Today, the long awaited New Xbox Experience (NXE) update was released. I only noticed when I got home this evening and was attempting to put a game on for my Indiana Jones obsesssed nearly 6-year old!
I was expecting a usual Xbox update after reading the standard prompt about being signed out of Live if not taking the update, but then noticed a new progress bar… the Experience upgrade (about 2 minutes).
WOW! just a bit! 😉
A totally new UI and effects deck, much nicer integration with Media Center (am running Vista Media Center), overall awesome work Microsoft Xbox team, okay, taken a few ideas and developed them further, but they definately have taken them further! 🙂
In order to connect to Xbox LIVE and enjoy everything the new Xbox Experience has to offer, you will need an Xbox 360 Hard Drive. While you can connect to Xbox LIVE using an Xbox 360 Memory Unit with 128MB of available space, you will not be able to enjoy all the great features like Xbox LIVE Primetime and video downloads.
This week am attending SCOM & SCCM bootcamp exam preparation training with one of our close associates, Ashley Lawrence. Ashley has been involved with The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) since its beginnings in 2002-03. Ashley & I had worked together (you’ll have to look at my linkedin profile) prior to this, and have succesfully continued to work on various projects together since even though he is now based in Qatar!
Anyway, this week rather than work, work, work, it’s train, exam, train, exam, the details of which are below:
Event Title:44HOL003 – Systems Center Specialisation – Exam Preparation Bootcamp – (SCOM and SCCM)
44HOL003 – Systems Center Specialisation – Exam Preparation Bootcamp – (SCOM and SCCM)
We did the SCCM on the Wednesday afternoon, and fortunately most of what we were told must have sunk in as we both passed with flying colours! :-), we came to following conclusions to appraise…
SCCM Exam – in the context of the course, totally applicable, relevant, etc. but then it should be as the ‘course’ was a bootcamp designed to pass the current exam – as usual for a Microsoft exam quite a lot of poorly worded questioning more about one’s ability to read the question rather than test the subject matter.
SCCM Course – (i.e. an exam prep bootcamp) it did exactly what it set out to do – increase the numbers of certified SCCM partners (and therefore MCP’s) in the market, by passing the exam (see above re: exam vis-à-vis course), however I’d hope that the full blown course has more real-world examples, and more engaging labs, such as grouping/teaming delegates into sub-groups to work together on real world scenarios e.g. multiple secondary sites distributing and reporting on secondary site level client distributions, etc. to bring everyone together. Obviously the aforementioned example further alienates the smaller shops who don’t run or need multi-level hierarchies, but you get my drift – the labs are weak!
Firdous Gangat & Dave Allen – Firdous & David really made the difference to this course material, which alone would have been quite poor (labs anyway). Their knowledge added 1000% to its value, this said it did what it said on the tin as I passed both the SCCM & SCOM exams during the week as planned.
heating probems during the week (lack of cooling) caused some problems and some of the kit is quite old (ML310 G1, didn’t really have the horsepower for virtualised SCOM!), when ML110-G5’s came down to £100 someone should have snapped them up!
This 5 day instructor-led course will help students prepare for Microsoft exam 70-400 on Configuring Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, and Microsoft exam 70-401 on Configuring Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007. The course focuses on the domains covered on each exam.
The course will include lecture and demonstrations by the instructor, hands-on labs for the students, and tips on how to effectively prepare for a Microsoft certification exam.
Intended Audience: Systems Integrators, Gold Partners – Technical Audience
Students should have a minimum of one year of experience with:
Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 or System Center Operations Manager 2007 including configuring distributed applications, using PowerShell, and configuring and deploying Management Packs.
Systems Management Server (SMS) or Configuration Manager 2007 including deploying and managing software and hardware assets.
Active Directory and the Windows server system.
The equivalent knowledge may be gained by completing the one or more of the following courses:
Microsoft Instructor Led course 50028: Managing System Center Operations Manager 2007, or Microsoft E-Learning Collection 3386: Implementing Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Microsoft Instructor Led Course 6451: Planning, Deploying, and Managing Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
Objectives: This 5 day instructor-led course will help students prepare for Microsoft exam 70-400 on Configuring Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, and Microsoft exam 70-401 on Configuring Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007.
Part 1 System Center Operations Manager 2007 Exam 70-400
Configuring System Center Operations Manager 2007
Configure System Center Operations Manager options.
Discover and deploy agents within a trusted Active Directory forest.
