New MSFT Blog: In the Cloud

Brad Anders Corporate Vice President for the Windows Server & System Center division started a new blog titled “In the Cloud”. Probably it will not include any deep technical posts but nevertheless I expect them to be very interesting. Check out the first two articles:

Microsoft Security Compliance Manager

Solution Accelerator team have just released the final 3rd version Security Compliance Manager. Here are the key features of the new version:

  • Integration with the System Center 2012 Process Pack for IT GRC: Product configurations are integrated into the Process Pack for IT GRC to provide oversight and reporting of your compliance activities.
  • Gold master support: Import and take advantage of your existing Group Policy or create a snapshot of a reference machine to kick-start your project.
  • Configure stand-alone machines: Deploy your configurations to non-domain joined computers using the new GPO Pack feature.
  • Updated security guidance: Take advantage of the deep security expertise and best practices in the updated security guides and the attack surface reference workbooks to help reduce the security risks that you consider to be the most important.
  • Centralized Management of Your Baseline Portfolio: The centralized management console of the Security Compliance Manager provides you with a unified, end-to-end user experience to plan, customize, and export security baselines. The tool gives you full access to a complete portfolio of recommended baselines for Windows client and server operating systems, and Microsoft applications. The Security Compliance Manager also enables you to quickly update the latest Microsoft baseline releases and take advantage of baseline version control.
  • Security Baseline Customization: Customizing, comparing, merging, and reviewing your baselines policy configurations just got easier. Use the customization capabilities of the Security Compliance Manager to duplicate any of the recommended baselines from Microsoft and quickly modify security settings to meet the standards of your organization’s environment.
  • Multiple Export Capabilities: Export baselines in formats like XLS, Group Policy objects (GPOs), Desired Configuration Management (DCM) packs, or Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) to enable automation of deployment and monitoring baseline compliance.
  • Available policy configuration baselines include Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP2, Hyper-V, Windows 8, Windows 7 SP1, Windows Vista SP2, Windows XP SP3, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Windows Internet Explorer 10, Windows Internet Explorer 9, Windows Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft Office 2010 SP1, Microsoft Office 2007 SP2, Exchange Server 2010 SP2 and Exchange Server 2007 SP3.

 

You can download the tool from here.

Example Upgrade of SCSM 2012 to SP1 by Microsoft

Upgrades can be tough if they are not planned well. Event in very good planned upgrades there are some issues but the idea is to be prepared to squash them on the moment and finish the upgrade process to the end. This is what one of the Microsoft teams did when they upgraded their SCSM 2012 environment to SP1. read about their experience here.

Microsoft Private Cloud Computing – Book Review

During and after the holiday I had the chance to read the book Microsoft Private Cloud Computing. The book is authored by Aidan Finn, Hans Vredevoort, Patrick Lownds and Damian Flynn. All of the authors are well known experts in Hyper-V and VMM space. The book is 408 pages long and it is divided in 3 parts with a total of 13 chapters. The main focus of this book is System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 so it is VMM book. The reason why VMM is not mentioned in the title is because VMM is presented in the concept of the Private Cloud. This means that all the examples in the book are shown in a way that you can us them to build and managed your Private Cloud with Virtual Machine Manager.

The first two chapters explain the concept of the Private Cloud and the Microsoft Private Cloud in particular. If you are familiar with them you can skip these two chapters but I would suggest you to read them because you can always find something new that will be useful. These two chapters are the first part of the book.

Next 6 chapters are the second part of the book. These chapters describe every feature and configuration of System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. Along with the descriptions there are detailed steps of how to configure and use these features. Screenshots are also not missing in the book which I think is always necessary to get a clear picture of the tool while reading. In fact the best way of reading this book is in front of the computer with test System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Environment. That way you will be able to execute every instruction in the book and get more familiar with VMM.

The third part of the book consists of four chapters. These chapters are about explaining how you can leverage VMM and other System Center components as a Private Cloud Solution. Included are examples with VMM Self-service portal, App Controller and System Center 2012 Service Manager with Cloud Services Process Pack. The chapters does not show how you can do some complex tasks as there are different scenarios in the Private Cloud. Instead they give you the elements which you can use and how to connect them to fit in your Private Cloud.

The biggest value of the book is that you can always turn to it if you face some challenges with building your Microsoft Private Cloud. In all in the book you will find also PowerShell scripts so you can leverage automation. I recommend this book for those who are not familiar with the Microsoft Private Cloud concept or System Center Virtual Machine Manger 2012. The book is also suitable for those advanced engineers who want to have a reading to which they can refer in time of need.

The book can be bought from Amazon:

Microsoft continues the battle with VMware with more videos from MVA about SC 2012 SP1 and Hyper-V

Uploaded just a minutes ago there are new videos from MVA on TechNet. The videos compare Microsoft technologies with VMware technologies. Previous MVA released such course with videos where Hyper-V was compared with ESXi and vSphere. Now we can see the same approach with Microsoft Private Cloud over the VMware vCloud compare and by Microsoft Private Cloud it is meant freshly released System Center 2012 SP1:

 

Obviously Microsoft is determined to win this battle or at least to show that they are all in the Private Cloud.

More videos were added to compare Hyper-V with VMware vSphere 5.1: