizing business-critical applications
Many IT pros are hesitant – or even unwilling – to virtualize mission-critical applications; however, VMware vSphere's new features, coupled with key virtualization tactics, may be enough to convince the nonbelievers. Learn more about making the case for mission-critical app virtualization.
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 flying bicycle invented by three Czech companies successfully completed its first test flight.
A step-by-step guide on how to fold a shirt in under 2 seconds:
A network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill in coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters.
Skyscraper with Rotating Floors ... a modern marvel of architectural design.
The transplanting of a tree using an ingenious truck-mounted tree spade
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 Tullochis 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.