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Category Archives: Blog

We take a look at SQL Server 2017, and how the SQL Server that you know now runs on Linux with the new platform abstraction layer. We’ll look at and how well it performs as well Active Directory Authentication on working on Linux; high availability options as well as failover between Windows and Linux Platforms. We’ll also show you support for Graph analysis to identify new relationships in your data and more.

At Henson Group, our employees and contractors are like family. On this occasion of Labor Day, sending our team warm wishes for you are the strength and support of our company. I wish you and your family the best of happiness and health. Happy Labor Day!

Explore the streamline update model between Office and Windows 10. See the upcoming changes to Office 365 system requirements so that your Office desktop apps can benefit from the latest Office 365 capabilities. Also, take a look at the improvements that we’re making to make it simpler to deploy and update Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 10. Please contact us if you have any questions or need assistance with Office 365.

About the Client
Smartsoft is a leading provider of workflow management software.  Smartsoft has helped top American businesses improve returns on investment, decrease costs, and increase efficiency in operations.  Since its founding in 1997, Smartsoft has grown to become a full service company for its SAP clients.

Business Situation
Given Smartsoft’s continued growth, it needed a more resilient and elastic environment and decided to switch from on premise infrastructure to Azure.  Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money. Smartsoft enlisted the assistance of Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in solving the IT challenges of companies like Smartsoft.

Solution
Henson Group team moved the customer from on premise infrastructure to Azure. The customer had issues with their on-premise Infrastructure and wanted to be moved to a more resilient and elastic environment. Henson Group worked with the client to complete the migration of their servers which included applications and SQL servers. The high-level deliverables included:

  • Build a new Windows 2012 R2 server
  • Add server to Active Directory and configure access
  • Install SQL Express 2008 R2 on new server
  • Move data from existing MS061 server to Azure server (~120 GB)
  • Move 2 SQL express 2008 R2 databases to new server
  • Move 4-5 IIS Application to new server
  • Support testing on server and applications
  • Final migration of SQL databases on go-live

Objectives
The primary objectives of this project were to increase the resiliency and elasticity of Smartsoft environment to prepare for future growth while maintaining low costs.

Henson Group was also tasked with improving the quality and efficiency of the system, while reducing risk.  Upgrades were to be made with minimal disruption to the work at Smartsoft.

In addition, Smartsoft wanted to gain practical experience during the transition to Microsoft Azure.

Results and Benefits
The Henson Group oversaw the development, implementation, and transition for Smartsoft from on premise to Azure.  The transition included building a new Windows 2012 R2 server, upgrading software and data management systems, and moving pre-existing data to new server. The project included support testing on the servers and applications.

Benefits
Due to its transition to Azure, Smartsoft reduced it’s administration by 39%.  With this solution, the hardware is maintained by Microsoft, so the client saved 24% on hardware cost maintenance.  Smartsoft realized a ROI within 6 months of the migration.

Elasticity was another benefit Smartsoft received after its transition to Azure.  Because of the migration to Azure, the client is able to install and use servers according to their need.

With the implementation of the Azure solution, quality has greatly improved.  Smartsoft is now experiencing 99.99% reliability with the Azure cloud solution.

Risk reduction was improved, as the transition to Azure led to a higher rate of server and data security.  This security improvement also increased its access to its IT infrastructure.

Products

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Windows Server 2012
  • SQL 2008 R2
  • IIS 7.0
  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
  • Microsoft System Center 2012

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com.

Based in Wallingford, CT, Amphenol is one of the largest manufacturers of interconnect products in the world. The Company designs, manufactures and markets electrical, electronic and fiber optic connectors, coaxial and flat-ribbon cable, and interconnect systems.

The primary end markets for the Company’s products are communications and information processing markets, including cable television, cellular telephone and data communication and information processing systems; aerospace and military electronics; and automotive, rail and other transportation and industrial applications.

To efficiently support its IT environment, Amphenol leverages Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM), a Windows product that enables administrators to manage the deployment and security of devices and applications across the enterprise.

