Showing posts with label microsoft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label microsoft. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

24 Microsoft exams retiring in 2017

It's been a busy 2016 for Microsoft, a major certification restructure was announced in September, which will see the retirement of all 13 existing MCSD and MCSE certifications on March 31st 2017.

These were replaced with a streamlined set of 5 certifications aligned to the latest job roles and the removal of recertification. Despite this huge shake up, built on by a new technology launch across every core Microsoft platform, the number of exam retirements is surprisingly light.

The reason, exams and curriculum aligned to the retiring MCSE and MCSD certifications are simply being reshuffled under the new certifications as electives. With that in mind, let's take a look at the changes.


Dynamics

With the launch of Dynamics 365, combining the existing CRM and ERP platforms, it is unsurprising that we see a range of retirements affecting CRM 2013 and AX 2012.

Retired on December 31, 2016
MB2-700: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Applications
MB2-701: Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013
MB2-702: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Deployment
MB2-703: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration
MB5-705: Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations
MB6-700: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Project
MB6-702: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Financials
MB6-703: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Trade and Logistics
MB6-704: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 CU8 Development Introduction
MB6-884: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Lean Manufacturing
MB6-885: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Public Sector
MB6-886: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Process Manufacturing Production and Logistics
MB6-889: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Service Management

Retiring on March 31, 2017         
MB6-701: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Retail
MB6-705: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 CU8 Installation and Configuration


SharePoint

Despite the launch of SharePoint Server 2016, there are currently no plans to retire exams aligned to SharePoint 2013. The only retirements associated with platform are in the form of recertification exams for the MCSE and MCSD certifications, which are no longer a requirement.

Retiring on March 31, 2017
70-383: Recertification for MCSE: SharePoint
70-384: Recertification for MCSE: Communication
70-385: Recertification for MCSE: Messaging
70-517: Recertification for MCSD: SharePoint Applications


SQL Server

As with SharePoint, we see only the planned retirement of recertification exams. Despite the existence of SQL Server 2014 and the arrival of SQL Server 2016, there are still no plans to retire exams aligned to SQL Server 2012 and the associated MCSA.

Retiring on March 31, 2017
70-469: Recertification for MCSE: Data Platform
70-470: Recertification for MCSE: Business Intelligence


Visual Studio and .NET

The most interesting exam retirements planned for Visual Studio are 70-354 and 70-355, which align to the Universal Windows Platform. These will coincide with the retirement of the MCSD: Universal Windows Platform.

In place of these exams comes 70-357: Developing Mobile Apps, which forms the second requirement for the new MCSA: Universal Windows Platform.

Retiring on March 31, 2017
70-354: Universal Windows Platform – App Architecture and UX/UI
70-355: Universal Windows Platform – App Data, Services, and Coding Patterns
70-490: Recertification for MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using HTML5
70-491: Recertification for MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using C#
70-494: Recertification for MCSD: Web Applications
70-499: Recertification for MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management

Retiring on July 31, 2017
70-488: Developing SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions
70-489: Developing SharePoint Server 2013 Advanced Solutions


Windows

With a rather quiet exit, the MCSA: Windows 8.1 retired on December 31, with the removal of exams 70-687 and 70-688.

Retired on December 31, 2016
70-687: Configuring Windows 8.1
70-688: Supporting Windows 8.1
70-689: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows 8
70-692: Upgrading Your Windows XP Skills to MCSA Windows 8


Windows Server

Despite being almost 8 years old, numerous planned and failed retirements, MCSA: Windows Server 2008 is finally set for legacy status. The retirement of aligned exams 70-640, 70-642 and 70-646 is scheduled for July 31, 2017.

Retiring on March 31, 2017
70-980: Recertification for MCSE: Server Infrastructure
70-981: Recertification for MCSE: Private Cloud

Retiring on July 31, 2017
70-640: TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
70-642: TS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
70-646: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator


Other

Retiring on January 31, 2017
74-697: OEM Preinstallation

Retiring on March 31, 2017
70-673: TS: Designing, Assessing, and Optimizing Software Asset Management (SAM)

Retiring on July 31, 2017
70-243: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Get the New Microsoft Certifications for 2017

Click to enlarge
Microsoft recently announced significant changes to their technical certifications. In short, Microsoft streamlined certification pathways, launched a range of new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certifications, retired 13 existing certifications and restructured the way you certify and re-earn certifications.

