August 2009 - Posts
Visual Studio is a tool usually associated with developers. I’ve installed it exactly twice, VS2005 after the launch to take a peek, and VS2008 for a TechDays session. Today, as the boundary between developers and IT pros dissolves, more and more IT pros are using Visual Studio and now there is another reason. Lab Management 2010 is new component in Visual Studio 2010 that allows you to build, monitor and manage your virtual lab environment.
Back in my former life as the admin for a software development company we were constantly tossing code around between the dev team, myself and the testers as we went through the process of building applications, installing them in the test lab, testing them and then repeating as bugs were found and corrected. We referred to this as playing tennis with bugs but it has also been referred to as bug ping pong. Lab Manager 2010 is aimed at speeding up the develop – build – test – deploy lifecycle.
Lab Management 2010 integrates with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) and Hyper-V to put an end to bug ping pong. It allows you to set up a test environment from scratch in minutes, deploy your applications to testers and then have them report back bugs with links to checkpoints (aka snapshots) for the developers to look at and reproduce bugs for a more efficient process.
Lab Management 2010 is really intriguing for a virtual guy like myself and I will be digging into this a little further as time permits and blogging my learning's and resources as I discover them. For now I am working on building a Lab Management lab (oh the irony) using the publicly available beta of Visual Studio 2010.
Stay tuned for more as I progress but for now you can download Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 here (including a how-to install video which I found handy) and the Lab Management 2010 Beta 1 guide here.
Wow things have changed. I first got started with virtualization in 2000/2001 with VMWare Workstation 3.x as a way to clean up my “office” in the one bedroom apartment I was renting. Just over three years ago at the first EnergizeIT event, we demo’d failover clustering in Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, and blowing up a power supply at the same time. Many people who were there still ask about that demo. And now Rick and I are building a a 2-node Hyper-V Server R2 cluster for TechDays 2009. From an application that sits on top of the OS, to an OS that provides the virtualization platform (technically a hypervisor is an OS as it has a kernel, memory and device manager). Times change…
Other things have changed too, like price. The company I worked for actually paid for Virtual Server 2005 Enterprise Edition! Now Hyper-V is included in the OS and Microsoft Hyper-V Server is completely free. And with R2 there is some increased functionality! Hyper-V R2 includes a few new features like support for VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure; support for 6-Core CPUs, and maybe most importantly is Live Migration.
Live Migration has been the one thing that a lot of people have asked for and thanks to the introduction of Cluster Shared Volumes in R2 we can now migrate running virtual machines from one node in a cluster to another without interruption! And this can all be done for free with Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2. You provide the hardware, we provide the free software to “Git ‘er done!”.
Download the Hyper-V Server R2 RTM today and give it a whirl, and if you are not a fan of the command line grab the eval of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 to simplify the management of your new Hyper-V Server R2 cluster! Try it out and them come to TechDays where you’ll see how to go From Zero to Live Migration!
The Early Bird Price is Going Away Soon
The $299 early bird pricing for TechDays Canada 2009’s Vancouver and Toronto stops will vanish after Monday, August 31st. From September 1st onward, if you want to catch TechDays in Vancouver (Monday, September 14th – Tuesday, September 15th) and Toronto (Tuesday, September 29th – Wednesday, September 30th), you’ll have to pay the full price of $599. Why pay double when you don’t have to?
The TechDays Formula
Continuing with this article’s theme of using pictograms to explain things, here’s TechDays in a nutshell, pictorial-style:
We take presentation sessions that cover getting the most out of current and new Microsoft tools and technologies from big conferences like TechEd, which are typically held in a large city in the southern United States, at a large convention centre, near large hotels and will set you back a couple “large” for registration, transportation and accommodation. TechDays 2009 features over 40 sessions split into these tracks:
- Developing for the Microsoft-Based Platform
- Developer Fundamentals and Best Practices
- Windows Client
- Servers, Security and Management
- Communications and Collaboration
We update that content where necessary and find local speakers to present it. We pick out speakers who are either well-versed in the session topic or who are simply bright techies with a thirst for knowledge, a knack for presenting and who have been meaning to get well-versed in that topic. Whenever possible, we try to get someone who lives in the area of the conference city, because TechDays isn’t just about spreading knowledge; it’s also about helping developers make connections with their peers nearby.
We also set up extra events and goodies. Attendees get a one-year subscription to TechNet, which alone is worth more than the price of the early bird registration and gets you access to all kinds of goodies including Windows 7. There’s also all the content from the TechEd conference. You also get the learning kit DVD packed with goodies to help you get the most out of Microsoft’s tools and tech. We’re throwing in some discount codes for books. We’ll also be announcing surprise events in your city – watch this space for details!
And last but not least, don’t underestimate the job-and-employee-seeking opportunities that a gathering like TechDays provides. Events like TechDays are where opportunities happen!
All This for $299
And don’t forget, that’s $299 Canadian, for content from conferences that cost 7 times as much. And with extra goodies such as a TechNet subscription (which costs more than the early bird fee and gets you Windows 7) thrown in. Plus a chance to meet up with your peers as well as us evangelists, whom you should think of as “your people on the inside”. It’s a great deal, and it’s going away after next Monday, so sign up now!
“Let’s try rebooting your computer” If you have ever provided or asked for technical support these words are familiar. I recently had an issue that required some technical support and as I went through the process it reminded me of things I used to say and highlighted how frustrating those things are to the end user who just wants their problem fixed.
There is a process to troubleshooting an issue that all technical people are aware of; ask for symptoms, try to reproduce, identify issue and attempt to resolve. It is a pretty standard thought process, so much so that many large organizations have scripted it. While this might be efficient I believe this is also the cause of frustration in the end user.
Having recently gone through a technical issue as an end user with no system or admin access I was constantly asking why, what for, what’s going on. I had no idea because the technicians weren’t telling me, I was in the dark, doing what they asked me to do without question. Now I will take for granted that I am more technical than the average person and have a better chance of understanding what they might tell me but I question if you really need to tell people the technical details while still including them in the troubleshooting process.
As I went through this process I tried to understand why it might be frustrating for an end user. I believe that not including the end user in the process is what causes the frustration. And by including them in the process I don’t mean asking them what they think is wrong but keep them informed. Not including them in the process leads to the feeling of them being the problem.
My issue was one of remote connectivity, I would connect via a VPN and be quarantined even though my system was up to date. As I proceeded to check for updates, run tool XYZ, replace files, etc… I was never included in the loop as to what they believe the issue is and why I am doing what I they are asking me to do. A simple “You system is not reporting it’s health properly so we need to identify why this is happening” would have been enough for me to understand what was going on while not being overly technical. While I was performing different tests and tasks a simple explanation of why I was doing it and what the outcome should be would have been enough to make me feel like I was part of the process and not part of the problem.
Perhaps we need to be more inclusive and work with end users to solve their problems? How often have you been on a support call and found out a crucial piece of information afterwards when the user says something? Or had the user “just try something” that lead to more information or even a resolution. While most end users are not usually as technically gifted as you or I they are the ones sitting in front of the screen with full access to the system. Try including them in the troubleshooting process, inform them of what you think is the issue and what you are going to do to try and resolve it but remember to speak their language.
Just think how you would feel if your doctor was poking, prodding, drawing blood and the like but not telling you why :)
Along with working on our own events like TechDays and EnergizeIT I also work in the community supporting the local technology user groups and other events such as SecTor. I have been participating on the SecTor 2009 advisory committee as we pull together keynote and breakout session speakers, hand on labs and such. This is the 3rd year for SecTor and this year we are introducing the Canadian IT Security Awards.
There are three categories:
- Non-commercial [i.e. free] Security Product, which helps detect and protect systems and information from threats;
- Commercial Security Product which helps detect and protect systems and information from threats;
- Overall Security Solution which helps detect and protect systems and information from threats.
“The awards dovetail nicely with the momentum that we’ve been building in the industry over the past two years” says Brian Bourne, Co-Founder, SecTor. “There’s no other IT Security event in Central Canada that brings together the industry’s top professionals and vendors from Canada and beyond. It makes perfect sense to call out and award the best products and practices at SecTor.”
If you would like to submit an entry for the 2009 Canadian IT Security Awards you can do so at http://www.sector.ca/awards
If you are going to SecTor drop me a note and we can meet up! You can also follow along with the Twitter hashtag #sectorca
Last week, in a special edition of the TechNet Flash, I wrote about how you can get Windows 7 before the General Availability date by registering for TechDays 2009 before August 19th. If you do so, or have already registered, we will activate your TechNet Plus Direct subscription within a couple of weeks. This means that you will not only be registered to attend Microsoft Canada’s premier series of technical readiness events in one of 7 cities across Canada, but you will also get Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 before the General Availability date of October 22 so you can start working and becoming familiar with them early.
Since the Flash was sent out, I received a number of emails regarding what is included in the TechNet Plus Direct subscription and how you will access Windows 7 and the other software. The TechNet Plus Direct Subscription is an online one where you get access to all of the bits through the TechNet Subscriber Downloads site. You can find out more information on TechNet Plus subscriptions here. The list of products included in the TechNet Plus Direct subscription can be found by going to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/subscriptions/bb892756.aspx. Even though Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 might not be listed, rest assured that RTM versions of both are available for download right now.
In terms of how you will access the TechNet Plus Direct content, you will receive an email from the TechNet Plus Direct team within 10 business days of August 19th with your subscriber ID and information how to activate your subscription online with your Windows LiveID. Once you have completed the activation process, you will have access to all of the TechNet Plus Direct content for a year. You can then download the ISO file for Windows 7, get your product key from the Subscriber Downloads site, burn your DVD media, and then use it to install Windows 7 on your computer.
Remember, the only way to get your TechNet Plus Direct subscription activated early is by registering for TechDays before August 19th. If you register after August 19th, we will activate your subscription only after you have attended TechDays 2009. Register for TechDays 2009 Now and get Windows 7.
There is a lot of confusion around the upgrade and migration scenarios for people thinking about moving to Windows 7. You may have seen the eye chart (below) put out by Microsoft that attempted to clear things up but from what I have heard this has caused more confusion rather than clarify things.
First lets look at the two install types listed in the chart:
In-Place Upgrade - An In-Place Upgrade is simply inserting the install media and starting an upgrade from within the OS, or by choosing the Upgrade option when booting off the install media. This will keep all your applications and settings in place and is the most straight forward path.
Custom Install - I think this is where the confusion lies as Custom Install means a lot of different things and can be accomplished a number of different ways. The most basic of these installs is to back up all your data, format the hard drive and install the new operating system. Once that is done you can install your applications, copy your data back and reconfigure your system. This is the only way to move from 32bit to 64bit and it is also the most time consuming way.
Personally I always prefer a clean install. One way to simplify this method, and my preferred way of migrating to a new OS (or even when reinstalling the existing OS) is to use the Windows Easy Transfer utility to backup my existing installation and then restore to the new installation. On top of backing up all your data Windows Easy Transfer will back up any system customizations (wallpaper, DPI setting, sounds, etc…) along with application settings. Simply run the tool on the current system and back up to an external device. Once complete, format your PC and install the OS and then run the tool again to restore. There is a great write up here detailing the steps on how to use Windows Easy Transfer to backup and restore settings. This tool can be used in every single one of the custom install options listed in this diagram.
Now in a corporate environment you are not going to walk around to 5, 10, 100, 1129 computers, run Windows Easy Transfer, install the new OS and then restore the settings are you? Well you can, or you can take the lazy admin approach and automate things with USMT and MDT.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 is the tool to create custom images for you to deploy onto PCs into your environment. It is free, currently in Beta 2 which adds support for Windows 7 among other things and can be integrated with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) as well. It can also be integrated with the User State Migration Toolkit 4.0 (USMT). USMT is Windows Easy Transfer for the enterprise and combined with MDT 2010 allows you to automate the backup, deployment, application/driver installation, and restore the users files and settings. You can even use this tool to migrate your servers from 32 bit to 64 bit!
There is a lot of documentation available, a series of videos and a whole day’s worth of sessions at TechDays 2009 that will cover this in depth. If you want to learn more you can still register for TechDays at http://www.techdays.ca
Are you ready for Windows 7? It is a common question now that Windows 7 is released to manufacturing. This 2 hour 4 part session will cover all the key aspects, guidance, tools and resources to help prepare you and company for Windows 7. For anyone looking how to Discover, Explore, Pilot, Deploy or Manage Windows 7, this is the seminar for you.
This session will answer questions like "Why and how to move to Windows 7 from Windows XP?", "What are the differences between the versions of Windows 7?" and focus on the three key pillars of Windows 7 - deployment, security, networking. From new deployment techniques, application compatibility, to improved security and remote access options this session will get you ready to answer questions about Windows 7.
So far there are three dates locked and you can register for these events already.
Welcome Time: September 9, 2009 6:00 PM
British Columbia Institute of Technology
555 Seymour St.
Vancouver British Columbia
Welcome Time: September 21, 2009 6:00 PM
Red River College (Princess Campus)
160 Princess St.
Winnipeg Manitoba R3B 1K9
Welcome Time: September 22, 2009 6:00 PM
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary Alberta T2N 1N4
For the rest of Canada, stay tuned as we will be adding more cities across Canada for stops in October!
The TechDays09 sessions have been announced and it’s only a little over a month till the first city Vancouver. We see many folks are coming back to this year’s conference and bringing their friends and colleagues. To help you spread the word about TechDays and let people know which track you are attending, I have created a new set of Techdays e-badges for this year. Whether you are a TechDays attendee or speaker, now you can proud to show your excitement with some Bling-Bling.
First of all, here are the track colors we picked out. Last year, we used color ribbons as a social networking tool during the conference for people to recognize others who are in the same track. We are doing similar activities this year, but you can start networking with folks who have similar interests before the conference even starts. For example, use one of the track variation designs below in your email signatures or on blogs.
Below are three variations of the TechDays e-badge designs. For each design, the original design is on the left and enlarged. The track with speaker and attendee variations are on the right.
Design 1: Maple Leaf (You can download individual e-badge here)
Design 2: Hanging Badge (You can download individual e-badge here)
Design 3: TechDays Stick Man (You can download individual e-badge here)
What about cities?
TechDays will be in 7 cities this year. You may want to include a stamp to indicate which city you’ll be going to. No problem! Below are various of city stamps that you can add to the main TechDays e-badges. I designed it this way so that there’s more flexibility of how much information you want to show in your e-badge and we don’t end up with 70 variations for each design (i.e. 5 tracks x 7 cities x 2 speaker/attendee = 70).
City Stamp design variations (You can download all city stamps here):
How to use these TechDays e-badges?
1. If you just want to tell people about TechDays and don’t care about which track or which city, you can choose one of the original designs.
2. If you are a speaker or an attendee at TechDays, you can choose one of the track variations.
3. If you want to indicate the full details: TechDays, track, speaker/attendee, and city, you can mix-match a TechDays e-badge with a city stamp.
Regiser TechDays 2009 at www.techdays.ca before the early bird price runs out and show your excitement by downloading one of the e-badges above to include in your email signature, blog or website today!
Ladies and Gentlemen – start your download engines.
Like most of the “geek” world of technical enthusiasts and professionals who have been waiting with baited breath for the official RTM ISO files to be available – I have been watching the Subscriber Download site most of the day in the background and hitting refresh periodically. Well – the wait is over.
(alternate “top downloads” link for faster download of ISO only)
I’ve got it up and running on a couple of boxes (grabbed an internal ISO last week) and I can say that I’m quite impressed.
While you are waiting for the download to complete – some things to think about:
- You can install without a key and have it run for 30 days. Great for a lab environment.
- there are plenty of resources you should check out – notably the Canadian SpringBoard site.
- There is an “upgrade advisor” tool to see if your hardware and applications have any known issues (get it here).
- Check out the great video series on XP to Windows 7 migration my friends Adam Carter and the gang from edge.technet.com have created.
- If you have a Beta or RC version installed now – you are going to want to use migwiz.exe to save your data/settings and do a clean install.
- Looking for some great technical training on Windows 7? Check out www.techdays.ca to register for the client track at a city near you.
Share your experiences and thoughts on Windows 7 here on the blog, Drop me an email for inclusion in a future post or blog / tweet / facebook it yourself. Use the #cdnwin7 tag to stay connected with other Canadian experiences with Windows 7.
Rick Claus | Senior IT Pro Advisor | Microsoft Canada
phone 613.940.3320 | Live messenger firstname.lastname@example.org
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