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Trevor Pott

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Trevor Pott is a full-time nerd from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He splits his time between systems administration, technology writing, and consulting. As a consultant he helps Silicon Valley start-ups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.
Our intrepid party playmonaut on a sofa, surrounded by blondes

Sysadmins: Be the hand up the backside at PuppetConf, VMworld

Sysadmin blog It's nearly the end of August, which means time to sign up for PuppetConf and VMworld San Francisco is nearly up. El Reg will be covering both events. Dance Puppet, dance The user communities for VMware and PuppetLabs overlap significantly and the companies have been cosying up recently. VMware shooed away other investors …
Trevor Pott, 19 Aug 2013

It's now or never for old sysadmins to learn new tricks

Sysadmin blog In most fields of human endeavour the complete invalidation of a person's formal training and skillset generally takes decades, if not generations. Within IT the tools, applications, operating systems and cloud services learned at the beginning of a bachelor's degree can already be defunct before that degree is completed. I …
Trevor Pott, 09 Aug 2013

Microsoft haters: You gotta lop off a lot of legs to slay Ballmer's monster

Comment Contrary to increasingly popular belief, Microsoft is not a “dead” company, nor at immediate risk of collapse. I do, however, believe that Microsoft’s “Windows on the endpoint” monopoly days have passed, that Microsoft’s senior management are aware of this and are actively taking steps to compensate. Similarly, I believe that …
Trevor Pott, 29 Jul 2013
Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

Rejoice! Sysadmin day is... TODAY. Now get in here and win free stuff

Sysadmin blog Today, this very Friday, is Sysadmin Day. As a system administrator, I'm naturally biased and think every day should be sysadmin day, but it's nice to know we have at least one day a year set aside for some recognition. What is really heartening to see is just how much awareness of the day has grown since its inception. As you …
Trevor Pott, 26 Jul 2013
German shepherd guard dog standing in flood water

Back up all you like - but can you resuscitate your data after a flood?

When it comes to backups two sayings are worth keeping in mind: "if your data doesn't exist in at least two places, it doesn't exist" and "a backup whose restore process has not been tested is no backup at all”. There is nothing like a natural disaster affecting one of your live locations to test your procedures. I have just …
Trevor Pott, 25 Jul 2013

Cloud backups: Where's my get out of jail card?

It is time for your reminder to review, test and otherwise care about backups. Today's twist is probing the cloud to see if we need to worry about cloudy backup ourselves. If so, how exactly do we do it? The more I delve into the state of cloud services the more I am disturbed by what I see. Every vendor has a completely …
Trevor Pott, 19 Jul 2013
nuts

Promisec Endpoint Manager: So we gotta cope with BYOD... Help!

Review The explosion of internet-connected gadgets, sensors and other devices that underpins the "internet of things" concept makes my head hurt. When combined with the completely new security model presented by IPv6, BYOD and cloud computing, automation of endpoint management is rapidly becoming non-optional. I've started taking a …
Trevor Pott, 18 Jul 2013

The IT crowd: Fiercely loyal geeks or 'inflexible, budget-padding' creeps?

Sysadmin blog The comment thread on my recently posted digital divide article seems to be going strong, several days later. One recent post by an anonymous coward sticks out to me. I can't help but hear it read out in the sarcastic voice of the PHB of one of my clients - filled with outdated prejudices that have proven so counterproductive …
Trevor Pott, 16 Jul 2013
Dark Blue Window - detail of Windows Server logo

Graphical front ends for PowerShell? Here's a couple for you

Sysadmin blog For many sysadmins Hyper-V Server is an area where Microsoft's TCO and ROI documents - built around the "Hyper-V Server is free" market-speak - fails to align with reality. If you're a PowerShell guru – or willing and able to use Windows 8 – then Hyper-V server mostly lines up with the Microsoft pitch. If you're a PowerShell …
Trevor Pott, 15 Jul 2013
Bearded dragon handing out with Spicerex

