System Center 2012 R2 Preview released (with Server 2012 R2 also!)

System Center 2012 R2 PreviewIf you are eager to get your hands on the latest release from the System Center suite, Microsoft has released System Center 2012 R2 for preview today. That is more commonly referred to as its components; Configuration Manager (SCCM, ConfigMgr), Operations Manager (SCOM, OpsMgr), Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), Service Manager (SCSM), Data Protection Manager (SCDPM), and Orchestrator (SCORCH). With it you can choose to also get your hands on Server 2012 R2 as well. I will be blogging more on this later as I get the bits installed and start playing with the many new features, but I wanted to get you the information for getting to download the preview now.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/dn205295

Here is an excerpt from the System Center team blog on the announcement (http://blogs.technet.com/b/systemcenter/archive/2013/06/25/microsoft-system-center-2012-r2-preview-is-now-available-for-download.aspx):

Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 provide a wealth of new advancements to help IT organizations build and deliver private and hybrid cloud infrastructure for their businesses.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Enabling hybrid cloud – Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center enable virtual machine portability across customer, service provider and Windows Azure clouds, while a new System Center Management Pack for Windows Azure enhances cross-cloud management of virtual machine and storage resources.  Windows Azure Backup and Hyper-V Recovery Manager provide offsite backup and disaster recovery options.
  • Windows Azure Pack provides Windows Azure technology that enterprises and services providers can run on their Windows Server infrastructure for multi-tenant web and virtual machine cloud services. 
  • Built-in software-defined networking – Site-to-Site VPN Gateway helps customers seamlessly bridge physical and virtual networks and extend them from their datacenter to service provider datacenters. 
  • High performance, cost effective storage Features such as Storage Spaces Tiering, VHDX resizing and de-duplication for virtual desktop infrastructure provide high performance for critical on-premises workloads (like SQL and Hyper-V) using lower-cost, industry-standard hardware.
  • Empowering employee productivity – Windows Server Work Folders, Web App Proxy, improvements to Active Directory Federation Services and other technologies will help companies give their employees consistent access to company resources on the device of their choice.

Jason Condo
Principal Consultant

System Center Roadshow

 

System Center 2012 – Embracing User Centric Management

User Centric Management (UCM) is the delivery of necessary resources for corporate end-users anywhere, on any device, in a safe and compliant manner.  Bennett Adelson will explore how System Center 2012 and UCM is creating a paradigm shift in how enterprises go from supporting devices to supporting their end-users.

Come learn how you can leverage UCM to support your users’ business needs and personal expectations with System Center 2012.

 

TENTATIVE AGENDA

Recognizing IT Trends – User Centric Management (UCM)

Part 1:  System Center Configuration Manager 2012 and UCM

By: David Norling-Christensen

    • Technical Overview
    • The new application model
    • Self-Service Portal

Part 2:  System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 and UCM

By: Jason Condo

    • Technical Overview
    • VDI and RDS
    • Personal and Pooled VMs

Part 3:  User Experience Virtualization (UE-V)

By: David Norling-Christensen

    • Technical Overview

Closing/Raffle

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Columbus (May 21st)

Time: 8:30am – 12:00pm
8800 Lyra Dr. Suite 400
Columbus Ohio, 42340

Cleveland (May 23rd)

Time: 8:30am – 12:00pm
6050 Oak Tree Blvd, Suite 300
Independence Ohio, 44131

Detroit (May 24th)

Time: 8:30am – 12:00pm
1000 Town Center, Suite 1930
Southfield Michigan, 48075

The New Cloud Certifications!

One of the questions that came up during the Columbus Windows 8 Preview Roadshow last week involved the changes to Microsoft certifications for the Windows 8 release cycle.  At the time, all I was allowed to say was that Microsoft was working on some changes, and that development was underway.

Well, now a lot of the information is out there and public – and it’s big!

“MCSE” Returns, Sort Of, and MCSD Returns

Folks who have been working in IT for long enough remember the “old” certifications that existed before the Windows 2000 cycle.  The premier certifications were the MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer).  I hold both of those from back then, for example.

