Well, what can I say? 2020 was quite a year. We’ve felt worry never felt before, argued about things we’ve barely even thought about before…and meanwhile had to pivot and swivel our networks and plans with all the grace of the Rat King fron the Nutcracker ballet (which, incidentally, none of us could go see live this year either). And that sudden direction change in supplying IT services to our users, hand in hand with the exponentially rising malware threat, definitely reflected in what blog posts of ours were most viewed this year.
Now, usually at the end of a year I look at how many people viewed the blog articles we’d written in that year, but when I was parsing out the data I found that we had an interesting trend overall in what topics seemed to be more popular, and I was surprised to see that we had mostly oldies (but goodies) topping the charts. Can’t hurt to bring those back into the daylight again! So, without further ado, here’s what you were reading from us this past year:
Microsoft support. If you’re lucky, you’ve never had to call it and never will have to call it. Microsoft support for many people is the last resort, the punt after all other attempts have failed. However, when you need it, there’s nothing worse than calling and having them tell you, “Sorry, this is unsupported,” and then you’re left on your own again (often after having wasted two hours finally getting a technician).
Far more importantly though are security patches. There’s nothing worse than finding a bug or security vulnerability and then finding out that you are not entitled to getting that bug/vulnerability patched, so you’re just stuck with it. With that in mind, it’s vital to keep up to date on your software so that you maintain support. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easily said as done. Read more.
We have all done it. You don’t know your ISP’s DNS off the top of your head or your ISP has recently changed. You are in a hurry to verify connectivity to the internet and the easy way out is entering 188.8.131.52 as the DNS. But once you were done testing, did you change the DNS back to the correct DNS? If not, you are introducing an additional delay in DNS resolution and potentially adding a point of failure. Read more.
SMB performance over VPN is an issue we see periodically at our clients. Typically, the client profile is that they have multiple sites with site-to-site VPNs and a centralized file server. Another scenario may be remote workers who connect using VPNs to access file servers.
The issue reported is usually something along the lines of this:
- Internet connections are stable and have decent speed.
- Other file transfers like FTP are fine.
- File transfers using Windows file shares (i.e., SMB (or CIFS) is painfully slow.
Windows as a subscription? Windows licensed per user? You just blew my mind.
Microsoft continues to break paradigms that have been entrenched for decades. If you are familiar with Windows licensing, you know that Windows is typically licensed on a per-device basis and as a perpetual license (not a subscription). Well, you can kiss that paradigm goodbye. With the advent of Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5, Windows is now offered on a per-user basis and as a subscription.
Well … sort of. Let me explain what’s going on here. Read more.
When it comes to configuring your virtual environment, it’s very important that you select the right disk types for your needs or you could encounter outages, wasted storage or face lots of time on the back end reconfiguring your settings. Read more.
We often get questions about the differences between User CALs and Device CALs, and which is more appropriate. What exactly do those terms mean and which type should you buy?
When Microsoft says “CAL,” they’re not talking about California, calories, or calibers. They are talking about a “Client Access License.” When one of their server products is licensed using the Server+CAL model, then you have to buy a server license to install the software on the server and you have to buy CALs for the people or machines that will access that server. A “User CAL” licenses the person so they have permission to access the server. They can access it from as many different endpoints as they want since the CAL is tied to the person, not the device. On the other hand, a “Device CAL” licenses the endpoint device so that the device itself has permission to access the server. Then, anyone using that device would be able to access the server. The people using that device do not need a User CAL.
If you took the time to figure out how to license SQL Server 2014, then you’re in good shape when it comes to SQL Server 2016. Not much has changed. (If you need to get up to speed, you can read my posts here, here, here, and here.) There is only one major change … the Business Intelligence (BI) edition has been eliminated from the lineup.
The Developer and Express editions are free. You can download them from Microsoft. The Developer edition is a full-featured version of the product, but the use rights are limited to test and development purposes only. (Beware of Microsoft audits!) The Express edition can be used in production environments but has an extremely limited feature set, as you would expect for a free product.
Enterprise and Standard are the main editions of SQL Server 2016.
I’ve never actually touched a computer with a physical turbo button, but once upon a time it was common for computers to have a physical switch that would allow a processor to run at a higher speed, at the cost of increased heat and power usage. Intel’s Turbo Boost technology (or AMD’s Turbo Core) works on the same principle, but it’s all automatic. If you’ve got a modern computer and you’re running Windows, the odds are that you can pull up the performance tab of Task Manager and see that your processor’s frequency is changing dynamically—sometimes jumping far above the base clock speed. Automatic boosts are nice, but perhaps having a button you can control isn’t such a bad idea … Read more.
