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In the past, managing and sharing NTFS folders could be a real ordeal – there were different tools for managing NTFS permissions vs shared folders and most IT Pros generally used these tools on a server-by-server basis from each server’s console. Server Manager to the rescue! In Windows Server 2012, Server Manager provides a management facelift on top of the disconnected process that we’ve used in the past for sharing folders and setting NTFS permissions.  In addition, Server Manager can easily manage these folders on a local server or any remote servers that you’ve previously added to the Server Manager dashboard. NOTE: For details on using and customizing Server Manager for your servers and network environment, check out this post on that topic. Along with the new SMB 3.0 performance and availability features for shared folders, Server Manager provides a powerful m... (more)

Windows Azure Mobile Services

I’ve been doing a lot of work with Windows Azure Mobile Services (WAMS).  It’s a brilliant technology that allows you to stand up powerful OData compliant services to support your Windows 8 Store Apps, Windows Phone 8 Apps, and even iOS apps in just a few minutes.  It’s hard to oversell the sheer awesomeness of this stuff. I’m currently working on a bunch of code that will shortly become a sample project highlighting both WAMS and Windows 8 Apps (look for a project called “FamilyPig” coming soon).  In the process of building that, I ran into a couple of questions – one of which I’ll cover here, and give some guidance to people who might be running into a similar question. One of the cool features that makes WAMS super easy to work with is the concept of “dynamic schema”.  In a nutshell, that means that if you have an existing table, and you throw a Plain Old CLR Obj... (more)

Is Windows Server 2012 Cloud-Ready?

To answer this question we need to take a closer look at the requirements for a server system to be considered cloud ready and then investigate the different features of Windows Server 2012 that does or does not meet these requirements. Windows Server 2012 is the official name of Windows Server code name “8” and is now on its Beta stage of development. The first thing to consider here is the ability of the operating system to virtualize its resources, meaning to make them available as part of a shared pool and managed by an administrator. The main features Windows Server 2012 has here are:   Hyper-V extensible switch – the Hyper-V switch from Windows Server 2008 is now enhanced to support extensions. It is a platform for you to extend the functionality of a virtual switch to whatever your organization needs. Network Virtualization – allows you to continue using you... (more)

Windows Server 2003 EOL – What You Need to Know Now

IT departments hate end of life of products and the resulting headaches. End of life for a product means the support lifeline disappears, security updates stop and IT is left stranded with the compliance team breathing down their neck. Upgrade projects are not a fun sell to the business. "Hey, Ms./Mr. Business, let's invest a bunch of money and time to get the same place you were before"... Gee, let's get out the drill bit and do a root canal while we're at it. For the Windows 2003 Server family you should know the following: On July 13, 2010 Mainstream Support for Windows Server 2003 family ended. On July 14, 2015 Extended Support for Windows Server 2003 family will end. **Microsoft's product support lifecycle information can be found here If you dive into the details of Mainstream Support and Extended Support you will see that you get nothing once Extended Support en... (more)

Microsoft Blue over Windows 8, Retooling Underway

Roughly six months after Windows 8 came out at the end of October, Microsoft Tuesday confirmed reports that it's been tinkering with the operating system to make it more popular. The radical redesign is supposed to have confused the buying public and created enough of a learning curve that IDC blamed the widgetry for the historic 14% drop in PC sales last quarter. As a result, Microsoft has been making changes in an upgrade called Windows Blue. Trying to deflect more negative perceptions, Tami Reller, co-captain of Microsoft's Windows unit, told the press, "Frankly we...didn't get everything we dreamed of done in the first release." She also claimed that Microsoft knew it might have to make immediate adjustments since Windows 8 was so different from the traditional Windows. Denying IDC's brutal conclusion, Reller said that Microsoft has sold 100 million copies of ... (more)

Moore’s Law Gives Way to Bezos’s Law

Cloud providers Google, AWS and Microsoft are doing some spring-cleaning - out with the old, in with the new - when it comes to pricing services. With the latest cuts, here's a news flash: There's a new business model driving cloud that is every bit as exponential in growth -- with order of magnitude improvements to pricing -- as Moore's Law has been to computing. Let's call it "Bezos' Law," and go straight to the math Bezos' law is the observation that, over the history of cloud, a unit of computing power price is reduced by 50% approximately every 3 years If Bezos' law reflects reality, most enterprises should dump their datacenters and move to the public cloud. Let's factor in recent events. Google was first to announce "deep" cuts in on-demand instance pricing across the board.  GigaOm's Barb Darrow was quick to capture the excitement: And bam: Google cuts on-dema... (more)