Today, Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert – MCSE.  Yes, same initials, but a completely different certification.  Or more accurately, set of certifications.  Meanwhile, MCSD is also back as a certification with the same definition.  Both of these are on a new “Cloud” track.

MCSE: Private Cloud

The MCSE: Private Cloud certification focuses on building a private cloud in your organization (or a customer’s organization as the case may be), and monitoring and maintaining that private cloud, using the System Center 2012 suite.  It builds on the existing Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA – that’s a new definition also, replacing the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator definition for that acronym) on Windows Server 2008.

MCSE: Data Platform

The MCSE: Data Platform certification (exams not quite available yet) focuses on building on-premises SQL Server 2012 data processing solutions.  It is somewhat a replacement for the MCDBA certification.

MCSE: Business Intelligence

The MCSE: Business Intelligence certification covers SQL Server 2012 BI solutions (e. g. Analysis Services and Reporting Services).  These exams are also not quite available yet; more details will be coming later.

What about MCSD?

Although this is primarily an IT Pro blog, I did want to at least touch on the MCSD.  That certification has been reintroduced, but no public details are available at this time.

The Other Levels

Microsoft is effectively positioning the MCSE and MCSD as “flagship” “Expert” certifications but not the top level.  Let’s look at what the certification site shows:

Tracks

Notice we still have the entry-level “Associate” MCTS and MCSA, and the very top-level “Master” MCM and the new Cloud version, MCSM.  We also have the current MCITP and MCPD certifications, although not showing under the “Cloud” banner.

“Cloud-built”?

Yes, when Microsoft says they are “all-in on the cloud” they are not just saying that for the heck of it.  As a company, top to bottom, it’s the new world order.  The certification changes are just another reflection of that; previously on this blog and in some presentations we’ve touched on the new Hyper-V functionality that is clearly cloud-related, and the new functionality in System Center 2012 for managing the cloud.  Therefore, these changes are really just the Microsoft Learning reflection of this mindset.

Oh Yeah, Recertification!

When Microsoft announced their Windows Phone 7 development exam, one tidbit that was there but was not called much attention to was the fact that to maintain the certification a developer would need to recertify:

Recertification requirements for Windows Phone developers

Windows Phone technology is updated frequently. As a result, the skills required to be a successful Windows Phone developer will evolve rapidly. To ensure that developers who hold the MCPD: Windows Phone Developer certification keep pace with the evolution of Windows Phone skills, they will be required to recertify every two years. This recertification will help demonstrate the developers’ continued competence as the skills needed to develop applications for Windows Phone change. Through recertification, we can maintain the value of the certification as the technology changes. More information about this recertification requirement will be provided at a later date.

This could be seen as a “testing the waters” for the new paths announced today.  The press release for example says:

The MCSE certification — or its developer equivalent, MCSD — also demonstrates an individual’s commitment to staying up to date on cutting-edge technologies because it requires recertification.

The details of this are not really fleshed out publically yet, but there’s enough time for Microsoft to sort that out before it will start to matter.

Uh Oh, More Exams!

True, this will mean more exams.  However, the official Microsoft exam provider, Prometric, currently has a 2-for-1 offer available.  Essentially, this offer means you can take the current exam now, and take the next generation replacement when it is available for free:

image

You can find more details on this at the linked site.

So Now What?

For those of us at BA, this means we will be looking at more exams (across many of our employees).  For you, this means that you need to think about what your career path and goals are and start thinking about your certifications.  Perhaps you can talk to your manager/supervisor about a certification goal – “if I get my new ‘Cloud’ certification will you finally start paying for my cell phone?” for example Winking smile

Michael C. Bazarewsky, MCT, Old-School MCSE
Principal Consultant, Server and Security

DPM 2012 RTM: LAB in Place Upgrade from DPM 2010 and SQL 2008

In this post, I am going to upgrade a LAB DPM 2010 server to DPM 2012 RTM.  This process will require several hours and take your backup environment offline during the entire process.  Be sure to do this during a time period where no backups are needed to be created or restored.  Additionally all backups will have to have a consistency check run against them which is very intensive process for both the network and protected machines.

