Vol. 24, #4 - January 28, 2019 - Issue #1216

WServerNews: Cloud costs

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.

Download Free Tool

Editor's Corner

Talking with some other IT pros recently who have migrated some or most of the on-premises infrastructure at their companies into the cloud, it seems that not everyone is happy with the cloud these days. Maybe it's starting to rain on the parade of cloud vendors?

The key issue seems to be cost. While almost everyone agrees that cloud computing has real benefits for businesses, one of the promised benefits -- predictable costs -- may be a red herring. Specifically, some colleagues claim that the cloud is costing their company more than their previous on-premise infrastructure cost. I even wrote an article about this for our TechGenix site recently:

So much for 'predictable expenses': Is Office 365 busting your budget? (TechGenix)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/j985dhtb/

Take a quick look at that article and see if you agree. I'm not saying every business will agree, but some may find that moving to the cloud has ended up increasing your OpEx for IT instead of decreasing it. And a larger OpEx over time can easily wipe out any gains you may have through lowered CapEx from migrating to the cloud.

What has been your own experience with the business or organization you support as an IT professional? We'd be interested in hearing from readers in both SMB and enterprise IT environments about whether moving to cloud-based apps or infrastructure has saved your organization money or ended up breaking your budget.

Email me at [email protected] with your comments on this issue.

Thanks.

And here's one more TechGenix article on the cloud that you might want to take a look at:

2019 Cloud Trends -- A 'Must-Know' List for IT Leaders

http://www.wservernews.com/go/izgi6lng/

Cheers,
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor
WServerNews.com

 

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]

Windows Update or Microsoft Update?

If your PCs and servers are only running one Microsoft product (Windows or Windows Server) then is enabling Windows Update enough on them? Or should you also enable Microsoft Update too?

It's probably best if you also enable downloading of software updates for all Microsoft products on any installation of Windows or Windows Server. The main reason I've heard for following this approach is because you might be running some remote management tool or other application on the machine that quietly installed a hidden copy of Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition, and you'll want to make sure the SQL Server engine gets properly updated as well to ensure your machine is fully patched.

 

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]

A beginner guide to data corruption and how to avoid it for administrators thinking of buying Veeam Backup & Replication and testing out the trial. 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/r94enjwu/

CmosPwd decrypts password stored in cmos used to access BIOS SETUP:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ahohe2n0/

Boomerang is an add-in for Microsoft Outlook that lets you schedule emails to be sent at the optimal time and makes scheduling a meeting a snap:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/39oyybjq/

The officeatwork Template Chooser is an Office 365 add-in that helps cloud ready organizations wanting to empower their information workers to achieve more:

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

 

Mailbag

An alternative browser for those who are privacy minded was suggested to us by a reader named Av:

I haven't used DDG for some years now, since becoming aware of privacy concerns, and have been using Startpage:

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

which, supposedly, sends your search queries to Google but strips any identifying data (again supposedly as I have no way of knowing if this is true other than relying on their desire to avoid reputational damage and other, much more skilled, techies discovering and informing on Startpage if they do do something nefarious).

Thanks for the suggestion! See also Av's Ask Our Readers question in this newsletter.

Last week also on the topic of privacy I asked readers the following question: Would you be willing to pay more for a new TV or other device that has fewer features? i.e. a TV or appliance that isn't "smart". This brought out a few responses from our readers:

My solution is to NOT connect my Smart TV to the internet. It's only on WiFi long enough to check for updates about once every six months then I disable its access. I do my streaming on a Roku and a small media PC that I can control myself, neither of which has a camera or microphone. Actually, since we cut the cord and only stream, our Smart TV seems to have gotten a whole lot 'smarter'. --Jim

The best tip I have read to avoid the smart tv trap is to buy a huge dumb monitor from someplace like Dell and then buy a digital tuner from Amazon and couple the two with a hdmi connection. I definitely don't want to trade my tv time for advertising targeted at me. --Vern

I don't like all the garbage on phones, tvs, cars, etc either. What I want is a way to turn apps and parts off. Any large thing like a TV or car I would like a hard switch that could remove power from the device (microphones, cameras). I only use social media on a single desktop because I have used both hard and soft network monitors to see who what was connecting. Smart home devices that require the internet to work are dumb. I bought a $2 timer that turns the lights on and off in my den, does not need the internet. If there was an A/C wifi switch that does not need an internet server for my phone to control great, but most don't and just collect data. Besides data collection, not if, but when the internet server is turned off, I would have another brick in my wall of useless devices. --Chris

We also received the following email from Matt in Australia who apparently had not been receiving our newsletter for some time even though he was still subscribed to it:

You're back! But I suspect you never went away.