In a recent blog post we outlined these changes, covering what’s new, what’s retiring, how you can achieve these new certifications and the process of re-earning your certs.

Today, we’re excited to announce your fastest route to earning these new MCSE and MCSD certifications, whilst helping you master the latest Microsoft technologies ready for 2017. Read on to discover the accelerated route that’s right for you.

Your fastest route to new Microsoft Certifications


MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure This certification validates the skills necessary to run a highly efficient and modern data centre.

You have two distinctly different accelerated pathways to earn your MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification. 


Azure Cloud Platform - On this route you will master Azure across infrastructure and development. You’ll also learn to architect Azure solutions for the modern Enterprise organisation.

This course is 50% faster than traditional training and you will leave both MCSA: Cloud Platform and MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certified in just 7 days. 

 Windows Server 2016- this pathway will focus you on learning the skills aligned to the Installation, Storage, Compute, Networking and Identity in Windows Server 2016. You will then focus on developing the skills to Secure Windows Server 2016, critical in a world full of cyber threats. 

This 15 day route is 25% faster than traditional training, during which you will work to achieve both the MCSA: Windows Server 2016 and MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. 


MCSE: ProductivityThis credential validates your skills to move your company to the cloud, increase user productivity and flexibility, reduce data loss, and improve data security for your organisation.

You’ll quickly learn the skills to transition your businesses’ communications to the cloud. First you'll master Office 365 and earn the corresponding MCSA , before tailoring your route to the MCSE: Productivity certification, choosing to develop skills aligned to one of the following three technology platforms:

Exchange Server 2016 - on this 11 day route, you’ll learn the skills to design and implement an Exchange Server 2016 messaging environment – 45% faster than traditional training. In working with the technology, you’ll touch on key proficiencies, including how to design and configure advanced components in an Exchange Server 2016 deployment. You'll cover advanced topics covering compliance, archiving, advanced security and discovery solutions. 

SharePoint Server 2016 - this 11 day accelerated route focuses on developing your skills in designing SharePoint infrastructure as well as planning authentication and security, managing search capabilities and monitoring and optimising a SharePoint Server 2016 environment. 

Skype for Business 2015 - here, you have the choice to focus on Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015 or Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015. Both offer a 9 day route to MCSE Productivity which is 50% faster than traditional training.




MCSE: MobilityEarning this credential demonstrates you have the skills needed to manage devices in today’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) enterprise. 

First, you'll unlock the skills aligned to the MCSA Windows 10 platform and accelerate your 9 day path to achieving the MCSE: Mobility certification. Choose to develop your skills for Enterprise scale businesses across device management, deployment or administration.

Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications - on this route you’ll develop the skills to assess operating system and applicant deployment options, determine the most appropriate deployment strategy and implement a deployment solution for Windows devices and apps that meet your environment's needs.

System Center Configuration Manager and Intune - here you will learn the skills to configure and manage clients and devices by using Microsoft System Center v1511 Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune and their associated site systems.

 Planning for and Managing Devices in the Enterprise - learn the skills to use Enteprise Mobility Suite to manage Windows 10 devices, users and data. You will expand your knowledge and skills helping you to plan, deploy, and manage devices and applications in medium to large organisations.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll achieve your MCSA Office 365 and MCSE Mobility certification 50% faster with Firebrand, qualifying you for roles including cloud administrator, cloud architect, computer support specialist and information security analyst.


MCSE: Data Management and AnalyticsThe MCSA DMA certification will validate your broad skill sets in SQL administration, building enterprise-scale data solutions, and leveraging business intelligence data—both on-premises and in cloud environments.

Choose your fastest way to master the new SQL Server 2016 platform and tailor your route to MCSE with a choice of developing skills across Business Intelligence, Database Development or Database Administration.

Depending on the MCSE elective you’ve chosen you can further advance your skills in your chosen area in just 8 days. 



MCSD: App BuilderEarning the MCSD App Builder validates that you have the skills needed to build modern mobile and/or web applications and services.