Lab Environment – Requirements

  1. A server (or virtual machine) running Server 2008 R2 SP1.
  2. DPM 2010 installation.  DPM 2010 must have the latest QFE rollup (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2465832) installed along with a DPM 2012 required hotfix (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2615782).  Additionally you must push the client update to all protected sources.  This server will be named BACLEVDPM01.
  3. SQL 2008 R2 Standard or Enterprise (as required by DPM 2012) media (or already installed with DPM 2010)
  4. System Center DPM RTM media

Setup – SQL 2008 to 2008 R2 Upgrade

Since my lab environment was running SQL 2008 and not the required 2008 R2, the following steps are required to upgrade SQL.  If your environment is using SQL 2008 R2, you can skip these SQL based steps.

Setup – SQL Upgrade

  1. Launch setup.exe from the SQL 2008 R2 media
  2. Select Installation on the left sideimage
  3. Select Upgrade from SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008image
  4. Select OK to continueimage
  5. A new Setup Support Rules screen will appear.  Continueimage
  6. Enter your product key (or evaluation)image
  7. If you accept the license terms continueimage
  8. Ensure your instance is selected in the drop down field and continueimage
  9. Feel free to look at the features that will be upgraded and continueimage
  10. Validate the Instance Configuration and continueimage
  11. Verify the Disk Space Requirements and continueimage
  12. Verify Authentication Mode and continueimage
  13. Decide if you want to send error reports and continueimage
  14. Ensure the Upgrade Rules pass and continueimage
  15. Verify the settings and continueimage
  16. The upgrade will run for a long time.  If you get an error stating a *ReportServer-rsctr.dll is stuck in use, kill “WmiPrvSE.exe” and continue the upgrade.
  17. A reboot is required after the upgradeimage
  18. Verify the upgrade was successful and continueimage
  19. Reboot the machine as requested
    image

Verify – DPM 2010 Works with SQL 2008 R2 Upgrade

  1. Launch the DPM 2010 console and verify DPM 2010 continues to function as it did previously.  if all goes well, you are ready to upgrade to DPM 2012!  You may also want to apply SP1 for SQL 2008 R2 however it is not required for DPM to install or function.
  2. Setup – DPM 2010 to 2012 Upgrade

    Since SQL 2008 R2 is now running (because of the upgrade or because you started with 2008 R2) we can now upgrade to DPM 2012.

Setup – DPM Upgrade

  1. Launch setup.exe from the SCDPM folder
  2. Choose to install Data Protection Managerimage
  3. If you accept the license terms continueimage
  4. Acknowledge the Setup wizard information and continueimage
  5. Choose to Use the dedicated instance of SQL Server and click Check and Installimage
  6. Assuming the prerequisites are met, you will get a message stating The required hardware and software prerequisites are met on this computer (don’t be silly and assume it states they are not met like I first assumed…).  Then continueimage
  7. Enter your product keyimage
  8. Verify the Installation settings and continueimage
  9. Enter the password for your existing account and continue (it will not re-create the account)image
  10. Feel free to choose your update method and continueimage
  11. Select your Customer Experience Improvement Program option and continue with the upgradeimage
  12. After a long time, it will finish.  If you want to have fun follow the link to the latest DPM updates (it goes to DPM 2010 information).image

Setup – DPM Agent Upgrade

  1. Launch Microsoft System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager.  You will likely notice a lot of Critical Alerts.  We will work towards resolve the Replica is inconsistent errorimage
  2. Click on Management (so you can see all your Agent Status showing Needs updating)image
  3. Mass select all computers with the protection agent and click on Update (on the top ribbon)image
  4. Acknowledge the warning and continueimage
  5. If all goes well, your agents will have a status of OKimage

Setup – DPM Protection Group Consistency Check

  1. Launch Microsoft System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager.
  2. Navigate to Protectionimage
  3. Select a protection group and click Consistency checkimage
  4. Accept the warning message and allow the consistency check to runimage
  5. You will need to repeat steps 3 and 4 for each protection group.
  6. You can monitor the status of the consistency check by going to Monitoring, All jobs in progress
  7. Once the consistency check is done, normal backups should continue as scheduled.

