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  • Partner Area Lead – 2012

    Last week there was a blog post on the official Microsoft UK SBSC blog announcing the SMB Partner Area Leads for 2012.

    They are

    Robert Gibbons of Think4 IT Solutions

    Guy Gregory from The Final Step

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    me!

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    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.

    Richard Tubb – one of last years PALs also has written about this on more than one occasion and this particular post gives lots of details on exactly what the role is and what’s involved.  

    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.

    Vijay Riyait, Gareth Brown, Steve Wright, Andy Trish, Richard Tubb, Chris Timm and Guy Gregory.

    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 how to order ativan online 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 Winking smile

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    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.

  • Community Is More Important Than Ever

    As well as the recent death of Small Business Server there has been a lot of concern about what will happen to the Small Business Specialist Community as a whole. Especially against the backdrop of the replacement of the SBSC designation with the shiny new Small Business Competency and the fact that community participation has generally be on wane recently with dwindling IT Pro group numbers the most visible impact.

    I’m of the opinion that Community is more important than ever.

    Within hours of the SBS announcement Susan Bradley, Brian Higgins and Amy Babinchak had a webinar lined up ready to discuss with Microsoft Partners about options going forward and to answer any questions people had. (Q&A Transcript and full recording are available)

    235 people took time out of their day to join in which is rather impressive. If that’s not the power of community at work then what is?

    My local group, AMITPRO, stopped calling itself an SBS User Group a long time ago as we wanted to encourage anyone who is involved in working with technology for local businesses to get involved. We can all learn from each other so does it matter if that person works with SBS or even Microsoft. One of our newest members works exclusively with Google Apps and we had a great session last month looking at how that works and discussing the types of conversation he has with clients.

    This month we had a great turn out and the second half of the meeting was a bit like a live version of the webinar I’ve mentioned above.Everyone got involved and we kicked around ideas and possibilities for solutions and the changes we’ll be making to our businesses.

    Since everyone will need to ensure their tech skills are up to scratch with deploying the “full” range of Microsoft products (Windows, Exchange, SharePoint, WSUS etc) having a group of people you can rely on is an amazing resource to have. Regardless of whether  it’s someone to bounce ideas off or formally run projects together the solutions you’re able to offer can only benefit from this.

    But for this to happen people HAVE to get involved on a regular basis. Online communities are a great thing but if you want your local community to exist it needs people to actually turn up. If attendance is low or patchy it’s harder for organisers to attract speakers or new visitors and at that point a vicious cycle starts where people who are attending stop coming because attendances are low.

    Finally, have a think about what you contribute. Robert Crane wrote a great post recently titled “What did you do for SBS” that talks about getting involved. Getting deeply involved by organising meetings, writing blog posts or running webinars isn’t for everyone but little things go a long way. Bring a guest, find a speaker, comment on blog posts or even just say thank you to someone who puts time, effort and frequently their own money into keeping the community going.          

    A community is only as good as the people who are in it. We don’t need a certification or a badge or a vendor as a reason for coming together and helping each other to improve and grow.

    If you’ve never been involved in a peer group find your local one. TODAY. Richard Tubb wrote a post recently with a comprehensive list of the groups that are currently available in the UK as well as a post called “3 Good Reasons IT Companies Should Attend Their Local User Group Meetings”.

    Get involved.

  • Goodbye Small Business Server

    On 5th July Microsoft announced licensing details for Windows Server 2012 and the biggest piece of news for anyone that works with Small Business Server is this:

    Will there be a next version of Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard?

    No. Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, which includes Exchange Server and Windows server component products, will be the final such Windows Server offering. This change is in response to small business market trends and behavior. The small business computing trends are moving in the direction of cloud computing for applications and services such as email, online back-up and line-of-business tools. 
     

    source: Windows 2012 Licensing FAQ

    No more SBS as we know it. Even the product name is disappearing.

    Is this a surprise? Not really – I talked about this possibility in March 2011 (SBS 2011–Most important SBS release ever?) and I’m certainly not the only person who speculated SBS going this way.

    Is this a good idea? In my humble opinion – No. But I would say that right?

    For small businesses the “first server” offering will be Windows Server 2012 Essentials. This is the latest version of Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and will be licensed for up to 25 users and 50 devices and won’t require any CALS and is intended to work in tandem with cloud services such as Office 365.

    Windows Server Foundation will still be an alternative for up to 15 users.

    So where to start?

    When Microsoft said they were “all in with the cloud” they really meant it. That quote right at the top specifically says they are making the change because “small business trends are moving in the direction of cloud computing”.

    I don’t fully agree with this. While I agree it’s a viable option for small businesses it’s not perfect fit for every small business for a variety of reasons.

    Infrastructure

    Getting decent and reliable connection speeds isn’t straightforward. I cant’ say what’s it’s like for the rest of the world but getting a reliable 2MB connection is still a major challenge for lots of small businesses in the UK and we’re not going to be getting 4G mobile networks anytime soon. Not all connections are equal either. There are still lots of ISPs who offer internet connections with data limits and there are still small businesses who use them. We also rarely get any kind of parity on upload speeds. That 2mb connection? You’ll be lucky to get a quarter of that for uploads.

    There are lots areas that will need some rethinking now

    I’m sure you’ve all got clients who still insist on sending 10mb internal email attachments to everyone in the office despite you telling them repeatedly that’s what file shares a for. Maybe they’ll think about it more while they are waiting for the message to upload and download. I understand this is primarily a training issue but I still come across tons of people who work with computers for their jobs who don’t understand the impact of file sizes or what to do about them.

    Ditto for SharePoint. Uploading a document to a local site takes seconds. Moving that to the cloud changes how you interact with that site.

    How do PC updates work now? The 64-bit version of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is 900MB. With an onsite WSUS server that’s a single download regardless of whether you’ve got two PCs or twenty PCs. If you’ve got each PC downloading their own updates that’s a lot bandwidth (900Mb x 20 = 18GB ouch!)

    I understand the counter argument to that is if your client requires all these onsite services then you still have a choice. Don’t bother with Essentials or Foundation and roll out the full product and have Exchange, SharePoint, WSUS locally. That alternative was very cost effective with SBS Standard, I’ll need to wait and see the proper UK prices before I can comment on how it’s going to compare with building it out with the “full” server SKUs. 

    Should one the of driving factors behind which solution we choose be because our Internet connections are a bit rubbish?

    Shouldn’t we be deciding between cloud and on-premises based on what’s best for the business from a cost and feature requirement point of view? Is having a local WSUS server a feature to a business owner? Would they be willing to pay for the infrastructure to update their PCs?

    New conversations….

    Small Business Redefined

    One thing that really sticks out with Essentials becoming the main small business product is that 25 user limit.

    SBS has been up to 75 users for some time and jumped to that from 50 users as the product was so popular.

    In simple terms Microsoft have now decided that small business means under 25 users. If you’ve got 30 users you’re out of luck and have to move to the “full” products and pay the same sort of costs as much larger organisations.

    Choice

    Not all companies want to embrace the cloud. Some aren’t comfortable about having lots of their data sitting on someone else’s server. Some can’t move their data to the cloud because of regulatory requirements.

    If Essentials isn’t a fit that means full server products and all the licensing that goes with that. As I said above I’ll need to run the figures once I’ve seen realist UK pricing but on the face of it that solution will likely come out more expensive.

    If this is the case then the term “Microsoft Tax” has been used in the past but we may need to coin the “Cloud Tax” phrase where we have to pay a premium for not moving to cloud computing. 

    It’s not all doom and gloom though.

    One reason Microsoft have done this is to simplify the product line up and how the licensing works.

    For the “full” server products we now only have two products to choose from. Datacenter edition and Standard edition (bye bye Enterprise Edition)

    This does brings some benefits.

    Both editions have feature parity. The only difference between them is the virtualisation rights you get. Datacenter allows you to run as many virtual machines as you like.

    Standard lets you run two which is an improvement over the previous edition.

    All features are available and there are no memory limitations

    However, they are both licensed per processor. Standard allows two processors though so this should be fine – how many SBS servers have you installed with more than two processors? none!

    This means if you want to replicate SBS Standard like functionality you have some flexibility.

    For example,

    You could purchase a copy of Server 2012 Essentials, a copy of Server 2012 Standard and a copy of Exchange and also install WSUS and SharePoint Foundation across two virtual machines. This would give you all the features that SBS 2011 brings with the only downside being that 25 user limit.

    However, on the face of it there will be an upgrade path for when you go past 25 users that would allow you keep things like Remote Web App.

    Additionally, Essentials can grow with the needs of your business over time; you can purchase and convert to Windows Server 2012 Standard, removing the maximum user and device limits while retaining all your data and configuration settings as well as the unique value-add features that Essentials provides.

    I’ve not even mentioned how this will impact on Microsoft partners. Go read the announcement on the official SBS blog and look at the comments if you want to get an idea of how well this is going down with the SBS community (clue – not well)

    This announcement certainly puts the new small business competency into perspective! My full thoughts on this can wait for a separate post but it certainly explains why the Office 365 exam sits right in the middle of it.

    It’s going to be a tough sell in the short term for partners. With the people I’ve spoken to in the community Office 365 hasn’t exactly been embraced all that warmly i don’t really expect dropping small business server to get people flocking to Office 365, especially when there are plenty of other hosting providers out there.

    It’ll also be interesting to see what happens to the quality level of solutions deployed. SBS is naturally a lower barrier to entry as it came pre-configured out of the box. You ran the wizards and away you went. Broadly speaking you learnt how to configure SBS, not Exchange or WSUS or SharePoint as this was already done for you.If you’re going to go anything above 25 users now then you’ll be building it from scratch.

    From a technical and development perspective I can understand why Microsoft has a hard time with Small Business Server. They have to shoe-horn together all these different products and have them play nicely. When the Exchange team are focussing on working with large scale deployments, specifically hosting, then having to make sure it scales down as well as up must be challenge.

    A potential solution (if I were in charge of the world) would have been to offer SBS as a bundle. Buy Windows Standard, Exchange and some CALS together for a discounted price. The SBS team could then have their bits (the console and RWA for example) as an installable add-on and the solution provider puts it all together as they have to now anyway! Some sort of artificial limit could be added to keep it small business only (SBCore anyone?)

    And what of the community? 

    The small business specialist community is a pretty unique thing and small business server sat right in the middle of that as a focal point. Will people rally around Essentials in the same way?

    It’s not going to change overnight because ultimately it’s the people that make up any community but who knows what will happen in the long term as people move on and do other things?

    I’ve rambled enough…no doubt I’ll have more thoughts in the coming days.

    As I said right at the start this isn’t exactly a shock but I thought we’d get a least one more edition of SBS, maybe two before the shift happened. It’s here now so we’ve just got to get on with it. SBS 2011 is still going to be available for a while yet (December 2013) so we’ve all got plenty of time to decide on what we’re going to do next.

    If you’ve been ignoring the Cloud over the last couple of years you don’t have any choice now. It’s going to change your business in one way or the other.

    Some excellent further reading:

    Robert Pearman – Small Business Server and Beyond..

    Andy Trish – Microsoft SBS Server receives death sentence

    Susan Bradley – Microsoft says next stop is the cloud

    Aidan Finn – Windows Server 2012 Licensing In Detail

    Karl Palachuck – SBS is Dead: Long Live Foundation Server

    intunedin.net – R.I.P. Small Business Server, Welcome Windows Server 2012 Essentials

    Boon Tee – Goodbye SBS!

    As always comments and opinions welcome – I don’t profess to know it all or have all the answers!

  • SBS 2011 Study Guide Book–Competition!

    I’ve had this on the back burner to do for a couple of weeks but a certain well known (and very nice!) MVP was doing something similar so I thought I’d wait for him to finish.

    So what have I got?

    Two copies of the e-book version for:

    Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring (70-169) Certification Guide

    (MCTS): Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring (70-169) Certification Guide

    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”.

    The book focuses on the areas covered in the 70-169 exam for setting up and configuring SBS 2011 Standard. It’s a great resource to have.

    I’ll be writing a review of the book once I’ve finished reading through it but in the meantime if you’d like a copy of your own:

    Leave a comment detailing the lengths you’d go to just to get a copy of this book. Comments can be funny, silly, scary, crazy, sad, heart warming, whatever! Whichever entry entertains me the most will get the first copy and for the second copy I’ll literally pull a name out of hat

    Closing date is 18th July.

    GO!

  • Robert Crane–Search Server Express and SBS 2011

    At the last AMITPRO meeting I was asked about having SharePoint search more than just the lists and libraries within the SharePoint site. Part of thinking is that if users became accustomed to browsing to the SharePoint site to complete this common task (search!) it may help with general adoption of SharePoint as another tool in the business.

    My answer to the question was you could use something like Search Server Express. It’s a free product provided by Microsoft and can be used for searching SharePoint sites, file shares and even other websites (whether you’d want or should index something like Google for example is another discussion altogether!)

    What I didn’t touch on was the practicalities of actually doing this in an SBS environment. In SBS 2008 you can’t safely install it directly onto the server so you’re generic ativan images only other option was to put it on it’s own server.

    However…help is at hand!

    Robert Crane, author of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide has put together a complete guide to getting Search Server Express running on SharePoint 2011.

    It does come with a massive “use at your own risk” disclaimer but the steps are straightforward and there also instructions to remove the product if needed.

    Once finished you’ll end up with a dedicated search site that can search for information from a variety of sources (e.g http://companyweb/search)

    Robert has posted the details for getting up and running on his blog. The full guide which goes into more details is available here for £6.24.

    I’ve seen the guide and it’s well worth the money!

    Go check it out

  • SBS 2011–Most important SBS release ever?

    Microsoft announced about a week ago that SBS 2011 standard is now fully available from volume licensing through to OEM. I think this latest release of Small Business Server is a significant one for many reasons.

    Lets go back a few years and a couple of versions and you’ll find working with Small Business Server 2003 was great. Aimed at between 5 and 75 user small businesses the standard and premium editions of the software were affordable and would run on pretty much on any decent bit of server kit you could find making them really easy to sell.

    Microsoft recommended hardware requirements for SBS Premium (if you want a shock follow that link – and look at the minimum requirements)

        • A Pentium III 550-MHz-or-compatible processor
        • 512 MB of RAM (maximum RAM supported is 4 GB)
        • Two or more mirrored 5-GB hard disks

    Even though we all know these recommended requirements generally need bumping up a bit, a server with a dual or quad core processor, 4GB of RAM and at least one RAID array was still generally affordable for just about any small business.

    SBS 2008 was released and the hardware bar jumped up.

    • Processor: 2 GHz 64-bit (x64)
    • RAM: Minimum: 4 GB Recommended: 6 to 8 GB
    • Disk space: 60 GB

    Again these specs generally need bumping up and it’s not uncommon to see a dual core processor, 8-10GB RAM and a couple of RAID arrays as a starting point for reasonable performance.

    At this stage we started to the see the price start to get out of the reach of businesses in the 5-10 user range as the hardware costs began to rise. You could run SBS 2008 on lesser hardware but performance wouldn’t be great.

    If you were putting together a hardware specification for a “cheaper” server such as a HP ML110 by the time you’d put enough RAM and disks in to get decent performance you weren’t that far off the price for a one of the servers higher up in the range such as the ML350. All this made the price creep up.

    To get around this lots of IT providers started to get creative with things like Home Server and Foundation Server and SBS 2008 shifted to start at around 10-15 users. (I know I’m generalising quiet a bit here though)

    Which brings us up to the latest release and these are the hardware requirements for SBS 2011 Standard.

    • Processor: Minimum Quad core 2 GHz 64-bit (x64) or faster for 1 socket
    • Memory: Minimum: 8 GB Recommended: 10 GB
    • Disk Space: Minimum: 120 GB

    See those processor requirements? That’s a quad core as a minimum and if it’s anything like SBS 2008 that recommended amount of RAM is probably better as your minimum amount meaning a larger outlay on server hardware again.

    So as well as SBS 2011 Standard we now have SBS 2011 Essentials.

    Built around the home server technology this brings most of the benefits of SBS 2011 Standard but without Exchange server (as one of the main standout differences), which is a part of the high hardware requirements, as well as no need for client access licenses.

    What does Essentials need in terms of hardware?

    • Processor: One 1.4 GHz (x64 processor)  Or, one 1.3 GHz dual-core
    • Memory: Minimum: 2 GB  Recommended: 4 GB
    • Disk Space: Minimum: 160 GB

    Nothing too taxing and would work really well on a something like the HP Proliant Microserver that I mentioned recently.

    You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the cloud at all here. Everything I’ve mentioned above is still applicable whether you’re moving applications to the cloud or not. Whether you should is another discussion altogether and a lively one based on sessions I’ve been a part of at AMITPRO. Smile

    So what’s my point? Well right at the start I said this that is an important release for the SBS range.

    Now that we have a two very distinctively different editions in the Standard Edition and the Essentials Edition I imagine the sales figures will determine the future of the product range.

    It may very well be that we’ll eventually see Exchange server disappear from the SBS range and we could quite possibly go back down to just a single edition of the server.

    The only other thing that I’ve been thinking about is the migration path as a small business grows.

