Coming This Fall: Windows Azure Cloud Appliances

2017-07-27T00:01:09+00:00 July 20th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Addressing one of the key objectives of cloud computing, Microsoft today said its Windows Azure platform will be available as an appliance that can run on customer and partner premises.

The company revealed plans to offer the Windows Azure Appliance at its Worldwide Partner Conference, which began today in Washington, D.C. The appliance, which Microsoft has talked up conceptually for several months, will be offered later this year by key partners — initially Dell, Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard Co. The appliance will enable private clouds based on huge turnkey systems equipped with the Windows Azure platform, server, storage and network infrastructure. eBay said it too will use the appliance.

“The Windows Azure appliance fundamentally takes the Windows Azure service and extends it,” said Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools business, speaking in the opening keynote of WPC. “It extends it to our service providers, allowing you to have exactly the same capabilities within your data center, providing that capability to your customers, and it can be extended to our larger customers that want to provide IT services within their own organizations.”

Details of the new appliance were vague, including cost, configuration and how they will be rolled out to customers. Muglia did say the new appliance is based on Windows Azure and SQL Azure with hardware specified by Microsoft, allowing service providers to either offer their own hosted Azure-based services or provision the appliances initially to large data center customers on-premise. The availability of such private cloud implementations addresses issues of control and compliance that have made cloud computing unfeasible to many corporate and government customers.

“The benefits are associated with control, compliance and keeping the data locally, data sovereignty. These are important benefits that allow for much more extensive solutions being built around this cloud environment,” Muglia said.

For eBay, the appliance will ease deployment without moving its huge auction and PayPal payment processing service off premises. “If I want to deploy an application today for eBay.com within my data centers I need to secure the hardware, provision a network, hook up the load balancer and make it part of the infrastructure,” said James Barrese, eBay’s VP of Technology, speaking at a press conference following the keynote.

Dell, Fujitsu and HP will all offer the appliances later this year, based on pre-defined hardware specifications by Microsoft. The hardware vendors said they see opportunities for both offering hosting services to customers as well as selling systems to very large enterprises such as government agencies and large corporations.

Though the companies are not discussing the configurations, the initial implementations will house just shy of 1,000 servers, Muglia said. One partner that appeared totally surprised by the launch of the appliance was Harry Zarek, CEO of Compugen in Toronto. When confronted on camera by Jon Roskill, the new Corporate VP for Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group said, “We have been a Microsoft partner for 20 years, having gone through the traditional product resale and service support. We had a fear that this business was going to trickle through our hands and move into the data center. We had a big question what we would be left with. This is the missing link, this is the piece we need to give us the destination over the next few years, in the cloud, and we have an important role to play.”

Muglia said the cloud has forced Microsoft to reinvent itself and will require its partners to do the same. It’s a change that is inevitable, it is a change that allows us all to deliver new value, it’s a change that thankfully is not happening overnight, and it is a change we will embrace together,” he said.

Source: Redmondmag.com, By: Jeffrey Schwartz

Virtual Servers, Real Growth

2017-07-27T00:01:09+00:00 July 12th, 2010|Uncategorized|

 

If you follow tech industry trends, you’ve probably heard of cloud computing, an increasingly popular approach of delivering technology resources over the Internet rather than from on-site computer systems.

Chances are, you’re less familiar with virtualization — the obscure software that makes it all possible.

The concept is simple: rather than having computers run a single business application — and sit idle most of the time — virtualization software divides a system into several “virtual” machines, all running software in parallel.

The technology not only squeezes more work out of each computer, but makes large systems much more flexible, letting data-center techies easily deploy computing horsepower where it’s needed at a moment’s notice.

The approach cuts costs, reducing the amount of hardware, space and energy needed to power up large data centers. Maintaining these flexible systems is easier, too, because managing software and hardware centrally requires less tech support.

The benefits of virtualization have made cloud computing an economical alternative to traditional data centers.

“Without virtualization, there is no cloud,” said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT.

That’s transforming the technology industry and boosting the fortunes of virtualization pioneers such as VMware (NYSE:VMW – News), Citrix Systems (NMS:CTXS), two of the best-performing stocks in IBD’s specialty enterprise software group. As of Friday, the group ranked No. 24 among IBD’s 197 Industry Groups, up from No. 121 three months ago.

1. Business

Specialty enterprise software represents a small but fast-growing segment of the overall software enterprise market, which according to market research firm Gartner is set to hit $229 billion this year.

