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Book review : Cloud Computing Concepts, Technology & Architecture

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Title: Cloud Computing Concepts, Technology & Architecture
Number of pages: 
528
ISBN: 9780133387520
Released
May 2013

My opinion:

The book is well written, is vendor neutral, covers both business and IT aspects and contains many great diagrams. It also has a lot of useful references to external resources.
What I disliked, is that because of the vendor neutral approach some aspects are relatable enough (especially for people that don’t have a lot of working experience). I feel the book would have benefitted by providing more real-life examples of products or services.

The book is a good start for experienced people and will especially come in handy as a reference when getting involved in cloud computing projects. It will help understand vendor specific products and services better.

I would recommend people that are new to cloud computing (or that have very limited working experience) to first read a cloud essentials book like the one from Sybex before reading this book though.

To take a look at the book and its content, you can visit the book’s companion website: http://servicetechbooks.com/cloud

 

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Book review : Cloud Essentials – CompTIA Authorized Courseware for Exam CLO-001

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Introduction

For those who haven’t read my previous blog posts, here’s a short summary. About 1,5 – 2 years ago I decided that I wanted to know more about cloud computing and get certified as well. I used freely available resources to attain these certifications:

In short, my conclusion was that the quality of the freely available resources were not sufficient. ITpreneurs were kind enough to provide me with access to their e-learning course and Train Signal (now Pluralsight) provided me with their video training. Reviews for both can be found here:

Even though both resources are good, I personally prefer a book over eLearning and video training. As such I picked up a copy of “Cloud Essentials : CompTIA Authorized Courseware for Exam CLO-001

Review

Number of pages: 268
ISBN: 978-1-118-40873-5
Released
: June 2013

My opinion:

The book is well written and knows to provide a very good basis of cloud computing both technical and non-technical. Even though the number of pages is limited, the most important aspects are covered in my opinion, which should be enough to provide insight and to pass the Exin and Comptia cloud exams.

What I disliked are some of the questions at the end of the book, because they are sometimes a bit strange. But as far as I can remember, this was also the case in the official exams … so better get used to it if you are going to get certified.

All in all, this is a very good book to get started with cloud computing.

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Cloud, ICT, Learning, Private cloud, Public Cloud

 

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ICT – Great article by Paul Simoneau about ICT challenges including suggestions to deal with them

As an ICT professional I believe working in ICT can be very challenging. Paul Simoneau wrote a great article about current and future challenges including suggestions to deal with them.

The challenges covered in the article are: new technology, cloud, big data analytics, virtualization, Bring Your Own Device/Apps (BYOD/BYOA), shadow IT, new generations of workers, energy  efficiency, user systems, creating value, interoperability and social networks.

I wanted to share this article because I feel it reflects reality very well.

 

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Cloud – ITpreneurs CCC Professional Cloud Solutions Architect course

At the beginning of September I had the opportunity to attend the first ever Cloud Credential Council (CCC) Professional Cloud Solutions Architect (PCSA) course from ITpreneurs. The trainer was Mark Skilton and I really loved the training. But before telling you more about my experience, I’ll first first explain both the certification and the course in a bit more detail.

What is the CCC Professional Cloud Solutions Architect (PCSA) certification and who is it for ?

The PCSA certification is a globally recognized certification for technology architects. Solution Architects need to understand the impact that cloud is having on business and information architecture, application design, data management and security architecture and be very familiar with the topology and ecosystems that are being created as a result of increasing adoption of cloud technologies and operating models The certification is designed for senior technology professionals who are architecting and designing the future generation of technology solutions. Being PCSA-certified showcases your cloud architecting experience, skills and knowledge, and demonstrates you are capable to manage the various stakeholders within the enterprise. For more information, please take a look at the website: http://www.cloudcredential.org/en/certifications/professional-level/cloud-solutions-architect

What is the ITpreneurs CCC Professional Cloud Solutions Architect (PCSA) course ?

The ITpreneurs CCC PCSA course is a 3-day instructor led course that provides attendees with the required knowledge and skills for the CCC Professional Cloud Solutions Architect (PCSA) certification. The course material was created by lead author Mark Skilton and peer reviewers Vladimir Baranek and RajaGopalan Varadan. For more information, contact ITpreneurs and/or take a look at the course description: http://www.itpreneurs.com/cloud/CCC-courses/cloud-solutions-architect-VCC1310-itpreneurs.pdf

My experiences with and opinion about the ITpreneurs CCC PCSA course

Like I said at the beginning, I really loved the CCC PCSA course because:

  • It covers an important current topic that I believe will become even more important in the future.
  • The course materials are very complete and of great quality.
  • There’s a good balance between theoretical and practical knowledge.
  • The cases are mini workshops that force you to apply your knowledge, which provides more insight. They are also consistent with cases from previous cloud courses from ITpreneurs.
  • There is a lot of interaction between the trainer and the students.
  • Mark Skilton presented the course with a lot of enthusiasm and modified the course content on the go to focus more on the interests of the audience. 

One of the difficult parts of cloud computing is that it’s a very broad definition. As such, different interpretations and explanations are used for the same word/technology by different people and companies. So during the course there were some discussions. I thought this was good, because this will happen in real-life as well. It also stresses the importance of clear definitions and verifying correct understanding of all involved parties.

The special version of the course I attended was only two days, while the regular course will be three days. Since there was so much information to take in and because there were many discussions, the two days unfortunately weren’t enough to cover everything. ITpreneurs and Mark Skilton modified the course on the fly to cover the most important things, but I would have loved to go into more detail during the course if there had been time. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, but since the course materials are of great quality I’ll be reading them at home instead.

As always there’s room for improvement. Our class provided a lot of feedback that Mark Skilton and ITpreneurs took to heart. They seemed to be really committed to improving the course so I expect the course to become even better since the course materials are currently being reassessed and restructured.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my course experience. For those interested in it, I added some more information about ITpreneurs and the Cloud Credential Council at the end of this blog post.

Thanks

I’d like to thank Corjan Bast and ITpreneurs for providing me with the opportunity to attend this course free of charge. I also want to thank Mark Skilton and all other great people involved in this course for their participation, valuable input and hard work.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Powershell – Recording of ‘The Case for PowerShell: Why To Learn-PowerShell So You Needn’t Leave-Industry’

Last week Mark Minasi presented a webinar made possible by http://www.learnit.com called:
“The Case for PowerShell: Why To Learn-PowerShell So You Needn’t Leave-Industry”.
The recording can be found here.

In this webinar he explains why ICT administrators need to be(come) familiar with PowerShell. He also explains the basic principles of PowerShell to help lower the threshold for people that have been shying away from command line interfaces (CLI) and scripting in the past. He does this by explaining how PowerShell is different from by example the CLI and Visual Basic Scripting (VBS).

I share his opinion about the necessity to learn PowerShell and therefore I hope I can help spread the message.

You can keep track of Mark Minasi by following him at Twitter: https://twitter.com/mminasi (@mminasi).

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Microsoft – RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 now available for MSDN and Technet subscribers

Even though it seemed for a while that MSDN and Technet subscribers would not get early access to the latest Windows versions, Microsoft decided to listen to customer feedback and reconsidered.

As a result, they just made the RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 available for MSDN and Technet subscribers. General availability for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is still October 18. For the official statement, read this blog post.

Personally I’m very stoked about Server 2012 R2 and I’m already running the preview version. I especially love the improvements on Hyper-V and de-duplication. For more information about new and improved functionality, take a look at the free e-book : Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Release.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Microsoft – Troubleshooting Key Management Service (KMS) activation

Today I helped a colleague troubleshoot a couple of systems were unable to activate using Key Management Service (KMS). Basically for this situation it boiled down to this:

Determine for the KMS service

  1. Which server is hosting the KMS service.If an SRV record has been added for KMS DNS auto discovery, run from CMD: nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  2. If the server hosting the KMS is functioning correctly:
  • Check if the server is up and running.
  • Check if the “Software Protection” service (sppsvc) is running.
  • Verify if the KMS service is listening on port 1688: telnet localhost 1688
  • Verify the KMS status. Run from CMD: slmgr.vbs /dli
  • Verify if a KMS key is installed and activated.
  • Verify if the minimum threshold for activation is being met.
  • Verify if other clients are able to activate using KMS. Even though the output of “slmgr.vbs /dli” gives you an indication, you can use the “Volume Activation Management Tool” (VAMT) for more insight and functionality.
  • Verify that a VLK key is being used.

For clients that are not able to activate

  • Verify if the correct KMS server can be resolved correctly:
    nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  • Verify if the KMS can be contacted:
    telnet <KMS FQDN or IP> 1688

    •  If this is not the case, perform a traceroute to determine potential causes. Reasons could include:
      • No default gateway configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • No route configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • Firewall on the client is blocking the traffic.
      • Firewall on the server is blocking the traffic.
      • If it is a VM, the virtual network might be misconfigured.
      • Routing on the network is not correct.
      • Firewall on the network is blocking traffic.
  • Clear any previous (mis)configuration: slmgr.vbs /ckms
  • Attempt activation: slmgr.vbs /ckms

NOTE: If you have lots of systems where you need to clear configuration and then attempt activation, you can also perform slmgr.vbs on remote computers using:
slmgr.vbs TargetComputerName [username] [password] /parameter [options]

Additional information

If you haven’t been able to resolve the issue, you might want to take a look here:

 

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TechNet subscriptions will be retired, last week to get or renew a subscription.

