Monday, February 28, 2005

Citrix response

I've been meaning to post this for a while and haven't gotten to it..until today. Gavin had responded to my original post regarding Citrix and wondered of what benefit does it get you in the Small Business Server/Terminal Server arena. Well here goes:

1. You can just publish applications rather than an entire desktop. I know that with group policies you can truly restrict items but man it sure it nice to just have one application come up and not have to tweak anything. For a specialty app that one can easily run from anywhere in the world you just can't beat this functionality.

2. Web based front end. Citrix has done a great job of truly making the front end easy for the user. There is really nothing to configure if you strictly stay on board with their front end. I've worked with everything from nFuse on up and being able to just give the user a web page where it automatically downloads the client and they just click on the application they want to run is sweet. Citrix is all about lowering your administration overhead and this is to me one of those great features that does it.

3. Client support across the OS board. Sure I know that Linux has an RDP client out there somewhere but the support for all OS' and even PDA's are great with Citrix. Easy to configure and easy to maintain.

These to me are only a couple of the high points. Is Citrix right for every situation? Nope not at all. If you're just publishing desktops for use around the company then Terminal Services works just fine. But when you want to publish that finicky one app for all users at home and abroad then Citrix might just be your thing. Check it out and if you have other reasons you use Citrix then fire away! There's no question the gap between what Citrix and Terminal Services is getting closer but as long as Citrix keeps adding functionality and a solid support base they'll keep prospering in Microsoft's shadow.

Friday, February 25, 2005

CRM Pricing and SBS

Man, it's been a busy month but I hope to blog a little more in the future than I have lately. Having a meeting with a prospective client today I just wanted to reiterate the great deal Microsoft has in the US right now for those running SBS and wanting CRM. You can check out Microsoft's Small Business website for more information.

But even for those small businesses that aren't running any CRM or even SBS for that matter they might want to take a look at this new pricing. If you purchase CRM for say a 25 user office and take advantage of the 15 user discounted rates it gets mighty attractive to bundle CRM and SBS on a complete new package for sales organizations out there.

Let's take 15 Sales Pro users at a savings of $350/each. That's $5250 right there. Then add on the $600 savings for the sales server module and now you're at $5850.

Well if you were buying a server anyway for CRM you've now got that and for only $1500 you've got SBS Premium to run the kit and kabootle. That still leaves $4350 for service revenue or software to break even to the regular pricing. That's a great deal.

Pushing SBS into the places that didn't think about it before...that's the idea. CRM is one way to go.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

TS2 event shows IT solution providers SBS shortcomings

Man, I just have to get this off my chest. I went to the recent TS2 seminar where Microsoft presents sales and technical information to their partners. I also was promoting our Michigan SBS User Group and the upcoming UG tour that we're excited about. But I gotta say that the questions on SBS blew me away.

Stephen Cracknell was the presenter and did a great job. Especially of delicately trying to steer questions away. I can't be so delicate.

Small Business Server is a great product and as such is done for a specific market at a truly great price. But folks learn about it before you implement it!
One gentlemen was frustrated over learning that terminal sessions only run in remote administration mode. Yep that's right, because we're security conscious and only want an admin on the box, that's why. Come on and take a look at the reasons before you slam a product.

Or how about the guy that said will this such and such overcome the limit imposed by SBS regarding it being the only forest in the domain. Look folks SBS is for Small Businesses. Let me repeat that, SBS is for small businesses. If you need dual forests in your AD structure then you need to look at something else. SBS is a tool for small businesses to do more with less. Plain and simple. Get it right. Do the research, know your market.

Another guy wanted to know why he was stuck with SBS if the company grew. "I'll have to buy everything new". No that is just plain WRONG. There is the transition pack. Take a look at some facts before you slam again. (Note the Q&A on transition pack in the link above.)

Hey, is everything perfect? Nope it isn't. But if you want to make a difference then use your channels and do it in such a way that is professional. I can tell you that the ones making these comments with a derogative tone will never get anywhere. Get involved and join a user group to let your concerns be known. Microsoft is big but when there is a unified voice, results happen.

And above all else, know the product folks. Market it correctly and you'll do well. If you're a small business owner as well, I'd be asking some of these questions of my solution provider.

The Promising, Problematic SMB Backup Market

Nice article over at WindowsITPro on The Promising, Problematic SMB Backup Market.

