Tag Archives: Microsoft

Vagrant and Hyper-V — Tips and Tricks

A few months ago, I went to DockerCon as a Microsoft representative. While I was there, I had the chance to ask developers about their favorite tools.

The most common tool mentioned (outside of Docker itself) was Vagrant. This was interesting — I was familiar with Vagrant, but I’d never actually used it. I decided that needed to change. Over the past week or two, I took some time to try it out. I got everything working eventually, but I definitely ran into some issues on the way.

My pain is your gain — here are my tips and tricks for getting started with Vagrant on Windows 10 and Hyper-V.

NOTE: This is a supplement for Vagrant’s “Getting Started” guide, not a replacement.

Tip 0: Install Hyper-V

For those new to Hyper-V, make sure you’ve got Hyper-V running on your machine. Our official docs list the exact steps and requirements.

Tip 1: Set Up Networking Correctly

Vagrant doesn’t know how to set up networking on Hyper-V right now (unlike other providers), so it’s up to you to get things working the way you like them.

There are a few NAT networks already created on Windows 10 (depending on your specific build).  Layered_ICS should work (but is under active development), while Layered_NAT doesn’t have DHCP.  If you’re a Windows Insider, you can try Layered_ICS.  If that doesn’t work, the safest option is to create an external switch via Hyper-V Manager.  This is the approach I took. If you go this route, a friendly reminder that the external switch is tied to a specific network adapter. So if you make it for WiFi, it won’t work when you hook up the Ethernet, and vice versa.

You can also do this with PowerShell

Instructions for adding an external switch in Hyper-V manager

Tip 2: Use the Hyper-V Provider

Unfortunately, the Getting Started guide uses VirtualBox, and you can’t run other virtualization solutions alongside Hyper-V. You need to change the “provider” Vagrant uses at a few different points.

When you install your first box, add –provider :

vagrant box add hashicorp/precise64 --provider hyperv

And when you boot your first Vagrant environment, again, add –provider. Note: you might run into the error mentioned in Trick 4, so skip to there if you see something like “mount error(112): Host is down”.

vagrant up --provider hyperv

Tip 3: Add the basics to your Vagrantfile

Adding the provider flag is a pain to do every single time you run vagrant up. Fortunately, you can set up your Vagrantfile to automate things for you. After running vagrant init, modify your vagrant file with the following:

Vagrant.configure(2) do |config|  
  config.vm.box = "hashicorp/precise64"
  config.vm.provider "hyperv"
  config.vm.network "public_network"
end

One additional trick here: vagrant init will create a file that will appear to be full of commented out items. However, there is one line not commented out:

There is one line not commented.

Make sure you delete that line! Otherwise, you’ll end up with an error like this:

Bringing machine 'default' up with 'hyperv' provider...
==> default: Verifying Hyper-V is enabled...
==> default: Box 'base' could not be found. Attempting to find and install...
    default: Box Provider: hyperv
    default: Box Version: >= 0
==> default: Box file was not detected as metadata. Adding it directly...
==> default: Adding box 'base' (v0) for provider: hyperv
    default: Downloading: base
    default:
An error occurred while downloading the remote file. The error
message, if any, is reproduced below. Please fix this error and try
again.

Trick 4: Shared folders uses SMBv1 for hashicorp/precise64

For the image used in the “Getting Started” guide (hashicorp/precise64), Vagrant tries to use SMBv1 for shared folders. However, if you’re like me and have SMBv1 disabled, this will fail:

Failed to mount folders in Linux guest. This is usually because
the "vboxsf" file system is not available. Please verify that
the guest additions are properly installed in the guest and
can work properly. The command attempted was:

mount -t cifs -o uid=1000,gid=1000,sec=ntlm,credentials=/etc/smb_creds_e70609f244a9ad09df0e760d1859e431 //10.124.157.30/e70609f244a9ad09df0e760d1859e431 /vagrant

The error output from the last command was:

mount error(112): Host is down
Refer to the mount.cifs(8) manual page (e.g. man mount.cifs)

You can check if SMBv1 is enabled with this PowerShell Cmdlet:

Get-SmbServerConfiguration

If you can live without synced folders, here’s the line to add to the vagrantfile to disable the default synced folder.

config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", disabled: true

If you can’t, you can try installing cifs-utils in the VM and re-provision. You could also try another synced folder method. For example, rsync works with Cygwin or MinGW. Disclaimer: I personally didn’t try either of these methods.

Tip 5: Enable Nifty Hyper-V Features

Hyper-V has some useful features that improve the Vagrant experience. For example, a pretty substantial portion of the time spent running vagrant up is spent cloning the virtual hard drive. A faster way is to use differencing disks with Hyper-V. You can also turn on virtualization extensions, which allow nested virtualization within the VM (i.e. Docker with Hyper-V containers). Here are the lines to add to your Vagrantfile to add these features:

config.vm.provider "hyperv" do |h|
  h.enable_virtualization_extensions = true
  h.differencing_disk = true
end

There are a many more customization options that can be added here (i.e. VMName, CPU/Memory settings, integration services). You can find the details in the Hyper-V provider documentation.

Tip 6: Filter for Hyper-V compatible boxes on Vagrant Cloud

You can find more boxes to use in the Vagrant Cloud (formally called Atlas). They let you filter by provider, so it’s easy to find all of the Hyper-V compatible boxes.

Tip 7: Default to the Hyper-V Provider

While adding the default provider to your Vagrantfile is useful, it means you need to remember to do it with each new Vagrantfile you create. If you don’t, Vagrant will trying to download VirtualBox when you vagrant up the first time for your new box. Again, VirtualBox doesn’t work alongside Hyper-V, so this is a problem.

PS C:vagrant> vagrant up
==>  Provider 'virtualbox' not found. We'll automatically install it now...
     The installation process will start below. Human interaction may be
     required at some points. If you're uncomfortable with automatically
     installing this provider, you can safely Ctrl-C this process and install
     it manually.
==>  Downloading VirtualBox 5.0.10...
     This may not be the latest version of VirtualBox, but it is a version
     that is known to work well. Over time, we'll update the version that
     is installed.

You can set your default provider on a user level by using the VAGRANT_DEFAULT_PROVIDER environmental variable. For more options (and details), this is the relevant page of Vagrant’s documentation.

Here’s how I set the user-level environment variable in PowerShell:

[Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("VAGRANT_DEFAULT_PROVIDER", "hyperv", "User")

Again, you can also set the default provider in the Vagrant file (see Trick 3), which will prevent this issue on a per project basis. You can also just add --provider hyperv when running vagrant up. The choice is yours.

Wrapping Up

Those are my tips and tricks for getting started with Vagrant on Hyper-V. If there are any you think I missed, or anything you think I got wrong, let me know in the comments.

Here’s the complete version of my simple starting Vagrantfile:

# -*- mode: ruby -*-
# vi: set ft=ruby :

# All Vagrant configuration is done below. The "2" in Vagrant.configure
# configures the configuration version (we support older styles for
# backwards compatibility). Please don't change it unless you know what
# you're doing.
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.box = "hashicorp/precise64"
  config.vm.provider "hyperv"
  config.vm.network "public_network"
  config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", disabled: true
  config.vm.provider "hyperv" do |h|
    h.enable_virtualization_extensions = true
    h.differencing_disk = true
  end
end

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Scrutinize the Office 365 roadmap to steer clear of trouble

Microsoft wants Office 365 administrators tracking every new feature and update that it puts out, but that’s not as easy as it sounds.

The cadence of releases for a cloud-hosted product can be a perk, with a steady arrival of innovative tools and functionality. But it can also be a pain, particularly if Microsoft deprecates a component that a business needs.

On its Office 365 roadmap website, Microsoft lists more than 200 features in development, rolling out or recently launched. New or upcoming features range from Advanced Threat Protection Status — which reports on the malware that ATP catches — to an option for users to delay or choose when Office 365 sends their message. As Microsoft expands Office 365 into a security, collaboration, cloud storage, private branch exchange and communication suite, IT admins must stay updated on the latest changes on the platform and alert users on the availability of new apps and features.

