System Center 2012 SP1 now available

Late December, Microsoft released System Center 2012  Service Pack 1 on TechNet and MSDN and is available to download if you have access to either site.  It will be generally available over the next couple of weeks.

So what’s the big deal?  Well. we now get management support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows  8. Without this service pack, there’s no management support for those operating  systems in System Center 2012 which was rather frustrating considering we have had Windows 8 and Server 2012 available to us for some time now.

We also have the ability to manage mobile devices with SP1 . The list of devices that can be managed with the service  pack in place includes Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, Windows Phone 8 smartphones,  Windows To Go memory sticks, Windows Embedded Standard 8 devices and Mac OS X  client devices.

I am sure we will see other announcements with regards to MDM (Mobile Device Management) over the fore coming weeks. One exciting feature Microsoft has hinted at is some licensing changes to come associated with Windows Intune, the cloud based Management Platform. We are hoping that Windows Intune users will gain the rights to use System Center 2012  Configuration Manager. Windows Intune is set for an “early 2013”  update.

Some other noticeable improvements are expected with SP1 including:

  • PowerShell’s  automation capabilities in System Center Configuration Manager 2012 will be  able to be tapped.
  • The ability to move virtual machines from on-premises  environments to Windows Azure will be enabled in System Center 2012 Virtual  Machine Manager.
  • System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager will  support the Windows Azure Online Backup Service.

Finally, SP1 is an important product release due to the fact that many of  Microsoft’s partner-built applications are waiting on it. An example of this is the management  products built by hardware partners on Windows Server 2012, such as  HP and Dell, depend on the release of SP1.


Lync Server 2013 Exams – 70-336

Some of us have just passed our Lync Server 2013 Exams:

70-336 – Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013
70-337 – Enterprise Voice & Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013

Here are some handy links to articles which you should go through before attempting the exams:

Address Book
Broadcast Messages
Call Admission Control
Call Park Settings
Certificate Requirements
Client Policies and Settings
Dial-in Conferencing
Event Viewer Logging
Filtering Instant Messages
Hardware Load Balancers
Limiting User Contacts
Local Configuration Store
Location Services
Mediation Server
Response Groups
Reverse Proxy
Role-Based Access Control
Schema Preparation
Testing Lync with Synthetic Transactions
Updating Devices
Voice Mail Policies
Voice Policies
Voice Routes
Voice Route Testing

Good luck.

Lync Server 2013 – CU December 2012 – Music on Hold

Microsoft released CU December 2012 for Lync Phone Edition on 21st December. Now whilst most people are on holiday I thought I would quickly blog what this CU brings to the table. The latest Lync Phone Edition firmware is for both Lync Server 2010 and Lync Server 2013.

The software is now called Lync Phone Edition and works with both 2010 and 2013 editions. The biggest thing we have been waiting for in Lync Serve is MOH (Music on Hold). AT LAST WE HAVE IT. However, not for the CX800 or LG-Nortel 8540 which I am gutted about considering 90% of our phones throughout our entire estate are these models, the reason is due to the lack of memory in the older phones :-(. Some of us do have the new CX600’s but I doubt management will replace the £400 CX700’s just for this feature. Also note you cannot customize the MOH file as it is static.

Here’s the links:

Product Version



Lync Phone Edition [Polycom CX700 and LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540] 4.0.7577.4363


MS download

Lync Phone Edition [Polycom CX500, CX600, and CX3000] 4.0.7577.4366


MS download

Lync Phone Edition [Aastra 6721ip and 6725ip] 4.0.7577.4366


MS download

Lync Phone Edition [HP 4110 and 4120] 4.0.7577.4366


MS download

So how do you update you Lync Phones?  First, download the EXE files then extract them to someone on your Front End Servers, something like c:\updates this is extract the file which we can then deploy by running the following command:

Import-CsDeviceUpdate -Identity Service:WebServer:lyncfrontend.domain.local -FileName C:\updates\

Now go into the Lync Control Panel and approve the updates for the devices:


Hey presto, its done.  Now wait, it does take a while.  You can manually reboot the phones and just leave them inactive and they will eventually update (ive never actually worked out what the criteria is as some do it straight away some take upto 24 hours in the real world) however you can check the states by looking at the logs in C:\inetpub\logs\LogFiles\W3SVC<randomID>

Happy MOH, oh and Christmas.






