Way to go Chris Rue! Chris has been recognized for this selfless contributions to the SBS community by Microsoft and been appointed an SBS MVP. If you don't know Chris, be sure to subscribe to his blog as it is one of my top 3 SMB Blogs. Chris, I'm honored to know you and look forward to buying you a drink in Denver. See you in the bird cage.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wow, can that guy blog! Now I have to be careful with linking you to Vlad's blog because if I accidently sent you to his personal blog some of you may find it a little… shall we say… shocking. Nevertheless, be sure to check out Vlad's blog on how you (yes you!) can contribute to the community.
Thanks Sean! I guess it was a few years in the making but I'm nonetheless grateful to have a single handy reference point for my do-it-yourself SBS customers. If you are looking for solutions to issues with your current deployment this may not be the documents for you. The technical level varies from ISA configuration to, well… this:
ActiveSync cannot be installed when a mobile device is connected to the client computer.
Cause: If a mobile device is connected to the client computer, ActiveSync cannot be completely installed.
Solution: Disconnect the mobile device from the client computer, log off, log on again, and then reinstall ActiveSync.
So can we get a single library on managing patches, updates and service packs on SBS. I herby nominate Susan Bradley to kick it off. Do I hear a second?
Thursday, June 21, 2007
So I'm learning more and more each day about virtualization techniques and technologies. Recently Microsoft announced that they have added a P2V conversion is in their System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Beta 2. So I run out and install it (Ya right! I actually bring our Internet to its knees for a few hours as I download the VHD files). I didn't get far with my experiment.
In case you try playing with SCVMM, here is where I got stuck yesterday. I attempted to add a host to SCVMM (the first thing you need to do) and it kept failing. That is, I told it I had another box called CTCT3.domain.local running Virtual Server and I want to manage it from SCVMM. The PowerShell script it ran Failed 4 times.
The failure said:
Agent installation failed on ctct3.techcareteam.local because the supported version of Windows Remote Management (WinRM) is not installed.
Please download WinRM from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=84599.
So I attempt to do what it says but the download is actually a reporting engine or something. Not exactly what I was expecting. After a few Google searches I discover the following:
WinRM is part of the operating system. However, to obtain data from remote computers, you must configure a WinRM listener. For more information, see Installation and Configuration for Windows Remote Management. If a BMC is detected at system startup, then the IPMI provider loads; otherwise, the WinRM scripting objects and the WinRM command-line tool are still available.
Windows Server 2003 R2: WinRM is not installed by default, but is available as the Hardware Management feature through the Add/Remove System Components feature in Control Panel under Management and Monitoring Tools.
Windows Server 2003, Windows XP/2000, and Windows NT: WinRM is not available. You can use WMI to obtain data from remote computers, but remote access requires DCOM configuration. For more information, see Connecting to WMI on a Remote Computer.
So I go to CTCT3 to insure WinRM is installed but then discover it is running Server 2003 SP1. Well I guess that is not going to work. Time to upgrade. Oh joy. Once I get this fixed I'm going to convert my production SBS Server (Susan would call it Baby) to a Virtual Server using MS's SCVMM. I be sure to share my success and failures. And if I ever figure out how to add pictures to this blog I'll post some screen shots.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I would like to echo Chris's sentiments on yesterday's SBSC Quarterly call. I get complaints everyday from folks about the program and what is wrong and what they didn't get or couldn't easily find on the partner portal. SBSC is supposed to stand for Small Business Specialist Community. Notice the word Community. Come on folks. Make a difference, speak up, attend, get involved. You really do matter!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Growing up in earthquake prone Southern Cal, I remember all too well the duck and cover drills from grade school. I'm afraid I get the same desire to dive under my desk now as I did then when I hear about somebody as large as Microsoft planning to merge two databases that contains authentication information for about ½ the web sites I visit.
