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News
Dec
4

Original here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Microsoft Ups Support Ticket to $499 – We Have a Great Alternative: Third Tier!

It seems that this may, or may not, depending on one’s thoughts of how Microsoft sees IT Pros in today’s “Cloud First Mobile First” be another shot at IT Pros that provide much of the front line support to SMB/SME clients.

I’ve been helping out with Third Tier for well over a year and a half now. I’ve been privileged to work on a team of amazing folks as well as work with a great group of IT Pros.

I believe that we at Third Tier offer a viable alternative to Microsoft’s $499 ticket (though I’m not sure what that will work out to in Canada as we pay substantially more than the US equivalent) for spot support or even ongoing support needs.

Given the experience our team has the Third Tier rate of $175/Hour is very reasonable. Active Directory, Exchange, Remote Desktop Services, Hyper-V, VMware, Cluster, and very soon a number of key vertical products and services to help our IT Pros get the job done right the first time!

Third Tier offers a Micro Staffing program where we can be a part of your IT Pro team for ongoing support challenges or staffing challenges. We can be a part of your team for a very reasonable cost.

I’m also excited about some of the things we’ve been working on at Third Tier to provide our IT Pros with a one-stop solution for their data centre that will allow them to provide IaaS and even our SBS (Small Business Solution) at a very reasonable cost per seat! More to come on that soon.

One final thought. If one is caught in a bind with a server down situation then the Microsoft ticket may be the best way. With Action Pack we still get BizCrit (Business Critical) support though via a call back model.

Our response model tends towards scheduled time for tickets as opposed to crash responses. So, please keep that in mind.

Here are some of the areas we can help you with:

  • Disaster Recovery Planning and Practice

  • Infrastructure planning, migration, support, and recovery
  • Active Directory and Group Policy planning, support, and recovery
  • Remote Desktop Services planning, support, and recovery
  • Exchange planning, migration, support, and recovery
  • SQL planning, migration, support, and recovery
  • Hyper-V planning, support, and recovery
  • Virtualization Solution Performance planning and support
  • Specialized Bookkeeping Support and Services
  • IT Business Models, Plans, Direction, Vision, and More

Whatever the task, we have a team member that can help. Not only that, one can expect the task to be done in short order and in a professional manner.

If you have not checked us out before please do now.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


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Dec
1
Cluster: Firewall GPO Settings
Posted by Philip Elder on 01 December 2014 10:59 AM

Original here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Cluster: Firewall GPO Settings

Here are some firewall settings that we configure via GPO for both our AD environment but also for our cluster setups.

Domain linked GPO:

image

At the domain level, thus all systems are impacted by these settings, we configure Remote Desktop inbound, Remote Event Log Management, Remote Volume Management, and finally Remote Firewall management.

Cluster OU linked GPO:

image

Here we set the inbound rules that allow us to manage our clusters. The Inbound Rule for Remote Shutdown is a critical one to implement as that allows Cluster Aware Updating to run.

And, there is one rule that seems to be in both places. Chalk that up to export/import. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


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Oct
23

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: SMB Kitchen Content Posted: Exchange Migration Documentation, Cluster Quotes, and Proposal Template

I’ve published three very significant documents to the ASP SMBKitchen knowledgebase.

Exchange Migration Guide

The following is the product of many Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013 migrations.

image

The guide walks through all of the necessary steps to migrate from Exchange 2003 and up to Exchange 2013. If migrating from v2003 then a two-step process would be required where we’d migrate to Exchange 2010 and then on to 2013.

We’ve done the two-step process on a number of occasions with small and large Public Folder stores without any real issues. It works quite well

Note that the primary focus of this guide is all of the PowerShell required to configure Exchange, work within the process, and recover from some specific errors that may happen. Everything is there as far as configuring Virtual Directories, the Service Connection Point (SCP), setting quotas, limits on send, and more.

On-Premises Proposal Document

The second document posted is an Excel spreadsheet that allows us to publish a proposal for an on-premises infrastructure deployment. It presents one number including a number for deposit to the end-user.

image

It includes two Intel Server Systems based configurations, which can be changed to Dell or other system, software licensing costs, and a labour section that allows for a detailed scope for us with a brief in the proposal itself.

1U Cluster Quote

The third document is a quote in Excel for the base Scale-Out File Server Cluster setup we would propose for an on-premises infrastructure setup.

It uses the above template with four Intel Server Systems R1208JP4OC 1U single socket servers configured for either the Scale-Out File Server cluster node or the Hyper-V cluster node. It uses a 10GbE backend for SMB traffic via two NETGEAR XS712T 12-Port 10GbE switches.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

