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Technology Spotlight: Windows Server 2012, what does it mean to me?

By Robert Meyers

The release of WS12 is going to have a major impact on all of us who implement and manage Windows environments. There are major changes and we are all going to learn them or go the way of the dinosaur.  As someone who grew up in CP/M, trust me: it can be done.  So what are the big standouts on changes that I am going to have to worry about?

First off we have the interface, and for the first time since Windows NT 4, we have a major interface overhaul.  And I mean a major overhaul.  To me it seems like an amalgamation of Windows 2000, 3.0 (yes, 3.0) and Windows Phone 7.  Does it work?  Yes.  Do I consider the look somewhat hideous?  Yes.  Could I get used to it? You bet.

PowerShell V3 for the win. When you add domain functionality you get a link that lets you output the settings.  These are actually an output of a PowerShell script.  PowerShell is now everywhere… as it should be.  The days of DOS, PowerShell V1, PowerShell V2, Quest PowerShell and VBS being mixed everywhere is done.  When servers are 2012, PowerShell V3 rules the roost and renders the others inconsequential.  Now, if you are a VBS guy, well, as a CLI guy, I feel for you… but get over it.

While I am going to skip talking about all the incredible new features of 2012, let me just set one expectation: Active Directory Domain Serveries 2012 is a massive upgrade.  Not a minor update like 2008 R2, where you received great functionality with hideous management so people just ignored it.  No, you gain everything.  Features, functionality and most of all usability; Server 2012 has it all in the new version of Active Directory.  Think of all the pain we have all gone through trying to convert from Quest PowerShell to PowerShell V2 AD Cmdlts?  Well everything you do now is shown with its PowerShell syntax.

I really want to go over the new functionality like the new virtualization safe domain controller cloning or the death of the USN rollback… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Download the OS and install it.  It took me 30 minutes to download, install and configure Active Directory.  How long do you want to wait to lab yours?

Technology Spotlight: System Center 2012 Unified Installer, Disaster?

By Robert Meyers, MCITP

As we have all waited with baited breath, Microsoft System Center 2012 has been released.  Now that it has been out for a few months and I have been done both lab and production installs, and our team has done more of the same, it is time to discuss some of these new products.  So where better to start than the new and improved installer?

Microsoft writes, “System Center 2012 – Unified Installer is a tool that provides a single-user-interface experience for the installation of [all] seven System Center 2012 components, including all prerequisites and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Unified Installer provides a means of distributed installation from a central point using the existing component Setup.”  Does that sound awesome?  You bet.

Now how many people here have heard the old saying that Microsoft only gets things right on the third incarnation?  Let’s just say this is not the third incarnation.  After speaking with multiple System Center implementers there seems to be a problem.  We all are averaging only about 50% success rate in installing the suite with this tool.

So, if you are in a lab environment, give it a try.  If you are implementing it without a schedule, give it a try.  When this works it is like a dream.  When it doesn’t… it is nearly impossible to troubleshoot.  So, if it doesn’t, you may have your work cut out for you.

So my take on the System Center 2012 Unified Installer? This product is an unmitigated disaster and an unfulfilled dream.  Microsoft, please fix it.


Tech tip:

When importing software into SCCM, check IT Ninja and see if they already researched all the switches for you.  You may be able to save days of work in minutes.  Just remember, share here when you discover new techniques.

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