Think IPM

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Looking for a Microsoft Job?

MSEmploy - The Microsoft-Focuses Job and Training PortalWhile surfing around the internet this weekend, I stumbled across a new job posting board that I never heard of before.  Run by Microsoft and catering to MCP certified individuals, MSEmploy.com tries to match Microsoft Certified professionals with job and training opportunities.  Although just another Job board, it’s kind of cool that it is run by Microsoft and Microsoft – Centric and also focuses on the training aspect of a job search.  You can sign up for alerts on upcoming training and different events.  Even if you are not looking for a job, it is always good to have your resume up to date and out there.  You never know what opportunities are out there.  

Recruiters can also sign up and they are offering free job postings for a limited time to MS partners.

On a related job opportunity note, Duncan has posted about a job opportunity on the VMware PSO Benelux team.  Must be fluent in Dutch and English. :) Check out Yellow-Bricks for the details.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Vizioncore’s vProducts (vOptimizer, vRanger & vReplicator) rundown

imageThis week Steve Koff from Vizioncore came by our offices to give us a rundown of the vProduct line. :-) 

For those not familiar with VizionCore, think vRanger Pro; their most recognizable product in my humble opinion. Acquired by Quest software, Vizioncore has actually grown their product offerings quite a bit and in a couple of different areas.

I still think that vRanger is their most compelling solution for my set of customers. vRanger is a host based backup solution. Now in its 4th generation, it is fully vSphere and VI3 compatible and backs up your VMs live giving you full or file level recovery. All the normal bells and whistles that have become standard with VM backups (host based, socket licensed, compression, incrementals etc) are included.

vReplicator is probably their second most popular product with my clients. This host based replication software allows clients to replicate VMs (again Live) from ESX servers in production to ESX servers in DR locations. This has become a great alternative for clients that do not have array based replication between sites. vReplicator is storage agnostic and will keep VMs in sync using differentials sent across the wire every 15 minutes or more (depending on rate of change and bandwidth). While this can't compete with the minute syncs possible via array based replication, the software based choice is affordable by even the tightest IT budgets. There are plans/rumors/rumblings that VMware will begin certifying software replication products for use with SRM in 2010. If vReplicator is on the short list(and I believe it is), I think this combination of vReplicator and SRM will be a very compelling solution to smaller SMBs looking to fulfill their DR obligations.

vOptimizer is an interesting product. It allows you to run jobs against your Virtual Machine infrastructure to reclaim unused free space on the SAN. You set a threshold of say 20% and vOptimizer can go out and resize all VMDKs so that they only have 20% free space allowing you to potentially reclaim tons of valuable SAN space. Very Neat! - I wish this could be done on the fly but due to current Windows limitations, VMs have to be bounced. The restarts can be scheduled for outage windows though. The ROI on SAN space could pay for this product pretty rapidly. They have a free 'scan' only tool called WasteFinder that you can use to survey the VMs to see how much waste is out there.

Having experience with VizionCore's products, a lot of this was a refresher for me but I did learn some interesting pricing information. I had always been under the impression that vReplicator was priced per VM but was told that when bundled with 2 other products in a suite (optimizer and ranger for instance), replicator becomes a socket based license model. Confusing yes, but now a more cost effective price for customers with high consolidation ratios on their ESX hosts.

We also spoke at length about vControl and vFoglight. The first is a multi-hypervisor management tool and the second a VMware only reporting tool. They were pretty big products and probably deserve a post on their own.

For me, vOptimizer, vRanger and vReplicator fit the best in the solutions I am currently working on.  All three products are VMware only.  No Hyper-V or XenServer support yet.  Hyper-V is on the drawing board though.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So cool! ... [Opened/Closed folder icons in Vista / Win7]

Written by Jacques Bensimon:

I was looking at how TweakUI from the XP PowerToys manages to change the Explorer shortcut overlay icon (from the standard arrow to a smaller gray arrow or to nothing at all) and, with InCtrl5, found that it creates the new Registry key “HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons” and writes there a REG_SZ entry named “29” with value “C:\Windows\System32\TweakUI.exe,3” (for the “no arrow” option).  Looking at TweakUI.exe with “Resource Hacker”, sure enough its 4th icon group is a totally blank (i.e. transparent) icon  -- you start the count at 0, so the “,3” in the icon specification means the 4th icon group in the executable.  Fair enough, so now why is the entry named “29”?  Well, I again used “Resource Hacker”, this time on shell32.dll, and found out that its 30th icon group is the one that corresponds to the standard shortcut overlay arrow.  So, putting the two together, I conclude that the “Shell Icons” reg key is a way of “redirecting” Explorer from one or more of its standard (shell32.dll) icons to others of your choice, in this case saying “redirect icon group 29 from the standard arrow icon in shell32.dll to the blank icon in TweakUI.exe”.

So now, looking further at the icon groups in shell32.dll, I see that its 4th icon group corresponds to the “closed folder” icon and its 5th icon group corresponds the “open folder” icon (on Windows XP), and this makes me think of one of my Vista (and now Windows 7) pet peeves, namely that Explorer (and most annoyingly Regedit) in their navigation panes use the same “open folder” icon whether a folder (or key) is in fact opened or closed.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, compare Regedit on XP/2003 to Regedit on Vista/2008/7:  if you have a value highlighted in the right pane of Regedit, on XP/2003 you can easily see what key you’re in by looking in the left pane at the key that has the “open folder” icon, but on Vista/2008/7, *all* the keys have the “open folder” icon regardless, so you don’t know where you are unless the key’s path is fully available in the status bar (long key paths are truncated) or you hit F6 to go back to the navigation pane, which highlights the current key.

Now I look (again with “Resource Hacker”) at shell32.dll on a Windows 2008 machine and discover that *both* its 4th and 5th icon groups are *identical*, and both look like “open folder”, which explains the above observation (I can’t decide whether MS screwed up or did it on purpose for some reason I can’t fathom).  So, just for kicks, I now create the “Shell Icons” reg key on the 2008 machine and add the entry “3” with value “C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll,23”.  If you’re wondering, the 24th icon group in shell32.dll is the blue “?” Help icon.  The results?

Registry  Blue Icons

So now I just have to find a proper “closed folder” icon group I like (either in shell32.dll or elsewhere) that has available all the same sizes and color depths as shell32.dll and redo the “3” Registry entry accordingly, and pet peeve gone!  It’s kind of cool that Regedit is affected by this change, obviously the result of using the same shell TreeView control as Explorer. 

If you look around, you’ll probably find a whole bunch of other apps and utilities that are also affected, e.g. the Start Menu itself (!) and any program that uses the standard shell file/folder selection dialogs. One last item:  According to the TweakUI GUI (written if you didn’t know by one of the principal developers on the team that wrote Explorer, a guy named Raymond Chen who used to be, and for all I know may still be, very active on MS newsgroups), the shortcut overlay icon change feature is a *system-wide* modification, so I don’t think creating the “Shell Icons” key under HKCU would have any effect.

Of course, if the reason MS chose to use the identical icon for open and closed folders is because doing otherwise will hose your system, I never mentioned any of this.  In fact, you never even heard of me.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

64 Bit Citrix Access Gateway (CAG) client a priority at Citrix

CAG on Windows 7While many are migrating toward the new Windows 7 and jumping to 64 bit to take advantage of the ever increasing RAM shipped in today’s laptops, frustration has been high with the lack of a 64 Bit CAG client.  Many rely on the CAG to get to their enterprise applications and the lack of Citrix support has been a show stopper for some.

Paul Fingleton of Citrix gives an update on the forums on the status of the client.

Hello All,

I would just like to take this opportunity to reassure you all that development of a 64-bit Windows client is progressing and at a very advanced stage.

As mentioned earlier in this thread by Jay Tomlin, we realize that news of the pending client release for x64 is coming later than many of you had hoped for. Unfortunately the effort to support 64-bit platforms was larger than expected, and required some fundamental changes to the client architecture that were not trivial to implement. The 64-bit plug-in will be available as soon as we can - it's one of our highest priorities and most requested features at this time.

