Monday, March 17, 2014

Azure PowerShell Cmdlets

Further to my article I posted last week, Over the weekend I read a nice article on 'Getting the Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlets. It's over on Michael Collier's blog, and explains how to get the cmdlets. To do this, the article explains, you navigate to the Windows Azure downloads page, click the link to “Install” the cmdlet, and let the Web Platform Installer (WebPI) do its thing.

Once installed, you have the Azure module which has hundreds of PowerShell cmdlets. You can use these to access and manage most of the Azure services. I really need to sit down and spend a few days getting to grips with these cmdlets! Tags: ,,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Azure Cmdlets

I've been playing a bit with Azure – dipping my toe into the waters, so to speak. As to be expected, there are a ton of cmdlets available to help you automate Azure management. On his blog article at:, Rick Claus (a Microsoft evangelist) takes a look at the Azure cmdlets and how to install them.

At present, you obtain the cmdlets by letting the Platform Installer install them. There does not appear to be a simpler way of getting them – maybe in the future. But in the mean time, Rick points out that updates to the Azure module can be obtained by re-running the Platform Installer. Personally – I would prefer the module to be available in a more automated fashion. Tags: ,

April 2014 PowerCamp Cancelled :-(

Sadly, I have to cancel the PowerCamp event scheduled for end April 2014. The event was scheduled to be held in Microsoft’s offices in London, but they have just informed me they are going to be carrying out maintenance on the building, This means we’ll have no air conditioning or power. Which makes it kind of impossible to run an event.

I am very sorry for those of you who have booked – I’ll organise a refund by the close of play today. I hope to run another event in the Autumn, and will announce it as soon as possible. Tags:

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Announcing PowerShell PowerCamp–April 26-27 2014 in London

With the winter of rain, hopefully now well behind us, it’s time to look forward. Both Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 now slowly pushing into organisations large and small the End of Life for Server 2003 and Windows XP are looming. Learning PowerShell is now, more than ever, something every IT Pro needs to do! While I say this ever year, it seems to me that learning PowerShell is now, more than ever, something every IT Pro needs to do! And one great way to get up to speed is via the PowerShell PowerCamp event!

Why Learn PowerShell?

I hear this question a lot – after all the GUI is so good, why bother with PowerShell? Well, for a start, PowerShell is now at the centre of Microsoft's manageability strategy. Every key component of Windows Server (and client for that matter) can be managed using PowerShell. The latest sets of cmdlets enable you do to more than ever before with PowerShell. At the end of the day, PowerShell provides reliable, robust and repeatable automation – and in these days of having to do more with less, that’s vital.

What is A PowerShell PowerCamp?
PowerCamp is a fast paced weekend training event that covers all the basic aspects of Windows PowerShell v4 - from the command line to writing production-oriented scripts. The focus is on smart IT Pros who know then need to learn PowerShell but can’t afford to take a week and take the standard Microsoft course. We package this up at a price that’s easily affordable.

On day 1, we start with the basics including configuration, formatting and providers, remoting and jobs. Then, on day 2, we look at scripting, work flows, managing script libraries using modules, WMI/CIM,  using objects, and finishing with the PowerShell features added into the latest versions of Windows.

The PowerCamp event is a combination of lecture, demonstrations plus Q&A, with the opportunity to type along with the tutor. There are no formal labs. But I do provide the key demos, all the slides, plus a wealth of other add on material on a memory stick you get at the start of day 1. So bring along your laptop, and type away. I use a set of VMs to demonstrate and you can bring along ones you made earlier so as to follow along as I demo.

What is the Agenda?
Day 1 – The Basics
• PowerShell Fundamentals – starting with the key elements of PowerShell (Cmdlets, Objects and the Pipeline) plus installation, setup, and profiles. I also call out some of the new features in PowerShell V4.
• Formatting – how to format output nicely – both by default and using hash tables and display XML
• Providers – getting into underlying OS data stores (certificate store, AD, registry, etc.) via providers
• Remoting and jobs– working with jobs plus working with remote systems using PowerShell’s remoting capabilities
Day 2 – Diving Deeper
• Scripting Concepts – automating everyday tasks including PowerShell’s language constructs, error handling and debugging and workflows
• Modules – managing PowerShell script libraries in the enterprise
• WMI and CIM – we look at the WMI and CIM components, including the new CIM cmdlets
• Using .NET and COM Objects – working with native objects
• PowerShell in Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 – a look at what’s there and how you can leverage the huge number of new cmdlets

And as we go, we always have time to take your questions and to show you how to overcome your issues with PowerShell!

What does it cost?
The cost is £200 (+VAT at the prevailing rate) for the weekend. Meals and accommodation are not covered. Should you book and have to cancel, that’s fine so long as you give at least two weeks notice – I understand that plans change. Refunds after that point are not, sadly, possible.

Where is the event going to take place?
The PowerShell PowerCamp is being held at Microsoft Cardinal Place, 100 Victoria Street in Victoria on the weekend of April 26/27 2014. Each day starts promptly at 09:00 and finishes up by 16:45. We’ll also take short breaks throughout the day, including a 1-hour lunch break.

After Saturday’s session, attendees are invited to a small nearby public house for some lovely English ale, etc. The first round is on me!