As you might have already read by now in my previous post, TechNet subscriptions are going to disappear. For more info take a look at this blog post and the Subscriptions retirement FAQ.

This is just a reminder that you have until August 31 to buy a last year of technet.

You might also want to backup existing keys and files:
http://www.zdnet.com/five-things-every-technet-subscriber-needs-to-do-before-time-runs-out-7000017687/

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Network, Windows 2012

 

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Sample ICT troubleshooting process flowchart

Troubleshooting can be very difficult and there are many different approaches and personal preferences. Also the chosen approach can even differ based on the situation.

Even though there is no troubleshooting process that is  best in all situations, it is considered a good practice to troubleshoot in a structured manner.

This is why I’ve created a sample ICT troubleshooting flowchart in Visio for companies that:

  • Have separate dedicated management teams for various IT disciplines like Windows, Linux/Unix, Database, Backup, Storage, Virtualization and Applications.
    • Have both offshore and onshore IT personnel where all tickets are initially routed to the offshore team.
  • Uses a ticketing system:
    • To log events, incidents, changes, problems, etc.
    • To route tickets to various disciplines.
  • Use a CMDB.
  • Use a change calendar.

Keep in mind that this is a sample troubleshooting flowchart that was only created to provide some structure or inspiration for troubleshooting.

I hope it is useful. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please leave a message.

PS: If you don’t have Visio, you can download Microsoft Visio Viewer 2013 from Microsoft.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft

 

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Home LAB Setup guide – 07 Make your lab available over the internet

In the first part of this LAB setup guide, I described the hardware selection process.
In the second part, I described the hypervisor selection and installation.
In the third part, I described VM guest considerations and preparations.
In the fourth part, I described Configuring Server 2012 VM as DC with DNS and DHCP using PowerShell
In the fifth part, I described easily creating (many) proper AD users with PowerShell
In the sixth part, I described creating a local PowerShell v3 Help Repository with PowerShell

In this post I will describe how you can make your lab available over the internet.

When you’ve created your home LAB, you want to be able to use it anywhere. Depending on your situation, one of these options probably best meets your needs.

Examples include the use of:

  1. Remote desktop connection to your server
    + Easy to configure (enable on server and configure NAT forwarding if appropriate)
    – On many enterprise or public networks TCP3389 is blocked by the firewall.
    – Connects only to specific server. Even though you access the rest of the network from there.
  2. VPN connection to your network
    • Using your hardware router
      + Connection to network, not just a server.
      – No dependency on Windows Server
    • Using Windows Server 2008 / 2012
      + SSTP VPN (TCP443), is generally not blocked on enterprise/public networks.
      + Connection to network, not just a server.
      – Dependency on Windows server.
      – Requires more configuration.
      – The root CA certificate for the certification authority (CA) that issued the server authentication certificate needs to be into the store Local Computer\Trusted Root Certification Authorities. For a self-signed certificate, this means that you need to have local admin permissions to add it.Note: DirectAccess is a great feature, but it requires the client to be a member of the domain. And in my case this would limit where I can connect from, therefore I don’t plan to use it. For other situations it might be a better solution though.
  3. Using 3rd party tools like logmein, teamviewer or VNC
    + Connects only to specific computer.

Since I want to be able to connect from within enterprise environments as well, I chose to use SSTP VPN in Windows Server 2012. The basic steps you have to perform, include:

  1. On the server, you have to install and configure the VPN service.
  2. On the server or your own PKI, you would want create and install a machine certificate. You can create a Certificate Signing Request and request a 3rd party public certificate. Alternatively you can create a certificate using your own Certificate Authority, or you could create a self-signed certificate, For creating the self-signed certificate you can use the great PluralSight SelCert tool.
  3. On the client, you have to make sure the created certificate will be trusted. This means you have to add the certificate to local system\trusted root certificate authority if you’re using a self-signed certificate, which requires local administrator permissions on the client.
  4. On the client, you have to set-up the VPN connection to the server. Preferably you want to connect by DNS name. For your home lab you can also utilize dynamic DNS services like by example no-ip.com or alternative solutions.

For some more information, you can also take a look at this:

 

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