I’ve been buried in automation recently, which has thrown up more than the odd technical challenge along the way. One which I found surprising was the lack of a PowerShell script for adding management groups to SCOM agents… There was a VB Script available but I decided it was time to get with the program, the script I wrote can be found here:
The manual process for adding management groups to SCOM agents can be found on TechNet here:
I still remember the first time I ever worked from home, a joyous glee passed over a 19 year old me. It was a feeling much akin to having taken a days annual leave. This initial experience of working outside of the usual environment, dressing gown and suitably loud teenage-angst-ridden music both present, achieved very little. There were no VPNs, thinking back there was barely any internet. The day involved reading some literature and writing a presentation or two which would be delivered via the usual drab PowerPoint method to suitable superiors.
Fast forward to today and there is barely a week, let alone month goes by where my Lync status does not at least once display the beloved WFH acronym, the only difference is now, I get more work done from home, so what changed? Did I become suddenly more conscientious (probably) but the truth is that my home toolset is better than the tools I have in the office. I have great equipment at work in a fantastic environment, but at home I have everything I need and more so, everything I wanted!
I blessed to work for a company that has great remote working facilities and collaboration tools. My Swiss army kit includes the traditional Laptop and phone, but more so the software is what really enables me outside of the office.
Lync enables me to get a complete view of the people within the business, regardless of where they happen to be sat, I take my phone number with me when I work from home, and colleagues can ask me questions via instant message or share their desktops during a call when it’s just easier to see things!. A solid VPN and SharePoint allow me access to the documents I need, and the documents of my colleagues. Exchange and Outlook are of course the backbone of rich email services. All company databases and systems have been made available via the VPN for a truly seamless experience.
I get more done, because it’s possible to do more, is your business giving you the tools you need to really succeed?
Things have been quiet on the Blog site recently and many of you have contacted me to see if I’m still alive! I can confirm that I’m alive and well and have simply been keeping the nose to the grind-stone!
I have been tech-lead on a very large and exciting project so my blogging has taken a back seat! Today I thought I’d share some of that recent experience with you, which leads me to Vision Solutions Double-Take.
Double-Take allows for data synchronisation between physical servers and virtual environments, between disparate datacentres in fact just about any circumstance you can imagine!
Double-Take is software, it sounds simple but the benefit of this is we don’t need to rely on expensive and complex SAN replication to sync data between two different geographic locations.
I used various replication products over the years from xCopy to SAN level and the beauty of Double-Take is that it is simple to use yet mature enough to be stable and organisation ready…
Organisation ready? Yes! Consider this, a SCOM management pack, PowerShell API and a very professional and knowledgeable support and pre-sales teams. My recent work has involved a large amount of deployment automation for complex state-full applications. Automating installation and configuration of Double-Take was a breeze!
Why not check it out: http://www.visionsolutions.com/Double-take/DT6_LP.aspx
Microsoft Premiere Support for Lync Partners represents a change in the support model for Lync Enterprise Voice features. Registered partners are required to undergo additional training, certification and to have the necessary systems and processes in place to provide a “Premier” level of support to customers.
Let’s be honest here, this is not a box ticking exercise, this is Microsoft’s answer to making sure businesses can sign up for support from third-party organisations that not only have an advanced level of in house engineer but are backed by Microsoft Expertise. In order to escalate calls to Microsoft it is necessary to be a registered PSLP partner. So before you enter that next Lync support contract or purchase a cloud based Lync solution make sure the company you buy from are on the list!
You can view the current members here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/hh965532
Companies must have two levels of engineer and varying quantities of each. Those types are called Support Engineers and Depth Support Engineers. The eligibility criteria to sit the exams is stringent and involves attending one week and two week training courses respectively in addition to possessing various Microsoft certifications.
This week I sat (and passed) the Support engineer exam. It was good to see Microsoft ramping up the difficulty on their exam track with an exam that really tests in depth knowledge of a complex product.
So when you are choosing a company to help you realise your unified communications ambitions make sure they can walk-the-walk, so you get a system that allows you to talk-the-talk!
Things have been busy for me over the last few weeks but I wanted to take the time to post about the Microsoft Private Cloud Camp I attended in Bristol last week.
If you have never attended a Microsoft Tech-Day before you are seriously missing out! With the cloud becoming a pivotal part of any IT service offering more and more attention is being focused upon the underlying architecture, total cost of ownership and return on investment. It’s right that each business assesses their requirements against the offerings from key virtualisation players such as VMware, Microsoft, Xen etc… Enter Microsoft, until recently I had little exposure to the Microsoft HyperV offering, it simply hadn’t been able to meet my needs.
The reasons to move to HyperV are becoming more and more compelling. I’d be lying if I said that licensing costs are not the key driver for many VMware houses to make the switch but the costs alone are unlikely to be the deciding factor for many. In short HyperV teamed with the Systems Center suite can deliver an efficient datacentre that is efficient and easy to manage.
