Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sharepoint Search Not Working

Recently we had a client that didn't have their Sharepoint (Companyweb) Search working correctly on SBS 2003. The Search item was there and everything seemed to look good but the Full Text Search component in SQL under the covers wasn't working properly. After doing some work looking into it I turned to our friend Google Groups.

It ended up being the Microsoft Search service. Check out KB 827449 for a manual reinstall of the Search service. This is what we used to get the client up and running.

JJ writes about SBS and Security

Jesper Johannsson is Senior Security Strategist at Microsoft. He writes for Technet and this month his article is on SBS and Security: It's All About Rick Management! Great article that summarizes what's in SBS and the pros/cons that others have on the SBS front. I've also heard it all before. SBS isn't secure, it's all on one box.

Folks it's exactly as JJ says, it's about Risk Management and what I propose, value for the SMB. No SMB wants to be caught with it's pants down when it comes to security. Is anyone asking for trouble out there? Well they certainly are if THEY AREN'T running SBS and something like W2K Pro or Windows 98 without patching. But if you've got SBS with Anti Virus and proper best practices in place it's hard to beat the security of SBS 2003. To me it's all relative to your price point and security consciousness.

Another consultant was kind enough to pass a lead over to us. The company does not desire any Internet mail to connectivity in the office except for a couple of computers. They don't want the hassle. Do they want sales? It's hard for me to fathom a business life anymore without constant email and web perusal for updating my own information and interacting with my customers. It's a necessity. Sure there might be a little more risk to having my email and getting spam or viruses into my inbox but does that justify shutting down my sales process? No way. Instead I manage it and make sure I have Anti Virus, Spam filters, and Best Practices in place to thwart anything that comes to me.

I think JJ sums it up nicely: "The point is not whether you can build something more secure than SBS. There are many that can, and a few that can build something that is as useful, or at least almost as useful, as SBS, and still at least as secure. The point is how much time, effort, and money it would cost you and how much functionality you would give up in the process. The truth is that most people would fail to build something that has the functionality or the security of SBS particularly if they tried to build it on a single system. To that extent, SBS actually significantly improves the security posture of the organizations it is designed to serve."

SBS you serve SMB's and you do it well!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Microsoft Windows Vista RSS Feed

Just visiting the new Microsoft Windows Vistasite. Are you learning about it? It'll definitely be a different beast to get used to. And now is the time to start thinking about it. One great thing that Microsoft has on the main page is an RSS feed. Take advantage of it, I know I will and learn about the new OS to come.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I can't get that at Best Buy

"I couldn't have got that at Best Buy for that price." That was what one client said this week as he looked at the array of CD's that Microsoft had sent him after he subscribed to the new Desktop Platform SKU from Microsoft that covers his office.

He received Office 2003 Small Business Edition, XP Professional 32 bit, XP Professional 64 bit and SBS CALS. All delivered in nice packages with keys included. The client was impressed with what he got and knowing that he gets more in the future that will be automatically sent to him.

The best part? He's going to get a check for over $600 for our services directly from Microsoft because of the new SBS/Office IT services offer.

Now the picturer becomes clearer. Money back and all the software, it couldn't get any better...unless it was free.

Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 and Tech Guarantee Plan

Guy over at the Windows Server Division WebLog talks about the release of SBS 2003 R2 and when it will come out. You no doubt saw that Windows Server 2003 R2 was released yesterday.

Here's a couple of takes that you may want to think about:
If you're thinking about upgrading or moving to SBS 2003 in the near future then:
1. Definitely get Software Assurance on your SBS box or
2. Purchase after March 1st.

Why purchase after March 1st? Well Guy explains about the Technology Guarantee Plan. If I was moving to a new package I'd sure try to make sure it wasn't outdated in a couple of months. This is the first I've seen of this from the SBS package and I think it's a nice move in the right direction.

Should you take the plunge then if you just have regular old plain vanilla SBS 2003?
Well if you're the normal small business out there probably not. You can download and install WSUS to install patches. You can download and install Exchange 2003 SP2 to get the 75 GB limit.

However you definitely should if you are growing and have an additional Exchange Server in the works as the new CAL will allow for this. Or if you have a specialty app that needs SQL Server 2005 then you're covered by that as well or if you just want SQL 2005 then R2 is for you.

But hey if it was up to me it would be a moot point because the new Software release schedule is for 2 year increments of server products. Software Assurance would be in my offering.

Terminal Server or Citrix

Kevin (who I enjoy reading) over at his blog as a recent post on Terminal Server or Citrix. He quotes Vlad which I would guess is the Vlad of SBSShow who mentions that the advantages of Citrix in Small Business is none and very minimal in midsized businesses.

Well guess I have to disagree. I might be slightly slanted as I have used Citrix for many moons and am a certified Engineer on it, however I think the business benefits can be big. Especially for mid sized businesses but the small business that has a niche it can really be good. Now are the margins, so to speak shrinking? You bet they are. However let's speak about the here and now.

Web Portals: Sharepoint is good. MetaFrame Access Manager is better. If Sharepoint had Terminal Services built in then it would be just as good. However even perhaps a very small business might have a need for clients on the outside to have access to just one application that gives the client exactly what they need and nothing else. You won't get that with Sharepoint but with Access Manager you can launch the app that is line of business and give it in such a way that they don't have to worry about messy installs or failed .dll's and the like. This is big in both Medical and Manufacturing Industries, both of which our company is big into. Also another example is a local Mortgage company. They use Citrix strictly from the web portal giving access to the Loan Application Program just to those officers outside the office that need it and nothing else. Sorry can't do that with Terminal Services or Sharepoint as of yet. Now Citrix even has a plug in for Sharepoint to give you that complete portal with Sharepoint that you might want.

Application Sharing: I touched on it a little above but not until the Longhorn edition of Windows will users get Application Sharing with Terminal Server. This really is a big item even in Small Business. Administration overhead can be big for perhaps a company with as little as 10 users on a server, one server at that. By limiting what can be accessed, administration is lowered and cost of ownership is lowered as well.

Printing: Printing can be hazardous in a Citrix/Terminal Service environment. OK got that out of the way. However it is easier with Citrix. It includes a Universal Printer Driver that simplifies this process.

Well that's only a couple of items but hopefully that shows that there is some value to Citrix in the SMB Environment.

Friday, December 02, 2005

ISA 2004 http errors?

Recently we've been fighting some new converted ISA 2004 clients with some miscellaneous browser errors that users are getting from http. Here's something that helped us to diagnose the problems and might help you as well.

One thing that is just downright powerful now in ISA 2004 is the monitoring aspect. The monitoring agent is just plain stupid good. It works excellent. However you might not see everything that you can by default and that could limit you in your troubleshooting if you didn't know everything was there.

On the monitoring piece and then the logging tab of course you can select from many different queries to really deduce what a problem could be. However make sure you see what will help you in the results. Right click on the display results bar and you'll see an option to add/remove columns as many Microsoft programs now have. Now choose for instance the HTTP status code option and right away you'll see when users are getting nasty http errors and what they are. This might help you get a quicker fix in place.