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November, 2010 - The UK Higher Education Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The HE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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November, 2010

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    How Microsoft uses the Windows Server 2008 R2 features to enhance our own security

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    The Microsoft IT team publish case studies of how we've used our own products within our own infrastructure - sharing their real-life experiences.

    This month there's a case study about the way that we've implemented the security features in Windows Server 2008 R2, along with Windows 7 on the desktop - and the benefits that we've seen so far. It covers a wide range of things, including:

    • DirectAccess to replace a mixed bag of remote access VPN technologies *
    • Network Access Protection (NAP) to manage the integrity and compliance of devices accessing the network
    • BranchCache to increase network responsiveness for remote offices
    • AppLocker to prevent unlicensed software, unsupported apps and malware from running

    When you look through the detail, you'll see that there are big similarities between our IT infrastructure and a typical education IT system. I've taken the following statements from the case study - don't they look similar to a typical large university network?

    • "Multiple remote access methods…led to end user confusion"
    • "…the team could only manage mobile computers when users connected to a VPN or came to the office."
    • "With about 71,000 highly mobile users [we] needed a new way to measure and improve the corporate security policy compliance…including desktop computers, roaming portable computers, visiting portable computers, and unmanaged home computers."
    • "…the trend toward data centralisation places more content in data centers that are remote from branch offices. A very large (and increasing) number of remote sites are connected to these data centers. These remote sites range in size from very small (less than 10 users) to very large (greater than 5000 users)."

    (And although the scale is different, it's also similar to colleges and many schools)

    If you're looking for a good guide to help you think about your network security strategy, which not only makes your network more secure, but also helps improve the end-user experience, then can I recommend the case study to you?

    Read the full story about how Microsoft uses Windows Server 2008 R2 to enhance network security.

    * As an end-user of our IT systems, I can definitely say that using DirectAccess has been a vast improvement over a normal VPN solution. It has made the security virtually invisible to me, and hugely increased my remote experience, especially when I'm working from home or a wireless hotspot. The biggest reason is that it doesn't get in the way of normal internet traffic, and invisibly enables the intranet/corporate network access I need.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    The Virtualisation Hub on TechNet - getting the right planning information

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    The TechNet team create useful technical content for IT Managers, and their latest project is absolutely perfect for IT managers who are considering their next step with virtualisation projects.

    Predicting resource requirements for a new ICT application, especially one that is widely used, such as a new web service, is a tricky task. It's hard to know the adoption curve that you'll have on your hands. You make your best estimates, then spend money on new hardware and hope your estimates were right. Only actual usage tells whether your server infrastructure is running efficiently. What may make this process more painful is the knowledge that your existing environment probably has the capacity to deliver this application if only the servers were used in a more efficient manner.

    Deciding whether, and what form of, virtualisation is appropriate to your needs will require answers to a number of questions. When and where will your usage demand happen, within your organisation or from remote users and external stakeholders? Is there a predictable demand timeframe for some or all of your services? How will back-ups and data compliance be enforced, and where must your data reside to be secure while complying with national guidance?

    The TechNet collection of guides will help you to plan how to accomplish your goals with server and services virtualisation technology. It's designed to help IT managers to direct their limited resources to the most efficient activities, even making changes dynamically to utilise resources as demands change during a business day or week — for example, a busy Web server during the week that lays largely unused over the weekend could be repurposed on Friday evening for large database processing jobs and returned to serving Web requests late on Sunday. (Although the scenarios below aren't education specific, the business and technology challenges parallel your own!)