While we do not have a specific release date that can be communicated externally at this point (there is an internal date that we are working towards, as you may appreciate such dates may be subject to some small changes depending on results of final testing as the date comes closer), the support for x64-Windows clients is expected to be included in the forthcoming 4.6.1 release of the Access Gateway Standard Edition software.

Also from Jay's comments "We also intend to support Windows 7 shortly after it becomes (generally) available from Microsoft.". Windows 7 support for the Access Gateway Plugin is expected to be included in the 4.6.1 software update.

Hopefully that helps to answer some queries, and apologies for any undue concern that may have been caused as updates had not been posted to this thread.

Kind regards,
Paul

View the entire community thread here : http://forums.citrix.com/message.jspa?messageID=1403961#1403961

The 64 bit support will be great and I can tell that the community is eagerly awaiting it.  I am personally running 4.5.8 without issue on my 32 Bit Windows 7 laptop.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Citrix Future : 64 bit / 32 Bit Windows and XenApp.

Interesting conversations about the future of Windows and XenApp 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------64 vs 32 Bit

From Chris Hahn:

Interesting post on XenApp 32bit vs. 64bit.  Windows 2008 R1 was the last 32bit server OS from MS.  There is no 32bit version of 2008 R2.  So there is a set timeline now where Microsoft will be forcing customers to migrate to 64bit platforms.

http://community.citrix.com/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=82706605

Since mainstream support for 2003 is ending next year, clients may be looking at 2008 upgrades next year, which is a good time to look at 64bit vs. 32bit again.

Windows 2003 support lifecycle (mainstream support ends 7/13/2010)

http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=3198

Windows 2008 support lifecycle (mainstream support ends 7/13/2013)

http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?LN=en-us&p1=12925&x=14&y=14

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Moshe Silber also shot a note around reminding us that Microsoft Server 2008 R2 is not supported by Citrix XenApp 5.0.

Citrix is committed to ensuring compatibility with the latest Microsoft products.

• Server 2008 R2 is not supported by XenApp 5.0

• Server 2008 R2 will be supported in a future Citrix release.

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX122601

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Edgesight 4.5 bug – Upgrade to SP5.

Chris Hahn sent over this quick note.image


As of 08.27.2009 EdgeSight 4.5 customers will experience the following error:

“Archive load error: The archive '/edgesight40/app/suser/ZRemoteLib.zpd#12!lsync.htm' is not appropriately signed.  The system cannot find the file specified.”

This affects both agent and server functions and prevents data from being uploaded to the EdgeSight server.

The official KB article is at http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX122557

The official fix is to apply Service Pack 5.  SP5 can be found on Citrix’s  Support Site.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How strong are your passwords? Test them out at Microsoft.

Password Strength of BoscoThink you have a few good passwords?  Think they are up to snuff to ward off the hoards of attackers out there?  Test them out at Microsoft’s Online Password Strength tester.

https://www.microsoft.com/protect/fraud/passwords/checker.aspx

I noticed this website in a post entitled “How I'd Hack Your Weak Passwords”.  It’s an interesting article that shows the technical and not so technical ways to guess someone’s password and protect your own.

It also gives some very practical advice on how to choose a good memorable password that will help protect your information.

Although this information has been out there for sometime, with the amount of usernames and passwords in an average person’s digital life, the information will remain useful and valuable for quite some time.

One thing I would add to the article that I do in my daily life is have different groups of passwords.  More complex and difficult passwords are used on banking and financial sites since they are *less* likely to be compromised and a different set of passwords are used for non critical sites (forums, shopping, etc) since their integrity is sometimes harder to evaluate.  Ideally, you would have different passwords for everything but that’s just not practical unless you use a password manager to manage them all.  Having different groups of passwords allows you to at least limit the exposure is one of your passwords or sites is compromised.

It is interesting to think that your email is so critical to password security since most sites allow you to click that ‘forgot your password’ link and get a new password in the mail.

Safe Computing!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

VMware VCPs Wanted for Data Center consolidation Project!

This post has been approved and endorsed by my employer. :) Opportunity Knocking!

