Tag: Windows Server 2012

Free Microsoft Virtualization Training for VMware IT Professionals

Microsoft are really pushing the idea that system administrators that have VMware experience should become bilingual in server virtualisation and get up to speed on Hyper-V too. So following on from the Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals Jump Start, a year or so ago, comes Free Microsoft Virtualization Training for VMware IT Professionals. December 11th from 9am – 12.30pm PST (5pm – 8.30pm GMT)

Get the edge in your technical career! Attend the online Virtualization IT Camp for VMware IT professionals and expand your virtualization skills. Seasoned experts will demonstrate key scenarios and cover equivalent technologies from Microsoft and VMware. Here’s your chance to upgrade your Microsoft Virtualization skills for FREE.

I consider myself already fairly bilingual as I have a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host at work with a couple of production servers on it now to go with the 108 virtual machines on our VMware infrastructure. I passed the Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization exam a couple of years ago when Microsoft was giving away free exam vouchers for it.

Plus I attended the Server Virtualization w/ Windows Server Hyper-V & System Center Jump Start online last month. Just need now to schedule the 74-409 exam whilst my free exam voucher is still valid. The vouchers can still be obtained here (Limited availability)

Converting Windows Server 2012 Standard to Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

It probably won’t come to this as I have now convinced the management to allow me to purchase Vsphere Essentials Plus, but I was curious about whether I could convert my Windows Server 2012 Standard Server to Windows Server 2012 Datacenter without having to do a complete reinstall.

Good news! It is possible and is dead simple to do. Via http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj574204.aspx

From an elevated command prompt run the DISM tool and pop your new key in.

DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerDatacenter /ProductKey:[Datacenter key, e.g. XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX] /AcceptEula

MCSA: Server 2012 exam success

I passed the Exam 70-417: Upgrading your skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012!

Thanks to Keith Mayer, J C Mackin, Ed Liberman, Rick Claus and of course my beautiful and understanding wife Amy for putting up with me studying for and stressing over yet another Microsoft exam.

Next step will be working towards the MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification by studying for Exam 70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure.

Updating WSUS to work with Windows 8 and Server 2012

I have to confess that I haven’t been paying as much attention to WSUS as I should have and even though I had been going in and approving updates as they have become available I failed to notice that my Windows 8 clients and the Windows Server 2012 were being misidentified and hadn’t yet reported to WSUS.


Windows 8 was being identified as Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2012 as Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition.

With a little help from http://chapsnet.wordpress.com/ I was able to resolve the issues through the following steps.

First I visited Microsoft to download the Update for WSUS 3.0 SP2 (KB2734608) that allows it to be able to recognise Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Operating Systems and download the appropriate updates.

Once installed on the WSUS Server there are a couple of services that need to be reset in order for it to then synchronize correctly and recognise the newer operating systems.

open Command Prompt and run the following commands
net stop WSUSService
net start WSUSService

Open the Console, Update the Product List and begin a Synchronisation

Even though my clients had already been connected to the WSUS server prior to the update I only needed to do the following on the Windows Server 2012 machine in order for it to update in the WSUS console. The Windows 8 clients re-identified themselves correctly without anything further needing to be done.

Open an elevated Command Prompt (Win + X menu)
enter the following commands
net stop wuauserv
rd /s %windir%\softwaredistribution\
net start wuauserv
wuauclt /update

Running wuauclt /ResetAuthorization /DetectNow at the command prompt on the Windows 2012 server resolved the reporting issue and S300-Win2012 now shows up as both being identiifed as Windows Server 2012 and as having reported in. It looks like there are 3 updates that it requires.


Managing other servers through Server Manager

The Server Manager console in Windows Server 2012 is a great improvement in my opinion over the equivalent in previous versions of Windows Server, as it allows a quick overview of the activity and health of a server through simplified versions of Event Viewer, Services and Performance Monitor all on a single page.

What’s even better is that it can be used to manage and monitor multiple servers. In a larger Enterprise environment I think System Center 2012 would be a better tool, but here where I only really need to be managing about a dozen servers it is perfect. The process to add servers to the console is very straightforward, justs click on Manage and then click Add Servers.

Next you can then perform a search of Active Directory or via DNS to find servers to add. Alternatively you can import servers into the console from a file.

