The Virtual Labs using the Windows Server 2008 R2 is a good experience. I felt in control while using the Virtual Labs, in other words it is designed in a very contemporary way and coupled with the R2 there was no uncomfortable wait counting down in seconds after clicking on a choice. Some of the reviews have called this feeling when using the application as having a ‘tighter feel.’ I did some exploring of what was online in other parts of the Virtual Lab.
I did not stop to shrink the view so that I could see the entirety of the bottom tool bar which was a mistake. I could only see half of the bottom tool bar, I knew what was there but I do not have the habit of use this software application so I clicked the wrong icon, instead of directly clicking on to the server manager. I downloaded the Introduction to System Centre 2012 Configuration Manual SP1 when I downloaded the application. So one of the reasons I kept hitting the wrong icon at the bottom of the page was because the configuration manual said to look for “large bars” on the left bottom and click those for access to Assets and Compliance, the Software Library, the Monitoring workspace. Sometimes icons should be given names instead of schematics. ‘Serv. Mgr.’ should fit on an icon button for example. I had difficulty opening the Assets and Compliance workspace so I opened the program files, started again, clicked on autorun. After that I had access to everything. From the new management features the Windows PowerShell 2.0 kept opening when I clicked on its icon by mistake. I started thinking about how much easier having it, no so much about the new short commands which I didn’t try out, but because writing demands in a familiar script is a real plus. But this was also confusing since one of the ways Server Core was streamlined was to not include the Windows Explorer PowerShell. I started from the beginning again to make sure I was at the right ‘event’ site and started the assigned exercises from there.
Exercise 1. The Best Practices Analyzer scans definitely save time.
The amount of roles and the complexities of roles made something like this application necessary. When farms of servers are used then the process of checking for errors in the configuration of each server is very expensive if an operator is expected to do the work. On the other hand the Best Practices analysis scans seemed very fast especially compared to having to manually accomplish the same task. The toolset was fine to use; no problems were identified. The trick to using the Best Practices Analyzer in my estimation is absolutely staying on top of every update. As best practices change the changes need to be downloaded immediately so the application is always up to the minute. If downloads are done in a timely way the BPA is great to have; if updates are ignored than the practicality of have the application is zero. Two main advantages seem to be evident: (a) decreased costs due to decreased operator time and (b) opportunity to stay on top of all changes that occur in the BPA regulations.
Exercise 2. Improving the scalability of Web servers: IIS, ASP.net & Server Core
IIS (Internet Information Services) is good for managing large numbers of Web servers from one location. But with the scalability advantages remotely managing some of the tasks with IIS manager should be easier especially for users who manage by using a particular script and also for those who are more comfortable using the command-lets (cmdlets). The larger the web farm that needs to be managed the more helpful scalability becomes.
No problems were encountered doing the first part of Excercise 2. I practiced choosing features from DISM/Online/Get-Features | More with no problems occurring. The process is very easy to use and user friendly. DISM could be very cumbersome and slow but everything worked well. The technet site for Microsoft explains that DISM is a command line tool which is the acronym for Deployment Image Servicing and Management. This command line tool saves time and effort when wanting to retrieve information about .wim (Windows Image files) and VHDs virtual hard discs so the technet page suggests the application should now work better because it replaces ImageX.
The ASP.net can now be run without the “full installation of Windows Server” according to the explanation in Exercise 2 of the manual. This must mean that the Windows Server 2008 R2 has also been ‘scaled down’ or somehow designed to work more compatible with ASP.net which is very good in terms of size and time. The good thing is that the Server Core makes the ASP.NET easier to access even though the amount of resources available with ASP.NET is so large. Perhaps because the Server Core is streamlined and has fewer resources, the ASP.NET with its large amount of resources can work more quickly.
When working through the exercise I was concerned because a warning icon appeared but the manual explained that the warning was due to a “self signed certificate (which) is the default certificate for remote management.” The warnings are obvious and do their job fine. After typing in HTTP://DEN-Core-01 then clicked OK. ASP.NET opened. I then practiced highlighting menu bar items that seemed interesting. I then pointed out that these items linked to ASPX pages per the instructions with no problem.
I did encounter a few problems when I first started working on this assignment. Microsoft Word has many Virtual Labs not only for programmers and developers but for other areas also. The problems I encountered were because I did not open the correct Virtual Lab because I was probably trying to find the place to download to quickly without focusing well on what I had requested from the website. I took a brief detour into the Virtual Lab Maths Lab but that was good practice probably and was interesting. In terms of being able to offer a helpful review or recommendation on the software application I do not feel that I have learned enough. The assignment was worthwhile though. I learned more about the resources available from Microsoft Word for example. The exercises for the assignment ‘Windows Server 2008 R2: Best Practices Analyzers, IIS, ASP.NET and Server Core’ were very straightforward, well-designed and easy to follow. This was a good introduction or first step to learning about the relationship between Windows Server 2008 R2 and the applications that have been added.