    · Increase Server Availability and Support Burst Demand with Virtualisation

    · How to Improve Server Utilisation and Reduce Infrastructure Costs

    · How to Support a New Location with SharePoint Virtualisation

    · Manage Storage Migration with Virtualisation

    · Planning for Disaster Recovery Using Virtualisation

    The resources are all broken down into four lifecycle stages, making it easy to find the information relevant to you - whether you're researching, or planning a deployment.image

    You can read much more about the technical and planning side of server virtualisation on the TechNet Virtualisation hub

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Tech·Ed 2010 - Download the presentation videos free

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    If you've ever been lucky enough to get to Tech·Ed, you'll know that some of the best technical presenters are there, presenting some of the most useful technical content for IT managers. Each year over 100 people from UK educational institutions travel out to it (this year, it was in Berlin), but I know that many, many more people want to attend, but simply can't get sign off for the costs.

    imageWhat is fantastic is that all of the main sessions are recorded and are now available free online. So  this is the site to visit if you want to know all about DirectAccess troubleshooting, or Failover Cluster in Windows Server 2008 R2 - or you simply want to watch a keynote, or learn about our views on authentication and passwords, or get an industry view on the latest hacking techniques (and what you can do to defend against them).

    You can find the videos and PowerPoint slides on the Tech·Ed site. And you can search by subject, rating, speaker etc. And even download them as a WMV or MP4, so that you can watch on your commute.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    November webinars for HE

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    VDI is a hot topic at the moment but what actually is it? When is it the right solution … and when not? Given the challenges nowadays – making the right choices is even more critical than ever.

    In this Microsoft Education live meeting, Quest will discuss the future trends for the desktop, the options available, and how to blend different approaches for the right results.

    Quest will discuss real world examples – including their current VDI project at Kingston University rolling out globally to 20,000 students and staff – to make this a practical session which cuts through confusion and hype to provide realistic ways forward.

    Dates and Times:           

     Tuesday November 23rd – 14:00-15:00
    Thursday November 25th – 14:00-15:00

    If you would like to join one of these webinars, please register  here

     

    System Center Service Manager 2010

    System Center Service Manager is Service Desk solution providing incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management. By unifying knowledge across the System Center suite, Service Manager helps IT continuously adapt to new business requirements while reducing cost and lowering time to resolution.

    This session presented by Microsoft partner Silversands , provides a good overview of the key functionality of the product  and will give you the opportunity to get any questions you may have answered.

    Dates and Times:

    Tuesday 23rd November 10:30-11:30 
    Thursday 25th November 10:30-11:30

    If you would like to join one of these webinars, please register here

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    New links for the slides from the Microsoft Higher Education Briefing 2010

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    My humble apologies - yesterday's links for the presentations were all duff! (I think it's because I used me extra-special-secret-SkyDrive account). They are now all corrected - so you can now download all of the presentations from the Microsoft Higher Education Briefing, held in Reading yesterday, from this page.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Slides from the Microsoft Higher Education Briefing 2010

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    We held our annual briefing for UK Higher Education institutions today. We had an interesting mix of presentations, including universities sharing their experiences, plenty of technology sessions, and a great session from Dave Coplin on the shape of the future workplace - and it's implications for your IT systems.

    if you were unable to get here, or if you did and you want some of the slides, then you can download any of them below. The individual presentations are here, or you can open the folder to download them all from SkyDrive.

    Some of the attendees added their comments during the day on Twitter - you can see what they said here

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    This week’s webinars for university IT managers 16th-18th November

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    There  are a couple of webinars during this week that if you have time in your diary, come along and take a listen.

    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 webinar

    System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) lets you see how your IT system is running, from your servers right down to individual desktop computers enabling Operations and IT Management teams to identify, and resolve issues affecting the health of distributed IT services – before they become problems. SCOM can monitor both your Microsoft on non-Microsoft environments and therefore provide a unified solution across the entire campus.

    Microsoft partner Inframon will be presenting this session and will be available to answer any of your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 18th 10:30-11:30

    You can register for this webinar here

     

    System Center Configuration Manager 2007 webinar

    System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 has long been a favourable choice for education organisations of all sizes to comprehensively assess, deploy and update servers, clients and devices across physical, virtual, distributed and mobile environments.

    The upcoming version R3, introduces the ability to centrally monitor and control the power consumption of Windows clients, and can therefore help organisations decrease their carbon footprint and potentially realise significant cost savings on energy bills and reduce their overall environmental impact.