Who is the tutor?
The PowerShell Weekend PowerCamp is delivered by Thomas Lee. Thomas is a veteran PowerShell evangelist who has been involved in the PowerShell community since the very beginning. He provides training and consultancy around a range of Microsoft products, with a recent focus on PowerShell and Lync Server. In his spare time, he lives with his wife, daughter, wine cellar, and Grateful Dead live recordings collection in a small cottage in the English countryside. His Twitter handle is @DoctorDNS and he maintains two blogs (Under the Stairs at and PowerShell Scripts Blog at

What do I need to bring
You need to bring a laptop with PowerShell v4 loaded. That can be either native or in a virtual machine. I suggest you have at least two VMs pre-configured – one a server 2012 R2 installation the other a Windows 8.1 installation. The virtualisation software is not of concern – but you need 64-bit guest OS support for Server 2012 R2! Thus you can use Hyper-V, VMware Workstation or Oracle’s Virtual Box. Heck, run it in a VM on a Mac or Linux PC if you want. Just bring along PowerShell v4!

How do I book?
Contact to book a place and to arrange for the invoice to be paid. Payment must be in cash, cheque or bank transfer – I don’t take credit cards.

More Details
Watch this blog for any hot breaking news on the event.

Lync Server 2013 Virtualisation Whitepaper From Microsoft

Ever since Microsoft introduced Live Communications Server, customers have been asking how they can virtualize the product. During the OCS years, I constantly heard requests for support for Virtualisation. But the answer remained: no support. Eventually Microsoft did the work necessary to validate fully the product in a virtual environment. The result is that, today, you can fully virtualize both the Lync server and the Lync client product. But it’s not all that simple – virtualization just adds more opportunity for problems.

While many workloads are a great fit for virtualization, Lync is a real real-time application. As such, there can be performance related issues that are not even noticeable with other workloads. These issues manifest as poor audio and video resulting in a poor service to the user.

In a recently published White Paper, Lync Server 2013 Virtualization White Paper Microsoft provides full guidance for planning a Lync Server deployment in a virtual environment. The white paper descries how to configure Lync Server 2013 in a virtual environment, including both the host and the guest VMs. Also included are the most important Key Health Indicators (KHIs) that you should watch both when performing a capacity test prior to deploying, and later during deployment.

If you are planning a Lync deployment in a virtual environment or if you want to consider virtualizing part of your existing Lync infrastructure, you really should read this paper. Tags:

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lync and Windows Fabric

One of the major changes between Lync 2010 and Lync 2013 is the integration of Lync with Windows Fabric. Windows Fabric is described as ‘a Microsoft technology used for creating highly reliable, distributable an scalable applications’. Windows Fabric is designed to enable replication of application related data across multiple application servers. These application servers work in parallel to provide fault tolerance and scalability. Windows Fabric ensures the information needed for these applications is delivered reliably to each of the necessary servers.

Lync uses Windows Fabric to move information previously held in a back end database (and hence a bottleneck) to the front end servers. This eliminates the need for each Lync Front End server to use network resources to obtain application information – it’s available locally.

In the case of Lync, this change enables better scaling as well as providing resilience (a front end server can continue to work in the case of errors elsewhere in your network). While pretty much all of the complex stuff, with respect to Windows Fabric, is done auto-magically for you, it is important to understand what it’s doing, why and some of the issues arising.

One of key issues that arises from the integration of Windows Fabric and Lync is the recommendation of always having at least three ES servers in an ES pool. See for the details of this limitation.

For more information on the integration of Lync 2013 and Windows Fabric, see Richard Brynsteson’s post on the Mastering Lync blog. Tags: ,,

Monday, March 03, 2014

PowerShell Geek Week here we come

I’m off next week to Stockholm to deliver our sprig PowerShell Geek Week at LabCenter, Sweden’s top IT training firm. The idea of Geekweek is to both have fun and to learn more about PowerShell. Geekweek starts with a brief review of PowerShell – making sure you are fully up to speed with the fundamentals. Then we dive deep into the product showing you how you can leverage the power of PowerShell inside your organisations.

For more information about Geek Week – see the Lab Center page at And if you are going and you want any more information or want to ensure something is going to be covered, please feel free to ping me. Tags: ,

Missed the Lync Conference? Get the Sessions (using PowerShell)

Last week, Microsoft held their annual Lync Conference in Las Vegas. If you attended the conference, no doubt you missed some sessions – but all is not lost. If you were, like me, unable to go – all is not totally lost.

Superstar MVP Tom Arbuthnot has a script that will enable you to download all the sessions – PowerPoint's and videos. See Tom’s Blog for the PowerShell script to download sessions, along with some instructions on running it.

However: this script is currently only of use to attendees – those who did not attend will need to wait a while before Microsoft will release the material to a wider audience. As soon as I hear that this is available, I’ll blog it! Tags:

Editing Your Host File

On Windows systems that use TCP/IP, you have a host file (c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts). This file contains hard coded IP addresses for hosts that Windows puts into the DNS Client Cache.Thus it can resolve these host names without having to a DNS lookup. This also means you can over ride the IP address look for the host should you want to.

One issue involved, as Shay Levy points out, is that you need an elevated editor to edit the hosts file. That typically means editing the file, realising you were running Notepad from a non elevated PowerShell window, then re-running PowerShell, rerunning notepad, re-doing the edits, etc.

Shay, in a recent blog post, offers a clever fix – a function that edits the Hosts file, but runs notepad elevated. A neat function. It also has another advantage: you need to type less characters (and you don't need to remember where the hosts file is stored!).

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