Sysadmin Day free give away

Sysadmin blog It's that time of year again: Sysadmin Day is upon us! July 26, 2013 is the international day of recognition for all those who toil in datacenter obscurity, fighting off cyber-ninjas so that videos of my cats flow unhindered through the tubes. As is typical, contests are popping up like weeds to attract the valuable eyeballs of …
Trevor Pott, 13 Jul 2013

Why I'm sick of the new 'digital divide' between SMEs and the big boys

Sysadmin blog Recently I have been spending most of my time with enterprise CIOs and vendors' "product owners"; their dismissiveness of the needs of small and medium-sized businesses has finally got to me. As a rule, talking about the needs of corner cases is boring to the masses, but today I just need to get up on my soapbox and talk a …
Trevor Pott, 12 Jul 2013
Broken CD with wrench

Microsoft waves goodbye to Small Business Server

Sysadmin blog Small Business Server from Microsoft is "going off the air." With Dell's announcement of unavailability access to the last remaining copies will prove ever more scarce. If you are a managed service provider that specializes in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) I recommend you shake down your suppliers and build up …
Trevor Pott, 11 Jul 2013
Mushroom cloud explosion

Virtual brownfields: Microsoft's push to woo the VMware masses

The virtualisation war is heating up. With Server 2012 Microsoft is at last bringing a viable platform to the table and Server 2012 R2 looks set to eclipse that. You will get different numbers depending on who you talk to but the general consensus is that Microsoft has managed to grab about one quarter of all new installs. It …
Trevor Pott, 08 Jul 2013

IT design: You're not data, you're a human being

Metrics and you "Metrics" is rapidly becoming something of a cult among IT vendors. Many are betting the future of their companies on data gathering and foster a culture that treats user behaviour-monitoring like a religion. I've never fully believed in this practice, but it is hard to deny its allure. People are fickle and hard to predict; the …
Trevor Pott, 06 Jul 2013
Dark Blue Window - detail of Windows Server logo

Microsoft's cloud leaves manual transmission behind

When you write technology blogs for a living you end up sitting through a lot of WebExes, watching a lot of training videos and going to a lot of conferences. A growing trend that emerges from all these presentations is the importance of autodeployment, something that has far bigger implications than a mere installation method …
Trevor Pott, 05 Jul 2013
Dark Blue Window - detail of Windows Server logo

It's alive! Shared-nothing migration puts the spark into Hyper-V

Shared-nothing live migration may be the most exciting feature to emerge from Microsoft's Hyper-V 3 virtualisation push. Shared-nothing migration is the ability to move a virtual machine from one virtual host to the another where those hosts lack mutual access to centralised storage. The "live" part means the virtual machine …
Trevor Pott, 04 Jul 2013

Microsoft's murder most foul: TechNet is dead

Sysadmin blog The end of TechNet Subscriptions is upon us. Let's take a moment to digest this, shall we? TechNet subscriptions were a cheap way to get access to virtually the entire Microsoft library of software for the purposes of building and maintaining a testlab environment. The cost ranged from $200 to $600 a year, and when combined …
Trevor Pott, 01 Jul 2013
hand holdin retro telephone

That voice you hear from the cloud is Microsoft’s

Unified communications (UC) is the joining up of email, instant messaging, voice, video and whatever else we can come up with. Microsoft offers an on-premises UC software package – Exchange, Lync, Outlook and so forth – but for the first time you can order “UC as a service” via Office 365. Singing in harmony From a technology …
Trevor Pott, 27 Jun 2013

At last! Virtual domain controllers just work

Virtual domain controllers (VDCs) in Server 2012 – and now 2012 R2 – are awesome. I have used domain controllers inside virtual machines since Virtual Server 2005 and have seen them fail in every way imaginable. VDCs address all of my issues and, considering the features they bring to the table, it is flat out nuts not to use …
Trevor Pott, 26 Jun 2013
Dark Blue Window - detail of Windows Server logo

Making the case for upgrading from Server 2003

Server 2003 has been a good friend for the past decade. I have built a career on this operating system, I know its personality and its tics, and quirks have become second nature to me. In 2015, we will see the official end of support for Server 2003, so the time has come to start polishing the business case for the migration to …
Trevor Pott, 23 Jun 2013

Not all data encryption is created equal

Sysadmin blog I've written a recent spate of articles channelling the tinfoil hat industry that triggered some interesting conversations. Most interesting was a debate about whether or not an organisation like the National Security Agency could take over my home network if it so chose. I suspect any decent hacker with access to the right …
Trevor Pott, 21 Jun 2013
Pinky and the Brain

Can DirectAccess take over the world?

Review Microsoft believes that DirectAccess is such a critical feature of Windows that we will soon wonder how we lived without this fundamental part of network infrastructure. Having played with it I think Microsoft is very close to being right, but there are some bugs to work out and misconceptions to dispel. Internet Protocol …
Trevor Pott, 20 Jun 2013
Kindle Big Brother

NSA Prism: Why I'm boycotting US cloud tech - and you should too

Opinion So, America's National Security Agency has been tapping up US internet giants to gather information about foreigners online, allegedly sharing that data with Britain's GCHQ - and gobbling up details about US citizens' phone calls. When I was a kid my world was full of pro-America propaganda; I never once questioned American …
Trevor Pott, 08 Jun 2013
Hyperspace

Let's get graphical with Hyper-V

Review We recently had a good look at what it takes to get a Hyper-V failover cluster up and running using PowerShell. It isn't quite as scary as it is often made out to be, but like many command line interfaces it is the stuff of laminated cheat sheets for administrators who don't use those commands every day. The alternative is to …
Trevor Pott, 05 Jun 2013

El Reg drills into Office 365: The science of compliance

Review Office 365 may well be the most impressive attempt at providing international information on legal compliance ever attempted. Microsoft has hired many of the world's foremost experts on the various layers of legal compliance that exist and has created a software solution that helps enterprises meet compliance levels that would …
Trevor Pott, 05 Jun 2013
Screenshot of Microsoft promotional video touting Office 2013's cloud integration

El Reg drills into Office 365: User and device management

Vid Over the last couple of weeks, our sysadmin columnist Trevor Pott has been digging deep in to Office 365, producing a series of hands-on articles and videos. This, the third of four videos, is about the user and device management features you can find in O365. Watch Video ® Screenshot of Microsoft promotional video touting …
Trevor Pott, 03 Jun 2013

My bleak tech reality: You can't trust anyone or anything, anymore

Opinion Virtually everything we work with on a day-to-day basis is built by someone else. Avoiding insanity requires trusting those who designed, developed and manufactured the instruments of our daily existence. All these other industries we rely on have evolved codes of conduct, regulations, and ultimately laws to ensure minimum …
Trevor Pott, 03 Jun 2013
Screenshot of Microsoft promotional video touting Office 2013's cloud integration

El Reg drills into Office365: Mass email migration

Spinning up a new instance of Office 365 to provide email for a brand new domain is easy; migrating email from other domains is not. If you are a systems administrator who can count to 10 more or less accurately you are probably ready to dive in but the everyday user may find it a bit of a struggle. Let's take a look at the …
Trevor Pott, 31 May 2013

The good and the bad in Hyper-V's PowerShell

As the great virtual war between Microsoft, VMware and various also-rans has rumbled on, many column inches have been devoted to Microsoft's Hyper-V Server. You can light up a cluster of 64 nodes and 8,000 virtual machines if you choose, it is said. Hyper-V server is free, you don't have to pay Microsoft a dime. That's a great …
Trevor Pott, 30 May 2013
Intel Centerton in a Supermicro Chassis

Intel Centerton server-class Atoms: How low can you go?

