WindowsNetworking.com - Monthly Newsletter - October 2013

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

Will Smart Machines Take Over Your Job?

Stop and think about how many jobs that were once done by humans are now routinely handled by machines. When I first entered the workforce way back in the dark ages, PBX operator was an in-demand job skill. The first company I worked for had a lady who sat at a desk and answered multiple phone lines, then transferred the callers to the extensions of the appropriate individuals or departments. If those extensions didn't answer, she would pick up the call again and take a message, which she hand-wrote on a pink "While you were out" slip.

Today, it's a rare thing indeed to call a business that's much bigger than a home office and hear a real person on the other end of the line. Automated voice mail systems answer and you go through a series of "Press 1 for this, press 2 for that" maneuvers until, if you're lucky, you might connect to a human being somewhere down the line. Or not. In many cases, you can get the info you want or complete transactions by interacting only with the system.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to all those former PBX people. I'm sure they ended up training for other jobs. That's what happens when your occupation ceases to exist. Of course, before the PBX operators disappeared, many blue collar manufacturing workers had lost their jobs to automated assembly lines where robotic equipment took over the tasks involved in putting products together. The end of the PBX operator was part of the trend's encroachment into the white collar world.

But PBX operators were near the low end of the office totem pole. Those of us with "professional" credentials were still safe – we thought. There are some jobs that are just too important to be outsourced to machines – aren't they? Increasingly, the answer to that seems to be "Maybe not."

An article published last summer in the MIT Technology Review discusses How Technology is Destroying Jobs left and right, and this is happening at all levels. Many of the tedious numbers tasks that once took hours of work on the parts of bookkeepers and accountants can now be handled by computer software. Legal research that once required gangs of paralegals to pour through law books for days can now be handled by one person with a good computer algorithm. Fortune predicted last year that technology will soon replace 80% of what doctors do.

Well, if all this job replacement is dependent on computer systems, then surely those of us in the IT industry are safe, right? After all, someone has to write that software and maintain those systems. But is that necessarily true? The big trend today is cloud computing. Does that mean all the IT jobs will just move from individual companies to cloud providers? Some of them undoubtedly will – but as Bill Kleyman wrote for Data Center Knowledge last summer, cloud computing is pushing automation to new levels. These days we hear a lot about "self-healing" software that does away with the need for admins to troubleshooting and fix system problems.

Will IT jobs go the way of the dinosaur along with those in many other fields? Gartner recently released a report that suggests smart machines could eventually result in a shocking 90 percent unemployment rate, with "human-free enterprises" emerging within ten to twenty years.

What do you think? Are highly skilled IT professionals in danger of being replaced by machines in the near future? Or will we always be needed to keep those machines running? Let me know your opinions on this topic.

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP

dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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Quote of the Month - Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month

How to Check and determine whether a Domain Controller is Listening on the Required Ports

An Active Directory domain controller is a multi-master application. Any object can be created/updated/deleted on any of the domain controllers of an Active Directory domain. A domain controller must listen on certain network ports before it can listen for the replication traffic. To check whether a domain controller is listening on the required ports, you can run the following command on a domain controller:

Netstat –an –b | find /I "'Listening" > C:\Temp\DCPortsOutput.txt

The above command stores the listening status of the domain controller with the port it is listening on in a text file called DCPortsOutPut.txt. Domain controllers listen on TCP Port 389, 88, 464, 3268 for Global Catalog and 3269 for Global Catalog over SSL. There are also other ports on which a domain controller listens.

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

5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month

I'm working on a project this month where I'm going to archive a large amount of video that I've shot over the last few decades. I'm doing this because I don't want it to get lost in the dustbin of history and would like it available for my children and their children in the years to come. The biggest challenge with this kind of project is: how do I make sure that the data won't die if the hard drive dies? The traditional way to handle this, of course, is to back up the information on a regular basis.

I'm using a Windows 8 computer and I could certainly use the Windows 8 backup program. The problem is that this solution only handles the data protection requirements. I expect to be accumulating much more video now that that the video recording ability of smart phones is so good. That means that the hard drive on which I'm going to store the video is going to fill up pretty quickly. It would be quite a hassle to move the data to a new drive each time a drive fills up, because I'll probably need to buy two drives, one for the data and the other for the backup.

The best solution? Windows 8 Storage Spaces. It's a built in high availability solution that works similarly to RAID. You can plug in as many disks as you like so that when you need more space, you just add another disk and away you go! Check out http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831739.aspx for more information on Storage Spaces.

6. Windows Networking Links of the Month

7. Ask Sgt. Deb

QUESTION:

Hey Deb,

I've got a question about how routing works in Azure Infrastructure Services. I've been reading about Azure Infrastructure Services and see that you can create an Azure Virtual Network where you can put virtual machines. What I'm wondering about is how do you manage those machines and how do external users get access to the services running on those machine?

Thanks! –Garry.

ANSWER:

Hi Garry,

Great question! It's good to see the IT pros are starting to get into thinking about Azure Infrastructure Services and that the word is getting out that Azure isn't just for developers. You'll find all sorts of good info on Azure and AIS over on our new cloud computing web site, which will be operational in the next few weeks. When it's up and running, I'll provide links in this newsletter.

In the meantime, when you put a virtual machine on an Azure Virtual Network, you can make it available to external users by creating an "endpoint". When you create an endpoint, you essentially create a port forwarding rule on a gateway that Azure uses to allow inbound and outbound connections to and from Azure virtual machines. For example, if you are running a secure web service, you would create an endpoint that forwards TCP port 443 to the IP address of the virtual machine that is running the secure web service.

Accessing the virtual machine to manage it can be done in at least two ways. The first method is to RDP into that virtual machine from anywhere. You just connect to the Azure portal, select the virtual machine, and click the "connect" link. That will cause your machine to download an .rdp file and establish an RDP connection to the virtual machine.

The problem with that approach is that RDP connections are possible from any machine that's connected to the Internet – and of course that has some significant security implications, since there is no two-factor authentication option.

If you need a more secure connection, you can create a site to site VPN between your corporate network and the Azure Virtual Network on which your virtual machines live. Then you can disable the port forwarding rule that allows any Internet connected host to potentially RDP into the virtual machine. You then will need to connect to that virtual machine directly over the site to site VPN connection. Since the site to site VPN connection represents a routed connection over your corporate network, you can use the actual machine of the virtual machine, and the connection attempt will be routed through your VPN gateway to the Azure Virtual Network.

You can increase the security for the management connections to the virtual machines even more by configuring your on-premises VPN gateway to allow RDP connections to the network ID of the Azure Virtual Network only from a certain set of IP addresses on the corporate network, which represent the IP addresses used by your management workstations.