Vol. 22, #47 - November 20, 2017 - Issue #1158
WServerNews: Cleaning up messy IT
- Editor's Corner
- Coming up this week in FitITproNews
- Ask Our Readers
- From the Mailbag
- Cleaning up messy IT
- Network documentation tools
- More general documentation tools
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Factoid of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- Outlook - Problem with attachments
- Hardware - Which headset is best for whom?
- Group Policy - Issue with Windows 10
- Events Calendar
- More upcoming events
- New on TechGenix.com
- Recommended articles from TechGenix.com
- Tech Briefing
- Managing VMware ESXi services with PowerCLI
- VMware vSAN 6.6 hyper-converged (HCI) software defined data infrastructure
- vSAN 6.6 Stretched Cluster Demo
- Startup and shutdown a VMware cluster with PowerCLI and PowerShell
- VMworld 2017: re-inventing Data Protection for VMware
- Other Articles of Interest
- Compare Amazon SNS to other push notification services
- Implement cloud storage snapshots to protect critical data
- Create an Office 365 backup policy before it's too late
- Why is security for DevOps so important?
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- 'Rocket Man' Sets World Record
- 217 Skydivers Break World Record
- When I See Myself In The Mirror In The Morning
- Old People Traffic Jam Prank
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Free Tool: Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
Coming up this week in FitITproNews
In this week's issue of FitITproNews your Editor will talk about what originally inspired him to lose over 50 lbs of excess flab and try to get fit through resistance exercise (weightlifting) and cardio. Stay tuned! And check out our archive of FitITproNews back issues:
Ask Our Readers
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter…WServerNews now has over 400,000 subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at [email protected]
From the Mailbag
In response to last week's Issue #1157 Messy IT one of our readers by the name of Ignatius emailed us to say the following from his own experience about data center cabling:
I have had the pleasure of working on networking for long enough to cite that most of the messy things are people-related (80%). Techs just want the cable connected. Won't take the time to cleanup, or understand basic etiquette about networking, wiring or electrical connections. Letting heavy Power bricks hanging off the network cord connected to switches, using longer than needed cables, but don't take time to make it presentable, identifying important cables to name a few. Doesn't help some managers don't want to spend money for these, but waste millions of implementation of apps that need stable network connections. Fortunately, I am now working with a smaller group who tend to care about things. There are still people outside of network staff who still clutter up the switch closets.
What do you do to keep from tripping over cables in your own server room or datacenter? Email us at [email protected]
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter…
Cleaning up messy IT
In last week's issue of our newsletter I talked about how IT infrastructures often descend into chaos. I'm using "infrastructure" here in a wider sense to mean anything having to do with IT in an organization including hardware, software, services, policies, documentation, and so on. Anything except people that is, though it's often people who are the source of IT chaos whether it's overworked admins, underpaid support staff, or micromanaging managers.Of course the big question is what can you do about it i.e. how can you clean up messy IT once the mess has happened? While fixing the people problem should probably be at the top of your action list we're going to take a look at some tools that may help you bring chaotic IT into some sort of reasonable kind of order.
Network documentation tools
Before you can untangle your company's network so it can function better and you're able to troubleshoot issues more easily, obviously you first need to know what's in your network. Below are some tools that can help you audit and document the structure and components of your network. This list is obviously not meant to be complete so if you have another tool that you've used and would like to recommend to our readers just email us at [email protected]
XIA Configuration from CENTREL Solutions lets you automatically document your environment by inventorying your operating systems, application servers, and infrastructure including Active Directory, Exchange, VMware, Hyper‑V, Citrix, and more:
CENTREL also has tools for automating the provisioning of user accounts and centrally managing desktop icons that can save administrators time and effort.
netTerrain is a family of products from Graphical Networks that helps you visualize your entire infrastructure and connectivity and automatically document your physical and wireless network assets and resources:
These products can be especially helpful for datacenters where the cabling is in a mess and needs to be untangled as the following blog post from Graphical Networks explains:
NetBrain Enterprise Edition is a client-server solution for network discovery, automation, change management, and documentation:
NetBrain also has a Consultant Edition that provides a portable automation solution for on-the-go consultants.
