WServerNews: The Grinch in the Cloud

In this week’s newsletter

Challenges the holiday season presents for the cloud; alert about HPE SAS SSDs; LDAP changes coming to AD; Et tu, Visual Studio? When firmware updates go wrong; TIP on preventing laptop overheating; FACTOID on the risks of flying on commercial airlines; and lots more!

Enjoy this week’s issue of WServerNews and feel free to send us feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered — we love hearing from our readers 🙂


Editor’s Corner

This week’s ruminations from Mitch Tulloch our Senior Editor…

Keeping Santa up in the cloud

Holiday seasons like Black Friday and Boxing Day can be challenging for e-retailers and the datacenters and cloud service providers they rely upon. I recently interviewed Grant Kirkwood, CTO and co-founder of Unitas Global about this and have shared my questions and Grant’s responses here:

MITCH: Grant, if my memory serves me correctly, the holiday seasons (Black Friday, Christmas, etc.) often tends to pose problems for e-commerce websites. Can you review briefly some of the worst things that happened in this regard over the past several years?

GRANT: The worst thing that can happen for a brand on a big shopping day like Black Friday or Cyber Monday is for their website to go down. In 2018, brands like Walmart, Gamestop, J. Crew and Ulta experienced website outages during the shopping season. This can lead to a huge loss in sales and ultimately, the loss of customer loyalty. Website outages can be costly for any company, but for e-commerce companies— especially brands hoping to make a significant percentage of their yearly revenues in one weekend—every minute that a website is down leads to decreased sales.

MITCH: What’s been the main cause of such things happening in the past?

GRANT: From a technology standpoint, website traffic for an e-commerce company can jump over 200% in a single day on a high-volume shopping day. Overburdened APIs, latent third-party components, and unprepared servers will lead to an overwhelmed website that shuts down when traffic increases. A shutdown can be avoided with the proper connectivity. Ensuring connectivity is especially critical given the retail industry’s increased focus on customer experience. Providing an e-commerce website feature that makes the buying experience more enjoyable or unique may streamline the end-user experience, but create a need for more complex backend programming. This leaves more room for things to go wrong on a high traffic day if a company doesn’t have a backend plan in place that can quickly scale.

MITCH: This year’s Black Friday shopping event seems to have gone through without much of a hitch. What are e-commerce and PoS companies doing better now than they have previously? What improvements have they been making?

GRANT: While the 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events saw record-high revenue numbers, with consumers spending $26.3 billion, a number of large and small retailers did experience outages that likely led to decreased sales. By hosting their platforms on a multicloud infrastructure, ecommerce and PoS companies can scale more quickly for the holidays. Hosting on a multicloud architecture dynamically adds more computing and storage resources as site traffic climbs then scales down when demand wanes. For ecommerce brands, this means that on any high traffic day, whether predicted or not, the backend of their website will allow operations to scale seamlessly, leading to more sales and happier customers.

MITCH: As more and more of our commercial activity moves online — and become centered around and built upon cloud computing — what new challenges may arise in keeping the money flowing between businesses and their customers? And what will web-based businesses need to do to address these challenges?

GRANT: Network congestion will continue to be a challenge as more commercial activity moves online. More people will be attempting to access more data from more geographic locations. Network bandwidth will be stressed, and users will experience higher latency. To address these challenges, we recommend companies evaluate their connectivity. A next-generation network provider like Unitas Global can help you optimize your cloud connectivity strategy based on your business’ needs. We also have tools that proactively monitor and manage cloud environments to prevent website or application outages before they happen.

Have any of our readers websites or applications at their businesses been impacted by problems like this during holiday seasons? Share your story with us by emailing us at [email protected] and we’ll include it in an upcoming issue of WServerNews. We can keep your name and/or company’s name anonymous if you request this.