Setup – DPM Email Notifications

The upgrade apparently removes previously setup email notifications (it’s a feature ;).  To enable email notifications you will need to do the following:

  1. Launch Microsoft System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager.
  2. Navigate to Management
  3. Selection Options from the top ribbonimage
  4. Select the SMTP Server tab
    image
  5. Enter the appropriate SMTP information for your environmentimage
  6. Select Send Test Email and enter your email address to send a test email toimage
  7. You should get an email within a few minutes if you have setup SMTP successfully
  8. Navigate to the Notifications tab
    image
  9. Select the appropriate alerts and enter the recipients before selecting OK

System Center Configuration Manager RTM: A Lab Installation

Since System Center Configuration Manager has been released, I thought it might be helpful to provide a how-to guide on a lab install of System Center Configuration Manager.  For this lab environment we will install both a Central Administration Point, and a Primary Site.  The instructions assume are familiar with SCCM 2007 and its install.

So many of you may ask why I am installing a CAS for a lab environment.  For this lab I want to experience a full SCCM architecture.  This requires an additional machine (or VM) to host, and likely isn’t needed in all but extremely large environments, but will provide the ability to experience a large design implementation.

Lab Environment – Requirements

  1. A server (or virtual machine) running Server 2008 R2 SP1 for the Central Administration Site (CAS) install.  This will be named BACLEVSCCM12CAS.
  2. A server (or virtual machine) running Server 2008 R2 SP1 for the Primary Site install.  This will be named BACLEVSCCM12.
  3. SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise, SP1, and SP1 CU4.
  4. System Center Configuration Manager RTM media.

Setup – Active Directory

Your AD environment must give Full Control rights to the SCCM Servers to the System\Systems Management AD container.

Setup an AD account called SVC_SCCM which is a member of the Domain Admins Group.  All installs to the servers will use this account.  This is done as a best practice to ensure the SQL and SCCM install is not tied to an individual user.

Install the Central Administration Site on BACLEVSCCM12CAS

Setup – Install SQL on CAS

We will be using SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, with SP1 and SP1 CU4 (not to be confused with the non-sp1 CU4) for our install.  The following options must be enabled in SQL during the install.

  1. Only the Database Engine Services feature is required for site server.
  2. Reporting Services (if you want to add this feature to SCCM, which you do)
  3. I am installing the Management tools so I can manage it locally however as well. Be sure to patch to SP1, and then apply the SP1 CU4 update.

Setup – Server 2008 R2 on CAS

I will be installing on a Server 2008 R2 SP1 system.  The following features (and roles that will be forced because of the features) must be enabled:

  1. .Net 3.5 SP1
  2. Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) including Compact Server and IIS Server Extension
  3. Microsoft Remote Differential Compression
  4. IIS 6 WMI Management Compatibility – IIS 6 WMI compatibility

Setup – SCCM Assess Server Readiness on CAS

Login in as the SVC_SCCM account.

Launch Assess server readiness and ensure there are no errors.

image

As you can see we have some warnings, but can install.

image

Setup – SCCM Install CAS

  1. Launch Installimage
  2. Click Nextimage
  3. Choose to Install a Configuration Manager central administration siteimage
  4. Enter your key or run in evaluation mode.image
  5. If you accept the license terms, continue.image
  6. More license terms, if you accept continue.image
  7. Select a location to download the prerequisites and click next.  This will then download all the necessary files in multiple languages (just in case).  You will wait a while for this to finish.image
  8. Select your Language for the console and reports.image
  9. Select your client languages.image
  10. Setup your Site Code, Site Name, and Install Folder.  Ensure you install the console as well.image
  11. Setup the Database Information (The defaults are perfectly fine).image
  12. Verify the FQDN of the server.image
  13. Feel free to Join the Customer Experience Improvement Program.image
  14. Verify the Settings Summary and continue.image
  15. The prerequisite check will now run again (aren’t we glad we did this first to ensure we pass?)image
  16. The install will then run for a while.image
  17. Your Central Administration Site is now installed!

