Deployment Options for Windows 10 in SCCM

With the release of Windows 10 came a new deployment option that Microsoft calls an “In-Place Upgrade.” But wasn’t that always a method, like when we went from Windows XP to Windows 7? Kinda sorta, but not really. Traditionally, we often used MDT-integrated ConfigMgr task sequences to perform an operating system Refresh, which would put a new image on your workstation. The Refresh sequence was often called an In-Place upgrade, or Wipe ‘n Load, and therein lies the confusion. To set the bar, and to know when and how to use each, let’s dive into the various deployment options...

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PowerShell – The Patch Solution – Part 1

Over the last few years, we here at TriCon Elite have been using what we call “The Patch Solution”. Boring name, but it also fits its purpose. Who loves deploying patches and reporting? There are many ways to patch your Windows Servers, but our slim, simple, PowerShell solution was created to solve a few key areas, for free. It has been released to the community for quite some time, but keep reading on why you should use it too!

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Connecting on-premises to Azure using Windows Server 2016

One of the most powerful features of Azure is it’s ability to seamlessly integrate with your on-premises environment, functioning similar to every other site.  To connect the Azure resources to the on-premises network, we use an Azure Gateway. There are two types of gateways, and in the Classic Portal they’re known as Static Based Routing and Dynamic Based Routing.  The latter permits connections to Azure from multiple sites, however requires features that are not available in most routers.  As a result, connecting to a second site, such as Azure Resource Manager or a second physical location, becomes impossible. Rather...

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Going to VeeamOn in New Orleans?

I wanted to do a shout out to all you folks that are registered for VeeamOn, to consider coming to town a few days early. On the Friday before VeeamOn, Vanguards Dave and Cristal Kawula will be hosting a 1-day conference, called MVPDays Community Roadshow (www.mvpdays.com). Early Bird tickets are free, and if you happen to miss those, the ticket cost is well worth the extra content that is presented at these shows. With presenters comprising of Microsoft MVPs, Veeam Vanguards, and other industry experts, MVPDays hosts a broad range of content for attendees across many different areas. It...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 14 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

In this blog post in the series we will have a look at some of the different Vendor Designs that have been made available.   Let’s first start with our good friends over at Intel who have a very close partnership with Microsoft and the Storage Platform Teams. http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/guides/windows-server-2016-implementation-guide.pdf   This Implementation guide pretty much uses the exact same configuration that we have defined throughout this blog series. One interesting little add-on though was Intel has a neat little script at the end which allows one to blow away their drive configs and start over. ************USE THIS WITH CAUTION...

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Workaround for Storage Spaces Direct – Unspecified Media Type

With the release of our Master Storage Spaces Direct book on Amazon we have been getting a lot of requests to help people setup some test labs. Storage Spaces Direct does require some specific hardware to get going and today we had one such case. We wanted to use some existing Dell R620 hardware to play with Storage Spaces Direct S2D in the lab. We put in 2 x SSD Drives for the Cache (Journal) and 4 x SATA Drives for the Storage Pool So, we actually followed the configuration that we had laid out in Chapter #5 in the...

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Need Leverage for your next Hardware Purchase?

Negotiate your Maintenance Contracts One of the games our industry has played for as long as I have been around, is with maintenance contracts. These contracts are the lifeblood of most of these organizations as they generate run rate revenue well beyond the initial sale. If you don’t read the fine print in your contract most vendors have clauses written into them that allow them to increase the MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) at a reasonable rate each year. Or in some cases they can just raise it as they see fit. So here is some simple math for...

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S2D on Fanless Hardware

Over the past few months, I’ve been working with the Airtop-S Fanless Server from Compulab. This is a compact device, about the size of a Small Form Factor PC. What’s cool about it is that it uses a Natural AirFlow technology that does not require fans or liquid to cool the CPU and PCIe Video Card. They’ve also used an external power supply, similar to what you’d use to power a docking station, freeing up all kinds of space internally for nice extras. As the entire design has been customized with thermal considerations, CompuLab has also designed their own...