I enjoy your newsletter and have always updated my sub details when required, but about 6 months ago I realised I hadn't seen your newsletter for a while and then today (22/1/19) it appears in my inbox once more.

I suspect O365 junk filter. Anyway, did I miss anything important?

Unfortunately with an email newsletter that has a very large subscriber base like ours does, it occasionally happens that our sending domain gets blacklisted by some DNS-based blacklisting hosts somewhere out there on the internet. The result can be that for periods of time ranging from days to months subscribers may not receive our newsletter until its blacklisting expires or is removed by request of either the sender or recipient. There's also the possibilities of WServerNews emails getting routed to your junk mail folder or blocked by your corporate spam filter or flagged as spam by your ISP and so on. Please note that we do all we can on our side to make sure WServerNews emails are not blacklisted, so if you haven't received our newsletter for a while you might want to check your Outlook settings or ask your ISP helpdesk or corporate admin about it. Meanwhile if you do end up missing some of our email newsletters you can always access WServerNews online here:

http://www.wservernews.com/

and read back issues in our online archive here:

http://www.wservernews.com/newsletters/archives/

 

 

Ask Our Readers - How can you delete in Office Delve? (new question)

A reader named Av asked us this question which we're redirecting to our readers:

While I'm emailing you, does anybody know why it isn't possible to delete Boards in Delve (Office 365)? KR & Many thanks

Can any readers help with this? Email us at [email protected]

BTW if you're not familiar with Office Delve you can learn more about it here:

What is Office Delve? (Office.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/624asnob/

Office Delve for Office 365 admins (Microsoft Docs)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/i2moayll/

Office 365: What Is Office Delve (YouTube)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6c1qntza/

Introducing boards in Office Delve -- a new way to organize and share work (Microsoft 365 blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/esh7cvfc/




Ask Our Readers - Customizing password expiry in Active Directory (some responses)

In last week's newsletter we included the following question submitted to us by Ron from Georgia, USA:

Hi Mitch, tough nut to crack;- we need a way to customize how domain passwords expire in our environ ie., we don't want certain users' passwords to expire on weekends. Is there any simple way of doing this?

A reader named Jon suggested a possible workaround their company had implemented some time back:

This isn't exactly on point, but we solved the AD password expiration problem by writing a VBScript (yes, this was a while ago) that finds all AD users who are going to expire in the next 18 days and alerts their manager. We run this every Monday. It's then up to that manager to confirm that the user is valid and to request to extend the expiration date by up to three more months.

Another reader named Peter responded more generally as follows:

Good day. Regarding this question in a previous issue, we use self-service password reset (SSPR). If a user then does have a lockout on a weekend, they simply open a web browser and visit the SSPR intranet site to obtain a new pwd. Takes less than a minute.

Self-service password reset (SSPR) is defined as any process or technology that allows users who have either forgotten their password or triggered an intruder lockout to authenticate with an alternate factor, and repair their own problem, without calling the help desk. It is a common feature in identity management software and often bundled in the same software package as a password synchronization capability.

Typically users who have forgotten their password launch a self-service application from an extension to their workstation login prompt, using their own or another user's web browser, or through a telephone call. Users establish their identity, without using their forgotten or disabled password, by answering a series of personal questions, using a hardware authentication token, responding to a notification e-mail or, less often, by providing a biometric sample such as voice recognition . Users can then either specify a new, unlocked password, or ask that a randomly generated one be provided. 

That's a great suggestion if you're using Azure AD as SSPR is a feature that identity platform, see the following for more info:

Quickstart: Self-service password reset (Microsoft Docs)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/tjll2sp9/

For on-premises AD you could use a third-party solution like ADSelfService Plus from ManageEngine:

Self Service Password Reset Tools (ManageEngine)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/clluq4ug/

The SpiceWorks community also has a few suggestions in this area -- see the responses to this member's question:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/o5krvcqo/

If any of our readers have further input on this matter or are using any of these solutions and want to comment on their usefulness, you can email me at [email protected]




Factoid - Big Brother lives here

Last week's factoid and question  was this:

Fact: Most cities now have websites for their public transport that do stuff like list timetables, show when busses will be arriving at certain stops, allow accessible transport vehicles to be booked, and so on.

Question: What's this online service like in your city?

