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Windows Server 2012 Deduplication

If you’re thinking about Windows Server 2012, or maybe you aren’t, but you have a lot of uncompressed archive data like log files, syslog, documents, etc, check out the new deduplication feature. It’s a real charmer.

As an example for this post, last Friday I undertook to apply this new functionality to our syslog server. It runs Kiwi Syslog (now owned by SolarWinds) and has held about 400GB of logging that we’ve pruned at the 3-month mark to keep it under control. With this in mind, I spun up a new VM, imaged it from our SCCM server with Windows Server 2012, and signed on.

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.docx Edit Restriction Removal

Nothing original here, but I’m all for pointing people to good content when I find it. In this case, it’s how to remove edit restrictions from .docx files. Keep in mind, this won’t help with fully protected documents, but if you need to update a form and can’t find the password, this will help. The steps, clarified by a user in the post comments, are below. Kudos to the original author.

  1. Make a copy of the original document and rename it to have the .zip extension.
  2. Extract .zip file and in the contents find \word\settings.xml.
  3. Edit settings.xml to remove the XML element beginning with “w:documentprotection”. Remove everything including < and > and save the file.
  4. Open the in 7zip
  5. Copy the \word directory with edited xml to the same location in your (overwrite the original \word directory).
  6. Rename to yourformname.docx.
  7. Do a little dance and be happy that this episode of your life is now over.


By Chris Gurley, MCSE, CCNA
Last updated: February 5, 2013


EMC Avamar – Epic Fail.

Terrible initial implementation. High-downtime expansion. Unreliable backups. Absentee support. That’s EMC Avamar.

On the tiny upside, deduplication works great…when backups work.

In September 2011, our tragedy began. We’re a 99% VMware-virtualized shop and bought into EMC Avamar on the promise that its VMware readiness and design orientation would make for low-maintenance, high-reliability backups. In our minds, this was a sort of near-warm redundancy with backup sets that could restore mission critical systems to another site in <6 hours. Sales even pitched that we could take backups every four to six hours and thus reduce our RPO. Not to be.

Before continuing, I should qualify all that gloom and woe by saying that we have had a few stretches of uneventful reliability, but that’s only when we avoided changing everything. And one of those supposed times, a bug in the core functionality rendered critical backups unusable. But I digress…

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VMworld 2012: Impressions

It’s day two or three, depending on what you consider Sunday, here at VMworld 2012, and the feel is very different from prior years. Technicalities aside, just the venue and city set a tone that is distinct from the past. San Francisco bears a cultural appeal all of its own, and the Moscone is literally light–daylight isn’t scarce like our IT budgets, or like it is in Vegas.

In many ways, it feels like a transition year, epitomized by the transfer of reins from Paul Maritz to new CEO Pat Gelsinger. The kickoff music was a drum line embedded in the tops of the four-foot letters and numbers of “VMWORLD 2012″ on the stage, accompanied by hip-hop artists. Not that this is foreign to VMworld, but it seemed like changing energy (to me).

Technically, the focus has been on vCloud and the bigger, “software-defined” virtual datacenter. I enjoyed the direction and forward looking nature, but the application was definitely larger organization and more abstract, especially to the little guys in the community. Single site deployments and small shops will stretch to find more than removed interest in the focal points. Perhaps, though, they will find use in larger organizations in their IT careers.

The fact that this is a “dot” year (5.1) and not a major version marking event also affects things. In 2008, vSphere 4.0 made its debut (if not RTM) which was major news. Then in 2011, 5.0 showcased, another big deal. Sessions thus far have been half recap of 5.0 with minor updates that come with 5.1. Not disappointing, but not as wildly exciting as it could be.

I’ve said a lot that could be construed as disappointment, but the reality is that I’ve already been reminded of features and updates that I need to apply in my environments. Some task items are new; others are quite old but require a fresh look at things that six years of virtualization have obscured.

The second keynote is about to begin, so I’ll sign off for now. In the words of VMworld 2008, remember, “Virtually Anything Is Possible”.


