Last week there was a blog post on the official Microsoft UK SBSC blog announcing the SMB Partner Area Leads for 2012.
Robert Gibbons of Think4 IT Solutions
Guy Gregory from The Final Step
So the first question most people ask is…”What is a PAL”?
There is a really good description on the announcement blog post.
Partner Area Leads are the spokespeople for the Small Business Community and smaller Partners who would like to engage more closely with Microsoft. PALs have regular contact with Microsoft, are Partners themselves, and will be instrumental within their local Small Business Community. These are people that have an incredibly valuable insight into small IT companies in the UK and can credibly feedback to Microsoft about ways we can improve the Partner experience, about products and services, and any other area of the Microsoft business.
PALs are not paid by Microsoft and give their own time to support the community and the small businesses they work with, this is done from a passionate belief in the community.
I’m really pleased to have been offered the role. The people who taken on the role in previous read like the “who’s who” of the UK SMB community.
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with all of the people on that list and can hand on heart say each one of them have given me plenty to think about over the last few years with their words and actions which has shaped my views on not only my business interests but also my person life too.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to them all
So going forward…
What does all this mean in the context of the recent changes to the small business specialist community? Specifically with Microsoft ending the SBSC “Blue Badge” program?
Well, I recently said that I was of the opinion that the SMB community is more important right now than it has ever been.
I still stand by that.
With all the changes and upheaval going on having other people to share experiences with, to ask advice and get help and feedback to and from the correct people is going to be a key factor in making sure your business is ready for the shift that is already underway in our part of the industry.
The Partner Area Lead role has been there to help with this kind of thing for years! Over the next year I’d like to help ensure partners have access to every possible resource to help grow their business.
This doesn’t always mean Microsoft though. A big part of AMITPRO has always been helping local IT companies to grow, improve and raise standards. Ensuring everyone is making full use of these kinds of resource are what I see to be portion of the PAL role.
I’ve already had several chats with both Guy and Robert and I’m really looking forward to working with them over next twelve months.
Whatever happens it’ll be interesting to say the least.
Book Review: Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring (70-169) Certification Guide
The very nice people at Packt asked me to take a look at this book Co-authored by Drew Hills who is an active contributor to the SMB IT Professional community in Australia and Robert Crane of the excellent CIAOPS blog and “Need to Know Podcast”.
Having read the book I think it’s a title that’s worth grabbing a copy of if you work with SBS 2011, regardless of any plans you may have of actually taking the exam.
There are six main chapters covering everything from setup and migration, server management to working with the premium add-on and each chapter has bite sized descriptions of all the tasks involved with some test questions to make sure you’ve taken it all in.
It doesn’t go into massive amounts of technical detail, it is supposed to be a study guide after all but this is what makes it a great quick reference guide! That said the amount of areas it covers are numerous so it’s very comprehensive and from a study guide perspective it provides everything you’d need to pass the exam.
It’s easy to follow, makes good use of screenshots and the bite sized nature of each task description makes it really easy to dip in and out of.
The book is available directly from Packt in ebook and print format and there is also a discounted bundle if you wanted both.
It was around this time last year I wrote about being burnt out (I’ve just re-read that post – I’m still quite pleased with it!) so following my own advice I’ve just got back from two weeks off work.
As with last year I enabled my out of office auto-reply and the world didn’t end in the two weeks I was off and I got to spend lots of time with my family and I’ve come back to the office refreshed and re-motivated (and probably a couple of pounds heavier!)
One thing I’d add to that post from last year is that there comes a point where you need to realise there are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and you can’t physically work all of them. Even if you could there is still that hard cut off point of 168 hours!
I had a big to-do list of things I wanted to wrap up before I had my break (the end of this competition and the accompanying review for example) but in the end I had to decide which tasks were the most important and had to be finished and everything else would have simply have to wait or be given to someone else to do.
Sounds like common sense when you write it like that but when you are putting pressure on yourself to get through a big list of things to do I found it’s very easy to try and do everything and ultimately do nothing.
Also by taking that break and coming back to those tasks it’s highly likely you’ll get through them much quickly in your newly freshened state!
There has also been quite a lot going on in that time period too so I’ve got plenty to write about!
So go take a break. Even if it’s fifteen minutes to get away from your desk for lunch chances are you’ll be far more productive after that.