Vol. 23, #50 - December 17, 2018 - Issue #1212

WServerNews: 2018 Recap Edition

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 

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SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

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Editor's Corner

What news or developments in information technology caught your attention as an IT professional this past year 2018? And what do you think the coming year 2019 has in stock for us as IT professionals? We asked about this in last week's newsletter and readers have responded with their observations and prognostications. So let's hear now what some of our readers have to say concerning this. And if any of you have other thoughts or predictions you want to make concerning what's been happening and what's ahead in for us as IT professionals you can send an email to us at [email protected] and we can include your comments in our first issue of WServerNews for the coming year. 

By the way, check out the Mailbag in this week's newsletter for some reader comments about the risks/rewards of our societies going cashless. And be sure to check out the Ask Our Readers items below and send us an email if you can help out with any of the issues. Thanks!!

Which reminds us -- Happy New Year to all of our newsletter readers, you're the best!!!!!

Cheers,
Mitch and Ingrid Tulloch
Editors, WServerNews.com

 

Robotic Process Automation (by Quentin Gurney)

A trend that is catching on is Robotic Process Automation. I first looked at it as part of process improvement. A lot of the time when I lead a rapid improvement event (aka Kaizen), people always want to automate things. IT guys are really good at that, but all of a sudden the word "rapid" doesn't apply anymore. You are messing around with APIs, middleware, and all sorts of things that cost real money. RPA is different -- it works at the GUI layer instead (in general, although some RPA solutions do work at the API level). What you get is a software based robot, kind of like a macro on steroids. It can work across multiple systems doing anything a user can do. So if a use can cut and paste from a spreadsheet into some HR system, the robot can do it too. Think about a task like HR onboarding a new employee. You could easily touch 15 different systems just to get the poor guy started on his job. No wonder it takes 2 weeks or more. What if though, you could simply put his vital information into a spreadsheet and the robot would go provision everything in one shot? Payroll? Done. Medical plan? Done. Order cellphone? Done. Order laptop? Done. Add to retirement plan? Done. Dental plan? Done. Phone book? Done. Provision AD account? Done. Add to 49 different security groups in AD? Done. How does the robot learn to do all that? Easy -- you do it first while it "observes" you, then it can repeat. Yes, you might have to do a bit of cleanup of the generated code or add a bit of javascript or something to customize it, but it's going to be a lot easier than fooling around with 15 APIs. Andy by the way, that robot leaves a full audit log so your compliance guys will love it more than they love you. If your organization isn't looking at this it needs to.


MFA/2FA (by Kelvin Jones)

In response to your question about what caught our attention in the last year, MFA/2FA was it for me. In the coming year I believe we're going to see greater emphasis on hybrid cloud. It's already out there and many enterprises are using it but I think the reality of cloud costs is kicking in and customers are pushing back on that now but that's not the whole story. In addition, GDPR and POPIA (in South Africa where I live) are regulations that have caused many to want keep their data close to home due to data sovereignty related laws and the complexity of dealing with them. For example, AWS recently released news of their own hybrid offering whereby they put their tin on your premises AND they provide all the service and support for it. Why? They cited data sovereignty and compliance as something their customers are concerned about. I think we'll see a lot more along these lines in the coming year.

 

Hybrid cloud (by Greg Schulz)

Hybrid Cloud spanning public to on-prem core data centers as well as remote office branch office as well as other edge locations continues to gain industry, as well as customer adoption (and deployment). Microsoft in 2018 continued its expansion of hybrid from Windows Server 2019 with Windows Admin Center (WAC) for management, as well as Azure Stack along with Azure public cloud enhancements. What may not have gotten as much focus around Microsoft is what they are doing with IoT Edge server services, Data Box and in particular Data Box Edge with compute, along with their IoT developer kits, look for more hybrid Microsoft in 2019. Also in 2018 Amazon Web Services (AWS) which very rarely ever used or mentioned hybrid let alone converged infrastructures launched Snowball Edge with compute for on-prem as well as edge deployment, added enhancements for its dedicated bare metal EC2 servers, as well as announced Outpost, a new converged hardware, software AWS managed on-prem solution. The trend, hybrid is the home for IT for implementing data infrastructures, from legacy to converged, hyper-converged and software defined, the big cloud players realize this and want to address those needs by being the on-ramp for public enabled hybrid clouds in 2019. Learn more in "Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials" (CRC Press):

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ekoj4xv3/

 

 

Tip of the Week

Got any IT pro tips you'd like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Avoid laptop fires over the holidays

It's generally recommended that you don't leave your laptop plugged in overnight or when you leave your home to go out somewhere. Fires linked to laptop batteries being charged can create a potential fire hazard as this recent CTV News Winnipeg article reports concerning a family that lost their home to a fire sparked by an overheated laptop:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/j253ujrh/

It's better to be safe than sorry, especially as the holiday season approaches. Drive safe too, and happy holidays! 

