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Azure News - April 2019

Summary of Azure News from March and April 2019, including new VM and Disk sizes and Windows Virtual Desktop.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Managed Service Accounts

Managed Service Accounts are a Windows feature introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 for increasing the security of non-user service accounts.  Managed Service Accounts, shortened as MSAs, have an automatically-managed, complex password that removes the requirement of manually dealing with password rotation and security.  In Server 2012, this feature was enhanced to group Managed Service Accounts, or gMSAs, which allows the use of these accounts on multiple servers at once.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Troubleshooting Blocked Ports

One of the more common networking issues we look at is where some or all ports between servers are being blocked.  Typically, this is due to a misconfiguration, but being able to find the details of the issue is invaluable in tracking down the cause.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Windows Server 2008 End of Support Options

On January 14, 2020, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will reach their End of Support date.  After this date, patches and security updates will no longer be generally available, but there are some alternative options to continue receiving updates.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Az PowerShell Module for Azure

Back in December of last year, a brand new version of the Azure PowerShell module was released into general availability.  This new module is called "Az" and is replacing the AzureRm module.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Domain Controller DNS Record Registration

DNS plays a central part in Active Directory.  Clients use DNS records to discover and communicate with domain controllers which, in turn, allows for proper domain functionality.  Let's take a look at the key DNS records and some other helpful information for troubleshooting DNS issues.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

SSL Certificate Basics

SSL certificates are a common part of system administration, but how much do you know about how SSL certificates work?  Sure you've installed certificates before, but what makes the client trust them?  Let's look at some of the basics to help understand how SSL certificates function and how to resolve some common types of issues.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Active Directory Upgrades: Additional Features

Upgrading your domain and forest functional levels is a simple task once the new domain controllers are in place and the old ones are decommissioned.  But what about the features that take advantage of the upgraded functional levels?  There are two important things to do as a domain is upgraded to the 2008 and 2008 R2 functional levels: migrate SYSVOL to DFS replication and enable the AD Recycle Bin.

Although these features have been available for a long time, it’s good to revisit items like these occasionally.  Although many domains are using them, there are plenty of environments that have yet to take advantage.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Patching Windows Server 2016

The patching strategy for Windows Server 2016 has changed fairly significantly since 2012 R2, and understanding these changes is crucial to managing this operating system effectively.  Here, we'll review the new cycle of patch releases and how to make sure your servers stay up to date.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Active Directory during DR Tests

Due to their central role in a Windows environment, including Active Directory domain controllers in a disaster recovery test will nearly always be required.  However, how do you ensure that the DCs function correctly, and safely, in a DR environment without having any impact on production?  Let's look at the best practices around Active Directory in a DR test.  These ideas apply to both on-premise replication to a secondary site and replication to Azure using Azure Site Recovery.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande