Microsoft News Summary – 15 August 2014

Here’s the latest from the last 24 hours:

Microsoft News Summary – 28 July 2014

It was a quiet weekend. Note a useful scripts for health checking a Scale-Out File Server (SOFS) by Jose Barreto.

The Pressure Builds On End Of Support For W2003/R2

The end of support for Windows Server 2003 (W2003) and Windows Server 2003 R2 (W2003 R2) is July 14, 2015. This includes Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 R2. That gives you one year to get off of these server operating systems before all security updates stop. This date will NOT be extended.

image

Why won’t it be extended? Microsoft wants you to do one of three things:

  • Upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Upgrade via deploying Hyper-V
  • Upgrade/migrate to Microsoft Azure

And to be honest, you’re using a server operating system that is currently 11 years old. The features you’ve been asking for are probably in newer versions of Windows Server.

Upgrading will not be easy. You have AD’s to upgrade, LOB applications that are dependent on server resources. And most W2003 installs were 32-bit, there are no more 32-bit server operating systems, and you cannot upgrade x86 to x64. You will have to perform migrations.

So NOW is the time to start planning.

For Microsoft partners that are service providers:

  • We estimate that over 50% of servers in Ireland are of the W2003/R2 generation
  • 92% of Irish business are SME’s and a large percentage of those were SBS customers. Consider deploying Office 365 to replace SBS, and maybe put in Server Essentials if they still require a local server for bulk data/printer sharing.
  • Microsoft (WPC 2014) said that there are 22,000,000 W2003/R2 servers worldwide. That equates to an estimated $6,000,000,000 of business.

Start having the conversations now. Start planning now. Waiting until 2015 will be a fools errand. BTW, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people.

So Now You’re Rid Of Windows XP, Turn Your Focus To W2003 (And More)

Today, April 8th is when support for Windows XP came to it’s extended end of life. It’s now time for you to turn your attention to the next product in your portfolio that is going end of life.

On July 14th 2015 Windows Server 2003 (W2003) and Windows Server 2003 R2 (W2003 R2) will be going end of life. This should be of no surprise; the information was shared publicly years ago. It will be 10 years since the release of W2003 R2, and 12 years since the release of W2003.

How big is this challenge for customers? Or from the partner perspective, how big is this opportunity? Personally, I think it’s much bigger than the XP upgrade. There are several reasons. You’re not dealing with standardised builds.  I can’t find market share figures for W2003 but I have heard it said that over 50% of Irish servers are still on W2003 (an 11 year old server OS). And almost every one of those servers has a complex bespoke build that cannot be dealt with using the same levels of automation that we can bring to the desktop. And then there’s the processor architecture challenge.

Migrating server workloads has it’s own set of complexities when compared to desktops. There are lots of workload specific tools to help with migration, and for most of you, that’s what you’ll be doing … a migration.

The vast majority of W2003 installations are 32-bit. Microsoft’s last 32-bit server OS was Windows Server 2008. If you’re going to make a substantial effort, then it makes no sense to upgrade to an old OS (WS2012 R2 > WS2012 > W2008 R2 > W2008).

Realistically, you should be moving to the newest OS that you can. Right now, that is WS2012 R2. You cannot upgrade from x86 to x64, so you’re looking at an opportunity to get fresh rebuilds using your experience at engineering the products that you are running (yeah – that’s a positive spin). In reality, upgrades are messy and bring forward old problems and corruptions. Fresh builds are always best.

You might argue that a new version of Windows Server (2015?) is coming around April and that gives you a few months to upgrade. If that’s how you plan server migrations, then you’re going to be running W2003 long after support and patch availability ends.

So get planning … NOW!

And no, I don’t give a flying monkey’s about your old services that only support W2003. You and your employers need to either pressure those vendors or find a replacement. The world keeps moving, and those who remain static stay in the past and die.

A number of other infrastructure products are also going end of life in the next year or so:

  • Compute Cluster Pack: 14 July 2015
  • Forefront Client Security: 14 July 2015
  • Host Integration Server 2004: 13 January 2015 (I haven’t heard of this one in years)
  • Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004 Enterprise Edition: 14 April 2015
  • Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004 Standard Edition: 14 October 2014
  • Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005: 13 January 2015
  • Systems Management Server 2003 and 2003 R2: 13 January 2015
  • Virtual Server 2005 and Virtual Server 2005 R2: 13 January 2015

There are other things going end of life but I’ve stuck to infrastructure.

