Member of the Springboard Series Technical Experts Panel (STEP)

It’s been a while since I posted here. A lot has happened since my last post. Currently I am working as the lead solution architect in project building a worldwide Active Directory and mail infrastructure. This time I am focusing on Windows Server 2008, Active Directory and networking.

Another exiting development is the fact that I am selected as a member of the Springboard Technical Expert Panel (STEP)!

STEP is an initiative of the Springboard Series team.

The Springboard Series Technical Expert Panel (STEP) Program has been created to build community and advocacy for a Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 launch "by the community, for the community." In an effort to drive global awareness and value of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 through Springboard Series, a program is created that will expand reach beyond typically-attended Microsoft events like Tech-Ed by activating top IT Pro community influencers within the Microsoft, MVP, and MCT communities.

This new program will:

  • deliver content across the globe via the advanced technical knowledge from this select "virtual" team of IT pro experts
  • offer IT Pros community-created instructional tools and resources for further learning of Windows Client products
  • help build a pool of highly recognized influencer evangelists toward the strategy of ensuring that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are launched "for the community, by the community"

As a member of STEP you’ll probably hear more from me in the near future. The benefits of the program involve:

  • Working with the Springboard Team at Tech Ed US or EMEA (I’ll be at both events)
  • Being a part of the "Opening Windows" campaign
  • Accessing First look seminars at new Windows 7 content before it gets released to the general public
  • Worldwide speaking opportunities
  • Participate in Virtual Roundtables with Mark Russinovich
  • Access to product teams for Q&A at Microsoft events

Unfortunately I will not be in the panel at the Virtual Roundtable event on February 12th, but I’m thrilled to take my virtual seat next to Mark Russinovich.

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Reporting from Tech Ed IT Pro 2008

This week I will be blogging the news from Tech Ed IT Pro Barcelona on bink.nu.

If you are in Barcelona, check out my book at the conference book store.

If you have spare time, pay me a visit in the Hands-on-lab area or at the Vista Springboard booth in the exhibition hall. I’d be happy to sign your copy of the book <G>.

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Windows Vista for XP Professionals is out now!

My book is out!

Finally I managed to finish the book I have been working on for the past 18 months. Still I am actually quite happy with the result.

Windows Vista for XP Professionals is aimed at IT Professionals getting ready to deploy Vista in a business environment. The book contains an in-depth overview of the essential changes in Windows Vista encountered when you start deploying, managing, securing and migrating to Windows Vista.

While selecting the subject in the book I was inspired by the experiences I had as the lead technical specialist for a Windows Vista deployment project at a large bank in the Netherlands.

More information about the book and its availability is available at www.vistaforxpprofessionals.com.

For those looking for Dutch reading material, the Dutch version is available from WEKA uitgeverij.

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Hyper-V Alert: Beware of the Broadcom Nextreme II

Ever since I first installed my Dell PowerEdge 2900 with Virtual Server I have been experiencing issues with the Broadcom Nextreme II Gigabit adapter also known as the BCM5708C. After my latest disaster at a client with Hyper-V RTM I think it’s time to send out an alert.

In my case I the two hosts I was installing with Hyper-V ended with corrupted network stacks on Virtual Machines and hosts that initially worked flawlessly and all of a sudden caused strange error messages and in the end forced me to completely reinstall from scratch.

Here is my story:

I installed two clean HP ML370G5 Servers with Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V. At first all installations went smooth. Installed Windows Server 2008 on both hosts. Installed Hyper-V (first RC1 later with RTM). Installed the first VM with Windows Server 2008 and IIS on one host and  another VM on the other host.
 
Both VMs initially work fine. Then I start setting up a new VM on the first host. All of a sudden I notice that the first VM on the same host is no longer responding to the network. I have a look at the eventlog and notice that ASP.Net crashed with an unhandled exception (event ID 1309). I reboot the VM. After the reboot, the system tray shows a disconnected network icon. In the Eventlog I see that the DHCP Client service could not start due to an Access Denied event (ID 1004). Two services fail to start on the VMs:

  • Base Filtering Engine
  • DHCP Client

Now comes the real surprise:

I can no longer start any other VM on the host!

When I start a VM that contains a NIC (virtual or synthetic) I get the following message: "No available MAC address for ‘Network Adapter’". The message occurs before the BIOS startup of the VM.
 
Now I am stuck. I cannot start any VM with a Network Adapter on this host and my first VM with IIS is broken. I tried to take the VHD to another Hyper-V server, but I was never able to recover network connectivity.
When I started creating VMs on the other host I got the same errors there.
 
Both hosts are HP Proliant ML370G5 with dual Broadcom 5708C Nextreme II GigE network adapters connected to a 100 MB half duplex switch without VLANs. I did clean installs of Windows Server 2008 with no extra drivers or software from HP installed. After the first panic, I gave the situation some thought. That’s when I started to seriously suspect the Broadcom adapters of screwing up  my game. Especially because they messed up for me before on  my Dell server with the same NICs in Hyper-V Beta and RC0.

So I did another test:

  1. Clean install of Windows Server 2008 on one of the hosts
  2. Install Hyper-V RTM
  3. Create one virtual network connected to a Broadcom NIC
  4. Create the first VM with a synthetic NIC and boot from the Windows Server 2008 ISO
  5. Create another VM with a synthetic NIC

When I start the second VM I get the message "No available MAC address…". The message is logged in the Hyper-V-Worker Admin log with Event ID 12564, followed by event Ids 12010 and 12030.

In order to proof my theory that my issues were caused by the Broadcom Nextreme II adapters I did the following:

  1. I obtained an extra network adapter with a different chipset and added it to both servers 
  2. Created a Virtual Network connected to the new NIC
  3. Created and started multiple VMs

This went smooth without issues. I can now run Hyper-V and I’m a happy camper!

The Broadcom Nextreme II is built-in in servers from both Dell and HP. I don’t know if other vendors are using the chipset in their systems and what other systems from Dell and HP contain them besides the Dell PowerEdge 2900/2950 and HP Proliant ML370 G5.

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My interview on Windows Essential Business Server at bink.nu

Last Friday I was provided the opportunity to interview Russ Madlener, Director of Planning, Windows Server and Tools division at Microsoft. Russ is responsible for the product release of Windows Essential Business Server (WEBS) formerly known as Centro. The meeting was setup after my comments on bink.nu, where I reported the absence of WEBS and SBS at the Tech Ed conference in Orlando.

Russ provided some interesting new information about the upcoming release of WEBS.

Read the complete interview at bink.nu

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Technet subscription downloads UI

Today I found out I am not the only one who thinks that the Silverlight based UI of the Technet Subscriber downloads is a monster. I had a very interesting chat with Chris Slemp from Microsoft in the Technet Zone on Tech Ed 2008 in Orlando. He admits that the current UI is not exactly what it should look like and he showed me his blog.

 
 

The Technet team is currently working on a new design for the subscriber download UI that really looks like the old UI to me. They are looking for more feedback from their users. So if you like to contribute to the new UI, make sure you check out the mock ups and tell them what you think.

 
 

Chris also did a very interesting demo off the new Technet Forums interface. Stay posted for a special blog about the really interesting functionality Microsoft has added to the Technet site.

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Hyper-V will support disks > 2 TB

Yesterday I had a chat with Mike Sterling from the Hyper-V product team at Tech Ed 2008. And guess what? When I told him about my issue with direct attached disks larger than 2 TB, he told me this will be fixed in the next publicly available version of Hyper-V. He would not comment on the time frame or when it is supposed to be available.

 At least the keynote mentioned that Hyper-V will release before its current deadline in August.

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