Review In late 2012 Intel launched Centerton: the first in its new line of Atom-based server processors. Hoping to cut ARM's invasion of the data centre off at the pass, these low-power CPUs are targeted at an emerging "Metal as a Service" movement that sees a return of unique workloads to individual processors. I've finally gotten my …
Trevor Pott, 14 May 2013

El Reg drills into Office 365: What's under the hood?

Microsoft's cloudy services offering have had an overhaul. Office 365 is faster, stronger, smarter, better and more like TIFKAM (the interface formerly known as Metro), or Modern User as it is now called, than ever before. The new overhaul is a major upgrade in usability and administer ability. Let's take a peek under the hood …
Trevor Pott, 13 May 2013

Not cool, Adobe: Give the Ninite guys a job, not the middle finger

Sysadmin blog Adobe wants the ability to easily roll out Flash updates removed from Ninite, the sysadmin Swiss army knife. I'm going to explain why this is a terrible thing. First, though, I would like to discuss the real-world practical uses of products such as Ninite. Ninite is used by systems administrators and ordinary folk alike to …
Trevor Pott, 01 May 2013
WD Sentinel DX4000

Review: Western Digital Sentinel DX4000

Western Digital makes Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and recently sent a Sentinel DX4000 to El Reg for review. When I was asked to write about it I was initially unsure exactly how I would approach this: where's the novelty in a small consumer or SME device? The Sentinel stands out for me not only because it's the first …
Trevor Pott, 25 Apr 2013
Tintri interface Index

You got your Tintri hat, beermat and cat: But what does it all mean?

Hands-on Virtual storage upstart Tintri is a great example of a company I would never normally care about: when it comes to storage area networks (SANs) these folks are building the data vault equivalent of Falcon 9 rockets while I'm scraping together spare change for a Vespa. If you have an astounding offering that is aimed at a …
Trevor Pott, 23 Apr 2013
Prometheus is all out of batteries

Are you being robbed of sleep by badly designed servers?

Sysadmin Blog How should we design the servers and end-user computers of the future? The construction of my testlab has given me the opportunity to play with technologies I normally wouldn't be able to get my hands on. The "advanced" features in them – standard fare by now for large enterprises – have caused a measure of introspection …
Trevor Pott, 22 Apr 2013
Chinese Buffet self-service

Whatever happened to self-service computing?

According to Gartner's Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle for 2012, cloud computing has passed the peak of inflated expectations and is heading for the trough of disillusionment at full speed. Cloud computing didn't live up to the overblown hype. We have to get over the disappointment before we start to rationally accept the …
Trevor Pott, 08 Apr 2013
Some wires and a switch

IT Pro confession: How I helped in the BIGGEST DDoS OF ALL TIME

Sysadmin blog I contributed to the massive DDoS attack against Spamhaus. What flowed through my network wasn't huge - it averaged 500Kbit/sec – but it contributed. This occurred because I made a simple configuration error when setting up a DNS server; it's fixed now, so let's do an autopsy. The problem I should start off by apologizing to …
Trevor Pott, 28 Mar 2013

Security damn well IS a dirty word, actually

Sysadmin blog An interesting feature popped up on Ars Technica recently; website journo Nate Anderson discusses how he learned to crack passwords. The feature is good; good enough for to me to flag it up despite that journalistic competition thing*. That said, the feature gently nudges – but does not explore – a few important points that are …
Trevor Pott, 26 Mar 2013

New-age tech marketing secrets REVEALED

Sysadmin blog Traditional marketing is all about risk management. Say nice things about your product. Do whatever you can to prevent people from saying bad things about your product. Run down the competition, but do so without being obvious about it. Never under any circumstances admit you're wrong. This "control the message" marketing …
Trevor Pott, 25 Mar 2013
channel_partners_deal_handshake

Sysadmins: Let's perch on Microsoft Santa's lap, show him our wish list

Sysadmin Blog Griping is easy. Solving problems in an acceptable way is not. I've had a year to chew on what exactly it is about Microsoft's recent moves that bugs me, so it's time to put my money where my mouth is and try to be constructive. Here is my wish list for the next iteration of Windows, offered in the vain hope that someone at …
Trevor Pott, 19 Mar 2013

These mobile devices just aren't going away. What'll we do, Trevor?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) has become an important sector of the IT industry, but is also something of a moving target. Companies from the level of my own three man shop to the largest enterprises are weighing their options for securing mobile devices. For many, Microsoft's System Center 2012 is the barometer by which all …
Trevor Pott, 14 Mar 2013

Perish the fault! Can your storage array take a bullet AND LIVE?

