VMware Server 2.0: It’s Finally Here!

I’ve been anxiously watching and waiting for VMware’s update to their free server virtualization platform, VMware Server. Being someone who works in the tech industry (and being a self-professed techie) I rely on the ability to create a virtual environment for testing. Once I moved to linux as my primary OS, virtualization became even more important as there’s still software out there that I need which only runs on windows. Why use VMware Server? Why not VMware Player? The main reason is that unlike VMware Player, VMware Server can create virtual images out of the box. On top of that, VMware Server can keep those images running even after you log off of the host machine.

So a few notable updates you’ll find in VMware Server is that everything has been moved into a web browser. Instead of a console opening up when you run VMware, you actually connect to the service by pointing your browser to it. Even the virtual machine console runs in a browser window. Another nice feature is the handling of VMware image permissions. You can now easily manage and provision permissions to virtual machines via the updated administration dashboard.

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Overall, it’s a great update with a lot of nice new features. The only bug I’ve encountered so far (at least on a linux host) is an error when attempting to grant another user access to a virtual machine after another user has already been added. You’ll recieve the error “RuntimeFault: Database temporarily unavailable or has network problems.” Hopefully this will be ironed out in the next update. Until then, a work around can be found here.

VMware Server [You’ll need to register in order to download]

Failproofing Your SSIS Package

Here’s a script that you can add to your SSIS toolbelt. With this script, you can prevent an SSIS package from failing when it tries to import data from a flat file that isn’t there.

To start, we’ve got a simple package with a single Data Flow Task. If this package runs while the referenced flat file is missing, the package will fail.

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To take care of this potential problem, we’ll add a Script Task that will check to see if the import file is there before proceeding with the Data Flow Task. Note the name of the Flat File connection (“Input Text File”) that points to our import file.

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Here’s what’s inside the Script Task. We create a variable called filename, which we then assign the path to our import file by referencing the Flat File Connection in our package. The script then checks to see if the file is there.  If it is, the Script Task ends with a result of “Success” then continues on to the Data Flow Task, otherwise it will end with a result of “Failure”.

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Here’s the code for your ctrl+c pleasure:

    Public Sub Main()
        ' Get file name from the "Flat File" Connection
        Dim filename As String = Dts.Connections("Input Text File").ConnectionString
        ' Check if the named file exists
        If System.IO.File.Exists(filename) Then
            Dts.TaskResult = Dts.Results.Success
        Else
            Dts.TaskResult = Dts.Results.Failure
        End If
    End Sub

Now we can be sure that the package will not fail should our import file be missing for some reason. The error prevention of this package can be further enhanced by utilizing the “Failure” result of the Script Task and maybe adding a Send Email Task to send a notification that the import file is missing.

Hope this has been useful. Anybody have a different approach to solving this problem?

The Identity Enclave

We all have our own distinct identities: at home, at work, and all throughout the internet. Each of these identities used to have its own logical boundaries that separated one from the other. But with more and more of our personal information becoming available on the internet, dots are now easily connected, and suddenly the boundaries are becoming blurred. Now all it takes is knowing how to use Google, and anybody can potentially hijack an identity within your organization. If a genius like David Kernell can do this, then pretty much anybody can. So how can an organization secure its identity enclave?

We can start by closing off this attack vector. David Kernell hacked Governor Palin’s email account by answering the Governor’s question and answer pairs to reset the password on the account. How did he know the answers? Google.

Question and answer pairs are an effective way to authenticate, and it’s probably not going away anytime soon. One way to strengthen the security of this method is to append or prepend a base passphrase to each answer.

Say your base passphrase was “MySecretPassphrase”. A question like “What is your favorite color?” could be answered as “MySecurePasshraseBlue” instead of just “Blue”. Ideally, the base passphrase would be something that is easy to remember such as song lyrics or even an old street address.

There are other ways to secure the question and answer pair method. Have some methods of your own? Leave a comment and let us know.


Also, don’t forget, Ian Yip’s survey on Managed Identity Services will be closed on Sunday October 12 at 11:59PM GMT. Take the survey if you haven’t done so, and share some of your thoughts on implementing Managed Identity Services and Outsourcing.

Here’s to a New Habit

My first serious attempt at a real blog.  Blogging has just been one of those elusive activities that I have wanted to integrate into my internet habits for a long time.  Leave it to Ash Motiwala to actually convince me to get started!  So here we go…

First things first, this blog will be a collection thoughts and ideas on Identity Management.  You can expect a good portion of technical posts as well as some musings on the current IDM landscape thrown in for good measure. Happy reading!