My journey to MCSA 2012

Cert

 

It all started way back in October last year i moved to an enterprise analyst role and guess what my employer (Dell Inc) is so awesome to provide vouchers to its employees once every quarter and I always had this urge to learn about virtualization/ Cloud computing and the fascination of how machines are more virtual than just few electronic boxes, and also how the management / deployment of resources moved from inside the datacenter to a meagre laptop, so i applied for a 70-693  Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator voucher, and wrote my first ever Microsoft exam on 6th march 2013, the excitement since the time I received the voucher till i showed up at the prometric center was once in a lifetime experience, countless hours of searching on technet and search engines and many hours spent on setting up a home lab, and looking at the screen watching CBTs without blinking my eyes to start with and visualizing the concepts in my mind and realized that this was just the beginning of an addiction far more addictive than alcohol or smoking , my colleagues at work would wonder what I was doing with my earphones on, was I listening to music ? was i watching movies or tv series ? noo this guy was learning !!

4th and 5th march were the most restless days of my life because this was the first ever voucher given to me by my employer and I didn’t want to disappoint them… I had many options like following braindumps which I felt was cheating, instead I used practice exams from MS learning and it helped me a lot, if you follow born2learn,technet, MVA and MS learning there is no way you could fail the exam and even if you fail once remember “failures are stepping stones to success“ , so I took the exam and scored 889/1000 and the happiness of clearing my first exam was unexplainable, it didn’t stop there, this where when my addiction got stronger after the exam I was reading on MS Learning and got to know about 90days2MCSA campaign and ordered the vouchers online (self funded) for 70-410,70-411 and 70-412, this is exactly where I learnt about Florian Klaffenbach who happened to be my colleague working with dell Germany and was featured on MS learning site, who guided me and helped me with resources throughout the learning experience,

I studied for 2 months before I took the first exam on 8th april which I cleared with 1000/1000, the feeling was amazing and I was speechless for a moment when the result showed up on the testing station this result made me realize that there is nothing that could stop me from passing my MCSA 2012, and then I scheduled 70-412 in the month of june which I had to reschedule because of bad health but that didn’t stop me, my health slowed me down and I couldn’t clear the whole MCSA in 90 days but again the delay didn’t stop me from achieving a far more important thing that is me achieving the certification, the best thing was MS learning along with Trainsignal inc started to give out free online CBTs to students like me which helped me clear 70-411, Ed Liberman did a great job there with the CBTs ,

took the 70-411 exam on the 20th july 2013 which I cleared with 906/1000, followed by that cleared 70-412 with 962/1000 on 14th august a day before Independence day marking my freedom from long studying hours concluding my MCSA 2012 journey here and decided to have a nice vacation with friends to Goa, this wasn’t the end but just the beginning MCSE : Server infrastructure and MCSE : Private cloud here I come !! 60days2MCSE it is or maybe even call it 120 days to 2 MCSEs 😉 !!

 

 

 

FIX: Slow performance for Hyper-V VMs when using VMQ with Broadcom NICs

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Source : http://datacenter-flo.de/?p=2050

 

Regarding to the issue I mentioned in my post about the performance issues from Hyper-V VMs when VMQ is enabled, Broadcom brought a driver fix for Windows Server 2012.

This fix should solve the issue.

You can download the new firmware from Broadcom or your the downloadpages from your Vendor.

 

Here the Dell Downloadlinks:

Driver download

Before you install the new driver, please uninstall the old one.

Firmware download

 

Fixes and Enhancements Broadcom driver vers. 17.6.0.0,17.6.0.12 (Source: support.dell.com):