As with most software, the segment is a high-margin business. With high upfront development costs but negligible manufacturing and distribution expenses, specialty software companies strive for mass-market appeal. Once developers recoup their initial development costs, additional sales represent pure profit.

Software developers also make money helping customers install and run their software, another high-margin business.

But competition is fierce. Unlike capital-intensive businesses, software companies require no factory, heavy equipment, storefront or inventory to launch. Low barriers to entry mean a constant stream of new competitors looking to out-innovate incumbents.

In addition to the virtualization firms, notable names in the group include CA Technologies (NMS:CA) and Compuware (NMS:CPWR).

All offer infrastructure software to manage data centers.

“Big-iron” mainframe computers began using virtualization in the 1970s, around the time when CA and Compuware were founded.

In the late 1990s, VMware brought the technology to low-cost systems running ordinary Intel (NMS:INTC) chips. VMware has since emerged as the dominant player in virtualization.

Citrix has added a twist to the concept, virtualizing desktop computers. Rather than installing workers’ operating system and applications on hundreds of PCs spread across the globe, companies can use the technology to run PCs from a bank of central servers. Workers, who access their virtual PCs over the Internet, don’t know the difference.

Microsoft (NMS:MSFT) has jumped in with its own virtualization product, HyperV, which it bundles free into Windows Server software packages. Oracle (NMS:ORCL) and Red Hat (NYSE:RHT – News) have launched virtualization products as well.

Meanwhile, CA and Compuware are racing to move beyond their mainframe roots to support virtualization and cloud-computing-enabled data centers. In February, CA said it would buy 3Tera to build services and deploy applications aimed at the cloud-computing market.

And Compuware bought privately held Gomez, Inc. last fall to manage cloud application performance.

Name Of The Game: Innovate. With a fast-moving market and steady influx of new competitors, keeping customers happy with good service and money-saving breakthroughs is vital.

2. Market

Nearly everyone who runs a corporate computer system is a potential buyer of virtualization software. Companies ramping up their information-technology purchases use the software to manage their sprawling infrastructure; others with limited budgets use it to squeeze more out of their existing systems.

Sales of server-virtualization software are set to grow 14% this year to $1.28 billion, according to a report by Lazard Capital Markets. Sales of software to manage virtual environments will grow 44% in 2010 to $1.88 billion.

Desktop virtualization revenue will rise 184% this year to $847.8 million. Citrix has the edge in this budding market with its XenDesktop product.

VMware is dominant among large enterprises, controlling about 85% of the server virtualization market. Microsoft is favored by small and midsize companies.

Virtualization is seen as “a strategic asset” for enabling cloud computing, and continues to gain momentum, says Lazard analyst Joel Fishbein.

VMware has the early-mover advantage in this market with its vSphere platform and has stayed ahead by adding new features such as data security and disaster recovery, analysts say.

But Citrix is partnering closely with Microsoft to take on VMware in virtualization.

3. Climate

Competition is heating up as companies scramble to adopt virtualization. Before 2009, just 30% of companies used virtualization, says analyst Fishbein. This year, that will double to 60%. Most of the gain is coming from small and midsize customers.

In addition, virtual servers are soon expected to more than double as a percentage of the overall server workload, from 18% today to 48% by 2012.

VMware says it can stay a step ahead of the pack by building new features into its products, says Dan Chu, VMware’s vice president of cloud infrastructure and services.

“We have a large technology lead with what we enable for our customers,” Chu said. “We are several years ahead of what the others are doing.”

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton says his firm’s broadening strategy — offering a variety of products with multiple licensing options and distribution channels — will grow sales.

“What’s going on is a massive shift in how computing gets delivered,” Templeton said. “In an environment that’s changing so dramatically, the highest-risk thing you can do is not act.”

4. Technology

The first virtualization boom stemmed from a shift over the last decade away from big expensive mainframes and minicomputers to massive banks of cheap Intel-powered machines. Virtualization gave these low-cost systems some of the high-end features of their pricier counterparts.

Virtualization software makers are betting on a second wave of growth fueled by the industrywide shift to cloud computing.

Technology managers use virtualization to run cloud computing in their own data centers. And large tech vendors such as Microsoft use the technology for cloud-computing services they sell to customers.

Dividing computers into isolated virtual machines gives cloud service providers the benefits of shared computing resources without the security downsides.

VMware has the early lead in virtualization. But the technology is quickly becoming a commodity as Microsoft and others bundle it into their broader platforms.

