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News
Aug
27
Our Value to Our Clients is in Our Knowledge and Experience
Posted by Reprinted Article on 27 August 2013 01:51 PM

(Posted to the SBS2K Yahoo Group)

When we look at SBS 2003 and the growth in product and features over its lifespan we have an idea of how the single box will perform.

SBS 2008 and Exchange 2007 we encountered an exponential growth in the need for disk I/O due to Exchange and RAM due to both Windows Server (Vista code) and Exchange.

Move to SBS 2010 and Exchange 2010 and if we were keeping an eye on the various product groups and their direction for the product we would have seen _before_ SBS 2011 STD ever RTMd that Exchange 2010 was designed to run on one SATA hard disk with everything in RAM. We would have then planned our deployments, both physical and then virtual as that became much more common, around the server products built-in.

The key to any single host design or cluster design is in what will be running on top of them. Obviously, but maybe not?

Here, our experience comes into play if we have been taking the SBS product and tearing it apart for the last ten years and three major product iterations. The inner-workings of SBS, Exchange, Active Directory, Group Policy, SharePoint, and so many other server feature sets were there for us to explore. Not only that, Microsoft gave us a really solid template to carry forward into our now stacked solution sets.

  • VM0: AD, DNS, DHCP
  • VM1: Exchange or LoB
  • VM2: SQL or LoB
  • VM3: RDS

Provisioning the above has not changed in a sense. We need to augment our host configuration for the extra 15GB of OS space per VM perhaps. But, for the most part our physical hardware will be similar in nature to what we would deploy for previous versions of SBS Standard _given the products running in the suite_.

The key in all of this is knowing how the various server products will behave given certain workloads.

SQL has an I/O tester. Exchange has a load tester called Jetstress. Those two utilities can help us understand what our small, medium, and large clients can expect for a given server topology. They can also help us to deliver a solution tailored to their specific needs.

Having a lab is key to getting to know the products and how to put them together.

Testing _every_ solution that goes out the door before actually setting up the client’s own solution set is also critical.

Knowledge is key to our value to our clients. Lose that and we’ve pretty much lost the game.

It takes lots of time. It can take a lot of money. But, in the end training and grinding away at configurations in a lab is key to our client’s success and to ours as well.

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
2
A Really Good Read on the State of IT and Cloud Outsourcing
Posted by Reprinted Article on 02 August 2013 05:42 PM

It seems that Aidan Finn and I are somewhat on the same page as far as how the Cloud has been significantly strong due to the “Bad IT Pro”.

Indeed, if we in the SMB community especially had a majority of IT Pros that fit into the “Good IT Pro” category as defined by Aidan the Cloud would probably have little place in the small to medium business.

Now, have a listen to my interview podcast with Robert Crane of CIAOPS in Australia that was done in December of 2012:

Robert and I have a pretty good parlay around the Cloud versus on-premises situation in SMB IT with my touching on the need to be trained, keep up on the tech, and work hard at IT!

Ultimately, it is our responsibility to make sure our skill-set is up to the task of providing the best IT Solutions for our clients. This task costs in both time and money with the investment, yes it _is_ an investment to get trained, paying off in ways we sometimes are not able to anticipate!

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
2
A Really Good Read on the State of IT and Cloud Outsourcing
Posted by Reprinted Article on 02 August 2013 05:42 PM

It seems that Aidan Finn and I are somewhat on the same page as far as how the Cloud has been significantly strong due to the “Bad IT Pro”.

Indeed, if we in the SMB community especially had a majority of IT Pros that fit into the “Good IT Pro” category as defined by Aidan the Cloud would probably have little place in the small to medium business.

Now, have a listen to my interview podcast with Robert Crane of CIAOPS in Australia that was done in December of 2012:

Robert and I have a pretty good parlay around the Cloud versus on-premises situation in SMB IT with my touching on the need to be trained, keep up on the tech, and work hard at IT!

Ultimately, it is our responsibility to make sure our skill-set is up to the task of providing the best IT Solutions for our clients. This task costs in both time and money with the investment, yes it _is_ an investment to get trained, paying off in ways we sometimes are not able to anticipate!

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
8
Things are Cloudy: Some Monday Morning Cloud Reading and Thoughts on Trust
Posted by Reprinted Article on 08 July 2013 02:02 PM

Here are a few interesting articles that paint some reality on the ongoing Cloud picture.

Both articles are a good read and provide some insight into company’s perspectives on being in the Cloud and Microsoft’s vision for the Cloud.