    In this live meeting with Microsoft Partner Dimension Data we will explore some of the key capabilities of SCCM and give you chance to ask the experts your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 2pm-3pm
    or Thursday November 18th  2pm -3pm

     You can register for this webinar here 

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    How we went to Live@edu–The University of Reading

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    The University of Reading is one of the UK’s leading research establishments, and is consistently one of the most popular higher education choices in the country. I recently met up with Mark Cockshoot, assistant director of IT services at the university to talk about how they made the leap into the cloud with Microsoft Live@edu

    [JM] Tell me how you came to use Live@edu?

    [MC] The University of Reading hasn’t often been a “first mover” when it comes to technology; we’re not on the bleeding edge. If we were a bigger institution we’d have more resources to use but being the size we are we can’t afford to make mistakes. We chose Live@edu not because it saved us money – our existing student mail solution cost us less than £10,000 per year to run - but because of the value it added to the student experience. We get consistently high student satisfaction ratings in surveys.  Our student body was already familiar and comfortable with Microsoft software – it made sense to continue that into the cloud. “We chose Live@edu because of the value it added to the student experience…” Mark Cockshoot

    [JM] How did you look at other solutions before choosing?

    [MC] We had a working party, made up of a cross section of people from the University from faculty to students, to evaluate the different options available and decide what was feasible. We had to consider compliance with the law, and Microsoft’s guarantee about the location of email storage amongst other things meant it was an easy decision.

    [JM] You migrated from an old Linux-based system; what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

    [MC] We had to migrate some 13,000 existing accounts to the cloud; our main emphasis was on minimising disruption for our users. We found that by breaking our migration down into smaller batches we could make the process more manageable and ensure a good level of service to our students – especially as most of them rely on their email at the start of the academic year to find out important information. We looked at doing the migration in one hit, but we did some quick calculations and worked out that it could take a number of days to complete such a large migration. We felt smaller batches were more suitable for us. We underestimated some things – particularly the 25MB mail size limit – when migrating. Some of our users did have large attachments that did not get carried across but so far this has not caused problems. Although we couldn’t migrate contact lists, we left access to the old system open to our students so that they can manually retrieve any info they need.

    [JM] How did you prepare your helpdesk services for the switch to the cloud, and how have you driven student use of the service?

    [MC] We had expected support of such a big migration to be a major issue, but in the end we ended up with support queries from less than 2% of users. Our helpdesk team was involved in the process from day one. They knew what was coming, where to find information about it and how to deal with it, and as a result they’ve provided a truly brilliant service to our students. Of the 16,500 mailboxes that we now have deployed, we’ve only received 250 email-related support requests – a real testimony to the usability and stability of Live@edu. We ensure all students are aware that official communication is via their student mail account, so we actively encourage through the student union, newspaper and web portal that students make full and best use of their Live@edu account.

    [JM] Microsoft recently announced Microsoft Office 365 for education – with the news that we’ll be bringing Lync Online and SharePoint Online to the cloud services for education. Do you see yourself moving more services to the cloud?

    “It’s simple really – if someone will do it for you, why should you do it yourself?” Mark Cockshoot [MC] We have to look at more cloud services. It’s simple really – if someone will do it for you, why should you do it yourself? We’ve got an aging telephone system and I’m really interested to see how Lync Online can benefit us when we look to tender for telephone services in the near future. I can see a real benefit to us in moving some more of our services to the cloud.

    [JM] Live@edu caters for staff, students and alumni. You’re just using it for students at the moment – do you see it as important to build a long-lasting relationship with your students by allowing them to keep their reading.ac.uk email accounts after they leave you?

    [MC] Yes, very much so. We are looking at what to do with our alumni, but we’re fully behind the idea of a Reading email address for life. We have strong links with our alumni – every year we run very successful campaigns to raise funds and maintain contact. Live@edu would make it much easier to keep those links alive. The University of Reading brand is a strong one, and we want our students to think of their Reading address as their primary address whilst studying, and beyond. “We’re fully behind the idea of a Reading email address for life…” Mark Cockshoot

    [JM] What’s been the high point for you in the whole process?