System Center does not only let you manage Virtual Computers it is a complete toolset for you to manage your entire environment. If you have not already downloaded the trials then now is the time to start: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/system-center/default.aspx
The Tech training camp covered a good deal of the suite in a short period of time, from automating common tasks to creating self-service client portals anything is possible! Orchestrator lets you centralise and re-use existing scripts and workflows. Virtual Machine Manager provides a single management point for cloud and datacentre servers including links to Microsoft’s Azure service. The list goes on and the System Center products really start to add value when you combine them to automate datacentre management and your existing workflows.
Meet the Presenters
Get a bad presenter and any training or tech event will suffer! Thankfully we got not only a good presenter but three! Andrew and Simon did a great job of discussing the issues the room agreed upon and sticking to the tightest of schedules. Helpfully this was accented by Damian’s in depth-knowledge of the Systems Center suite. Sign up for the blogs below you’d be a fool not to!
Andrew Fryer (Microsoft) – www.andrewfryer.com
Simon May (Microsoft) – www.simon-may.com
Damian Flynn (MVP) – www.damianflynn.com
This is a repost from Tim Harrington’s excellent Blog @ http://howdouc.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/lync-to-do-checklist.html I’ve added a couple of notes, enjoy 😉
Have you ever asked yourself…?
- I have published the Lync Topology, now what?
- When is it required to re-run Step 2 (Install role components from the Deployment Wizard) on my servers?
- Have any of the changes I made in the Topology affected anything else?
A much over-looked feature in the Lync Topology Builder is the To-Do list. This list only appears after you have published your topology and action needs to be taken directly on the server components to reflect the updated topology. This means that more is needed than just Lync replication.
View if action is needed:
View if no action is needed (Lync replication will take care of all changes):
After clicking on the “Click here to open to-do list”, a text file is opened and will explain the changes needed to your environment.
Note: If you ever need to look at that file again, it’s located in %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Temp\TopologyBuilder in a folder that matches the time and date you published the topology, such as \2012_04_25_00_35_27. The file is called NextSteps.txt
Looking at this closer, I have changed the Simple URLs for one of my SIP domains. The to-do list shows that I will need to update DNS, possibly modify my certificates and also run local setup on two of my servers: lablyncfe01.homelab.local and lablyncfe02.homelab.local.
This means running Step 2 from the Deployment Wizard on these two servers:
After re-running Step 2, my Front-End servers will pick-up the changes to the Simple URLs and be able to serve traffic to them.
The Lync To-Do list from the Topology Builder is a great check to make sure nothing needs to change locally on your Lync servers to support configuration changes made in the Topology Builder.
Earlier today the Exchange CXP team released Update Rollup 7 for Exchange Server 2007 SP3 to the Download Center.
This update contains a number of customer-reported and internally found issues since the release of SP3 RU6. See KB2655203: Description of Update Rollup 7 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3 for more details.
Note: Some of the following KB articles may not be available at the time of publishing this post.
Support lifecycle statement: This is the final release under standard support for Exchange 2007, as the Exchange 2007 Mainstream Support has now ended. Extended Support for Exchange 2007 SP3 will end on 4/11/2017. Please see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle page for more information about Microsoft Support Lifecycle for Exchange 2007.
Note for Forefront Protection for Exchange users For those of you running Forefront Protection for Exchange, be sure you perform these important steps from the command line in the Forefront directory before and after this rollup’s installation process. Without these steps, Exchange services for Information Store and Transport will not start after you apply this update. Before installing the update, disable ForeFront by using this command: fscutility /disable. After installing the update, re-enable ForeFront by running fscutility /enable.
Musing over a well-earned break today with friend, college and, all round Exchange guru Will Rawlings the topic of Windows 8 was brought to the forefront. Will was telling me about how after acclimatising to the shock of the tiled interface he dug a little deeper and got his hands dirty with PowerShell v3.
There are some great new features in PS3 but what really grabbed Will’s attention, and later my own, was the new look ISE. It’s not only easier on the eye but has some useful functionality under the hood including Intellisense (a useful autocomplete feature) and much more.
The one simple thing that really got us talking was the copy and paste feature now maintains the colours seen in the ISE! That feature alone is worth the upgrade. Personally I prefer to use PowerGUI as my editor but on client systems I frequently use the ISE so I can’t wait until the Windows Management Framework v3 is released.
Of course the real excitement with PowerShell 3 does not lie in the ISE but it is well worth a look all the same. In order to try it out simply download the consumer preview of Windows Management Framework v3
For those of us developing and managing multiple Lync environments changing between various test profiles can become frustrating. I wanted to make this easier but it turns out I was beaten to the punch by Profile for Lync!
“Profiles for Lync” is a small Windows application that manages, and allows you to switch between, multiple Lync client profiles.
This tool allows me to easily switch between environments and test accounts.
You can read about it and download it here: https://greiginsydney.com/profiles-for-lync/#more-740
Many thanks to Greig!