Vol. 19, #1 - January 6, 2014 - Issue #961

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Revisiting the File Server's Untimely Demise

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Three free ebooks
    • From the Mailbag
    • Revisiting the File Server's Untimely Demise
    • Tip of the Week: Find disk firmware versions using PowerShell
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Events Calendar
    • Americas
    • Europe
  4. Webcast Calendar
    • Register for Webcasts
  5. Tech Briefing
    • Enterprise IT
    • Windows Server
    • Windows PowerShell
    • Citrix
  6. Windows Server News
    • Four things your public cloud provider will never tell you
    • Three considerations for scaling your VDI deployment
    • Hybrid cloud may be more than an enterprise stepping stone
    • What's the best number of virtual machines for a data store?
  7. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
  8. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Solve the problem. Be a hero. Try FactFinder Express.

 

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Editor's Corner

This week's newsletter revisits the topic of Issue #958, Is the File Server dead? and examines whether the good old dependable file server has had its day in the sun and should be now given a decent burial. There's nothing funny about death of course, but with IT pros being on the geeky end of the spectrum and given the high stress levels we experience working in IT these days, we often tend to see the funny side of even a serious topic like dying. As proof of this we offer the following Dilbert comic strip for your consideration:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746119448

Three Free ebooks on Cloud OS from Your Editor!

The term Cloud OS refers to Microsoft's roadmap for delivering hybrid solutions that span the datacenter and the cloud, empowering users to work anywhere on any device. Cloud OS comprises three key platforms: Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure. With the help of expert insiders at Microsoft, Your Editor has now written introductory books on all three of these platforms. All of these titles are available from Microsoft Press as free ebooks in PDF, MOBI and EPUB format:

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http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746128339

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http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746142339

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http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746154683

Download them today and get started learning about the new and exciting capabilities in these platforms!

From the Mailbag

Way back in Issue #955, Keeping it simple, I shared my personal observations on why large IT projects often fail and invited readers to comment. Daniel, a reader from Virginia, USA, responded recently as follows:

Thought you might appreciate a reminder of lots of other factors contributing to large IT project failures.  See Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., "The Mythical Man-Month", (Anniversary Edition, 1995)   Amazon < $30.00:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746168589

Also see Wikipedia for an impressive resume of the author:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746178448

I suspect you know, but just in case, Fred was manager for the development of IBM's System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 operating system that went with it. "Mythical Man-Month" was first published in 1975.  He wrote in a very readable and entertaining style.  The first edition opened with a scene from prehistory - the struggles of prehistoric beasts in the tar pits.  It is where you first found what has become known as "Brooks' Law" - adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.  He even included some empirical analysis of why that is so. 

A later article in equally readable and colorful form, which is included as part of the Anniversary Edition, changes the scene to the Middle Ages and werewolves - "monsters that fill the nightmares of our folklore."   Information Processing '86, ISBN No. 0-444-70077-3, H.J. Kugler, ed., Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (North-Holland); reprinted in IEEE Computer, April 1987. 

I suspect that he was an equally effective communicator as a professor at UNC. 

Perhaps those in charge of the Obamacare rollout would have materially benefited from a quick read.  Like the first edition, the second can be substantially completed in a single transcontinental plane ride.

Thanks, I've ordered a copy and am looking forward to reading it.

In Issue #959, 100 Stress Relief Tips for IT Pros, I offered 50 (not 100 unfortunately, ran out of steam) tips, some serious, some humorous. I also asked readers to share some of their own. Not surprisingly, several readers commented about model rocketry. I wonder how many other older IT pros were into that hobby when they were kids?

From a reader named Webster:

I was hard core into model rockets in my junior high school days.  Way back in 1968 I attempted to break the world record for altitude in a 3-stage d engine self-designed self-built rocket with a 1 oz payload.  Our model rocket club was lucky and got a local news reporter and camera crew to film it.

The international body that kept records said you had to break the existing record by 3 meters.  We also had to use a minimum of 3 tracking stations and record all the data and math calculations.  We used 6 tracking stations!  You also had to take pictures before and after of the rocket, its components and the final stage had to be in one piece.

I broke the record by 40 meters!!!  But sadly the final stage was never recovered. :(. I did get my 2 minutes of fame that night on the 10pm news.

