Sunday, April 22, 2012

BlackBerry Enterprise Server Overview

BlackBerry Enterprise Server integrates with the enterprise messaging and collaboration systems to provide mobile users with highly secure access to email, calendar, voice, instant messaging, browser, enterprise applications, and personal information management tools. It also provides advanced security features and access to administrative tools that simplify management and centralize control of the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution. With BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0, the key components and services, including the agent, policy service, controller, dispatcher, and router – can be configured to be highly available.

High Availability Architecture

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server high availability solution is based on a component level architecture which includes a primary server and a standby server. Either server is capable of running the mobile solution without the other. The solution is designed to support deployment options on both physical and virtual hosts (specifically VMware®), as well as a mix of both. When the BlackBerry Enterprise Server is configured for high availability, the IT administrator installs a primary BlackBerry Enterprise Server and a standby BlackBerry Enterprise Server on different computers. These BlackBerry Enterprise Server instances create a BlackBerry Enterprise Server pair. Both BlackBerry Enterprise Server instances use the same SRP credentials and BlackBerry Configuration Database. An additional BlackBerry Enterprise Server license is not required for the standby instance. Since both the primary and the standby server share the same SRP, lockouts are avoided.

With the component level architecture, health metrics are continually monitored by the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. BlackBerry administrators can set failover thresholds, which when exceeded, are designed to trigger the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to automatically switch over to the standby server. For example, if the primary server loses its connection to the mail server, automatic failover would occur to the standby server, helping to eliminate the delay of switching over manually. The administrator acknowledges when an automatic failover has occurred, fixes the problem on the originating server, and then manually sets the systems back, ensuring that failover loops are avoided.

Both BlackBerry Enterprise Server instances in the BlackBerry Enterprise Server pair include, by default, the BlackBerry Attachment Service, BlackBerry Dispatcher, BlackBerry® Mobile Data System (BlackBerry MDS) Connection Service, BlackBerry Messaging Agent, BlackBerry Policy Service, BlackBerry Router, and BlackBerry Synchronization Service components. By default, if the BlackBerry administrator chooses to install the BlackBerry Collaboration Service on both instances, the BlackBerry Collaboration Service is included in the BlackBerry Enterprise Server pair. To administer the BlackBerry Enterprise Server pair, you can install the BlackBerry Administration Service with both BlackBerry Enterprise Server instances and configure high availability separately for the BlackBerry Administration Service. In a large-scale environment, any number of BlackBerry Enterprise Server pairs that use the same BlackBerry Configuration Database can be added.

How does the high availability architecture for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server compare with clustering? To achieve high availability with server clusters often requires specialized hardware. No special hardware (such as special network cards) or software is required to achieve high availability with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0. It is built into the server software at the application (software) level.
The BlackBerry administrator can also choose to manually failover the primary server for planned service interruptions.

Load Balancing

In load balancing, each component is configured with a virtual IP address. When a request is made on this virtual IP address, a network driver intercepts it. The request is then rerouted to one of the distributed components according to rules set by the IT administrator. In this way, the BlackBerry environment can handle increases in traffic by distributing the load among multiple components.

Other distributed BlackBerry Enterprise Server components, including the BlackBerry Attachment Service, BlackBerry MDS Connection Service Pull, and BlackBerry Router – can achieve high availability through the use of shared pools. For example, the administrator can configure a list of routers the BlackBerry Dispatcher can connect to. When the primary router fails, the dispatcher chooses a secondary router to utilize.

Setting Failover Thresholds

BlackBerry Enterprise Server components calculate a health score that indicates how well the components can provide specific services. The components send their health scores to the BlackBerry Dispatcher, which combines the health scores of the components to calculate the overall health score of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The BlackBerry Dispatcher writes the information to the BlackBerry Configuration Database, and it provides the information to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server that requests it.

By default, the threshold levels are set so that if the primary BlackBerry Enterprise Server loses its connection to the BlackBerry infrastructure or messaging server connection, or cannot browse the Internet, it is designed to fail over to the standby automatically. For this automatic fail-over to take place, the standby server must be connected to the BlackBerry Infrastructure and messaging server.

Monitoring High-Availability

Log files record the activity of BlackBerry Enterprise Server components. These log files are saved on the computer that hosts the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and can be used to troubleshoot issues with component performance. With the BlackBerry® Monitoring Service, BlackBerry Enterprise Server Alert Tool, or another SNMP monitoring tool, IT administrators can monitor their BlackBerry environment for automatic fail-over events and receive notification when a switch from the primary to standby server takes place.

When the primary and standby server switch roles, both servers write the time and reason in the log files for the BlackBerry Dispatcher, Controller, and Messaging Agent, while the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Alert Tool issues an SNMP alert.

Maximizing Configuration Database Availability

In the high availability configuration, both the primary and standby BlackBerry Enterprise Servers are connected to a BlackBerry Configuration Database. Although this database can reside on any server, it is recommended that for high availability, the Configuration Database is stored on a remote SQL server and not on the same machine as the primary server. In the event of a hardware failure in the primary BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the standby server may be unable to access the Configuration Database and therefore unable to promote itself to the primary server. SQL 2005 mirroring duplicates the configuration database in real-time, as long as the same version of Microsoft SQL Server is installed on both the primary database and the mirrored configuration database. The same permissions must also be configured on both databases.
SQL 2005 mirroring requires the use of a third server instance, known as the witness. This witness is an optional instance of SQL Server than enables the mirror server to recognize whether to initiate an automatic failover. Unlike the two partners, the witness does not serve the database. Supporting automatic failover is the only role of the witness. Should the principle configuration database fail, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server components are designed to automatically connect with the mirrored database.

