Sunday, December 30, 2007

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Remote Library Management

When we first implemented SCVMM into our organization one challenge that was recognized was how to easily manage our remote library shares. With the potential for several remote libraries, it immediately became cumbersome to ensure that each location had all of the new or updated system images.

We immediately began to work on a system to allow us to manage 1 local library share, and have the contents of that mirrored at each remote location. Windows 2003 R2 has a new feature that fit the role perfectly.

Enter Server 2003 R2 DFSR :

For those not familiar with DFSR, it offers a load of potential configurations and uses. The automatic replication and the compression built into it were the main benefits for the library replication.

The compression method used by DFSR is called Remote Differential Compression (RDC), more Here. A cool thing about RDC is that it is optimized for VHD files. A quick scenario of RDC is as follows:

VHD A is a Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition with SP1 and is 5GB

VHD B is a Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition with SP2 and is 5.2GB

RDC breaks the VHDs down into smaller parts and replicates, then the parts are put back together at the remote location. VHD A is replicated first. Once replication of VHD B begins, each part of the file is compared to other file parts that already exist at the remote location. Parts that match are not replicated, but reused from parts existing at the remote site.

This means that VHD A has all 5GB replicated. But only the different parts of VHD B have to be replicated. So we'll say the .2GB is the only data that has to be replicated for VHD B!

Since the majority of our SCVMM library content is VHDs and ISO files, DFSR really yields itself as the perfect companion. We've seen as much as 70-80% reduction in WAN traffic from using DFSR. The main benefit that I like though is I can update an image and place it in our local library, and I know that it will also be available at our remote sites once it is replicated.

Here is a quick diagram of the setup I described above:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

iPhone and Google Calendar Synchronoization

I suppose the best place to start this new blog would be to talk about my new love in life. She's a beaut.

Now that I am four days into this relationship, I have managed to give the iPhone a thorough run through. Now I must also say that I am a big Google fanboy. Perhaps it is the small ownership that I have in the company, but I happen to love their products. The recent update that they made works very well on the iPhone. The only drawback that I have come too is the lack of integration with Google Calendar. Sure you can see your events, and do a Quick Add, but that is where the features stop.

After browsing the internet for an evening, and trying different setups, I have settled on SyncMyCal. Now it does not allow you too directly sync the Google Calendar with the iPhone, but it does allow for Downloading/Uploading calendar events with Outlook (which does directly synch with the iPhone).

Multiple synchronizations are not the most efficient, but so far I have found this method to work. It even allows you to manage multiple calenders.