In high school I got into music and unfortunately never got back into model rockets.  I became a pro classical musician who then found his way into computers in order to make real money! lol

From a reader named Ed:

When I get stressed at work I'll take a break and watch videos that make me laugh.  Clips of scenes from the first Ron Burgundy movie work well for me, as well as Jack Vale.

You can get into High Power Rocketry if you have the time and spare cash:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746196277

As for reducing stress, a reader named Britta recommends yoga:

Yoga, and for those who think it for only people who can twist up like pretzel; it is not.  If you are breathing, you can do yoga!  Here's a link to simple AM/PM stretch. 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746199183

With yoga, it is always the intention to do the pose that counts.  Start where you are. use what you have, do what you can.

As for reader feedback on whether the file server is dead or not...

Revisiting the File Server's Untimely Demise

In Issue #958, Is the File Server dead? I shared some of my own thoughts about whether file servers still have a place or not in business computing today. Now let's hear what some of our readers have to say on this topic.

First, a reader named Joe from Texas, USA, seemed to take a realistic approach to this question as follows:

The timeline on the predicted file server demise is right on target. With each new technology, the grim reaper keeps showing up, but the old file server manages to resurrect itself. We deploy cloud datacenters for clients and we are using the file server as the backbone for file storage. This is possible because we are overlaying peer to peer file sharing technologies and file synchronization via Windows DFS to act as a facade to the core file server.

Rob, a Senior Clinical Systems Analyst at a medical center, thinks it's basically a question of ebb and flow;

Certainly, we've shifted the cost so it looks better on the books. (Apparently, bean counters think nothing of operation expenses but blanch severely over equipment ownership.) We've migrated the equipment to occupy space out of our line of sight. (At a time when virtual servers are shrinking server farms almost as fast as they grew.) And we no longer have to pay staff to maintain the server. (Although we certainly have to foot the monthly bills for Cloud services, much of which is allocated to support.)

But ultimately, the server is still alive and kicking. The biggest difference is that IT is still unequivocally accountable for the server, but it's no longer accessible. Whatever cost- and resource-savings yielded from moving to the Cloud end up negated altogether by the lack of control, dodgy support, and intolerable delays.

Not nearly the bargain that the Gartner wonks make it out to be.

Just as the decentralize/centralize cycle ebbs and flows with end-user devices and much of the rest of IT, so too will that happen when "the Cloud" has achieved enough critical mass for the mammoth cracks to start showing at a level where the "suits" have to pay attention. The execs will eventually discover what us IT ground troops knew years ago and the server farm will be back in vogue -- with Gartner and their ilk leading the charge.

With Clouds come storms and there's a big one brewing!

I was particularly struck by this sentence from Rob's feedback above:

The biggest difference is that IT is still unequivocally accountable for the server, but it's no longer accessible.

If I'm responsible for something, I want to have as much control over it as possible. Otherwise, how can I be held responsible if something goes wrong? But can upper management grasp this important point? What do other readers think about this matter? Email me at [email protected]

Next, a CTO named Joseph simply said:

The cloud will never be able to replicate the speed of onsite data storage- so no, the file server will never die!!

I responded by saying, "Yes but speed isn't everything right? Cloud has easier scalability, elasticity, etc." and Joe replied:

Ahhhh. The myth of cloud. No use who has ever worked with an in-house onsite server is ever happy with the cloud, be it SharePoint or office 365. Yes the point will come one day where no one will remember the good old days of speed and they will be used to their super computers snailing along on cloud docs, but until that day, I would rather not deal with hundreds of employees telling me that there is something wrong with their computer -- it's going so slow….

True, my 30 offsite locations would never see the difference, but my all-important HQ would never stand for it. And don't get me started on security….

At the end of the day it's all about perception!

A reader named Timothy said:

Our organization is moving from a 'File Server' solution to an enterprise NAS solution.

I asked him what was the rationale for the change, and he replied:

Take advantage of a (internal) cloud service (HA, DR, scale-up, scale-out) whilst maintaining data security within its own infrastructure.