Install the Primary Site on BACLEVSCCM12

Setup – Install SQL on Primary

We will be using SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, with SP1 and SP1 CU4 (not to be confused with the non-sp1 CU4) for our install.  The following options must be enabled in SQL during the install.

  1. Only the Database Engine Services feature is required for site server.
  2. Reporting Services (if you want to add this feature to SCCM, which you do)
  3. I am installing the Management tools so I can manage it locally however as well. Be sure to patch to SP1, and then apply the SP1 CU4 update.

Setup – Server 2008 R2 on Primary

I will be installing on a Server 2008 R2 SP1 system.  The following features (and roles that will be forced because of the features) must be enabled:

  1. .Net 3.5 SP1
  2. Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) including Compact Server and IIS Server Extension
  3. Microsoft Remote Differential Compression
  4. IIS 6 WMI Management Compatibility – IIS 6 WMI compatibility

Setup – SCCM Assess Server Readiness on CAS

Login in as the SVC_SCCM account.

Launch Assess server readiness and ensure there are no errors.

image

As you can see we have some warnings, but can install.

image

Setup – SCCM Install CAS

  1. Launch Installimage
  2. Click Next image
  3. Choose to Install a Configuration Manager primary site (do not select Use typical installation options for a stand-alone primary site)image
  4. Enter your key or run in evaluation mode. image
  5. If you accept the license terms, continue. image
  6. More license terms, if you accept continue.image
  7. Select a location to download the prerequisites and click next (or point it at the files we downloaded on the previous install).  This will then download all the necessary files in multiple languages (just in case).  You will wait a while for this to finish.image
  8. Select your Language for the console and reports.image
  9. Select your client languages.image
  10. Setup your Site Code, Site Name, and Install Folder.  Ensure you install the console as well.image
  11. Enter the Central administration site server (FQDN).image
  12. Setup the Database Information (The defaults are perfectly fine).image
  13. Verify the FQDN of the server.image
  14. Choose Configure the communication method on each site system role and Clients will use HTTPS when they have a valid PKI certificate and HTTPS-enabled site roles are available.image
  15. Setup the management point and distribution point to use HTTP communicationimage
  16. Feel free to Join the Customer Experience Improvement Program.image
  17. Verify the Settings Summary and continue.image
  18. The prerequisite check will now run again (aren’t we glad we did this first to ensure we pass?)image
  19. The install will then run for a while.image
  20. Your Primary Site is now installed!

Future Activities

In future blog posts I will detail configuring the site for use, and migration from an existing SCCM 2007 environment.

David Norling-Christensen
Senior System Architect

System Center User Group – Embracing the Consumerization of IT

Presented by Jason Roundy & David Glass – Quest Software
Wednesday April 11th, 2012 from 5:45pm – 7pm

Register Here

The culture of work is changing. Tech-savvy and always-connected people want faster, more intuitive technology, uninterrupted services and freedom to work anywhere, anytime, on a variety of devices. It’s time to give people the freedom to get things done their way. In return, you’ll unleash passion and productivity like never before.
Quest’s User Workspace Management solutions enable the modern business desktop and ‘Flexible Workstyle’ by easing the migration to modern Microsoft platforms such as Windows 7 & 8, SCCM 2012, MDOP, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), VDI and Mobile Device Management.
Jason Roundy is the product manager for Quest’s Management Xtensions (QMX) for System Center and has been in the IT industry for 20 years. During this session Jason will provide an overview of the QMX solution and how you can extend System Center to seamlessly manage your Apple Desktop, iOS & Android Mobile devices along with Windows and your other platforms – under one single pane of glass. Jason will also show us the console integration, HW and SW inventory, reporting and distribution in a small demo environment. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to say ‘YES’ to your clients’ enterprise management requirements for Apple and more!

