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: email@example.com
1. IT Pros and Technology Consumers
We often think about the IT professional and the technology consumer as two very different and always separate entities. Tech vendors target their products to one market or the other. Tech publications write to one audience or the other. But whereas Grandma might not ever buy a Cisco Catalyst 6509 switch or understand a word of the articles published on windowsnetworking.com, chances are that all of the IT pros reading this regularly purchase, use, and troubleshoot all manner of consumer tech devices, as well as teaching grandma and the rest of your family and friends how to use them.
We've talked before about the consumerization of IT and the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trends that are blurring the lines between business and consumer technologies. But it's not just the devices themselves that IT pros are having to learn to deal with. The proliferation of tech toys and the marketing of things like smart phones – which were once confined to the most sophisticated business users – to the mass market means we also have to adapt to changes in the users on our networks.
Computing technology designed for consumers focuses on ease of use. That means simplicity is often put ahead of full functionality (that's the nice way to put it; some would call it "dumbing down"). The iPhone, iPad, etc. were designed on this "keep it simple, stupid" principle and now Microsoft is following suit with its new tile-based interface for everything from Windows Phone to Windows 8 on the desktop.
This sets up certain expectations about how computing devices are "supposed" to work. Not only are your users likely to get frustrated more easily when they encounter a new line of business applications that aren't built with simplicity in mind, but they also have new expectations about software reliability. The simplicity of the devices makes them easier to troubleshoot, too. If they can take their phones or tablets to a so-called Genius Bar and get it magically and immediately fixed, why can't you – the "genius" who oversees their work computers – solve their technical problems just as quickly?
Meanwhile, you're dealing with users who don't just use computing devices at home – they grew up using them from an early age. The digital natives have grown up and gone out into the workplace. They have been technology consumers from early childhood. They aren't intimidated by technology the way many of the older generation non-IT workers are. They might know more about their devices than you do – or at least, they think they do. They may be less likely to call IT when they have technical problems or challenges, and more likely to attempt to fix the problems themselves.
This can obviously have both good and bad ramifications. It's nice to not get a call every time a user encounters something new. But it's bad when users start messing around with settings and find "solutions" to their problems that might impact other software on the systems or circumvent security policies. You know the old saying that "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and that's certainly true when it comes to computer users, who now know a lot more than users used to, but maybe not quite enough when it comes to the interaction of different systems on a business network.
There is a fine line to walk for the IT department in dealing with this new generation of users. Companies are already learning that in order to attract and keep the best and brightest young workers, they have to let go of some of the rigidity of past IT policies and get used to new communication styles. That may mean relying less on email and embracing social networking as a business tool. It may mean allowing a multiplicity of other platforms – such as iDevices and Android phones/tablets – to connect to networks that were formerly confined to Windows servers and PCs and maybe Blackberries.
And things are likely to change even more in the years to come. ”Generation Z" – those born in the early 2000s and also known as "the Internet generation" because they aren't only growing up with computers at home, but also with always-connected mobile devices – will be entering the workplace in a few years. According to some theorists, these Gen Z kids will be more self directed and more individualistic (rather than team players), and will also be smarter and able to process information more quickly. For those IT pros who see users in an "us vs. them" light, you might be looking at some formidable competition down the line.
What's the bottom line here? The times, they are a'changin' (and remembering the original version of that song marks me as one of the "old timers"). IT pros have been focusing on the new need to deal with consumer technology, but you'd better get ready to also deal with technology consumers.
Quote of the Month - Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. – Mitchell Kapor
2. ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide - Order Today!
Dr. Tom Shinder's best selling books on ISA Server 2000 and 2004 were the "ISA Firewall Bibles" for thousands of ISA Firewall administrators. Dr. Tom and his illustrious team of ISA Firewall experts now present to you , ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide. This book leverages the over two years of experience Tom and his team of ISA Firewall experts have had with ISA 2006, from beta to RTM and all the versions and builds in between. They've logged literally 1000's of flight hours with ISA 2006 and they have shared the Good, the Great, the Bad and the Ugly of ISA 2006 with their no holds barred coverage of Microsoft's state of the art stateful packet and application layer inspection firewall..
Order your copy of ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide. You'll be glad you did.
Click here to Order your copy today
3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest
4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month
Windows Firewall Exceptions and Application Upgrades
Let's say you have an application installed on your Windows 7 computer, and you have created a new program exception in Windows Firewall to allow the application to communicate over the network. Then the vendor releases a new version of the application. Now you're wondering: When you upgrade your application, will you need to modify your program exception too?
Here's the good news: Probably not. Program exceptions are based on path\filename to the specified program executable, so as long as the new version of the program has the same executable name and is located in the same directory, your firewall exception should still work.
For more great admin tips, check out http://www.windowsnetworking.com/kbase/
5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month
Doing your monthly Windows Updates is rarely fun and if you're like many of us, you always live with a nagging little fear that your updates are going to create a service disruption of some kind. If you’re a failover cluster administrator you are probably even more concerned. Updating Windows server failover clusters has traditionally been a painful manual process and was likely to be interrupted because you had to watch and make sure the sequence was right. This was even more problematic if your failover cluster was hosting virtual machines. In that case, you had to move the virtual machines to other nodes in the cluster, and you were never sure which node was the best one for each machine. The pain is relieved with Windows Server 2012 because the Windows Server failover cluster feature includes something called Cluster Aware Updating (CAU). CAU automates the cluster update process for you. Just start the update and the cluster will Live Migrate the virtual machines to the most appropriate member of the cluster. After the node is updated, the VMs are moved back. Of course, there is a lot of flexibility. Check it out!
6. Windows Networking Links of the Month
We're a small shop, with 18 client computers and not likely to grow a lot in the next few years. We've been using Small Business Server for a while and it's worked well for us but I hear it's going the way of the dinosaur. What do we do when it's time to upgrade? We can't afford the high licensing price of a full blown Window Server 2012 even though we would love to have the new features. Yeah, yeah, we've talked about going to the cloud, but there are a lot of reasons that we want to maintain our own network (which I won't go into). Am I going to have to learn Linux? (I hope not). Thanks! - Joey
It's true that Microsoft has discontinued SBS, but there is a low cost edition of Server 2012 that should fit your needs: Server 2012 Essentials. It gives you most of the 2012 features, the ones a small business needs, and is designed to work with Microsoft cloud services if/when you decide to go that route. You can also do an in-place upgrade to Standard edition if your business should unexpectedly outgrow the 25 client limit. There's also a migration mode for installing it on networks that have an existing installation of SBS. (You have to move everything off the old SBS server to the Server Essentials server, though – you can't keep both).
Unfortunately, unlike its "big brothers," Server Essentials doesn't include Hyper-V. However, you can download the free standalone version of Hyper-V and install Server Essentials in a VM on it. You can find out more about Server Essentials (and download the Release Candidate to play with) here.