Fixes:
===============
– Display FCoE statistics in management
– 57800_1Gig ports displays FCoE boot version in HII
– 5720 DriverHealthProtocol status
– R720 – Broadcom 5719 PCI MAC address set to null 00-00-00-00-00-00 when using LAG in PCI slots 1-4
– NIC.FrmwImgMenu.1 is not displaying Controller BIOS Object.
– Broadcom 10 Gigabit Ethernet Driver fails EFI_DEVICE_ERROR with drvdiag
– Add ability to change TCP Delayed ACK setting on Broadcom 57711
– Add support for OOB WOL using virtual mac address
– Add support for BACS to Allow Simultaneous Multiple vPort Creation
– Broadcom 5720 NDC fail to support the VLAN tagging in UEFI
– Broadcom 57810S-k iSoE ESXi performance issue during large block Seq IO
– Remove additional MAC address displaying in device configuration menu
– Change BACS display string of ‘iSCSI’ to ‘iSCSI HBA’ in DCB menu
– Update BACs DCB description field to add details on where to enable DCB
 
Enhancements:
===============
– Added Nic Partitioning feature to new 57712 Ethernet controller chip.
– The drivers for NetXtreme II 1 Gb, NetXtreme II 10 Gb, and iSCSI offload are combined in the KMP RPM packages provided for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1.
– The Broadcom driver and management apps installer now provides the ability to select whether to enable the TCP Offload Engine (TOE) in Windows Server 2008 R2 when only the NetXtreme II 1 Gb device is present.
– Added Hyper-V Live Migration features with BASP teaming
– Added new Comprehensive Configuration Management to manage all MBA enabled adapters from a single banner popup.
– TCP/IP and iSCSI Offload performance improvement in a congested network.
– Added VMQ support for NetXtremeII 1G and 10G devices.
– EOL Windows 2003 support
– Added SR-IOV features support for 57712 and 578xx
– Added EEE support for 1G and 10G Base-T adapters
– Added FCoE support for 57800/57810 adapters
– No FCoE support for 57800/57810 10GBase-T adapters
– Added support for 57840 adapters
 

Fixes and Enhancements Broadcom Firmware vers. 7.6.15 (Source: support.dell.com):

– Add support for the 57840 adapters
– Reduce firmware update time in Windows

What’s New for iSCSI Target Server in Windows Server 2012 R2

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The following table lists functionality in iSCSI Target Server that is new for this release or has been changed.

Feature/functionality New/updated Summary
Virtual disk enhancements New iSCSI Target Server now includes a redesigned data persistence layer that is based on a new version of the VHD format called VHDX (VHD 2.0). VHDX has a much larger storage capacity than the older VHD format. It also provides data corruption protection during power failures and optimizes structural alignments of dynamic and differencing disks to prevent performance degradation on new, large-sector physical disks. You can still import VHD 1.0 disks using Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview.
Manageability enhancements Updated You can now manage iSCSI Target in a hosted, and/or private cloud using the SMI-S provider provided in Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Additional improvements include new Windows PowerShell iSCSI Target cmdlets to export and import configuration files, and the ability to disable remote management when iSCSI Target Server is deployed in a dedicated Windows-based appliance scenario (for example, Windows Storage Server).
Improved optimization to allow disk-level caching Updated iSCSI Target Server now sets the disk cache bypass flag on a hosting disk I/O, through Force Unit Access (FUA), only when the issuing initiator explicitly requests it. This change can potentially improve performance. Previously, iSCSI Target Server would always set the disk cache bypass flag on all I/O’s. System cache bypass functionality remains unchanged in iSCSI Target Server; for instance, the file system cache on the target server is always bypassed.
Increased scalability limits Updated The maximum number of sessions per target has increased to 544, and the maximum number of logical units per target has increased to 256.
Deprecated local mount functionality Updated Local mount functionality for snapshots is now deprecated. As a workaround, you can use the local iSCSI initiator on the target server computer (this is also called the loopback initiator) to access the exported snapshots.

Find Dell Service Tag with command line locally or remotely

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1.Open command prompt
Go to Start > Run and type cmd to start your command prompt. Administrative rights are not required to run this command.

Choose either method 2 or method 3 depending on your circumstances.

2. Obtain Service Tag locally with command line
In the command prompt type the following and press Enter/Return.

wmic csproduct get vendor,name,identifyingnumber

3. Obtain Service Tag remotely with command line
If VNC or remote desktop connection to the remote-host is not available, execute the following from the local-host to get the service tag of the remote-host.

wmic /user:administrator /node:remote-host bios get serialnumber

You will be prompted for the password for account administrator.

