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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


Read more »



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 »



Aug
26
Domain Join Error: Cannot Complete This Function
Posted by Reprinted Article on 26 August 2013 11:53 PM

In our newly recovered SBS 2008 environment we have not restored our client's Windows Server 2012 DC.

When attempting to join a freshly installed Windows 7 VM via http://connect we hit the following error:

13-08-26 BIO-Recovery - 02 Cannot complete this function ERROR

Connect Computer Error Details

ERROR: Connecting to the network

Cannot complete this function

Now, we then went and tried to join the VM manually and this is what we hit:

image

Computer Name/Domain Changes

The following error occurred attempting to join the domain "domain.local":

Cannot complete this function.

After verifying that DHCP was only handing out the recovered SBS as the only DNS server we went on to clean out DSSite.msc of the secondary DC and then on to DNS to clean up domain.local and _msdcs.domain.local.

Once we cleaned out the references to the now absent DC we had a successful domain join.

Moral of the story: If a now defunct DC still exists in Active Directory Sites and Services and/or DNS then clean-up including metadata clean-up (KB216498) may be required.

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


Read more »



Aug
26
Domain Join Error: Cannot Complete This Function
Posted by Reprinted Article on 26 August 2013 11:53 PM

In our newly recovered SBS 2008 environment we have not restored our client's Windows Server 2012 DC.

When attempting to join a freshly installed Windows 7 VM via http://connect we hit the following error:

13-08-26 BIO-Recovery - 02 Cannot complete this function ERROR

Connect Computer Error Details

ERROR: Connecting to the network

Cannot complete this function

Now, we then went and tried to join the VM manually and this is what we hit:

image

Computer Name/Domain Changes

The following error occurred attempting to join the domain "domain.local":

Cannot complete this function.

After verifying that DHCP was only handing out the recovered SBS as the only DNS server we went on to clean out DSSite.msc of the secondary DC and then on to DNS to clean up domain.local and _msdcs.domain.local.

Once we cleaned out the references to the now absent DC we had a successful domain join.

Moral of the story: If a now defunct DC still exists in Active Directory Sites and Services and/or DNS then clean-up including metadata clean-up (KB216498) may be required.

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


Read more »



Jul
19

Introduced in Windows Server 2012 was the ability to cold-boot a Hyper-V cluster without a DC present outside of the cluster setup.

One still needs Active Directory up and running _prior_ to standing up a new cluster in a greenfield deployment but that is pretty much the only “requirement” as far as DCs and clusters go.

The above KB tells us that we can make an exception in that greenfield setup to actually DCPromo _all_ of the nodes prior to standing up the cluster. Then we have our AD and are good to go so to speak.

We, however, prefer to have a standalone DC in place prior to running a greenfield cluster setup or introduce a new physical server box with Windows Server Standard that will be DCPromod into the existing domain and remain after the existing server systems are retired.

Why do we do this?

  • A separate/independent DC is needed for standing up a new cluster.
    • We don’t support the idea of running a DCPromo on all of the nodes in a new cluster and then backing them out afterwards.
  • DNS is absolutely critical when working on a cluster in a recovery/systems down situation.
    • No DNS can mean no RSAT management of the nodes.
  • AD can be needed for authentication purposes when making changes on the nodes.
    • We don’t log into the nodes very often. So, in a setting where domain admin credentials change on a somewhat regular basis we could be locked out.
  • Constrained Delegation for access to resources hosted elsewhere on the network can break without a live DC.
    • No access to that recovery ISO that we needed yesterday. :(
  • A physical DC is needed for high load VMs where timing gets skewed****.

For the cost of a small server and a Windows Server Standard license we can avoid so many headaches in the event that something goes wrong and we need to go into troubleshooting and recovery mode with our cluster.

Depending on the situation one can also build a fairly robust server configuration for that independent DC with a lot of storage. This is our preference where our cluster storage is fairly close to 100% utilized with dedicated LUNs for those VHD/VHDX files.

Then, if we run into a situation where an admin accidentally snapshots something and the VM goes Paused-Critical (previous blog post) we have some free storage to combine the AVHD and VHD files.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a two, three, or four node cluster running in a smaller setting where there may not be any other DCs present beyond the main office.

If there are branch offices with a local domain controller present one needs to carefully evaluate as to whether that standalone DC in the main office should be left out of the picture. Even in this type of situation we prefer to have an independent DC in the main office.

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


Read more »



Jul
19

Introduced in Windows Server 2012 was the ability to cold-boot a Hyper-V cluster without a DC present outside of the cluster setup.

One still needs Active Directory up and running _prior_ to standing up a new cluster in a greenfield deployment but that is pretty much the only “requirement” as far as DCs and clusters go.

The above KB tells us that we can make an exception in that greenfield setup to actually DCPromo _all_ of the nodes prior to standing up the cluster. Then we have our AD and are good to go so to speak.

We, however, prefer to have a standalone DC in place prior to running a greenfield cluster setup or introduce a new physical server box with Windows Server Standard that will be DCPromod into the existing domain and remain after the existing server systems are retired.

Why do we do this?

  • A separate/independent DC is needed for standing up a new cluster.
    • We don’t support the idea of running a DCPromo on all of the nodes in a new cluster and then backing them out afterwards.
  • DNS is absolutely critical when working on a cluster in a recovery/systems down situation.
    • No DNS can mean no RSAT management of the nodes.
  • AD can be needed for authentication purposes when making changes on the nodes.
    • We don’t log into the nodes very often. So, in a setting where domain admin credentials change on a somewhat regular basis we could be locked out.
  • Constrained Delegation for access to resources hosted elsewhere on the network can break without a live DC.
    • No access to that recovery ISO that we needed yesterday. :(
  • A physical DC is needed for high load VMs where timing gets skewed****.

For the cost of a small server and a Windows Server Standard license we can avoid so many headaches in the event that something goes wrong and we need to go into troubleshooting and recovery mode with our cluster.

Depending on the situation one can also build a fairly robust server configuration for that independent DC with a lot of storage. This is our preference where our cluster storage is fairly close to 100% utilized with dedicated LUNs for those VHD/VHDX files.

Then, if we run into a situation where an admin accidentally snapshots something and the VM goes Paused-Critical (previous blog post) we have some free storage to combine the AVHD and VHD files.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a two, three, or four node cluster running in a smaller setting where there may not be any other DCs present beyond the main office.

If there are branch offices with a local domain controller present one needs to carefully evaluate as to whether that standalone DC in the main office should be left out of the picture. Even in this type of situation we prefer to have an independent DC in the main office.

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


Read more »




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