Hyperbole, Embellishment, and Systems Administration Blog

Jul 14, 2011

Orchestrator and wheel reinvention

One of the most common questions that seems to come up on the System Center Orchestrator Community Evaluation Program (CEP) calls is “when will we get an integration pack or a task that does X”. Adam Hall, the Orchestrator mentioned as a response that while integration packs did provide simple tools for creating Runbook automation, Orchestrator itself, with its included activities, actually allowed you to already configure a lot of products to do what you wanted them to do. For example, one of the attendees asked why there wasn’t a folder copy task amongst the list of standard tasks that could be added to a Runbook. The answer was straightforward and simple – instead of having a separate activity devoted purely to the copying of folders, use the Run Program activity to execute the robocopy.exe command line utility. Part of the elegance of Orchestrator is that it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Robocopy.exe has a plethora of options. Rather than come up with a task item that include some way of copying files and folders, but only includes a tenth of the options robocopy.exe has, use the Run Program item to leverage an awesome pre-existing tool to accomplish what you want through the Runbook designer. The activities that ship with Orchestrator allow you to run Programs, commands, .NET scripts, SSH commands, and PowerShell scripts. Although it’s a lot easier to use an activity from an IP, pretty much everything you need to get automation going is already included out of the box.   Follow me on twitter: @orinthomas...More
Jul 12, 2011

Windows Server 2012 peeks its head over the wall

Microsoft provided a first look-see at Windows Server 8 at WPC this week. We’ve been hearing all about Windows 8 Client, so it’s good to finally know something, even if it is very brief, about the successor to Windows Server 2008 R2. At the moment it looks as though Windows Server 8 will RTM at the same time that Windows 8 Client does. The focus, at this stage, is on the updates to Hyper-V – ostensibly to provide support for Microsoft’s increasing focus on the private cloud. The heavily promoted feature at this stage is Hyper-V Replica. Hyper-V Replica allows you to replicate your VMs from one Windows Server 8 host to another. I’m guessing that this will be some sort of block level replication, but at this stage we’ll have to wait until Build to get more info on this product. Windows Server 8 apparently has 100 new features, most of which we’ll probably find out about over the coming months. I’m hoping that we might see a public beta at around the same time that Windows 8 Client goes into public beta – mostly because while the client stuff gets all the attention, the server stuff is actually more interesting....More
Jul 12, 2011

New Windows Intune beta available

The next version of Microsoft’s cloud based management suite for SMBs, Windows Intune, has been released as a beta. The beta itself can be used on up to 10 computers until 30 days after this version of Windows Intune becomes commercially available. If you’re interested in finding out more about Windows Intune, which has been getting a lot of positive buzz recently, you should get on the beta to see whether or not this cloud based management service might improve the way you manage small numbers of Windows based PCs.   The new beta offers the following features: Software Distribution. Allows you to deploy Microsoft and third party applications to Intune managed PCs. Remote Tasks. Allows you to remotely run full and quick anti-malware scans, update definitions and restart Intune managed PCs. License Management. Allows you to manage Microsoft retail, OEM, and volume licenses. Also supports license management for third party software. Enhanced Reporting. Allows you to generate hardware reports, detailing the hardware configuration of Intune managed PCs. Alerts and Monitoring. Alert types can be configured to trigger when a specific threshold is reached, or a specific percentage of Windows Intune managed computers become affected. To find out more about getting involved with the beta, check out this post on the Windows Intune Team Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsintune/archive/2011/07/11/windows-intune-beta-now-available.aspx Follow me on twitter @orinthomas...More
Jul 11, 2011

Is “The Cloud” another fizzling fad? 3

Is the cloud another fad, promoted only by buzzword happy consultants, or is it the future of IT? I don’t think anyone really knows. Things certainly aren’t helped by the contradictory and sometimes incoherent definitions of what the cloud actually is. At the moment not enough organizations have moved into the cloud for anyone to make a determination as to whether or not it’s a really great idea. It takes a few years until after a revolutionary change before people work out whether they’ve improved the process or driven themselves over a cliff. It’s a bit like outsourcing. When outsourcing came along, a lot of buzzword happy consultants could only say positive things about it. Save money! Outsource! Get rid of that pesky bunch of nerds in the IT department! A decade down the track and we hear a lot of organizations that were gung-ho about outsourcing early on have pulled a lot of stuff back in-house. The efficiencies that looked like they were there often turned out to be phantasms. It doesn’t help that the “cloud crowd” can be maddeningly short on detail when it comes to explain how a cloud deployment will benefit an organization more than a traditional deployment. Sometimes the messaging seems really off. If you’ve been to enough presentations I’m sure you’ve heard the one about “the executive with the credit card who does an end run around IT and buys a cloud service to run what becomes a business critical app”. (Whatever it’s meant to do, this story is part of the reason that a lot of IT people see the cloud as something that will take their job away as the story is designed to appeal to the exec and not the IT person.) Whether or not the cloud takes over IT comes down to efficiencies. Cloud providers have vast resources that allow an organization to spin up and spin down capacity as it is needed. You leverage efficiencies as you only pay for that capacity that you use. The cloud provider’s vast resources lead to economies of scale. Just like outsourcing...More
Jul 5, 2011

Orchestrator 2012 and Blue Collar / White Collar IT Professionals 1

In a recent presentation, PowerShell creator Jeffrey Snover talked about the coming bifurcation of the profession of Systems Administrator into what he called “Blue Collar” and “White Collar” IT. His argument is that the ongoing trend in the industry is towards fewer people being responsible for more and more servers and that roles that would likely see wage growth were the ones that drove that consolidation.   Snover prophesized that IT Pros who had the ability to heavily automate proce...More
Jun 30, 2011

Minimizing the problems caused by personal Laptops used on the organizational network

Back in the mid 90’s when I worked on the helpdesk at an Australian University, the University organized for site licenses of anti-virus software so that anyone that was a student or a staff member at the University was able to get a free copy to install on their personal computer. The University’s thinking was that unless these computers were protected, they would likely become a vector for infecting computers owned by the University, either indirectly through email and document borne viruses o...More
Jun 5, 2011

System Center Operations Manager 2012 and Orchestrator 2012 Community Evaluation Programs now taking applications

OpsMgr 2012 and Orchestrator 2012 CEPs now taking applications...More
Jun 1, 2011

Should personal computers be allowed on the corporate network? 3

Should you allow personal computers to access the organizational network?...More
Jun 1, 2011

Up to 120,000 users download infected apps from Android Market 2

Up to 120,000 users download infected apps from Android Market...More
May 27, 2011

Forefront TMG being dropped by Microsoft?

Is this the last version of TMG?...More
May 24, 2011

System Center Updates Publisher 2011 released

Updates publisher for ConfigMgr 2011 released....More
May 23, 2011

System Center TechED Sessions

System Center TechED sessions now online....More
Mar 22, 2011

Opalis becomes Orchestrator 1

System Center super integration product Opalis has been given its System Center moniker and will henceforth be known as System Center Orchestrator...More
Mar 10, 2011

Safari down First, IE 8 follows at PWN2OWN

Safari falls first, IE 8 follows at PWN2OWN...More
Mar 2, 2011

Want to get Malware on Android Phones? Publish an app! 2

21 Apps were recently pulled from the Android Marketplace because they contained Malware. How safe are Android Phones on the corporate network if you can get your malware directly from the official store?...More
Feb 9, 2011

Feb Patch Tuesday Bulletin Summary

The short of it is that there are 12 bulletins, 9 of which will prompt a restart. 3 of these are rated Critical and 9 are rated Important. All of the critical vulnerabilities involve publicly disclosed vulnerabilities, one where exploit code is readily available....More
Jan 31, 2011

Fix for MHTML vulnerability in all versions of IE 1

Quick fix for DHTML vulnerability released....More
Jan 11, 2011

Personal computers on the corporate network 1

What happens on your network in the event that someone plugs their own computer into one of your network wall points?...More
Dec 16, 2010

Organizational Data and Remote Wiping Personal Phones

Mobile phones can hold gigabytes of your organization’s data. They are also shiny, desirable, easily lost or stolen....More
Dec 7, 2010

How AD-RMS can stop your organization’s secrets ending up on Wikileaks

The extraordinary thing about the current Wikileaks news is that the documents were obtained by someone with relatively low level privileges....More
What's Hyperbole, Embellishment, and Systems Administration Blog?

IT pro Orin Thomas provides true tales, snafus, news, and urban legends for Microsoft Windows system administrators.


Orin Thomas

Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center,...
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