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    I’m excited to announce that I will be doing some presenting at the upcoming TechFest in Orange County, California! :) SMB TechFest Amy Babinchak will be delving into the changes we are seeing in our industry and how she is working those changes into her own IT practice Harbor Computer Services. Boon Tee will be…
    Tags: smb, hyper-v, kitchen, business, smbkitchen, clusters, opportunity
  • 67
    I’m excited to announce that I will be doing some presenting at the upcoming TechFest in Orange County, California! :) SMB TechFest Amy Babinchak will be delving into the changes we are seeing in our industry and how she is working those changes into her own IT practice Harbor Computer Services. Boon Tee will be…
    Tags: smb, hyper-v, kitchen, business, smbkitchen, clusters, opportunity
  • 64
    Original Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: MPECS Inc. Blog: Our SBS (Small Business Solution) Options with Standalone and Cluster Hardware ConsiderationsWe’ve received a number of questions about the “How” we present our SBS to prospective and existing clients. Our primary focus is on what we have provided with Small Business Server starting with SBS 2003 Standard.…
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  • 64
    Hello SMBKitchen subscribers! We have an author's chat in 10 minutes. Let's discuss my new Hyper-V Hardware Configuration Guide and my upcoming Hyper-V Cluster Considerations document (in final review – pending Amy's vacation return!). This particular monthly chat is available to subscribers only. :) Philip Elder MPECS Inc. Microsoft Small Business Specialists Co-Author: SBS 2008…
    Tags: smbkitchen, hyper-v, business, small, mpecs, guide, cluster, document, clusters
  • 64
    Hello SMBKitchen subscribers! We have an author's chat in 10 minutes. Let's discuss my new Hyper-V Hardware Configuration Guide and my upcoming Hyper-V Cluster Considerations document (in final review – pending Amy's vacation return!). This particular monthly chat is available to subscribers only. :) Philip Elder MPECS Inc. Microsoft Small Business Specialists Co-Author: SBS 2008…
    Tags: smbkitchen, hyper-v, business, small, mpecs, guide, cluster, document, clusters

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Oct
20
How vCPUs Interact With Physical CPUs – Resources
Posted by Philip Elder on 20 October 2014 02:28 PM

Original Published Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: How vCPUs Interact With Physical CPUs – Resources

Here are some excellent resources on how a hypervisor such as Hyper-V interacts with the CPU pipeline.

Essentially, having a bit of time while waiting for some things to complete I’ve done a bit of digging to figure out if the premise “All VM threads (vCPUs) must be processed in parallel” still applies to the CPU pipelines and architectures of today.

Check out the conversation I’ve been having with Brian Elhert on his blog with the videos as it seems that the premise no longer holds true.

There are other VM performance thoughts that we have had since day one that need to be tested or verified based on Brian’s responses.

In our experience the following can have an impact on a VM’s performance:

  • Assigning more vCPUs to a VM than physical cores (threads) available on one CPU

  • Assigning vCPU count to a VM as the number of physical cores (threads) on one CPU
  • Assigning enough vRAM to a VM to force its contents to be split between memory controllers

Hat Tip: @BrianEh (Brian Elhert)

Further reading on tuning Windows Server 2012 R2:

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


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Oct
16
2 Node 1 JBOD Hyper-V Cluster Connectivity Guide
Posted by Philip Elder on 16 October 2014 03:27 PM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: 2 Node 1 JBOD Hyper-V Cluster Connectivity Guide

Okay, so just how do we wire up that cluster?

image

We connect two SAS cables from each HBA on each node to one expander on the JBOD.

image

We then connect two SAS cables from each HBA on each node to one expander on the JBOD. Note the left/right split between the cable sets to keep things simple and clean.

This gives us two redundant paths between the Hyper-V hosts if setting up an asymmetric cluster (2 nodes 1 JBOD) or redundant paths between SOFS nodes and the JBOD.

The following shows the setup for an Intel Server System R1208JP4OC 1U single socket server:

image

We always try to keep the cables plugged in identically on each node. So, in this case the bottom HBA is plugged into Expander 0 and the top HBA is plugged into Expander 1.

In a Scale-Out File Server cluster where we have three nodes and three JBODs we would be utilizing an LSI SAS HBA with 4 external ports (-16e). In that case we would cable up each node just as we did here between each JBOD giving us the left/right split.

Given the Intel JBOD2224S2DP’s three external ports per expander we would be limited to the three node setup unless we utilized our LSI SAS6160 SAS Switches to scale beyond three nodes and JBODs.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


Read more »



Oct
14
Storage replication: Can it work for SMB’s?
Posted by Third Tier on 14 October 2014 01:51 PM

What would a small business use Windows Server Storage Replication for?

What Microsoft says, “Storage Replica (SR) is a new feature that enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between clusters or servers for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster for high availability. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes ensuring zero data loss at the file system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss.”

The purpose is to replication storage volumes, not entire servers, to another server. Any volume with a page file will fail to replicate and the system volume will also fail. So when you think about Storage Replication believe what it says, storage only.

clip_image002

What could we use this for in SMB then? Well let’s say we have a CAD server and it’s critical that the data that server contains remains accessible at all times. A CAD server is really generally just a file storage server. So for continuity purposes we could use Storage Replication to replicate the data volume over to another server in our network. In case the CAD server should fail we can could mount this replicated storage location into an existing virtual machine and map a drive to the new location for our users. This mapped drive could even be pre-staged for them in an existing group policy.

Prior to Storage Replication what would we do? Well we could backup and restore (cheap but slow) or we could use hyper-v replication and replicate the whole server to another hyper-v parent (fast but expensive). Now we have a third choice and this third choice sit right in the middle between better than backup but not quite as good as a full server replication as far as speed to recovery goes but I suspect that because of the cost savings we’ll see a lot of Storage Replication deployments.

If you haven’t looked at Storage Replication yet look at this article in TechNet: Technical Preview Step-by-Step Guide: Storage Replica It has a nice step-by-step lab. Also included in this paper is information on Stretch Cluster Storage Replication if you are into clustering your servers the technology is interesting but perhaps beyond the reach of the majority of small business customers.

_____

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