Whats new in Hyper-V 3 (Windows Server 2012)

Our whole server infrastructure has now finally been migrated to Server 2012 (with the exception of one or two legacy apps on Server 2008 R2). We are continually asked by delegates and customers what are the advantages of HV 3. Well here’s some of our favourites:

1. Virtual Workload Platform Improvements – hosts can support upto 320 logical processors and up to 4 TB of memory per physical machine. VM’s can be configured with up to 64 vCPUs and 1 TB of memory, a massive increase from the previous version’s 4 vCPUs and 8 GB of memory.

2. New Virtual Hard Disk File Format – VDX file format supports up to a 16 TB virtual hard drive. (Note do not mix file formats with Exchange DAG’s it fails!!)

3. Hyper-V Replica – Built-in feature to asynchronously replicate VMs from one host to another over a standard IP network. Configured at the VM level so you can choose which machines are important. Similar to VMware vSphere Fault Tolerance but why would you use that its not Microsoft (Sorry guys). Basically it tracks write operations on the source machine and replicates them to the the “replica” VM keeping them sync’d.

4. NIC Teaming – Windows Server 2012 provides options to configure: switch independent, static teaming and Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP).

5. Failover Clustering – Support not for 64 nodes and 4,000 VMs.

6. Concurrent Live Migrations – Previously only one live migration was supported at a time. The administrator can define the maximum amount and should be configured to the available bandwidth between the different hosts.

7. Dynamic Memory – Not really new but now has the option to enable it during the “New Virtual Machine Wizard”.

8. Storage Live Migration – This is now built-in to the Hyper-V Manager therefore no longer requiring System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Quick Storage Migration. This functionality enables moving or migrating a VM without any downtime from one storage system to another and not requiring a SAN or shared storage.

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

Here’s some interesting Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts for you

1. Windows Key + C: Displays Charms menu.

2. Windows Key + X: Brings up a menu of advanced system options, including Windows Control Panel, Command Prompt, Task Manager and File Explorer.

3. Windows Key + I: Displays the Settings menu for the current app. For example, if you’re in Internet Explorer 10, this key shows Internet options. If you’re on the Start menu, it shows general OS settings.

4. Windows Key + Q: Brings up the apps search menu that allows you to search your list of installed programs.

5. Windows Key + D: Activates desktop mode.

6. Windows Key + Tab: Brings up the Task Switcher and toggles between Windows 8-style apps.

7. Windows Key + H: Brings up Share menu for the current app. For example, hitting Windows Key + H in Bing Maps, lets you email or share map information on social networks.

8. Windows Key + M: Opens desktop mode and minimizes all windows.

9. Windows Key + W: Opens universal search menu and sets it to search settings.

10. Windows Key + F: Opens universal search menu and sets it to search files.

11. Windows Key + R: Opens Run menu where you can launch programs by typing in their executable file names.

12. Windows Key + E: Opens File Explorer to the “My Computer” view which shows all your drives.

13. Windows Key +Number Key (1-9): Switch to desktop mode and make the Nth application on the task bar active where N is the number key you hit and 1 is the furthest taskbar icon to the left.

14. Windows Key + . (period key): Docks the current Windows 8-style application to the right or left, depending on how many times you hit it.

15. Windows Key + Z: Brings up app menu, which shows contextual options for the active app.

Lync Phones Rebooting on POE Switch

Having just completed an implementation of Lync Server 2013 with the EV Side utilising Polycom CX500, CX600, and CX3000 phones as well as some Aries. In addition to the new phone hardware, we also upgraded the Switches to Cisco Catalyst 3750 which supports the LLDP-MEP option for VLAN segregation (rather than using the DHCP scope options).

So all is good until a few days into the project where as soon as a user started to use their PC the phone would reboot which was very strange. This was only happening on the Aries phones initially. To cut a long story short the power saving modes of the Aries Phones and a PoE/LLDP-MEP currently has an issue. There are three stages of power on the phones, full, idle, and sleep. When the phones were jumping from sleep to full as soon as the user touches their PC. The solution was simple – disable LLDP-MEP on the Cisco switches globally and add the DHCP options to assign the voice VLAN. As soon as we did this we had no more problems.