Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Data Deduplication Enhancement in Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 has a new feature which I can see very handy in the real world especially with VDI environments which have lots of Virtual Hard Disk files (VHD's) of similar nature.

In Server 2012 R2, Data Deduplication is now supported on VHD data stores.  This was not supported with the initial release of Server 2012.

Data Deduplication is also supported on Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) with file servers configured in scaled-out for high availability.

For companies that run a Microsoft-based VDI pool with multiple hosts, Data Deduplication can reduce the storage requirements of the VDI environment up to 90%.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Dirty Little Secret about P2V Migration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Physical to Virtual Migration has been around for a long time ever since companies started making the transition to Virtualisation as a standard back in 2008 with the release of VMware ESX 3.x quickly followed by 4.x and vSphere.

There a many tools on the market for Physical to Virtual migration of machines with the most common being "VMware vCenter Converter: P2V Virtual Machine Converter", "Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0" and the handy little tool from sysinternals "Disk2vhd".

In the brand new shiny System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2012 R2, this tool also supports Physical to Virtual migration of workstations as an easy transition to a virtual platform for physical servers.

However if you look at the fine print in the "prerequisites" you will see:

"Cannot have any volumes larger than 2040 GB"

What the @$%@!!!

Very disappointing seeming this is the latest release of VMM and this limitation is still around... this would trip up many companies who are still looking to virtualise that legacy file server or mail server sitting around on their network!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Event Viewer Tasks

I just want to touch against a feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 - 2012 which I believe is very cool.  Windows Event Viewer has the ability to launch tasks automatically when a particular error occurs.  This is great for companies that do not have System Center (or similar) tools in the environment to perform remediation tasks when problems occur on server infrastructure.

The button in Event Viewer is called "Attach Task to This Event"

Clicking it we can see that it actually relies on the Task Scheduler service to monitor the event logs.

Select Start a Program then associate it with cscript.exe or powershell.exe to launch a script that performs remediation tasks whenever the event error reoccurs.  You can instruct your script to also notify administrators via email which is very easy with PowerShell using the Send-MailMessage cmdlet.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Common DCDIAG Error with NCSecDesc

When running a DCDiag on 2008 or 2008 R2 domain controllers, it is very common to see the following error when running a dcdiag.exe.

Starting test: NCSecDesc
   Error NT AUTHORITY\ENTERPRISE DOMAIN CONTROLLERS doesn't have Replicating Directory Changes In Filtered Set access rights for the naming context:
   Error NT AUTHORITY\ENTERPRISE DOMAIN CONTROLLERS doesn't have Replicating Directory Changes In Filtered Set access rights for the naming context:
   ......................... DC1 failed test NCSecDesc

This is caused on Active Directory domains which have not prepared Active Directory for read only domain controllers with "adprep /rodcprep".

Server 2012 / 2012 R2 domain controllers do not receive this error for NCSecDesc.

Also it is recommended you do not prepare you domain for RODC unless you intend to deploy Read Only Domain Controllers provided you have the requirement for specific branch locations from a physical security perspective.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

MSExchange ADAccess EventID 4027

A customer of mine contacted me today regarding an EventID 4027 from MSExchange ADAccess they wanted resolved.  This error was being generated on all Exchange 2013 servers in their cluster.

After looking into the issue, I found that legacy Cross-Forest configuration remained in configuration partition from a previous Cross-Forest Exchange Migration.  This is located under the Configuration --> Services --> Microsoft Exchange Autodiscover.

Simply remove the additional references to the legacy forest (the ones highlighted in yellow above).

Do not remove "Microsoft Exchange Online".  This is a default entry and is used when you create a Hybrid deployment with Office 365.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Outloook 2010 Starting in Safe Mode?

Microsoft recently released a bad Windows Update (KB3114409) which caused Outlook 2010 to start loading in safe mode for multiple clients of mine.  This update has recently been recalled by Microsoft due to the number of issues it caused.

In the event your company installed it across multiple workstations, you can quietly uninstall it across all computers.

One of the easiest ways to do this is creating a Startup Script with Group Policy and create a batch script with the following command:

C:\Windows\System32\wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3114409 /quiet /norestart

Make sure the batch file is launched via a Startup Script and not a logon script.  Logon Scripts in Group Policy require users to have local administration rights to make system wide changes (something which is not best practice).  Startup Scripts will run under the SYSTEM account with administrative rights.