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  • Get them while their hot! ZDTM Workbook special offer

    In my last post I gave details about the upcoming event at AMITPRO featuring Karl Palachuk and Richard Tubb

    I just wanted to share a special offer Karl has kindly put together

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    Time-limited offer for attendees of the April 6th AMITPRO meeting!
    Karl has offered a massive saving of $120 (£80) off the cost of buying his latest book ‘The Network Migration Workbook’. If you’re based in the UK and have contemplated buying this excellent resource, then you simply won’t get a better offer than this:

    List price inc. UK shipping: $339.95
    Early bird discount inc. UK shipping: $289.95
    AMITPRO/TVP Special Offer:
    $220 inc. FREE Shipping*

     

     

    *Offer only open to people wishing to buy the book IN ADVANCE of the AMITPRO or TVP User Group Meetings. To qualify for the special pricing, you must collect the book from one of the aforementioned events. (please note: you don’t have to purchase a book to attend the meetings).

    You can take advantage of this by visiting the SMB Books site here and you can read about this on the AMITPRO site too

    Also Karl is visiting the Thames Valley SBS group the week before (1st April). The same offer applies for there too. If you’d like to hear more about their event you can read about it on Chris Timm blog

    Finally….you can now become a fan of AMITPRO on Facebook

  • April AMITPRO meeting – Must Attend Event!

    Just wanted to do a bit of shouting about our next AMITPRO meeting. It’s one we’re really excited about!

    First, we’ve changed the date. Our meetings are usually on the second Tuesday of every month but we’re rearranged to accommodate one of our speakers. This means the date of the meeting is 6th April

    So, the speakers, in no particular order!

    AMITPRO’s very own Richard Tubb (@TubbLog), from James Cash.co.uk

    Business Processes for SMB IT companies

    How JamesCash.co.uk use them in their business, and how they can help businesses of all sizes rapidly grow. From the one-man-band where the owner is looking to take on his first employee but can’t find the time to take that step, to the bigger business where processes can help individuals grow in responsibility and encourage rapid business growth -  Richard will speak about the tools his company uses and the benefits you can expect from systemising your SMB IT business.

    Richard has made great strides as a business owner in the years he’s been an AMITPRO member so it’ll be great to hear how something at the very core of his growth has been put together.

    He went on to become one of the first IT companies healthordisease.com in the UK to gain Accredit certification which is a testament to the hard work Richard put into the processes used to run his business

    We’re trying to encourage more content from within the group so it’s fantastic Richard has stepped up to do this.

    Our next guest is Karl Palachuck (@karlpalachuk) from KPEnterprises and Great Little Book. If you’re involved in the SBS community at all you’ll know who Karl is! He’s been heavily involved in the community for years and contributes an awful lot through his blogs, newsletters, podcasts, conference calls, etc, etc!

    He is also the author of some great books, his most recent one being, The Network Migration Workbook, Zero Downtime Strategies for Microsoft Networks 

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    I’ve got this one myself and it’s brilliant 🙂

    590(!!) pages crammed with information, checklists, diagrams and spreadsheets. There is also an accompanying CD with customisable versions of the documents and a website to continue adding value after you’ve read the book

    Karl will be bringing various books with him so you’ll be able to check them out and get your own copies. They’ll be more information about this on the AMITPRO site as the date gets closer

    Karl is actually in the UK on a holiday so we appreciate the time he’s taking to come and speak to our group

     

     

    Karl will be speaking about

    Zero Downtime Migration Strategies

    Join one of the authors of The Network Migration Workbook for an introduction to SBS Migration that will make your business more profitable and your clients a lot happier. Is ZDTM really possible and practical in your business? Attend and find out.

    Obviously there will be the usual pre and post event networking so in all this is going to be a good one!

    If you’ve never attended a user group meeting before this is going to be a great one to start with!

    If you’d like to know more leave a comment here or visit the AMITPRO website

    We look forward to seeing you!

  • MSN Video Player vs iPlayer

    I saw this article last week on the Times Online website,

    Microsoft challenges BBC’s iPlayer with its new MSN Video Player

    The recently launched UK MSN Video Player will show full series of various popular shows (there is even some old Doctor Who stuff on there!)

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    This is all powered by Silverlight of course 😉

    On the face of it this looked really interesting. The picture quality was decent and a reasonable selection of programming (they’ll need to keep updating it to prevent it becoming stale though)

    However, my excitement once again turned to disappointment

    As always seems to be the case with anything new and shiny at the moment there is a distinct lack of subtitles. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know how many times I’ve come up against “Digital Discrimination”.

