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Monthly Archives: April 2014

A personal long-term vision about the IT landscape in the future…

2014 is a few months away now. In those few months quite a lot of things happened. A new job with new challenges, Windows XP EOL, a new Microsoft CEO and new insights on things that currently happening in the IT world. To me, 2014 is the year that will the beginning of drastic changes in the IT landscape to come, and this train is most likely not going to stop for a while. I wrote this blog to write things down that are on my mind, it has become a bit overwhelming to me so writing it down allows me to empty my head a bit 😉

Before 2014, many organizations were somewhat reluctant to embrace the possibilities that Cloud technologies introduce to their IT environment. These technologies are not available to IT organizations who have legal and/or political constraints to introduce Cloud technologies. Here in NL, this is especially true for government organizations which are bound by laws stating that government data can never leave the country. They may, however, consider building Private Clouds to keep everything in the country. This blog is also taking Public Cloud technologies into consideration. I have to admit though that I’m somewhat biased since I work with Microsoft technology only, so I actually speak Azure instead of Public Cloud.

The need to have an on-premises IT infrastructure will slowly become smaller. I don’t expect that organizations will decommission their servers immediately and stick with Cloud technology only but I expect infrastructures to become smaller.

Here are some good examples of changes in the IT infrastructure:

  • Microsoft Exchange environments being replaced by Office 365
  • No fixed workplace anymore but the ability to work anywhere with any supported device
  • Servers with low resource utilization being moved to Azure
  • On-premise backups are replaced by backup to the Cloud, the need to mess around with tapes will go away too

Eventually, I expect on-premises environments to disappear as well and all management that is required for that will go with it. Maybe large datacenters and data rooms require some sort of management to keep everything going but smaller organizations who don’t have a large datacenter should not consider building one right now since a lot of Cloud technologies are available for them as well. They should skip the expensive investments to buy new hardware and transfer everything to the cloud when possible.

Here are some thoughts about the consequences for this long term change:

  • The traditional system administrator will slowly disappear
  • Traditional office buildings will become much smaller because people don’t really need to be there to do their job, maybe for meetings and socializing purposes only (in NL, this might be the nail on the office buildings market’s coffin)
  • Because all company data is in the cloud, it becomes much harder to compromise this data due to unauthorized access because a device was stolen or missing
  • Investments in hardware will be significantly different
  • End users will choose their preferred device, they will receive a spending budget instead of a company policy defined device

So what does this mean for me?

Well, here’s just some examples:

  • I don’t need to bother anymore to make sure company data is safe, so nothing is stored on my local disk. I feel pretty liberated not to be worried anymore that my disk might break down which causes loss of data
  • It’s all about letting go, so I should not hold on anymore trying to keep things on-premise
  • I should forget about certain concepts which become somewhat obsolete
  • I really need to leave my comfort zone

I have to admit though, it will provide my some fantastic challenges to help customers introducing Cloud technologies so they can be more focused on their core business and generate more revenue…

It’ll be a lot of fun.

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A small test to determine if IIS is not affected by ‘Heartbleed’…

Last week the Internet was alerted by the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL (CVE-2014-0160). It was pretty relieving to see Microsoft provided a statement that Microsoft is not using OpenSSL but SChannel instead on their IIS. Microsoft’s statement is available here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/erezs_iis_blog/archive/2014/04/09/information-about-heartbleed-and-iis.aspx

Fortunately, I’m helping a customer setting up a ConfigMgr site server for internet facing clients. The site server is already up and running, the machine accepts connections from clients residing on the Internet. It allowed us to do a quick test to verify IIS is not affected by the vulnerability.

 

We found the following website that allows us to do the quick test:

https://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

Enter the Internet FQDN of the internet facing site server, select the option to ignore certificates and allow the test to be run.

The test gives us this result:

 

Consulting the FAQ states the ‘broken pipe’ message states that the unaffected IIS is used, which we know we do. This site obviously doesn’t know we’re using IIS which works for me…

 
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Posted by on 14/04/2014 in Uncategorized

 

So Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 are EOL. What to do next?

I’ve decided to write this blog a dew days after the big hurricane on the Internet where too many people over zealously announce in different ways (Twitter, blogs, or even tweets that a blog was written about it) that it is now really over for especially Windows XP and it’s time to move on. While that is fine for them, I don’t think that doing that as well will really benefit on the already presence of this hurricane. I’m more interested in what to do next…

Being a Consultant, customers ask me the same question: What to do next?

My initial answer would be: I don’t know…

Providing the correct answer depends a lot on how these customers got to this situation that made them use the products displayed in the title. I notice 2 types of organizations:

  1. The rest of the infrastructure has been completely upgraded except for the client OS. Technologies such Windows Server 2008 (R2) or even Windows Server 2012 (R2) have already been introduced
  2. Customers built an environment which they kept the same for many, many years. You don’t find much newer technologies than Windows Server 2003 etc.

The most likely reason these organizations kept sticking with Windows XP was one or more particular business critical application that cannot run on any newer OS. In most cases, the vendor doesn’t support that application anymore or doesn’t even exist anymore. Not using that application would be a financial disaster. However, a common policy frequently used is: “As long as it works we can still use it. Why should we change?”

While the question is quite valid, it ignores the important feature that the IT landscape has changed dramatically since 2001 (and 2003 for Office 2003 and Exchange 2003). I can’t remember using the terms ‘cloud computing’ or ‘work anywhere anytime’ in those days…

Looking at the 2 types of organizations, it’s pretty easy to determine that number 1 is rather straightforward.

Customers who never used newer technologies have a bigger challenge. However, they also have a great opportunity to start over completely from scratch. A pristine infrastructure, a pristine work environment introducing the technologies of today might be very beneficial (consider replacing Exchange 2003 with Office 365 if policies or the law allow it). This environment can be built without affecting the old environment (consider using a fabric management appliance or something like that). You don’t have to bother about any inheritance or other garbage of the ‘old’ environment. Once everyone is migrated to the pristine environment, then you can decommission the old environment completely.

After that, you can say goodbye to the old technologies, especially Windows XP.

 

Something I’d definitely recommend…

 

 

 

Installing OpsMgr 2012 R2 with SQL 2014, does it work?

Well, while I banged my head trying to install ConfigMgr 2012 R2 I was also building an OpsMgr 2012 R2 server with SQL 2014, it’s for the same demo. Since both deployment required quite some waiting I decided to do them simultaneously. This is something I would never do (one thing at a time), but for the sake of waiting I’ve decided to do them both.

Checking the following TechNet location first:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/dn249696.aspx#BKMK_RBF_OperationsDatabase

Well, no mention of SQL 2014 so have the same situation as with ConfigMgr:

  1. It’s really not supported, I mean really
  2. TechNet documentation hasn’t been updated yet

OpsMgr 2012 R2 setup wasn’t complaining during prerequisite check and was happily installing. After a while setup was completed successfully.

So installing OpsMgr 2012 R2 with SQL 2014 works, now I need to verify if everything inside works too…

 

Oops: Installing ConfigMgr 2012 R2 with SQL 2014, it doesn’t work…

As we all know, SQL 2014 just got released.

Fortunately I got the opportunity to test if ConfigMgr 2012 R2 would work with SQL 2014. At time of writing, SQL 2014 was not added as a supported configuration which is available here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg682077.aspx#BKMK_SupConfigSQLDBconfig

This could mean two things:

  1. It’s really not supported, I mean really
  2. TechNet documentation hasn’t been updated yet

A while ago I tried CTP1 of SQL 2014 together with ConfigMgr 2012 R2 Preview so I was kind of expecting number 2. I didn’t notice anything then so I assumed it work with all the RTMs as well.

I was wrong…

After installing SQL 2014 and pointing to that location during setup I got this error message:

Well, nothing needs to be added here 😉

 

So it doesn’t work.

In this case I need to uninstall SQL 2014 and go back to SQL 2012 SP1 which works fine. Ah well, building the demo environment will take a little bit longer then 😉

 

 

 

 
 
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