Feature Storage doesn't have to be hard. It isn't really all that hard. If you ask yourself "can my storage setup lead to data loss" then you have already begun your journey. As a primer, I will attempt to demystify the major technologies in use today to solve that very problem. Certain types of storage technologies (rsync, DFSR) are …
Trevor Pott, 13 Mar 2013
VMware logo

VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus: An El Reg deep dive

Review Given the plethora of virtualisation kit on the market, VMware customers – and potential customers – just want an answer to this very simple question: are VMware's offerings worth the money? A truthful response is fantastically complicated. VMware has many levels of offerings; what's more there are a lot of different companies …
Trevor Pott, 12 Mar 2013
Super Micro's 8-node FatTwin server

Review: Supermicro FatTwin

My testlab has a new arrival: a Supermicro FatTwin™ F617R2-F73. As always when something lands in my lab, I will valiantly kick the crap out of it on behalf of El Reg's discerning readership. There are already a few different systems in my testlab - let's see how this thing stacks up. I'd like to kick off this review by pointing …
Trevor Pott, 08 Mar 2013

Mmmm, TOE jam: Trev shoves Intel's NICs in his bonkers test lab

Review Tech offerings are rarely "good" to me, merely "less awful than others." In this case, however, I'll be looking at the complete package of Intel networking's efforts - the hardware, software and ongoing support - and might even attribute that word to its efforts. This isn't to say that everything in the Intel networking universe …
Trevor Pott, 07 Mar 2013
Dlink Index

Drilling into a half-decent gigabit small-biz switch... from D-Link

Review I have a confession to make, dear readers. While I'm aware that this admission opens me up to virtually unlimited heckling from the Cisco-indoctrinated crowd, the truth of the matter is that D-Link switches have served me in good stead for over a decade. After having spent the past month reviewing D-Link's DGS-3420-28TC, I've …
Trevor Pott, 25 Feb 2013

Microsoft's own code should prevent an Azure SSL fail: So what went wrong?

Sysadmin blog Server 2012 is the Microsoft operating system that, in my opinion, makes cloud computing a reality. As far as I am concerned it is as big a leap over Server 2008 R2 as that OS was over Server 2003. With it you can build anything from a small cluster to a service as big as Microsoft's own Azure platform. Which is why I am …
Trevor Pott, 25 Feb 2013

Which Linux admin tools and tricks would YOU stake your career on?

Sysadmin blog Those seeking to enter the rewarding world of Linux system administration can be scared off by the platform's sometimes outright hostility towards the concept of "administrator friendliness". Linux – and the community that surrounds the open-source OS – can seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but it does not have to be so. To …
Trevor Pott, 21 Feb 2013
A picture of a cat.

Is social networking good for anything more than cat pics?

Sysadmin blog LinkedIn made money in 2012. By all accounts it has done better than it had the year before, and as a result its stock price has soared. Despite this, I have some serious questions about the service, even as my fellow technorati fall all over themselves to heap praise upon the company. I get why LinkedIn is attractive to certain …
Trevor Pott, 12 Feb 2013
Unitrends Appliance Index Image

Review: Unitrends backup appliances

Review In my experience, backup software sucks. Normally, I chalk that up to a lack of exposure to non-crap alternatives on my part. Talking to backup admins and doing the maths on the licensing leads me to believe my original assessment is correct; there are precious few backups applications and vendors that don't cause some form of …
Trevor Pott, 07 Feb 2013