Windows Tablet Computers

With the release of Windows 8 Microsoft has also launched 2 tablet computer offerings. They are Windows Surface with RT and Windows Surface with Windows 8 Professional.

Windows Surface RT

This version of the tablet can be ordered directly from Microsoft. It can be ordered in three different versions. The $499 version comes without a keyboard and 32 GB of storage, $599 version that comes with a Keyboard and a $699 version that comes with a keyboard and with 64 GB of storage. You can also order different colored Keyboards.

This tablet also includes a version of Microsoft Office with a few restrictions; it can only legally be used as a student or a home user. If you are using it as part of a business, you will need to either have Office Live 365 of a copy of corporate Microsoft Office.

The display is not as nice as the current IPAD 3 with retina. It has a 920×1080 208 PPI screen, while the IPAD 3 has a 2048×1536 264 PPI.

I have ordered one of these to test it out and also to make available to clients who would like to see it and demo it.

Windows Surface With Windows 8 PRO

This is expected to be released within 3 months and will include the ability to run Windows applications. It can be a direct replacement for the Windows 8 desktop. It includes a higher resolution screen and also includes more memory.

Final Thoughts

It will be interesting to see how functional these tablets are and if than can be a viable desktop replacement. The IPAD is a great device for data viewing, but not data input. These devices from Microsoft might change that.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

When was the last time you have tested your backup. Have you ever performed a drill to test how quickly it would take you to recover? Recently, I was headed out on a vacation and a client had a disaster with a SAN crash. After calling the SAN Vendor, we discovered the data was corrupted.

What we had to do next was start data restores. It was a perfect test of the disaster plan. We had the luck of the SAN crashing on a Friday and we had the majority of the weekend to recover. In this scenario we had about 15 servers to restore and we were able to get them all restored with the exception of one.

After this event, it got me to thinking on how many people could have recovered this quickly and I can offer some tips on why this went so well.

Bare Metal Backups.

This feature alone saved so much time. We had the ability to boot up with a CD and restore the C:\ drive of all of the servers. This saved us from having to reload the OS and do all of the patching and configuring.  This saved hours if not days of times. One thing we could have improved on this is ensuring that we had the iso files created for each server. This is an important feature that every backup system should have.

Disk based Backup.

After the bare metal backups where restored, when then proceeded to restore the data. Since all of this was online and available, we did not have to worry about which tape it was one. We had the ability to restore both Microsoft Windows databases and also files. We also had the ability to restore up to 8 jobs at a time, which also saved considerable time.

VMWARE

Since most of these servers where virtual, I did not need to be onsite. I could do the entire server rebuilding remotely. I did most of this being at least 2 states away with a VPN connection and with no one being onsite. I was able to create Virtual Machines and also load up the ISO file to begin the Bare Metal Restore.

Since the SAN crashed, the VMWARE servers had enough disk space to handle all of the virtual machines.

Redundant Systems

Since the SAN is the weak link with VMWARE, we designed the network to include some redundant systems. The first and foremost thing we did is make sure we had redundant physical servers for key systems. Microsoft Exchange, Windows File Servers and domain controller services all had a redundant server and allowed the client to maintain most of its business critical functions. A few departments had applications that were not available, but it was only for a handful of users and these applications did not warrant a redundant system.

This is also an import part of a good overall disaster recovery and business uptime. If you can create redundant systems in a different physical location, you can save yourself stress and your company downtime.

Lessons Learned

The first lesson is to make sure you test your backup system and ensure that all of the system can be recovered. We had one system that did not restore correctly and we choose to rebuild it rather than restore it. We had to get the vendor on the phone to get it corrected.

The second lesson is to make sure you have a good list of server’s names and IP addresses. We had a few servers that had IP addresses documented incorrectly and it caused issues during the recovery process.

The third lesson has to do with Domain Controllers. Windows domain controllers have a feature that detects what is called USN rollback.

TBJ Monthly Word Find

Solve Our Word Find And You Could Win a $25 Dollar Gift Card

We have these simple rules:

  • One entry per person per month
  • One winner each month
  • Contest Closes on November 29th, 2012

All entries with correct answers will be entered into a Random draw that will determine the winner.

You can submit your crossword puzzle:

Correct answers will be featured in the TBJ Newsletter.

Gadget of the Month –MotoSpeak

I recently purchased a Bluetooth device and it comes with a need app that allows you to speak to send texts and also allows you to read text messages. I have tried it out and I like it. It is only available for Android Operating systems.

With the number of people I see driving; this is a very nice and useful application and might save your life.

Are you advertising to Criminals to steal from you?

The next time you think about “Checking In” with Facebook or Tweeting about your vacation, don’t. Burglars are now using social media sites to target homes when people are away on vacation, business or just out to dinner.

One such web site, PleaseRobMe.com, swears they never intended to encourage burglars; however, this site pulls information from social networking sites like Twitter, Foursquare and Google Buzz to expose how much information criminals can easily learn about you online.

The Dutch developers, Barry Borsboom, Boy van Amstel and Frank Groeneveld say they like social networking, but that their goal is to shine a giant spotlight on the dangerous side effects of location sharing. Regardless of their intention, our recommendation is to keep your location private.

Final Thought of the month – Tablets and Apple Computers

With the flood of consumer devices and also the popularity of Apple devices you might have to start thinking about connecting these devices to your network.

You first need to consider what devices you are going to allow and if your current applications can be supported on these devices. If you do not have a good way to get applications to these devices, it might not make sense to support these devices on your network.

You also need to consider the security implications of allowing these devices, since these might be employee owned. You also need to consider if you are going to allow files to be stored on these devices and if that data needs to be encrypted.

You also need to consider how you are going to provide support for these devices. Are you going to have your IT department support these devices or it is going to be something that they need to support?

With Apple Computers, they have the native ability to connect to a Windows network for both files and also for printing.

If you need to connect Apple devices or tablets to applications, you should look at software such as Citrix or 2x. These give you the ability to run Windows Applications on a various platforms.

The day will come when you will need to support these devices. Make sure you have a clear plan on how you are going to support them and what you are going to support. It will make your life easier in the long run.