Amphenol recently sought to upgrade its existing environment to SCCM 2012 R2, the latest iteration of the technology. The company enlisted Microsoft and The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in System Center technology and a long history serving the IT needs of manufacturing organizations.

 

Solution

Microsoft enlisted the assistance of The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in solving the IT challenges of modern professional services organizations like Amphenol.

The client partnered with Henson Group for a seamless upgrade to SCCM 2012 R2. A Henson Group System Center architect defined the scope of the engagement by mapping out a phased approach that included gathering functional and technical requirements, and after, an extensive engineering and testing phase was implemented.

The main deliverables for the project included:

Review of Amphenol’s SCCM architecture

  • Review current desktop environment (Image Creation/Update, Management Tools, Software Updates, Folder Redirection/Synchronization, User Profiles, Shares, Printers, Group Policies, User location, Collect Hardware refresh cycle, etc.)
  • Review existing tools and processes for PC deployment

Subsequent to the review, Henson Group formulated an extensive array of recommendations for the upgrade and optimal use of SCCM 2012. Henson Group then a series of onsite meetings at the client to review these customized best practices and provide specific training and walkthroughs. These sessions focused on various topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Manage Sites
  • Manage collections
  • Monitor site health
  • Configure software updates
  • Manage site communications
  • Manage boundary groups
  • Manage role-based security
  • Managing clients
  • Deploying clients
  • Deploy and configure SCCM end point protection for AV
  • Manage client agent settings
  • Manage hardware inventory
  • Manage software inventory
  • Manage Operating System Deployment (OSD)
  • Configure the OSD environment
  • Build and capture an image
  • Deploy an image
  • Manage images
  • Deploy Applications and Software Updates
  • Create an application/update
  • Deploy an application/update
  • Monitor application/update deployment
  • Manage the software library and application catalog

 

Results & Benefits

Based on the review, analysis and knowledge transfer provided by Henson Group, Amphenol was able to successfully achieve its vision for an optimal upgrade to System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2.

During the requirements gathering and review phases of the engagement, the client’s existing policies and solution for imaging was updated to match a more comprehensive set of requirements. The policy, governance and new systems management capabilities offered an efficient and more predictable deployment and administration capability.

The improved imaging process was more reliable and more supportive of the client’s long-term vision. Henson Group partnered with Amphenol to design a migration plan which minimized disruptions to daily business. Meanwhile, Henson Group supported the IT organization with the expert mentoring and cross-training the client’s IT staff needed. The business successfully met its deployment goals.

 

Products

  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012

 

Contacts Us Today!

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft System Center deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call +1.800.980.1130.

B&H Photo Video, founded in 1973 and located at 420 Ninth Avenue on the corner of West 34th Street in Manhattan, New York City, is the largest non-chain photo and video equipment store in the United States. Since its founding, B&H Photo has established itself as the place to go for the best prices and service for photographic, audio, video, computer, and home entertainment needs.

To efficiently manage its IT environment, B&H Photo Video decided to deploy Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM), a Windows product that enables administrators to manage the deployment and security of devices and applications across the enterprise. Part of the Microsoft System Center 2012 systems management suite, SCCM 2012 discovers servers, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices connected to a network through Active Directory and installs client software on each node. It then manages application deployments and updates on a device or group basis, allowing for automated patching with Windows Server Update Services and policy enforcement with Network Access Protection.

To support this deployment, B&H Photo Video approached Microsoft, which in turn enlisted The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in System Center technology and a long history serving the IT needs of retail organizations.

Solution

A Henson Group System Center architect defined the scope of the engagement by mapping out a phased approach that included gathering functional and technical requirements, the subsequently managing  the implementation.