    The iPlayer is able to display subtitles and does for most programs (not all though)

    At the top of the page is a feedback link so I dropped my comments into there. It would be nice if this was sorted sometime soon but based on my experiences with the Xbox and it’s Zune Marketplace service I’m not holding my breath

  • Bye Bye EBS!

    You’ve more than likely heard that Microsoft are ending development of EBS with immediate effect. If you browse to the website you’ll see this

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    (eventually…I got this and the regular product page randomly on each page load)

    There is also an an announcement on the official SBS blog

    “New IT Trends Bring Change to Mid-Market Product Line

     

    This didn’t exactly come as a massive surprise. If you work in the SME market hands up who sold lots of EBS?

    When the product was initially announced it sounded like an interesting proposition but I had a few problems making it “fit”

    Comparisons to SBS are bound to happen so that’s where I’ll start!

    SBS works because it fits really well into a couple of scenarios that met a need for small businesses

    New company, first network, first server

    Obvious really. New company, buying infrastructure to get started. Decides to do it right from the offset and goes for SBS

    Existing company, existing network, first server

    A company that’s grown and needs to go from that peer to peer network to their first server

    Existing Company, existing network, replacement server

    You know the type. They’re using a “beefed up" PC as a central storage area for their files or they have been sold sold a more expensive "big daddy” Windows Server for sharing files and have no other functionality

    As a side note Windows Foundation with some hosted services thrown in could easily swap out for SBS depending on the size of the company

    So where in comparisons does EBS fit?

    That was my problem.

    Business that were generally large enough to look at EBS don’t really fit any of the above

    New companies generally don’t start out needing to support 50+ users straight away

    Existing companies that have grown to that size do so for a reason and they’ve usually made their IT mistakes and got something in that fits well. Usually “big daddy” Windows server but they pay enterprise prices because there isn’t a product specifically for them. Hence the introduction of EBS!

    Since most existing companies like this generally have decent enough networks running it’s difficult to justify ripping the whole thing out and starting again.

    So the other scenario I see is the businesses reaching the upper limits of SBS

    I actually have this exact scenario going on at the moment with one of my clients and have agonised over EBS vs the regular server products

    One of the issues I had was with the “Security Server”

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    The client in question had already made investments in protecting themselves at the gateway with a dedicated hardware firewall so had no need for Forefront Threat Management Gateway and were already covered by a message hygiene solution so no need for the Exchange Edge role so what exactly were they going to use this server for?

    If you are doing it the traditional way then it’s a whole physical server you just don’t need. Obviously you could virtualise it but it’s still a running server that you need to provide support for, patch management, etc  (* this is based on my understanding being that you have to roll out ALL the servers to make EBS work. If I’m wrong please correct me)

    There is also another point made by Andy Trish (UK SBSC PAL), that I saw on an email discussion tonight I hope Andy won’t mind me quoting him

    They were trying to sell to a market that didn’t need the resellers knowledge to install and support
    We wanted to sell using our knowledge to a market who we wanted to get rid of their support and use ours.

     

    Andy is spot on here. Companies of this size have grown up enough to usually have some sort of IT function in-house. They may lean on a support company for advice or specific project work but they’ll make their own decisions about infrastructure. They’ll already have a happy system ticking over quite nicely. What benefit will they actually gain by ripping it all out and replacing it EBS. Slightly simplified licensing and Remote Web Workplace? Technically there really isn’t anything in EBS they aren’t already doing

    Again I have a client where a similar situation occurs. They run about 30 internal staff and some external staff. They are quite a technology smart company and don’t run SBS as they have been running multiple Windows servers before SBS was actually relevant (I’ve known this company a LONG time!)

    They improved the system a server at a time and now have pretty much all the servers in the EBS stack

    File and Print, Domain Controller, Exchange, SQL, ISA (at one point, that has gone now though)

    While EBS looked like a decent fit here it would be at the expense of ripping it all out and starting from scratch. This obviously makes no sense.

    We actually had the same discussion around SBS a while back with them but what benefit would they get from ripping the whole thing out to start again with SBS?

    The killer SBS/EBS feature they don’t have natively is Remote Web Workplace. There are other options for this though such an SSL VPN device or TS Gateway. Remote Web Workplace would be great here but they’ve done ok without it so far

    Obviously this all my opinion and very specific point of view. In some ways though it’s a brave decision for Microsoft to just cut their losses and continue with the stuff that does make money so maybe we should applaud them for that

    If you’ve already purchase EBS though Microsoft will be making an limited time offer (June 30th to December 31th) available to transition onto the regular products. Someone will have to actually perform the transition which will have a cost attached so it’s not entirely free

    So as Guy Gregory said in tweet earlier

     

    As always your own opinion more than welcome via comment below or email! 🙂