Busy week, back from Illinois

Hope everyone had a great week. I had a busy week, hit the ground running when I got back from Peoria, IL. Ernesto did a great job holding the fort down while I was out, but we had a lot to do this week. We spent the first half of the week meeting about our Next Level Leadership Conference, and planning for the session that Winston, Ernesto and I are speaking in; as well as preparing for Nancy with ACS to come down to give our staff ACS training. ACS can do so much, and we feel we are not using it to its potential. So we brought in ACS for a two day training.

In our experience, ACS doesn’t run well at all over wireless. We even tested it again, just to make sure with ACS 2007, and it still runs pretty slow compared to being hard wired. I decided that since we are paying ACS to be onsite, we wanted as little technical difficulties as possible. So, Ernesto and I custom made cables to run in a class we converted to a training lab for these two days. The first day was in a class room where we had about seven computers, including the instructors. This went really well. It was geared more toward Finance and Access ACS, etc… with smaller crowds (about 15 people max in the room at a time).

The second day, Thursday, we had wired enough for 15 computers (about 45 people), including the instructors, in the Student Auditorium. This is the day where we had a lot of our support staff come in for training on the people suite, including searches, reports, mass e-mail, check point, etc…

Over all, I think the training went well and I feel our staff has walked away with a greater knowledge of how we can use all the benefits that ACS has to offer.

Time to gear up for another busy week.


First (test) Virtual Server… Up and Running!

I have begun testing VMware as a first step towards a virtual network.  I have a Dell PowerEdge 1650, Dual Xeon 2.0 Ghz processors with 2GB RAM (I am purchasing an additional 2GB RAM to bring the machine to 4GB RAM, which is the max this particular machine will hold).  Currently, I have installed the host OS, Windows 2003 Server, as well as one guest operating system which is also a Windows 2003 Server.  So far, so good.

I was able to get the Guest operating system up and running, joined to the domain, and accessible to the network.  For the guest machine, I gave it 20 GB guest C: drive (now I think that’s too much, so I’m either going to learn how to shrink this, or start over with a smaller drive size) and 512 MB RAM, being that it’s a test server.  Since this went well, I needed to see what I could actually put on this machine that’s not too critical but that I could have in production to see how the machine will perform.  So, I decided to install IIS and copy our Intranet site to this server.  I changed the DNS to point to this machine and its working great.  This was the easiest thing to make live because if something happens, I can quickly change DNS back to the original server I had the Intranet on since I only copied the site over and modified the DNS record.

I began installing VMware at church Saturday night. After installing VMware, I went to church service, and finished adding the first guest machine remotely from home (using the /console command so that I can work directly at the console of the server). Gotta love remote desktop! I am really excited about VMware and what it can do for us. Currently, we have 8 physical servers, many of which could be easily virtualized. I am planning on rolling out the actual production server on a PowerEdge 2950, Dual Quad Core Processors, with 8GB – 12GB of RAM. This PE Server will be attached to a Dell MD1000 DAS that we already have in house (currently half full with 3TB of usable storage). Any thoughts on using a DAS with virtual servers vs a SAN? The MD1000 can have two physical machines attached. If these machines are beefed up machines, this could potentially be 20+ servers connected to the DAS.

Now, my next test will be to add another Guest server to the VMware host to see how it performs. I have heard about VMware and Virtual Servers before, and read about it. But I didn’t realize how easy it actually is until I met with the many Church IT guys at the SharePoint training, who are currently using this technology. Thanks guys!!

PIA gives free wireless internet

Though a lot of public places, like the airport, try to charge you $10.00 per day to access thier wifi connection (though you’ll probably be there a few hours… max), PIA gives free wireless internet!  Yeah!  This is really helpful when you’re waiting for a 6:00am flight.  Thanks PIA!

Life at SharePoint Training

SPTrianingThings are going really well here in Peoria, IL.  The SharePoint training is only half the reason this training is so valuable.  Equally as important and valuable has been the connections and friendships made, during breaks and evenings, with the other Church IT folks here.  There are 36 – 40 church IT people here that all bring something to offer here at the training.  I have learned from each person I have spoken to.  Thank you to Jason Lee and the staff of Northwoods Community Church for hosting this event, and to all who had a hand in putting this together, as well as to Bill English for conducting the training for us.  This group is an invaluable resource both to each and everyone in the group, and also for those in Church IT that haven’t had a chance to get connected with other IT professionals.

Tonight was a “light bulb” night for me.  I’ve been listening and talking to people about virtualization and how it works.  I’ve heard about VMWare and Microsoft Virtal Server, but tonight the light bulb went off exactly how a virtual server works, and the value of virtualization.  I didn’t realize, or register, before that it’s as easy as an image (or a few files) that make up the virtual server.  By having these few files backed up and easily able to get to, one could have a server that is down backup on another machine in a matter of 15 minutes.  This is very powerful, and I am excited to go back and start testing virtual servers and begin rolling them out.  And… this is just one example.

Here are a few pictures of most of us at dinner tonight…

Life at SharePoint Training  Life at SharePoint Training

Exchange Server 2000 Limitations…

I am really looking forward to going to Exchange 2007 this year.  We are currently on Exchange 2000.  Tonight, I had to take the server offline (the MS Exchange Services) and perform an offline defrag because we are riding the 16 GB limit… again.  I understand that with Exchange 2003 and later, the limit has been raised to at least 75 GB, unless you go with Enterprise which is unlimited.  Anyone made the move to Exchange 2007 yet?

 Here’s what I’m doing tonight…

Exchange 2000 Defrag