Email. We all love it. We all hate it. For better or worse, it’s here to stay. So if you’re in charge of IT for your business, you need to figure out how to do it well.
What are the options available today? Painting in broad strokes, there are two options: a traditional on-premise solution and an online solution. There are a variety of vendors out there who are happy to provide you with an email product, but at Mirazon we recommend our clients go with one of the tried and true solutions from Microsoft. This post will cover an on-prem solution: traditional Exchange Server. My next post will cover Exchange Online.
If you are not ready to move to the cloud, a traditional on-prem solution is still a solid option. Microsoft Exchange Server is a tried and true product, but right-sizing the solution can be a little tricky. Here’s what you need to know about licensing Exchange Server. Read more.
Over the last few years, Microsoft has changed the Windows Server licensing model from server licenses (2008) to processor licenses (2012) to core licenses (2016). It’s no wonder that people are confused! Read more.
*Please note that some of the details in these licensing models may have changed since 2015.*
In Office 365, you purchase a subscription for each user, not each device. So how does that work when your user needs to access a remote desktop session and fire up Office on the server? Do you still need to purchase a volume license of Office to cover that device?
Unfortunately there is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer to that question. Read more.
Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) can provide a private, secure path for transporting packets through an otherwise public network. It does this by encapsulating the data packets and redirecting them to a device that de-encapsulates them and routes them to their final destination. This allows the source and destination switches to operate as if they have a virtual point-to-point connection. The beauty of it is that it will encapsulate many different types of traffic and de-encapsulate it on the receiving end. Read more.
Windows Server licensing is something that, if you don’t live in it every day, can be extremely confusing. To be fair, even if you DO live in it every day, it can still be extremely confusing. Luckily (at least right now) if you figured out how to license Windows Server 2016, you’re good for licensing Windows Server 2019.
Windows Server 2019 kept the same general licensing structure as did Server 2016…Read more.
In 2000, Microsoft introduced the File Replication Service (FRS) in Windows Server in order to asynchronously replicate file data. Since then, Microsoft released the Distributed File System Replication (DFSR) and deprecated FRS.
This change occurred between Windows Server 2003 to 2008 and a lot of people missed this step of the upgrade process. Both 2008 and 2012 continued to function with FRS SYSVOL replication, but with 2016 and above, people using FRS will not be able to introduce a new domain controller into the Active Directory environment. Read more.
One question I get on a regular basis is this: “How do I license Office for a remote desktop environment?” Or, in other words: “How do I license my terminal server for Office?” First I’ll explain what type of environment we’re talking about, and then I’ll explain how to license it properly.
In a remote desktop environment, the users are able to log into Windows Server and fire up a remote desktop session. This type of session simulates a physical desktop. The endpoint can be either a thin client or a full-fledged PC. This type of situation used to be called a “terminal server” session but the official term that Microsoft has been using the last several years is “remote desktop” session.
On the licensing side of things, in this situation the server will need to be licensed for Windows Server and the user will need both a Windows Server User CAL and a Remote Desktop Services User CAL (a.k.a., RDS CAL or Terminal Server CAL). As a side note, you could also go with Device CALs, but User CALs are more common. Read more.
In the simplest of terms, the maximum transit unit, or MTU, is the set of data in bytes that can travel in a packet. Varying factors, like environment, hardware, software, and ISP, can determine the packet size. Because of the many factors, there can be multiple MTU size requirements within your environment. By default, MTU is set to 1500 bytes.
Having the incorrect MTU set can cause packet fragmentation and hinder the transfer of data. Read more.
We’ve been receiving a number of questions recently about how to properly license an environment with Windows Server 2016. Core-based licensing, new minimum license counts, feature differences between the versions … People’s heads are spinning trying to figure it all out. But have no fear! Mirazon is here to help. Let’s start at the beginning and work our way through it. Read more.
As our pandemic charges on through April and our work-from-home initiatives become the new normal, video conferencing has become a must-have. All video conferencing providers are experiencing unprecedented adoption rates, from companies that are new to remote collaboration to the average Joe just trying to keep in touch with his family. People are finalizing adoptions on Zoom, companies are hosting webinars for the first time ever, and we’ve increased our sensitive conversations on Zoom a thousandfold. Read more.
When designing a wireless network, there are quite a few factors that one must consider. For example, it’s extremely important to estimate the user density in order to lay out the proper number of access points (APs). Another important consideration is what materials go into the building: the walls, the floors, the doors. Read more.
There you have it! Our top 20 viewed blog posts from 2020. Thanks for hanging with us this year and let’s make 2021 a better great year.