It’s time to transform the datacenter!

With just over 314 days until July 14th, 2015, it is time to transform the datacenter. If you are still running servers with Windows Server 2003, now is the time to migrate to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Myself and several other MVPs from across the country are hosting a roadshow event in a city near you and presenting on various topics including What’s New with Windows Server 2012 R2, what’s a hybrid cloud, how to upgrade and migrate from Windows Server 2003, and how you can enhance your investment in Server 2012 R2 with Microsoft Azure.

If you’re in one of the cities listed below, click the link to register for the event in your town and thank you in advance for joining us!

Cincinatti, OH – 9/20/2014Register Here 

Tampa, FL  – 9/22/2014Register Here

Chicago, IL – 9/22/2014Register Here

Bellevue, WA – 9/23/2014Register Here

Phoenix (Tempe), AZ – 9/24/2014Register Here

Denver, CO – 9/25/2014Register Here

Houston, TX – 9/26/2014Register Here

Detroit, MI – 9/27/2014Register Here

 

Office 365 / Azure Integration Update for Windows Server 2012 R2

If you’re a Windows Server 2012 R2 user and you use the Essentials Experience role (same features as the standalone SKU) in a multi domain controller (DC) environment, you may have noticed that the wizards for integrating with Office 365 and Windows Azure Active Directory are disabled. This is because they were designed to function in a single DC environment.

Today, Microsoft has corrected this behavior as part of update rollup 2975719. If you install this update rollup, you should now be able to use the wizards as intended.

More info: Update Rollup August 2014 | Office 365 Integration KB

How-to: Install Windows Server Update Services on Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

It’s here! As part of the general availability of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, I’m releasing a new how-to guide. This guide is for installing Windows Server Update Services on Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Windows Server Update Services is a valuable tool in any IT professional’s toolkit, and can be used to manage the distribution of updates to clients, be very useful in low-bandwidth environments where it is not a good idea to have 20 clients downloading the same files 20 times from the internet, and is a great way to get basic reporting about systems.

If you have feedback, either leave it in the comments or send me an e-mail (tom at tomontech dot com). NOTE: I can not provide individualized installation support, I simply don’t have the time.

WARNING: By viewing and / or downloading this guide, you assume all responsibility and liability in case anything goes wrong. You agree that I can not and will not be held responsible for any data loss or other issues resulting from the installation or use of Windows Server Update Services. This guide is intended to be a sample and is not representative of every scenario. Please consult with a qualified professional if you are unsure about any of the steps herein.

To view the guide, click here, or view the embedded version below. To download a PDF copy of this guide, click here.

//www.scribd.com/embeds/177586048/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-1s8n6ss0lrri27hsxa8o&show_recommendations=true

Configuring Group Policy for Windows Server Update Services on Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

This post is intended to be a supplement for the Installing WSUS on Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials guide.

To configure your client workstations to connect to WSUS, it is highly recommended to use Group Policy. Below I have included examples of Group Policy settings and the necessary WMI filters that can be used as a baseline policy in any environment.

The Default Windows Update Settings policy is intended to the base / default policy that is applied to all systems in the domain.

The Windows Update Settings – Servers policy is intended to supplement the default settings and apply server specific installation settings to server OSes. This policy requires the Servers WMI filter.

The Windows Update Settings – Workstations policy is intended to supplement the default settings and apply workstation specific installation settings to workstation OSes. This policy requires the workstations WMI filter.

WMI Filters

The following filters will work with Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Namespace (case-sensitive) WMI Filter
Servers (applies to domain controllers and member servers) rootCIMV2 select * from Win32_OperatingSystem where (Version >= “6.1%”) and ProductType = “2” or ProductType = “3”
Workstations rootCIMV2 select * from Win32_OperatingSystem where (Version >= “6.1%”) and ProductType=”1″

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Experience Release Notes

Might be old news for some, however, in advance of General Availability this week for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, I wanted to highlight a couple items relating to the new Windows Server Essentials Experience.

From the Release Notes:

· The Windows Server Essentials Experience only works in a single-domain environment that does not include a read-only domain controller. There is no workaround at this time.

· If you install Windows Server Essentials as a virtual machine, and if your server is not connected to the network (or the DHCP service is not available) while running the Configure Windows Server Essentials Wizard, Anywhere Access functionalities (such as Remote Web Access, virtual private networking and DirectAccess) are blocked.

To avoid this, ensure that your server has a network connection when you install Windows Server Essentials as a virtual machine and run the Configure Windows Server Essentials Wizard. If this has already occurred, manually configure the DNS settings.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials – What’s New

In this R2 wave of Windows Server products, Microsoft is taking the time to update its “first server” version, Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

The Essentials SKU historically has been intended to be the entry level server for a small or midsize business. With Essentials R2, Microsoft is extending this feature set into the enterprise. Because the Essentials feature set is now an available role in the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2012 R2, companies with more than 25 users can backup their PCs, seamless integrate with cloud services or on-premise Exchange servers, and provide remote access to company data.

Besides the Essentials features now being available as a role, there are number of additional new features.

  • Full PC Restore over the network is now supported
  • Mobile Devices can be managed in the dashboard using Exchange ActiveSync
  • Quotas can be set on shared folders in the dashboard
  • The client connector can trigger a VPN connection so clients can always be connected to the network
  • Now supported as a member server in a domain
  • Health monitoring and reporting is now built-in
  • Remote Web Access theme now follows in the style of SkyDrive

What I like about this release is that its the small things that really make it all come together. There is now an option in configuring the remote access website to allow direct RDP access to the server or only access to the dashboard. PXE boot restores of client computers is awesome and is something I’ve been asking for since the Windows Home Server days. The dashboard now lets customers integrate with Office 365, Windows Intune, and Windows Azure Backup. BranchCache is now supported as well. If a company has multiple servers, the connector will now let users switch between them.

These are just a few of the many examples of what Microsoft has brought to the R2 release of Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be posting some tours of the new functionality.

Windows Server and System Center: Designed with You in Mind

If you’ve been keeping up with Microsoft related news, you’ve probably heard that Microsoft announced new features in Windows Azure, announced Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2014. For many of these products, they are here less than a year after their predecessors. This is a huge accomplishment for Microsoft.

According to a blog post published by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Windows Server and System Center, Microsoft is able to do this because they are building for the cloud first.

By building for the cloud first, Microsoft says that they are able to do couple things:

  • Battle harden what is built. By deploying in Windows Azure first, Microsoft can ensure that they are delivering a solid product both in the cloud and on-premise.
  • Unify the planning and delivery across multiple products. With this wave of releases, Microsoft has brought together Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Windows Azure, and Windows Intune.

What this means for you as a Microsoft customer is that scenarios are being designed for better integration end-to-end, using real world feedback from people like you and I, and validated in the Windows Azure cloud.

It’s an exciting and interesting time for both Microsoft and its customers. I’m encouraged by the products I’m seeing and the scenarios that are being unlocked.