Email from MS:
This is a reminder that as of June 18th you will need a Windows Live ID in order to register for and attend web seminars. Also, to serve you better, this account will be linked to profile data stored in the system so you only have to enter your information into the system once. We are excited to offer this new service, which will greatly streamline the registration process for web seminars.
Once this feature goes live, you will need to sign in to register for any new web seminars, and attend any live web seminar for which you may have already registered. In order to make the transition as easy as possible, we ask that you please go to https://accountservices.passport.net in the next two weeks to create a Windows Live ID if you don't already have one. At the time of your live web seminar, simply follow the link from your notification email. The system will ask you to sign in and may then ask you to complete your profile on record if it is missing any required fields.
OK, so maybe I'm paranoid and they are just "linking" data but just to make sure, I'm going to Expedia right now to print out my upcoming travel itineraries.
So about 30 of us were invited to Redmond to meet with the top brass in April. Exactly why each of us was invited was the biggest mystery but when you are invited to meet with Steve Ballmer and the senior staff of MS, why ask why? Once we arrived, the question of the morning was "Why me?". Nobody knew exactly why they were selected to attend and we only first saw the agenda that morning while clearing security at MS. The mix of community leaders was broad enough that the only thing we could determine we all had in common was that each person there was an IT Pro Community voice (in some form or fashion). Attendees included the likes of Mark Minasi, Jesper Johansson and our beloved Susan Bradley. They must have invited me by mistake but what the heck, since my name was on the list I prepared a couple of questions and at just the right time, let them fly. I never thought I would be so nervous. Below are links to the audio files from this event and the summary MS gleamed.
You can hear Bob Muglia and Ron Markezich forget my question, answer an unasked question then receive a verbal beating from Susan Bradley when they ask another question in Panel Discussion #3 at 23:38 (OK, it wasn'texactly a beating but he was left dumbfounded)
Steve's commitment to never under-invest in user groups in response to my question Keynote Speech and Q&A with Steve Ballmer at 40:45.
What MS heard us (the IT Pro community) say:
- You want a medium to continue these discussions and networking opportunities, not only with Microsoft but with the other community leaders at the event.
- You want focused breakout discussions for deeper discussions on topics like Next Generation of the Web, Community and Virtualization.
- You want additional future in-person opportunities to engage directly with Microsoft and other community leaders.
Key Topics we discussed:
- The importance of effective, consistent and relationship-based connection to Microsoft and other software vendors.
- The need for data center guidance and tools around interoperability, security, monitoring and manageability.
- The desire for more transparency and open communication with Microsoft around security, patching and licensing.
- The issues around emerging web technologies for the IT Professionals including information and data management and the security implications in the enterprise.
- The need for a centralized course curriculum for academia and the broader technology community around the evolving role of the IT Professional.
Links To The Recorded Audio Files
- Welcome and Opening Remarks (WMA, MP3)
- Panel Discussion #1: Next generation of the Web and its implications on IT Professionals; both as consumers and in the enterprise (WMA, MP3)
- Panel Discussion #2: The Evolution of the IT Professional Community (WMA, MP3)
- Panel Discussion #3: Data Center trends including Virtualization and Managed Services (WMA, MP3)
- Keynote Speech and Q&A with Steve Ballmer (WMA, MP3)
- Closing Remarks (WMA, MP3)
I sure wish I could swing Wayne Small's
SMBFocus event in Australia this year but it's just not possible. If you think you can make it and are a member of a local SBS group please let me know and I'll get you an early bird discount code (assuming you act promptly). You don't need to pay now, just pre-register.
Now if I were a vendor in the SMB / MSP space interested in growing your international business, this would be the one event to not miss this year (hint hint Bob)
Monday, June 18, 2007
Get a pre-launch review of the new "Specialist Finder" tool that will soon be launching on the Microsoft Small Business Center. See how the new competency info is now combined with a Virtual Earth user interface to create a more compelling end user to partner search experience.