These Exchange and Office 365 experts — all TechTarget contributors — offered their insights on how Office 365 administrators can adapt to Microsoft’s constant changes and their experiences with how businesses handle the twists and turns of the Office 365 roadmap.

Perils of constant change

Michel de RooijMichel de Rooij

Many organizations use IT Infrastructure Library-based processes to implement new Office 365 features, which can be problematic because of the service’s rapid rollouts. Instead, look to Microsoft’s Office Insider program, with its fast and slow update rings, to bring updates into your business at the right pace.

Editor’s note: Microsoft’s Office Insider program allows Office 365 subscribers to receive early access to new features that they can test out and provide feedback on.

Let a few power users and IT operate on the fast ring to try out new features, but remember that those updates might never arrive based on your region. For example, I still haven’t received Focused Inbox in Outlook 2016, despite running First Release in Office 365 and Insider Fast for Office 2016. Microsoft sometimes pulls features, which happened to the automatic creation of groups for delegates. Also, Microsoft can turn new features on by default, often without administrative controls. An organization that signs up for these early releases needs to be comfortable with a certain amount of unpredictability.

Finally, Microsoft seems to push for certain features that its customers do not care for, such as the option to create Office 365 Groups when you actually want to create distribution groups.

It’s difficult for email and collaboration tool admins to act proactively against the sudden changes in Office 365’s roadmap, but they should always provide feedback to Microsoft when they have strong opinions about features. Administrator pushback caused Microsoft to pull the change for automatic creation of groups for delegates. There will be discrepancies between what the software provider develops and what customers are comfortable with or actually use.

Keep track of the Office 365 roadmap for changes, both for planned updates and those in development — the latter might arrive sooner than you think.

For more from Michel de Rooij, please visit his contributor page.

Users want the latest and greatest

Reda ChouffaniReda Chouffani

Office 365 changes constantly. Users will hear about new features and demand training for them. Administrators have to adapt, and they might even block new features from end users until IT can thoroughly test these updates. But admins cannot restrict the flow of enhancements as a long-term solution; users will still want to get what’s new. The IT staff needs to consider what users want while it evaluates whether these features provide a tangible benefit to the company.

New features can also be disruptive after organizations adopt and master them, if the service changes. For example, Microsoft offered a free version of its cloud-based business analytics Power BI feature, but some of its capabilities — such as dashboard sharing — disappeared when a new edition superseded the old. Early adopters of Power BI had to choose between a trial or the paid version — or lose the capability altogether.

Office 365 changes constantly. Users will hear about new features and demand training for them.

There are risks, but Office 365’s constant updates can benefit those who plan ahead. Microsoft helps IT departments implement and adopt platform features with its free FastTrack service. FastTrack ensures the IT team uses best practices with Office 365 and also provides technical assistance with implementation of its services.

For more from Reda Chouffani, please visit his contributor page.

Keep an eye on the roadmap

Neil HobsonNeil Hobson

Microsoft’s Office 365 roadmap site lets administrators understand what lies ahead for significant service and feature updates. This roadmap is split into five categories: in development, rolling out, launched, previously released or canceled. To avoid issues, administrators need to check the roadmap regularly for new items that might affect their Office 365 deployment. This gives them the early visibility required to commence high-level planning.

As new features on the roadmap near rollout, Microsoft posts announcements to the Message Center, which can be found within the main Office 365 administration portal. The Message Center also contains dated announcements about changes and actions that prevent or fix issues. Announcements contain a short description of the feature or issue, information on how it will affect the organization, actions to prepare for the update and a link to more detailed information. It is vital that administrators check Message Center posts often to be fully prepared for the imminent changes. Some actions must be completed by a specific date to avoid problems.

Admins can configure Office 365’s tenant release option to manage how the platform pushes out new features. An organization selects the First Release option to receive new features early. Admins can then choose to release those features to the entire organization or just specific users. Alternatively, the Standard Release option means that new features come via the default release schedule.

For more from Neil Hobson, please visit his contributor page.

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Before deploying Skype for Business, follow these key steps

Microsoft has been a dominant unified communications vendor for almost a decade, but most customers have used it primarily for chat, presence, web sharing and other desktop-related functions. And as popular as Microsoft’s Skype for Business has been for desktop UC, it has struggled as an enterprise voice platform.