BTW, what exactly is meant by an “update” anyway? We are not too sure on that one.

Conflicting Messages for SMB IT

Now, the kicker that really brings about the meaning of the word “irony” is in this quote from the Business Week article.

The Office unit says packaged releases will still be available to users who are resistant to Office 365 and its frequent updates, but most of the team’s energy will be focused online. “Microsoft has an established history and trust with customers [emphasis ours],” says Pisoni. “So far those who are hesitant about going to the cloud, they’re willing to put their trust in Microsoft. No other competitor—Google, Box—has that established trust.” Raman Padmanabhan, chief information officer for Xerox’s (XRX) business services unit, has been briefed on Microsoft’s move to faster updates and says he supports the shift as long as the product is good. “It’s all about service and quality,” he says. “You have to have a certain quality or it just kills your business.”

How many of us in SMB have been banging our heads against the wall, so to speak, trying to make the message clear that in SMB IT it is the face-to-face time and relationship trust that we build up with our clients that are keys to both business’s success?

The business relationship and trust have always been, and will always be, the foundation to our way of doing business.

The Cloud Message and many of the Cloud Prophets have been trying to blow that off for SMB IT for the last three or four years now and yet here we have it straight from Microsoft. _Trust_ is the foundation for moving forward.

Yes, there is a little bit of frustration here and it may show so our apologies for that. :S

But, at least it is good to see in print that our own SMB IT way of doing things is confirmed, though not directly. :)

As time goes on we shall see how all things play out.

From this arm chair it looks like Microsoft is in the process of slaughtering their cash cows and diving in for the lowest common denominator ... which in the end means that they will be on the same, and level, playing field as the other Cloud Vendors.

IMNSHO, this is _not_ a good place for Microsoft to go.

Most especially because a huge chunk of the Microsoft Partner base, that is those of us IT Providers in SMB, is being stepped on to get to wherever Microsoft’s current Cloudy Vision is leading them.

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
8
Things are Cloudy: Some Monday Morning Cloud Reading and Thoughts on Trust
Posted by Reprinted Article on 08 July 2013 02:02 PM

Here are a few interesting articles that paint some reality on the ongoing Cloud picture.

Both articles are a good read and provide some insight into company’s perspectives on being in the Cloud and Microsoft’s vision for the Cloud.

BTW, what exactly is meant by an “update” anyway? We are not too sure on that one.

Conflicting Messages for SMB IT

Now, the kicker that really brings about the meaning of the word “irony” is in this quote from the Business Week article.

The Office unit says packaged releases will still be available to users who are resistant to Office 365 and its frequent updates, but most of the team’s energy will be focused online. “Microsoft has an established history and trust with customers [emphasis ours],” says Pisoni. “So far those who are hesitant about going to the cloud, they’re willing to put their trust in Microsoft. No other competitor—Google, Box—has that established trust.” Raman Padmanabhan, chief information officer for Xerox’s (XRX) business services unit, has been briefed on Microsoft’s move to faster updates and says he supports the shift as long as the product is good. “It’s all about service and quality,” he says. “You have to have a certain quality or it just kills your business.”

How many of us in SMB have been banging our heads against the wall, so to speak, trying to make the message clear that in SMB IT it is the face-to-face time and relationship trust that we build up with our clients that are keys to both business’s success?

The business relationship and trust have always been, and will always be, the foundation to our way of doing business.

The Cloud Message and many of the Cloud Prophets have been trying to blow that off for SMB IT for the last three or four years now and yet here we have it straight from Microsoft. _Trust_ is the foundation for moving forward.

Yes, there is a little bit of frustration here and it may show so our apologies for that. :S

But, at least it is good to see in print that our own SMB IT way of doing things is confirmed, though not directly. :)

As time goes on we shall see how all things play out.

From this arm chair it looks like Microsoft is in the process of slaughtering their cash cows and diving in for the lowest common denominator ... which in the end means that they will be on the same, and level, playing field as the other Cloud Vendors.

IMNSHO, this is _not_ a good place for Microsoft to go.

Most especially because a huge chunk of the Microsoft Partner base, that is those of us IT Providers in SMB, is being stepped on to get to wherever Microsoft’s current Cloudy Vision is leading them.

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 »



May
21
Repeat After Me: DHCP and DNS Belong on a DC
Posted by admin on 21 May 2013 03:01 PM

When configuring any network one needs to have an understanding of just how DNS works.

