Category Archives: 12038

PowerShell MVP for another year

My 2014 started out with the news that I’ve received my 4th Microsoft MVP Award for PowerShell, which contrasted wonderfully with the end of 2013 when I had a rather nasty fall and was lucky to not break a few bones (although I do still feel pretty sore).


I’ve learned from experience not to bother making New Year’s Resolutions, but going forward I do have a plan to work smarter (see my last post on The Phoenix Project) and to take advantage of working in a tall building to get some exerise up and down the stairs!

More System Center 2012 SP1 on Microsoft Virtual Academy

Earlier this month, I pointed at a couple of courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy – which is a great free resource, if you haven’t already found it. I’ve since found a post on the System Center blog pointing at a whole load more content that you might want to check out:


Configuring and deploying Microsoft’s Private Cloud

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/configuring-and-deploying-microsoft-s-private-cloud

Introduction to the Microsoft Private Cloud

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/introduction-to-the-microsoft-private-cloud

Introduction to Hyper-V Jump Start (with System Center 2012 SP1)

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/introduction-to-hyper-v-jump-start

Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals Jump Start (with System Center 2012 SP1)

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/microsoft-virtualization-for-vmware-professionals-jump-start

Microsoft Solution Accelerators for the Datacenter and Private Cloud

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/microsoft-solution-accelerators-for-the-datacenter-and-private-cloud

Private Cloud: Computing and Infrastructure Management

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/private-cloud-computing-and-infrastructure-management

Private Cloud: Service Delivery and Automation

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/private-cloud-training-service-delivery-and-automation

Private Cloud: Application Services Management

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/private-cloud-application-services-management

Private Cloud: Infrastructure Components

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/private-cloud-infrastructure-components

System Center 2012 Licensing Overview

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-2012-licensing-overview

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Updates

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-2012-service-pack-1-updates

System Center 2012 SP1 Capabilities

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-2012-sp1-capabilities

System Center 2012: Operations Manager

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-2012-training-operations-manager

System Center 2012: Configuration Manager

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/overview-and-infrastructure-changes-in-sccm-2012

System Center 2012: Data Protection Manager

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/protecting-private-clouds-with-system-center-2012-dpm

System Center 2012: Orchestrator & Service Manager

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-2012-orchestrator-service-manager

System Center 2012: Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-2012-virtual-machine-manager-vmm-

System Center Advisor

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/system-center-advisor

What’s New in System Center 2012

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/what-s-new-in-system-center-2012


That’s a whole lot of learning, but that’s going to be of limited use to you if you don’t then go and kick the tires. To that end you might want to setup a test lab. You can download an evaluation of Windows Server 2012, either as an ISO if you want to pop it on a spare bit of kit, or a ready to use VHD file that you can attach to a VM, or boot from on your desktop. Then you can install an evaluation of System Center 2012 with SP1.


If you like, you can even setup an IaaS pop-up lab on Windows Azure and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny:


Bletchley Park

Back in November I had the privilege to spend two days at Bletchley Park, the home of the legendary WWII code breakers and the National Museum of Computing, along with a number of the UK-based Microsoft MVPs. It’s a place that I’ve personally wanted to visit for a number of years because my grandfather’s wartime role was at a Wireless Intercept ‘Y Station’ that was listening in on Axis communications to be decrypted by the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park (the forerunner to GCHQ).


The two days were filled with presentations from Microsoft staff and MVPs in the ballroom, a team code breaking exercise around the grounds and huts, and a tour of the Museum. The modern content in the presentations was very interesting, but it was the history on display that was the star of the show. This is where many significant developments took place in the early days of computing, as well as work that has been credited with shortening the war and contributing greatly to Allied victory. The history is alive at Bletchley Park and there was a palpable energy in Hut 8, where Alan Turing and his team worked on the German naval Enigma codes.



The after dinner speaker at the end of day 1 was the Director of the National Museum of Computing, Dr David Hartley. He gave an excellent brief history of the pioneering computing done at Bletchley and across the UK, including Tommy Flowers‘ work and the Harwell Dekatron (aka WITCH); the oldest working stored-program computer in the world, which was recently restored to working order.


I have to say that visiting the National Museum of Computing with a group of people who were equally interested in computing history was a real pleasure. It’s quite fantastic seeing the replica Colossus and Bombe machines, and the restored Dekatron, not only in the flesh, but in action! As well as these and many other large machines on display, the museum has an excellent selection of microcomputers (including a room of BBC Model B machines that can be used), peripherals, mobiles, software, books and magazines. I found some books that I used to own and some copies of the Let’s Compute magazine that I had a subscription to as a boy. If you’ve been around computers for a long time, then you’re going to find a bunch of things that bring back memories you’d forgotten you had. It’s awesome. :-) 



If you’re ever in the vicinity of Milton Keynes, I urge you to visit, enjoy and support this fascinating and important site. The Museum isn’t fully open every day, so check the website when you plan your visit: www.tnmoc.org & www.bletchleypark.org.uk. You should take a guided tour of the museum and then browse in your own time – the staff are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic and really add to the experience.



If you’re interested in finding out more about the wartime work carried out at Bletchley Park, I can highly recommend Sinclair McKay’s “The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There”, which is available in paperback and on Kindle. I’m currently reading the follow-up to that book on my Kindle: “The Secret Listeners: How the Wartime Y Service Intercepted the Secret German Codes for Bletchley Park

System Center 2012 SP1

When Microsoft first released Service Pack 1 for System Center 2012, there was a short period of pain when early adopters found that it was broken due to it shipping with a certificate that expired almost immediately. Thankfully that was quickly resolved and what is available now is an excellent update in terms of support for new versions of Windows and enhanced functionality.