However like me you are likely to see a whole bunch of errors alongside the server names as below. Also please note that you can only currently add servers running Windows Server 2008 or later to the console (you can add other servers but I don’t think that they can be configured so that Server Manager can pull data or send management commands).

That’s the easy bit. The next step is to configure each of the servers that you wish to manage and monitor, information on how to do so is located at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831456.aspx.

To manage servers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008, apply the following updates to the older operating systems.

  • .NET Framework 4
  • Windows Management Framework 3.0 The Windows Management Framework 3.0 download package updates Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) providers on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The updated WMI providers let Server Manager collect information about roles and features that are installed on the managed servers. Until the update is applied, servers that are running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 have a manageability status of Not accessible – Verify earlier versions run Windows Management Framework 3.0.
  • The performance update associated with Knowledge Base article 2682011 allows Server Manager to collect performance data from Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

However I was still getting the same error message even after installing the three required updates. I verified that the WinRM service was running and so concluded that the firewall was blocking the data. The resolution was to run the command WinRM quickconfig on the server that is to be managed and this then creates a WinRM listener to accept WS-Man requests and creates an exception in the Windows Firewall. The command and output is shown below.


Having configured the server VS022-INFRAS thusly you can now see that the message has changed to Online. Just need to enable the performance counters and then I can move onto configuring the other servers (though it will need to be an out of hours job as the servers are production servers or critical test servers that I can’t restart during normal hours.)


Installing SQL Server 2012 Express on Windows Server 2012

As part of updating the server infrastructure I have built a replacement for our 8-9 year old backup server and a requirement of that is to have a local instance of SQL server to hold a small database of backed up objects and their state.
Moving the database from the old server to the new turned out to be more problematic than I first thought. The first part was that SQL Server 2012 Express didn’t want to install itself on Windows Server 2012 and I received the message below.

The following error has occurred: Error while enabling Windows feature: NetFx3, Error Code: -2146498298, Please try enabling feature: NetFx3 from Windows management tools and the run setup again.

The following error has occurred:
Error while enabling Windows feature: NetFx3, Error Code: -2146498298, Please try enabling feature: NetFx3 from Windows management tools and the run setup again.

Fine, I’ll just stop and go install the NetFx3 feature.

Except there isn’t a feature called NetFx3! In fact what SQL Server needs is the .NET Framework 3.5 Features, it was something that SQL Server 2008 R2 would install automatically if it detected that it wasn’t present, but apprently not not the 2012 Express version.

So go into Add Roles and Features and tick the box for the .NET Framework 3.5 Features and click next.
sqlserver2012installation error02

Unfortunately you hit another snag here as .NET Framework 3.5 is a feature on demand i.e. one that is copied to the disk when Server 2012 is installed so you need the installation disk and then direct the installer to that as the source.
sqlserver2012installation error03

sqlserver2012installation error04

Then installation is straightforward.
sqlserver2012installation error05

Unfortunately you can’t just continue the SQL Server installation at this point as you’ll get the following errors. You’ll need to start the installation process again, but this time it will be quick and easy.
sqlserver2012installation error06

Promoting a Windows Server 2012 RODC to become a writeable domain controller

Having now moved the rest of the business into the new office it is no longer functioning as a branch office and so the RODC (Read-Only Domain Controller) I set up sometime ago is no longer required.

The plan was it would be demoted and we would return to having just the two domain controllers. However I changed my mind as the other domain controllers are VMs on ESXi which I don’t think is an ideal situation and I’d prefer to have at least one physical domain controller.

Unfortunately the process of converting a RODC to a writeable DC isn’t quick as you can’t go from one to the other you need to demote it and then promote it again.

Starting in Server Manager click on Manage > Remove Roles and Features

Select the server from the list. In my case there is just the one server to choose from.

Then counter-intuitively you need to select to remove Active Directory Domain Services even though you do want to continue using it as a Domain Controller. But it all becomes clear in the next step.


The AD DS role cannot be removed until the domain controller has been demoted. This is what we wanted to do all along so click on Demote this domain controller.

I don’t want to force the removal as it is able to communicate with the other domain controllers and so can be removed normally (See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc816826%28v=ws.10%29.aspx about forcing removal of domain controllers)

Warning that removal of AD DS role could break Active Directory, only a concern if clients can’t communicate with the other domain controllers. Tick the box to Proceed with removal and click Next.

