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IT Managed Services

Windows Server 2016 – What is Storage Spaces Direct?

Storage Spaces Direct enables the use of locally attached storage drives to create high-available and scalable storage at a small cost compared to traditional SAN or NAS technology.

It essentially will allow administrators to create a highly available storage solution using the local disks of clustered server nodes, accessed over Ethernet, and manage this at the operating system layer, bringing the controller technology of storage devices such as SANs to the operating system. The storage pools that can span across multiple servers, configured by the operating system will include cache, tiers and resiliency. Storage Spaces Direct builds in fault tolerance, which means that your environment can continue to operate if a disk or even an entire node goes offline.

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RDS Graphics Performance in Windows Server 2016

With increasing internet speeds and more organisation moving their entire operating environment to the cloud, the demand to deliver solutions for graphics intensive applications on a remote desktop has never been higher.


Microsoft has made some significant improvements and enhancements in this area. Firstly, using RemoteFX, RDS 2016 offers support for OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1, required by modern graphics and 3D applications. Previously, RemoteFx only supported DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 1.1

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Server 2016 RDS Personal-Session Desktops

Windows Server 2016 RDS will offer a new deployment model. Windows 2012 R2 had two options for RDS deployment; the first was Session-Based Desktop Deployments which is a Terminal Server based approach to RDS, the second Virtual Machine-Based Deployment where each user runs a dedicated virtual machine based on a client operating system (Windows 10 for example).

Personal Session Desktops has been introduced in Windows Server 2016. Essentially a hybrid of the two native deployment options in 2012 R2, it will enable VM’s running Windows Server 2016 to be assigned to specific users, similar to a VM-Based Deployment, however running a server-based operating system rather than client OS.

Why is this important?

Azure…. Personal Session Desktops allows cloud based desktops hosted in Azure to become a reality. By using Server 2016 Desktops with Desktop Experience feature (essentially turning the look and feel into Windows 10), you can now deliver a cloud based desktop over the Azure platform. As Azure cannot control Hypervisors and you cannot license clients in a VDI scenario, this was not previously possible.

SPLA licensing….. Microsoft does not allow SPLA licensing to be used for Windows client operating systems in a hosted delivery mode. However, with Server 2016 RDS deployed in Personal Session Desktops mode, SPLA licensing can be applied to the clients (as it is essentially a server OS).

Mobile Technology Usage – looking forward….

Mobile technology continues to rapidly evolve and this will have an ongoing impact on the delivery of IT services. With an increasing number of organisations adopting BYOD and CYOD strategies, it has become critical for IT Departments to understand changes in technology that will impact and drive individual’s preference and use of mobile devices. This article will highlight some usage estimates and identify 7 expected changes that will impact individual using mobile technology over the next 5 years…

Table 1 highlights some key findings in this area. The complete report can be found here:



Table 1: Adapted from the Cisco VNI Mobile Forecast (Cisco, 2016)

7 Expected Changes that may impact an individual using smartphone, tablet and IoT devices over the next 5 years…

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The business case for Hosted Exchange

A large amount of organizations have been moving to hosted email solutions. Hosted exchange can be considered a relatively tried and tested way to push services to the cloud, and this, as well as the complexities and costs of managing email systems internally has contributed to the popularity of this cloud service. There are many paths one can take to move to a hosted exchange platform; Microsoft Office 365, Google, your service provider, ISP solutions and cloud service providers all offer varying hosted email services.

Hosted Exchange is a remotely managed 3rd party vendor provided solution to a business’s email needs charged on a monthly per mailbox / user fee. It negates the need to have your own exchange server and the maintenance that goes with it. Different offerings will have different feature sets such as mailbox size, archiving option, additional storage, and discovery and management tools. It is important to note that we are not looking at POP style email solutions which is limited in the way of collaboration and security, and generally stores mail to your local workstation; which is not adequate for any business that relies on email as a key part of communication.
Because of licensing costs, and the fact that managing an exchange server for a small organization can take as much time (or even more) than a larger organization, smaller organization will see most cost benefit from their existing solutions. However, large enterprises, who often have to manage multiple exchange servers, with the added overhead of clustering and redundancy resulting in addition hardware and expert staff have also been migrating to hosted exchange platforms, completely reducing complexities while maintaining redundancy and increasing uptime and potentially security.

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What’s new in Windows Server 2016


With Windows Server 2016 set for release this year, we take a look at some of the exciting features that have been included in technical previews so far.

Nano Server

Possibly the most interesting feature is the introduction of Nano Server. Nano Server is a purpose built operating system, scaled down to act as a platform of containers (more information below). Reducing the server footprint, Nano Server will require fewer patches and updates, improved resource utilization, less OS components and features as well as tightened security.

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Configure Default Computers and User OU’s in Active Directory


By default, machines joined to a new domain are added to the Computers OU. For any managed network, it is important to ensure machines are placed in a production OU as soon as they are joined to the domain, to ensure the correct polices are applied and applications are deployed.

You can automate this administrative step so newly machines added to the domain will be placed a pre-determined OU, negating the need for an administrator to go into the server to make the change.

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Windows Provisioning and BYOD

What is it?

Provisioning packages can be created and deployed to windows 10 devices by using Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer (IDC). IDC creates provisioning packages which can be deployed to Windows 10 devices, including home devices which are not added to a domain. It allows quick configuration of a device without having to re-image. A provisioning packages is a set of rules that can be applied to both domain and non-domain (home) workstations / laptops and home devices, opening the door for a simplified approach to the complexities of managing a BYOD solution in the enterprise.

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What is a PTR record and how do you add one?

A PTR record is almost the exact opposite of an A record.  An A record resolves a hostname, for example,, into an IP address, such as  Conversely, a PTR record resolves an IP address back into a hostname.

PTR records are mostly used to determine if a mail server is really associated with the IP address where the connection was initiated from.  This is akin to receiving a package with a return address that says it is from Perth, but the actual postmark on the box said it came from Singapore.  Many spammers spoof (fake) the address from where the email is coming from in order to bypass anti-spam measures. Click Here To Read More

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