Event Title: SBSC Quarterly Webcast: Next Generation Version - Small Business Specialist Finder Overview
Date - Time: 6/19/2007 9:00:00 AM PST
It is 6 AM and I've just sat down at the control center to organize my plan of a attack for what is going to be a very busy week. I've got lists for my lists of to-do items. I know many of you can relate. As I'm thinking about overwhelming job of this week's goals, tasks and certain unplanned fires that will need to be addressed all while having my senior tech and partner on vacation I stumble across the following thank you email from of my fellow SBSers Ron Revieccio.
I knew I could count on YOU!
It was a very humbling experience to participate. I was on my own for about 3 hours at the lock up calling friends, family and business associates trying to raise $1,000.00. (Very friendly people and a great atmosphere. Lots of fun!)
Congratulations to all who participated, we raised $1,100.00 to date! Our donation will fully fund 2 children going to camp this summer.
Thanks for helping me reach my goal! Your generosity will make a difference for the children and adults MDA serves, providing help for today and hope for tomorrow.
With the help of friends like you, MDA continues to be able to provide comprehensive services through local clinics and advance its research efforts to find treatments and cures for some 43 neuromuscular diseases.
Wow. All I did was chip in a few dollars for the cause, he took an afternoon off from work, goals, tasks and many other "pressing" issues to help two kids in a very discouraging situation get to camp. Can you imagine the gratitude of the two children as they find out they get to go? Can you imagine the feeling their parents must be experiencing?
So, why do you do what you do? I know for me, my driver is helping small businesses succeed. Not just the business but the people running the business and working for it. You see, to me those are people I can relate to. People with a hope, dream and passion to create something great, even if only for a few people.
As I went out and met with several of my key customers last week I was quickly reminded of why I do what I do. I met people who against odds are determined to make their businesses a success. After government regulations, taxation, workers comp and state sales use tax audits, employee theft, HR issues, accounting nightmares, inventory control and shipping issues, legal and personal challenges they stood determined. They too have a dream of a better life for themselves, their families and their employees and they want me to be a part of accomplishing their dream. You know, at the end of the day, the checks from my clients are nice, but the thank you emails and handshakes mean much more and getting to watch them achieve their dream, in small part from my efforts, is priceless.
Again, why do you do what you do? I dare you to write it down before you get lost in another week of technical chaos. I double dare you to post it publicly to my comments below.
Friday, June 15, 2007
As you may know, Handy Andy is a big fan of StorageCraft's technologies too. He has worked thru an issue that you may experience when attempting to control desktop backups from the server console. Check out this "handy" article here. Thanks Andy!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Today the astute eyes of James Barrett
noticed the following in the fine print on
MS's partner pages
and once shared, it raised my eyebrows too.
Small Business Specialist Community Program Enhancements
Note: To ensure your enrollment in the Small Business Specialist Community program, you must meet program requirements by June 13, 2007.
Good news is that apparently it is the end of a grace period for those that have not gone the full mile (some might criticize 20' and I tend to agree but that is for another post). Here is the wonderful Paige Boesen's clarification on this date's meaning.
This website update has to do with the non-compliance initiative – SBSC partners were previously enrolled on an "honor system" and system checks indicated that a number of companies participating in the program still needed to complete their MCP exam or sales assessment. Additionally, based on an upgrade of the Partner Membership Center and a change to multi-location reporting for SBSC, one office might be compliant, but another might be in a situation where they need to complete these requirements to keep the entire company active in the SBSC program.
