Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Version 3 of Completing Setup for Microsoft Windows SBS Premium Technologies

Wow, SP1 is what a little less than a week old and already the document for Completing Setup for Microsoft Windows SBS Premium Technologies has another rev release and is up to version 3!

Way to go docs team. It's nice to see the documentation being updated continually. Another nice reason to keep your pulse on the downloads coming down for SBS with an RSS feed. How in the world would you know a new doc was published unless you did this?

CRM Assessment Tool Updated

Are you interested in Microsoft CRM? The Microsoft CRM Needs Assessment (Beta) tool has been recently updated and is now posted out on the downloads site.

Take a look and and use the assessment to speed up your implementation of CRM.

Monday, May 23, 2005

First Install of SBS 2003 Service Pack 1 for SBS Standard

OK so I finally dug out Virtual PC today and started playing with SBS Service Pack 1. I have not received any CD's as of yet so as many of you have I downloaded the Service Pack manually. But I'm definitely glad I headed over to the M&M's outline for SP1 install.
On the download page I sure didn't initially see the big bold instructions at the bottom of the page. :) Make sure you read it or the M&M's site. This is a 5 step process just for the standard edition. You have to make sure that the 4 preliminary items are ready to go before you install the SBS SP1 update. The 4 updates are Windows Server Service Pack 1, Sharepoint Services 2.0 Service Pack 1, Exchange 2003 Server Service Pack 1 and Windows XP for SP Deployment. Because of all of that it takes quite a bit of time to do the Service Pack install.

On my Virtual PC it took just about 3 hours to accomplish all 5 tasks. Did I run into any problems? Nope but I sure thought so. I got a big error message at the conclusion of the SBS SP1 install and thought oh boy here we go but it was that I simply didn't follow through on something the M&M's said in the beginning of their install doc. In this virtual PC of SBS I was using, Outlook 2003 was not installed in the ClientApps directory and thus that is what gave me the error. Checking the logs quickly I found this out. But the server came up just fine after a reboot with the server showing SP1 was indeed installed. Mission accomplished.

Just a few thoughts:
Definitely make a backup. SBS SP1 can't be uninstalled. I find this still a little hard to take personally from a technical standpoint. Sure I understand all the underlying technology but this is what sometimes gives SBS a bad name in the regular Windows world. Because of having little minute things to worry about such as this is why many a Consultant and VAR have sworn off Small Business Server. Granted to me it's not the best but it's also not the end of the world.

Another nice thing I never saw in any prerelease documentation is that the NTbackup now can backup full SQL Databases and we don't have to adjust them to simple. Man in my book that's just plain huge and another reason not to get Backup Exec or your backup flavor of the week and save you some dough.

Overall the upgrade process was pretty boring and straightforward. If you can hold out for the CD's with all of the integration then do it.

Standard is now...now I'm just waiting for the CD's to hit my door for the Premium version testing. That will be the true test!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Heading to SMB Nation? Save $25!

Well are you heading to SMB Nation? Harry Brelsford's conference is in it's 3rd year and as a previous attender to the first two I highly recommend it. It's a great chance to see what's working for other Small Business consultants or partners that work primarily with Small Business Server. This year Harry has gone all out in hiring a first rate conference director in Mike Iem formerly of Microsoft.

The conference this year is right at the Microsoft conference center and will hold up to 800 people. I can tell you that I was pretty impressed with the first conference with 100 people in Indy two years ago, 800 will floor me. The time to network with others is great and see how they use Small Business Server in their practice or business.

In addition Mike has got a Microsoft testing area this year to test for the 70-282 exam that focuses on Small Business Server and free retakes as well! This exam will become more important as new programs are announced for SBS partners. I can tell you that with a little effort an SBS proficient person can pass this test. I passed the 4 hour monster beta test when it came out and if I can pass, anyone can!

Well are you interested? Would you like to save $25 off the registration? Cool. Just enter code TavisP05 in the coupon code area upon checkout and instantly get $25 off. And if I haven't met you before at SMBNation let's hook up and see how you use SBS!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's Out! Windows Small Business Server 2003 Service Pack 1

Thanks to our good friend Harry Brelsford of smbnation.com that alerted us to the release of Windows Small Business Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

Definitely take a look at it but test, test, test is the old mantra. It's a big one folks! Over 200 mb for the bits just to download. It'll probably take over 4 hours to install so be ready for some work.

As I install I'll update the blog as to how it goes and what's new or not.

OK, Let the downloading begin.

Microsoft Point of Sale Released, Will It Help the SBS Market?

Yesterday Microsoft finally unveiled the new Point of Sale System that it has been telling Microsoft Retail Management System Partners about.

Although I personally haven't seen the new sytem if it's anything like it's big brother, RMS, it'll be a nice addition to the family and a direct compete with Quickbooks POS. Probably the biggest thing is out of the box functionality with the new Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 package.

Small Business Computing also has a nice story on it. It'll be a tough road to tackle but the nice integration of SBS Standard with Small Business Accounting 2006 and Microsoft POS would give a retailer a nice start at a very reasonable price. As a Microsoft partner I can see us offering a retailer an all in one price that includes the above 3 items. And if accountants join the professional accountants network mentioned in the article above then who will integrate their copy of SBS? :) Ok just thinking ahead.

It's long been said that 25% of all small business is retail so it makes sense to succeed in that market you've to take a look at working with retailers and helping them out. Will POS push Small Business Server more, well only time will tell but it sure won't hurt!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sharepoint Customization

One of the nicest things about SharePoint which is included with Small Business Server 2003 is the ability to customize and set it up the way you like. A great resource to give you some ideas is Sharepointcustomization.com which is a collection of items that can be used with FrontPage to develop a tremendous Intranet or Extranet portal site.

One of the things that is overlooked quite a bit with regard to the SBS 2003 Premium edition is that you also get a copy of Frontpage 2003 with every purchase. This allows even the smallest of businesses to do some customization and web page design if they so choose. Another reason to bump up your purchase to the Premium edition for that measley $900!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Slow File Copying on SBS?

If you have slow file copying on SBS you might want to check a couple of things.

1. Your NIC settings or...
2. SMB Signing Fix as reported by smallbizserver.net.

Today I was working with a client that had exactly this issue. An architectural firm that had 30-40mb files in Coreldraw was taking 5-6 minutes to open. They had built their own server and now needed some SBS help.

SMB signing problems have been less and less as of late especially with XP service pack 2 and Windows Small Business Server hotfixes and security patches applied. So....I started down the path of looking at the Network Interface Cards (NICS).
The client was using the onboard gig ethernet card for access to the internal network. Usually when we either quote a server or sell one we try and standardize on Intel or 3Com Server NICs to alleviate any issues.

This was a different breed so we started to possibly take a look at installing another card. But before I did that I wanted to make sure and check the revision of the NIC driver. Sure enough it was waaayyyy behind. Installed was a version 6 driver and the current revision was over 8. Time to update!

Update done in 10 minutes and sure enough the file copy and load problems went away! Happy client and on to the next. Definitely check for current versions of hardware drivers when you run into problems such as these.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Improved Microsoft CRM for Sales Outlook Performance

One of the things that really dogs MS CRM at the current time is performance. Just the other day I did a demo for a company with a couple of Virtual PC's and man even I was dismayed at certain times with the speed. There's only so much filler a guy can have, that's for sure.

That's why it's nice to see the recent update that Microsoft put out for CRM Sales for Outlook 1.2 Performance Enhancement. This appears to be linked to offline synchronization which takes quite a bit of time as well.