The Windows Server Notebook

November 9, 2010  11:42 PM

Next-generation SQL Server hits with codenames galore

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

It sounds like Microsoft has found another mountain to climb, and this one makes “Kilimanjaro” look … well, slightly closer to sea level.

The company announced the next version of SQL Server at PASS Summit 2010 this week, codenamed “Denali”. The moniker follows Yukon (SQL Server 2005) and Kilimanjaro (SQL Server 2008) as the latest Microsoft database server to be named after mountainous terrain. (Fun fact: Kilimanjaro stands at an elevation of 19,341 feet, while Denali – aka Mount McKinley – clocks in at just over 20,300 feet. Wouldn’t it have been funny if the next version of SQL Server was actually “shorter” than the last?)
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October 21, 2010  8:39 PM

IT conference attendees can’t escape the cloud in 2010

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Recently, founder Rod Trent posted a tweet that pretty much summed up the past year in IT events:

    “Every conference this past year has turned into a ‘cloud’ conference. Sad.”

Though Trent’s tweet was in reference to this week’s Interop conference in New York (which featured an Enterprise Cloud Summit), it captures a sentiment shared by many, mainly that:

    1. vendors (particularly Microsoft) have gone completely “cloud crazy” this year, and
    2. few IT professionals share their enthusiasm.

As for the first point, there’s no denying that anyone who’s attended a major IT conference or event in 2010 has been hit with a heavy dose of cloud talk. I singled Microsoft out above (this is a Windows blog, after all), but the fact remains that keynotes from TechEd, MMS and most other Microsoft shows this year have been overwhelmingly cloud-centric, and it’s not a reach to assume that TechEd Europe and PDC will follow the same theme. It was also no coincidence that minutes after reading Trent’s tweet, a colleague emailed me from today’s SharePoint Technology Conference to tell me about the keynote from Microsoft evangelist Steve Fox. The tagline? “Get ready for the cloud!”
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October 15, 2010  7:44 PM

Minor Active Directory tweaks in Configuration Manager R3

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

As you may have heard, System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 R3 was officially released this week. While most of the attention has been geared toward the software’s new power management features, it’s worth noting that R3 ships with some other enhancements as well.

One such feature is a new Active Directory discovery capability for finding new or recently modified objects in AD. The feature, called Delta Discovery, is an add-on to the discovery capabilities already present in SCCM.
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October 12, 2010  9:11 PM

New baseline aims to centralize Windows Server 2008 R2 security

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft released a new security baseline this week for Windows Server 2008 R2, adding to the slew of similar baselines released earlier this year. The R2 baseline accelerator gives admins access to a central database of Microsoft-recommended security settings from which they can customize their baselines and push them out to their Windows servers.

The R2 addition joins a slate of previously released baselines for April’s Security Compliance Manager (SCM) tool, an update to Microsoft’s Security Compliance Manager Toolkit series. Other baselines include Windows 7, Vista, XP, Server 2003 and 2008, as well as Office 2007 SP2 and Internet Explorer 8.
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October 7, 2010  10:19 PM

AVIcode the latest cloud-inspired acquisition for Microsoft

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

This week, Microsoft announced that it has acquired AVIcode, Inc., a Baltimore-based private company known for its .NET application monitoring software.

The move is similar to the Opalis acquisition back in December in that AVIcode will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft with its software being delivered under the System Center umbrella. And as with Opalis, the latest move is cloud-motivated.
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October 5, 2010  3:23 PM

Will cloud computing cost you your job?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

In a recent article, “Yes, you will lose your job to cloud computing – unless . . .“, consultant and author Greg Shields cites the economies of scale as a key challenge facing IT admins in regards to the cloud. He writes:

“An organization that hosts 1 million mailboxes can economically implement technologies that guarantee 100% uptime, unlimited space and ubiquitous access anywhere on the Internet. As the economies of scale grow, those organizations can accomplish this at a price that’s cheaper than your salary, and when they screw up, they’ll refund your business money. You can’t say the same.

That’s a big problem for your continued employment.”

OK, so that’s sort of a dreary assessment (which Greg himself acknowledges later in the article). Fortunately, he also goes on to list various ways IT pros can adapt to the changing industry, hitch their wagon to the cloud and, ultimately, remain employed.

But the question is, do you agree with Greg’s assessment of the cloud’s eventual effect on IT? Do you share these same concerns? What’s your current stance on cloud computing? Sound off in the comment section below and share your thoughts.

For more of the latest cloud news and expert analysis, visit

September 30, 2010  6:21 PM

Microsoft updates servicing tool for offline VMs

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Servicing Tool (VMST) 3.0 is now available for download, an update to the previous 2.1 version of the utility. The tool is designed to let admins keep their offline virtual machines up-to-date with the necessary patches and system updates without having to bring them online (thus exposing your network to out-of-date machines). The tool can be used to service offline VM templates and VHDs as well.

VMware’s vCenter Update Manager for vSphere is designed for this exact same purpose, but it doesn’t work with Microsoft’s VM management product, as vCenter Server is required to run the tool. Continued »

September 2, 2010  9:10 PM

Microsoft weighs in, reacts at VMworld 2010

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft vs. VMware — tale as old as time.

As everyone knows, VMworld 2010 took place this week in San Francisco. Like last year, Microsoft’s booth did not provide any demos for Hyper-V, as the company claimed VMware’s expo agreement prevents directly-competing products from being showcased (which VMware countered and Citrix found a way around).

Microsoft did make its presence felt in other creative ways, however.
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August 25, 2010  10:54 PM

Exchange Server 2010 SP1 hits the streets

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

UPDATE! (8/27/2010)

My colleague Bridget Botelho has written a more detailed rundown of the SP1, with insight from Directions on Microsoft’s Rob Sanfilippo.

ORIGINAL POST (8/25/2010)

Let the upgrades begin? Microsoft has officially launched the first service pack for Exchange Server 2010, nearly three months after the beta was announced at TechEd North America this year.

The update includes archiving and discovery improvements along with various UI enhancements to the Exchange Management Console and Control Panel. Customers can also expect new mobile management features and a faster Outlook Web App (OWA) reading experience, according to Microsoft.

The archiving enhancements include the ability to import historical data from .PST files and automated deletion and archiving of email, along with other capabilities. Microsoft’s Michael Atalla posted a pretty detailed rundown of what’s new with SP1 back in April.

So what’s missing?
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August 19, 2010  9:19 PM

Configuration Manager R3 comes as no surprise

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

The next version of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 should officially ship soon, with the release candidate approved earlier this month. The update is relatively minor, however, when compared to the full-blown revamp on the way with SCCM v.Next, for which an initial beta is already available.

I spoke recently with Mark Mears, a systems specialist of Windows design and operations for Macy’s Inc., to get his thoughts on the new power management features for SCCM 2007 R3. (There are a few other updates as well, but the new power consumption reports are the big news.) He said he wasn’t surprised by Microsoft putting out an R3 for SCCM, even with the v.Next already available.
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