Affected partners received e-mails (sample attached) for the past few months explaining their specific situation and providing resources available to assist them with these scenarios, and as of the deadline this week – if action wasn't taken, SBSC status will be lost. However, my team is still "at the ready" to address partners that want to take action at this stage, and we can ensure maintenance of SBSC status based on our guidance. The best team to work with is the SBSC Experts, via e-mail or telephone (live humans are available ). Here's their contact info – and it is also included in the e-mail:
- Email the SBSC Support Team <mailto:email@example.com>
- Call SBSC Support Team 888-298-6303
A few blogs were posted about this initiative:
- SBSC Non-compliance Vteam blogged details about the benefits of multi-location reporting for SBSC (primarily multiple listings in the Partner Locator Tool), along with other program upgrades: http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2007/05/05/2438557.aspx
- In response, SBSC partner Vlad Mazek chimed in encouraging partners to take action towards compliance: http://vladville.com/2007/05/is-that-an-sbsc-logo-in-your-window.html
Charlotte SBS Group Monthly Meeting - DR Night
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
8050 Microsoft Way
Map to Location:
Click image for a map to the event
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
What a day! I'm sitting in the Albany airport waiting for my delayed flight finishing an over-priced sandwich and a not-strong-enough vodka tonic reflecting on the 8 hours I just spent with Bob Godgart and the team from Autotask. What would I do with our my air card?
So Autotask invites me up to spend a day learning and sharing with their staff. I'm not sure what to expect and wasn't sure what to share during my 1 hour presentation to their entire 85 person staff. Oh well, I've winged it before and would like to see if they live up to my expectation from occasional meetings at SMB events so I agree to endure the travel hell of US Air.. Let me tell you this. They blew me away! The faculties, the staff, the executive vision, the desire to learn from end users and their road map for 2007 all were simply amazing. The "Bobs" have created not only an astounding product but an office culture that make me what to quit my gig and go work for them ( I wonder if they would pay me to play foosball or race RC cars all day?).
Now I would really like to share with you all the kewl technical details that I learned for the future of Autotask the product and the company but I'm not. would say it's all NDA but the honest truth is I'm too tired to remember what I can and can't share. What I will share is that after 4 years for running my business on their product and seeing their desire to work with their customers I don't consider them a vendor, I consider them a partner. And I'm really proud of their association. I've seen their competitors and I'm not even a little tempted. You see, what I saw and learned today was why. Why the people that work there are so proud of their product. Why they are able to have a regular version update every month and nothing breaks (try that one Microsoft). Why they seem to read my mind with each new version release. They truly get it when it come to being both a developer, ASP and partner. Their QA process, their commitment to excellence, their desire to make their UI simpler and efficient and their focus on adapting to the MSP's workflow processes all make me proud to work with them. If you having made up your mind about a PSA and your considering going with one that is run by somebody you're not sure you want to do business with (you know who I'm talking about) then you should give the good folks at Autotask a holler or go to www.mobilizesmb.com and let them help you get started. Thanks again Bob, I'll share the tie story with the race track pics in another post.
Now if you will excuse me I saw a couple of massage chairs down by terminal A. I'm going to go put a dollar in one and unplug the other to recharge my laptop.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
This may read like a shameless plug but it's not. It's an expression of my gratitude to a great product and a determined technician. When I got the email yesterday from my field tech I was on my way home sick, my senior tech was in training in Atlanta and my server and DR tech was on vacation. Not a good start. It seems we were going to need to recover a critical file that the customer hadn't bothered to tell us they were now storing on their CompanyWeb. I was less than happy. I was ready to tell the customer that the file was gone. You see, we don't run the native SBS Backup anymore nor do we use VSS on WSS as we now use StorageCraft Server Edition to protect critical servers and workstations for all our managed customers. I was really wishing I had paid more attention to Chad's lesson on SharePoint Recovery at NOLO so now we were facing a task I wasn't familiar with – recovering a SharePoint site. Good news! It's really not that hard and with StorageCraft's SPS it took only a few minutes. Here are the David Thorpe's notes from his ticket. I hope this helps somebody else.
Summary Notes for the ticket:
Created a Copy of C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL$SHAREPOINT.
Mounted ShadowProtect image backed up on 6/10/2007 at 4:01PM as drive letter Z:
Stopped the MSSQL$SHAREPOINT, MSSQLSERVER, and SQLSERVERAGENT services.
Stopped the sharepoint site in IIS and copied over the MSSQL$SHAREPOINT from Z:
Restarted sharepoint site, SQL services, and dismounted SP backup image.
