Getting ready for… TechEd 2013

This year, I switched from MMS to TechEd. I was unable to leave home in April. That’s it for MMS. Of course I was there virtually. I watched Brad Anderson’s Keynote and a dozen of breakout sessions on the Channel 9 MMS website.

It’s my first time at TechEd. I’ve heard that it’s a 10k+ attendees conference, so I’m expecting a 2X scale from MMS 2012. That means a lot of walking between session.

Again this year, I’ll travel without laptop. Just my good old Android tablet an my trusty Galaxy S3 phone.

My sessions are already booked, some are double booked. I have high expectations for the “Architecture track” sessions.

I learned this week that Brad Anderson will be keynoting for the tech part. 

See you in NOLA, June 3 to 6.

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Ready for MMS 2012


I’m getting ready for my 2nd consecutive MMS event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

MMS 2012 will be held at the SANDS Expo, adjacent to the Venetian Hotel/Casino.

This year, I my Windows laptop stays home. I’m travelling lightweight : smartphone and tablet only. Those 2 will meet my digital needs for the week.

Can’t wait to see this year’s MMS Private cloud setup to power all the ILLs (Instructor Led Labs) and HOL (Hands-On-Labs). Last year, 2 racks of HP blade servers (32 servers and a SAN) powered over 1,000 VMs and Average CPU utilization was 15%.

More info : http://blogs.technet.com/b/virtualization/archive/2011/03/29/mms-2011-labs-powered-by-hyper-v-system-center-amp-hp.aspx

Single instance : in or out?

Single Instance is introduced in SCCM 2012 in the Content Library component of the Distribution Point  role, to help reduce the storage capacity needed on the DP servers.

Microsoft used a similar technology, called Single Instance Storage (SIS), that was introduced in RIS (Remote Installation Services) in Windows 2000, then used by Exchange 4 – 2007 and by the Storage edition of Windows Server 2008.

Great! but I just found that this technology (SIS) has been dropped in Exchange 2010, according to an Exchange team blog post on Technet. The conclusion of the article reads :

In summary, Exchange 2010 changes the messaging landscape. The architectural changes we have implemented enable the commoditization of email – providing very large mailboxes at a low cost. Disk capacity is no longer a premium. Disk space is cheap and IT shops can take advantage of larger, cheaper disks to reduce their overall cost. With Exchange 2010 you can deploy a highly available system with a degree of storage efficiency without SIS at a fraction of the cost that was required with previous versions of Exchange.

So, there you have it. SIS is gone.

Some presenter said at MMS 2011 conference that the space savings in the 70+% has been accomplished in tests scenarios. Anyone has real world numbers in large scale implementations?

I’m hoping that the technology of the Single instance in SCCM does not have the same limitations in scalability as in the SIS technology…

In conclusion, in the SCCM world, disk capacity is a premium and in the Exchange world, disk capacity is no more a premium… who’s right?

Passwords: which is better? complexity or length ?

This morning, I came across a Gizmodo article “Why That Fancy Password Isn’t Nearly as Safe as You Thought” that introduces the concept of short and complex passwords are not safer than a few simple dictonary words.

The story links a webcomic image that illustrate the theory with the entropy concept.<xkcd>

Password strength

Is this true? As a regular listener of the Security Now podcast, I took the 2 passwords used in the webcomic and tested them on the GRC.com Search Space calculator page and found the following :

The password “Tr0ubdor&3” has a search space of 6.05 x 1019
(or 60,510,648,114,517,017,120 possibilities)

The password “correcthorsebatterystaple” has a search space of 2.46 x 1035
(or 246,244,783,208,286,292,431,866,971,536,008,150 possibilities)

So, according to GRC’s Search Space calculator page (see the “How can I apply this to my daily life?” section), a few simple and easy to remember words are likely to be harder to crack using a brute-force attack than a shorter complex password (hard to remember) because of the difference in search space. The only downside is that the simple and long password involves more typing.

Conclusion, forget the old password rules that requires Uppercase, numbers and punctuation characters to raise the number of entropy (unpredictability) bits, a simple, easy to remember, lengthy password will maximize entropy bits, thus a better guard to guessing attacks.

Some research links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength
http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST04-002.html 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38771772/ 

MMS 2011 – Great event in Las Vegas

What a great week at MMS 2011! Sessions, Sessions, Sessions. My schedule was nearly full of SCCM sessions, and most of them on 2012…

Had sessions and labs with Wally Mead (ILL for CM2012), Bill Anderson, Josh Pointer (State of Union), Michael S. Shultz (CM2012, get there), Kristina Ashment and Paul Thomsen (Client Health in CM2012, MSIT) also Jason Sandys and Kim Oppalfens (MVPs – CM2007 Hints, Allegations and things left unsaid) and lots more!

Waiting for the DVD to watch more sessions…

See my MMS 2011 blog page for photos.

MMS 2011

Going to MMS 2011 in Las Vegas March 21-25. More to come…

SCCM Toolkit V2

System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Toolkit V2

4 new tools since V1.

Overview

The following list provides specific information about each tool in the toolkit.
  • Client Spy – A tool that helps you troubleshoot issues related to software distribution, inventory, and software metering on Configuration Manager 2007 clients.
  • Delete Group Class Tool – A tool used to remove inventory group definitions along with history data, tables, views and stored procedures for the group.
  • Desired Configuration Management Migration Tool – A tool used to migrate from the DCM Solution for SMS 2003 to DCM in ConfigMgr 2007.
  • Desired Configuration Management Model Verification Tool – A tool used by desired configuration management content administrators for the validation and testing of configuration items and baselines authored externally from the Configuration Manager console.
  • Desired Configuration Management Substitution Variable Tool – A tool used by desired configuration management content administrators for authoring desired configuration management configuration items that use chained setting and object discovery.
  • Management Point Troubleshooter Tool – A tool that checks a computer system before and after a management point installation to ensure that the installation meets the requirements for management points.
  • Policy Spy – A policy viewer that helps you review and troubleshoot the policy system on Configuration Manager 2007 clients.
  • Preload Package Tool – A tool used to manually install compressed copies of package source files on Configuration Manager 2007 sites.
  • Security Configuration Wizard Template for Configuration Manager 2007 – The Security Configuration Wizard (SCW) is an attack-surface reduction tool for the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. Security Configuration Wizard determines the minimum functionality required for a server’s role or roles, and disables functionality that is not required. The Configuration Manager 2007 Service Pack 2 Security Configuration Wizard template supports new site system definitions and enables the required services and ports.
  • Send Schedule Tool – A tool used to trigger a schedule on a Client or trigger the evaluation of a specified DCM Baseline. You can trigger a schedule either locally or remotely.
  • Trace32 – A log viewer that provides a way to easily view and monitor log files created and updated by Configuration Manager 2007 clients and servers.

Download link : http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=5a47b972-95d2-46b1-ab14-5d0cbce54eb8&displaylang=en