Discover and deploy agents to systems not using Active Directory.
Use the Computer and Device Management Wizard
Implement profiles and user roles for Exchange Server
Configure objects for Maintenance mode
Deploying and Configuring Management Packs
Import a Management Pack.
Create a self-tuning threshold.
Migrate a Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 Management Pack to System Center Operations Manager 2007.
Configure diagnostics and recoveries for a rule or a monitor.
Verify conversion of MOM 2005 management packs to SCOM 2007
Create and modify a self-tuning threshold monitor
Building and Deploying Custom Management Packs
Configure security options.
Configure discovery for Management Packs.
Create monitors and rules.
Create a distributed application.
Create a synthetic transaction.
Create rules with overrides for specific server roles
Customize Management Packs by creating monitors and related tasks
Create synthetic transaction monitors to check application performance and connectivity
Create a relationship to show a dependency between applications
Maintaining System Center Operations Manager
Maintain a System Center Operations Manager infrastructure.
Fail over from Root Management Server (RMS).
Back up and restore System Center Operations Manager.
Manage and maintain reports.
Create a Dashboard view and a State view
Create a scheduled task using PowerShell
Create a console task and diagnostic task
Configure data retention settings
Configuring Client Monitoring
Configure Audit Collection Service (ACS).
Configure Agentless Exception Monitoring (AEM).
Configure Collective Client Monitoring (CCM).
Configure Business Critical Client Monitoring (BCCM).
Agentless Exception Monitoring—create and configure filters
Configure Client Monitoring Wizard
Create BCCM monitors for Windows clients
Use ACS to monitor domain controllers
Part 2 System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Exam 70-401
Deploying a System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM) Server
Set up and configure an Active Directory schema.
Migrate from an SMS 2003 hierarchy to SCCM 2007.
Configure an SCCM hierarchy.
Set up and configure security accounts.
Configuring an SCCM Infrastructure
Configure client agents.
Configure site boundaries.
Configure core site system roles.
Configure discovery methods.
Configure client installation.
Configure SCCM infrastructure for Internet-based client management.
Configure Active Directory discovery method
Specify a boundary for dial up clients
Use VB script to specify download settings
Build an SCCM collection by using queries.
Meter software usage.
Manage inventory flow.
Manage client agents.
Create a query membership rule collection.
Create a query-based collection rule using WBEM Query Language
Create custom attributes in Active Directory and build a collection based on that attribute.
Create a PowerShell script that executes an action.
Track success and failure rates for distribution.
Manage distribution points.
Use the Copy Packages Wizard to duplicate a package
Create a program dependency
Deploying Operating Systems
Capture a reference computer image.
Manage task sequences.
Configure site system roles related to deploying operating systems.
Deploy operating system packages.
Customize user state migration.
Create update lists.
Deploy an operating system to a secondary site
Create a PXE service point
Migrate user state
Securing a Network Infrastructure
Configure Network Access Protection (NAP).
Migrate from Inventory Tool for Microsoft Update (ITMU) to Windows Software Update Services (WSUS).
Deploy software updates.
Manage vulnerability compliance.
Enable software update management.
Create deadlines for update deployment
Configure maintenance windows
Managing and Maintaining an SCCM Infrastructure
Manage system health.
Configure automatic maintenance tasks.
Create custom reports.
Manage systems by using configuration management.
Manage Wake on LAN.
Import and export Collections, Reports, and Queries.
Generate alerts for distribution points.
Today EBS 2008 launched along with SBS 2008 as part of the Windows Essential Server Solutions (WESS).
The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) have been at the forefront of this exciting product development having worked with Microsoft on the EBS Technology Adoption Program (TAP) since early 2008 (we’d actually signed up on Microsoft Connect for what was then known as Centro in January 2007!).
To participate in the TAP you need a customer who’s willing to participate in deploying and trialling early release software known as Release Candidates. Our customer deployment was with a London City based insurance and reinsurance broker call Newman Martin and Buchan (NMB Insurance –
Our old mate, business associate & mentor (for all things PR & communications), John Dean (COO of www.showmethegolf.tv) helped us put together release that announced this exciting project, it went out to coincide with the global WESS launch event and is available online via PRWEB (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/11/prweb1607324.htm), but also below for your enjoyment!:
PRESS RELEASE – For release Wednesday 12th November, 16:00 GMT
Step Jump for NMB with Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server 2008
Largest International pre-launch Deployment Completed
United Kingdom, November 12th, 2008– Newman Martin and Buchan Limited (NMB – www.nmbinsurance.com), a leading independent Lloyd’s insurance and reinsurance broker, announced today that they had completed a successful migration to Microsoft’s brand new mid-market server product, Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008 – www.microsoft.com/ebs), which launches globally today.