Verified that the USF SALES TOTAL.XLS file was restored.
Will follow-up to inquire if it's the most recent version.
I was going to ask him to write it up a little prettier but I think this shows the basic steps. This recovered the full WSS 2 site.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Have you been listening to the buzz on the death of tapes? I mean really listening? So what are you going to put on the next server you install?
I'm not sure about you but we are planning ahead. We switched all our customers to High-Rely USB and eSATA attached drive storage about a year ago and are currently evaluating some of the now affordable NAS from companies like Buffalo Technologies. In fact last Friday I had a few minutes so I hooked up the new TeraStation Pro II we purchased via D & H at a crazy low NFR price by signing up as a Buffalo VAR. I started with their setup CD (what was I thinking?) that an insert told me I needed an update driver for that could not be found on their site at the provide link. I then did it the right way and went to the NAS via http and was able to join it to my SBS Domain, add AD file permission integration, setup my health alerts and redirect my StorageCraft Server Edition backup images in about 3 minutes. The only thing really missing with this device from an MSP stand point is it doesn't have SNMP abilities (that I have found).
I love it when this stuff works and works fast! So, how is that tape solution looking now?
I've got fairly excited when I discovered Photosynth was going to be an available add-in for Windows Home Server but I had no idea how powerful this technology really is as shown at TED (don't quit the video early, the BMW commercial after the demo I really kewl too).
I can't want to share pics of my children with Grammy this way!
Friday, June 8, 2007
What am I missing here? Google gets out the gate first in the race to deliver virtualized office-like applications (Web Applications) called Google Docs and Spreadsheets so you can edit that document or spreadsheet without having to install MS Office. OK, I'm on board with this idea. I sounds pretty cool and we know MS still has their version in beta for the next few hundred years (sorry, I get impatient with I'm on the user end) but the irony is they (Google) now have had to come out with software you install on your computer to run your Google Docs and Spreadsheets when you are not actually connected to the internet (God forbid!). They call this genius solution Google Gears. So let me get this straight, we virtualized an app so we don't have to install software but now we are writing software we have to install so we can run the app. We sure are working hard to make things easy… Don't lose faith yet, I'm confident MS can make this even more complicated with their virtual app release by adding licensing into the mix… ODG!
So one of my techs sends me this handy link that allows you to transfer ownership and remaining service on a Dell and I think that's nice. My real need is the ability to get paid when I help Dell renew a nice profitable service contract/warranty. Say I acquire a new customer (it could happen) and they have a mixed bag of Dell OEM boxes and servers. I notice that the service contracts are either about to expire or already have expired. Do you think Dell is going to give me credit ($) for renewing those agreements? Fat chance! Even if I join their reseller program I still can't get any margin on service contract renewals of systems I didn't originally sell. I guess I need to suggest to the customer they replace those old systems instead with a new managed computer from HP where they only pay monthly to us and never own the box or the risk. What choice do I have? When will Dell get it?
It's like a bad dream. If you are like me (not literally), you send all your customers to Dell, HP or a local system builder down the street because you don't want to play the quote for dismal dollars game of selling hardware. Sure there is good money in software and especially service contracts but to sell a mouse and keyboard to make $3 then have to send out a $150/hour MCSE to replace it when it breaks – somebody else can have that business you say. Not so fast. I don't like it when Michael Vizard says hardware as a service is inevitable but I'm afraid he is right. At a recent Gartner event I attended I watched hundreds of top hardware VARS and system VARS listen to industry experts and manufactures explain how they need to move into the MSP space. Hey wait a minute! That's MY SPACE! So before somebody moves your cheese, you better decide between self directed destiny or listening to the sound of inevitability.
"Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony." – Morpheus
OK Susan, you asked for it! Actually you didn't but since you didn't try to stop me when I asked we can officially blame you when all heck breaks loose. Also, thanks for the very flattering post. (Nubie Question: Do you call a blog a post?)
Now to test pictures on this blog site: