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This 3-part article details the 12 routines that I consider a Windows Server 2008 user ought to know first to accelerate the learning and adoption of Windows Server 2012 without the need of a touch device. For those IT professionals who are working towards becoming private cloud experts, it is imperative to master Windows Server 2012 which is an essential component in establishing a private cloud. And the earlier those master Windows Server 2012 platform, the sooner those will be become leaders in the IT transformation into private cloud computing. There is everything to gain to start learning Windows Server 2012 now as opposed to later. The content of this series is based on Windows Server 2012 Beta as of May, 2012. It is intended for those who are familiar with the administration of Windows Server 2008 (or later) to become comfortable and productive with Windows ... (more)

Windows Server 2012 Installation Options

New and flexible ways to make changes of a Windows Server 2012 installation after the fact are available. And IT pros can now convert a server from and to Server Core, and change the availability of server components that are previously committed at an installation time. This introduces new dynamics and exciting scenarios for improving supportability, efficiency, and security. This article highlights the three available installation options and some key operations based on the Release Candidate, Build 8400. There is additional information of Windows Server 2012 including: a free eBook, available editions, and a reference table summarizing the available features in each installation option available elsewhere. Server Core This is the default and preferred configuration for deploying Windows Server 2012. Server Core was introduced in Windows Server 2008 as a minimal ... (more)

Safely Cloning Virtualized Domain Controllers with Windows Server 2012

When virtualizing Active Directory Domain Controllers in the past, we've needed to be very careful that we don't invoke any steps, such as applying an old snapshot, that could possibly cause USN rollback to occur in the state of a Domain Controller's replica of the AD database and risk AD corruption.  Beginning with Windows Server 2012, we've incorporated a new VM-Generation-ID unique identifier as an additional attribute of a Domain Controller's AD computer object as well as the VM container that is running the virtualized DC instance.  When a virtualized DC starts up, Windows Server 2012 checks for a match between the VM-Generation-ID recorded on the VM instance and the VM-Generation-ID recorded on the DC's computer object in AD.  If there's a mismatch, Windows Server knows that a possible virtualization snapshot or imaging event has occurred and it dumps the cu... (more)

Hyper-V over SMB

Hyper-V over Server Message Block (SMB) signifies a newly emerging trend of cost reductions on storage hardware and a progressing standardization of storage virtualization solutions. In Windows Server 2012, an SMB file share can now store virtual machine (VM) and SQL Server resources in addition to traditional end-user files like office documents. SMB protocol is a network file sharing protocol allowing applications to read and write to files and requesting services from server programs in a computer network. Windows Server 2012 introduces the new 3.0 version of SMB protocol. A Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host can employ SMB 3.0 file shares as shared storage for storing virtual machine (VM) configuration files, VHDs, and snapshots. Further, SMB file shares can also store user database files of a stand-alone SQL Server 2008 R2. This is a significant feature and provi... (more)

12 Steps to NTFS Shared Folders in Windows Server 2012

In the past, managing and sharing NTFS folders could be a real ordeal – there were different tools for managing NTFS permissions vs shared folders and most IT Pros generally used these tools on a server-by-server basis from each server’s console. Server Manager to the rescue! In Windows Server 2012, Server Manager provides a management facelift on top of the disconnected process that we’ve used in the past for sharing folders and setting NTFS permissions.  In addition, Server Manager can easily manage these folders on a local server or any remote servers that you’ve previously added to the Server Manager dashboard. NOTE: For details on using and customizing Server Manager for your servers and network environment, check out this post on that topic. Along with the new SMB 3.0 performance and availability features for shared folders, Server Manager provides a powerful m... (more)

What Ever Happened to ‘Device Convergence’?

I'm sitting here at yet another user group meeting... perhaps you've seen me at one or at TechWave, or perhaps you have seen pictures of me at them on Facebook. I've got a laptop propped open where I'm usually working on some pet sample code project. Next to it is my iPad in its case/stand with an external keyboard where I'm taking notes on the event for my WordPress blog and perhaps sending out Twitter updates. Next to that is my Android smartphone so I can text message, go on Facebook, and take still photos of the event. And somewhere in the general vicinity is the Panasonic Lumix camera I'm using to record video of the event in case I need to refer to it later to clarify some of the notes I'm taking on the iPad. Finally, if I'm lucky, I've got a multi-outlet strip running to a nearby outlet so I can keep all these devices powered up. Sometime later I get back to... (more)

Microsoft Beta Certification Exams Available for MCSA: Windows Server 2012

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) on Windows Server 2012 is intended to certify individuals that have the primary set of Windows Server skills that are relevant across multiple solution areas in a business environment.  This certification also serves as a prerequisite for earning the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) on Server Infrastructure. To achieve the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 credential, individuals must pass the following three exams: Exam 410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 Exam 411: Administering Windows Server 2012 Exam 412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services As I previously blogged, the Beta for Exam 410 was released in June for scheduling at Prometric testing sites in the US.  As of today, the Betas for Exams 411 and 412 are also now available!  Note that the Beta Exams cost the same amount as th... (more)

Microsoft Announces "Early Experts" Challenge on Windows Server 2012

The new Microsoft certification exams for MCSA on Windows Server 2012 will be released over the upcoming weeks and to help you prepare early for certification on Windows Server 2012, we're launching a new "Early Experts" peer study group that is available online for FREE.  By joining and participating in this study group, you'll gain access to a monthly set of structured step-by-step study materials that align with the exam objectives for each of the new certification exams for Windows Server 2012.  Each month, we'll be targeting a specific exam and a specific set of exam objectives as our study targets.  Each monthly study guide will be organized into an online "Knowledge Quest" that ends with you receiving a special Early Experts completion certificate! Getting Started ... This month (August through mid-September) we'll be targeting a review of the overall exam... (more)

Right-Size IT Budgets with Windows Server 2012 "Storage Spaces"

What is the Largest Single Cost Category in Your IT Hardware Budget? If you're like most of the enterprise customer organizations that were surveyed when we were designing Windows Server 2012, your answer is probably the same as theirs: STORAGE! For the organizations we surveyed, we found that as much as 60% of their annual hardware budgets were allocated to expensive hardware SAN solutions due to ever-increasing storage requirements. Wouldn't it be nice to have some of that budget back for other IT projects? YES! We agree too ... that's why the server team included "Storage Spaces" in Windows Server 2012! Get Ready for "Storage Spaces"! "Storage Spaces" is a new storage virtualization technology that's included in Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 to provide SAN-like storage capabilities and performance using commodity hardware components, such as ... (more)

Server Core in Windows Server 2012 - Improved Taste, Less Filling

Want to reduce your patch maintenance requirements by 1/3rd or more? Of course! Who wouldn't? Well, Server Core in Windows Server 2012 reduces the disk footprint of the operating system by approximately 4GB!  When using the Server Core installation option, the features related to the Server Graphical Shell ( ie., Explorer, Start Screen, and Internet Explorer ) and Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure are not installed - GUI features that are usually not required on a dedicated server, because we tend to do most of our IT management work from our admin workstations anyway, as a "best practice".  By not installing these features, we gain several advantages: Less filling - particularly useful when virtualizing Windows Server 2012 ... you can conceivably provision a whole lot more VM's on a Hyper-V host if each VM requires ~ 4GB less disk space! More uptime - Fe... (more)

Seven Must-Know Features of Windows Server 2012

Leaping forward and setting a new standard for hybrid cloud, the next generation of enterprise computing, Windows Server 2012 is. While cloud computing is emerging as a service delivery platform, newly introduced capabilities and features make Windows Server 2012 not only a technology transformation vehicle of enterprise IT, but a skill upgrade and a career accelerator for IT professionals. Here, seven noticeable capabilities and features highlight the significance and a terse learning roadmap of this release. An evaluation copy of Windows Server 2012 in both ISO and VHD format is available at http://aka.ms/8. Installation Options & Features on Demand Storage Space and Thin Provisioning Hyper-V over SMB Continuously Available File Share Hyper-V Replica Shared Nothing Live Migration Hyper-V Network Virtualization ... (more)