Tuesday, August 30, 2005

TS2 Presentation Today

Went to the local TS2 Seminar today and as usual our man Don Roessler did an awesome job. He truly is a great advocate for Partners and just uses common sense in his approach to talking to Partners and how to sell.

Some of the points to consider:
1. Small Business Accounting is on it's way and Microsoft is putting some heavy ammunition behind it in the way of marketing and support.
2. Windows Software Update Services is definitely a win win for SBS networks.
3. ALOT of people just don't get all that is out there about the Microsoft Partner Program. Don and I go back a ways and so he singled me out several times and asked me how much my items were that I used for the marketing of the Connections event in the morning. My answer: $0. It was provided by Microsoft through the PEP programs and other areas. A partner that isn't close to Microsoft or cares about his involvement is just throwing away money in my opinion. Hence the lengthy review of the partner programs.

Included in the review was a nice rundown of the new Small Business Specialist program. Number of partners in the room with the new designation: 1. Yours truly! What's that saying...it's nice to be King. :) Seriously, it's a new designation and we were fortunate to have been certified previously. I'm sure others will quickly follow after learning of the benefits today.

NT workstation in your SBS Domain?

Well it's few and far between anymore but there are still believe it or not some NT workstation 4 computers out there that clients would like to have access to the SBS domain and server. A client of ours does AutoCad drawings with an old digitizer that is only supported under NT currently. I know the other ramifications but when you can do a drawing in minutes compared to longer then a client is definitely going to hold on to these quickly growing archaic items.

By default NT 4 is not a supported OS in a Windows 2003 Server domain. However there are a couple of workarounds. I had to dig it up again and thought I'd share the info.

First off search the SBS help on the Server for earlier Windows versions for things you should run through and specifically configuring client computers.

Then install the DSCLIENT utility for the NT workstation. Haven't heard of it? Well it is kind of hidden on the SBS CD's. For 95/98 and NT stations it's a good thing to install it on all these workstations. Go to SBS CD3 and then \SBSSUPPORT\ADCLIENT. Run the dsclient.exe.

Next you'll probably have to do what's in KB 811497. SMB Signing needs to be changed to allow authentication of that NT4 Workstation into the Domain.

There you go. It should work. Remember that it does take a little time after the SBS Server is reset with the SMB Signing for it to start working so go get a coffee and then come back and login to the Server.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Can't send email to AOL?

This week I had a client that couldn't send email to AOL members. Where better to go than check out their pages. Their Postmaster site is actually pretty good at explaining what you need to do.

Short point of our story is a telnet to their mail server determined our IP was being blacklisted although it's on a T1 and not a spammer in any way. A quick call to their Postmaster support desk fixed the problem.

The most frustrating weekend ever

Well last weekend was one of the most frustrating weekends I've ever experienced. I just now can start to talk about it I was so peeved. Never have I had such a frustrating time with a server.

Friday I was to repartition and reinstall from backup an SBS 2003 install on a simple Poweredge 750. Little did I know that it would turn into the horror story that was. The below is a time period of what happened. What can you learn from my horror story? Even the most experienced of installers will run into problems that will just confound you no end. Microsoft integration with vendors still lacks in some areas as installations shouldn't be this difficult Could the normal small business owner have gotten through this one. NO way. That's why going with a partner that is committed for the long haul is worth it.

This weekend I plan on doing nothing and enjoying it!

Here's the horror story recap:

1PM – Wait for server backup to complete
2:30 PM – Server backup completed, begin installation of new partitions and OS
3:00 PM – Begin to notice that OS will not copy properly to Array. Cannot boot Windows if this will not occur.
4:00 PM – 1st support call with Dell. Engineer determines that DVD drive is bad and will order new one. Will get shipped out and delivered via tech on Monday.
5:00 PM – I determine to get external drive (at TAZ Networks cost) to continue installation and get job done.
6:00 PM – Finally test 2nd external drive after returning with a failed first drive that was purchased. OS will still not copy.
7:15 PM – Start call with 2nd engineer from Dell and inform him that CD/DVD is not the problem.
8:45 PM – Call ends with Engineer wanting Array to fully rebuild before continuing. This will take 3-4 hrs. No sense in client having me on site.
9:00 PM – Leave for night

12:30 PM – Arrive for day’s work. Notice that Array rebuild happened just fine.
1:00 PM – Test first OS install and problem still exists. Send email to Engineer from previous night to call and work with me.
1:30 PM – Dell Engineer calls and we begin to work through problems again. Trying and retrying different array and CD configurations. Engineer also talks to various server groups.
3:30 PM – Engineer decides that problem is in either HDD, RAID Controller, Motherboard, cables, DVD. Will send tech out on Tuesday. I inform him of possibility of 4 hr call today. Informs me of $599 fee. Will get back to him after talking with mgmt for approval.
4:00 PM – Mgmt leaves vm with approval. Automatically email Dell engineer to start 4 hour support call.
5:13 PM – Dell responds with case number and 4 hour response time begins.
6:15 PM – Dell parts arrive from logistics company. 8 boxes in all. Left in server room.
6:45 PM – With time to kill I start to download some Dell management CD’s and try some different combinations of installs.
7:30 PM – Find out that new Dell Server Assistant CD for PE 750 (v8.6) works with Windows Server 2003 SP1. Install starts up and immediately does fine. Try old Management CD and works fine with regular Windows Server 2003 CD that was just burned. Evidently incompatibility with some OS cd’s and Dell Server Assistant CD’s.
7:48 PM – Email Engineer at Dell and cancel service call immediately.
8:30 PM – Finished installing new array, partitions, and new Windows Server 2003 OS to restore the SBS image from backup.
8:35 PM – Restore begun.
11:10 PM – Restore completes
11:15 PM – Boot up and blue screen and reboots!
11:30 PM – Restart Installation and recovery
12:30 AM – OS done
12:45 AM – Start restore again
3:30 AM – Restore completes
3:35 AM – Problems arise again with reboots and blue screen
3:40-6:00 AM – Try and diagnose reboot problems (go home for sleep)

