Windows Server 2008 – Disabling Dynamic DNS Updates

I recently experienced an issue with Dynamic DNS updates on Windows Server 2008. Since upgrading VMware tools on a Windows Server 2008 virtual machine, all six network adapters that were assigned to the VM were now registering themselves on my internal DNS servers, despite me having unchecked the “Register the connections address in DNS” checkbox on each adapters properties. This resulted in me having six host A records in my internal DNS for the same server, however I only wanted one of the servers IP addresses to be registered against it’s hostname.

Unfortunately enabling and then disabling the “Register the connections address in DNS” option again did not resolve the issue. I figured this occurred as when upgrading VMware tools the servers network adapters are removed and re-added. To resolve this issue I opted to disable Dynamic DNS updates on the server all together using a registry entry. To disable Dymanic DNS on a Windows Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2 machine, perform the following actions.

1. Login to the server with the issue.

2. Click the Start menu and select Run.

3. In the Run dialog box type the following entry without the quotation marks and then click ok:

“reg add hklm\system\currentcontrolset\services\tcpip\parameters /v DisableDynamicUpdate /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f”

4. Reboot the server to complete the process.

I would recommend keeping a watch on your internal DNS servers for 24 hours after applying this registry key, to completely ensure the issue is resolved. You can find additional information on methods of disabling Dynamic DNS on Windows Server platforms at the following Microsoft  KB article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/816592

OCS – Deploying Office Communicator via GPO

Utilising Group Policy Object’s (GPO) to deploy software has always been a favourite of mine, the ability to deploy software packages to thousands of workstations in what can be a few clicks of a mouse. This method is certainly no exception when deploying Office Communicator 2007 R2 in your environment. Below is method I have used to both deploy the software and ensure it is running the latest Communicator hotfix.

1. On your workstation download a copy of the Office Communicator 2007 R2 installation package, which is commonly named communicator.msi. Also, download yourself a copy of the latest communicator hotfix (KB2028888), this file will be named communicator.msp. Save these files to the root of your workstations C:\ drive.

2. On your workstation create a new folder on your C: drive called “Communicator”, we’ll use this folder in a few steps time.

3. The first thing we need to do is to unpack the Communicator.msi file so that we can patch it’s content using the latest hotfix. Open a new command prompt window and navigate to the root of your C:\ drive where the Communicator.msi and Communicator.msp files were stored. So for example at the command prompt enter, without quotations:

“cd c:\”

Once you have changed directory to the communicator folder, you can then run the msiexec command to un-package the communicator installation to the “Communicator” folder we created in step 2. Type the following in the command prompt to perform this action, without quotations:

“msiexec /a communicator.msi TARGETDIR=C:\communicator”

 4. What you should now find, is that in the “Communicator” folder there are two sub-folders (PFiles & Windows) and a communicator.msi file. These are the extracted contents from the original package. Now we have these contents we can patch them with the latest hotfix. In the same command prompt window we used in step 3, run the following command without quotations.

“msiexec /p communicator.msp /a c:\communicator\communicator.msi”

Once this is complete, the files in the “Communicator” folder have now been patched. You should notice that the communicator.msi file in the folder will have grown slightly in size when the patch is applied.

5. Now that we have the patched package content, copy the entry “Communicator” folder to a network share that is accessible to all users. You may already have a network share for GPO packages, however if you do not you will need to make sure that everyone has at least read permissions on the folder in order for the software to install.

6. You can now proceed and create a new Group Policy Object in the Group Policy Management  Console (GPMC) for the communicator. Once you have created a new GPO with a name of your choice, perform the following steps.

7. Right click and select edit on your created GPO. In the GPO Editor window, select either the “Computer Configuration” or “User Configuration” nodes depending on your preferred deployment method.

8. Expand “Software Settings” and then right click “Software Installation” and select “New Package”.

9. In the New Package dialog box, browse to the UNC path of the shared folder you created in step 5 and select the Communicator.msi file and click ok.