PowerPoint – Why Upgrade To Windows Server 2012

A few months ago myself and Dave Northey (then a DPE with MSFT Ireland) did a road show around Ireland discussing the reasons that companies should upgrade to Windows Server 2012.  We deliberately excluded discussions of Hyper-V … mainly cos I’ve been beating people around the head on that topic Smile  Here’s the deck we presented:

 

Hey Look–Your Business Is Running On A 10-Year Old Server Operating System (W2003)

April 2003 was such a fine month.  SARS caused every person with a sniffle to think they’d die.  The war in Iraq was coming to an end (!?).  BA and Air France announced the end of supersonic flight.  We suspected that North Korea might be playing with nukes.  Something called iTunes was launched.  I think that was a fad and disappeared quickly (I’m really hoping a digital Indiana Jones reads this in 10,000 years and thinks it’s the truth).  And on April 24th 2003, Microsoft released Windows Server 2003.

Happy 10th birthday Windows Server 2003!  You were a wonderful operating system.  In my first job where I designed/ran a global infrastructure for a corporate, I chose you just 1 month after GA as the basis for the business.  Sure, it was a bit bleeding edge.  Yes, people did question my decision.  But it worked out fantastically.

I don’t drive a 10-year old car.  I wouldn’t want to use a van in a courier business that I can’t get spare parts for.  In business I want to look forward and be competitive & flexible, instead of clinging to what was right 10 years ago.  Makes you wonder why 57% of servers are still running W2003.

End of support is coming on 14/July/2015.  I really don’t want to hear excuses.  The fact is that the end of extended support is coming.  It is time to start planning your migration from the decade-old operating system.  It’s time to move to an OS that is built for the way we work now.  It is time to pressure vendors and suppliers to support an OS that will actually have some level of support.

Microsoft will not change the date that extended support ends.  Stop fooling yourself, and stop listening to people who eat from their own rear-ends.  Security patches stop, and Microsoft Support will stop taking your calls.  You now have approximately 2 years and 3 months to get moving.  And trust me, that time will fly by so don’t procrastinate.

Why Are You Still Deploying Windows Server 2003?

It’s idiotic!  Don’t get me wrong: I loved Windows Server 2003.  So much so, that soon after the GA I started a new job to deploy a new server network globally across a bank and I convinced management to go with W2003 instead of W2K Server.

I know that a very large percentage of Windows servers are still on W2003.  But why would you deploy more of them now?  Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 offer so much more than the 10 year old W2003.  The ease of management, the user friendly and business focused features of Windows Server 2012 just scream out to be used.

Not to mention that support for Windows Server 2003 is quickly circling the drain:

  • It is out of mainstream support and into extended support (July 2013, 2010): when is the last time you saw Microsoft release software that supports the 10 year old server OS?  Exactly!
  • End of all support (that means product support and security fixes) comes on July 14th, 2015 … just over 2 years time.

Only a short-sighted person plans on deploying new services on Windows Server 2003 at this point.  Now is the time to start planning your upgrades to the new OS.  That’s because you have server apps to migrate/upgrade/replace – and that’s a big deal.  You may even have hardware to replace and virtualisation projects to size, purchase for, and plan – WS2012 makes this easier with built-in Hyper-V virtualisation, SMB 3.0 storage that is a nice alternative to the pricey SAN, and better-value-than-ever licensing.

So get started.  Run MAP to assess your environment.  Upgrade that AD from 2003 to 2012.  It’s actually a pretty simple process.  You’ll start to see the benefits very quickly.

Lecture over Smile

New AD Replication Status Tool

Microsoft has released a new Active Directory replication diagnostics tool called ADREPLSTATUS.  Features include:

  • Auto-discovery of the DCs and domains in the Active Directory forest to which the ADREPLSTATUS computer is joined
  • “Errors only” mode allows administrators to focus only on DCs reporting replication failures
  • Upon detection of replication errors, ADREPLSTATUS uses its tight integration with resolution content on Microsoft TechNet to display the resolution steps for the top AD Replication errors
  • Rich sorting and grouping of result output by clicking on any single column header (sort) or by dragging one or more column headers to the filter bar. Use one or both options to arrange output by last replication error, last replication success date, source DC naming context and last replication success date, etc.)
  • The ability to export replication status data so that it can be imported and viewed by source domain admins, destination domain admins or support professionals using either Microsoft Excel or ADREPLSTATUS
  • The ability to choose which columns you want displayed and their display order. Both settings are saved as a preference on the ADREPLSTATUS computer
  • Broad OS version support (Windows XP -> Windows Server 2012 Preview)

Check out the original blog post by Microsoft to learn much more.

