HayesJupe's Blog

September 14, 2012

Microsoft and management interfaces….

Filed under: Active Directory,Exchange,Lync,Windows — hayesjupe @ 1:19 pm

Consistency…. its what we spend a great deal of time fixing for clients…. sure, they see us writing standardisation documents for AD/Exchange/Group Policy/Logon scripts etc….. but really, what we are doing is trying to delivery consistency – simply because the more things that are consistent within an environment, the more logical it is – and the easier it is to support.

Take for example the very simple case of mapped drives….. some clients have the whacky situation where S: is mapped to \\server1\common for some people and \\server7\finance for others…. this ofcourse makes the job the the helpdesk much harder – as users dont know (nor should they need to) what a unc is…. they just cant find the file on their S: drive. A consistent naming standard for user accounts, email addresses etc are commonly used by the majority of places we deal with – as it just makes sense.

Anyhoo – onto the point of the post – Microsoft products and their management interfaces.

A while ago, the NT 4 option pack to be exact, MMC was introduced, with talk about MS products standardising on using MMC’s for management…. this kind of took off…. AD tools, computer management, event viewer, services etc etc all were (and still are) available as mmc snap-ins….. very handy for standardised management and also creating your own snap in. Other products such as Exchange, ISA/TMG, OCS and SCCM used an MMC-like management console….

Some of these weren’t necessarily the best….SCCM 2007 was universally panned for its shit interface (but it still did the job)…. OCS 2007 i didnt think was that bad, but the devs apparently did…. and exchange 2010 EMC was fucking awesome (a bit slow… but functionality and layout wise it was great)

On the upside, the SCCM 2012 interface is not an MMC at all, and its awesome… well laid out, relatively easy to find stuff, responsive etc….

The we have Lync 2010 with the silverlight interface…. for some of the admin tasks, but an MMC for the topology tasks and powershell for all taks, but some must be completed via powershell. While i find it usable – and dont mind it, its a bit dis-jointed.

Then we have the slight shift to the side – in powershell. Basically the only was to do all the tasks required in exchange 2007/2010 and Lync was to use powershell…. this was a little annoying for clients, but offered an absolute crapload of scripting power… so it was, on the whole, awesome.

Now, we have the wave 15….. SCCM 2012 interface is awesome…. Lync 2013 interface is the same a 2010…. a bit of a (oddly ok) thrown together mees…. Exchange 2013 has thrown out the awesome 2010 EMC and replaced it with a web interface, which is ok… but not as good as the interface it replaced!

So, whats the point of this article… give us some consistency!

1) Having a powershell interface for products is awesome…. keep doing it – and keep exapnding the number of features it covers. The commandlets however need to keep consistency as well… which so far, has been reasonable (i have a vague memory of a few of the Lync commandlets not quite fitting wtih the get/set/new/remove nomenclature)

2) A web interface for certain admin tasks as an option is fine – but a web interface should never be the primary interface in my opinion…. sure the silverlight ones are slightly less painful – but they still suck compared to a GUI

3) Give us a consistent GUI interface…. i get that the teams internally at MS might not see eye to eye a lot of the time and that the interface has to be right for the product…. but FFS… the reason that the OCS 2007 interface sucked, wasnt because mmc sucks, its because the OCS interface sucked. The SCCM 2012 interface is awesome – and even though its not an MMC, I think that same type of interface would also fit well for exchange/lync/AD etc….

4) i’d be disappointed if MS went all web with every interface, but if they did it for every product – at least it would be consistent!

In short MS – please give us some consistency with your management interfaces across product lines….

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