Docusnap is an all-in-one solution for IT documentation that captures information about your network infrastructure, hardware and software as well as common application servers and generates reports and maps of your network:
Azure Dockit from UMAknow Inc. lets you quickly generate a complete documentation of your Microsoft Azure subscription. This can help save you months of effort and get an instant up-to-date documentation with best practices warnings:
More general documentation tools
Mapping out your network components and services probably isn't enough to clean up the mess your IT infrastructure is in. What you probably also need are some tools for organizing the policies, tutorials, support articles, and other documentation associated with your IT processes, services, and resources. Below are some tools that can help in this area, and once again this list is not meant to be complete so please recommend other tools our readers might want to know about by emailing us at [email protected]
ITGlue lets IT departments and service providers develop and maintain IT documentation like standard operating procedures, knowledge-base articles, support manuals. It also provides password management, domain and SSL certificate tracking, and can tracks your devices so you can always keep your documentation up to date:
ITGlue comes in Basic, Select, and Enterprise plans depending on the needs of your organization.
SI Portal from IS Portal Inc. is both a cloud-based and on-premise IT documentation software solution where you can easily and securely document, relate, track, search, and share all of your IT documentation:
Stella from Stella Now Limited is a cloud-based knowledge management and collaboration solution designed mainly for IT managed services companies that use popular customer service platforms like ConnectWise:
DocuWiki is a free and easy to use highly versatile Open Source wiki software that doesn't require a database. A large variety of plugins are available that can extend the features of this tool. You could use DocuWiki as a project worksplace, to create manuals, or for building a corporate knowledge base:
Papyrs from Stunf is an easy way to create an online intranet for your company so you can share and collect information, files, discussions, online forms, and notes to create help documentation:
OneNote from Microsoft is a simple tool and online service that lets you collect, create, organize, and share documentation of various forms. We actually use OneNote in our own business to maintain our policies, procedures, tutorials, and support knowledge base:
Send us your feedback
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]
Recommended for Learning
Cloud Service Map for AWS and Azure
Microsoft has created a cloud service map to help you quickly compare the cloud capabilities of Azure and AWS services in all categories:
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Windows 10 Deployment: Tips and Tricks from Microsoft IT
Factoid of the Week
Last week's factoid and question was this:
The fastest English language typist is Barbara Blackburn, who reached a peak typing speed of 212 wpm during a test in 2005, using a Dvorak simplified keyboard. How did you learn to type?
Some of the responses we received from our readers on this topic included the following:
When I was in grade 9, back in the 60's (yes, I'm an old timer!), prospects of getting a summer job at my age were not great so I decided to go to summer school and take a couple of extra courses. I took an English course and a typing course. I consider the typing course the single most valuable and useful course I have taken in my life. In the typing course they sat us down in front of manual typewriters with blank keys on the keyboard. We learned how to touch type because that was the only way we could type. I used that skill to type up my school assignments, put programs on punched cards, program a timesharing computer system and use personal computers. I've seriously considered using the Dvorak keyboard layout. I have not done that because I must also use my clients' computers and don't think it would be a good idea to change their keyboard layouts. Keep up the good work! --Ted from Ontario, Canada
I learned to type in high school. It was called typing back then since we learned on old typewriters, not computers. I took the class back in my junior year because I figured it was an easy A, not realizing how helpful it would be to my future. --Susan
I initially learned to type on an Underwood manual type-writer back in grade 9 although I wasn't very fast, I did learn proper positioning and hand placement. I became a truly touch typist when I lost my sight and bought my first computer back in the mid 80's, an AT clone running DOS, so, the command line was home for many years. When I first got the computer the screen reader product I had purchased came with a keylearn program which was a TSR which allowed you to touch each key and you were told what it was without executing any commands. For speed, I got my hands on a game called, "Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" which required you to type in responses to the various scenarios to navigate through the game. Around this same time, I kept in touch with many school friends via snail mail so spent many afternoons writing letters. I then fell into the dark hole and became a programmer eventually moving into support. However, being blind, I've never used a mouse! Can't position a mouse pointer if you can't see the screen. I'm strictly a keyboard guy. --Allan from Ontario, Canada
Now let's move on to this week's factoid which like last week's also has something to do with typing:
Fact: UK newspaper The Telegraph recently published an article called "The last places on Earth with no internet" where they asked Akamai, the content delivery network and cloud services provider, to help them pinpoint countries where fewer than one in five residents can access the internet because of lack of infrastructure.