“VMware is known as a virtualization company, and Microsoft is a platform company,” said David Greschler, who heads up Microsoft’s virtualization efforts. “Their strategy is to sell virtualization, but our strategy is to make virtualization available as part of a larger platform at no extra cost.”

At the same time, a shift toward a world of cloud-computing services hosted by the likes of Microsoft, Amazon.com (NMS:AMZN) and Google (NMS:GOOG) could lead to fewer companies purchasing virtualization software themselves.

Source: Investor’s Business Daily

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Virtualization

2017-07-27T00:01:09+00:00 July 8th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Virtualization is rarely as simple to implement and manage as it has been made out to be. Here’s what to look out for when planning your organization’s next virtualization project.

No technology in recent memory has come with as many promises as server virtualization. As I’m sure you know, all of these promises can be broken down into one simple concept: Virtualization allows you to consolidate a bunch of underutilized servers into a single server, which allows the organization to save a bundle on maintenance costs.

So with server virtualization promising such a dramatic boost to an organization’s return on investment (ROI), even in a bad economy, what’s not to like? What many organizations are finding out is that in practice, virtualization is rarely as simple to implement and manage as it has been made out to be. In fact, there are numerous potential pitfalls associated with the virtualization process. In this article, I want to take a look at some of these pitfalls, and at how they can impact an organization.

Subpar Performance
While it’s true that virtualizing your data center has the potential to make better use of server resources, any increase in ROI can quickly be consumed by decreased user productivity if virtual servers fail to perform as they did prior to being virtualized. In fact, it has been said that subpar performance is the kiss of death for a virtual data center.

So how do you make sure that your servers are going to perform as well as they do now when virtualized? One common solution is to work through some capacity planning estimates, and then attempt to virtualize the server in an isolated lab environment. But this approach will only get you so far. Lab environments do not experience the same loads as production environments, and while there are load simulation tools available, the reliability of these tools decreases dramatically when multiple virtual servers are being tested simultaneously.

While proper capacity planning and testing are important, you must be prepared to optimize your servers once they have been virtualized. Optimization means being aware of what hardware resources are being used by each virtual server, and making any necessary adjustments to the way hardware resources are distributed among the virtual machines (VMs) in an effort to improve performance across the board for all of the guest servers on a given host.

Network Management Difficulties
When organizations initially begin to virtualize their servers, they’re often surprised by how difficult it can be to manage those virtual servers using their legacy network management software. While any decent network management application will perform application metering, compile a software inventory, and allow remote control sessions for both physical and virtual servers, there are some areas in which traditional network management software is not well-equipped to deal with VMs.

One example of such a problem is that most of the network management products on the market are designed to compile a hardware inventory of all managed computers. If such an application is not virtualization-aware, then the hardware inventory will be misreported.

Likewise, some of the network management applications on the market track server performance, but performance metrics can be greatly skewed in a virtual server environment. While the skewed data may not be a problem in and of itself, it is important to remember that some network management products contain elaborate alerting and automated remediation mechanisms that engage when certain performance problems are detected. These types of mechanisms can wreak havoc on virtual servers.

Finally, legacy network management software is not able to tell you on which host machine a virtual server is currently running. It also lacks the ability to move virtual servers between hosts. While most virtualization products come with their own management consoles, it’s far more efficient to manage physical and virtual servers through a single console.

Virtual Server Sprawl
So far I have talked about various logistical and performance issues associated with managing a virtual data center. Believe it or not, though, a virtual server deployment that works a little too well can be just as big a problem. Some organizations find virtualization to be so effective, that virtual server sprawl ends up becoming an issue.

One organization ended up deploying so many virtual servers that it ended up with more server hardware than it had before it decided to consolidate its servers. This completely undermined its stated goal of reducing hardware costs.

For other organizations, virtual machine sprawl has become a logistical nightmare, as virtual servers are created so rapidly that it becomes difficult to keep track of each one’s purpose, and of which ones are currently in use.

There are some key practices to help avoid virtual server sprawl. One of them is helping management and administrative staff to understand that there are costs associated with deploying virtual servers. Many people I have talked to think of virtual servers as being free because there are no direct hardware costs, and in some cases there’s no cost for licensing the server’s OS. However, most virtual servers do incur licensing costs in the form of anti-virus software, backup agents and network management software. These are in addition to the cost of the license for whatever application the virtual server is running. There are also indirect costs associated with things like system maintenance and hardware resource consumption.

