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Safe, reliable and secure solutions based on Server 2012 and Office 365

Small business solutions based on Server 2012 and Office 365 running on HP hardware. These are industry standard solutions to provide fast, stable and reliable computing for small businesses.

These solutions allow small business to benefit from enterprise class features allowing them to work how, when and where they want to.

Combining the latest on premise software with leading Cloud services provides the best of both worlds.

These solutions can be installed / migrated to provide little downtime and allow you to concentrate on your business. We can offer support ranging from ad-hoc consulting to fully managed services.

itQED specialises in the selection, implementation and support of Microsoft and HP solutions for small businesses in the Thames Valley and Greater London areas. We specialise in Network Infrastructure and Security solutions allowing our customers to feel confident that we can provide a safe and reliable platform on which they can conduct their business. Combing this with Office 365 provides hybrid cloud solutions offering customers the maximum flexibility.

Through these capabilities we can ensure that customers can concentrate on carrying out their business without having to worry about the complexities of the IT that supports their everyday work. The directors of itQED have a combined experience of over 50 years experience in the IT industry as well as being highly qualified in Microsoft, HP and Cisco technologies providing a complete solution for your IT needs as well as understanding the challenges of running a small business. We are more than happy to provide references and case studies on request.

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Small Business Server 2008 Sites Certificate

We recently had an interesting problem with an Expired Sites certificate in Small Business server 2008.

We had a call from a customer who owned an SBS 2008 server that had been setup by a previous IT firm. The users had started to get certificate prompts from Outlook. On checking we found that the remote.company.co.uk certificate had expired, we duly recreated the remote.company.co.uk certificate but found that some users were still getting prompts:

small-business-server

So, it looks like Outlook was requesting a “sites” certificate that is setup when SBS is installed (but not normally used once the relevant network setup wizards are run). So it looks like some parts of exchange on the SBS had been setup manually.

Looking at the certificates snapin showed that the sites certificate had expired and proved difficult to renew.

expired-certificate

We then started to look at why this certificate was being referred by using some exchange management shell commands:

Get-ClientAccessServer | Select Name, *Internal* | fl

Get-WebServicesVirtualDirectory | Select name, *url* | fl

The resulting outputs showed that some of the exchange services were pointing to “sites”

 

Get-ClientAccessServer | Select Name, *Internal* | fl

AutoDiscoverServiceInternalUri : https://sites/Autodiscover/Autodiscover.xml

 

Get-WebServicesVirtualDirectory | Select name, *url* | fl

InternalNLBBypassUrl : https://server.company.local/EWS/Exchange.asmx

InternalUrl          : https://sites/EWS/Exchange.asmx

ExternalUrl          : https://sites/EWS/Exchange.asmx

 

This is why the clients were getting the popup in Outlook as it tried to connect to the exchange web services via Https://sites/. A few more lines of PowerShell reset these URLs to the correct locations

Set-ClientAccessServer –Identity server -AutoDiscoverServiceInternalUri:https://remote.company.co.uk/Autodiscover/Autodiscover.xml

Set-WebServicesVirtualDirectory –Identity “server\EWS(SBS Web Applications)” –InternalUrl: https://company.co.uk/EWS/Exchange.asmx

Set-WebServicesVirtualDirectory –Identity “server\EWS(SBS Web Applications)” –ExternalUrl: https://remote.company.co.uk/EWS/Exchange.asmx

 

And the popups stopped. So, the moral of this is “Always use the SBS wizards to configure a Small Business Server!”

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Windows Server 2012 Data Deduplication

We have recently been visiting Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 IT Camps. We will be highlighting some of the new and exciting features in this blog ove the coming months. This post is about the new Windows Server 2012 Data Deduplicationfeature which is part of the fileserver role in Microsoft Windows Server 2012.

This DeDuplication technology works on a number of levels, from files through to disk clusters:

 

“Deduplication segments files into variable-sizes (32-128 kilobyte chunks) using a new algorithm developed in conjunction with Microsoft research. The chunking module splits a file into a sequence of chunks in a content dependent manner. The system uses a Rabin fingerprint-based sliding window hash on the data stream to identify chunk boundaries. The chunks have an average size of 64KB and they are compressed and placed into a chunk store located in a hidden folder at the root of the volume called the System Volume Information, or “SVI folder”. The normal file is replaced by a small reparse point

http://blogs.technet.com/b/filecab/archive/2012/05/21/introduction-to-data-deduplication-in-windows-server-2012.aspx

Testing

Microsoft have provided a tool that will give an indication of potential savings on file shares that already exist. The tool is called DDPEval.exe and can be found in the following location on a server 2012 installation:

C:\Windows\System32

We have run this against a filestore which mainly consists of large ISO files in a software repository:

deduperesults

As can be seen above the potential savings are 122GB on a 255GB volume which considering that these are already compressed is impressive. we are currently testing further on a selection of volumes and file types and have achieved savings of up to 80% which when considering the price of redundant disk arrays defiantly has potential savings.

Considerations:

If you are going to use Data Deduplication there are a number of things to consider:

 

  • Backup, as always, is a vital consideration. If you have 2TB of data on a 1TB volume will it fit if you have to restore it? So we really need a backup application that is aware of deduplication and that can backup, store and restore the data in its optimised state. Unsurprisingly Microsoft have this covered with System Centre Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1.
  • Consider where to use deduplication, file shares with infrequently changed files or software repositories are the best candidates.
  • Research the technology as there are many options to optimise the deduplication based on the data that is being optimised and its usage patterns.
  • There can be issues with file access on deduplicated volumes that are almost full so they need to be monitored and have clean-up jobs run / scheduled.
  • Copying single large files of a deduplicated volume can take longer.
  • It is also worth testing this thoroughly in any environment before implementing is a live system.