    It used to be really simple. Start with SBS (2003/2008) and you could stay with it until you grew past 75 users and you moved onto the “regular” server range.

    Now there is a bit of a weird overlap.

    A small business can start with SBS 2011 Essentials. If they outgrow Essentials where do they move to?

    You’d expect the natural answer to be SBS 2011 Standard which allows up to 75 users but what about email?

    Since Essentials doesn’t have Exchange server, email will be provided by a hosted/cloud service.

    If you then move to SBS 2011 Standard you’ll be bringing e-mail back in-house. What if you’re quite happy with your hosted email service? Sure you could just not use the Exchange part of SBS 2011 but look at the hardware muscle you’ll need to pay for just to run an Exchange server you’re not going to use.

    Does that mean you’d just jump over SBS Standard to the “regular” range (including the need for client access licenses – that’ll scare them Winking smile)

    If this happens, SBS Standard suddenly only fits a specific niche at the higher end of the market which is unlikely to need a server to work in the 25-75 user range as their first server…..doesn’t that sound a little like EBS? (on a massively over simplified basis)

    This post isn’t intended to give SBS a hard time, I’m still a huge SBS fanboy and I’m really looking forward to working with both editions of the product. I’m just interested in where we’re be going over the next few years and the conversations I’ll be having with clients and other SBSC partners. 

    Really very interested on any thoughts you might have on this.

  • Community looks great on the CV

    I had a hard time thinking of a title for this post and I’m not entirely sure if it’s applicable…but it’ll do!

    Yesterday I read a post called

    “Dropping my MVP”

    The post from David Woods who was until very recently an MVP in developer security.

    David isn’t happy with his experience of the MVP program and has decided not accept any further awards.

    Now it’s not actually David’s post that prompted my post. It’s some of the comments made.

    1) “As someone who is trying to get into the MVP program but has not succeeded yet I can’t speak to your comments on that.”

    2) “My observation is that there are people who are professional MVPs; it’s not that they are experts who end up being selected, it’s that they are consultants, writers, and trainers who need the credential as a part of their job.”

    3) “Don’t disagree at all about the MVP; from what I’ve seen it’s way too easy to “game the system”. Do the right things to get the MVP, then just coast for years.”

    I’m just http://artsandhealth.ie/topamax/ curious to know what other IT Pro’s (and MVPs!) think about the program and similar community recognition.

    I always thought MVP status was something that was awarded to you as a recognition of things you were doing in the community, regardless of any rewards.

    How can you getting into the program be a goal? Something you intentionally seek out?

    Surely that would be like me working towards becoming an MBE?

    This isn’t in anyway belittling the MVP program or the people on it as this isn’t what its about. You can swap out MVP for any other community recognition award.

    I’ve met lots of MVPs and they work they do is fantastic. The amount of their own time, money, blood, sweat and tears (etc) they put into community participation just because they want to should be commended.

    I’m very interested to get other peoples thoughts on this. Do you look at any work you do for the IT community with your CV/Status/Image/etc in mind? or is it just a happy consequence of something you’d be doing anyway?

  • SBS 2008, Windows Update and BITS

    Just following on from my last post about SBS 2008 setup hanging while expanding and installing files.

    I mentioned in the last post that since it appeared to be Windows Update causing the problem I was hoping the update got stuck would be downloaded again when I manually ran the updates.

    So I started the update process and got exactly the same thing.

    The progress bar sat doing nothing for ages, simply telling me it was “downloading updates”.

    I mentioned in the last post that I’d forgot to the use the /ALLUSERS switch with BITSADMIN so I may have missed queued jobs. Turns out i was right. This time there was a number of jobs listed and as they were getting downloaded they started to drop off the list until I was left with job three or four jobs.

    The byte count on these jobs didn’t appear to be changing so it looked like the jobs were stuck so my first port of call was to restart the BITS service.

    This seemed to have some effect as the byte counts started to go up again.

    However, even when the downloaded byte count matched the file size byte count the jobs were still displayed.

    Each jobs status was set to “transferred “ but didn’t look like it was going anywhere.

    I found this helpful post on the lifecycle of a BITS job which says

    The job moves between the queued, connecting, and transferring states until BITS transfers all files in the job. At that point, the job moves to the transferred state. BITS uses round-robin scheduling to schedule jobs that are at the same priority level. Each job is given a slice of time to process its files. If the job does not complete during its time slice, the job goes back to the queued state and the next job in the queue is activated. This prevents large jobs from blocking smaller jobs. Jobs are processed largely on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis; however, BITS cannot guarantee FIFO processing because of round-robin scheduling, job errors, and service restarts.

