Browsing Posts in Server

For June’s Lunchinar we’re going to do a business level introduction to Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure.

Although we’ll go into the technical details (to a point), the key focus is going to be how Azure can be used by Small to Medium Businesses (SMB’s).  We’ll discuss Azure in terms as an alternative to traditional Information Technology (IT) solutions (like servers).  But we’ll also discuss how Azure can be used to extend how SMB’s extend their IT resources to vendors, customers and external employees.  And Azure does this at a fraction of the cost of in-house solutions (usually).

But what is it?  Actually, it’s changing weekly.  Microsoft has created a remote environment that can be configured as servers (so it’s kind of like you having a server, but “out there”), or services (so you don’t have the server, just what you use the server for).  You can use Azure for Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery/Off Site Backups.  You can use it for distributed databases, remote connectivity and more.  You can create a Single Sign On environment based on your Active Directory (network) credentials.  And a lot more.

And you pay only for what you eat.  Increasing or decreasing the amount of resources you need is relatively easy.  So if you’re a seasonal company you can arrange to have beefier (more $) resources available during the busy season, and smaller (less $) resources during the rest of the year.

But there are tradeoffs.  Connectivity speed, full server level access become potential issues.  Security requirements need to be taken into account (well, they should be already, but you lose the luxury of being Pollyannaish about it).

Join us at this upcoming Lunchinar.  We’ll be both in person as well as online.  And we’ll discuss (and demonstrate) this environment, talk both features, functions, benefits, drawbacks and costs.  And one lucky attendee will pick up a copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2013, courtesy of Microsoft.

  • When:  Wednesday, June 17th from 11:30-1pm (eastern)
  • Where:  Hampton Inn in Stow (plus Online)
  • Click here to RSVP

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At Simplex-IT, we specialize in sharing our knowledge with several free webinar and Lunchinar events each month on topics such as Microsoft Office, Project Management and Data Practices.  Contact us at Info@Simplex-IT.com, Twitter (Simplex_IT), LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/company/simplex-it) or FaceBook: (http://www.facebook.com/simplex.it).  You can also check out our YouTube channel with over 100 videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/SimplexITBob

 

Microsoft has announced that Windows Server 2003 will reach its End-of-Life on July 14, 2015. This has important ramifications for those businesses still employing this technology. It means:

  1. No Updates – In 2013 alone there were 37 Critical Updates released for Server 2003. Imagine, if you can, what impact zero updates will have on the security and operation of your infrastructure.
  2. No Compliance – After support ends, continued use of Server 2003 means you will likely fail to meet most industry-wide compliance standard and regulations. Individuals in the health care, financial and legal fields will be particularly affected by this and should be especially concerned.
  3. No Safe Haven – Even virtualized instances of Server 2003 will be unable to pass a compliance audit. Small Business Server 2003 will be similarly affected.
  4. Higher Costs – Steps needed to isolate and protect your 2003 servers will ultimately end up costing you more in the final analysis. Why expose your company to risk and spend more than you have to?

Migrating away from Windows Server 2003 at this time is nothing less than an investment in your organization’s future. And there’s no better time than now to begin the migration process. Here’s what you should do:

Step #1 – Call Simplex-IT! We’ll help you follow a process that will make the transition from Server 2003 as smooth as possible. Together we’ll:

Discover – all the software and workloads running on the server

Assess – and prioritize your applications and workloads based on type, criticality, complexity and risk

Target – a migration destination for each application and workload. Available options include Windows Server 2012, Windows Azure, Cloud OS Network and Office 365. Your choices will be driven by speed, ease of migration, cost and desired functionality

Migrate – Several vendors offer do-it-yourself tools while other migration services are available through Microsoft Partners such as Simplex-IT. We’ll help you choose the one that’s right for you!

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until it’s too late. Take the first step and call Simplex-IT today. Doing so will put you on the shortest path to achieving Vision, Confidence and Strategy in your Business IT!

Kevin here. I’m stuck in the car for a two-hour drive to Columbus, so I might as well write a blog post about a recent experience I had with Server 2012 and NIC teaming. Microsoft’s Server 2012 comes jam-packed full of great tools and features like storage spaces, the next  version of Hyper-V, SMB 3.0 and integrated NIC teaming. But I recently came across a very odd behavior with the new NIC teaming and took me (off and on) about a month to resolve. It was for a personal project so I didn’t sink much time into it. I then had the exact same issue at a client location and solved their issue within minutes. Hopefully this blog post will save someone some frustration!

So, NIC teaming. What is it? It’s the ability to join multiple network cards together to either accomplish greater redundancy or increased performance. So if you had four 1 gigabit network cards, you could gain a theoretical 4Gb connection to that server or make it so if two of the four were disconnected, your server would still be accessible. If those connections were spread among four different switches,  one of those switches fails, clients on the other switches are (probably) not affected. Overall it’s a good thing to try to implement into your environment, and with every new Windows Server 2012 deployment we do at Simplex we try to leverage this technology into our clients infrastructure.

Now with a little background on NIC teaming, what went wrong? My home environment used 2 NIC Team using the switch independent configuration mode. The server is a Hyper-V host with a four VMs running on it. All four VMs share the team and life is good. Mostly. I use a small device called an Arduino to track temperature at various places in my house. Another geek project I’m proud to have set up. The original incarnation of my Hyper-V host did not use teaming, and when I made the upgrade, my Arduino stopped communicating with the Linux server that would poll it. Ping would work fine, I could access the Arduino from other systems in my house but never through the Linux machine. I later find out I could not access it through any of the VMs on that system. At this point I’m tweaking firewalls, the MAC address of the Arduino and every other half brained attempt to get this to work. I then had an “aha!” moment, I recalled I did not use NIC teaming in the original setup. I powered down my server, installed a spare gigabit network card (doesn’t everyone have spares of these?), created a new virtual switch that only used this new adapter, bound the Linux server to the switch and voila! The Linux server was perfectly pooling the Arduino again.

To this day I’m not sure why it was broken. My best guess is the Arduino’s simple network interface was “too simple” to handle the NIC team’s multiple interfaces and lost the traffic from confusion. Fast forward a few months and we have a similar issue with Server 2012, a 4 channel LACP NIC team, and a “simple” network device. The device is a small PCL capture device that is polled by a virtual machine on the 2012 Server. The VM would ping the server but communication was spotty at best, with occasional initial connection issues and random disconnects. Based on my experience at home, I had the onsite technician reconfigure the VM to use a single NIC on the server (it had 2 spare unused NICs) and things started working just fine.

As time allows, I want to figure out what exactly is happening to the network traffic that’s causing the breakdown in communication. Until then if I run across other simple devices I will just configure them for single un-teamed network interfaces.