Refreshments and pizza will be provided.

Registration is recommended as seating is limited.

For further information and questions, please contact:
Andrew Thorne
athorne@bennettadelson.com
216.369.0140

Location:
Microsoft Corporation
Park Center III
6050 Oak Tree Blvd, Suite 300
Independence, Ohio 44131

About the Cleveland System Center User Group
This group’s focus is on the Microsoft suite of applications for managing and maintaining the infrastructure environment bundled under the System Center umbrella. This suite includes Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr), Operations Manager (OpsMgr), Virtual Machine Manager, Reporting Services, Mobile Device Manager, and Data Protection Manager. Please join the Cleveland System Center User Group for introductions to Microsoft technology, technical deep dives, as well as advanced topics to extend and support your solutions. This is a great opportunity to join with your peers in the Cleveland area and learn from both the presenter and the group.

© 2010 Bennett Adelson. 6050 Oak Tree Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44131

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 RTM

Microsoft quietly released the full System Center 2012 suite on April 1st.  It appears however that Microsoft will not talk more about this until later this month at MMS 2012.  You can download it now from all the normal Microsoft locations (VL, MSDN, TechNet).

David Norling-Christensen (MCSE, MCTS)
Senior Systems Architect

Microsoft Certification, The Private Cloud, Windows 8, and You

In an earlier blog post, I discussed why we value certification at BA, and I mentioned the new Private Cloud Certification from Microsoft.

One thing that has come up for us recently that directly relates to this new certification is how Microsoft is moving very quickly to being “all in” on the cloud.  I was recently giving a presentation at the Microsoft office in Independence about the future technology roadmap for Microsoft, and the impending release of System Center 2012 fits in to that.  The vision is to use one set of tools to manage your applications across internal, private clouds, and external, public clouds.  The same tools can be used to quickly and easily adjust capacity as necessary, and even (with Windows Server 8) move virtual machines from your datacenter to a service provider datacenter with no server reconfiguration – no network changes, no account changes – just move the VM up to the public host or move it back as you see fit.

That kind of new functionality fits in with the idea that as always, the IT industry continues to evolve and change.  In the recent presentation I talked about how we have moved physical to virtual servers, and now how we are again moving from disjointed, disconnected virtual servers to a unified collection of virtual servers that supply application services in an elastic, on-demand way.  This allows you to supply services on demand to your customers (internal or external) in a fast, efficient manner.

Another change in the industry is that technology cycles continue to compress.  Users expect more functionality in less time, and technology companies like Microsoft (and Google, and Oracle, and so on) have been forced to improve their offerings with shorter turnaround times as a result.  One result of this is that certification gains value coming and going.  That is due to the fact that certifications on “the new thing” gain value because they show the ability to keep up with the pace of change, while certifications on “last year’s thing” gain value because a lot of organizations are unable to update their infrastructures to match the pace of change in the industry.  This means that a certification offering needs to be able to change rapidly to meet the new technologies head on while still supporting you on current technology.

One of the reasons BA likes the Microsoft Certification offering is because it continually updates, to help you keep your skills up to date in this changing environment; meanwhile, they don’t drop certification on a short timeframe, but instead keep it available to reflect what’s happening in “real life,” not just what’s next.  The Private Cloud Certification I mentioned previously will be joined soon by a Windows 8 Certification, in time for or soon after that product’s release.  That certification is being developed as I type this (I can say that for a fact).  You can get prepared now for Windows 8 Certification by gaining or upgrading your certification to MCITP: Enterprise Desktop on Windows 7, which will be able to be upgraded to Windows 8 through the standard upgrade exam process.  I can tell you from experience that upgrade exams are generally more productive for a taker than the “from nothing” version, because they can focus on what’s new and not have to cover an entire product functionality set.  Thus, if you are able to obtain one of the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop certifications on Windows 7 now, and begin working with the Consumer Preview as blogged about by Jason, you will be in a good position when the upgrade exam becomes available (likely later this year).

Oh, one last closing note on this.  Bennett Adelson isn’t the only company that cares about certification.  I am aware of a local company that is offering a four-figure bonus at the moment for .NET Framework 4.0 certification to keep their developer skills up-to-date.  And beyond my personal experience, a 2011 CompTIA study found that IT professionals gain an average 9% salary increase immediately after receiving certification, and 29% over the long term, versus peers who are not certified (channelinsider.com, 2011-10-19). And in a in a 2010 survey of hiring managers, 91% said they consider employee certification as a criterion for hiring (Microsoft Learning, 2010).

We will be doing a roadshow on Windows 8 in early April (post coming in the next day or two), and that would be a great way to get your knowledge on the platform kick-started.  In the meantime, grab the Consumer Platform and give it a try!

Michael C. Bazarewsky, MCITP, MCT
Principal Consultant, Windows Server and Security

The Private Cloud and Microsoft Certifications

This is the first in a short, occasional series of posts related to Microsoft Certification and why we care about it at BA.

One way that BA works to ensure that the Advanced Infrastructure group – and indeed all of our consultants – stay relevant is through training and certification.  Technology changes quickly, and our customers expect us to not only know what they are using now, but what they will be using next.  One easy way to demonstrate that is through industry certifications around the products we work with.  In the case of Advanced Infrastructure at a Microsoft Gold Partner, this often means Microsoft Certifications.

As I’m writing this, much of the industry is moving to a “private cloud” model.  We will be talking about this more in future posts and at future events, and if you haven’t seen this as a topic yet, you soon will.  The ability to provision new resources for end-users on demand – indeed, even self-service those requests – and do it in a cost-effective, manageable way is at the front of many organizations’ short lists for IT projects in the next 0-24 months.  Quoting the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform website:

A private cloud delivers fundamentally new capabilities that represent a generational paradigm shift in computing.

Of course, with this change in model, there is a need for new skills and the ability to demonstrate that we have these skills.  Luckily for us, Microsoft has recently announced a new Private Cloud Certification which covers this rapidly growing field.  It builds on the existing MCITP: Server Administrator and adds two new System Center exams to demonstrate knowledge of how to use System Center with Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2 (and later, Windows Server 8) to deploy and manage a private cloud.

Of course, while we’re waiting for the April beta of the certification exams, we’d be more than happy to help you improve productivity and lower cost – do more with less – today with these technologies.

— Michael C. Bazarewsky (MCITP, MCPD, MCT)
Principal Consultant, Windows Server and Security

The User-Centric Approach and ConfigMgr 2012

This week I presented at the Northeast Ohio System center Users Group on deploying Windows 7 with Configuration Manager 2012. While there are many things different, the great thing is that if your are familiar with OSD in 2007, you can be deploying in 2012 pretty quickly. You can even port your task sequences over.

However, I think the better discussion of the night was the implications the new approach to user-centric deployment over system-centric deployment that we have had in the past. I came up with an “equation” to help explain how identifying the different aspects of the user experience will help you as an admin provide the most flexibility to your enterprise and leverage all the cool features that ConfigMgr has to offer now to allow you to be agile and empower the end–user.

image

One of the questions that came up is wouldn’t this idea of empowerment and user self service put an undue burden on the end-user. I say quite the contrary. In our connected society, we are trained more and more to know how to find what we want and download it for consumption. We do this with our media (YouTube, Netflix, Pandora), our software (when was the last time you went to a store to buy software), our mobile devices (application markets for Android, iPhone, Microsoft, and Blackberry), and the constant barrage of hashes, tags, and links to go look up more info.

Providing our users with this same functionality (with approval processes and controls of course) through ConfigMgr enables them to get what they want, when they want, making it simple and less obtrusive to their day to day functions of being productive and enabling you to focus on the important stuff instead of manually adding users/machines to collections for deployment.

I will be explaining this in more detail in subsequent posts, but for the time being here is my equation and a link to the NEO System Center User Group site where you can download the slide deck from the presentation.

http://myitforum.com/myitforumwp/groups/cleveland-ohio-system-center-user-group

http://www.bennettadelson.com

Jason Condo