In addition to some excellent sessions, my favorite (and usually most productive) activity is personal conversations on the side.
Here are a few notes from a conversation with a member of the SBS team:
- First, PSS / CSS Indian support for SBS sucks out loud. They know that.
- Second, the sales numbers for SBS are HUGE. Tens of thousands of units per month. Hundreds of thousands of copies per year. Almost a million copies in circulation.
That's interesting because it puts "the community" in perspective. How many copies of SBS 2003 have you sold? Ten thousand? One thousand? One hundred?
I think my company has sold less than fifty copies in the last 3.5 years. We've touched or managed a total of probably 100 copies in that time.
But 10,000 units? 20,000 units? 30,000 units? No, not us.
We (and most likely you) are a spec on a pimple on the backside of a gnat when it comes to hard numbers of SBS licenses sold. There isn't a magnifying glass big enough to find my company's sales.
And the community as a whole? Say 100 user groups, with an average of 25 members who do ten installs a year. That's 100 x 25 x 10 = 25,000 units. That's almost ONE MONTH's sales of SBS. That's 2.5% of the install base.
But when people go looking for help, who do they turn to?
Here's a simple test. Assume you're a Dentist who bought a piece of crap Dell server with a blazing celeron processor, 1GB RAM, and SBS preinstalled. Something chokes. You got some error. So you punch it into Google. "SBS error of any kind"
What do you get? In most cases, you get ten or twenty "community" hits for every microsoft.com result.
And once you start poking around, you're introduced to Marina and Vlad, Eriq and Susan, and the rest of the gang. You find out there are forums, newsgroups, and all kinds of blogs.
It looks, to the end user, as if the community is the real support for SBS. Those one million installed users might not know "the community" until something goes wrong. But when it does, the community is their first line of defense.
The community is a two-way communication tool for Microsoft. They use us to disseminate best practices, etc. And they listen to us as the educated, experienced users. Our opinion counts.
We're the vocal 2.5%. (It's a lot like being a Mac owner.)
Just a little perspective.