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without 

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

For peace of mind this festive season, get your Free VMware and Hyper-V Backup with Replication from Altaro! Award-wining VM backup solution, characterized by ease of use, affordability and best support.

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To celebrate the holiday season and show our appreciation, Veeam is offering three lucky winners a free trip to VeeamON 2019 in Miami! 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a71ony9y/

O&O ShutUp10 givers you full control over which comfort functions under Windows 10 you wish to use, and you decide when the passing on of your data goes too far:

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Split OST files without Outlook to compact and free space:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/j88xtp2k/

Greenshot is a light-weight tool for making screenshots:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/poc8oyk9/

 

 

Mailbag

Last week in Issue #1211 Tech and the disadvantaged I talked about how developments in modern technology can impact the elderly and some other segments in our societies. This drew some responses from our readers such as this one from Patrick who is an IT Engineer in the UK:

Hi Mitch,

Wow, do you hear that? That's the sound of the can of worms you've just opened! I'm pretty sure everyone here has an opinion on this but I'll just try to stick to the subject of going cashless or we could be here all day…

I'm with you on this. I don't want to live in a cashless society either for a number of reasons. First of all, cash is still incredibly handy & more importantly private; no one can track cash transactions and that is one of the reasons why they'd rather you paid with your card. Also, there's no money to be made from cash transactions unlike credit card transactions where vendors are charged a fee for every purchase made.

Secondly, cash isn't a personal item. If you drop your cash in the street, then oh well, you may have lost a few bucks. You'll get over it. If you lose your credit card however, then you better call your bank and cancel it quick or some good-for-nothing might get their hands on it and start hacking into your life. And while we're on the subject, when you do cancel your card(s) that you may have lost, what do you intend to pay with in the meantime? Of course you can use your phone but you'd better not lose that too!

Third, I'm deeply cynical when it comes to technology as a whole. I'm all for it being used to transform all of our lives so we can live in a technological utopia but the issue isn't with the tech, the issue is with who owns and controls said tech. It's pretty obvious at this point that Facebook & the other corporates can't be trusted with your data as they'd happily sell it for a handful of peanuts given the chance and governments around the world are no better. That's without even factoring in their lackadaisical security which leads to massive amounts of personal data being stolen half a dozen times a year:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/afk4uyq0/

Let's look at China's Social Credit system for a moment (for those of you not familiar with this, it is explained here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/0fn8sxjh/

Let's say that China suddenly went cashless overnight and the banks (and by extension the government) took control of everyone's finances. This article makes the point that lower interest rates are already offered to 'good citizens' as rewards for toeing the party line. Seeing as the Chinese government has already banned over 11 million people(!) with bad social credit from flying, it's not a huge stretch to envisage them using this same system to cut people off from their finances once their scores drop low enough. I think we can honestly say without any irony that this is behavioural programming on a scale that Stalin and the Stasi could have only dreamt of.

Let's say that China suddenly went cashless overnight and the banks (and by extension the government) took control of everyone's finances. This article makes the point that lower interest rates are already offered to 'good citizens' as rewards for toeing the party line. Seeing as the Chinese government has already banned over 11 million people(!) with bad social credit from flying, it's not a huge stretch to envisage them using this same system to cut people off from their finances once their scores drop low enough. I think we can honestly say without any irony that this is behavioural programming on a scale that Stalin and the Stasi could have only dreamt of.

The worst part is that anyone who is associated with someone with a bad score will also see their score drop as a result. This encourages people to disassociate themselves from friends or family who are seen as 'bad citizens' or at the very least encourages them to keep these rogue citizens in line. All in order to preserve their own precious credit score.

Think it can't happen here? You'd better hope it doesn't:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/44lrxj54/

Rant over. Tin foil hat is back on the shelf!