Planned Service Interruptions

High availability is designed to protect mobile users against both planned and unplanned service interruptions. Unplanned service interruptions are typically triggered by technical problems within the system. Planned service interruptions, such as upgrades, are often necessary for maintaining peak performance and service. The high availability architecture in the BlackBerry Enterprise Server provides the ability to perform limited-downtime upgrades. While users are still being serviced by the primary server, the standby server can be upgraded to a new version of software. The administrator can then perform a manual failover to the standby server in order to upgrade the primary server to the new version of software. This flexibility results in minimal impact to the users during server software upgrades. In addition, it provides a back-out strategy where an IT administration can manually fail back to the server running the original version if required.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Built into BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the high-availability is designed to minimize downtime from both planned and unplanned service interruptions, helping to ensure that mobile users have continuous access to e-mail, instant messaging, and other critical applications, systems and data they require to do their jobs effectively. Over 28.5 million people use BlackBerry smartphones with approximately 475 carriers and channels in over 165 countries around the world. Wireless technology gives an organization the potential to realize a clear competitive advantage through improved communication, responsiveness and productivity. Make sure to choose a solution that was built for the enterprise and can provide peace of mind – one that is trusted by some of the highest security conscious organizations in the world. High availability of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server helps maximize mobile worker productivity, improve customer service, and reduce calls to the IT help desk.

Compare Hyper-V and VMware

In many cases we compare Hyper-V and VMware technologies. But do we always know that we compare apples with apples? 
The following table helps to map Microsoft Hyper-V technologies and  terminologies to VMware terminologies.
Parent Partition
Service Console
VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)
VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk)
Failover Clustering
VMware HA (High Availability)
Live Migration
CSV (Clustered Shared Volumes)
Coordinator Node
Primary Node
VM Affinity
VM Affinity
Pass-Through Disks
Raw Device Mapping
Core Parking
Distributed Power Management
Hyper-V Manager
VI Client
Windows Server Backup (WSB)
Consolidated Backup
Dynamic Disk
Thin Provisioning
Expand Disk/Volume
Volume/Extent Grow
VM IDE boot
Hot Add Disks
Hot Add Disks
Integration Components
VMware Tools
Virtual Switch
Standard/Distributed Switch
System Center Virtual Machine Manager
Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO)
Dynamic Optimization (SCVMM 2012)
Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)
Self Service Portal
Web Access
Quick Storage Migration
Storage vMotion
Full Clones
P2V / V2V
Virtual Machine Servicing Tool (VSMT)
Update Manager

Update Rollup 7 for Exchange 2007 Service Pack 3

Update Rollup 7 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3 (SP3) resolves issues that were found in Exchange Server 2007 SP3 since the software was released. This update rollup is highly recommended for all Exchange Server 2007 SP3 customers.

Update Rollup 2 for Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2

Update Rollup 2 for Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 resolves issues that were found in Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 since the software was released. This update rollup is highly recommended for all Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 customers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Windows Server 8 beta - Installation

Windows Server 8 beta installation process from start to finish. The installation process hasn’t changed a whole lot since Windows Server 2008 R2, but some of the screens look quite different. The final step – viewing the Server Manager – is where you’ll see the most radical changes coming.

The next step of the process is pretty simple, requiring that you simply click the Install Now button to proceed with the installation. Note that this window sports the new, simpler Windows logo that has been talked about. The new branding is certainly front and center in this beta release.

you have the option to select between a server core only edition and a full GUI edition of Windows Server 8. Either selection results in the installation of a Datacenter version of the product.

Microsoft would never release a product without a 50 page licensing agreement! That’s the next step in the installation process. Select the I accept the license terms checkbox and then click the Next button to continue the installation.

need to choose the Custom install option. If you want to try upgrading one of your non-production Windows Server 2008 R2 machines, you can use the upgrade option.

Since this is a brand new installation, no Windows installation yet exists on this machine. As such, all of the space remains unallocated. The drive Hyper-V provided virtual hard drive file. I’ll select this location as the install point and click the Next button to continue.

The next screen is probably pretty familiar if you’ve installed any recent version of Windows. On this screen, you can track the progress of the installation. Once the process completes, the server will automatically reboot.

For whatever reason, once Windows 8 Server is installed, you get this fish-looking thing on the boot screen.


On the first boot after initial installation, you’re asked to provide a password used to secure the Administrator account. When you click this icon, the dots disappear and are replaced with a visible version of the password. Personally, I love this feature. If this is in all new Microsoft products, I can envision a decrease in the number of password-related calls to the help desk. Click the Finish button to continue.

Once you click Finish, Windows starts to finalize your settings and is even so kind as to tell you that it’s doing so.

you get to see the new logged out window in Windows 8 Server. Here, you’re starting to get a good feel for what the Metro interface is like, although Metro is not as prominent in the Server edition.
Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to log in.

This is one of the first things that pops up after the first login. This is the message asking for your permission to send crash information to Microsoft in the event that the system takes a dive. Personally, I like sending crash dumps to Microsoft if it can help make the operating system more stable over time.
However, in some organizations, doing so would violate company policy, so check before you accept. If you want to allow such information to be sent to Microsoft, click Accept. If you don’t want this to happen, click Decline.

Once you log in, the new Server Manager – in Dashboard view – opens up for you to see. Note that the Server Manager has undergone a tremendous transformation since earlier versions of the tool.

The bare Windows 8 Server beta desktop. You will notice that, as is the case with the consumer edition, someone at Microsoft has decided that removing the Start menu from the server edition was also a good idea.
News item: It’s a terrible idea.

But, back to the Server Manager tool. Fortunately, from here you can access the primary server administration tools that you need.

What you’ve seen so far in the Server Manager is the general dashboard.