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

Windows 8 Road Show slides

I would like to thank all those who attended the Bennett Adelson Windows 8 Preview Roadshow.  In all, we had almost 100 attendees, many good conversations and received  a lot of great feedback.  We enjoyed putting on the event and hope that you will join us for the upcoming System Center 2012 Roadshow……..Details to be released soon!

We have attached the presentations in PDF format and hope that you all walked away having learned something and are considering the business value of implementing Windows 8.

Thanks Again,

Jarrod Roark | Bennett Adelson | Columbus
Director – Advanced Infrastructure

Winner of Microsoft 2011-2012 Partner of the Year, Heartland District

0 – Windows 8 Keynote

1 – Windows 8 Tools and Storage

2 – Windows 8 Hyper-V Deeper Dive

3 – Windows 8 Backup and Recovery Strategies for Hyper V

4 – Windows 8 Contact Us

Windows 8 CP/Beta RSAT

For those of you testing Windows 8 CP and Windows 8 Beta, you will need to install the RSAT tools to leverage the new Server Manager as well as the updated GUI based tools.

You can download the RSAT here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28972

These are similar to the Win7 RSAT except that instead of all the tools being disabled by default (turning windows feature on or off) in  the RSAT for Win8 CP/Beta, tools are once again all enabled by default (like in XP/2003). You can open Turn Windows on or off to disable tools that you don’t want to use.  In RSAT for Win8, GUI-based tools are accessed from within the Server Manager console, on the Tools menu.

ImportantImportant !!

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Consumer Preview should not be installed on a computer that is running administration tools packs for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server®. Remove all older versions of Administration Tools Pack or Remote Server Administration Tools—including earlier prerelease versions, and releases of the tools for different languages or locales—from the computer before you install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Some System Requirements for Servers to be managed:

To use this release of Server Manager to access and manage remote servers that are running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, you must install the Windows Management Framework Targeted Release (WTR) package on those servers. Server Manager in Windows Server “8” Beta or Windows 8 Consumer Preview cannot manage down-level Windows operating systems until updated Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) providers are installed on those systems. For more information, see Windows Management Framework 3.0 on the Microsoft Download Center.

Windows PowerShell and Server Manager remote management must be enabled on remote servers to manage them by using tools that are part of Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Remote management is enabled by default on servers that are running Windows Server “8” Beta. For more information about how to enable remote management, see Manage multiple, remote servers with Server Manager.

Additional Notes:

If running the tools from Windows 8 CP/Beta, you will notice the inability to launch as a different user from the start screen. This is a definite problem if you are in an organization the abides to good security standards and enforces a different account be used to access server resources than that of your desktop.

image

However, don’t give up hope, you can still create a shortcut on the desktop and then launch as a different user form the options menu by holding the shift key while right clicking the shortcut (just like in Windows 7). Hopefully this will be fixed in the production ready release.

image

Hope you enjoy the new single pane of glass as much as I do.

 

Jason Condo, MCITP
Principal Consultant, Systems Management and Operations

Windows 8 Road Show!

 banner

Windows 8 Server Road Show

Do Way More with Way Less (Money, Effort & Time)

Description: C:\Users\bwittig\Desktop\images\spacer.gif

You’re hearing about Windows 8 Server, but why should you care?
IT continues to feel budget pressure as businesses try to increase efficiency and resource utilization. In today’s Technology Roadmap, you saw some of how current technology can help with that goal. But what about tomorrow? Bennett Adelson and our partner Veeam can help. Come see us present new and important features in Windows 8 Server including demos on the Consumer Preview release. Let us show you how this new server release will help you do way more with way less!

TARGET AUDIENCE

Technical Decision Makers
Team Leads
Server Administrators

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REGISTRATION DETAILS

(location/date are registration links)

Cleveland (April 2nd)

6050 Oak Tree Blvd, Lower Level
Independence Ohio, 44131

Columbus (April 3)

8800 Lyra Dr. Suite 400

Columbus Ohio, 42340

Detroit (April 4)

1000 Town Center, Suite 1930

Southfield Michigan, 48075

Cincinnati (April 6)

4605 Duke Dr. Suite 800

Mason Ohio, 45040

TENTATIVE AGENDA

Keynote: “Do Way More with Way Less (Money, Effort, and Time)”

Breakout 1: Windows Server  8 Overview

Improvements to the Shell, GUI, and Tools

Server Manager
PowerShell

Improvements to Storage

Files System
Repair
Storage Spaces
Data De-duplication
Windows Storage API
Offloaded Data Transfer

Breakout 2: Hyper-V Deeper Dive

Management Improvements

PowerShell support
Resource Metering and Chargeback
Hyper-V Replication

Scalability and Reliability Improvements

SMB 2.2 for VM hosting
Concurrent Live Migration
SMB Live Migration
Live Storage Migration
Shared-Nothing Live Migration
Virtual Fibre Channel
Network Virtualization

Breakout 3: Veeam – Top Hyper-V Data Protection Challenges Dissolved

Closing/Raffle

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

Windows 8 Consumer Release – Notes from the field

As if there won’t be enough tidbits of information coming out about Windows 8 now that it is a bit more polished. I will post things as I discover them and think they are useful.