By Chris Gurley, MCSE, CCNA
Last updated: August 28, 2012


HP 3PAR: AO Update…Sorta

I wish there was an awesome update that I’ve just been too preoccupied to post, but it’s more of a “well. . . .” After talking with HP/3PAR folks a couple months back and re-architecting things again, our setup is running pretty well in a tiered config, but the caveats in the prior post remain. Furthermore, there are a few stipulations that I think HP/3PAR should provide customers or that customers should consider themselves before buying into the tiered concept.

  1. Critical mass of each media type: Think of it like failover capacity (in my case, vSphere clusters). If I have only two or three hosts in my cluster, I have to leave at least 33% capacity free on each to handle the loss of one host. But if I have five hosts, or even ten hosts, I only have to leave 20% (or for ten hosts, 10%) free to account for a host loss.Tiered media works the same way, though it feels uber wasted, unless you have a ton of stale/archive data. Our config only included 24 near-line SATA disks (and our tiered upgrade to our existing array only had 16 disks). While that adds 45TB+ to capacity, realistically, those disks can only handle between 1,000 and 2,000 IOPS. Tiering (AO) considers these things, but seems a little under qualified in considering virtual environments. Random seeks are the enemies of SATA, but when AO throws tiny chunks of hundreds of VMs on only two dozen SATA disks (then subtract RAID/parity), it can get bad fast. I’ve found this to especially be the case with OS files. Windows leaves quite a few alone after boot…so AO moves them down. Now run some maintenance reboot those boxes–ouch! Read moreRead more

Notification workflow on Work Item assignments (Part 2)

This is a follow-up post to my original post on this topic: SCSM: Notification workflow on Work Item assignments.

With the release of Service Manager 2012 there are now two new work item types, Service Requests and Release Records.  It is also possible to create notifications for assignments of these new work item types.  This is done just like it was done in the original post using the same concepts.

I have attached two new working management pack examples.  One more Service Request and one for Release Records.  Just like the previous packs, you will need to update the notification template GUID to get them to work.  Also, the Service Request example that is attached works similar to the Incident example is my previous post (it also notifies the Affected User that their ticket was assigned).

<WorkflowArrayParameter Name=”NotificationTemplatesType=”guid>
<Item>Change this GUID</Item>



OSD: Access content directly from DP in TS problem

I ran into a problem after migrating my task sequences from Configuration Manager 2007 to 2012.  I found that I could not easily set my task sequence deployments to use the setting “Access content directly from a distribution point when needed by the running task sequence.”  By default it was setting itself to “Download content locally when needed by running task sequence.”

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Software Update Migration Issues (ConfigMgr 07 to 2012)

During the migration process from Configuration Manager 2007 R3 to Configuration Manager 2012 RTM, we ran into an issue where Deployed Software Updates would not detect as applicable on client machines.  I didn’t find much about this issue on the web, so I thought I would blog about it.

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HP 3PAR: The AO Caveat

Earlier this year, we posted about a new SAN bidding process and the eventual winner, the HP 3PAR V400. Now that we’ve been live on it for about six weeks, it’s time for a small update on a particular feature that might weigh in on your own decision, if you’re in the market.

Our new V400 was our first foray into the tiered storage market and we liked what we heard about gaining the speed of SSD storage on hot blocks while not wasting the cost of average data. EMC claimed advanced metrics, granular policies, and the ability to optimize as frequently as every 10 minutes. This sounded REALLY good. 3PAR also cited some of those things, sans the frequency, and we assumed they were about even, granted the results might be slightly delayed on the V400 (vs. VMAXe). What we’ve discovered isn’t so symmetric.

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Upgrading to SCOM 2012 – SQL Issue

I ran into an issue when upgrading SCOM to 2012 (from 2007 R2 CU5).  The installer stated that the upgrade was successful, but no activity was taking place in my management group.  I had one error in my event logs (see below).

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