An alert about HP Enterprise SAS SSDs

If your organization is running servers or workstations from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) that have certain models of SAS solid state drives (SSDs) in them you need to flash them with updated firmware before the data on them becomes unrecoverable. More info and a list of the affected models can be found on the HPE Support Center here:

Bulletin: HPE SAS Solid State Drives – Critical Firmware Upgrade Required for Certain HPE SAS Solid State Drive Models to Prevent Drive Failure at 32,768 Hours of Operation (HPE Support Center)


LDAP changes coming to Active Directory in January 2020

Microsoft has some updates coming in January that will make some changes to how LDAP works that may impact authentication in your AD environment. This is being done to increase security by disabling certain unsecured protocols. More info can be found in this article on the Microsoft Tech Community:

LDAP Channel Binding and LDAP Signing Requirements – JANUARY 2020 Updates (Microsoft Tech Community)

Et tu, Visual Studio?

With Azure AD, Microsoft Intune and Windows Virtual Desktop it seems like Microsoft has been moving all of their products and solutions into the cloud. Now it seems like Microsoft is considering the next step in this process, namely, moving Visual Studio their application and service development platform into the cloud too:

Microsoft wants developers to start coding in the cloud (BetaNews)

When firmware updates go wrong

And finally it looks like flakey Windows updates aren’t the only thing us geeks need to worry about these days. Reports tell us that owners of Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones received a firmware update back in July that managed to bork the noise-cancelling feature of these headphones and apparently Bose has so far failed to release an update to undo the effect of its earlier update:

Bose customers beg for firmware ceasefire after headphones fall victim to another crap update (The Register)

So maybe the best solution is to turn off automatic updating (if possible) on *all* of your gear, not just your Windows 10 PCs as Woody Leonhard seems to recommend (at least for ordinary users) on his website:

Managing Windows updates… for regular people (AskWoody)

Got more thoughts about anything in this newsletter?

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Tip of the Week

>> Got any IT pro tips you’d like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

What to do if your laptop overheats

Here’s a helpful thread from SoylentNews (an offshoot of Slashdot) on this subject:


Admin Toolbox

>> Got any admin tools or software you’d like to recommend to our readers? Email us at [email protected]

Identify bottlenecks, address issues faster, improve server efficiency. AI-powered monitoring, customizable dashboards, instant alerting and more.

Download this study guide to learn about the Azure Administrator skills measured in AZ 103, as well as some of the important topics that will be covered under each of the exam’s study areas.

OrgKit helps you provision a brand-new company with proper defaults in Windows, Offic365, and Azure:

Windows-Auto-Night-Mode automatically switches between the dark and light theme of Windows 10:

SmartTaskbar is a lightweight windows taskbar enhancement utility:



Still more comments coming in from readers concerning whether Windows 10 is boring enough for them to administer comfortably in their corporate environments. Fernando Rapetti the Technology Manager of a company in Argentina that specializes in software programming and hardware management of medical equipment says:

I agree: boring was very good. I frequently keep remembering how a blue screen in Windows NT 4 almost certainly meant that you had a hardware problem. Very reliable. And if you think about it, the people that just uses office suites and accounting programs, did the same at that days with the available technology than today, 20 years later, and now we have incredibly superior hardware, but bloated apps and OS that offers you candy crush on a business environment, throws blue screens for random reasons, takes ages to boot when there’s a big update pending installation (and there are quite a share of them!), downloads lots of stuff, making your internet connection suffer, and mutates every 6 months for like no reason. If XP had updates right now, there are quite a lot of situations when that would be more that enough. The only common thing that really need a lot more resources now, is internet browsing, as pages got very complex and browsers use a lot of RAM.

Jerry Lackey a Network Engineer working in Albuquerque, New Mexico commented similarly:

Mitch, I couldn’t agree more with the responses. I have had to endure all of the same issues that the community is complaining about. I have waited till the last minute to update my customers to windows 10 in hopes that Microsoft will come around and release a more reliable Win10 platform. The best I have found is Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC x64 v1809. This has been promised by Microsoft to receive the feature updates once every 3 years and it is supposed to be supported by Microsoft until the year 2029 (we’ll see). I have had good success with this so far but make no mistake… I HATE WINDOWS 10!!!

Thank you for the opportunity to commiserate with my fellow compadres.