The main deliverables for the project included:

Phase 1: Discovery & Deployment

  1. Capturing of SCCM 2012 business and technical requirements
  2. Discovery for AD, Network, Workstation (OSs, Models, Drivers), OS Provisioning, Reporting Requirements, and Processes/Procedures
  3. Review of B&H’s existing desktop environment (Image Creation/Update, Management Tools, Software Updates, Folder Redirection/Synchronization, User Profiles, Shares, Printers, Group Policies, User location, Collect Hardware refresh cycle, etc.)
  4. Creation of logical and physical architecture documentation for SCCM 2012 R2 and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) including server/Virtual Machines, disk/SAN, and High Availability/Disaster Recovery specifications
  5. Creation of SCCM Container(s) in Active Directory
  6. Extension/verification of SCCM Schema Extensions
  7. Creation of SCCM service accounts, Servers/Virtual Machiens, and a Microsoft SQL instance
  8. Configuration of SQL TCP port for SCCM
  9. Installation of required roles and features for SCCM Server

Phase 2: Verification and Training

  1. Review and resolution of any SCCM alerts and event logs
  2. Provision of a list of monitors for SCCM Servers for monitoring
  3. Verification of inventory reports are functional
  4. Deployment of Windows update through SCCM via WSUS
  5. Deployment of one MSI to test collection to validate application/patch deployment
  6. Training, administration, and troubleshooting of BitLocker and AppLocker
  7. Knowledge Transfer , including special emphasis on the following topics:

Manage Sites Manage collections

Monitor site health

Configure software updates

Manage site communications

Manage boundary groups

Manage role-based security

Manage the software library and application catalog

Manage Clients Deploy clients

Manage client agent settings

Configuring SCCM end point protection for AV

Manage Inventory

Manage hardware inventory

Manage software inventory

Results & Benefits

The Henson Group successfully achieved the objectives for B&H’s implementation of System Center Configuration Manager 2012. The Henson Group’s discovery, design and deployment was completed within eight days, without disruption of the client’s business operations.  Moving forward,  B&H is now able to leverage a robust array of management capabilities, including, but not limited to Software Deployment , Operating System Deployment , Software / Hardware Inventory and others to streamline the IT department’s day-to-day tasks.

Meanwhile, Henson Group supported the IT organization with the expert mentoring and cross-training the client’s IT staff needed. The business successfully met its deployment goals.

Products

  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2

Contacts Us Today!

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft System Center deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call +1.800.980.1130.

New detections added such as:
-Pass-The-Hash and Bruteforce based on unusual protocol behavior
-Elevation of privileges
-Reconnaissance via Net Session enumeration
-Compromised credentials via malicious DPAPI Request
-Compromised credentials via malicious Replication Requests
New deployment option with the ATA Lightweight Gateway helping with branch sites and IaaS deployments
New and improved detection engine that significantly improves performance and scale
Support for automatic updates and upgrades using Microsoft Updates
Improvements in third party integration to enrich detection

Download and install ATA today: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-microsoft-advanced-threat-analytics

  • Technology is a critical component of every aspect of Chicago Board of Elections’ operation, from online instruction courses and examinations to corporate programs and marketing.  Burdened with nagging network downtime, connectivity issues and increasing outages that its previous managed services provider was unable to overcome, Training Consultant sought a resolution that would deliver the high availability needs and optimal bandwidth usage it needed.

    Seeking to enhance the hardware supporting its key business applications as well as its public website and customer-accessible extranet, Chicago Board of Elections needed to migrate its core business infrastructure to continue supporting its business.

    Moreover, in the span of the last few years, the IT needs of the company have increased substantially, with new demands emerging for additional IT capacity and new storage locations for data have come.

    With its IT infrastructure built primarily on Microsoft and related technologies, Chicago Board of Elections approached Microsoft to recommend a cloud-based solution, based on Microsoft Azure technology. Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money.

    Microsoft enlisted the assistance of The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in solving the IT challenges of modern professional services organizations like Chicago Board of Elections.

