Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Chill out, close your eyes, and think back, waaaay back, to the year 2003. That was the year the iTunes store was launched, Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governator, and in Southern Ontario we had a 3 day blackout. If you were at the theatre you might have been seeing Finding Nemo (can’t wait for the sequel) or Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Now think about the tech you were using back then. You may have heard the rumours of a little company called Google merging with Microsoft. You may also remember the Slammer and Blaster worms. Our server of choice back then was Server 2003, which was replacing Server 2000. I loved this server! I earned my MCSE certification on this it; I knew it backwards and forwards. And back in the day, it rocked. Fast forward 11 years to right now, and we have Server 2012 R2, and I love this OS even more. (Although I was not a huge fan of Server 2008/R2.) This server was designed to fit your business needs, no matter what those needs are. From the small office to data centers, it’s the backbone of Microsoft.
So why am I going on about an 11 year old product? This awesome server will no longer be supported as of July 14, 2015. As of today, that is only 380 days away; for those of you who prefer not to do math, todays date is June 29, 2014. It is estimated that there are 10 million 2003 servers in operation today, and we need to start moving companies to newer technologies, and we need to start doing it now.
I know it’s a daunting task . . . I keep thinking back to the organizations I moved off of 2003, and the challenges we encountered. One of my projects at Microsoft is to help you with this transition. I am assembling a website which will contain links, videos, how-to’s, marketing material, etc to help you start talking to your clients about migrating from 2003. If you are the business owner, this is something you should be discussing with your IT Pro, and if you don’t have one, I will also be including a link to help you find a Microsoft Partner that can assist you. I hope to have the site up within the next few weeks, but I would like you to be a part of this as this is for you, your small business, and your clients. What would you like to see in this page? What do you need? I have already been reaching out to the IT community for suggestions and have incorporated some of those ideas into the site. Please email me at asksmbca at microsoft.com with suggestions, ideas, or thoughts.
Thanks for your help.
When I was asked to develop the Canadian Samurai Series Webcast, I knew I had to include all the new and wonderful features of Server 2012 R2 specifically for SM. The one topic that we don’t cover in most of our technical readiness programs is PowerShell, and I knew had to include it as one of the modules.
I remember back in the day sitting in front of a system with only c:\ (command prompt) and making it do exactly what wanted it to do using the keyboard only. Mice were for wimps! Others would be amazed at how we knew all the commands and quickly and easily did what needed to be done – keyboard only. Like so many other sysadmins, I think it just became easier to use the GUI (graphical user interface), and as the younger techs came on board they only knew the GUI. I knew doing a session on PowerShell would force me to get back into “command” line and it was so worth it. Command line was cool and PowerShell made computers cool again.
For those of us who have a few years under our belts, and are familiar with DOS prompt, back in the day before a GUI, PowerShell will feel like an old Van Halen t-shirt. For those of you who have always worked with a GUI, or find the GUI friendlier, PowerShell is a tool that enables you to do your job faster and more effectively. As Server evolves, so do PowerShell commands and there are certain tasks that can only be managed using PowerShell rather than GUI.
Why not come join me Tuesday June 17th for a quick slice of PowerShell. I promise it won’t be as scary as Annie with a hatchet from Misery.
Remember my “hot new boyfriend,” the Nokia 920 Windows phone? If not, here‘s the link to my budding romance for a refresher. Windows Phone and I got together about 4 months ago, and it hasn’t been a bad relationship, but there were things about him that left me wanting more. Well, he decided it was time for an upgrade; not that anyone should change for anyone else, and I think of this as a lifestyle change that he wanted to do. Since the upgrade I have fallen head over heels in love. Everyone said I would, but I wanted to play with these new features myself — hands-on. Admittedly, installing the 8.1 developer preview took a lot longer than I expected (a couple of hours), but I was patient and it was so worth the wait.
Here’s why I fell in love:
- Notification Center: my last boyfriend (Android on an S3) had notifications, and I didn’t realize how much I depended on that little feature until I didn’t have it anymore.