A reader named Will from Oregon thinks small business IT folk are in for a rude awakening:

File server dying? - I had to laugh! this article came at an interesting time -- shortly after I made my short analysis on cloud services in general. Basically the file server and many other things are probably going the way of the dinosaur with the proliferation of cloud services. I think small business IT folks are in for a rude awakening and some tough decisions! last week I just finished up my first customer migration to exchange cloud services -- office 365 exchange, for an 18-person small business. After doing this and "surveying the clouds," it became clear that almost everything will go the way of the cloud soon -- not just the file server! Even though data in the cloud is less secure, in some ways, it's actually more secure! For example, take a 10-person shop which struggles to maintain backups, and doesn't have money to "offsite" tapes; for them, cloud storage seems ideal - as long as offline folders of some sort is enabled. Given that, their shop can burn down, but its backed up in the cloud! The holds true for files and even more so for email with Microsoft exchange offline storage files (OST's).

Microsoft has been hesitant to go forward with cloud services because in essence, the are competing with themselves when they do that - and alienating partners along the way. For example, if I move a 10-person shop to the cloud for file storage, Microsoft and I both lost a sale of a server license; and I lost the sale of server hardware and setup/maintenance consulting. But at least Microsoft gained the annual recurring service revenue -- as long we use their cloud services. This simple argument is probably why Redmond has been slow to jump on the cloud bandwagon -- they essentially marginalize there core partner license business when selling cloud services -- but only to the extent that apple and google don't steal away their customers -- something which has been occurring at an accelerating pace!

Lastly, to put the final nail in the file server coffin, my local telco (frontier telecom -- in Portland Oregon) has been quietly upgrading their fiber switches to support gigabit to the remote premise! in other words, soon, we will all be gig-capable connected -- meaning big file moves between remote geo-locations will be a breeze. There goes another argument for local storage -- down the drain! So the writing is one the wall. If I was older, it might be a good time to retire -- along with the retiring file server!  But I still have a few good days left -- just need to figure out how I can capitalize on the death of the premise-based hardware and software business -- so I don't follow the file server to its grave!

Finally a reader named Larry from Florida, USA, shared his vision for the future:

Not only file servers, but any sort of local computer. Server, workstation, pc, laptop, all will be as quaint as an abacas in a few years. Tablets, thin clients, wearable gear will replace them all with a connection to the data that lives "somewhere else". Home users will connect to the ISP's cloud and select one from column A, one from column B and so on. That might be Email, Web Surfing, Ancestry search, and for creative sorts, book or play authoring or animation, and so on.

The tipping point comes, as it did for CRT computer monitors, and tube type TV's, and buggy whips, when the demand slows to a point where the manufacturers cannot run a profitable assembly line. Gamers and graphics intensive software such as Solid Works will be the last to go, but that would be a limited production model until it to fades away for VDI or whatever wins that battle.

This is just one more change on the road to the Star Tech model. "Computer: what was windows server news dot com?"

Fortunately I won't be around.

Send us feedback

Got more feedback on this topic? Let us know at [email protected]

Tip of the Week: Find disk firmware versions using PowerShell

This week's tip is by Ed Wilson a.k.a. The Scripting Guy on TechNet.

Question: You need to check firmware versions on the disks of your Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 computers (and above). How can you do this?

Answer: Use the Get-Disk function that is available beginning with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Select the friendly name and the firmware version. This command appears here:

get-disk | select friendlyname, firmwareversion

Ed Wilson is the bestselling author of eight books about Windows Scripting, including Windows PowerShell 3.0 Step by Step, and Windows PowerShell 3.0 First Steps. He writes a daily blog about Windows PowerShell call Hey, Scripting Guy! that is hosted on the Microsoft TechNet Script Center; for more PowerTips check out the Hey, Scripting Guy! blog.

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

Recommended for Learning

Here are a couple of on-demand courses from the Microsoft Virtual Academy that you might want to check out:

SQL Server 2014 Jump Starts Now on-demand

Watch our recent Mission Critical Jump Start on-demand, and learn how SQL Server 2014 will help you improve performance speed by 10-30 times while improving reliability, using your current hardware. Watch here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746229308

IT Pros, learn about how moving your organization to the cloud can provide cost benefits at the same time as increasing scale and flexibility. Watch as Microsoft experts demonstrate how you can make that move one step at a time, using SQL Server 2014 to create a hybrid environment. Watch here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746233480

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2 & Windows Intune

Learn how to align IT management needs and business realities with the trend towards a people-centric model that replaces the older paradigm of device-centric policies and management. The Microsoft people-centric vision helps IT administrators increase their organizations' productivity by enabling access to corporate resources, regardless of location or device used. Watch it here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746237964