I would recommend that people look at Microsoft Virtual Academy for details on the updates in SP1. They actually have two courses that cover it: System Center 2012 SP1 Updates and System Center 2012 SP1 Capabilities.


As usual, Microsoft has evaluation versions of the software available and you can grab System Center 2012 SP1 (handily with or without System Center 2012 in the same download bundle) from this link.

TheTekTonic Show

Last Sunday there was a seismic shift when my good friend Ben Lee and I recorded the zero-th episode of our new podcast, TheTekTonic Show. The idea is that it’ll be a semi-regular dose of tech chat, not covering the news as such, but more to do with trends. Since both of us are IT Pros working largely in the Microsoft stack, you can expect a bias towards discussion of Microsoft products and corporate IT, but we’re generally interested in all technology, and with all the BYOD, corporate IT and consumer tech are crossing over.


Our plan is to have guests on most episodes and we’re putting together a diverse list of interesting people from across the industry for future recordings. We’ve also got to get an mp3 version and RSS feed sorted out, but for now, here’s the recording of episode 0, where we discuss Microsoft’s new update strategy and Blackberry’s comeback. Please comment and give feedback, and if you think you’d like to be on the show in the future, let us know.


Microsoft Server & Cloud ICAB

If you’re a dedicated IT professional or software developer working with Microsoft’s server products, like Windows Server, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Forefront then you may want to think about putting yourself forward as a member of the Server and Cloud International Customer Advisory Board (ICAB). I’m a member and I know a number of other very bright people who are contributing, so it’s looking like a group that can provide Microsoft with some really good feedback and recommendations.


Here’s the skinny in Microsoft’s words:


We’re looking for developers and IT pros who use Windows Server and/or System Center to join the Microsoft Server & Cloud iX International Customer Advisory Board (ICAB). The ICAB is an invitation-only community of customers who advise Microsoft on improvements we can make to our product guidance. We ask our ICAB members to fill out two surveys a year and, from time to time, to weigh in on innovations in product guidance (like the articles on MSDN and TechNet). In return, we offer invitations to exclusive conference calls to discuss innovations coming out of our team, a private community board where you can network and discuss technology issues, and invitations to exclusive events at conferences like Tech Ed, the MVP Summit, and Management Summit. For more information, see http://msicab.com. If you are interested in joining the ICAB, email ICABNom@microsoft.com –and thanks very much. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on our products and guidance. 

23rd September, Newcastle: Three fantastic Microsoft enterprise IT presentations

We are very pleased to be able to announce a stellar line up of technical presentations and speakers from Microsoft at the September VBUG Newcastle IT Pro meeting…


The Dynamic Desktop Experience – Windows 7, Windows XP Mode, App-V, MDT, MDOP and System Center (Dan Oliver)


Windows 7 offers Microsoft’s customers with an opportunity to deliver a platform that releases new capabilities that deliver real business benefit and significantly reduced cost of ownership. The challenge for most companies is that deploying and migrating desktops is time consuming and traditionally offers service continuity risks with Application Compatibility that can prevent progress. This presentation will show capabilities, architectures and strategies that allow companies to move forward cost effectively to the benefits of a modern operating system. Level: 100


Dan Oliver is a Pre Sales Architect within Microsoft UK’s Speciality Technology Unit with some 14 years’ experience of Microsoft-based solutions primarily in the virtualization and systems management fields. Dan has a background that covers a broad spectrum of industry sectors ranging from Financial, Telecoms, Partners, Legal, Professional Services and Healthcare. Dan has also had the opportunity to work as a Chief Technology Officer for the Faculty of Advocates in the Scottish Legal Sector.


Novell and Lotus Notes – Migrating to Microsoft (Conrad Sidey)


The business value of implementing Microsoft technologies like Active Directory, Exchange 2007 and SharePoint are clearly understood within Microsoft. For our customers that are still running their organisation on technologies like Novell and Lotus Notes they are starting to gain an understanding of the value of migrating to Microsoft technologies. The purpose behind this presentation is to provide the technical community with an insight into leading a project and architecting a solution to migrate environment that are running both Novell Netware and Lotus Notes. The presentation will discuss envisioning & planning of a Novell and Notes migration project, approaches to undertaking the migration depending upon the business drivers, providing an overview of the approach we are taking in migrating a UK Local City Council while providing coexistence, as well as presenting a number of migration & coexistence recommendations or lessons learnt from the project. Level: 200


Conrad Sidey is a Solution Architect within Microsoft Consulting Services with some 17 years’ experience of Microsoft-based solutions primarily in the infrastructure field. Conrad has a background that covers a broad spectrum of industry sectors ranging from Financial and Insurance, Manufacturing, Aero-Engineering, Defence, UK and European Government Agencies, Power Generators, Retail and Brewing. Conrad has also had the opportunity to work with large scale outsourcing services providers.


Implementing the “Black Box” – Performance Monitoring and Analysis for proactive and reactive support, server baselining and capacity planning (Richard Diver)


All current versions of Windows come with a free tool that can prevent server downtime and solve many mysteries – Perfmon!


A little bit of practice with this tool can really help to solve issues with servers that may not even be performance related. Working at the OS level, you can find cause to most performance bottlenecks regardless of server function (Exchange, DC, Web etc).


This is something that has even more focus in future versions of Windows; a brief overview of these benefits will be shown also! Level: 300


Richard Diver is a Premier Field Engineer with 10 years experience implementing and supporting a range of Microsoft technologies, specialising in Active Directory, Server Platform and Virtualisation.


Wrap up Q&A with all presenters at the end.


Location: Room 118, Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, GB


Time: 18:45


Price: FREE


Please register for your place at the VBUG site so we can make sure we have enough space and refreshments. :-)