- Quiet Hours: OMG…I love this!!! The phone goes quiet except for who/what I allow during the time I sleep, or should be sleeping. As a parent, I need to have my phone with me at all times for the kids, and when they are at sleepovers or just out, I need to be reachable. In the past I would leave the sounds and vibrate on and the phone would disrupt my sleep. I don’t recall if my S3 had this, but I don’t care, I have it now.
- My Commute: Day 1 and this app was dead on. It warned me first thing that my commute was going to be longer than normal; it was right! It was right and Google maps with traffic was wrong.
- Cortana: I liked the voice recognition on my S3 and it worked pretty well, but Cortana puts the S3 app to shame. She’s funny, tells me jokes, tells me what’s scheduled for my day, and makes phone calls when I ask her to do so. If Cortana was a real person, I could fall for her!
- Podcasts: It’s a little thing, but I live with podcasts and it was a pain using a limited app. Now, I just subscribe and voila, the podcast is downloaded. Again… I know its a little thing, but it was something I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I had it again.
And that is just 24 hours after the transformation. I know there are other features that I’m going to love. Hopefully one of those features is syncing media wirelessly. I hope to spend some more quality time with my new-and-improved lover over the next few days, and see what else he can do to deepen our relationship.
As some of you know, I have been doing a webinar series for the last few months. During this series, I’ve been discussing the features of Server 2012 R2 specifically for the SMB market. We’ve covered Hyper-V, Storage Spaces (my favourite), Remote Access, plus a handful of others. Our next session is on Cloud Options for SMBs; why not grab a coffee and join us Tuesday afternoon (the third) by registering here. I will talk about Office 365, Intune, and Azure and how these services relate to small biz. Again, here is the register link.
Since starting at Microsoft, via an agency, I’ve focused on larger SMB, so when Mitch Tulloch asked me to submit a piece to his site, WServerNews, I knew it was a great opportunity to spread my love of Server Essentials. I’m not going to repeat the article here, but check it out at WServerNews on May 26th. While you are there, Mitch has compiled a fantastic list of resources for the IT Pro. So grab a coffee and spend some time browsing the site. Also, check out his other site http://www.mtit.com/ for a list of ebooks. I highly recommend the Server 2012 R2 Technical Overview.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post!
If it wasn’t obvious enough, I love learning about new tech, and when I get really excited when I find a new feature in an operating system that benefits the SMB. Storage Spaces delights me! (Yes, I know I need to get out more). At the most basic level, Storage Spaces in Server 2012 allows us to connect drives to a server and provision storage on the fly. And why would this be exciting, you may ask? Think about your file server and what happens when you run low on disk space. Typically you would add another drive, but this would require shutting down the system, installing the drive, provisioning the drive, and in some cases it may also require reconfiguring your applications to take advantage of the additional storage. Now what if you were able to simply add a drive to your server, and with a few clicks of the mouse, add the storage and help protect your data? For the small SMB, this may be all that is needed to quickly provision more storage, but what if you were larger and were thinking a SAN was needed to provide resiliency as well as the storage? For most SMBs a SAN is out of budget, and this is where Storage Spaces comes in. Using Windows Server 2012, your operating system can provide SAN-like capability using commodity hard drives. Using trays of JBODs (just a bunch of disks) at a fraction of the cost of a SAN, we can easily add and provision storage as needed. Plus, we can take advantage of the built-in resiliency options, ensuring your data is protected.
To create a storage space, add block-based storage, then group the disks (SSDs or spindles) into storage pools. From there, virtualize the space into volumes and assign it as necessary. For example, let’s say we have 4 500 GB drives, we could create a storage pool using disks 1 and 2, creating a pool that was 1 TB in size. Then carve this TB up into various size virtual disks, apply a storage layout (Simple, Mirror, or Parity), choose our provision type (fixed or thin) and finally, create a volume. (It sounds like a lot of work, but really, it’s only 8 clicks or so.) If more storage is needed, simply add another disk and assign the space to either an existing storage pool, or create a new one.
This is just the tip of the Storage Spaces iceberg, using block based storage you can build cluster shared volumes, further providing SAN-like features at an SMB price point. If you would like to see a demo of Storage Spaces or would like to learn more, I’ll be doing a webinar on May 6 at 2 pm EST. Click here for details.