An IT professional named Joanne Rogers who works for a government department in Canada sent us a welcome reminder that the mess Microsoft Windows is in now isn’t the fault of that rich guy:

I’ve recently seen a couple of different places (including todays feedback column) that people complaining about Windows 10 are blaming Bill Gates. They do remember he stepped down from being involved in the day to day operations over a decade ago and spends most of his time on his charity work? He may still have some involvement but maybe start putting the blame on the people in charge NOW… 🙂

Kevin Bom, the Manager of Enterprise Infrastructure Services for the Information Technology Services department at a university in New York sent us another reminder, this one about Control Panel:

Windows 10 still has the Control Panel, it is just not on the menu. Click the start menu and type Control. You can then pin the shortcut to the start menu or the taskbar for easier future access.

That’s true of course though there are now many settings that can be configured only on the Settings pages of Windows 10. Kevin also has a complaint about Windows 10 which illustrates quite clearly that it’s still an unfinished product:

We use SCCM and you cannot even access the Configuration Manager Control item through settings — You have to access it from the Control Panel!

Golly, I thought Microsoft had decided to align the development cycles of Windows and System Center products. Oh well…

And finally, a few weeks ago in this issue we mentioned that the site MS Power User had an article about how Microsoft Japan has been experimenting with employees having a four-day work week and has seen the productivity of their workers go up under this arrangement. Reader Wayne Hanks had some thoughts to share about this:

Hi Mitch, as usual a reasonable take on what is happening in the world of tech.

Regarding the shorter working week… Given that the current working week was invented in the days when instant communications did not exist and the ability to work from home meant you were either self employed or a housewife, we are probably well overdue for a shake up. Many of us are expected to be on-call 24/7 and available for face to face during the week only because that is what our bosses expect.

To be honest many of the IT people I know don’t really get a weekend either because that is the perfect time to do upgrades and modifications, whilst the number of staff in the office is minimized. So I am surprised that many IT shops have not gone to a rolling shift situation and accepted that they will have to pay more for the privilege. I know there are many industries that have gone this way.

The only time this shorter week becomes a problem is when you are a small i.e. less than 5 people team, with some specialists in the team. Then you run into problems that need that specialist, and if they do not have a backup then you are stuffed. However that comes under normal risk management so should be catered for anyway.

All in all, as someone whose wages have not increased in 2 years, and is unlikely to increase greatly in the near future, I think that being able to have more time for the things I like doing is awesome.

If any other readers would like to comment on this subject or any other topic in our newsletters you can email us at [email protected]


Factoid – Fear of flying?

Last week’s factoid and question was this:

Fact: The U.S. education system has become addicted to Texas Instruments, which has a staggering, monopolistic hold over high school math.

Question: When was the last time you used a calculator? As opposed to using the calculator app on your phone or pressing WinKey, typing “calc” and pressing ENTER on your laptop. And what’s the make/model of the last calculator you used?

We got a couple of responses on this one:

Hello, I use a hand-held calculator frequently because it’s much faster for input and applying functions. I believe there is a lot of opportunity to really increase the performance of these devices with built in programming / macro’s, attachable 10 key’s, WiFi print, and more data storage. I think many folks get caught up with computational software: Maple, Mathmatica, et. al; but really, you can’t beat a hand-held for quick solutions. Anyways, I have a calculator fetish, Thanks. –Ken

I’m a calculator fetishist too, mine being the HP-27S that I keep in the top drawer of the desk in my office. Anyone else here a fan of Hewlett-Packard calculators? Join the club by emailing me at [email protected]

And reader Craig Hollins from Australia offered this interesting story for us:

You asked about calculators and I have to tell you about something that strikes me as very peculiar.

I remember when I graduated high school in 1981 we were allowed to choose from a small list of scientific calculators and use them in our final exams. The one I chose was the Casio FX-80. At the time it was a marvellous piece of technology.

My daughter graduated high school this year and to my surprise her calculator was the Casio FX-82, a functionally identical device. The only real difference is they are significantly cheaper today — about 20% of the original price and that’s before you factor in inflation.

Working in the area of IT I’m used to technology advancing at incredible rates so it comes as a bit of a shock that there has been almost zero technology development in the school calculator segment for the past 40 years.

