Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007


Configuration Manager:

This is the replacement for SMS 2003 and is used to comprehensively assess, deploy, and update your servers, clients, and devices, across physical and virtual machines as well as mobile devices. Config. Manager provides Asset Intelligence giving organizations continuous visibility of their hardware/software assets, where they are and who’s using them.

It can show how many copies of a particular program have been deployed, which machines they’re on and which people actually use the software. This information can then be used at renewal time to help decide how many copies are needed for the next year etc.

Software Update Management is often the main reason that people look at System Center Config Manager. Keeping all the various bits of software in an Enterprise fully up to date with patches is very important and also very difficult! Using SCCM you can deploy patches & updates for Microsoft products, 3rd party applications, custom LOB (Line of Business) applications, hardware drivers and more to servers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices.

The new feature of Desired Configuration Management enables organization to increase desktop stability and security by assessing the compliance of computers with regards to things such as “whether the correct Microsoft Windows operating system versions are installed and configured appropriately, all required applications are installed and configured correctly, optional applications are configured appropriately, and whether prohibited applications are installed.”

Using SCCM for Software Package Deployment can make things a lot easier! This simplifies the task of distributing software packages to physical and virtual machines (servers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices). You can centrally define how and when these packages will run on client machines, installing the software with no user intervention.

Next Steps:

Now you’re got an idea of what it can do, I’m sure you can’t wait to get it set up in your Test & Development system so:

Online Virtual Labs

Download Trial Software

Pricing & Licensing:

There is a single licence for System Center Config Manager Server, Management Licence (ML) for Servers (Std and Enterprise) and a Management Licence for Clients.

An Enterprise Server ML is required for full application and server desired configuration management, including the proactive management of systems for configuration settings that follow an industry-leading framework for managing information in changing regulatory and business environments, while a Standard Server ML is limited to operating system and basic workload desired configuration management.

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007


Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 (SCOM) is the replacement for MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager). It is an the end-to-end service-management product that helps organizations increase efficiency while enabling greater control of the IT environment.

Management Packs are available to add extra functionality into SCOM 2007, these can be downloaded or you can create your own.

The Distributed Application Designer is a graphical wizard to help IT administrators quickly create health models and MPs (Management Packs) for their IT Services. The Management Pack Authoring Console is a graphical tool used to help IT administrators and developers build MPs for their custom applications and other technology components. The Operations Manager 2007 Software Development Kit (SDK) provides programming interfaces so developers can more deeply integrate with and automate Operations Manager 2007.

SCOM isn’t restricted to monitoring Windows environments, it’s possible to monitor HP-UX, Solaris, Red Hat & SUSE Linux by using the Cross Platforms Extension beta.

Download a trial of System Center Operations Manager 207 here.

Microsoft System Center Family


What is Microsoft System Center? What does it do? How much does System Center cost?

These, and more, are questions I get at work on a regular basis both from customers and our internal sales guys so I’m going to try and clear it up a little here if I can..

The System Center family helps you to manage physical and virtual environments across data centers, desktops and devices and includes:

Configuration Manager (SCCM)

Operations Manager (SCOM)

Data Protection Manager (DPM)

Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)

System Center Essentials (SCE)

I was going to put together one post for the whole family, but it was turning into a huge, unwieldy beast so I’ve broken it down into separate posts for each family member, links are above..(not all the posts are available yet but please bear with me!)

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007


Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007 is one of the most exciting, and the fastest selling, Microsoft products of ALL time. Sharepoint can be used for so many things in so many ways by so many people-it’s highly functional, easy to use and extremely versatile.

My aim with this post is to show you what Sharepoint is, how it works and most importantly, how it can benefit your business.

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 gives companies a single, integrated location where employees can collaborate with team members across the globe, locate internal resources, manage content/workflow and analyse Business Intelligence data and much more.

Collaboration: Allow teams to work together effectively, collaborate on and publish documents, maintain task lists, implement workflows, and share information through the use of wikis and blogs.
 
Portals: Create a personal MySite portal to share information with others and personalize the user experience and content of an enterprise Web site based on the user’s profile.
 
Enterprise Search: Quickly and easily find people, expertise, and content in business applications.
 
Enterprise Content Management: Create and manage documents, records, and Web content.
 
Business Process and Forms Create workflows and electronic forms to automate and streamline your business processes.
 
Business Intelligence Allow information workers to easily access critical business information, analyze and view data, and publish reports to make more informed decisions.
 

One of MOSS 2007′s big advantages is it’s tight integration with the Office 2007 family. There are countless ways that the two can work together, but here are a few examples to give you an idea.

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007:  Create a library of PowerPoint slides that can be shared with other users on an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site.
Microsoft Office Access 2007:  Take a SharePoint list offline and use the reporting features in Office Access 2007 to view the data and create reports while travelling. Forms and reports that use the SharePoint list are fully interactive — and Office Access 2007 can later synchronize the local list with the online list when you bring your laptop back online.
Microsoft Office Outlook 2007:  Take document libraries offline. SharePoint folders are displayed just as other Outlook folders are.
Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007:  Design browser-compatible form templates, publish them to an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site, and enable them for use in a Web browser.
Microsoft Office Excel 2007:  Save worksheets on a SharePoint site so that users can access them by using a browser. You can use these worksheets to maintain and efficiently share one central, up-to-date version, while helping to protect any proprietary information, such as financial models, that is embedded in the worksheet.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007:  Create and customize Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites and workflows. Create your own master pages and content pages, so that your site has a consistent look and feel, or customize sites by using the latest ASP.NET technology, established Web standards such as Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) code, and cascading style sheets.

A good introduction to MOSS 2007 and some of the things you can do can be found at:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointserver/HA101732171033.aspx

 There can be confusion around the differences between Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) and Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007, hopefully I’ll be able to clear that up here.

WSS is included free of charge with Windows Server 2003/2008 and provides low level collaboration functionality to keep workforces together and to help them work efficiently. It is on this base that MOSS 2007 is built.

For a complete breakdown of the differences between the two products, please visit:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/d/c/1dc632e8-71e1-466f-8a2f-c940f1438e0a/SharePointProductsComparison.xls

and download the Product Comparison Chart. A quick overview of the differences can be seen below:

A brief overview of the differences between WSS & MOSS 2007

 Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Document: Transform Your Business With SharePoint Products and Technologies: Download whitepaper here.  

 You can download a trial version here or use the VHD files from my other post here.

Once you’ve tested Sharepoint and decided it’s just the ticket to help your organisation move forward, you’ll need to decide which version you need..so here’s my

Guide to MOSS 2007 Licensing:

Microsoft Unified Communications


Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 is now available in a free, online virtual environment via Microsoft TechNet Labs. These allow you to test out the software without any installation and set up being required. You can find the OCS 2007 lab at:

http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/unifiedcommunications.aspx?tab=virtuallabs

For those of you looking into OCS 2007, there are a number of Technet’s that will be useful when it comes to setting up and configuring the software. Check out these links for more info:

As always, I want to thank Johann over at

 http://blogs.technet.com/jkruse/default.aspx 

for the info!

Have fun and let me know how you get on with OCS 2007!

Microsoft Exchange in Virtual Environments


Microsoft Exchange on a Virtual Server: The official line was always “No-it’s not supported”, but the release of Hyper-V has brought some changes.

Hyper-V now lets you run the Exchange 2007 SP1 64 bit versions of Mailbox, Hub Transport and Client Access Server Roles  without losing support, however Unified Messaging is still only supported on physical hardware.

Here’s a link to the support policy and recommendations paper for Exchange 2007 on Microsoft Virtualization technology:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc794548(EXCHG.80).aspx

“What about us non Hyper-V users?” I hear you cry..

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=897615

is a link to the “support policy for Microsoft software running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software”. As you can see, your Hypervisor needs to have been validated to be supported and so far the only on is VMWare ESX 3.5u2.

Also, here’s a link that shows all the MS Server software that is supported when running on a validated Hypervisor:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/957006

To see what Microsoft have got to say about the world of Unified Communications, head over to the Microsoft UK UC Blog at:

http://blogs.technet.com/msukucc/

Cheers

Rich

pptPlex:Powerpoint Deaths Preventable


As great a tool as Powerpoint is, there’s no escaping the fact that it can amazingly boring if in the wrong hands. This can detract from the content and make the viewers think that is as mind-numbing as 672 slides, where the text is exactly the same as the speaker’s audio.

So by rights if we can make it funky, awesome, cool and interesting then these attributes will be applied to your content..and that can only be a good thing surely?

pptPlex is a plug-in that explores an alternate method for presenting a PowerPoint slide deck. Using pptPlex, you can present your slides as a tour through a zoomable canvas instead of a series of linear slides.”

I’ve been using pptPlex to update some of my internal training presentations for the sales teams, and it really does work! It’s a breeze to use, does what it says on the tin and is free :-)

Download it from:

http://www.officelabs.com/projects/pptPlex/Pages/default.aspx

and check out the pptPlex blog here:

http://www.officelabs.com/Pages/Blog.aspx

The post about controlling it with a Wiimote is pretty cool!!!

Cheers

Rich

Microsoft Office 2007/2003 Compatibility


Microsoft Office 2007 is a great package…Outlook 2007 is much more efficient and user friendly, there are loads of new features in all the Office elements (Word, Excel etc) and my favourite part-OneNote 2007-will get it’s own post soon (I hope!) However, If you’re one of the people who hasn’t been able to upgrade yet,for whatever reason (corporate policy, fear, apathy, incorrect planetary alignments etc), it can be a problem when you receive a file saved in the 2007 format (docx, xlsx, pptx etc) and you can’t open it. Getting the file re-sent in the 2003 format takes time and doesn’t always look good..well help is at hand.

The Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats lets older versions of Office (back to 2000) open the new 2007 formats and can be downloaded from:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en

Some of the new features of 2007 such as extra formatting, formulas etc can be lost when using an older version-so if possible it’s best to upgrade, but until that time this makes it all a lot easier!