MMS 2013 Day 2 Roundup

MMS day two is in the bag (has been for quite a while since I’m writing this on Wednesday and Thursday) and it was a full day, the first of three in fact. I’m going to hit each of the sessions I attended with my comments and provide links for you to watch/listen for yourself. I know some people who have been following along are interested in my thoughts on MMS as compared to TechEd. As you probably know, I’m a longtime TechEd attendee and a big promoter of the conference. I’m going to save my commentary on the two until after MMS ends. So if you’re looking for that commentary, stay tuned a bit longer.

Exam Prep: 70-410/411/412 MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (EXM05)
Speaker: Zeshan Sattar

I’ve never attended an Exam prep session at TechEd before, and since I’m trying to jumpstart my efforts towards certification, I started the day here. I’m still hoping to finish up the tests for 2008 since I’m already down that path, but Server 2012 is going to follow shortly thereafter.

I thought Zeshan did a great job covering a huge amount of info in a short period of time. His review of the objective areas and the sample questions were a good orientation to the three tests needed for the MCSA as well as a peek into 417, the “take no prisoners” upgrade exam. He also highlighted some useful test prep resources such as the 90 Days to MCSA site on Microsoft Learning.

System Center 2012 Configuration manager SP1 and Windows Intune: Unified Modern Device Management (UD-B330)
Speakers: Jeffrey Sutherland, Martin Booth

This session focused on using Configuration Manager and Intune together to manage systems ranging from the traditional corporate PC to the tablets and smartphones our users are bringing from home. These tablets and smartphones that might not even be running an OS from Microsoft. Shocking? I know. There wasn’t much technical content here, mostly reviews of the different methods used to manage the various operating systems and devices and the settings and actions that apply to each.

Watch the session on Channel 9

The MMS 2013 Treasure Hunt: Hidden Gems & Diamonds in Configuration Manager 2012 (UD-B392)
Speakers: Andreas Hammarskjold, Phil Wilcox

I thought this sessions was going to cover more tips and tricks, but it turned out to be focused on just two items. The first was the WOL Proxy which is part of new power savings functionality in Config Manager 2012 SP1. I’m hoping to make use of the vPro capability in our systems rather than WOL, but this looks like an OK, albeit basic, alternative.  I do like that a user can wake a machine simply by attempting to connect to it using RDP. The problem of remote users and a sleeping office machine have been the main reason why we haven’t done more with forcing our systems to sleep. I’m not as keen on solutions that require a user to go through an extra step, such as going to a web site to wake their machine before attempting to connect.

They also discussed the use of BranchCache with a Distribution Point. We don’t have any actual branch offices at this time. We generally have an employee in a remote location to help facilitate our remote Executive MBA programs. When you have a single PC in an office, you don’t need to do much special to support them. We will, however, have a larger presence in Washington, D.C., in the next couple years, so we will probably look at using BranchCache (or whatever its counterpart is at that time) in that location.

Watch the session on Channel 9

Self-Paced Lab – Managing Microsoft Software Updates (UD-L313)

I completed this lab, primarily because I needed a break from sessions after lunch.  I purchased the extended lab access package, so that I can work on these labs after the conference, so there really isn’t any reason to them onsite. I was so completely wiped out, however, that I was actually nodding off during the lab.

We’re still using WSUS to handle Microsoft Updates, but I have been looking into making better use of Config Manager.  I looked into using CM for Microsoft Updates when I first installed 2007, and it was more complex than I required at the time.  It didn’t seem too onerous as I worked through the lab, so once I stand up CM 2012, I’ll make another run at making the switch.

Deploying and Managing Virtual Applications & Settings with System Center (DC-B307)
Speakers: Jeff Gilbert, Tim Crabb

Config Manager 2012 SP1 brought with it the ability to manage App-V and UE-V as well as Folder Redirection in Config Manager. I am especially interested in working with Folder Redirection in CM. Traditionally this feature has been controlled via Group Policy, but it looks easier to configure and manage using CM. I still have a number of users who were setup years ago with registry hacks to redirect folders and moving them to Folder Redirection hasn’t been something I’ve wanted to rush into. I’m hoping CM makes this easier.

App-V 5.0 obviously has a number of improvements over 4.6 SP1 (which we’re using now), and combining this with UE-V, slims down the desktop.  It would be a huge win for at work if I can get rid of slow and cumbersome roaming profiles. We have been using App-V and UE-V but only sparingly until now, and I really want to change that around. Moving to a single location for management of these MDOP items should lower the barriers to entry that keep me from doing more with them.

I found this session especially valuable because there isn’t much information online about UE-V. I’m not sure if it just hasn’t had much uptake yet, but I find it difficult sometimes to find information, discussion, tips and tricks, etc. It was great to have some long-simmering questions answered.

Watch the session on Channel 9


After the last session, I headed back to the hotel for bag drop and then back to Border Grill for the myITforum party. The place was packed (partly because many people didn’t want to be outside where it was windy and cool) and there were food and drinks for all (as any good party should have). I’m relatively new to appreciating guacamole, but the Border Grill’s is excellent. Definitely get some if you ever eat here. Then it was back to Luxor to work on writing this blog post, only I made the mistake of lying down on the bed.  I was so tired from the last few days, that I fell asleep almost instantly and didn’t wake up until after midnight. When the body decides it needs to rest, it has a way of overriding whatever else you might want to do. Take a look at my MMS 2013 photo album on SkyDrive if you’re so inclined. See you on Day 3.