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Category Archives: Windows Server 2012

Technology is a critical component of every aspect of Training Consultants’ 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, Training Consultants 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.

With its IT infrastructure built primarily on Microsoft and related technologies, Training Consultants 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 Training Consultants.

 

Solution

From small dev-test projects to global product launches, Azure is engineered to handle any workload. More than 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on Azure, which offers enterprise grade SLAs on services, 24/7 tech support, and round-the-clock service health monitoring. Customers include Skanska, Heineken, 3M, Dyson, Paul Smith, Mazda, GE Healthcare, Trek, McKesson, Milliman, Towers Watson, NBC Sports, TVB, and many more.

Following a thoughtful evaluation process of technical, security and financial aspects, guided by a top Henson Group architect in partnership with Microsoft, a Microsoft Azure cloud platform solution emerged as the ideal option. Henson Group managed the migration of Training Consultants’ complete infrastructure to Azure IaaS VMs. Henson Group also proposed to upgrade their existing OS and SQL versions to keep updated with newer capabilities.

 

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 Training Consultants 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

The Henson Group designed, implemented, and migrated Training Consultants’ current software to Microsoft’s Azure “cloud” services environment. The migration 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 Training Consultants’ 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.

Today, Training Consultants 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. The solution allows the VMs to grow as the business grows. Meanwhile, Training Consultants now has its IT infrastructure accessible at 99.9 % without any investments into hardware. In terms of cost efficiencies, Training Consultants shed its cumbersome managed services contract in favor of Azure’s pay-as-you-go services that it can now quickly scale up or down to match the demands for its business. Per-minute billing and a commitment to match competitor prices for popular infrastructure services like compute, storage and bandwidth mean Training Consultants will consistently achieves cost-effective expense management of its infrastructure.

Server administration for Training Consultants 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.

 

Benefits

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

 

Products

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
  • Microsoft System Center 2012
  • Windows Azure Pack for System Center

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.

Try the free 180-day evaluations and see how the latest releases provide enterprise-class datacenter and hybrid cloud solutions with new capabilities, including:

Virtualization, live migration, and multi-hypervisor support
Provides an integrated and high-performance virtualization platform with a host of new capabilities including live migration compression and live migration with RDMA as well as integrated virtualization management across different hypervisors.

Storage transformation
Delivers breakthrough storage performance at a fraction of the cost with new capabilities, including automated storage tiering across hard disks and solid state drives, as well as improved SAN and file-based storage management.

Access & Information Protection
Empowers users to be productive while maintaining control and security of corporate information with new capabilities including device registration, policy-based access control to corporate applications and data, and multi-factor authentication.

Multitenant virtual networks
Builds on your existing network investments while enabling pooled, elastic network infrastructure. Includes network virtualization to abstract workloads from underlying network infrastructure while securely isolating separate network tenants.

Download the free Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2evaluations today and see how they can transform your datacenter.

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group athttp://www.thehensongroup.com/ or 800-980-1130.

Learn about the tools used by Microsoft Global Business Support Premier Field Engineers when they need to make a CEO’s computer run faster.

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/liveevents/windows-performance-jump-start#?fbid=InLzotiIpnr

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group athttp://www.thehensongroup.com/ or 800-980-1130.

New to Hyper-V or need to know the skinny on Hyper-V in 2012 R2?

Watch this session to learn about how to configure and architect Hyper-V in Server 2012 R2.

http://www.technetevents.com/virtitcamponline/?loc=zTS3z&prod=zOTprodz&tech=zvirtz&prog=zITCampz&type=zTRz&media=zVidz&country=zUSz

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group athttp://www.thehensongroup.com/ or 800-980-1130.

Windows 10 is the next generation of Microsoft’s OS that adapts to the devices you’re on and what you’re trying to get done with a consistent, familiar and compatible experience that enables you to be more productive.