EBS 2008 has been developed to help IT managers increase the security, reliability and manageability of an organisation’s IT infrastructure, so they can focus more on strategic projects to boost business results.
NMB were invited to trial EBS 2008 as part of the product development phase in January 2008, and are the largest international pre-launch deployment client for the new product.
In June 2008 NMB migrated to a pre-release version of the product known as Release Candidate Zero (RC0).The trial was supported by both HP and Microsoft, who worked in tandem with Microsoft Gold Partner ‘The Full Circle’ to implement the project.
Based in the financial centre of the City of London, NMB has over 150 staff. The business was previously supported by a Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server infrastructure, with a small proportion of users accessing Email and calendaring remotely via Outlook Web Access.The majority of remote Email access was provided using Blackberry mobile devices to around 80 users.
With limited remote working, especially in terms of the range of mobile / handheld options available, the existing user experience had become dated. Providing and maintaining remote working required significant administrative and required the use of a complicated VPN infrastructure.As the existing infrastructure platform was at the end of its life, the need to upgrade both server-side hardware and software had become a business imperative.
NMB were therefore ideally positioned to gain significant benefit from Microsoft’s Essential Business Server 2008, which was in the process of being developed to support up to 300 concurrent users, and offer an easy migration path supported by simplified administrative & reporting capabilities.
According to Simon Edwards, I.T. Manager of NMB: “We appreciated that we would be in the sweet spot for what Windows Essential Business Server 2008 could offer, and were ready to accept the risks surrounding a full scale pre-release migration, and be part of the learning process, in order to enjoy the benefits of a brand new infrastructure.”
He added: “We are enjoying the productivity and capability benefits from the key component upgrades such as System Center Essentials (SCE) & Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), plus Exchange Server 2007 with Forefront security technologies.We are also looking forward to consolidating a number of legacy databases with SQL Server 2008 as included in the Premium version of EBS 2008 we are running.”
He concluded: “Most importantly, our staff now enjoys a far more dynamic experience, including mobile and remote access, plus collaboration and document management via SharePoint. It’s been a major step jump for the business, but one that we are delighted we have taken.”
The Project was initiated and implemented by London based Microsoft Gold Partner, The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com). Reuben Cook, Managing Director of The Full Circle, commented: “We have worked closely with Microsoft for a number of years resulting in our Gold Partner status and were delighted to work with NMB in deploying Essential Business Server 2008.NMB were an ideal fit to benefit from the improvements contained in EBS 2008, and we were the ideal partner to help deliver them”
Cook added: “During the pre-release testing stage, NMB were the largest deployment outside of the US, NMB’s implementation provided unique and valuable feedback to Microsoft.A number of the experiences we had with NMB had direct results in honing and refining the eventual released product”.
All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their registered owners
On the drinking from the virtualisation mug, I really am and just the very next early morning after the Execuitve Briefing Center event…
okay, I’d forgotten to put the dishwasher on the night before, but after a quick audit & rinse of the physical environment, Microsoft virtualisation provided much needed ‘capacity & volume’ to support the morning peak workloads and saved the day!… okay the coffee (I’ll get my coat! ;-).
Attended an invite only Microsoft Virtualisation Solutions Partner event at the Microsoft UK Executive Briefing Center, Building 3, TVP, Reading…
The event was focused around Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, plus the other supporting System Center technologies. The event was a small, select gathering in the Executive Briefing Center at TVP of only 6-7 attendees plus some key Microsoft UK Virtualisation team members led by Mike Peers. On the partner/attendee side it was mostly VMware partners with a view to converting and capturing them with Microsoft’s latest kit – believe it or not, they were very, very impressed (esp. with VMM2008).
