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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


Read more »



Jul
7
IE 11 Set Home Page via Group Policy Obscurity
Posted by amy on 07 July 2014 06:16 PM

and IE 10 apparently too. The photo below is from a Microsoft forum post that was never solved (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/715fa81a-3350-4059-94cd-a1c509a2c966/setting-homepage-with-group-policy-preferences-on-windows-8-not-working?forum=w8itproinstall). After some searching I did finally find the answer in another forum that unfortunately I can’t locate again as I post this. And that’s actually the point. This knowledge is hidden from plain view so I’m sharing it here in hopes of elevating the solution.

In the snip below you will see that I’ve terribly drawn an arrow pointing to a red dotted line. That red dotted line means that the setting is disabled. Why you ask would you create a group policy preference and have a singular setting within it disabled by default? That is a question for Microsoft. I can’t come up with a good reason.

To enable your setting hit the F6 key. The red line will turn to green and your group policy preference will now work as expected and users will have the home page that you’ve set for them.

image

_____

Not a Third Tier customer yet? Let me introduce:  We’re Third Tier. We provide advanced Third Tier support for IT Professionals. Come on over, create an account (no charge) and follow our social media locations.

Third Tier Get Support BlogFeed Blog Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook LinkedIn LinkedIN


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Mar
25
Use Group Policy Preferences to Reveal Extensions in Windows Explorer
Posted by Philip Elder on 25 March 2014 11:44 AM

Original here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Use Group Policy Preferences to Reveal Extensions in Windows Explorer

We have a number of different default Group Policy Objects that are set up and linked to specific Organizational Units.

With the advent of a flat OU setup in Windows Server Essentials we made an active decision to maintain a similar OU structure to Small Business Server Standard as it made more sense from so many perspectives.

One of our default GPOs that is created and linked at the domain level is the Default Domain User Security Policy. Once created we edit the GPO’s properties to disable Computer Configuration settings and set a comment in place for the date created and by whom.

image

In this GPO we have a number of settings but the one we are focusing on here has to do with the recent RTF zero-day vulnerability we are hearing about.

image

Under User Configuration –> Preferences –> Control Panel Settings –> Folder Options we see the above.

We set Show hidden files and folders and uncheck Hide extensions for known file types.

image

Since these settings are user oriented they will be picked up by users on their next logon.

Note that while these settings help users to understand what they are seeing nothing replaces training users to hover over links, not click on links in an e-mail, or be cautious about the sites they visit.

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 »



Jan
23
A Windows Server 2012 R2 Cluster Is Born
Posted by Philip Elder on 23 January 2014 02:15 PM

Original Post is here: MPECS Inc. Blog: A Windows Server 2012 R2 Cluster Is Born

We are just in the process of finishing up a newly configured domain with one physical DC and a four node Hyper-V cluster built on Windows Server 2012 R2 Core:

image

As you can see we build out a custom MMC on an RSAT enabled Windows 8.1 x64 Enterprise VM with the above snap-ins that allow us to fully manage that cluster. A copy of the MMC will reside on the physical DC for management from that point if required.

An Intel RMM (Remote Management Module) that is Internet facing is configured on the physical DC. This gives us console access to the DC that is especially important for managing the cluster for anything from updating through to full power-down situations.

Failover Cluster Manager has the best logging facilities bar-none. Sorry, but VMM (Virtual Machine Manager) does not have anything near what FCM has especially when it comes to live logging the cluster and the nodes. All one needs to do is build a custom query that includes all Cluster and Hyper-V Event streams. We can also build custom queries that are focused on cluster, storage, and Hyper-V streams.

While we have added the Windows Firewall snap-in for each node to date we have not had a need to tweak anything at the node level since we set the basic port exemptions at the Group Policy level as well as permitting local exceptions. This allows the Cluster Service setup routine to configure the firewall as appropriate.

Note that it is a good idea to set up the Cluster Service _after_ the nodes have been joined to the domain, teams created if being used, and the Network Awareness service is set to Automatic (Delayed) if Windows Native teaming is being used. This allows the port exemptions to be placed in the correct firewall profile.

This particular cluster will end up hosting a number of different workloads including DCs, File services, Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, and a few LoB specific ones.

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

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


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Sep
12

That was the error we had when we ran setup /admin from our Office 2013 Pro Plus distribution point.

image

It turns out that we do need to download some additional files from Microsoft's download site.

We downloaded the 32-bit version of the tools and extracted them to a folder.

Once the extraction is complete copy the Admin folder to the root of the Office distribution point.

image

We could then run the setup /admin command from the distribution point and voila:

image

We can now go on and create our MST file to allow for automatic installation, activation, and base configuration of the products.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


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