I read about China's Social Credit rating system a few months ago when Wired magazine carried a fascinating article about the subject. It's a fascinating initiative that only our adherence (or addiction) to modern technology makes possible. Can it happen here? Let us know what you think by emailing us at [email protected]

Next here are some comments we received from a reader named Wayne in Australia:

Hi Mitch, another thought provoking newsletter. I've been thinking about the cashless society recently and its ramifications for parts of society. In Australia, there has been a move to pay unemployment benefits to a restricted card that does not allow cash out and cannot be used to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. Whilst the aim is noble (if you are being paid unemployment benefits then you should be avoiding spending money on luxuries) the problem is that people will always find a way around this.

In my experience, I find that I rarely carry cash, and this can be an issue when I come across a supplier that does not have electronic transaction methods. e.g. I went to a salvage yard recently to get some spare roof tiles and found that they only accepted cash. Fortunately I was able to do a direct transfer to his bank account, but I understand the desire to have a cash flow. Many times this is used as a way to avoid paying tax, however the tax office is getting smart around the cash economy.

Another thing is that the ability to track where and when payments are made makes it easier for advertisers that are tied into banks to target likely marks.

The ease with which tap and go transactions can be subverted makes it easier for thieves to steal a card (or even clone it without having to actually steal the card) and rack up small purchases. If you are not aware that your card has been cloned, you could be in for a nasty surprise when you get your monthly statement.

If other readers have some thoughts about this they'd like to share with our readership you can email us at [email protected]

 

Ask Our Readers - What does this audit setting mean? (new question)

This week we received the following question from a reader named Andrey from Belarus:

Who will help me to understand how to use the additional setting " Add a condition to limit the scope of this auditing entry. Security events will be logged only if conditions are met. " in " Auditing Entry for DataFiles " setting? 

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Thanks in advance!

Can any readers who are experts in Active Directory auditing help Andrey with his question? Email us at [email protected]

 

 

Ask Our Readers - Open source remote desktop environments (a response)

Last week reader named Kelvin sent us the following question: 

What I want ask the community about is open source remote desktop environments (RDP/RDS). Is there an open source server and client environment that mirrors as closely as possible Microsoft's RDS session host environment? There are a lot of pieces out there. Has anyone put them together to create a Linux server that can host multiple user logons simultaneously and run common Libra/OpenOffice applications? Are there other solutions? Let me know.

A reader named Mark who works as a Technical Lead/Architect at a university in the USA responds:

There may be some open source RDP software out there. I think a challenge might be that Linux, more specifically XWindows, uses a different paradigm. Instead of remotely connecting to the GUI XWindows inherently supports sending the GUID draw operations to other computers. Because XWindows always specifies the host to send the draw commands to, including when applications are displaying on the local host, all the Linux applications running under XWindows support displaying on another computer. Back in the 90's I used to run Mathematica on the university's Unix server and have it display on my home Linux computer over a 28.8 dial-up connection and it actually ran pretty well. All I needed to do was SSH, telnet back then, into the Linux computer and run the application. Back in the 90's we had to set DISPLAY to the IP address of our local computer. These days programs like PuTTY take care of that. There are lots of current guides on how to do this. The Business New Daily one is reasonably straight forward:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/oed9anpv/

Do any other readers have any suggestions for Kelvin? Email us at [email protected]

 

 

Factoid - Just take the bus

Last week's factoid and question  was this:

Fact: Sweden Is on the verge of going completely cashless

Question: What can possibly go wrong with something like this? Think of how it might affect yourself in particular.

Doug, a System Administrator in Iowa, writes:

I find this trend a little disturbing. It's not always about someone's willingness to embrace technology. I think it's more about trust, privacy, power and control. Besides, what am I going to bury in the back yard for getaway money?

Now let's move on to this week's factoid:

Fact: Luxembourg is set to become first country to make all public transport free in order to prioritiseenvironment and end some of world's worst traffic congestion.

Sourcehttp://www.wservernews.com/go/lz6qnvxc/

Question: When was the last time you took public transport instead of driving, cycling or walking somewhere? What's it like to use public transport in your city or country, and would you use it more often if it was free?

Email your answer to [email protected]

 

 

Conference calendar

North America

>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite Tour - Jan 10-11 in Toronto, Canada

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6w6nzgho/

Microsoft Ignite Tour - Feb 4-5, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/b47nrsr8/

Microsoft Ignite 2019 -- Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida

http://www.wservernews.com/go/usp5kuzt/

 

 

Europe

>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Collabsummit 2019 -- May 27-29, 2019 in Wiesbaden, Germany

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9kkchxin/

 

Australia & New Zealand

>> Got an IT conference happening in Australia or Asia that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite Tour -- Feb 6-7, 2019 in Sydney, Australia

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ub2cn5wf/

Cisco Live 2019 -- 5-8 May 2019 in Melbourne, Australia

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ht9bb930/


Asia

>> Got an IT conference happening in Asia that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite Tour -- Jan 16-17, 2019 in Singapore

http://www.wservernews.com/go/or3w4dt7/

Microsoft Ignite Tour -- Feb 20-21, 2019 in Hong Kong, China

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6xfk15iy/

Microsoft Ignite Tour -- Apr 3-4, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9amfaghk/

 

India

>> Got an IT conference happening in India that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite Tour -- May 22-23, 2019 in Mumbai, India

http://www.wservernews.com/go/kvw5pecz/


 

New on TechGenix.com

How to quickly check your current RBAC permissions

Granting and limiting permissions is one of the most important duties of an Azure administrator. Here's an easy way to check your current RBAC permissions.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ykrwdr6b/


Basic PowerShell commands for all Windows operating systems

About 90 percent of Windows operating systems operations can be managed using PowerShell. Here are some useful PowerShell commands to get you started.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/gva1du8y/


Docker Enterprise 2.1 introduces several new features, enhancements

Docker Enterprise 2.1 is now available. Here's what's under the hood of this version of the popular enterprise container platform.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/8rzk0z8v/


Review of SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor

SolarWinds has introduced a brand new product called Server Configuration Monitor that is designed to help organizations to detect changes to a server's hardware and software configurations.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a8bdn34a/


Plug in to the future: Top 5 electric cars startups to watch in 2019

More than 1 million electric cars have been sold worldwide. The future looks bright as we head to 2019, especially for these hot startups.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/8e6ubyxs/

 

Fun videos from Flixxy

This week we have some snowy videos for our newsletter readers in Australia and New Zealand who may feel they're missing out a bit at Christmas time :-)

Merry Christmas from Canada! 

Train Dashes Through The Snow In Canada

A Canadian National Railway locomotive plows through huge snow drifts and gives the cameraman a massive snow shower

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2lujbuj0/


Snow Sleds Towed by Jet Fighter

'Jet-Sledding' in Sweden, the country where women are beautiful and men have a 'Saab 37 Viggen' jet aircraft in the garage:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/o9o7tz9x/


Motorbike Riding on Snow and Ice

Martin Krátký does some incredible driving on snow and ice with his Kawasaki motorcycle on a frozen lake. Now see what he does in the summer:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/f1wqs4oa/


Formula Race Car on Ice And Snow

Formula race car on ice and snow on the toughest Grand Prix track in the world ... that's not something you see every day:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/11nu5f01/


Baby Polar Bears Playing in the Snow

Polar bear cubs play and wrestle in the snow while their mother keeps a close eye on them from the den:

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

 

 More articles of Interest

AppianBam! Microsoft announces "Windows Virtual Desktop" on Azure with multi-user Windows 10

Microsoft is finally entering the DaaS space -- with full desktops, not just apps or infrastructure -- in a big way. Read more about the company's announcement of a new Azure service called "Windows Virtual Desktop", which will utilize multi-user Windows 10.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/665ps3nn/


Essential desktop troubleshooting tools for every IT pro

Remote access tools, help desk systems and others are essential to managing end users. Without these tools, IT would have a much tougher time with even the simplest tasks. Learn more here.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9hfswfl9/


Low-code development platforms bring speed, friction

Low-code development platforms enable IT teams to push out apps faster with fewer resources, but for some organizations low-code comes with challenges. Read on to learn about the use cases and potential drawbacks of low-code development.

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


Modern vs legacy: On desktops and apps at Microsoft Ignite 2018

Microsoft moves to meet customers where they currently are, rather than only pushing them to modernize. Learn more about Microsoft's announcements relating to modernizing apps. 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/eune9mjx/

 

Need help from the IT pro community?

WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected] 

 

Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 

Image

SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

Download Free Tool

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his  outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.