Quote of the Week

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and we miss it, but we aim too low and reach it." - Michelangelo

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

Server performance problems? Find out why with FactFinder Express. See whether the issue is a slow app, slow SQL requests, or a CPU/Memory/Disk bottleneck. 30 day free trial.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388994270575

5nine Security Manager provides easy-to-use, multi-layered protection for Hyper-V:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388994281763

The Dell SonicWALL Gateway Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Intrusion Prevention, and Application Intelligence and Control Service delivers intelligent, real-time network security protection against sophisticated attacks:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388994284779

ScrewDrivers eliminates the need to manage print drivers by virtualizing them, providing users with problem-free remote desktop printing from any applications to any printer:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388994287216


Events Calendar

Americas

Project Conference, 2014 on February 2-5 in Anaheim, California
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746244214

Lync Conference 2014 on February 18-20, 2014 at The Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746246167

SharePoint Conference 2014 on March 3-6, 2014 at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746248339

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) coming in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746250636

Europe

European SharePoint Conference on May 5-8, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746253433

Add your event

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

 

Webcast Calendar

Register for Webcasts


Add your Webcast

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

 

Tech Briefing

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.  

Enterprise IT

Solutions for Migration and Management of Modern Device (InfraTalks)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746268792

Dell MD Storage Arrays Management Pack Suite for Microsoft System Center 2012 Operations Manager R2 (Flo's Datacenter Report)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746272995

The Invisible Data Center (Intel IT Peer Network)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746276902

 

Windows Server

Active Directory Demo Fail Club Lessons Learned (Mike Kline)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746281558

Microsoft Platform Ready Test Tool v4.5 for Windows Server 2012 R2 (Flo's Datacenter Report)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746285120

 

Windows PowerShell

Active Directory Powershell Cmdlets in 2012 R2 (Mike Kline)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746289480

Step-By-Step: Deploying PowerShell Web Access (Canadian IT Pro Connection)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746293339

 

Citrix

Check Out the New Citrix Service Template for XenDesktop 7.1 (In The Cloud blog)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746297605

Welcome the Tipsters! (The Citrix Blog)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746301105

I Lost Control of My Business at 32,000 Feet (The Citrix Blog)
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746304823


Windows Server News

Four things your public cloud provider will never tell you

As public cloud services expand, there are a handful of practices that providers want to leave behind closed doors. Inside, we reveal the top four things most companies are unaware of when it comes to public cloud services.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746308839

Three considerations for scaling your VDI deployment

How do you make your VDI pilot grow from a few dozen to hundreds without compromising the user experience? Hear from our experts on the top techniques for effectively scaling your VDI deployment for the enterprise.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746312370

Hybrid cloud may be more than an enterprise stepping stone

Once considered only a phase in private cloud deployment, IT shops are now taking a new look at a long-term hybrid cloud future. Read on as industry professionals offer insights into the real-world promises and pitfalls of the hybrid cloud.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746315964

What's the best number of virtual machines for a data store?

Although a common duty for virtualization architects, determining the appropriate number of VMs per data store is a critical task. This IT tip offers guidelines for accurately evaluating the storage needs of your VMs based on key driving factors such as performance, availability and disaster recovery.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746320417


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]

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An epic compilation of the most intense moments in Formula 1 history compiled and edited to the music of Vivaldi and Mozart by Antti Kalhola.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746325042

People try to walk against storm Ivar's powerful winds in Alesund, Norway.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746328730

Greg Benson brings hilarity to the airport by pretending he is in a conversation with a person who is already on the phone.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746332652

2-year-old Titus has the ability to hit basketball 'trick shots' like a pro.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746338464

An exciting and beautiful short film taken from the cockpit and by the ground crew of an Air Tahiti Airbus A340.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1388746342542


WServerNews - Product of the Week

Solve the problem. Be a hero. Try FactFinder Express.

A distributed application is slow, but your tools show no obvious resource issues or log errors. Itís time for FactFinder Express - a new kind of server monitoring. Use it to pinpoint the root cause of the problem: Is the application itself slow? Is the slowdown caused by server resource contention? Are back-end databases or services to blame? In one tool, you have everything you need to find the source of performance problems.

Try it free for 30 days on your own system.

 

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