But Microsoft, it seems, has turned a corner, as Skype for Business voice is now becoming a mainstream platform.

In a declining voice market, Skype for Business has taken share from many incumbent voice equipment and platform vendors, according to Synergy Research Group. Synergy’s most recent market data shows the voice market and the revenue for all major vendors have declined — except for Microsoft (see table below).

Over the next few years, I expect many of the Microsoft customers deploying Skype for Business for chat and presence will shift their focus toward using it for enterprise voice as well.

voice market revenue

Checklist for deploying Skype for Business voice services

Deploying Skype for Business enterprise voice and its cloud-based equivalent, Office 365, is unlike voice services from other vendors. Traditional voice systems are more turnkey in nature, where the business buys the call servers, applications, phones and often the network from a single vendor. Instead, Microsoft provides the call control and some of the applications, but everything else is purchased from a Skype for Business partner, which can make the deployment more challenging.

Skype for Business deployment checklist

When deploying Skype for Business voice services, the predeployment work is extremely important. Many large companies with massive deployments have no issues, showing that the technology does work.

Organizations that are considering deploying Skype for Business voice services should take the following steps:

  • Do a network assessment. This is an absolute must for deploying Skype for Business enterprise voice. With an on-premises deployment, companies must pay attention to the local area network and Wi-Fi network. With Office 365, organizations should assess the wide area network and internet connection because traffic will be going to and from the cloud.
  • Start with a small pilot. Deploying Skype for Business enterprise voice isn’t overly complicated, but some adjustments to the network and other infrastructure are necessary. Starting with a small pilot allows the IT department to iron out kinks in the deployment, measure the benefits and build best practices. Once the pilot group has migrated successfully, a larger group can be addressed.
  • Due diligence required when selecting technology partners. A large number of technology partners work with Skype for Business and Office 365, but not all partners are equal. Some partners require custom software or gateways to interoperate with Microsoft. In addition, the quality of voice and video can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Organizations should perform due diligence and thoroughly test technology partners to ensure the best experience and easiest deployment.
  • Keep the handset. Microsoft pushes customers hard to give up their desk phones and have workers make calls directly from a PC or laptop with a headset. As convenient as computer-based calling may seem, however, it isn’t appropriate for all sessions. A desk phone is significantly better suited for speakerphone calls and allows workers to make calls when they don’t have their computer or when it is rebooting. Also, most handsets generally provide better audio quality than PCs and laptops, particularly low-end ones.
  • Consider video as part of the deployment. Video is becoming increasingly popular with younger workers, particularly millennials, who now constitute 24% of the workforce and will grow to 47% within 10 years. Video adds an extra element to collaboration, as it lets workers interpret body language and facial queues. Organizations using Skype for Business or Office 365 should consider including video now or at least having it on their roadmap for the near future. 

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Test your knowledge of Office 365 ATP

Microsoft stepped up its security game when it introduced Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection in 2015. The product brings more to the table than Exchange Online Protection, which provides antimalware protection. With more complex security threats appearing daily, customers need more protection.

Office 365 ATP is an optional email filtering service that blocks advanced threats, such as malicious URLs and new malware. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of the latest Microsoft Office 365 ATP features.

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Span multiple services with Office 365 data loss prevention policies

As Office 365 gains more traction among organizations of all sizes, Microsoft refines the collaboration platform’s…

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security features to help administrators secure their perimeters. Office 365 now includes a data loss prevention feature that works across multiple services.

Administrators can enlist data loss prevention policies to scan both message text and message attachments for sensitive data, such as social security numbers or credit card numbers. These policies can now extend into Microsoft Office attachments and scan files in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

Build the data loss prevention policies

In the Exchange admin center, administrators can choose to build a single data loss prevention (DLP) policy (Figure 1) in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center to guard data and messages in SharePoint, OneDrive and Exchange, or stick with the existing DLP option.

Office 365 DLP policy
Figure 1. Administrators can create unified data loss prevention policies through the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center.