I’ve gone for two approaches, the first is simply using imagex to backup and restore (into Hyper-V child/virtual) a T61 Vista laptop, and in parallel adding the other nice ThinkPad devices and system software to the Windows 64-bit (Vista or WS2008 ) ThinkPad build that made the ThinkPad the market leader in the first place – beyond awesome build quality – awesome system software to help productivity, management, and ultimately improve the RoI and reduce support costs (even if you are supporting yourself ;-))
I’d be tempted to start with the ThinkVantage System Update, at the time of writing this was v3.13. System Update allows you to pick and install all of this lot plus more from a single, simple GUI – just beware the local repository can get quite large especially if you start installing monsters like the Rescue and Recovery programs (600+MB!). The local repositor is by default in C:Program FilesLenovoSystem Updatesession – you can clear down all folders bar ‘schedulerupdater’ & ‘system’ and next time you run the update the folders will be recreated but without the actual downloaded binaries, etc.
Intel(R) Chipset Software Installation Utility
Lenovo System Interface Driver
ThinkPad Power Management Driver
Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver for Windows Vista 64bit
Ricoh 4-in-1 Media Card Reader Driver for Windows Vista/XP
ThinkVantage Fingerprint Software Windows 64-bit
ThinkVantage Client Security Solution for Vista 64-bit ?
SoundMAX audio driver
ThinkPad Mobility Center Customization
Adobe Flash Player for
Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP and Vista (32 and 64 bit)
Windows Vista Update Modules KB932063 (Fix for Several problems occur on a Windows Vista-based computer when you work in a wireless network environment)
Windows Vista Update Modules KB929191 (Vista disk enumeration optimizations are disabled on IBM and Lenovo computers)
Whilst not all links mention 64-bit in the title (I’ve kept the titles true to the ThinkVantage System Update as of April 20th 2008) this does not mean they are not 64-bit such as the Ricoh 4-in-1 Card, if you read the detail you will see mentioned “Summarized Windows Vista x86/x64 drivers”
I’ll be adding more to this post and fleshing out the links during the week of 28th April as I should have plenty of time and, hopefully, the resources to hand get this right as attending the Windows Essential Business Server (formerly “Centro”) partner airlift to Microsoft in Redmond 🙂
As part of our business – an IT consulting firm called “The Full Circle” www.thefullcirle.com – and as a Microsoft Gold Partner that likes to ahead of the game by being an early adopter, we are always playing with new software and that means building and rebuilding boxes. Clearly virtualisation can make huge savings, especially in time but not always is virtualisation suitable (such as testing the latest 64-bit drivers and support packs).
However recently I came across an HP Proliant ML110 G5 server (dual core Xeon 2.33GHz, 1GB RAM expandable to 8GB, 250GB SATA, Gigabit Ethernet) for only £220 + VAT which is about £100 cheaper than HP’s value DX2300 desktop range and better spec’d (well bar the 8MB Matrox GPU! ;-).
I sent a mail to my colleages titled “An HP server for less than a desktop? Virtualise when you can have a physical?”
HP ProLiant ML110 G5 Xeon 3065 2.33/1333 Dual-Core, 1x1GB, Non Hot Plug SATA
I’m in the process of building a new ML110 G5 with Windows 2008 Server Enterprise Core (x64) which is now RTM with a view to this being a Hyper-V platform for a number of other guest VM’s including my main desktop which may or may not prove a little optimistic re: things like driver support, etc. we will see…
Note – you need to enable the CPU VM support before installing, it is disabled by default.
will aim to get a physical Vista platform built to test suitability for normal desktop use and may even try restoring an existing XP image just for the hell of it but won’t be spending too much time troubleshooting if it doesn’t play nicely for obvious reasons.
In the meantime some interesting & essential reading below if you are thinking of Windows Server 2008 virtualisation…
I’d say the RC1 ref’s re: Hyper-V support are now out of date as I’ve successfully installed it on the RTM platform I built this morning, although already running into issues with ‘core’ that may have me reinstalling with a nice GUI such as:
Enabling Hyper-V in a Server Core deployment
The following steps will replace steps 4-7 above for a Server Core installation.
1.Type “Start /w ocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V” to enable Hyper-V role.
2.Restart when prompted. Note: To Manage Hyper-V, you can remotely connect to the server from an existing Hyper-V Manager MMC on a different system.
I think without training (I’ve re-included the recent WS2008 links) it may be too much to learn/dig around with not enough time (other priorities!) trying to pursue the core build, I can feel a shutdown /c “rebuild with GUI” /f /r coming on… 😉
…since writing that mail in mid-February I’ve been on the UK Hyper-V RDP training with Microsoft and have learnt lots about server-core and just how difficult it currently is to remote manage… will be posting some findings and tips n tricks soon… (althojgh next job building a T61p laptop to be a Hyper-V host for some Centro / Essential Business Server work we are doing… 🙂