First Impressions

First off, Windows 8 is very similar to Windows 7. I have yet to find something that I could do in Windows 7 that I can’t do in Window 8. However, what it does do, it does WAY FASTER. For example:image

  • My fingerprint swipe to unlock my system used to take 2-8 seconds, now it is a blink.
  • I a noticing about a 2x-3x disk speed improvement in moving data between drives than when I was on Windows 7.
  • IE 10 loads and is available at least twice as fast as IE 9 on Win 7
  • Driver installations occur in a blink. Refreshing all the drivers from the installation PNP happened impressively quick.
  • The actual installation of Windows was faster than the burning and verifying of the installation DVD.

What I like:

  • Speed!
  • Everything is very similar to Windows 7 so the learning curve to get things accomplished is minimal.
  • Love the file copy functionality and the ability to pause copies. Many times if I have had a huge file copy going that bogs down the system and need to perform a quick task and have had to wait. No more now with the pause button.
  • The new task manager rocks.Much more information and better control of what is happening.
  • That I can still do what I need to do with minimal change.
  • Since I use a Windows phone and have gotten used to it, the tiles and store functionality is similar and has grown on me.

Some issues seen

Currently, I only have only come across one bug. It occurs when you are doing multiple file copy tasks and the file copy list is trying to update. You get an interface lockup in which you can move the mouse around but none of the apps respond, hotkeys don’t imagework, and the screen does not refresh.

Multiple monitors don’t play nice

It was nice that they have permitted the four corners for use with a mouse, the pain however is when you are using multiple monitors or have a large screen that you have a LOT of screen space to drag across to perform functions. It seems I find myself performing the slide-and-pickup of the mouse a lot to launch or switch apps.

On the topic of two screens, only allowing Metro apps to take that main screen is cumbersome although it is nice that you get a psuedo-taskbar on the second screen to launch pinned applications. However you are missing the taskarea so you cannot view or modify anything that is in there without switching out of your application.

Another issue is that it is much more difficult to select the corners or the charms on the right side of the screen (the image to the right). I find myself missing and moving the mouse to the second monitor which closes it and I have to start the process over again.

Some useful “tricks”

Since I had issues with multiple monitors and the ability to use the corners, I decided to poke around for some shortcuts. Here are some I found useful.

Hotkeys

Pressing the Windows key and some specific keys can make you life easier. Here are some useful shortcuts:

  • Windows + X : pseudo start menu.
  • Windows + C : Windows Charms. Same as dragging you mouse to the lower right corner.
  • Windows + M : Minimize all apps and show the desktop, including Metro apps.(does not toggle).
  • Windows + D : Show the desktop (toggles).
  • Windows + F : search for files
  • Windows + Q : search for apps
  • Windows + 1 through 0 : toggles between your apps you have open in the taskbar
  • Windows and then start typing : switches to Start and launches the app search with the letters you typed.

 Closing Metro Apps

Metro apps don’t have the classic window bar at the top that allows you to minimize or close the application when you like and are designed to suspend when you swap out of the app to another. However, you can still close the application if  you are truly finished with it. To do so, grab to top of the app window with your mouse or finger and pull down. You will see the application reduce and become slideable to the left or to the right. This allows you to dock the application to a resizable bar on the left or the right. If you would like to close the application, just continue to pull the application downward to the bottom of the screen. Not necessarily intuitive on a pc, but makes sense and is kind of like throwing it a way when you are done with it.

Want more info?

There are also a bunch of documents you can read to understand all the new features (trust me, there are many new things)

Jason Condo
Principal Consultant – Systems Management

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Available!

The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 is available for download. This release is the first official Windows 8 build drop from Microsoft since the Developer Preview, which was released last September. This was downloaded quite rapidly, surpassing the 500,000 downloads mark within 24 hours of release, and the 3 million mark by December, so I would expect this to surpass that easily.

If you are like me and ready to jump on the download follow the links below. I was able to download at a pretty good speed so I know Microsoft is ready for this Smile

[Official Links from Microsoft]

Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview (64-bit)
Sha 1 hash — 1288519C5035BCAC83CBFA23A33038CCF5522749

Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview (32-bit)
Sha 1 hash — E91ED665B01A46F4344C36D9D88C8BF78E9A1B39

You can follow some live feeds from the MWC here: http://live.theverge.com/Event/Microsofts_Windows_8_Consumer_Preview_event_at_MWC_2012

Jason Condo
Principal Consultant – Systems Management