Administrators develop data loss prevention policies from rules. Each rule has a condition and an action. Administrators can apply the policy to specific locations within Office 365.

To create a DLP policy, open the Office 365 Security & Compliance Admin Center, expand the Data loss prevention container and click on the Policy container. Then click on the Create a policy button.

Now choose the information to protect. As is the case in Exchange Server, the Security & Compliance Center in Office 365 contains DLP templates to assist with regulatory compliance. For example, there are templates designed for the financial services industry (Figure 2) as well as templates meant for healthcare providers. Administrators can always create a custom policy to fit organizational needs.

DLP policy templates
Figure 2. Administrators can use templates in the Office 365 Security & Compliance portal or choose the custom setting to build their own data loss prevention policies.

Name the policy

Naming the policy also means adding a description to it. In some cases, Office 365 automatically assigns a policy name, which the administrator can modify if necessary.

Choose the locations to apply the policy. By default, data loss prevention policies extend to all locations within Office 365, but administrators can also specify policy locations. In Figure 3, manual location assignments allow for finer control. Administrators can choose which Office 365 services to apply the policy to and whether to include or exclude specific SharePoint sites or OneDrive accounts. For example, it may be permissible for members of the legal team to transmit sensitive information, but not a sales person.

DLP locations
Figure 3. An administrator can choose which services to apply the new policy to and make adjustments.

While this wizard does not expose the individual rules that make up a policy, the Advanced Settings option allows the administrator to edit the policy rules and create additional ones.

Refine the policy settings

Next, customize the types of sensitive information to protect with DLP policies. Figure 4 shows one policy that detects when a worker sends a message that shares credit card numbers outside of the organization. The administrator can configure the policy to monitor the use of other data types. Data loss prevention policies can also monitor when sensitive information gets shared within the organization.

DLP policy wizard
Figure 4. The DLP policy wizard allows administrators to customize the types of sensitive information to protect.

The wizard allows the administrator to choose an action to take when sensitive information is shared, such as display a policy tip, block the content from being shared, or send a report to someone in the organization.

After the configuration process, the wizard will ask whether to enable the policy right away or test it.

The last step in the process is to review your selections and, if everything appears to be correct, click the Create button to generate the data loss prevention policy.

Next Steps

How to craft the best DLP policies

Choose the right DLP template in Exchange 2013 SP1

The top email security gateways on the market


Essential Guide

What data loss prevention systems and tactics can do now

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What is Microsoft Log Parser Studio? – Definition from WhatIs.com

Microsoft Log Parser Studio is a front-end utility that features a graphical user interface, report builder and query repository for Microsoft’s Log Parser application.

Log Parser is a free command-line tool that can run queries based on SQL syntax against log files for diagnostic and troubleshooting purposes. Administrators can also use Log Parser to examine data sources from the Windows operating system, such as the Windows registry; Internet Information Services (IIS); Exchange; and other applications to locate specific entries or conditions.

Log Parser Studio builds on the capabilities of Log Parser and comes with more than 180 pre-defined queries. The Log Parser Studio GUI features a number of icons tied to specific actions, such as “show chart” and “export CSV.” Administrators can write, execute and manage queries in the GUI. The Log Parser Studio can store queries in a centralized repository.

Log Parser Studio GUI
Log Parser Studio features a GUI to execute queries based on SQL syntax. The administrator can use the interface to do various tasks, such as sort through the results or build a chart based on the query results.

Log Parser Studio provides other features and functionality, including the ability to import multiple XML files; context-aware searching; support for all Log Parser formats; support for Exchange logs, such as EEL and EELX log formats; the capacity to export queries as PowerShell scripts; and query logging, which saves all query work. Log Parser Studio can run a collection of queries in a batch job and execute queries automatically for use in daily reports.

Microsoft released Log Parser Studio in 2012.

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Microsoft and Docker collaboration puts Linux containers on Windows

AUSTIN, Texas — Microsoft might have been late to embrace Linux, but its new open source initiative that runs…

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Linux-based containers on Windows Server is an attempt to make up for lost time.