If DNS is not set up correctly there are so many things that break it is not funny.

Unlike mail routing (MX records) that offer a priority system for directing mail to the final destination where the system compensates for an offline mail server DNS operates in a round robin fashion.

So, if DHCP is set up on a router and delivers the following IPs for the client’s DNS queries:

  • 192.168.99.5 (local DC)
  • 192.168.99.1 (router)
  • 8.8.8.8 (Google DNS server)

Guess how many times the client’s on-premises resource DNS queries, in general, will fail.

If you guessed “67%” then you would be right.

It seems that folks are missing the reason for “Domain” in “Domain Naming System” or DNS for short.

The primary excuse we’ve heard so far to set the above DNS server IP settings on clients and even Remote Desktop Services servers and other servers is:

  • I want my clients to be able to browse the Internet if the DC and DNS goes offline.

There is, however, a fatal flaw in that line of reason . . . the missing “Domain” in DNS.

Or, to be blunt: A lack of understanding how DNS works on-premises and on the Internet and why the two are separate from each other.

Let’s have a look at this very crude drawing:

image

The left hand box is the on-premises Domain network. On that network MYDC is authoritative for that domain. Everything inside the box boundary for the network belongs to that DC and its on-premises DNS setup.

MYDC is the Start of Authority (SOA) for that domain (DOMAIN.LOCAL).

Being that our MYDC has the SOA means that no other DNS server _anywhere on the planet_ will be an authority for that domain. At least, for _that_ particular domain name in that particular location.

Not to mention the Top Level Domain (TLD) .LOCAL is not to be found anywhere on the Internet either.

What that means is that any client that queries DNS where MYSQL is will get the correct IP address from the DC that hosts the on-premises _domain’s_ DNS because that server is _authoritative_ for that domain.

Now, what happens on the client if they query DNS for MYSQL.DOMAIN.LOCAL and Google/OpenDNS server IPs are on the client’s DNS “where to query” server list and they respond?

That query goes OUTSIDE of the domain network to Google or OpenDNS and the response back is, “I have no clue who, what, or where the chicken DOMAIN.LOCAL is. Check ROOT SERVERS.” And of course, they answer same.

So, we have 67% of our on-premises queries failing DNS resolution.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

. . .

67% of our DNS queries are FAILING.

That means poor network performance, network print problems, LoBs that depend on database/SQL connections losing their connections, improper RDP routing, and so much more.

The _proper_ way to configure a domain’s DNS is as follows:

  • On the only DC on the network
    • AD and DNS are properly integrated
    • DHCP on the server
      • Name Protection Set (Ticks on 2003):
      • image
      • Admin credentials set to update DNS with IP:image
  • The DC NIC properties:
    • IP: 192.168.33.5
    • SN: 255.255.255.0
    • GW: 192.168.33.1
    • DNS0: 192.168.33.5 (SELF ONLY)
      • AD integrated DNS takes care of delivering IPs for other DC with DNS on the network. There is NO reason to put any other IP in DNS1.
  • DHCP configuration:
    • Scope Options:
      • 003 Router: 192.168.33.1
      • 006 DNS Servers: 192.168.33.5 (and other AD integrated DC/DNS server IPs)
      • 015 DNS Domain Name: DOMAIN.LOCAL
    • That’s it. Google/OpenDNS server IPs DO NOT belong here.
  • DNS Server service
    • Forwarders Tab
      • OpenDNS IPs or ISP’s DNS server IPs (at least two).

DHCP belongs on the server. Period. Full-stop.

If DHCP is on the router with DNS pointers to Google/OpenDNS or ISP DNS servers served to the on-premises DHCP clients then changes need to be made to put DHCP back where it belongs. . . on the DC.

If there is a concern about the only DC going down and leaving the clients helpless then make sure the backups are good.

If a need for redundancy is there then install an HP MicroServer with a Standard license and DCPromo that box into the domain. Make sure replication and AD integrated DNS are functioning between the now two DCs on the domain (we’ve seen situations where the second DC or RODC had no SYSVOL due to broken replication).

Or install an online cold backup device but make sure that the primary server has Software Assurance as Cold Backup is an SA only option.

For Small Business Server networks there _is_ a caveat to having another DC on the domain when in a disaster recovery situation.

In the end, a good chunk of the problems on a network such as connectivity, Line of Business application problems, performance, and more can have their source in an improperly configured DNS structure.

It is our job as IT “Professionals” to know the “WHY” things work so that we can set things up properly.

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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