Archive for the ‘Tech Ed’ Category

Start Me Up? – Windows 8 Consumer Preview First Thoughts

In Proxy, Tech Ed on July 3, 2012 at 20:16

If you like my content please do check out my new blog at ! 


After two years of being highly skeptical about everything Microsoft – especially if you consider how positive I was after attending TechEd 2010 – attending another edition of TechEd sorta won me over again. The promise of a integrated holistic (yes even MS itself uses this word now) management platform finally seems to be fulfilled with System Center 2012 and even Server 2012 without the whole suite seems to all about integration, open standards and the acknowledgement of the fact that for some people and companies there is no cloud like their private cloud.

I even installed Windows 8. Most of the reviews I’ve seen have been ambiguous to say the least. At TechEd 2012 I saw tablets running Win8 – on that platform the Metro UI looks and feels more modern then IOS. Obviously most of the way you interface, the strong connection to cloud apps and the ability to federate data from different sources have been well stolen from Apple. But true multitasking (even if you can only run two apps next to each other on one screen) is a big plus. The fact that you can use your regular Desktop apps on those (non-ARM) devices might be an advantage as well – but a lot will depend on how well they are suited to be used with a touch interface.

Now running it on your desktop…or laptop is a whole different matter. The absence of integration between the Metro and Desktop worlds is a big problem. I don’t mind having nice looking apps to do certain jobs – like reading a book or watching a movie – I do mind being able to ALT-TAB through both these full screen apps and my desktop apps. And I don’t mind having 10 ways to alter my settings – as long as lead to the same set of settings. I need to know what to change and where to change it.

If you read any of my previous articles you know I have a special interest in proxy servers. Well hang on to yourselves – Metro gave us another way to define a proxy. Metro apps bar IE 10 Metro don’t use WinINET or Winhttp – their proxy is defined in a Group Policy Setting. If you want to read which look here.

There is also the so called improvements for multi monitor setups. When I ran the pre-install wizard it told me Ultramon wasn’t supported so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. What I got was:

– An customizable dual screen taskbar. Finally

– Hotkeys to move Windows around like it was in Windows 7 – but no buttons in the right hand corner of each window like in Ultramon or similar utilities

– Metro on one screen, the Desktop on the other. Now at first that made me really happy. If they won’t integrate maybe I can run them next to each other on different screens. But no – selecting a Desktop app will minimize my Metro….

The Desktop itself is faster, more responsive and I don’t care for the Start button that much. I wonder if the Rolling Stones were still getting royalties from way back when MS used Start me up at the Windows 95 launch – but I doubt they will care either. Press the Windows button and start typing – you get a nice quick list of suggestions be it regular programs, applets that change settings or individual files.

The Metro apps are good to have on my laptop at home when I want to look at some photo’s, chat or look up random stuff on Wikipedia. But I hope I’ll be able to turn it off on my workstation at work, unless Microsoft finds a way to access both worlds in a unified and seamless manner.


Computer says Yes

In Service Manager, System Center, Tech Ed on November 10, 2010 at 21:16

In this post I’ll give an overview of SC Service Manager:

Service Manager is an IT service management tool which can provide problem,incident and change management while fully integrating with the other System Center products. You need a CMDB? Connect Service Manager to SCCM and SCOM and you have your CMDB. You want to create an incident if an alert is generated in SCOM? Connect Service Manager to SCOM and there you go. Want to see the same distributed applications in your IT service management tool as you’ve defined in SCOM? Import your existing MP in Service Manager and you’re good to go.

Besides being able to tap into the information provided by SCOM and SCCM Service manager enables you to create work-flows to formalize and/or automate your existing processes. Since existing scripts for common tasks can be included in the workflow you can pick up those pesky scripts and put them into Service Manager so that they are visible, documented and manageable. Combined with Opalis you could take all tasks and scripts (defrags, legacy nt backups, third party config exports) and use Opalis to orchestrate these processes and use Service Manager/SCOM to manage and monitor them. But more on Opalis later.

Eventhough the interface might seem a bit quirky for users accustomed to other IT service management or ticket handling systems the fact that you have all this information about your environment, are able to create logical workflows to for instance create a template for standard changes and are able to automate the change and monitor the change will it is being made in your environment makes this a very powerful tool.

Service Manager uses an extension of the SCOM schema and uses Management Packs just like SCOM does. Out of the box Microsoft provides with MP’s for a knowledge base,change and incident management and they are working with partners to provide things such as asset management.

Microsoft positions Service Manager as the focal point for customer\IT interaction and as a presentational layer to expose and act on information from your data-center.

Service Manager is available for free if you have a System Center Enterprise or Datacenter edition license.



Lucy in the sky with diamonds

In Tech Ed on November 10, 2010 at 15:31

I’m writing this post, my first post on my first blog, from Tech Ed Europe in Berlin. In between sessions I’m going to try to provide some coverage of this event and present my view on what I’ve heard and seen here.

My visit to Tech Ed is part of the reason why I’ve jumped on the blogging bandwagon – I wanted to let my co-workers know how I’m doing and what I’m doing over here.

This years Tech Ed is all about clouds. I’ll skip all the obvious and not so obvious allusions about Berlin,walls, windows and clouds but I do want to mention that Microsoft seems to be a little late in the cloud game ( as I am in the blogging game perhaps). However,because Microsoft’s ecosystem forms such a substantial part of a lot of services that customers consume, it has an edge on competing unified management systems because it can fully manage this ecosystem and can manage it better.

The System Center suite (which to some extent also seems to include FIM) has been transformed from a vaguely integrated group of management, monitoring and reporting tools into a cloud management quilt where the system center products are the patches and the newly acquired Opalis automation software is the thread.

As I said before Microsoft is late – Vmware has been promoting the idea of a personal clouds for a while now. And great progress has been made to tightly integrate VM’s, Network, Storage and in some cases even OS and software. But where it was lacking was in native support for Microsoft back-end/infrastructure. If Microsoft can take the experiences of the likes of Cisco, NetApp,EMC e.a. with cloud management on the network and storage level(which it has judging from some of the demo’s I’ve seen here) and combine that with its knowledge of managing its own ecosystem no Windows administrator will ever have to leave her or his office to see their clouds but can just look through their windows.

This is the first in a series of posts on Microsoft Tech-Ed, the next posts I will focus on the details regarding System Center and Opalis.