Another way to reduce the potential for VM sprawl is educating the administrative staff on some of the dangers of excessive VM deployments. By its very nature, IT tends to be reactive. I have lost count of the number of times when I have seen a virtual server quickly provisioned in response to a manager’s demands. Such deployments tend to be performed in a haphazard manner because of the pressure to bring a new virtual server online quickly. These types of deployments can undermine security, and may impact an organization’s regulatory compliance status.

Learning New Skills
One potential virtualization pitfall often overlooked is the requirement for the IT staff to learn new skills.

“Before deploying virtualization solutions, we encourage our customers to include storage and networking disciplines into the design process,” says Bill Carovano, technical director for the Datacenter and Cloud Division at Citrix Systems Inc. “We’ve found that a majority of our support calls for XenServer tend to deal with storage and networking integration.”

Virtualization administrators frequently find themselves having to learn about storage and networking technologies, such as Fibre Channel, that connect VMs to networked storage. The issue of learning new skill sets is particularly problematic in siloed organizations where there’s a dedicated storage team, a dedicated networking team and a dedicated virtualization team.

One way Citrix is trying to help customers with such issues is through the introduction of a feature in XenServer Essentials called StorageLink. StorageLink is designed to reduce the degree to which virtualization and storage administrators must work together. It allows the storage admins to provide virtualization admins with disk space that can be sub-divided and used on an as-needed basis.

In spite of features such as StorageLink, administrators in siloed environments must frequently work together if an organization’s virtualization initiative is to succeed. “A virtualization administrator with one of our customers was using XenServer with a Fibre Channel storage array, and was experiencing performance problems with some of the virtual machines,” explains Carovano.

He continues: “After working with the storage admin, it turned out that the root of the problem was that the VMs were located on a LUN cut from relatively slow SATA disks. A virtualization administrator who just looked at an array as a ‘black box’ would have had more difficulty tracking down the root cause.”

Underestimating the Required Number of Hosts
Part of the capacity planning process involves determining how many host servers are going to be required. However, administrators who are new to virtualization often fail to realize that hardware resources are not the only factor in determining the number of required host servers. There are some types of virtual servers that simply should not be grouped together. For example, I once saw an organization place all of its domain controllers (DCs) on a single host. If that host failed, there would be no DCs remaining on the network.

One of the more comical examples of poor planning that I have seen was an organization that created a virtual failover cluster. The problem was that all of the cluster nodes were on the same host, which meant that the cluster was not fault tolerant.

My point is that virtual server placement is an important part of the capacity planning process. It isn’t enough to consider whether or not a host has the hardware resources to host a particular VM. You must also consider whether placing a virtual server on a given host eliminates any of the redundancy that has intentionally been built into the network.

Multiple Eggs into a Single Basket
On a similar note, another common virtualization pitfall is the increasingly high-stakes game of server management. A server failure in a non-virtualized data center is inconvenient, but not typically catastrophic. The failure of a host server in a virtual data center can be a different issue altogether, because the failure of a single host can mean the unavailability of multiple virtual servers.

I’ll concede that both VMware Inc. and Microsoft offer high-availability solutions for virtual data centers, but it’s worth noting that not all organizations are taking advantage of these solutions. Besides, sometimes it’s the virtualization software that ends up causing the problem. Take for instance a situation that recently faced Troy Thompson, of the Department of Defense Education Activity division.

Thompson was running VMware ESX version 3.5, and decided to upgrade his host servers to version 4.0. While the upgrade itself went smoothly, there were nine patches that needed to be applied to the servers when the upgrade was complete. Unfortunately, the servers crashed after roughly a third of the patches had been applied. Although the virtual servers themselves were unharmed, the crash left the host servers in an unbootable state. Ultimately, VMware ESX 4.0 had to be reinstalled from scratch.

My point is that in this particular situation, a routine upgrade caused a crash that resulted in an extended amount of downtime for three virtual servers. In this case, all three of the virtual servers were running mission-critical applications: a Unity voice mail system, and two Cisco call managers. Granted, these servers were scheduled to be taken offline for maintenance, but because of the problems with the upgrade, the servers were offline for much longer than planned. This situation might have been avoided had the upgrade been tested in a lab.

Best Practice Recommendations
I do not claim to have all of the answers to creating a standardized set of best practices for virtualization. Even so, here are a few of my own recommended best practices.