The next bit is a crucial step as you are asked if you wish to Retain domain controller metadata. The only reason to do so would be if you planned to reinstate the server as a RODC in the future. If you wanted to remove it entirely as a domain controller or if you wish to promote it to being a writeable domain controller as I do then you need to ensure you leave the box unticked. Click Next.
I’ll show you later the error you would get if you ticked the box and then tried to promote it as a full domain controller.

Need to recreate a local administrator password for the server as domain controllers do not have local admin accounts they only accept domain accounts.

Review your selection. You can view the Powershell script at this stage that is actually run under the hood when you click the Demote button. As this is a one time only affair there isn’t a reason to do so.

The process runs and the server reboots.

Then we’re back looking at Server Manager and there is a flag indicating that you need to promote the server for it to become a domain controller. If you were removing the server as a domain controller you would in fact return to Manage > Remove Roles and Features and then complete the removal of the AD DS role.

But I do want to Promote it so I click on Promote this server to a domain controller.

Then the process is the same as shown in a previous post when I set the server up originally as a Domain controller.
Select Add a domain controller to an existing domain and select the desired Domain from the list and enter a domain administrators credentials.

Specify domain controller capabilities and site information. Click through the DNS delegation error.

Specify install/replication options. Install from media or replicate from another domain controller.

Choose the file paths for the AD DS Database, log files and SYSVOL. Defaults are fine with me.

Then the prerequisites will be validated before AD DS is installed on the server. In the case of installing AD DS on a former RODC where the metadata had been retained you would get the following error.

Otherwise the prerequisites check will pass and you can click Install to finalise the process.

Microsoft’s official instruction on Demoting a Server 2012 Domain controller is to be found here http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj574104.aspx

Windows Server 2012 in production

As part of setting up the new office for my company I needed to set up a server to act as a RODC in what would effectively be a branch office until the rest of the company moved in sometime later.

This gave me the perfect opportunity to use Windows Server 2012 in a production environment and as such gain some real world experience with the new OS in preparation for sitting the 70-417 exam to gain my MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification.

I had previously downloaded a trial version of Server 2012 but after a failed attempt to install it as a VM on VmWare’s ESXi 4.1 I didn’t do much more with it lacking the resources and time. I have since found a method that would enable it, also for Windows 8 which could be useful for our developers who may need to be coding applications for Windows 8 and need test environments.

Installation on our new Dell R620 could have been easier, but this was not the fault of Windows at all. The server arrived sometime yesterday and without a disc so I’d assumed that the OS had come pre-installed. It had not, which caused a little panic. But once I actually received the Windows Server 2012 disc from our suppliers and then pre-configured the server for the OS (which was somewhat straightforward but didn’t work as it should in my opinion) it was very quick and straightforward to install Server 2012.

My experiences were pretty much as described here

Microsoft has been radically improving Windows Server with every release and Server 2012 is possibly the most radical of all. It is fast, efficient and has made server configuration and management a breeze. The new Server Manager has had a very welcome upgrade in functionality. From a single server I can now monitor and manage the critical production servers in my domain, being able to view server infrastructure via role as well as individual server is extremely useful.

Controversially it has the ‘Metro’ interface as it was developed in parallel with Windows 8. Unlike others here I don’t have an issue with it at all, I rarely have to see the dreaded Start Screen spending what time I’m connected via RDP into the server in the desktop environment and Server Manager. Going forward I can see that the new interface will be useful when I’m wanting to do minor server admin tasks via my smartphone or tablet.

I haven’t due to our environment been able to make full use of the native data deduplication that now comes with Server 2012 but it is again a brilliant new feature.

New and improved Hyper-V is a real contender against VMware’s ESXi now.

The only downside is that the RSAT tools to manage it remotely rely on having Windows 8.

Built a Windows Server 2012 lab for free using Windows Azure

Having joined the Windows Server 2012 Early Experts study group I felt that I needed some real hands on experience with the new operating system. Having neither the time nor the spare resources at work to set up a new server I followed Keith Mayer’s advice to leverage the three month free trial for Windows Azure to build a Windows Server 2012 VM. Download Keith’s guide here.

Not only do I now get a chance to test the new features of Server 2012 but also gain an understanding of the Windows Azure platform and how it might be utilised to create a hybrid cloud infrastructure.