WindowsNetworking.com - Monthly Newsletter - July 2014

Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

1. The Future of IT: How much leaner and meaner can we get?

I recently wrote an article over on GFI’s Talk Tech to Me blog about how All My Nerdy Friends are Getting Buff. But it’s not just IT pros themselves who are physically “downsizing” themselves these days – companies are doing the organizational equivalent, putting themselves on a diet when it comes to budgeting for personnel, travel, and capital expenditures. The days when tech firms threw money around like drunken sailors seems to be over.

Certainly some of this trend can be attributed to the ongoing uncertainty about the economy and the reduced profits that many businesses are experiencing. However, even companies that are doing well financially are still tightening their belts. Microsoft began this year reporting record revenues and on the one hand they’ve spent billions  on acquisitions such as Nokia and Parature, but employees have seen travel budgets cut significantly and new CEO Satya Nadella’s “mission redefinition” email to employees this month hinted at possible job cuts and talks explicitly about “flattening the organization” and developing “leaner business processes.” Analyst Rick Sherlund predicted a 5-10 percent reduction in headcount is coming down the pike.

None of this is unique to Microsoft or to the tech industry, and there’s nothing really new here; the mantra throughout the business world for the past several years has been about “doing more with less.” Microsoft’s expected job cuts can be seen as just a crash diet designed to get the company back down to fighting weight after it ballooned in size due to the Nokia acquisition that added approximately 25,000 employees to its roster. Google similarly cut over 5300 jobs last year after buying Motorola the year before (and they sold it this year, for $9.5 billion less than they paid for it). Dell and HP have both made significant job cuts this year.

What does all of this mean to IT workers in smaller companies? On the one hand, small and mid-sized businesses don’t have billions of dollars in cash lying around like the tech giants do, so tough economic times hit harder when you don’t have a big “cushion” to tide you over. On the other hand, most small companies are already much leaner and more agile and thus their expenses are much less; they aren’t nearly as “high maintenance.” They haven’t had the means to let themselves become bloated and lazy because they’ve been getting plenty of exercise, struggling to stay above water. They’re also often not bound by as many regulations and restrictions, especially if privately owned, they’re under less scrutiny from the media, and their hands are less likely to be tied by a plethora of in-house attorneys who insist that they err on the side of caution.

Many small businesses have begun decreasing their IT department footprints and turning to cloud services for more of their basic IT needs. Office 365, Google Apps/Docs, web hosting, etc. can eliminate or reduce the need for servers to provide these functions in-house. That can also mean a reduced need for IT personnel, although in many cases it just means IT pros need to develop the new skills necessary for working in a cloud-based environment.

Getting leaner doesn’t just pertain to cutting jobs or budgets. At a deeper level, it’s about operating more efficiently and effectively, moving more quickly and getting more done in less time. Technology can enable that, but sometimes just as the cobbler’s kids go barefoot, those working in the IT field can be behind in adopting new technologies that could speed up their processes and make their jobs easier. That’s partly because we’re often overworked and don’t have the time to check out the new tech, and it’s also partly because we tend to get set in our ways, and a little too comfortable with doing things “the way we’ve always done it.”

I see some long-time IT pros still going to the office to take care of a problem with the server when the means exist to log in and fix it remotely. I see them painstakingly typing out email replies on tiny smart phone keyboards when they could be dictating their responses in half the time. Ultimately, it makes more sense to work smarter instead of working harder and longer.

At some point, though, we have to look around and ask if we’ve overdone it. We’ve all seen overweight people who go on a diet and end up getting way too thin, or folks who set out to get fit and go overboard to the point where working out consumes their entire lives and actually has negative health impacts. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing – both for individuals and for companies.

I think the trend toward trimming the organizational fat and streamlining processes is a good thing. I just hope those who are driving the movement will be able to recognize when they’ve reached the limits. You can only cut so much before you end up cutting into vital organs.

Thanks!

Deb

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

=======================
Quote of the Month - It’s simple; if it jiggles, it’s fat. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
=======================

2. Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond – Order Today!

Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond

By Thomas Shinder, Debra Littlejohn Shinder and Yuri Diogenes

From architecture to deployment, this book takes you through the steps for securing a Windows Server 2012-based enterprise network in today’s highly mobile, BYOD, cloud-centric computing world. Includes test lab guides for trying out solutions in a non-production environment.

Order your copy of Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond. You'll be glad you did

   


Click here to Order your copy today

 


3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

  • A key aspect of planning a virtualization environment--for example, one based on Windows Server Hyper-V, with or without System Center Virtual Machine Manager--is designing the fabric, an umbrella term that includes the physical servers, switches, cards, connections and other infrastructure hardware that allows storage resources to be accessed by hosts and by the virtual machines running on these hosts. In Part 1 of this series of articles, Mitch Tulloch begins the discussion of various considerations when using SSDs and other aspects of Storage Palnning for Hyper-V Hosts.

  • In Part 2 of this article on Improving Network Performance in Windows Server and Client, I delve a little deeper into configuration changes, third party tools you can use to enhance performance and technologies included in the Windows operating systems (including new ones in the latest versions of which you might not be aware) that are designed to help you optimize network performance.

  • If you’ve been following Brien Posey’s multi-part discussion of Windows Server 2012 R2 and BYOD, you’ll want to take a look at Part 8, which continues the discussion of the Active Directory Federation Service and the workplace join feature by explaining how to configure a client computer to join the workplace.

  • I had an opportunity to do a review of the latest version of Netwrix Auditor for Active Directory and once again, was impressed with its features, functionality and user-friendliness. If you’re in the market for an auditing solution that goes beyond what’s built into Windows, check out what I have to say about this one.

4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month

Shrinking a virtual disk

Here’s a great tip explaining how to properly shrink a virtual disk for a virtual machine on a Hyper-V host, which was excerpted from Mitch Tulloch's book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 from Microsoft Press:

Before you use either Windows PowerShell or Hyper-V Manager to shrink a VHD or VHDX file, you should log on to the guest operating system and use the Disk Management snap-in to shrink the volume on the virtual disk you want to shrink. For more information, see Ben Armstrong’s post titled “Shrinking a virtual hard disk in Windows 8” in his “Virtual PC Guy Blog”.

For more great admin tips, check out http://www.windowsnetworking.com/kbase/.

5. Windows Networking Links of the Month

6. Ask Sgt. Deb

QUESTION:

Hey, Deb. Weird problem here. My company uses Windows Intune and some of our employees are using Windows RT tablets, which for the most part have worked pretty well.  We have the Company Portal app for installing the apps that we make available to them.  We hit a snag when we upgraded those to Windows 8.1 RT. The apps that were installed via the Company Portal stopped working and there’s an “X” in the apps’ tiles.

ANSWER:

Hi Amed,

The apps that were installed through the Company Portal app won’t work until the device is connected to Windows Intune so the “side loading” keys can be reprovisioned. There are a couple of ways to address this. You can open the Company Portal app and click any of the modern apps that’s available to install it. This will connect the Intune service to the device and the apps will function again. You can also do this by opening a command prompt with admin privileges and typing this command: MDMAgent.exe, which also connects the device to the Intune service.