    SOLUTION

    1.    Setup Azure VM configuration for two web apps
    2.    Configure high availability, auto scaling, and load balancing for Web apps
    3.    Provision a single SQL Server on Azure VM
    4.    Enable SQL server high availability and DR configuration
    5.    Performance tune SQL server and data disks configuration
    6.    https and custom domain configuration for Web application VM’s
    7.    Cloud only VNET configuration and subnet design and provisioning
    8.    Azure VM File server provisioning for WPF application upgrades
    9.    Knowledge transfer and documentation.

    OBJECTIVES

    The main objectives of the project were to achieve a secure and stable IT infrastructure, which would be flexible to accommodate future growth, while achieving financial cost efficiencies.

    Logistically speaking, in terms of the actual deployment, as Chicago Board of Elections delivers a wide range of training and testing services for its corporate clients and individual users on an ongoing basis, it could not afford to halt work for deployment.  Migration had to be implemented without outage of server access and break in the work of employees.

    Acquiring practical experience with the migration to the Microsoft Azure environment was also a key mandate.

    RESULTS & BENEFITS

    The Henson Group designed, implemented, and migrated Chicago Board of Elections’ current software to Microsoft’s Azure “cloud” services environment. The migration of the client’s software included moving the applications from the client’s old server to multiple Azure VMs, installation of the existing software, software upgrades, troubleshooting, general configuration and support.

    Henson Group preserved the Chicago Board of Elections’ internal domain and VPN connectivity, but provided secure (https) access to all applications.

    Each Azure VM was sized to meet the specific application running on it.  This was done with some, but minimal changes to the applications.

    The project was completed with two months.

    BENEFITS

    Today, Chicago Board of Elections is experiencing much better infrastructure performance with the Azure cloud solution.  The client does not have to support or maintain hardware anymore as the modern hardware is maintained by Microsoft and kept up to date. The solution allows the VMs to grow as the business grows.

    Thanks to the migration into Azure a much higher level of securing the servers and data of the company Chicago Board of Elections was achieved. Meanwhile, Chicago Board of Elections now has its IT infrastructure accessible at 99.9 % without any investments into hardware.

    In terms of cost efficiencies, Chicago Board of Elections shed its cumbersome managed services contract in favor of Azure’s pay-as-you-go services that it can now more efficiently and quickly scale up or down to match the growth demand for its business. Per-minute billing and a commitment to match competitor prices for popular infrastructure services like compute, storage and bandwidth mean Chicago Board of Elections will consistently achieves cost-effective expense management of its infrastructure.

    Server administration for Chicago Board of Elections was significantly simplified and became more effective. Only servers, which are necessary, are used, and that only in the time, when it is necessary. Developers can install servers according to their need and requirements of their work.

    Significant benefit of Microsoft Azure lies in the possibility of scaling operation. The solution enables flexible increase in IT server capacities. The original hardware limitations thus no longer exist.

    •    Improved agility
    •    Increased elasticity
    •    Improved quality
    •    Redundancy and resiliency
    •    Risk reduction
    •    Greater efficiency

    PRODUCTS

    •Microsoft Azure
    •Windows Server 2012
    •Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
    •Microsoft System Center 2012
    •Windows Azure Pack for System Center

    PRODUCTS

    To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call +1.800.980.1130.

Tune in for engineering commentary and demos on what’s new with System Center 2016, including: the latest support for Windows Server 2016 with updates for Shielded VMs and Nano Server; building Hyper-converged clusters with Storage Spaces Direct; Tuned alerting and better discoverability of Management Packs with Operations Manager and what’s coming for hybrid management across your data center and the Cloud. You can try System Center 2016 for yourself at: aka.ms/trysystemcenter2016.

 

If you’ve ever wondered how much time you’ve spent in meetings, email or focusing on deliverables, Delve Analytics can help. In this week’s show, Ryan Fuller explains and demonstrates how Delve Analytics provides you the insights to improve your personal productivity. How much time are you spending working after hours or where are you losing touch with key contacts? We explain how activity data is used to create personal reports of where you’re spending time. Keep watching as Ryan explains where this is going and tells the story of one 300,000 man hour meeting that was discovered and removed from the collective calendar.