With Firebrand, you'll learn to create and implement web applications that scale using the Azure cloud platform to achieve the MCSA: Web Applications certification and MCSD: App Builder.

Your chosen elective will be Developing Windows Azure and Web Services. You’ll learn how to design and develop services that access local and remote data from various sources. You’ll also get an insight into developing and deploying services to hybrid environments, including on-premises services and Windows Azure. 

This 9 day track is the fastest and most popular route to achieving the MCSD App Builder credential.

Why get Certified with Firebrand Training?


As Microsoft Gold Learning Partners and leaders in accelerated training, we not only offer you the fastest route to your MCSE and MCSD certifications, but we can ensure you’ll have the latest Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) and receive excellent training from our experienced Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT).

Our unique Lecture | Lab | Review technique combines both theoretical and practical exercises to accelerate your learning and develop the hands-on skills required for when you return to work.

You’ll also take all of your exams on-site during the course, which will be covered by your Certification Guarantee.

If you have any other questions about the new streamlined certification paths, you may want to check out this Microsoft blog with the top 12 questions about the new cert changes. Or, if you’re more of a visual learner, the video below discusses the new changes and why they were made with the Director of Microsoft Learning, Shelby Grieve. 







Tuesday, 15 November 2016

10 tips to pass Microsoft’s MCSA 70-740 Exam

Microsoft’s 70 740 exam: Installation, Storage and Compute with Windows Server 2016 is the first exam of three exams you are required to pass to achieve the MCSA: Windows Server 2016 certified. 

Passing this exam proves you have the skills and knowledge to:

·         Install Windows Server 2016 in host and compute environments
·         Implement storage solutions
·         Implement Hyper-V
·         Implement Windows containers
·         Implement high availability
·         Maintain and monitor server environments

Once you’ve passed this exam, you’ll be able to move on to exams 70 741: Networking with Windows Server 2016 and 70 742: Identity with Windows Server 2016.  

This exam is currently in the beta phase of development meaning it is not yet available to the public. In preparation for its release, however, we've gathered the 10 most useful tips and resources currently available.

1. Microsoft’s Virtual Academy


Microsoft offer a free learning resource, called the Microsoft Virtual Academy. Here you can find videos, presentations and learning materials for the full range of Microsoft technologies, including Windows Server 2016. These resources not only introduce you to the key exam information but also provide helpful and educational insights into many key topics.

For Windows Server 2016 and your 70 740 exam there are a host of useful resources that can bolster your knowledge. The What’s New in Windows Server 2016 provides an in-depth introduction of the changes you’ll see from the previous Windows Server 2012 and features that have recently been added to the Windows Server 2016.

The content in this free resource is an excellent starting point for your exam prep and alongside our other tips will ensure you’re ready to ace the exam!

The recent release of the MCSA 70 740 exam means the content currently available is limited. While we wait for Microsoft to populate the Virtual Academy with relevant information we've found this excellent 70 740 exam prep resource to keep you busy. 




2. Use a revision guide


Study guides can act as incredibly useful resources that allow you to structure your revision in a way that best appeals to you. Revision guides point out key areas you should focus on and will guide you through the knowledge you need to know for the exam. Below are two of the most useful revision guides, which we believe you will largely benefit from.

Exam Ref 70 740 Installation, Storage and Compute with Windows Server 2016 is the newest 70 410 book from Jason Kelington and the Official study guide for this Microsoft certification. “Featuring concise, objective-by-objective reviews and strategic case scenarios and Thought experiments, exam candidates get professional-level preparation for the exam”.    

You can purchase this 70 740 study guide on Amazon here. The ISBN is 978-0735698826




A second resource and one that’s equally helpful is the bestselling MCSA Windows Server 2016 Study Guide. This guide covers 100% of all exam objectives and “goes far beyond concept review with real-world scenarios containing expert insights, chapter review questions, hands-on practice exercises and a searchable glossary”. Written by William Panek, a Microsoft MVP, you can be sure that the content will be closely aligned with what you’ll face in the exam.

You can purchase this 70 740 study guide on Amazon here. The ISBN is 978-1119359340 



3. Join a forum 


What better way to prepare for the 70 740 exam then to join other like-minded individuals preparing for the same exam. Joining a forum is an excellent way of accessing this community. You’ll be able to work through challenging aspects together, ask questions and bounce ideas of each other. You’ll also hear from what others who have both passed and failed the exam have to say.