Test Everything Ahead of Time
I’ve always been a big believer in testing upgrades and configuration changes in a lab environment prior to making modifications to production servers. Using this approach helps to spot potential problems ahead of time.

Although lab testing works more often than not, experience has shown me that sometimes lab servers do not behave identically to their production counterparts. There are several reasons why this occurs. Sometimes an earlier modification might have been made to a lab server, but not to a production box, or vice versa. Likewise, lab servers do not handle the same workload as a production server, and they usually run on less-powerful hardware.

When it comes to your virtual data center, though, there may be a better way of testing host server configuration changes. Most larger organizations today seem to think of virtualization hosts less as servers, and more as a pool of resources that can be allocated to VMs. As such, it’s becoming increasingly common to have a few well-equipped but currently unused host servers online. These servers make excellent candidates for testing host-level configuration changes because they should be configured identically to the other host servers on the network, and are usually equipped with comparable hardware.

Some Servers Not Good for Virtualization
Recently, I’ve seen a couple of different organizations working toward trying to virtualize every server in their entire data center. The idea behind this approach isn’t so much about server consolidation as it is about fault tolerance and overall flexibility.

Consider, for example, a database server that typically caries a heavy workload. Such a server would not be a good candidate for consolidation, because the server’s hardware is not being underutilized. If such a server were virtualized, it would probably have to occupy an entire host all by itself in order to maintain the required level of performance. Even so, virtualizing the server may not be a bad idea because doing so may allow it to be easily migrated to more powerful hardware as the server’s workload increases in the future.

At the same time, there are some servers in the data center that are poor candidates for virtualization. For example, some software vendors copy-protect their applications by requiring USB-based hardware keys. Such keys typically won’t work with a virtual server. Generally speaking, any server that makes use of specialized hardware is probably going to be a poor virtualization candidate. Likewise, servers with complex storage architecture requirements may also make poor virtualization candidates because moving such a server from one host to another may cause drive mapping problems.

Virtualization technology continues to improve, so I expect that in a few years fully virtualized data centers will be the norm. For right now, though, it’s important to accept that some servers should not be virtualized.

Consider Replacing Your Network Management Software
As I stated earlier, legacy network management software is often ill-equipped to manage both physical and virtual servers. As such, virtual server-aware management software is usually a wise investment.

Avoid Over-Allocating Server Resources
It’s important to keep in mind that each host server contains a finite set of hardware resources. Some of the virtualization products on the market will allow you to over-commit the host server’s resources, but doing so is almost always a bad idea. Microsoft Hyper-V Server, for example, has a layer of abstraction between virtual CPUs and Logical CPUs (which map directly to the number of physical CPU cores installed in the server). Because of this abstraction, it’s possible to allocate more virtual CPUs than the server has logical CPUs.

Choosing not to over-commit hardware resources is about more than just avoiding performance problems; it’s about avoiding surprises. For example, imagine that a virtual server has been allocated two virtual CPUs, and that both of those virtual CPUs correspond to physical CPU cores. If you move that virtual server to a different host, you can be relatively sure that its performance will be similar to what it was on its previous host so long as the same hardware resources are available on the new server. Once moved, the virtual server might be a little bit faster or a little bit slower, but there shouldn’t be a major difference in the way that it performs, assuming that the underlying hardware is comparable.

Now, imagine what would happen if you moved the virtual server to a host whose processor cores were already spoken for. The virtualization software would still allocate CPU resources to the recently moved server, but now its performance is directly tied to other virtual servers’ workloads, making it impossible to predict how any of the virtual servers will perform at a given moment.

As you can see, there is much more to server virtualization than meets the eye. Virtualization is an inexact science with numerous potential pitfalls that can only be avoided through proper planning and testing.

  • Source: Redmondmag.com  By Brien Posey

Are You Doing All You Can to Protect Your Windows Environment?

2017-07-27T00:01:09+00:00 July 6th, 2010|Uncategorized|

If your midsize business is like most, the current economic climate has stretched your IT staff and resources beyond the limit. At the same time, the risks to your business operations are increasing. According to the recently released Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, malicious code activity is growing at a record pace.

Under these conditions, it’s a real challenge to keep the Microsoft Windows environment you depend on secure, available, and well managed. The following steps can help you better safeguard this environment.

Cover all of your endpoints

Why is it so important to protect every one of your endpoint systems and servers? Just consider the impact of the Conficker worm, which targets users of Windows XP and Windows Vista. Symantec estimates that millions of computers have been infected with this threat since January. Conficker has been credited with creating nothing less than “a secure infrastructure for cybercrime.”

As a result of such threats, companies are scrambling to implement controls that better protect their endpoint systems and the communications travelling between them. But in many cases they’re not doing enough. Symantec’s recent 2009 Storage and Security in SMBs survey found that while small and midsize businesses are familiar with cyber risks and have clearly defined goals for security and storage, a surprisingly high number have yet to take even the most basic steps toward protecting their businesses, such as implementing antivirus or backing up their data.

Reduce complexity

As your IT environment becomes increasingly complex, ask yourself if you have the right tools to manage it. Continually evolving risks, as well as remote systems and mobile users, pose daily challenges.

The solutions you deploy need to be comprehensive but at the same time easy to use. They should reduce complexity, help you maintain a consistent and compliant environment, and reduce IT costs by streamlining and automating tasks. Chances are you’re also supporting more users with fewer resources these days. A secure remote management solution can make it easier for your administrators to automatically troubleshoot and correct technical problems, and to decrease problem resolution time with mobile workers.

Ensure that information is there when you need it

Ensuring that your business-critical data and systems are easily recoverable is essential for keeping your business productive and profitable. Without proper protection, it could take days and require significant expenditures to recover important business information or computer systems from an infrastructure failure, natural disaster, or simple human error. That’s why solutions that enforce and automate backup and recovery processes are needed to keep you protected.

Developing a strategy for restoring data and systems is key. So too is continuous data protection for Microsoft Exchange; after all, your email system is as vital as your phones for communicating.

Get comprehensive protection

The following best-in-class solutions can help protect your Windows environment by keeping data and systems secure, well-managed, and available:

  • Symantec Endpoint Protection combines Symantec AntiVirus technology with advanced threat prevention in a single agent and management console, providing defense against malware for laptops, desktops, and servers. Symantec integrates essential security technologies, increasing protection for Windows environments and helping lower the total cost of ownership.
  • Symantec’s industry-leading client and server management technologies help you protect local and remote systems by simplifying repetitive tasks, deploying updates, and resolving support issues quickly.
  • Symantec backup and recovery software, such as Backup Exec System Recovery and Backup Exec, provides superior protection for critical data and systems in physical and virtual environments, which in turn can keep your business up and running efficiently.
  • Symantec Protection Suite Enterprise Edition provides multiple layers of protection from the market-leading endpoint security, messaging security, data loss prevention, and data and system recovery vendor.

Conclusion

Whether you’re running Windows XP or Vista, contemplating a migration to Vista, or waiting for the upcoming Windows 7, you need to thoroughly protect your current Windows infrastructure now. That means staying ahead of risks, managing your IT environment efficiently, and ensuring that critical information is reliably available.

With a proven track record of protecting Windows environments, Symantec can provide you with the solutions you need to keep your business up, running, and growing no matter what happens.

Source:  Symantec

Microsoft Starts Windows Embedded Update Service

2017-07-27T00:01:09+00:00 July 2nd, 2010|Uncategorized|

Microsoft initiated a free Windows Embedded update service for device developers, which started on Monday.

The new Windows Embedded Developer Update (WEDU) service is currently available and can be accessed by downloading the software here. The software can be installed and run on Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

The WEDU service, which reduces the time developers have to spend searching for updates, currently provides updates only for Windows Embedded Standard 7 developers. Microsoft plans to add support for Windows Embedded Compact 7 “within the calendar year,” according to the company’s announcement. Windows Embedded is Microsoft’s family of componentized operating systems used to support thin clients and various devices.

Project managers can use WEDU (pronounced “we do”) to ensure that their teams have the most current development environments. Users of WEDU need to have administrative access privileges to manage the service.

To use WEDU, administrators specify the products that should receive updates by registering them through the service. The next step is to specify the locations of the distribution shares where the updates should be activated, according to an MSDN library article. WEDU will search for daily updates in the background. Administrators can also perform manual scans for new updates.

The service comes with a few caveats. While updates can be automated, the WEDU tool doesn’t let the user remove the updates. Windows Control Panel has to be used in those instances to remove “certain updates for developer tools,” according to the MSDN article. The article adds that “updates to distribution shares and repository databases cannot be removed.”

Microsoft provides advice on maintaining distribution shares and creating distribution shares in its blogs. The former blog recommends importing all Microsoft-released packages and updates and not removing packages from distribution shares. Distribution shares should be backed up before importing any updates.


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