Backup is always something that we have to address with SMB Owners. It just doesn't take center stage for many of them and it should. Time and time again we hear and see of reports of SMB's losing data. I had one office recently lose 6 months of invoices because the last backup was six months ago and when they went to do a backup the owner did a restore by mistake. Ooops!! Imagine the pain of entering 6 mos of data for a full service contracting company. It wasn't pretty.

The article highlights that IDC says that only about 40% backup regularly. Boy it sure seems like less. That's why SBS has been great to implement. Just show a manager or owner how to change a tape or replace a USB hard drive and it gets done with an email alerting whether it was successful or not.

Want to hear a funny thing, the office above wanted a new server the next day to fix their backup problems. When we said we couldn't make miracles happen overnight, but we would rather implement the RIGHT solution, the client balked and walked away. I guess some will never learn.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Updated IMF Filter

Microsoft released an updated Exchange Intelligent Message Filter.

Have you been using IMF? Will you use it now that its updated?

All I can say is that we are using it with very good results. Sometimes we have even installed it in places that already has a web/spam filtering software to help cut down even more on spam. I would really recommend that you use IMF and let the Exchange team know why you like/dislike it. I can only see it getting better and perhaps a nice graphical interface would be nice but don't forget that we have utilities to help you along in your quest to rid spam with IMF.

Want a guide for Mobility and SBS?

Microsoft has just released a BETA Small IT Solution for Mobility guide that should help you along the road of using a Pocket PC or Smartphone on an SBS network.

It gives a nice description of services, plans, options and what might work best for you. One thing that is a nice reassurance is that the guide mentions that in the upcoming Service Pack 1 for SBS 2003, Activesync will automatically be updated from the installed version of 3.7 to the newest version of 3.8.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It's February 2005, Do You Have CRM?

Hard to believe that it's Groundhog Day 2005 already. How connected are you to your customers? One hot word lately is Customer Relationship Management or CRM. Microsoft is really trying to push into that arena with their CRM 1.2 release.

Why is February 2005 significant for you, the SBS/Small Business? Well effective February 1st Microsoft announced new pricing for CRM for those businesses running on SBS. It's a great deal for your first 15 users of CRM and a great way to really get a hold of those relationships that have seemed to wane in recent years.

Here's the rundown:

Product Details
Microsoft CRM 1.2 Pricing for Small Business

CRM Version
Microsoft CRM Sales Standard user $199/user Normally $449/user
Microsoft CRM Sales Professional user $499/user Normally $849/user
Microsoft CRM Sales module (for server) $499/server Normally $1,049/server

System requirements:Windows Small Business Server 2003

User limit: Up to the first 15 users.Subsequent users must license full versions of Microsoft CRM.

Available through Full Packaged Product (FPP), Open Business, Open Volume, Open Value

Well as you can see it's a great deal to get into CRM for the SBS customer right now. Our company is really going after the CRM market in 2005 and you can find more details at our website or the Official Microsoft site.

BlogCast on SBS/Exchange 2003 and Smartphone

If you've been following my blog for a while you probably realize that I love and own a Windows Mobile Smartphone, the Audiovox 5600. It's a great device in a small form factor. Would you like to see close up what you can do with the great combination of SBS that includes Exchange 2003 and the Smartphone? Eileen Brown's Weblog points to a great blogcast on this by UK Microsoft PM Ewan Dalton. Check it out and for the short 5 minutes or so imagine what you can do with SBS and your mobile device.

Once you have it all I can say is that you get hooked rather quickly. Being able to quickly check on email, contacts, whatever is just a better use of my time and day.

BTW, Ewan uses the Orange SPV500 which is the same phone as the Audiovox 5600 here in the US.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Buying Office Pro 2003?

If you are buying Office Pro 2003 then you definitely want to take a look at the New Microsoft Incentive. Get $100 to give to your partner for each copy of Office that you buy.

This is a great deal as obviously sometimes the more significant costs surrounding new technology is the implementation and "man hour" costs. Just buying 10 copies would give you the ability to give $1000 directly to your partner which will no doubt cover the cost of implementation and probably help towards either training or perhaps implementation of a new line of business solution. Definitely one I can think of right away is implementation of a paperless system using Sharepoint housed in SBS 2003.

Open Value also is nice in that it gives you 3 years to pay finance free and also gives you upgrades to all Office products during the same time period. This is a great way to standardize your technology and budget effectively each year.