10. Link the created GPO to the organisational unit of your choice and instruct your end users to reboot their workstations for the changes to take affect.

 You can find additional information on Communicator client installations at the following URL: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd637160(office.13).aspx

OCS 2007 R2 – CWA Presence Shows As Offline

I recently assisted with a deployment of Office Communications Server 2007 R2. During the deployment I experienced an issue with Communicator Web Access. When signing in via CWA, either internally or external, my SIP enabled accounts presence always showed as offline, even if I explicitly told the web access client to sign me in as available. The strange thing was, when I viewed the account signed in through CWA on a Communicator Client, the presence was correctly shown as available. After a lot of testing and investigation it turned out this was an issue related to deploying the Communicator Web Access role on Windows Server 2008 R2. To resolve the issue I performed the following actions:

1. On your CWA server download and install the latest July 2010 Communicator Web Access patch which is included in Microsoft KB 968802. This can be downloaded from the following location, however please note you will need to scroll down the article and download the cwamain.msp file.

Microsoft KB 968802: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=b3b02475-150c-41fa-844a-c10a517040f4

2. Perform the following actions as detailed in KB 982021:

– Start secpol.msc on a Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system server.

– Click to select Local Policies and then click Security Options node.

– Make sure that the following values of the policies are set to “No Minimum.”

– Network Security: Minimum session security for NTLM SSP based (including secure RPC)

– Network Security: Minimum session security for NTLM SSP based (including secure RPC) servers

3. Reboot your CWA server to ensure the security policy change takes affect.

4. Testing signing into CWA and ensure you presence status is correct.

For more information on deploying OCS 2007 R2 server roles on Windows Server 2008 R2 please see the following URL: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982021

VMware – Veeam FastSCP

I recently attended the VMware Install, Manage and Configure course for vSphere 4.0. As a part of the course I was introduced to Veeam’s FastSCP client. Veeam FastSCP is a freeware program that allows you to manage your ESX / ESXi host’s datastores. The application provides you with an easy to use Windows Explorer like interface that supports drag and drop functionality between hosts and from your desktop computer. This is functionality is particularly handy when uploaded ISO files or when taking a copy of a VMDK file.

One thing I found before being introduced to Veeam’s FastSCP is how frustrating slow it is when copying files to and from datastores using the Datastore Browser in the vSphere client, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a pretty painful experience when transferring large files over a 100 megabit network for example. For this reason I thought I would give FastSCP a try, especially when the vendors website claims it is up to six times faster than the traditional datastore browser.

After installing the software and adding my ESXi host, which was achieved by simply hitting the “Add Server” button, I was now able to browse my datastore in full.

Veam FastSCP 300x152 VMware   Veeam FastSCP

How much quicker is FastSCP though? Well to test I am going to demonstrate the copy of a 40 gigabyte VMDK file from my datastore to a laptop computer running over a standard 100 megabit connection. This should give a good idea of any real speed advantages. First up I tested the time using the datastore browser to download the VMDK file, here is the estimated download time.

VMware Datastore Download 300x150 VMware   Veeam FastSCP

As you can see the total estimated time is 333 minutes, which is the equivalent of 5 hours and 56 minutes. Next up was testing the download of the same VMDK with Veeam’s FastSCP.

Veeam FastSCP Copy 300x180 VMware   Veeam FastSCP

As you can see with FastSCP the estimated time is 2 hours and 2 minutes, which is the equivalent of 122 minutes in total. By comparing both of these times, we can see it will take 211 minutes longer by using the datastore browser to copy the VMDK file. That’s a massive 3 hours and 31 minutes longer compared to FastSCP.

If you looking for a quick, easy and fast utility to use for transferring data to and from datastores or even between hosts Veeam’s FastSCP is certainly worth a try. To save you from having to register to obtain the freeware application, I have uploaded it here. More information can found on FastSCP at the following URL: http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esxi-fastscp.html