Question: When was the last time you were in a place where there was no internet access and you wanted to go online? How did it make you feel?
Email your thoughts to me if you have any: [email protected]
Until next week,
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Do you protect your Hyper-V & VMware VMs against data loss? Altaro VM Backup is a hassle-free and affordably priced virtual machine backup solution. Don’t miss out - grab your FOREVER FREE copy now
Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server gives you fast, transaction-level recovery of SQL databases. Perform point-in-time restores of databases down to an individual transaction.
Nintex Document Tagger is an Office 365 add-in that enables you to create custom documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF with data dynamically merged from tagged templates stored in SharePoint or a supported file storage system:
Download Outlook to Apple Mail Converter to precisely import PST files into Apple Mail:
Outlook - Problem with attachments
The Outlook Support Team Japan has published an article (translated here into English) in their TechNet blog about a curious problem that can happen with attachments in Microsoft Outlook:
Hardware - Which headset is best for whom?
ScottBlog has a helpful post that helps you choose the right headset device for universal communications (UC) clients based on the job role of the user involved:
SharePoint Fest on December 609, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois
Microsoft Tech Summit on Dec 6-7, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Microsoft Tech Summit on Dec 13-14 in Toronto, Canada
Microsoft Tech Summit on January 24-25, 2018 in Birmingham, UK
Microsoft Tech Summit on March 5-6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. USA
Microsoft Tech Summit on March 14-15, 2018 in Paris, France
Microsoft Tech Summit on March 19-20, 2018 in San Francisco, California USA
Microsoft Tech Summit on March 28-29, 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Microsoft Ignite 2018 on September 24-28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida USA
Add Your Event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
Microsoft Polaris: A minimalist, open source framework for PowerShell users
Microsoft Polaris, a cross-platform web framework for PowerShell, offers some exciting possibilities for users who want to set up their own webservers.
Your 'no pain, sure gain' guide to hassle-free deployment of a software-defined network
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Hybrid cloud systems: These risks could dismantle your enterprise
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Hardware breakthroughs reshaping IT -- and your job
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Better together: Integrating SCOM with OMS
By integrating SCOM with OMS, you can get more control over the data your system generates. Here's out step-by-step guide to make that happen.
Managing VMware ESXi services with PowerCLI
VMware vSAN 6.6 hyper-converged (HCI) software defined data infrastructure
From the StorageIO blog
vSAN 6.6 Stretched Cluster Demo
From Yellow Bricks
From Virtual Geek
Compare Amazon SNS to other push notification services
It can be difficult for developers to enable push notifications across platforms. These messaging services from AWS, Google, and Azure meet that need but have different strengths.
Implement cloud storage snapshots to protect critical data
Storage snapshots act almost like a rewind feature for admins, enabling them to roll back to uncorrupted versions of data. Unfortunately, they aren't as simple as hitting a button.
Create an Office 365 backup policy before it's too late
Don't get stumped by a request to recover deleted email messages in Office 365. Know what Microsoft offers, and plan ahead to stop mailbox content from performing a disappearing act.
Why is security for DevOps so important?
As software is now baked into everything we buy – and even drive – DevSecOps has become an essential component to the way we develop, ship and maintain code.
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]
'Rocket Man' Sets World Record
217 Skydivers Break World Record
217 skydivers jump simultaneously from 10 different aircrafts to break a world record with three stunning formations, falling towards the ground at 120 mph:
Old People Traffic Jam Prank
The Quebec-based 'Just for Laughs' troupe uses the city as its stage, and its inhabitants as characters:
Free Tool: Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory
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 7www.mtit.com.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
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.