The ability to run Linux containers on Windows won’t entice Linux shops to migrate to Windows, but it could appeal to smaller companies or larger Windows shops that also need a Linux component.

“The simplicity of managing just one flavor of operating system can make a lot of sense,” said Ezra Gottheil, principal analyst at Technology Business Research based in Hampton, N.H.

The project also aims to lighten the load on Docker’s engineering team — the company only employs about 150 people — to create a Windows-compatible version of Docker Datacenter and other Docker components. The ability to run Linux containers on Windows will allow Windows Container users to run Docker Datacenter, which itself is based on a collection of Linux containers, on top of Windows Server.

We have Linux, Mac and Windows. The more we can move stuff back and forth, the better off we are.
Simon Webstersecurity engineer, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

In fact, part of the motivation for the project — which is still in the works — was the challenge for Microsoft to support Linux containers in Azure, said Taylor Brown, principal lead program manager at Microsoft.

“[Customers] are just giving us a container image and we have to figure out how to run that, how to make it an efficient experience, all while maintaining multi-tenant isolation,” Brown said. “The ability to run Linux and Windows side by side is really valuable for us.”

The project, which Microsoft revealed here at DockerCon, also promises to give developers more platform options and enable operations teams to worry less about where and how they deploy containerized applications.

“It’s going to be a big deal for the future for interoperability, moving stuff from platform to platform,” said Simon Webster, security engineer at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research based in Boulder, Colo. “We have Linux, Mac and Windows. The more we can move stuff back and forth, the better off we are.”

Portability across different clouds is also appealing, especially for a semi-governmental agency, as it could make it a lot easier to collect competitive bids, he added. Others saw the feature as more of a checkbox for Microsoft or novelty that wouldn’t appeal to most enterprises.

“It’s nice that you can more natively run Linux stuff on Windows, but I don’t think it’s something large companies would use in production,” said Nima Esmaili Mokaram, a software engineer at Quicken Loans. “I can see smaller .NET shops that have a couple Linux containers they want to run too; that would be a great audience. But if you have the capital to buy some Linux servers, that enhances the performance and potentially would be less headaches.”

Microsoft, in partnership with Docker, rolled out two flavors of Windows-based containers — Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers — with the release of Windows Server 2016 last year. However, Docker’s containerization model began as a Linux project, and the open source community has championed most of the development and innovation that’s made containerization the technology du jour.

Microsoft’s plan to run Linux containers on Windows Server isn’t a technical breakthrough, and it borrows concepts that Intel’s Clear Containers and VMware’s Photon projects advanced. The company plans to work with the open source community using Docker’s LinuxKit to create a custom Hyper-V VM running a lightweight OS purpose-built to host a container image. Like similar VM-optimization projects, Microsoft’s approach would allow the VM to shed unnecessary components and drivers; the reduced overhead improves efficiency over a standard VM.

Microsoft’s awkward Linux embrace

Docker and Microsoft have continued to work closely despite the historical divisions among Windows and Linux practitioners.

“Microsoft’s hesitancy of supporting other platforms is gone,” TBR’s Gottheil said. “The company is much more open to interoperability than it was under [former CEO Steve Ballmer], although Ballmer wasn’t really all that bad.”

Even if Microsoft is anxious to bury the hatchet, the divide was still palpable at DockerCon.

“Historically, there’s been a huge divide: You’re either a Windows guy or a Linux guy,” Webster said. “The fact that Microsoft has taken this step means that they’re potentially bringing together different IT groups. Breaking down walls between those two would be useful.”

That divide was the topic of discussion at a DockerCon session about media and analyst perspectives on Docker. (It also carried over to the public DockerCon Slack channel, where a comment that Windows developers are not “real developers” collected dozens of thumbs-up from attendees.)

The Windows community often still feels segregated, but things like a shared Docker experience will help bridge the two worlds and foster communication, said Donnie Berkholz, research director at 451 Research, during the session.

“Right now, there are hardly grounds for a conversation between a Linux- or Mac-based developer and a Windows developer.”

Nick Martin is executive editor for TechTarget’s Modern Infrastructure e-zine, and former senior site editor for SearchServerVirtualization.com. Contact him at nmartin@techtarget.com.

Next Steps

Docker for Windows Server 2016 GA details

Container support debuts in Windows Server 2016

How do Windows Server containers affect applications?

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Exchange 2007 end of life creates on-premises vs. cloud choice

Exchange 2007 will reach end of life in April 2017 as Microsoft discontinues support for the messaging platform….

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Organizations have three choices: Staying with Exchange 2007 — without assistance or updates from Microsoft, upgrade to another on-premises Exchange Server platform, or move to Office 365. But before making a decision, IT admins and business leaders need to evaluate all options.

Since its release 10 years ago, Exchange Server 2007 has been significant improved. In that time, Microsoft released three versions of Exchange Server: Exchange 2010, 2013 and 2016, which complicates the decision to upgrade or migrate mailboxes to the cloud. In either an upgrade or migration scenario, IT must overcome some technical hurdles: maintain the system within the company’s servers, or shift email to Exchange Online?

Use these guidelines during an Exchange 2007 upgrade — whether it’s to a new platform or to the cloud.

Consider the need

As Exchange 2007 end of life nears, the most critical factor is to understand business needs. Are Office 365 services or an on-premises implementation necessary? Once enterprise IT reaches that decision, the organization can determine if it is ready to jump to the new Exchange platform.

Know the complexity involved with an Exchange 2016 migration

An upgrade from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016 — the latest version of Microsoft’s on-premises messaging platform — requires a two-stage move because the two platforms cannot coexist.

An upgrade from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016 — the latest version of Microsoft’s on-premises messaging platform — requires a two-stage move because the two platforms cannot coexist. Exchange administrators first need to set up a new installation of Exchange 2013 and move mailboxes from Exchange 2007 to 2013. Then, they must install Exchange 2016 and move the mailboxes again. As Exchange 2007 end of life creeps closer, Microsoft recommends that organizations that want to continue to host the platform in their data centers use this method.

Understand the cost involved with moving to the cloud

Migrating from Exchange 2007 to Office 365 is far less complex than moving from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016; it also offers an easier path to Exchange Online. There are many tools available in the marketplace, such as Skykick and MigrationWiz, to assist administrators with an Office 365 migration. Microsoft also offers financial assistance under its FastTrack program to assist qualifying customers during the process.

Get PowerShell skills

New instances of Exchange, either on premises or in the cloud, depend on PowerShell for common maintenance and configuration tasks. As Exchange 2007 end of life looms, admins with deep Exchange 2007 experience should brush up on their scripting skills to ensure they can address some tasks in Exchange 2016. PowerShell scripts allow administrators to perform many tasks in bulk, whereas the administration web interface often requires some tasks to be performed individually. Here is an example, which shows how to configure multiple mailboxes with specific retention policies where the users belong to a specific department:

Get-Mailbox -OrganizationalUnit “Finance” -ResultSize Unlimited | Set-Mailbox -RetentionPolicy “RetentionPolicy-Finance”

Evaluate Exchange Online’s additional services

Many of Microsoft’s Office 365 plans include multiple services. This means anyone who wants to migrate email to the cloud can use existing workloads within different plans. Business users can benefit from services such as SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, conferencing, Office Planner and Office Groups. They also should look at advanced email security capabilities, such as Advanced Threat Protection, safe attachments and URL detonation, with the bundled plans in cloud-based Exchange.

Upgrade client to support new Exchange versions

Upgrade end-user machines to support the new platform; pay special attention to Outlook. Some end users may still use the Outlook Web App client in the browser. However, organizations with a larger user base must upgrade Microsoft Office on clients, although that can disrupt users across the board. Microsoft recognized the Office deployment had to change, and the company now gives IT access to new deployment tools that enable them to more easily and efficiently push the latest Office client applications to end-user machines.

Microsoft provides qualifying Exchange 2007 administrators with technical assistance for moving from the legacy Exchange 2007 to Office 365. It also provides the steps for a move to Exchange 2013 or 2016 on its website.