12:30 PM – Arrive on site
12:45 PM – Begin installation and Microsoft PSS support call.
3:45 PM – End Microsoft support call. PSS has me do several installations and reboots. Concludes that hardware is to blame and that I should get the OEM disks from Dell as well.
4:00 PM – Call initiated to Dell support.
4:15 PM – Dell initiates 4 hour response as follow up to yesterday’s call.
4:30 PM – Begin to build backup server
8:00 PM – Tech calls to say he has flat tire and will be late
9:00 PM – Tech arrives on site. Replaces motherboard, power supply, disk drive, CERC Controller, cables, SATA HDD.
9:30 PM – Begin installation again.
10:00 PM – Backup server completed and ready to go.
10:30 PM – Installation concludes. Dell immediately begins to blue screen and reboot.
10:45 PM – Begin to put in backup server and test all functionality. Mail is incoming and being rec’d fine.
11:00 PM – Leave for day.

Cougar Roaring Back in the News

Well it appears that the new release for SBS "Cougar" is now 2007 after Vista and Longhorn Server ship according to this CRN article.

Well some points to take a look at:
1. R2 will include automatic RPC over HTTP configuration. That's a great plus for small businesses. Right now RPC over HTTP is a great item but there are still some lingering problems with setup and how to do it right. Also, configuration is still manual and in just about every network we've taken over support for RPC over HTTP for Exchange/Outlook was never configured for the clients.
2. Cougar will include better support for extranet solutions. A great leap forward! Right now small businesses want to act like the big boys and give out information to their clients, however currently with the limitations of Sharepoint Services you can only give them authenticated access by using an SBS license and as we know there are only 75 of them in SBS.
3. Better LOB application support especially for Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS). This is a big YES! Right now one of the most frustrating things is trying to get Microsoft CRM properly installed on SBS and keep it that way. There are tons of failed installs and problems that seem to creep up everyday on the msg boards about how to do it right. The MSCRM_SMB Yahoo Group has been a nice resource to keep up with these items. Started by MS MVP for CRM Scott Colson who does an admirable job of keeping us informed on the latest updates/changes.

Also, things like Microsoft RMS and other MBS apps can definitely use a better way of integration or even having a "shared parts" administration that could integrate all the administration of these items with the SBS items.

Well both these release sound great. I agree that perhaps it'll be hard for SBS 2003 installations to justify upgrading to R2 if it doesn't meet their needs. But 2007 should be a no brainer.

So what should a Small Business do? Definitely if you're thinking about SBS right now go with Open Value and get the 3 years of software assurance. You'll get all these updates plus a whole lot more included with the price. A nice thing indeed.

So....ya ready for Cougar? Let it Roar and bring it on I say.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Repair Damaged or Corrupted BKF Files from NTBackup

OK, I know I've been absent for a while. I took a vacation and enjoyed some time away recouping and getting a little mentally regrouped as well. Only to come back and have a ton of work. Ah the life of the SBS'er!

Just wanted to pass on a great little utility that a colleague just recommended to me. He called in a little bit of panic yesterday mentioning that his client's backup files from NTbackup (which of course SBS uses by default) were corrupt. They were coming up as corrupt on both his tape and even the USB hard drive backup he was doing.

After searching high and low and asking me if I knew of a utility (which I didn't) he found this little gem at www.repairmybackup.com. Here's where a wise consultant and SBS'er is worth his weight in gold. How long would a normal tech have looked for a fix? Not long. But yet here this consultant took it upon himself to mention what was going on and the price to pay. $149 is not bad at all when your data hangs in the balance. How much is your data worth to you? I'm sure at least $149. And that was the agreement of his client as well. Purchasing the software and fixing the backup except for only one folder his quote was, "After purchasing the software and restoring the database for the customer I had that feeling I was Roy Rodgers riding off into the sunset....until the next episode."

Thanks Ben, I'll keep it in mind. Keep on riding man!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Got a bad AOL Address or any email address?

A client emailed today with a question on filtering an email address. The CEO was getting over 3000 msgs from an old email address of a legit business. Why do these seem to always be AOL addresses? OK so anyway the question was, "How can you stop this one email address?"

Well here's how:
In Exchange Manager go to the System Manager and expand Global Settings.
Right click Message Delivery and then choose Properties.
Click the Sender Filtering tab and click add to add the bad email address in.

Now remember that you are only half way done. Some do the above and then don't see any results thus getting frustrated with Exchange. Why? They haven't enabled the filtering on their SMTP Virtual Servers.

In System Manager expand Servers and the Server you're working on. Expand Protocols, SMTP.
Right click the SMTP virtual server.
On the General tab, click Advanced.
In the Advanced dialog box, select the IP you're using. (Most times for SBS it's All Unassigned) And make sure that the Apply Sender Filter is selected.

There you go. NOW it works. And by all means if you're a business with an AOL address, step up to the plate and get SBS, please!