NOTE :: type the command exactly like it appears above only replacing the remote-host part with the workstations name you’re querying. If you want to use a user account other than administrator, replace ‘administrator’ with the account you wish to use.

Step-By-Step: Build Your Own Study Lab on Microsoft Windows Server 2012

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Studying for your Windows Server 2012 MCSA designation via related books should not be your only method of study.  While memorizing facts and figures is a great first start, however, nothing beats practical experience.  Microsoft provides a slew of resources called IT Pro Camps, or CANITPRO Camps here in Canada, allowing attendees to run through labs provided being led by an instructor.  Again, another great start, but still not enough hands on to gain practical experience.  There is however another option.

Building a lab at home provides the ability to learn on your own time and pace.  Most aspiring IT administrators think creating a home lab would be difficult and/or expensive.  This process is actually easy to do and will provide you a tool to test out many labs provided in reading material and online.  To setup your Windows Server 2012 lab machine be sure to keep the following PC requirements in mind:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 as installed OS
  • 64-bit capable hardware (x64)
  • Intel-VT or AMD-V support in firmware
  • Hardware-assisted memory protection in firmware (XD)
  • At least 4GB total RAM
  • At least 60GB free space on HDD
  • Full Administrator Rights to existing PC OS
  • No disk encryption or pre-boot authentication

Setting Up Your Lab

NOTE: This process installs Windows Server 2012 in a dual-boot scenario using Boot-to-VHD features in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.  While this process is not intended to disrupt your existing OS installation, these steps are for use at your own risk.  No support or warranties are implied or provided.

  1. Backup your existing PC operating system before beginning this process.  While this process is not intended to disrupt the existing OS installation on your PC, performing a backup before any system upgrades or installation is recommended as a precaution.
  2. Download the Windows Server 2012 installation bits in VHD format
  3. Extract the downloaded VHD file by running the compressed .EXE file.
  4. Copy the Extracted VHD file to C:\BootVHD\Server2012.vhd
  5. Mount the copied VHD file as a virtual Drive Letter
  6. Right-click on the “Command Prompt” shortcut and select “Run as Administrator
  7. Run “DISKPART.EXE” from the Command Prompt
  8. At the “DISKPART>” prompt type the following commands, pressing Enter after each:

    SELECT VDISK FILE=”C:\BootVHD\Server2012.vhd”

    ATTACH VDISK

    EXIT

  9. Allow the VHD file to be mounted as new Drive Letter.  When completed, this new drive letter will appear in both My Computer and Windows Explorer
  10. Add a new OS Boot Menu Choice for Windows Server 2012
  11. Right-click on the “Command Prompt” shortcut and select “Run as Administrator
  12. Run “BCDBOOT <mounted_drive_letter>:\WINDOWS” from the Command Prompt
  13. Reboot and select “Windows Server 2012” for the OS Boot Menu displayed

Once completed, you now have a study tool that will allow you to conduct labs on your own time providing true hands on practical experience.  Stay tuned as we will provide more Step-By-Step posts to take your learning to the next level and help you achieve your Windows Server 2012 based MCSA sooner.

Source : http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2013/05/21/step-by-step-building-your-own-lab-on-windows-server-2012.aspx#fbid=CxSisXqgZwD

Need hands on access to System Center 2012 SP1 but dont have infrastructure…. don’t worry virtual labs are here

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Im sure, like many others you would want to try hands on the new SCVMM or SCORCH components well you dont have to spend a penny now, cos microsoft has Virtual labs for you here, everything delivered right at your screen with guided instructions… makes you feel like home isnt it ??…. so no more large file downloads or expensive hardware needed for learning anymore… this goes well on the learning perspective only for larger or live environment im sure one would deploy test systems on a perimeter network and try it out

No complex setup or installation is required to try out System Center running in full-featured TechNet Virtual Labs. You get a downloadable manual and a 90-minute block of time for each lab module. You can sign up for additional 90-minute blocks any time. Use the following virtual labs to test-drive new features and capabilities.