There are several reasons that business customers in particular should take notice of Windows 10. It’s not just more familiar from a user experience standpoint. Microsoft has built so much of what businesses need right into the core of this product – including enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection features, reducing complexity and providing a better experience for the modern needs of business. They’ve simplified management and deployment to help lower costs, including in-place upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 that are focused on making device wipe-and-reload scenarios obsolete. Microsoft is also providing businesses with more choice in how quickly they adopt the latest innovations, and are delivering continued improvements based on customer feedback.

Here are the Windows 10 features:

One converged Windows platform
Windows 10 delivers one universal app platform, one security model, and one deployment and management approach. With the convergence of platforms, that unified experience scales across devices. From the small, thin and light – up to the largest and most powerful laptops, desktops and all-in-one PCs. Windows 10 even scales to industry and ruggedized devices, purpose-built industry solutions, small foot print devices (Internet of Things) and all the way up to 85” touch-screen conference room displays.

Designed for the way you live and work
There’s virtually no learning curve required with Windows 10. For mouse and keyboard users, the Windows 10 user experience begins at the familiar desktop. The Start menu experience of Windows 7 has been expanded, providing one-click access to the functions and files that people use most. Windows 10 enhances existing productivity features like Snap. Microsoft also bridged the gap between the touch-optimized tablet experience and the mouse and keyboard experience by allowing modern apps to run in a window on the desktop – resulting in modern apps seamlessly co-existing in the desktop space alongside desktop apps.

Helping protect against modern security threats
Windows 10 also introduces a number of advancements in security and identity protection features that are easy to manage and don’t compromise the user experience. One such advancement is the work Microsfot has done to create user identities for accessing devices, apps and sites that improve resistance to breach, theft or phishing. This approach is important because it takes the concept of multi-factor solutions such as smartcards or token-based system and builds it right into the operating system, in turn also eliminating the need for extra security hardware peripherals.

Microsoft also made progress in helping companies protect their business data. While BitLocker helps protects data as it resides on a device, once the data leaves the device it’s no longer protected. With Windows 10, Microsoft is able to provide an additional layer of protection using containers and data separation at the application and file level – enabling protection that follows the data wherever it goes. Whether the data moves from a tablet or PC to a USB drive, email or the cloud – it maintains the same level of protection. This solution will stand out because of its ease of use and ability to help protect data right at the file level. Users won’t need to change behavior, use special apps, or move to a separate, locked-down environment to keep corporate data secure.

With the increasingly more mobile workforce, secure access to network resources is an important priority for every organization. People need to connect to critical data and apps, from anywhere and across multiple devices in order to stay productive. Windows 10 provides organizations with tools to deliver more secure and more controlled VPN access.

Managed for continuous innovation
As mentioned, with Windows 10, Microsoft is aiming to reduce the need for the time-consuming and costly wipe-and-reload approach to OS deployment. They know that app compatibility is critical for business. While they strive to have great compatibility with all existing apps, they’ve added tools for compatibility testing. So Microsfot creating a streamlined, reliable in-place upgrade process that can be initiated using current management infrastructure. Through new dynamic provisioning capabilities, businesses will be able to configure off-the-shelf devices, without reimaging.

Windows 10 helps keep customers secure and up to date
Windows 10 will be delivered in a way that gives more choice and flexibility to businesses. As a result, a business can pick the speed of innovation that is right for each group of its users, rather than apply a one size fits all solution.

Businesses will be able to opt-in to the fast-moving consumer pace, or lock-down mission critical environments to receive only security and critical updates to their systems. And businesses will have an in-between option for systems that aren’t mission critical, but need to keep pace with the latest innovations without disrupting the flow of business. And the choice isn’t one or the other for businesses; we expect that most will require a mixed approach where a number of scenarios can be accommodated.

Consumers, and opt-in businesses, will be able to take advantage of the latest updates as soon as they are available, delivered via Windows Update. Business customers can segment their own user groups, and choose the model and pace that works for them. They will have more choice in how they consume updates, whether through Windows Update or in a managed environment. And for all scenarios, security and critical updates will be delivered on a monthly basis.

Enabling management for every scenario
Windows has always offered device management capabilities that businesses need, leveraging the power of Active Directory and System Center to enable full control over Windows devices. With Windows 10, Microsoft extends built-in mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to embrace new mobile-first, cloud-first scenarios and bring MDM capabilities to traditional laptops and desktops. Customers will be able to benefit from the simplicity of managing from the cloud (using services like Windows Intune) while having the controls they require. Whatever your scenario, Windows 10 will help meet your management needs.

An app store that is open for business
Windows 10 will also include a single app store that’s truly open for business. Microsoft is planning for the new, unified app store to allow for volume app purchases based on existing organizational identity, flexible distribution and the ability for organizations to reclaim or re-use licenses. Organizations will also be able to create a customized store, curating store experiences that can include their choice of Store apps alongside company-owned apps into a separate employee store experience.

Experience Windows 10, starting tomorrow
Starting October 1st, Windows 10 is available a technical preview.

Windows 10 download: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group at http://www.thehensongroup.com or 800-980-1130

Microsoft’s Server 2012 R2 offers comparable features to Citrix XenApp for remote desktops, but they are not equal. The information below outlines the differences between Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Citrix’s XenApp:

1. Microsoft concentrates on delivering RDP to Windows devices, so it isn’t suitable for enterprise clients with networks including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry or HTML5 devices. By contrast, XenApps is compatible with all OS and includes a mobility pack to facilitate improved interaction between remote applications and mobile devices.

2. XenApps maintains Citrix’s ability to deliver applications to the end point and integrate with the look and feel of the device. This includes intelligent recognition and rendering of tablet optimised desktops, and mobile device specific features for an Android or iOS devices.

3. The Universal Print Server provides better print management in a remote environment.

4. Despite its high cost relative to other competing solutions, XenApps is supported in 2008R2 so you won’t have to move your enterprise OS to take advantage of XenApps.

5. Citrix XenApps is a market leading product which has been around long enough for administrators and engineers to build up a significant body of experience. Although based on a mature, widely deployed technology, Windows 2012 is a new solution so administrators don’t have the same level of experience supporting and fixing problems.

6. Citrix provides more control over the UX. Each RDS release has exposed new options for customizing users’ interaction with applications and desktops; however, the granularity of those options can be insufficient for complex use cases. For example, only Citrix allow you to manage bandwidth used within the protocol — such as individual virtual channels — and the amount of bandwidth used on a per-user basis; advanced environment management and delegation of control; granular load balancing; and Citrix’s added features for multimedia and graphical apps.

7. Microsoft and Citrix have both invested heavily in network protocols that connect users to applications and desktops. Today’s RDP and ICA/HDX protocols now offer a richer experience over lower-bandwidth and higher-latency connections than in the past. However, these two protocols aren’t equal. For example, if you need OpenGL, you’ll want to use ICA/HDX as Microsoft RDP/RemoteFX only supports OpenGL up to version 1.1.

8. Citrix provides IT service automation. Remote application servers are unlike most servers in the datacenter in that regular users are given direct access. For this reason, remote application servers require extra administrative attention if they’re to successfully deliver desktops and applications. Such attention warrants automation, particularly as size and complexity increases. Citrix XenApp Platinum edition further adds Provisioning Services, and in both Enterprise and Platinum are options for power and capacity management, automated health monitoring, load testing, as well as options to improve the UX through Session Prelaunch, Session Linger and Fast Reconnect (allow applications to be accessed with a more `locally installed’ feel).

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group athttp://www.thehensongroup.com/ or 800-980-1130.

Part 1 – Empowering People-Centric IT

Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Windows Server and System Center discusses the latest features and enhancements made in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014, Visual Studio 2013, Windows Intune as well as several new Windows Azure services.

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group athttp://www.thehensongroup.com/ or 800-980-1130.