Saturday, January 22, 2005

CRM 2005 SBS Bundle Eminent?

CRN has a nice article on the possibility of aCRM 2005 SBS Bundle. This confirms as well what we're hearing through the channel that either SBS 2003 R2 or SBS 2005 (codenamed "Cougar") would contain some sort of CRM Bundle.

This is actually very smart from the Microsoft side. By getting their MBS partners involved in the success of SBS will help their effort. Also as we know many small businesses become medium or large size pretty quick and having SMB's use CRM from the get go will mean more dollars later on.

For SBS customers just having additional functionality in an already fantastic product will just be icing on the cake.

We're getting into the game of CRM more heavily at TAZ Networks and readily look forward to CRM 2005 for better integration and functionality out of the box.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Interested in Thin Client Technology?

Well I'm finishing up my 2 weeks of time in Florida with the wife and kids (its currently sunny and 74) and enjoyed doing a bit of business as well this week. I attended the Citrix Solutions Summit (www.citrix.com) where there were several key presentations on Citrix trying to get further into the SMB market. If you're interested in thin client or server based applications then you need to check out Citrix. They really do own this market.

I've been involved with Citrix for close to 10 years now and have enjoyed seeing better products keep coming out. The newest Presentation Server is great to work with when run on top of Windows 2003 server. If you run a specialty app like SAP or another accounting app and want secure remote access encrypted over the wire with little rollout time involved then Citrix is for you. Using a web interface on the front can let your users get to their applications as easily as going to a web site typing in their credentials and letting Citrix do the rest. More often times than not it is totally justified in the Enterprise space but SMB's with remote workers or specialty apps will find Citrix very justifiable and well worth the cost.

One item that Citrix was pushing very heavy is the Citrix Access Gateway that will provide secure VPN's into the network and then allow you as well to use over 2000 tunnels of Citrix ICA traffic if you like.

If you're interested in any of the above check out Citrix. They have some great items and we've been sold on them for a long time for the ease with which you can rollout applications. Oh and I'm not just saying that because they rented out Disney/MGM studios for a fabulous end of conference party. Talk about being treated first class! You can only ride Aerosmith's Rock n Roller Coaster so many times. Oh well now back to snowy and cold Michigan.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Exchange webcast for the Small Office

Here's a nice webcast that should be worth the time for the small business owner next Wednesday. Sign up here at the Events Home
One of the best things right now I enjoy on my smartphone is checking my appointments at a glance with just my phone. Having that capability has drastically cut down on the number of double booked appointments I've made. Check out this webcast to see the benefits of mobility and email in your business.

"Description: Do you want to learn the capabilities of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003? Are you looking for a solution that offers you integrated e-mail and collaborative messaging features such as scheduling, contact, and task management capabilities? Exchange Server runs on a Microsoft Windows server and supports Windows Mobile-based devices such as Pocket PC and Smartphones. This gives you the ability to synchronize your Inbox, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks lists so you can remotely check your appointments and other important information. Join us for this informative webcast where you will be introduced to the capabilities of Exchange Server including securely accessing your business e-mail from any computer with a Web connection. "

Monday, January 10, 2005

In Florida?

I'm currently in Orlando FL getting a little R&R (80 and beautiful right now), taking the kids to Disney and doing a little business as well and wanted to invite anyone in the FL area to the Tampa SBS UG on Wednesday night. My plans are to attend and see how another UG runs and to extend my SBS contacts as well. If you would like to join us here's the pertinent info:


Date: Wednesday January 12, 2005
Time: 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Location:Microsoft Corporate Office - Tampa
Street:6200 Courtney Campbell Causeway, Suite 480
City/State/Zip:Tampa, FL 33607
Phone:(813) 281-3900

Feel free to contact Rayanne at 727-415-5565 for more info or directions.

Our speaker this month is John Burns of the Burns Resource Group. He will speak on business continuity planning on a variety of levels. He and Terry are working on a project together, and it should be very interesting.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta

Well if you hadn't heard Microsoft bought a company called Giant that did antispyware. Now in just under a month they've remarketed the product as Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware in a publicly released beta.

Usually I don't recommend installed beta software on your production machine but I gotta say run don't walk and install this one. It caught several things that other free spyware utilities missed on my system. Personally I think it will save Microsoft big $$$'s on support to cut down on the glut of spyware so they will do there best to make this product work great. They've already done a nice job and no doubt much of that hooplah goes to the old Giant company.

Try it out and see how it helps your computer. I'll continue to monitor it myself.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Microsoft Upgrades Small Biz Offering

Internet News has a nice article on the new Microsoft Small Business Financials and also that it highly complements SBS. Smart move on Microsoft's part. Build on the momentum of SBS.

Jeff Young, GM of MBS also mentions about the upcoming Microsoft Office for Small Business Management. I'm on the beta test for this right now and must admit it's a nice starter pack for accounting. The beta has some bugs to be worked out but it is still pretty slick and the integration with Outlook's Business Contact Manager is really nice.

So it seems that Office SBM is targeted for 1-10 employees, the new Small Business Financials is for 10-49 employees, and then no doubt Great Plains takes over. All 3 can run or integrate in some way with SBS. Very nice!

Public Access DNS Nameservers

Just a brief note on something I learned recently. Need a public DNS Server for troubleshooting? Check out the ORSC Public Access DNS Nameservers. The Open Root Server Confederation (ORSC) is trying to get more open access to all DNS servers and domain names. Well you don't have to get involved in all of that but just use their DNS servers in the event yours goes down or you need one for quick troubleshooting.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Need to exclude the IMF Directory in SBS?