The TechNet forums are an excellent resource in this regard and offer guidance and information that can be insightful for those that are both looking to get certified or simply resolve technical issues. There’s a wide range of topics and with so many active members there’s a high chance somebody has already answered your questions.

There are articles on all aspects of Windows Server as well as your specific exam or areas you may be struggling with. Currently there is no Windows Server 2016 forum but there remains plenty of information about the Windows Server 2016 in the Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server General Forum, which can be found here.


4. Take a practice test



Practice 70 740 test questions are useful resources to familiarise yourself with the exam format, and prepare you for the types of questions you’ll get when you take the exam. Even more importantly, however, it’s a great way to identify gaps in your knowledge that you can then work on.

GoCertify offers 70 740 test questions. Once you’ve done some revision and feel you have a good understanding of the exam material, this is an excellent way to test your knowledge and identify areas that need improvement.

MeasureUp is a similarly useful resource and as the provider of official Microsoft practice tests it offers a far wider range of questions and different packaging and pricing options to get you started. With the exam still in the beta phase, however, MeasureUp do not have practice questions live on their website. We suggest you check this page regularly as they’ll no doubt be looking to update this as soon as the exam becomes available.


MeasureUp’s practice exams are well-respected and are a great way to dig your teeth into some meaty and useful revision. 

5. Take a course


At the end of the day there is no real alternative to immersing yourself in a training course led by certified instructors with a wealth of knowledge and experience on your specific certification.

You’ll sit in a classroom, away from any distractions, with peers that are focused on passing the same exam. You’ll also benefit from hands-on experience and invaluable instructor knowledge.

Firebrand offer an accelerated 11 day MCSA: Windows Server 2016 course. Firebrand also offer courses aligned to the 70 740, 70 741 and 70 742 exams individually.  




6. Avoid Brain Dumps


You should look to avoid brain dumps at all costs. Not only are these illegal in the context of examinations, they are also entirely useless in giving you the skills you’ll need to apply your MCSA Windows Server 2016 in real-world scenarios. If its discovered that you have been using a 70 740 brain dump, you will be disqualified from your exam.

7. Download a trial session of the software


An excellent way to prepare for the exam is to get familiar with the software you’ll be tested on. You can download a trial version of the Windows Server 2016 software here

The trial version limits you to 180 days, which is more than enough to get experienced with some of the features. Focus on experiencing parts of the software relevant to 70 740 exam and this software will offer useful practical revision that will certainly help when it comes to the exam.

Follow the exam objectives as a guide for what to revise. 


8. Join a study group


The value of joining like-minded individuals as you prepare for your exam should not be underestimated. Study groups allow you and others to share tips, experiences, challenges and questions with one another.

Born to Learn is a training and certification community that discuss relevant certification news and articles.



Under the “Study Groups” tab you’ll be able to select the technology and the subsequent exam you’re focusing on. Here, you’ll be able to start discussions or add to on-going discussions with others that are interested in the same software and exam as you.

Unfortunately, there is currently no study group available for the Windows Server 2016. There’s no doubt Microsoft will be looking to introduce this soon, so keep checking this page! 


9. Do some practice labs


Practice labs are an excellent way to get familiar with software in an environment that allows you to make mistakes.

While training courses such as Firebrand’s offer practical tasks with the supervision of an instructor, MeasureUp have a series of practice labs you can complete by yourself. These practice labs are aligned specifically to the different exams. Although currently unavailable for the 70 740, 70 741 and 70 742 exams, check back at a later date.
   
It’s also definitely worth heading to TechNet Virtual Labs where you can access labs aligned to Windows Server 2016. Best of all, this resource is entirely free so make the most of it!



With the Windows Server 2016 exams currently in the beta phase, it’s just a matter of time before we see these practical labs become available on MeasureUp.

10. Follow an Expert

A good way to keep up-to-date with the latest Microsoft developments is to follow an expert's blog. Robert Smit is a Senior Technical Evangelist and Microsoft MVP as of 2009 and updates his personal blog on all things Windows Server/System Center and Azure. 