Link to Virtual Labs : http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs/bb539977

Announcing Dell’s FluidFS Version 3

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Dell announces version 3 of it’s Fluid FS for file storage. For more information go to http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/del…

 

Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V – Generation 2 Virtual Machines by Aidan Finn

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When creating a new virtual machine on WS2012 R2 Hyper-V, you will have the option to create a Generation 1 virtual machine (what has always existed in Hyper-V as just a VM) or a Generation 2 (G2) VM.  The G2 VM has the following features:

  • It is free of legacy hardware.  The VM no longer attempts to pretend to be a physical machine.
  • All devices run as synthetic VM Bus “hardware”
  • Your VM will boot from a SCSI controller.  This means the attached OS VHDX can take advantage of SCSI/VHDX features such as TRIM, UNMAP, and hot resizing.
  • The synthetic NIC can boot from the network using PXE
  • The VM uses UEFI instead of BIOS.  That means it can do secure boot from GPT partitions.
  • VM boots will be around 20% faster (think VDI boot storm).  OS installs will be around 50% faster.  But normal day-day operations won’t be much different.
  • There are fewer devices in a VM so there are fewer VM settings

Source : http://www.aidanfinn.com/?p=14913

The Definition of Cloud Computing by Thomas Maurer

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Windows Server 2012 R2

The reason for this blog post was a lecture I had at university where lecturer talked about ERP systems (enterprise resource planning) and a question came up from one of the other students about ERP in the cloud and how Cloud Computing is defined. I am not really happy with the answer he gave, because the answer was totally focused on Software as a Service hosted from a service provider and accessible over the internet. Well this is a part of cloud computing but doesn’t not really cover the real definition.

I know I will maybe get a lot of comments on this post, because there is no official definition of “Cloud Computing” and every company maybe thinks different about it, depending on their product range

As someone who has worked in the hosting business and now is working as a consultant for mostly building private or hosted private clouds the definition looks really different. One important statement first. Virtualization is not Cloud Computing, virtualization is a great enhancement for Cloud Computing and is also a important enabler of Cloud computing because without virtualization Cloud Computing could be really hard to do.

I my opinion Cloud Computing is not a technology, Cloud Computing is a concept you can use to provide access to resources. There are three different scenarios in cloud computing.

IaaS PaaS SaaS

Image Source: blogs.technet.com

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service – IaaS basically allows customers to use compute, storage and networking resources and deploy for example virtual machines with full access to the operating system. (Example: Windows Azure, Amazon,…)
  • Platform-as-a-Service – PaaS provides customers with a platform for their application, for example Windows Server with IIS where customers can deploy their application but don’t have to think about the server itself. (Example: Windows Azure, Webhosting Providers,…)
  • Software-as-a-Service – SaaS allows customer to use just a software without caring about the installation or platform itself. For example hosted mailservers or CRMs (Example: Office365, Microsoft Dynamics Online, Xbox Live, Outlook.com,…)

Well another common mistake is to think cloud is always hosted in the internet. Since Cloud Computing is a concept to deliver services, companies can do this also internally which is mostly known as Private Cloud. The Private Cloud can of course also be IaaS, PaaS or SaaS and could be accessible from the internet, but it could also only be available company internal.

  • Public Cloud – The Public Cloud is maybe the Cloud people think of mostly when they are talking about Cloud Computing. This is mostly shared services hosted from a services provider which is accessible from the internet.
  • Private Cloud – The Private Cloud is a Cloud made for a just one customer or company for example this could be an on premise Cloud hosted in my own datacenter. In some cases the Private Cloud could also be hosted from a services provider.
  • Hybrid Cloud – The Hybrid Cloud model will be the model a lot of companies will go for, or already did even without knowing about it. The Hybrid Cloud is a scenario where I have a Private Cloud hosted on premise in my datacenter but I also extend my Cloud to the Public Cloud by connecting cloud services such as Windows Azure or Office 365 to my Private Cloud.

I already wrote about 500 words, but I still didn’t not really answers the question what Cloud Computing is, so we going to have a look at Wikipedia:

Cloud computing – correctly: a Computing Cloud – is a colloquial expression used to describe a variety of different computing concepts that involve a large number of computers that are connected through a real-time communication network (typically the Internet). Cloud Computing is a jargon term without a commonly accepted non-ambiguous scientific or technical definition. In science Cloud computing is a synonym fordistributed computing over a network and means the ability to run a program on many connected computers at the same time. The popularity of the term Cloud computing can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of Application Service Provisioning that run Client server software on a remote location.