Next Steps

Experts weigh Exchange 2016 features and capabilities

Four quick tips for Exchange troubleshooting

Many factors at play in an Exchange Server commitment

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Kevin Gallo gives the developer perspective on today’s Windows 10 Event

Did you see the Microsoft Windows 10 Event this morning?  Satya, Terry, and Panos talked about some of the exciting new features coming in the Windows 10 Creators Update and announced some amazing new additions to our Surface family of devices. If you missed the event, be sure to check it out here.

As a developer, my first question when I see new features or new hardware is “What can I do with that?” We want to take advantage of the latest and coolest platform capabilities to make our apps more useful and engaging.

There were several announcements today that offer exciting opportunities for Windows developers.  Three of these that I want to tell you about are:

  • 3D in Windows 10 along with the first VR headsets capable of mixed reality through the Windows 10 Creators update.
  • Ability to put the people you care about most at the center of your experience—right where they belong—with Windows MyPeople
  • Surface Dial, a new input peripheral designed for the creative process that integrates with Windows and is complimentary to other input devices like pen. It gives developers the ability to create unique multi-modal experiences that can be customized based on context. The APIs work in both Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Win32 apps.

Rather that write a long blog post, I decided to go down to our Channel 9 studios and record a video that gives my thoughts and provides what I hope will be a useful developer perspective on today’s announcements.  Here’s my conversation with Seth Juarez from Channel 9:

My team and I are working hard to finish the platform work that will fully support the Windows 10 Creators Update, but you can start experimenting with many of the things we talked today. Windows Insiders can download the latest flight of the SDK and get started right away.

If you want to dig deeper on the Surface Dial, check out the following links:

Stay tuned to this space for more information in the coming weeks as we get closer to the release of the Windows 10 Creator’s update.  In the meantime, we always love to hear from you and welcome your feedback at the Windows Developer Feedback site.

HPE to Offer Windows 10 Solutions to Enterprises Worldwide

At Microsoft, we have a long history of partnering closely with Hewlett Packard to provide solutions to help customers around the world achieve their goals.

Today’s news with Hewlett Packard Enterprise extends our partnership. Starting today, HPE will begin to offer our shared enterprise customers a wide range of Cloud and Productivity and Mobility (CPM) Solutions, designed to help customers realize even greater value from Windows 10.

HPE and Microsoft can now offer enterprises a portfolio of tightly integrated services and solutions, designed to modernize and streamline their workflows and accelerate the transformation of their enterprise for continued growth. The strength of Windows 10, as well as the combined assets and capabilities of HPE and Microsoft, will help enterprise customers deploy seamless solutions that are amongst the industries best on any screen.

Today’s news builds on the momentum from last week, when we announced the latest major update to Windows 10. As the first platform to span all device types, enabling management of corporate owned and personal devices, and offering the most secure platform, Windows 10 is already off to an incredible start. Active on more than 110 million devices, Windows 10 is compatible with the past while embracing a new way of working that is both more collaborative and mobile.

Our partnership with HPE will make it easier than ever for businesses to adopt Windows 10.

This partnership specifically will provide:

  • Consulting services for Windows 10The HPE consulting service team will help transform their clients’ business processes via digital process design, application development and prototyping. The consulting services will pair HPE’s services with Microsoft platforms including Enterprise Mobility Suite, Dynamics Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Office 365, Skype for Business and Windows 10 for the Enterprise.
  • New cloud and mobility consulting services: This is an extension of HPE’s current advisory and delivery capabilities via our Windows 10 ecosystem. On top of current offerings, HPE will now offer other cloud productivity and mobile platform products to help organizations transform by streamlining processes, improving collaboration and helping companies become more responsive to customers in the digital economy.
  • Industry-specific vertical applications: HPE and Microsoft are currently working on building rich application solutions for healthcare, automotive and financial industries. This agreement will accelerate the expansion of Windows 10 based enterprise solutions to include retail, energy and transportation industry applications. Using the advanced security capabilities of Windows 10 and the intuitive, familiar Windows user interface, HPE and Microsoft will empower enterprises to tackle critical business processes, transform the way work gets done and provide a new level of customer service and experiences on any Windows 10 device.

We’re excited to deliver these services to our joint customers and we look forward to sharing more about the business value our clients are able to achieve.