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Azure IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

One of the things that almost everyone asks me when starting cloud adoption, is what the difference is between the various as a Service models. So much so, that I recently did a presentation on the topic at MVPDays in Edmonton. Here are the main points that I talked about for Infrastructure, Platform, and Software as a Service: Infrastructure as a Service IaaS, often called Cloud Infrastructure Services, is the first thing someone things of when they hear about “moving to the cloud.” Purely speaking, it’s a self-provisioned, self-managed server in someone else’s datacenter, that’s billed on a regular...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 13 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

Recently at the MVPDays Roadshow in Western Canada I had a chance to deliver a session with a few good friends on Storage Spaces Direct. It was called an Absolute Beginners Guide to Storage Spaces Direct. We recorded this session in Edmonton, AB where Clint Wyckoff @clintwyckoff and Dave Kawula @davekawula delivered it. If you missed the show you can check out the recording here:   During this session, we showcased a cool script that Dave had built that essentially builds a Nested Hyper-V Storage Spaces Direct Farm in a few easy steps.   We were really crunched for...

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Deploy OMS Step by Step – Quick, Easy, Free

Operations Management Suite is Microsoft’s Azure-based Cloud monitoring solution. As is the case with all their Azure solutions, OMS has seen tremendous development and enhancements since its evolution from Operational Insights. Over the past couple of years, I have run an Intro to OMS session at least a dozen times, and each and every time the content has been different. OMS is not System Center Operations Manager in the Cloud, nor is it a replacement for SCOM…at least not yet. It does, however, interface really well with SCOM to augment the solution, providing you with deep analytics and cloud...

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Windows 7: Good to the last drop

For the majority of organizations, Windows 10 adoption can’t happen soon enough.  The security enhancements bring on a sigh of relief in an age of Ransomware and devastating zero-day threats.  There are, however, still isolated environments and service applications that happily run Windows 7, and will likely continue to do so up until Jan 14, 2020, when Microsoft stops providing security updates for the operating system. Given there’s just under three years until 7’s end of support, some companies are even undertaking the grueling task of managing 2 production OSs, slowly upgrading to Windows 10 as hardware is refreshed. ...

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A bit of a RoCE start…

While presenting about S2D (Storage Spaces Direct) during MVPDays, I was asked if the benefits of RDMA over Converged Ethernet was worth replacing existing 10GbE infrastructure for a cluster.   To answer this, we first need to understand how a shared-nothing Storage Pool works.   Consider a traditional converged datacenter, with storage separated from compute and network. The SAN is responsible for disk/controller availability, providing shared volumes over fiber or iSCSI network connections identically to all hosts in the cluster. Simultaneous disk reads and writes occur within the SANs backplane itself and do not traverse the network...

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Harnessing the Power of #PowerShell #DSC to build my #RDS Farm Part 1 #mvphour

So, I have a new project coming up where I will be required to manage, maintain, and support an RDS Deployment for a local engineering firm. And after working with some of the brightest PowerShell experts in the world on the Master PowerShell Tricks series I decided to cut ties to the GUI and build it 100 % using PowerShell. The requirements for me to test this are actually a bit complicated because I wanted to have a test lab to play with. Luckily, I had already build my BigDemo PowerShell Script that included all the functions I would...

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PowerShell –Managing the Datadog Cloud Service

PowerShell to the rescue again! Datadog is a Cloud service for aggregating real-time metrics, events and logs from all your servers. The easiest way is to install an agent and let it report via HTTPS directly to the internet or via a web proxy. Another cloud aggregation solution that I’m more familiar with is Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS). Both of these services provide access via PowerShell.

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Nutanix Technology Champion #NutanixNTC for 2017 #MVPHour

  I have been working with HyperConverged Infrastructure for the better part of 2.5 years now.   As such I had my chance to do my very first Nutanix Hyper-V Deployment over the summer.   The platform teams, support engineers, and everyone at Nutanix have been super helpful in learning Prism and the Platform.   I am likely one of the only ones that specializes on the Hyper-V Platform for Nutanix which is fine… having been a Hyper-V Evangelist since it came out I know how this goes.   Give it a few more years and we will have...