Book Review: Building Windows 8 Apps with C# and XAML

This book is the perfect size and the perfect depth for getting up to speed quickly with building Windows 8 Store Applications. The book starts by introducing WinRT. This introduction includes a really nice history of how Microsoft got to where they are now. It starts with a look back at MS-DOS, MS-DOS Executive, the Win32 API, COM, and.NET. The introduction leads us up to NUI (Natural User Interface) and the Windows Store Application Design Principles. The first chapter ends with a look at the Windows 8 tool that are available to developers and designers. They include, Blend for Visual Studio, C++ and XAML, HTML5 and JavaScript, and VB/C# and XAML. I have listed all the chapters below. 1. The New Windows Runtime 2. Getting Started 3. Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) 4. Windows 8 Applications 5. Application Lifecycle 6. Data 7. Tiles and Toasts 8. Giving Your A... (more)

AWS Offers Windows Server 2012

In an exercise in vendor neutrality - well, kinda - it's not exactly altruistic - Amazon Web Services is now offering a bunch of pre-built virtual instances of the Windows Server 2012 operating system, the server version of Windows 8, so Windows users can hew to Microsoft's upgrade roadmap and still adopt Amazon's cloud all at the same time. The addition, which includes SQL Server, was announced this week by Amazon's Windows team leader Tom Rizzo, a recent refugee from Redmond. Amazon already supports Windows Server 2003 R2, 2008 and 2008 R2 but Server 2012 can be used with Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk automatic application provisioning and deployment service as well as EC2. Beanstalk, which is still in beta, is supposed to automatically take care of ASP.NET application provisioning details such as capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling and application he... (more)

Why Windows Server 2012 R2: Reduce Storage Cost for Your VDI Deployments

With storage needs in your organizations growing exponentially over the last few years and into the future there are plenty of things you may done in the past to help keep the cost down.  Chances are you bought some kind of fancy SAN, that had all the bells and whistles to help storage work efficiently.  I am willing to bet one of the features your SAN has is data de-duplication. Windows Server 2012 With Windows Server 2012 we introduced built-in data de-duplication on a per-volume basis.  You can save a tremendous amount in storage costs with this powerful addition.   Thisde-duplication feature uses data broken into chunks and eliminates duplicates while adding pointers and using advanced mechanisms to provide for and prevent potential data loss. The de-duplication feature also uses a data aging system to ensure that only data that is resident on the volume for grea... (more)

31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 and the RSATs (Part 24 of 31)

RSAT stands for Remote Server Administration Tools.  This is the toolset that IT Pros have come to know and love, because it is the toolset that lets them keep sitting at their desks. “You mean, it contributes to the obesity epidemic in America?” Well.. I wouldn’t go that far.  But it certainly doesn’t help.  And that’s not what it was designed for.  How about we agree that when you’re done reading this, you promise to get up, stretch, and take a walk.* What I mean is that it’s the toolset that IT Pros use to manage their servers right from their workstations.  And with the huge (HUGE) improvements in Windows Server 2012, and in particular the Server Manager for fully managing all of your servers from one console, this becomes a very powerful toolset. To describe what the RSAT tools (redundant) do for you, allow me to share with you the text from the download page, ... (more)

Cloud Pulse: Wherever You Go, There You Are

There are people who take life slowly, accept it on its terms, meditate, read about meditation, and internalize books like "Wherever You Go, There You Are," a bestseller by a guy with a hyphenated name. I'm more of a Malcolm Gladwell fan -- Outliers or his newest book "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants." Maybe I'm just naturally the type that will spend 10,000 hours practicing, sharpening, mastering, thinking about the advantages a startup has over leaders in the market, getting back in the game. I've been in enterprise software for 30 years and the cloud since its formation. A long time ago, I faced the fact that I don't have the basketball gene (although I do coach several boys' sports teams) and I'm pretty sure meditating will not increase my productivity as a start-up CEO. I could be wrong on the meditating part. Recently, I ... (more)