•July 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment
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vSphere Enterprise Edition – End of Life Already?

•June 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

First, let me preface this by saying that I love Vmware. I love what they are doing in the virtualization space and if you’ve looked at the Things I’ve Written section, you’ve seen the fairly extensive plan I wrote for moving my organization to a virtual infrastructure based on their products.

However, I found out something over the last couple of days that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth: The Enterprise Edition of their new product, vSphere 4, will already be End-of-Life as of December of this year. Not only does this seem pretty early for a product that has only been out for less than a month, but I also feel like Vmware is pulling a bit of a “bait and switch”.

You see, those that had existing VI3 Enterprise Edition (EE) licenses with current support contracts were automatically transitioned to vSphere 4 Enterprise Edition. This seems like a great deal, but in addition to the VI3 Enterprise Edition licenses my organization had, we also had a couple of VI3 Standard Edition licenses, and I found out about the early demise of the vSphere 4 equivalent when trying to get upgrade quotes so that I could have all licenses at the same level. That’s when my sales rep told me there is no upgrade path from vSphere 4 Standard to vSphere 4 Enterprise. You can only upgrade to vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus.

The kicker here, is that it is cheaper to buy new Enterprise Edition (heretofore “EE”) licenses (while they are still available) than it is to upgrade Standard Licenses to Enterprise Plus (heretofore “EP). I don’t doubt the usefulness of the 3 features that EP adds to the suite, but I question as to whether they are worth the very significant price increase, almost 20%! Third-party multi-pathing support is useless if you don’t use a storage vendor that provides a driver. Host profiles are nice, but really, in my opinion only the Distributed vSwitch is even close to a “can’t live without it” feature.

I was excited when I got the first quote from my vendor to see that VI4 EE was about $100 cheaper per CPU than VI3 EE, but now that’s all blown out of the water and I’m looking at justifying over $500 more per socket, and a slew of pre-existing licenses that are going to be for an EOL license level.

Vmware should leave the Enterprise Edition as an available product. It costs them basically nothing to do so and I’m sure it would make a lot of the SMBs very happy.

Banner Printing in a Windows Environment

•March 31, 2009 • 2 Comments

My organization is currently in the midst of a Sungard Banner rollout to serve as our student information system.  Banner is an extremely mature product, having lived through the mainframe days into modern architecture.  However, some of mechanisms are still quite antiquated (at least on 7.4, which we are currently implementing). 

One of these is the printing mechanism, which requires all printers to be defined in the database by the UNC queue path and accessible directly from the Oracle application server that hosts INB.    In a Windows environment like ours, the application server simply sends a text file to a print queue using the Windows Print command.    The Print command is lacking in many features, specifically, there is no switch to change the printer mode to landscape printing.

To get around this, Sungard recommends that you setup two print queues for each printer, one with the default mode set to portrait, and one for landscape.  The problem is, the Print command doesn’t seem to be bound by the setting of the default in the Windows printer configuration panel.  Printouts from the Banner job submission engine always come out in portrait mode.

After a ton of Googling, I couldn’t really find any solution to this problem (other than yet another add-on product they’d like to sell you, called Form Fusion).  However, I just happened to stumble on an article on the Xerox site about sending PCL codes to a printer using a custom seperation page.  After looking up the proper PCL codes on this site, the custom seperator seemed to do the trick.  Oh, and you still have to do the dual print queue option to make this work, and you have to be using printers that support PCL (this works on every HP LaserJet I’ve tried so far).

Steps to implement:

  1. Create a text file on your print server called Landscape.sep
  2. Cut and paste the following code into the text file, and save:
    • \
      \H1B\L%-12345X
      \H1B\LE
      \H1B\L&l1O
  3. In the Printers and Faxes Control Panel, access the printer properties for your designate landscape mode queue and go to the Advanced Tab.
  4. Click the Seperator Page button and browse to the location of your Landscape.sep file, then Apply the settings.

Now when Banner sends a job to the printer via to the landscape queue, the PCL codes in the seperator file set the printer to landscape mode before the text file is transmitted via the Print command.  You can also use other PCL codes, if you’d like to change fonts, column width etc.  Here’s some information on that from the Microsoft KnowledgeBase.

Active Directory Password Expiration Notification

•March 24, 2009 • 17 Comments

A recent discussion on the EduCause Small College Constituent list led me to offer up my vbScript-based script for notifying users of expiring passwords.   You can buy commercial tools that do basically the same thing for around $1200, but I took it as a challenge.  If you don’t have a more robust management/reporting tool for Active Directory (Like Quest Software’s ActiveRoles), this is a handy little script. 

Here’s what it does (in it’s current form):

  1. Queries your AD for accounts about to expire starting at 30 days from expiration.
  2. Starts sending e-mail to those users starting at 30 days, then at 20, 15, 12, 9, and 3 days, directing them to a link with instructions on how to change their password.
  3. Saves a report of all password ages to a directory you specify.
  4. On the 30th day of each month, sends a CSV report to the administrator containing all users whose password is older than 20 days past the defined password change interval.

Everything is highly customizable.

Requirements:

  1. You will need to run the script as an account that has permissions to query the necessary attributes.
  2. You will need to have the SMTP service installed on the server where the script is running.
  3. You should run the script as a scheduled task.

You can download the script from my Dropbox here.  Included in the ZIP is the script and the .bat I use to call it which uses the (also included) datetype.cmd script to cycle the name of the log file based on the date.  We run this on a system with almost 4000 active users.