Erich from Switzerland responded on this subject with the following comment:

I am writing this message while riding on a train from Zurich to Bern. The fare is 58 USD go and return. And it takes me 1 hour for one way. By car it would take at least 90 min depending on traffic conditions. So I am fine with the train.

Howard from Brazil offered a somewhat different take from experience of municipal online services in his city:

Today my wife went to our city online pages to get a reprint of a property tax bill. We like to bring it to the bank where they have machines that can scan the bar codes and deduct from our account. Ooops...it's not HTTPS. When you purposely continue, it's been hijacked! It's happened before, many times. It's the reason we sometime get bogus tax notifications in WhatsApp and email. It's always better to take care of business in person.

Howard also comments about how cash can still be king in Brazil for certain activities:

On that subject, public transportation, it used to be that citizens 60 years of age or older ride the buses free, but no more. They raised the age minimum to 65. Well, I am turning 64 and now found out the bus system changed to using a scan-able card that you have to go to the station to buy credit. So, how do I get to the station by bus to buy credit if the bus does not accept cash? And guess what, it is run by the city and they require your Government ID to get the bus card! (go back to the previous paragraph! Big Brother is here.) There's a new Taxi service in town (99) and they take cash, thanks goodness. The driver can cancel your pickup and charge you R$5, payable on the next trip! I uninstalled that app fast!

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

Fact: Allowing tech devices that have cameras by your front door or inside your home may not be that great an idea.

Source: http://www.wservernews.com/go/icobigm8/

Question: What could possibly go wrong with this approach?

Email your answer to [email protected]

 

 

Conference calendar

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

Microsoft Ignite 2019

Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida

http://www.wservernews.com/go/d9xi0005/

 

Microsoft Ignite -- The Tour

Register for your city's Tour event here:

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


 

New on TechGenix.com

T-Suite Podcast with Kamal Shah of StackRox: Reducing the blast radius

In today's T-Suite Podcast, Bill Raymond and StackRox CEO Kamal Shah discuss containers, Kubernetes, and keeping modern applications secure.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/uvx2wc1n/


Fighting back: Why the cybersecurity market is seeing explosive growth

Massive assaults by cybercriminals are driving a need for solutions. No wonder cybersecurity has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/cvc3qt4m/

2019 cloud trends -- a 'must-know' list for IT leaders

IT leaders must overcome greater hurdles than ever to survive in a rapidly changing world. And that's why it's vital you know these enterprise cloud trends.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/39rnjp5f/


Just stop! 7 mistakes that could doom your IT career

Moving ahead in your IT career takes planning -- both on what to do and what not to do. Avoid these pitfalls and keep moving forward.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/g7gcv2gf/


BYOD policies: The good, the bad, and the very ugly

A "bring your own device" policy can make for a better workplace-- or it can be a disaster. Here are some benefits and disadvantages of BYOD policies.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hn21e32c/

 

 

Fun videos from Flixxy

Do You Believe Everything You See On Film Or Video?

CurlyKidLife does an incredible job on his Instagram channel creating funny and short little skits, playing with visual effects:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/wr6z1s6q/


This Is Not Another Boring Advertisement

Madonna's front dancer Daniel Cloud Campos performs as a mechanic who shows how much fun it can be to clean up his garage:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/79mina60/


Katelyn Ohashi's Perfect Gymnnastic Performance: 10.0

Artistic gymnast Katelyn Ohashi impresses the judges and audience at the 2019 Collegiate Challenge and receives the maximum score of 10 points:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/40v8buhi/


The Bear - Film by Jean-Jacques Annaud

"The Bear" is an unusually involving film about animals that will give you a fresh perspective on their world:

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

 

 More articles of Interest

5 basic SOA principles that still apply to microservices

Microservices often replace SOA, but these two architecture styles are still similar. Here are five basic SOA principles that never went away.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7mze8s3a/


Automated root cause analysis moves into the mainstream

DevOps monitoring tools that offer automated root cause analysis are now in production within mainstream enterprises. When it comes to their ease of use, however, there is still room to improve. Click here to learn more.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5arwhr3x/


How to deploy Docker Hub-hosted microservices in AWS ECS 

It's surprisingly easy to deploy microservices in the AWS cloud. Here's how.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/lja8ouqw/


IBM hopes Domino version 10 gives the platform new life

IBM looks to improve its position in the collaboration software market with a buffed-up version of its venerable Domino platform that supports mobile applications. Click here to learn more.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/jki62wa3/

 

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.