Earlier this week we were getting on one of our clients an error in our SBS report that the backups were failing. After looking into the matter we were getting the following errors several times:

Warning: Unable to open "C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\Mailroot\vsi 1\UceArchive\{msg id}" - skipped.
Reason: Access is denied.

It appears that there was some problems with accessing some of the spam archive files from the IMF that we installed recently. If you want to review how to install IMF check out my previous post here. Well obviously throwing our client into a tizzy over a big RED X and FAILED on the report didn't help much.

So what do you do?
Well easiest thing is to exclude that directory from the SBS backup. Ah, but when you go and try to exclude the c:\program files\exchsrvr\mailroot\vsi 1\ucearchive directory you get an error that you cannot exclude a required directory. So we have to move the archive directory.

According to the IMF Technet guide it's just a simple registry change as follows:
Changing the Archive Location
The archive location is the directory where Intelligent Message Filter saves filtered messages when you choose to archive messages marked as UCE that have a rating above the specified gateway threshold configured on the Connection Filtering tab in Message Delivery Properties. By default, messages are archived in \Exchsrvr\mailroot\vsi n\UCEArchive where n is the SMTP virtual server instance number. By default the \Exchsrvr directory is created in the :\Program Files parent directory.
To change the location of the archive directory
1. In Registry Editor (regedit), in the details pane, right-click ContentFilter, click New, and then click String value.
2. Type ArchiveDir for the registry key value.
3. Right-click ArchiveDir, and then click Modify.
4. In Edit String, under Value Data, enter the full directory path where you want to archive messages filtered by Intelligent Message Filter. For example, type C:\Archive.

We changed the archive directory to C:\IMF\Archive.

Now the next step is to exclude that from the backup. Go to Server Management and the Backup section. Then click Configure Backup. Now run through the wizard until you get to the Backup Data Summary and click the Exclude Folders button. Now choose the C:\IMF\Archive directory and run through the rest of the backup wizard. You've now excluded it and that nasty spam from your backup.

Also, don't forget to change the Archive Dir in your IMF Archive Manager utility as well if you're using it.

There you go, your backups are now back to normal!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

2005 Already??

Man, hard to believe that 2005 is upon us. Time has gone by this past year very quickly and for TAZ Networks 2004 was a great year of really moving forward as a company and coming into our own. I'm proud of what we've accomplished but as always there is a lot of hard work ahead. 2004 saw us 1. become a better Microsoft partner and use the resources they offer and 2. immerse ourselves in the small business community. Doing both of these things has payed dividends for us as a company and for myself personally. Microsoft has a tremendous amount of synergy related to the SBS product and just being a part of that is a great thing. It truly is a great time to be a small business owner as what you can now do with technology is mind boggling. Late last week one of our client's Presidents finally "got it" I believe as we walked him from home through connecting to SBS' Remote Web Workplace and getting onto his desktop PC and reading Outlook Web Access. These are things that small business owners have been struggling to do securely for years.

For myself starting the Michigan SBS User Group has been truly rewarding and fun as well. It has been great to see other small business owners and consultants deal with their day to day problems but continue to consistently deliver rock solid services to their clients and customers. Also, the amount of knowledge that can be had in one room is often quite amazing. From sales to retail to technical items, a user group near you probably has all the expertise you would or ever could want!

So what does 2005 bring for you? Well all I can say is set a goal. Whether that be sales, customers, volume, services, etc. Do it and stick to it. Then review it periodically. And is it a bad thing to not hit your mark? I don't think so if you set your standards HIGH. If you shoot low you'll get an airball every time! Network Computing has a nice series of articles on suriving 2005 from the technology side of the house. Hopefully something like this is done for your sector of work. If not make up your own and review it later and then again and again!

So what's in the cards for TAZ Networks in 2005? Our goal is high regarding SBS. We want 24 SBS installs in 2005! I know you're probably saying "That's only 2 a month!" Yes it is but that also translates for us usually into 24 new clients and hopefully 24 new maintenance contracts. With that type of volume by the end of 2005 we hope to increase our technical staff to accomodate our goals and move ahead. Regarding service, we always set the bar high and want to keep it that way. And we will also continue to further our relationship with Microsoft and its Great Lakes personnel (who by the way have all been great to deal with). Regarding products we hope to soon announce that we will be a certified Retail Management System partner which should give our customers another value added service.

I hope 2005 is rewarding for you in business and remember to work ON that business more than you work IN it!

CPA's are going paperless as No. 1 priority for 2005

There's a very interesting article at webcpa.com regarding the technology trends and priorities for CPA firms in 2005. No question the top priority is going paperless with proper document management. This should be something that I think Microsoft and SBS can really capitalize on.

What better way to move SBS into these small CPA firms than to hone in on the wonderful document capabilities of Sharepoint. If you throw in a document scanner that is networked then you have a network capable of handling document management that won't break the bank of some other document management products.

One thing that Microsoft might even want to look into is tailored versions of SBS or downloaded parts that are specific to CPA's, lawyers, doctors, etc. They have some of this already with their Microsoft Business Solutions unit that currently is doing specific verticals for it's Retail Management System . What better way to increase volume of the product than focusing on specific pain points for the industry you're addressing?

Even if Microsoft doesn't come out with such a thing I think that solution partners and providers could do much of the work and prepackage a simple Sharepoint system that encourages specific industry focuses and lowers the total cost by repeating delivery time and time again. I know it's something we'll look into as a team.