Broken AD replication has proven to be a bit of a curse in the past. I’m amazed at how many sites (not small ones either) don’t monitor this stuff, relying on cheapware ping-based monitoring rather than the application-layer monitoring of something like System Center 2012 – Operations Manager.  They end up with fragmented AD, all sorts of weird crap happening, etc.  If you’re a consultant in a site and you’re deploying/configuring something with a reliance on AD, then here’s a handy warning sign: the customer “approves” security updates manually, and the last update to their PCs/Servers was the most recent Service Pack for the OS (usually for Windows XP).  Take a little time and check the AD replication status before you proceed Smile

Note that this new tool does not support Windows Server 2000 – that’s long since left extended support.

Restore Windows XP/2003 Backups To Windows 7/Server 2008 R2

Many people will be (or have already done it) making the jump from Windows XP or Windows 2003 to Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.  Home users and small businesses will have been using NTBackup and will now face a new Backup and Restore tool that uses VHD instead of .BAK files.  So how do they restore an old backup?

Microsoft released an x64 and x86 update on Monday to allow you to restore old .BAK files.

“Utility for restoring backups made on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to computers that are running Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2”.

Credit: Bink

Lots Of Operations Manager Updates

Microsoft released lots of updates for Operations Manager over the last couple of weeks.  There are lots of updates to management packs, too many for me to go posting them at this time of night.  Have a look on the catalogue and you’ll see them.  Or check your console if you’re using OpsMgr 2007 R2.

Most importantly is KB971541, Update Rollup for Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1.

“The Update Rollup for Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1) combines previous hotfix releases for SP1 with additional fixes and support of SP1 roles on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. This update also provides database role and SQL Server Reporting Services upgrade support from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008.

The Update Rollup includes updates for the following Operations Manager Roles:

  • Root Management Server, Management Server, Gateway Server
  • Operations Console
  • Operations Management Web Console Server
  • Agent
  • Audit Collection Server (ACS Server)
  • Reporting Server

The following tools and updates are provided within this update which may be specific to a scenario:

  • Support Tools folder – Contains SRSUpgradeTool.exe and SRSUpgradeHelper.msi (Enables upgrade of a SQL Server 2005 Reporting Server used by Operations Manager Reporting to SQL Server 2008 Reporting Server)
  • Gateway folder – Contains a MSI transform and script to update MOMGateway.MSI for successful installation on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • ManagementPacks folder – Contains an updated Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataWarehouse.mp which requires manual import

For a list of fixes and tools addressed by this update rollup, see KB971541.

This update is supported for application on System Center Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1 only.

Feature Summary

The System Center Operations Manager 2007 SP1 Rollup 1 contains:

  • All binary hotfixes released since Service Pack 1 release
  • Support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Operational and DataWarehouse database support on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Additional stability hotfixes”

Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Vista; Windows XP
  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1

Instructions

This update must be applied to each computer that meets the following criteria:

  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Root Management Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Management Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Operations Console
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Web Console Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Reporting Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Manually installed Agent
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager ACS Server

Before applying this update it is strongly recommended that Operations Manager databases, Management Server, Report Server and Web Console roles be backed up.

To extract the files contained in this update and installation of the update on the Operations Manager roles above:

  1. Copy the file – SystemCenterOperationsManager2007-SP1-KB971541-X86-X64-IA64-locale.MSI – To either a local folder or accessible network shared folder.
  2. Run the file – SystemCenterOperationsManager2007-SP1-KB971541-X86-X64-IA64-locale.MSI – locally on each applicable computer that meets the predefined criteria.
    You can run SystemCenterOperationsManager2007-SP1-KB971541-X86-X64-IA64-locale.MSI from either Windows Explorer or from a command prompt.
  3. Select the appropriate role to update from the Operations Manager 2007 Software Update dialog.

NOTE: To run this file on Windows Server 2008 you must run this file from a command prompt which was executed with the Run as Administrator option. Failure to execute this Windows installer file under an elevated command prompt will not allow display of the System Center Operations Manager 2007 Software Update dialog to allow installation of the hotfix”.