So with this definition there are five common properties every Cloud has, doesn’t matter if it’s IaaS, PaaS or SaaS based or hosted in the Private or Public Cloud.

  • Elastic and Scalable – I think this is one of the overall parts of a cloud. It’s important to be very flexible to get new resources if your business grows over time or has some special peaks where you need more resources. Resources could be more compute power, more virtual machines, more users, or more mailboxes.
  • Pooled Compute Resources – From a cloud provider perspective I want to pool my compute, storage and network resources and share them for different customers or services.
  • Provides Self-Service Provisioning – To request new resources (virtual machines, Mailboxes or whatever) over a self-service portal which automatically kicks of the specific tasks.
  • Highly Automated Management – Because we want to use Self-Services provisioning and doing this in large scales, it’s important that the environment is highly automated. If you think about a simple example: A new employee starts at your company and you want to create a new mailbox for him, you can create a it over a self-services portal. The creation of the mailbox has to me automated in the background because you don’t want to wait for someone to create the mailbox manually maybe two days later.
  • Usage-Based Chargeback – Trough the pooled resource you want to be able to do chargeback based on consumed resources. Even if you do another billing system you still want to know how much resources customers have used. This could be how many mailboxes did I use last month, how many minutes my virtual machines was running this month, or much disk space did I use.

I think this 5 things do cover the properties of Cloud Computing in basically all the common scenarios. This there are a lot of things I did not cover in my blog post but it should help people which are new to cloud computing help to understand the different scenarios.

Link to his original blog post  :http://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2013/06/the-definition-of-cloud-computing/

This is surely a must read for CIOs and CTOs… great work there Thomas maurer

MVA Event : Move to Hybrid Cloud with System Center & Windows Azure Jump Start

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I was there on Day 1 and im gonna tune into this MVA event on day 2 as well .. dont miss this guys
Join Day 2 of a two day Jump Start series covering the end-to-end process of implementing a MS cloud solution, providing a deep dive into key topics associated with implementing a Microsoft hybrid cloud solution. This Jump Start is a continuation of Day 1 and will focus on successfully monitoring and managing ongoing operation of a private cloud environment. MVP Pete Zerger and Technical Product Manager Matt McSpirit will provide example after example on how to integrate Azure IaaS into our private cloud to deliver hybrid cloud capabilities in System Center 2012 SP1, how to develop hybrid cloud self-service scenarios in System Center 2012 App Controller and in the System Center Service Manager Self-Service Portal, and demonstrate full integration of private and public cloud with ITIL.

 COURSE OUTLINE

01 | Monitoring, Management and Operations
02 | Connecting System Center to the Public Cloud
03 | Service Delivery and Automation in the Hybrid Cloud
04 | Reaching the Summit: ITIL-integrated Self-Service in the Hybrid Cloud

 

INSTRUCTOR TEAM

Pete Zerger | MVP and Managing Principal Consultant | @pzerger

Pete Zerger is a consultant, author, speaker and seven-time Microsoft MVP focusing on System Center management, private cloud and data center automation solutions. He is a frequent speaker at Microsoft conferences and has written a number of books and articles on
Matt McSpirit | Technical Product Manager | @mattmcspirit

Matt McSpirit is the Compete Technical Product Manager in the Server and Tools business, with a focus on analyzing competitive technologies within the virtualization, systems management and private cloud spaces. A Microsoft employee since January 2006, Matt’s also an MCSE, MCITP: Virtualization Administrator and a VMware VCP and has extensive experience across a broad portfolio of both Microsoft, and non-Microsoft technologies. Matt has delivered a number of high-profile events, including, TechEd, MMS, the launches of Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012, along with Private Cloud Roadshows and many more!

Link to enroll : https://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/liveevents/Moving-from-Private-to-Hybrid-Cloud-wSC2012-Azure-IaaS-jump-start

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