I wonder if there are any other areas of technology that have stood still for so long. I also wonder how much longer we can expect the Casio FX series to stay on the market.

That is kinda weird and almost shocking. But then I’m still stuck in the graveyard of Hewlett-Packard calculators myself. And yes, I used to own an HP-35 which was billed as the First Slide Rule Pocket Calculator. I wish I had kept my slide rules though, they would have been neat museum pieces to show the younger tech people I meet in my work. But then I still do long division by hand from time to time, just for the fun of it.

On the other hand reader Susan Mertesdorf says:

Sadly, college, many, many moons ago, when I was stuck in a financial math class. Had to buy a calculator specifically for it and I have it around here somewhere…haven’t touched it in years!

Well then you can’t play in my sandbox.

Now let’s move on to this week’s factoid:

Fact: Engineers are paid less than supermarket checkout workers


Question: Well maybe in some places anyways. Does this news make you nervous (or more nervous) about flying on commercial airlines?

Email your answer to [email protected]


Conference calendar

>> Got an IT conference or event happening that you’d like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Business Applications Summit

April 20-21, 2020 in Anaheim, California

Microsoft Build

May 19-21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington

Microsoft Inspire

July 20-24, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada


Podcast Corner

Keep your app close and your traffic faster (The T-Suite)

Infrastructure as Code using Ansible with Josh Duffney (RunAsRadio)

Lessons Learned From A Large SD-WAN Deployment (Heavy Networking)

Making Kubernetes Enterprise Ready – OpenShift CTO (The CTO Advisor)

PRC suffers leak, alleged defection (Risky Business)

Azure AD Security with Ramiro Calderon and Stefan van der Wiele (Microsoft Cloud IT Pro Podcast)

Power Platform Updates With Rob Windsor (Microsoft Cloud Show)


New on

How Windows 10 version 1909 enhances device security

The new Group Policy settings in the just-released Windows 10 version 1909 make it easier to control installation of trusted devices.

Trench Tales: Restructuring a legacy network with a VLAN

GDPR is having an impact even on how networks are designed. Here’s a story of one IT admin who introduced VLANs to ensure compliance.

Review: Exchange Online backup solution NETsec Mailbox Archiver

Businesses needing to restore mailboxes in Exchange Online often use a third-party product. NETsec Mailbox Archiver is one such solution. Here’s our review.

Is the Group Policy Central Store still relevant in the age of Windows 10?

Having a Group Policy Central Store in Active Directory made life easier for administrators. But does it still work in the age of Windows 10?

Who says configuration management can’t be fun?

Managing change in an enterprise isn’t easy and it’s usually no fun. Here’s a book on configuration management that will give you a whole new perspective.


Fun videos from Flixxy

Women Shopping Vs Men Shopping

A hilarious 10-second video explaining the differences in shopping habits between men and women:

Shopping Centre Flash Mob – South Africa

On a random Saturday morning the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir delights unsuspecting shoppers and passers-by with an impromptu performance:

Penguin Goes Shopping

Lala, the 10 year old King Penguin is so smart – he walks to the fish store with his little backpack to shop for fresh fish every day:

The Future of Shopping

Guys, imagine taking your wives out shopping and actually enjoying it. And ladies, what would you do to get rid of changing rooms and optimize your shopping time?


More articles of interest

How to troubleshoot VM performance issues

VM troubles got you down? Never fear: Some solutions to VM performance problems are as easy as looking in the right places and asking the right questions

5 Windows Virtual Desktop management tools to consider

Deep management capabilities are important, even in a cloud desktop implementation such as Windows Virtual Desktop. Discover five third-party tools that support a Windows Virtual Desktop deployment.

Learn which edge data center types are best to virtualize

You can implement ESXi on ARM — or other RISC processors — in micro and nano data centers. A nano data center is more specialized but also more limited than a micro data center.

5 security oversights to avoid with IAM configurations

IAM provides the granularity organizations need to secure their cloud workloads, but only if it’s properly implemented. Refrain from making these common IAM mistakes.


Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

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