    [MC] For me it was definitely when my colleague Chris told me we’d got all our undergraduate users migrated in time for the start of term. We’d met our deadline!

    [JM] If you were to do it all again, what would be one thing you’d do differently?

    [MC] I’d definitely do it again – for us the biggest stalling point in the process was dealing with our contracts. If we could change one thing it would be to streamline that process so that we could get into the cloud quicker.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Network Management Webinars for education - coming up this month

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    We've had about 300 attendees so far for the first three webinars for educational network and IT managers, and we've got five more coming up on System Center for network management. Here's the next ones in the System Center series of webinars:

    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

    System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) lets you see how your IT system is running, from your servers right down to individual desktop computers enabling Operations and IT Management teams to identify, and resolve issues affecting the health of distributed IT services – before they become problems. SCOM can monitor both your Microsoft on non-Microsoft environments and therefore provide a unified solution across the entire campus.

    Microsoft partner Inframon will be presenting this session and will be available to answer any of your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 18th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Service Manager 2010

    System Center Service Manager is a Service Desk solution providing incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management. By unifying knowledge across the System Center suite, Service Manager helps you adapt to your eve changing network requirements while reducing cost and helping you fix problems quickly.

    This session, presented by our partner Silversands, will provide a good overview of the key functionality of the product – and give you chance to get your questions answered.

    Tuesday November 23rd 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 25th 10:30-11:30

    Windows InTune

    This webinar will give you a glimpse of the future of cloud based PC management. Windows InTune is currently in beta, and provides a cloud-based system that includes PC management, malware protection, windows upgrades and remote control. This could potentially be a great solution if you are managing a number of organisations, or distributed IT systems (for example, managing multiple outreach centres which aren't part of your core network infrastructure)

    Tuesday November 30th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday December 2nd 10:30-11:30

    Register for the series of webinars for education network managers

    You can register for the whole series, or individual live meetings here

    Learn MoreSign up here

     

    NB The System Center Configuration Manager 2007 session has been rescheduled - you can now register separately for the System Center Configuration Manager webcasts – 16th or 18th November between 2 and 3pm

     

    And there's a bonus for attending…
    Richard has also got his hands on a limited number of full DVD sets of the Microsoft Management Summit 2010, which include:
    • Keynotes
    • Breakout Tracks
    • Hands-on Lab manuals
    • Supporting Materials from Microsoft and Event Sponsors
    • Videos recorded during the even

    On each Live Meeting he'll be giving one set away to a random attendee - but you've got to be at the Live Meeting to get into the draw.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Need some support for deploying Windows 7?

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    Although I'm afraid I can't offer to send you a top-techie from Microsoft to help you with rolling out Windows 7 in your school, I can offer a good second best, thanks to the TechNet team. They got together with some of the product and support gurus on Windows 7, and created a big batch of videos on Windows 7  for IT Managers, containing very practical advice for people deploying Windows 7.

    Videos for IT Managers header

    There's a long list of topics covered in the E-Learning Series:

    • Preparing for Windows 7
    • Bare Metal Installation
    • USB Installation
    • Upgrading from Windows Vista
    • Migration From Windows XP to Windows 7
    • Creating a Dual-Boot System
    • Basic Windows 7 Deployment
    • Using Windows Deployment Services
    • Compatibility - Evaluation and Remediation
    • Offline Image Servicing
    • Configuring Devices in Windows 7
    • Configuring Internet Explorer 8
    • Software Restriction Policies
    • Network Connectivity
    • Accessing Local and Network Resources
    • Remote Management with Windows PowerShell
    • BitLocker and BitLocker To Go
    • DirectAccess
    • Offline Files

    You can view them all on the TechNet site, or download them for offline use or to view on your commute.

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