 

We are currently looking to staff a  huge data center virtualization/consolidation project to take place at 3 data centers:

Plano(Dallas area), TX; Santa Clara(Bay area), CA; and London.

For each of these sites, we are looking to staff project teams of 7-9 consultants, broken down as follows:

2-3 VMware(VCP preferred)

1-2 EMC SAN(DMX)

1-2 Cisco

2-3 PM’s(PMI/PMP preferred)

1 Technical Architect/Lead

All of the above should have consulting experience, have worked on enterprise engagements, have some sort or relevant project experience, and must have strong communication skills(verbal and written).

Project will kick off towards the end of this month.

Local resources preferred but will cover travel expenses if need be.

All resources should have enterprise experience having worked on projects involving virtualization technologies, VMware specifically, and associated infrastructure technologies, i.e. storage/SAN, networking, audits and assessments, project management, etc.

Please send Word resume along with availability and desired rate info to: jnussbaum@ipm.com.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

WiseGuys, WDMs, TCX and Thin Clients

Actually, it was really a Wyse guy (Mr. Steve Gold) who dropped by the office to show us the latest goodies offered by Wyse.  There was a Gambino in the room but that was sheer coincidence.  Two hours to get through the latest greatest ideas and innovations from Wyse.  This could have been torturous! :)

Steve knows his stuff!  We of course got to go over the various models that Wyse offers – Nothing too exciting there.  Thin Clients that cover the spectrums of cost and performance.  Not as stylish as the Panos but way more scalable, manageable and powerful than the other Thin Client vendors that have passed through our doors. 

Thin Client Selections

Next up was the WDM – Wyse’s Device Management console that can be used to manage all of these devices around your network.  I really liked the WDM.  The ability to reboot, flash, patch and update from a centralized console is a must for a large implementation.  The interface was clean, thought out and easy to use.  If you have a couple Wyse units, they offer a free less featured version of the WDM to try out.  Download from their site here.

Wyse’s WSM was something I did not know about but was pleasantly surprised.  WSM is a streaming appliance that can stream down full XP or Vista images to either Thin Clients or repurposed fat clients.  

Personally, I was waiting for the TCX part of the session.  The demos Steve ran really showed the difference that TCX makes in a Thin Client environment.  The extensions really make the RDP protocol shine.  In my opinion, you really cannot properly evaluate XenDesktop ICA with HDX to View unless you are also running View with TCX.  Running View alone over RDP really exposed some weakness in the product.  I was glad to hear that Wyse and VMware are in licensing agreements that will allow the TCX enhancements to be integrated into the View Client.  This will definitely keep the VDI space on a more even playing field between vendors.

Wyse TCX Performance Charts

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Red Screen of Death – HP DL360 G6s

HP Red Screen of DeathBlue Screens of Death from Windows, Purple Panic Screens of Death from Linux and now I have to deal with Red Screens of Death from an HP BIOS!?!  Argh.. Illegal OpCode!  WTF!?!

Apparently, this occurs with some firmware versions of the embedded NICs in the HPs and in situations where you are trying to PXE boot the machines.  In my particular situation, I was working with Citrix Provisioning Services and was trying to PXE boot a vDisk to the G6.  This screen would appear pretty quickly after the initial PXE communication began.  I could avoid the error when booting to the Hard Disk and recreate it when choosing to Network Boot.

After a little Googling around, I was hoping that it might just be something that newer firmware would fix.  I went and downloaded new firmware from here and here.

The firmware indeed fixed my Red Screen of Death.  Whew!

Photography credit goes to Chris Hahn and his iPhone! (I left my berry at the desk!?!)

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Friday, September 4, 2009

A CEO’s Notes from VMworld 2009

My boss just returned from VMworld 2009 today and shared with me his notes from the San Francisco Virtualization conference.  I decided not to go to VMworld this year but thanks to the strength and depth of VMware’s community coverage, I felt like I was there!   

Myron has managed to keep his company aligned with key vendors and technology (Citrix, VMware and most recently Microsoft) since 1984.  No small feat for a consulting company.  I always find it interesting to hear the opinions of people guiding and leading businesses.  Check out what he took back from the conference on our corporate blog.

image

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