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Microsoft OneDrive Expert #MODE Charter Member #mvphour

Today I had a rather exciting email come in from Microsoft. It turns out that I was selected to be a Charter Member in Stephen Rose’s @stephenlrose program called the Microsoft OneDrive Expert. As a Microsoft MVP and Community Influencer this is not the only program that I have been fortunate to be selected for. To date I have the following Community Awards: Microsoft MVP, Veeam Vanguard, 5Nine Software Evangelist, Nutanix Technology Champion, and now this amazing one called MODE.   This is going to very cool to hang out with some more of the product teams at Microsoft...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 12 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

In Part #11 of this blog series we chatted about expanding an existing Virtual Disk and respective Volume. Now what about expanding the Storage Pool itself. Let’s say for argument sake that you have run yourself out of space in your Storage Pool. Luckily you still had some room left in your Storage Enclosure so you have decided to add some additional disks. This blog post will show you how to add additional storage to your Storage Pool by simply adding additional disks.   Expand the Pool by adding more disks So now the time has come to expand...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 11 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

One of the most common administration tasks of a SAN Administrator is expanding a LUN or Volume. In this 11th part of our Blog Series on Storage Spaces Direct we will look at the process to expand an existing Virtual Disk and corresponding Volume. Expand a Virtual Disk   Let’s assume that our volume size when we initially created our Storage Spaces Direct Virtual disk was 200 GB configured in a 2-Way Mirror. This would mean that we would be consuming 400 GB of space from the Storage Pool. The day has come that we have run out of...

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SMB Special: #StorageSpacesDirect on Fanless Xeon Servers #MVPHour @ecabot

I had a chance to watch this amazing session delivered by one of our Principal Consultants Emile Cabot at MVPDays 2017. He took some Fanless Xeon Servers and built them live during this 45-minute session and did an absolutely amazing job. This session was a spin off from the Project Kepler design that Microsoft has at Ignite 2016. You can check it out here it is also up on Channel 9 if you want the direct link.     https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/MVPDays/MVPDays2017RoadShow/SMB-Special-Storage-Spaces-Direct-on-Fanless-Xeon-Servers   No PowerPoint here! At this session, we’re going to take Storage Spaces Direct to commodity hardware, and build two...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 10 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

Sometimes after we have configured a piece of infrastructure in production it would be nice to see what we have done right? Well, unfortunately for Storage Spaces Direct a lot of these functions are still trapped inside of the PowerShell Providers that are exposed. So, we need to work a little bit of magic to get the information that we want out. Fortunately for you there are some extremely smart people that work on the Microsoft Storage Team and one of them is Cosmos Darwin. He has authored the amazing Script ShowPrettyLittleVolumes and I use it all the time...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 9 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

We have a Storage Spaces Direct Cluster now what? Wouldn’t it be nice to maybe create a HyperConverged Virtual Machine on it or present some storage for a Scale out File Server (SOFS). Well fortunately we have another Good News Scenario for you. Guess what it is?   ………..   Is the suspense killing you ? It only takes a single line of PowerShell to make this magic happen. So let’s have a look shall we.         Provision Storage Virtual Disks (CSV)   As we are in only a 2 node S2D configuration we cannot take...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 8 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

So, the day has finally arrived and you have successfully completed the first 7 parts of this Blog Series. Now you actually want to deploy Storage Spaces Direct. Well this is a good news bad news scenario. Let’s start with the good news:   Good News There is really only one PowerShell CMDlet to run. Way to go Microsoft I like Easy. Bad news You are about to check out a feature that is so cool that you are going to want to spend more money on cooler hardware. (There really isn’t any bad news) Let’s get this party...

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Deploying Storage Spaces Direct – Part 7 #StorageSpacesDirect #mvphour

Prior to deploying Storage Spaces Direct we should probably make sure that our Storage Subsystem is healthy and ready to go. Here are some quick PowerShell commands that you can use to validate your S2D Configuration. Validate the Cluster prior to Configuring Storage Spaces Direct (S2D)   It is important to run a few validation tests prior to enabling S2D. This can be done by running the following PowerShell commands. get-storagesubsystem   Get-StorageSubSystem View   You want to ensure that the OperationalStatus is OK.   get-physicaldisk Get-PhysicalDisk View   You want to ensure that all of the disks that...

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