    So for some reason the job wasn’t reaching the “complete” stage.

    I initially didn’t think this would be a problem as BITSADMIN has the /COMPLETE flag but when I ran it I was given an access denied error.

    The penny dropped then and I realised why I hadn’t seen the jobs until I used the /ALLUSERS flag. The job owner was set to the system account so even though I was logged in as the administrator I couldn’t make changes to the job.

    Once again I thought BITSADMIN would come to my rescue as there is a “/TAKEOWNERSHIP” flag. My optimism was short-lived though I got the access denied message again.

    So my dilemma was that I needed to mark the job as complete while being logged in as the system account. How was I going to do that?

    Then I remembered one way of getting something to run under the context of the system account

    Scheduled Tasks!

    I setup a batch file with a single command for each listed job

    BITSADMIN /COMPLETE <job number>

    Then I set it as a scheduled task to run in a few minutes time.

    Once that was complete both of my jobs disappeared from the job queue and my windows update completed as normal.

    I’m still at a bit of a loss as to why the jobs were stuck in the first place but I’m just happy it worked in the end!

    A full list of the BITSADMIN switches are here

  • SBS 2008 Setup Hang while Expanding and Installing Files

    How very annoying this was.

    I’m setting up an SBS 2008 server for a client and the setup process got to the “expanding and installing files” part.

    5030287937_db7155a831_z.jpg (618×499)

    It was running in the background whilst I was doing some other bits and pieces but I noticed it had seemed to get stuck right at the end for some time.

    As is always the way when waiting for software to install I thought it was just me so left it a bit longer. (Progress bars play tricks with your mind!)

    Eventually I realised nothing was going on so pressed ALT+F10 to bring up a command prompt.

    From here I opened the log file

    C:\Program Files\Windows Small Business Server\Logs\SBSSetup.log

    and found this at the bottom

    image

    Looking at the timestamps it had been at this stage for some time so I figured the downloading of the update had stalled.

    I used the BITSADMIN tool to see if there were any queued up jobs but no luck. Though on reflection I forgot to use the /ALLUSERS flag so there could have been jobs queued that I didn’t see.

    I disconnected the network cable and reconnected it with a faint hope it might kick off the download again but no luck.

    I even restarted the DHCP Client service with a similar hope but nothing happened.

    So I bit the bullet and used “net stop wuauserv” and “net start wuauserv” to restart the Windows Update Service.

    The progress shot to the end, SBS setup finished and within in a couple of minutes I was at the desktop.

    The SBS Console reported this installation issue.

    Untitled

    Since the problem seemed to be just on the download of an update and not an install I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to run Windows Updates again to pick up whatever didn’t get installed.

    The main frustration was that I didn’t know there was an issue as there was no feedback to think there was anything wrong.. It was only the fact I thought it was taking too long that made me investigate. I could have very easily have left it running overnight to have come back the following morning just to find it in the same state!

    This is where practise makes perfect. I’ve seen the SBS setup process run so many times I know roughly how long it should take to complete.

    Anyway – the SBS logs directory is a really great source of information. I may have linked to this in the past but there is a great post on the official SBS blog about them.

    * UPDATE *I wrote a follow up post about this as my problem wasn’t entirely sorted!

  • SharePoint as a Help Desk on Tour v3–Reading

    Looking back at my recent posts it looks like this is all I talk about at the moment!

    Anyway….after giving this presentation to both AMITPRO and the North West England SBSC Group I’ve been asked to do it again by Chris Timm from the Thames Valley Group.

    The meeting is on November 4th in the Symantec building, Green Park, Reading (RG2 6UH)

    Doors open around 5.15 with the meeting to start at 5.30

    But wait there’s more!

    At this particular even you’ll get two AMITPRO members for the price of one as Richard Tubb from JamesCash.co.uk will be delivering the Business http://humanrightsfilmnetwork.org/ultram Processes for SMB IT Companies presentation he gave at AMITPRO earlier in the year.

    Richard is a great speaker and I’m looking forward to hearing the presentation again.

    As always when I’m out and about if you read my blog and you’re going to be there let me know as I’m always happy to talk geek with people!

    If you’ve never been to an SBS user group meeting before and this is in your area let me know and I’ll be happy to get you an invite.