Smit uses this platform as his own personal notebook as well, so although some of the content may appear to be Smit thinking out loud - it is an excellent resource for your Windows Server exam prep. 

Keep up to date with this blog and you'll get the inside scope on a wide range of information helping with exam preparation and developing your skills once you're MCSA certified!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Microsoft reaches landmark deal with Xamarin

 By Sarah Morgan

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced their latest major business move - acquiring Xamarin, an industry leading mobile app development company. Having previously had a long-standing working relationship with Xamarin, this deal makes the next step in allowing Microsoft to make Xamarin their sole partners in mobile app development. Building on their cross-platform vision.


Image courtesy of Microsoft the Microsoft Blog

Who are Xamarin?


Xamarin’s mobile app specialities give developers the ability to code mobile apps in one language across iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices. Its customers, totaling around 15,000, boast names like Coca Cola, the US Air Force, UK Parliament, Bosch Siemens and more. Plus, Xamarin have been at the forefront of mobile app development for some time, creating testing methods for developers in the cloud. Xamarin were named as one of the “9 startups that run the internet” by UK Business Insider in December 2015.


Why this makes sense for Microsoft


The primary aim for Microsoft in this deal is to advance its development of a cross-platform vision. Providing an outstanding and consistent experience across all of it devices, in unison with Windows 10. As Microsoft has previously worked closely with Xamarin, the deal is a natural progression for both parties, giving them both great potential for growth.

Microsoft has been working relentlessly on growing their presence in the mobile sector. This acquisition is a landmark moment that could see their mobile app development capabilities improve significantly. Already a market leader, the skills and abilities Xamarin add to Microsoft, have the potential to establish their mobile app dominance.


About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 


Friday, 6 November 2015

Firebrand Training Nordics named Microsoft Learning Partner of the Year 2015

We are delighted to announce the Nordic division of Firebrand Training has been named Microsoft Learning Partner of the Year for the fifth time.
award2

Criteria for the award includes customer satisfaction, growth and skills development. This award is testament to the continued commitment and success of Firebrand Training Nordics and reflects a company ethos for advancement through education. 

Firebrand continues to provide new and innovative products including the Firebrand Academy and our expanded Microsoft cloud portfolio that includes Office365 and Azure.

Frank Højgaard, CEO of Firebrand Training Nordics, said of the award:

"I'm very proud and happy to receive the award on behalf of our great team at Firebrand Training. I am very proud of our employees who have provided the best and most innovative training and certification products on the market. We are also very happy to receive recognition of the Firebrand Academy, which we launched last year and has already made a real difference by adding new and skilled employees needed in the IT industry."

AWARD1
Firebrand Training Nordics CEO, Frank Højgaard (left) with
our Global Head of Sales, Jacob Davidsen (right)
Through the Firebrand Academy, we have created a solution to recruit and qualify young academics for IT careers using our unique accelerated learning concept. Since the launch of Firebrand Academy in the Nordics a year ago, we have made a difference to a wide range of partners such as EG:

Tina Bodin - EG A / S says: 

"When we combine teams of young people with our skilled senior consultants, we see new knowledge arise. Together, the two profiles create something unique and therefore sees senior consultants gain an advantage by working with the young graduates on projects. In order to create profitable growth and deliver excellence to our customers, we as a company need both profiles. "


Discover our 200+ accelerated courses and certifications or find out more about Firebrand Academy via the website.  

Author Profile


As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 5 years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint, Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Azure Active Directory: Tomorrow’s Identity Management, Today

   By Debra Littlejohn Shinder

Identity and access management form the backbone of your network security plan, and now with the integration of on-premises and cloud-based services in a hybrid environment, organizations need a solution that will simplify user access to cloud apps and allow them to get to the resources they need no matter what type or brand of computing device they’re using. 

Microsoft’s answer to this is Azure Active Directory, which will not only enable your users to access your SaaS applications and Office 365 but also lets you publish your on-premises web apps so that they can be accessed from computers, tablets or smart phones running Windows, Android, iOS or OS X. 

Your on-premises Active Directory and other directory services can be synchronized automatically with Azure AD. You can sync users, groups and contacts to the cloud and Azure AD supports both directory sync with password synchronization and directory sync with single sign-on:


  • Directory sync with password sync: users can sign into Azure AD with the same username and password they use for accessing the company network.
  • Directory sync with single sign-on:  users can use their company AD credentials to access both cloud and on-premises resources seamlessly. You can even have single sign-on across multiple AD forests using Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). 


All of this convenience doesn’t come at the cost of security. Users can enjoy all the benefits of single sign-on and administrators can breathe easy knowing that the access channels are secured. 

You have the option of enabling Azure multi-factor authentication to provide more protection for your sensitive and confidential data and applications, and security monitoring will keep you apprised of what’s going on with both your cloud apps and your on-premises apps. 

Active Directory integration tools, Azure Active Directory Sync and Azure Active Directory Synchronization Tool (DirSync) have been replaced by Azure Active Directory Connect, which encompasses their same functionalities and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Azure web site. This tool lets you easily connect your on-premises directories with your Azure AD via a wizard-based interface that will deploy and configure all of the necessary components for you. 


Credit: Microsoft Azure Directory


Azure AD Connect has three parts: Sync Services, AD FS and the health monitoring service (Azure AD Connect Health). AD FS is optional; it’s used to create a hybrid solution with your on-premises AD FS deployment. In order to install Azure AD Connect, you’ll need to have Enterprise Administrator credentials, along with a subscription to Azure and Azure AD Premium (or the trial version). You’ll also need an Azure AD Global Admin account and your AD domain controller needs to be running Windows Server 2008 or above. 

The installation wizard will help you to select the type of synchronization that’s best for your organization (password sync or single sign-on), then it will install the software components that are needed in order to deploy the type of synchronization you chose. After the components are installed, it will verify the integration of the on-premises and cloud directories to ensure that everything is working. 

By default, Azure AD Connect installs an instance of SQL Server 2012 Express, creates the appropriate groups and assigns the necessary permissions to them. However, if you want, you can use a SQL server that you already have. You’ll need to specify its name in the options configuration section of the wizard. You also might want to create an account for the sync services to use instead of using the default account, so that you can choose your own password. When you use the default, Azure AD Connect generates a password automatically and you don’t know what it is. Usually you won’t need to, but there are some advanced tasks that do require you to know and enter the password. 

The quickest and easiest way to integrate your on-premises and cloud directories is to use the Express installation option. It is for single-forest configurations and uses the password hash sync type so users can log onto the cloud with the same password they use for the corporate network. It’s a quick and simple process with just six steps. If you want more options, you want to go with the Custom installation, which lets you choose Federation with AD FS or password sync, lets you add more directories to sync, and gives you far more flexibility and control over identities and features such as Azure AD app and attribute filtering, password and user writeback, and more. Writeback means that password changes made in Azure AD and users created in Azure AD will be written back to the on-premises directory. 

Azure Active Directory brings your on-premises and cloud assets together for maximizing the benefits of both. You can find much more good information about Azure at www.cloudcomputingadmin.com.



Author Profile

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP (Security) is a technology consultant, trainer and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security.

She is also a tech editor, developmental editor and contributor to over 20 additional books. Her articles are regularly published on TechRepublic's TechProGuild Web site and WindowSecurity.com, and has appeared in print magazines such as Windows IT Pro (formerly Windows & .NET) Magazine.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The First Look at Windows Server 2016


Firebrand teamed-up with Microsoft Evangelist Ed Baker to deliver a First Look at Windows Server 2016 in London, on Thursday 13th August. Seventy lucky Firebranders squeezed into a room at Microsoft’s offices in London to catch a glimpse of Windows Server 2016 in action – and to see what the Nano Server buzz is all about.

Ed opened by saying there was going to be a “fundamental change” in the way we use Windows Server. After three hours of demos – including a few PowerPoint slides - we’d learnt why.

Nano Server is at the heart of this fundamental change – it’s fast, it’s small, and it’s easy to use (common themes throughout the new look OS). Microsoft describes it as “a purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers”.

Small and perfectly formed, Nano Server is designed for fewer patches and updates, faster restarts, better resource utilisation and tighter security. The focus on size was highlighted when Ed unveiled his server setup – which looked complicated as a network map on screen, but was no more than a laptop and four hard discs on the table in front of him.

“Servers aren’t valued pets”

Before we got to see Windows Server 2016 in action, we were given a reality check. Ed reminded us that “servers aren’t valued pets” concluding by bluntly saying “when you don’t need them – kill them”. We no longer need to get attached to our servers…kill off a server when you don’t need it, and reactivate it when you do. That’s the power of cloud computing.

Ed asked us all to think ‘services’, not ‘servers’. We’ve moved away from a data center being made up of expensive hardware; individual servers in a siloed infrastructure. Slow, expensive innovation and development constraints have been replaced with low-cost, standardised, automated processes. Nano Server – combined with PowerShell – is what allows us to do this.

Before getting into the detail, Ed explained just how little computing power Windows Server 2016 needs: a 1.4GHz 64-bit processor, 512MB RAM, a 32GB disk and a Network Interface Card. That’s it.




What’s New in Active Directory Domain Services?

The development of Windows 10 and Office 365 means Microsoft is heavily in the world of single sign-on and end-user self-service. Windows Server 2016 is the backbone that supports this – through Azure Active Directory (AAD)  connected to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). As Ed explains: “If you can manage and control your identity, you can manage and control your data”.

And guess what – it’s simple. Just tell Azure AD Connect AD DS which servers it needs to be assigned to and it does the rest for you - installing the synchronisation and even ADFS if required. Other improved AD DS features include:

  • Privileged access management
  • Azure Active Directory Join
  • Microsoft Passport – helping you keep all your important data even more secure

There was also a definite cheer ripple across the room when Ed announced that Windows Server 2016 won’t work with  File Replication Service (FRS) or Windows Server 2003.

Nano Server finally unveiled

At last, Ed showed-off what everyone was here to see. He setup a Storage Direct Cluster through Nano Server, using four Nano nodes (the four hard disks mentioned at the start of the article) and a Windows Server 2016 node (the laptop).

In the past (for now the present) each disc device would need to be connected to a node. This is restrictive - especially as the network gets bigger and we’re trying to upscale. Now, storage spaces can be hooked-up directly with internal disks, eliminating the need to share SAS infrastructure.

This couldn’t have been achieved before without a shared storage mechanism like a JBOD enclosure or a SAN, now we can use standard internal storage and create a shared pool across all the nodes. In this instance each nano dodge had four small internal hard disks making 16 in total. These were combined into a storage direct pool and then added to a failover cluster, in the form of a storage volume formatted as a cluster shared volume.

The pretty-simple setup process is only done once, because it can then be re-used and automated whenever new server space is required. With the new rolling cluster upgrade, you can now add new servers to a cluster, transfer the settings to it and upgrade the cluster version number (to get all the benefits of Windows Server 2016) - all by simply running a rolling upgrade in PowerShell or though the failover cluster manger GUI.

Having spun up the network, it took an impressive 30 seconds to boot (compared to at least five minutes from previous OSs). Yes, there were some cheers in the audience.














Even more new features in Windows Server 2016

There was also time to hear about a few more features in Hyper-V and File and Storage Services. New features for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 include:
  •  Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
  • Production checkpoints
  • Hot add and remove for network adaptors and memory
  • Integration Services delivered through Windows Update
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Virtual machine configuration version
  • New virtual machine configuration file format
  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Linux secure boot
  • Compatible with Connected Standby
  • Windows PowerShell Direct - ever lost the ability to get into a VM? Rather than binning it, you can use PowerShell Direct to get into it

New features for File and Storage Services in Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Storage Spaces Direct – the next stage in software-defined storage, which enables SATA and NVMe devices to become cluster-available. This is what enables each server to plugin direct with its own internal discs, rather than the need for a shared SAS JBOD
  • Storage Replica – developed to help you “tolerate” disasters. Disasters happen, and they can be planned for by replicating data between sites via standard storage and networks
  • Deduplication

Nano Server is seven times faster!

Ed concluded by comparing deployment and servicing (based on all patches in 2014) improvements for Nano Server. All make impressive reading:
  • Nano Server takes just 40 seconds to boot, compared to more like 300 from full Server
  • The disk footprint of Nano Server is 400MB, with Sever Core almost 5GB
  • Virtual Hard Disk size 400MB compared to 6GB in Server Core
  • Critical bulletins – for full Server, there were 23, compared to two for Nano Server
  • Number of reboots – only three from Nano with 11 from full Server

All of the demos were on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2, with Technical Preview 3 coming soon. So in the words of Ed, download the Technical Preview now and start playing!



About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Firebrand embraces Microsoft’s cloud first ethos


Speaking from a meeting room that previously held Firebrand’s sever rack, we caught up with Bevan Miller, our Head of IT, to discuss Firebrand’s recent migration to Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

Firebrand now in the cloud

Over the past year, Firebrand’s forward-thinking IT team have been migrating business critical systems to Microsoft’s public cloud platform – Azure.

A modern business requires countless services and software to run, and Firebrand has been working hard at getting them into the cloud. Our recent Office 365 migration means that users can now login to the Firebrand business applications and authenticate through Azure and Federation Services.

Firebrand employees can access their critical apps across public networks – BYOD and working from home has never been simpler.

But that’s not all – OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online, SharePoint, Yammer, Skype for Business, File Services, legacy CRM, database services, finance systems, RemoteApp, Directory Services and Windows Deployment Services are now all running in Azure.



Cloud migration – not just a buzzword

Full cloud migration can be a daunting task but the benefits are massive. Firebrand staff now experience full BYOD and working from home flexibility – when they connect to the corporate network, regardless of their connection, they’ll find their apps are already installed alongside their personal settings.

The IT team have also cut their operational time by enabling the cloud to manage their server load. Real time scaling support that efficiently adapts to business demands is now maintained by Dot Net Solutions, a managed services and solutions partner.



Dot Net Solutions manages all of Firebrand’s third line support – using System Centre Operations Manager for security and update patches, monitor, maintain and triage system issues before they impact business applications.

The result: Bevan and his team get more time to focus on business solutions and streamlining technologies.

With our server stack sitting securely in the cloud, little to no operational time is being dedicated to regular hardware maintenance tasks. There’s now no need to add to the server stack when the company expands, Azure flexibly responds to any increase or decrease in our business demands.

Firebrand can now easily deploy additional security features through Azure’s Multi Factor Authentication giving us real time security monitoring and enabling fast action on alerts.

Risk to critical files is minimised too - if our server room experiences any disasters, our critical servers and data will be spared as they are now backed-up multiple times across Azure's geo-redundant virtual machines.

We now also use Microsoft Data Protection manager in conjunction with Azure Data Backup Vaults as well as a full Virtual Machine through the Azure Backup Service.

Those training with us will also get to see Azure in action - Firebrand’s cloud courses are now powered by Azure. Plus, Bevan’s team can now utilise Azure to set up Firebrand’s classrooms, cutting 6-7 days of setup time to a mere ten minutes


How we converted our server rack space into a meeting room

Cloud migration means saying ‘Goodbye’ to the majority of your server racks and when we said our farewells, we suddenly came into possession of a whole new workspace.

Previously stuffed with whirring servers and their backups, we quickly made use of the space by converting it into a new meeting room.

Our absence of physical servers and specialised AC means that the Firebrand London office has more than halved power consumption, server estate footprint and redundant power requirement – cutting electricity bills and contributing to Firebrand's green commitment.


Why Firebrand migrated with Azure

As Microsoft are also the Operating System vendor, they are able to closely integrate the hosting platform with the desktop. For example, Operating System stack integrated to back-end infrastructure makes it easy for personal devices to securely and quickly access corporate resources through Azure Rights Management Service.



And despite launching later than other cloud services, Azure has learnt from its competitors – taking advantage of their successes and avoiding their failures.

Azure isn’t the only public cloud service available, but with over $15billion invested into Azure – it’s clear that Microsoft is committed to their advancing cloud service.


Putting themselves out of a job?

As more and more of Firebrand’s IT services become automated and self-sufficient – Bevan’s team is leaving behind the traditional IT support role.

It may sound like Firebrand’s IT team are putting themselves out of a job, but the fact is, when conventional support becomes automated, IT departments are able to apply their skills to business enhancing projects - like making Firebrand's business files more accessible by migrating them to Microsoft OneDrive.

Bevan and his staff now have more time to ensure Firebrand continues to be a cutting edge business with the best tools available.


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About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.