Monday, April 25, 2011

24 Hours In The Cloud - Migrating to SBS Essentials

June 1st . . . Live on the Internet
GITCA - The Global IT Community Association is a non-profit organization set up by Microsoft to help promote information through the IT Pro user groups.

They are sponsoring a cool cloud education event called 24 Hours In The Cloud. See http://sp.gitca.org/sites/24Hours/ugpages/Home.aspx. Basically, it is a series of 24 presentations with Q & A . . . all focused on delivering cloud services and making money.

I will be presenting an hour called Migrating to SBS Essentials with Hosted Exchange and Hosted Backup. In this short span I will try to cover the business argument for making this move, give some technical how-to, and answer questions.

I'll post more information as I have it.

I'm not sure what time my segment will be live.

:-)


Want to figure out how to make money with Cloud Computing?

Join the Cloud Services Roundtable today and listen a great series of podcasts!

www.cloudservicesroundtable.com

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Great Domains Available - Clouds and More!

In March I posted an article about the many uses of internet domain names.

Another great use for a domain name is simply to represent your business. With that in mind, adding a good domain name can help you with branding and internet traffic.

One of the juiciest areas for domains (and business in general) is Cloud Computing. So cloud-related domains can give you a nice foothold in the market.

I am placing a number of domains for sale on Ebay. They're not all cloud-related, but mostly cloud-related.

Please consider how your business could benefit from using one of these domain names for . . .

- Your primary web site

- Your Blog

- A Landing Page for advertising

- Split Testing Ads

- Radio and Other Advertising

Domains for Sale


Category: Cloud Computing

If you have questions, ping me at karlp@greatlittlebook.com.

:-)





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Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Hard To Stop Sometimes

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn has been to rely on others.
Some tasks are a joy to get rid of. Paying bills. Calling clients about finances.

Some task are more difficult. Like managing the delivery of services and believing it will be done the "right" way.

For me, the hardest thing I've ever tried to give up is sales. I used to fear that a salesman would sell something we can't deliver. But it turns out that this is pretty easy to control if you have an engineer involved in the sales process.

Hiring other people is partly about expanding your business. It's partly about expanding your potential. It's partly about taking some time off because you don't have to do it all.

And there's another big part: Giving up control.

When you hire someone to deliver services, manages finances, or do sales, you give up some control in your company. If you turn things over completely, you turn over control completely. That might feel good for awhile. But when things go sideways, they can go very bad very fast.

So you have to monitor, check up, and maintain a certain level of control. You don't want to meddle too much or micro-manage. But you need to be involved enough to keep things on track.

Unfortunately, one of the great challenges of hiring a sales person is that they need to generate enough money to pay for themselves AND take your business to the next level. And, if they stop selling, then you have increased expenses (from being at the "next level") without the revenue you'd come to rely on.

When you lose a sales person, your business contracts and you have to jump in and start selling. If you don't do this, the business will contract more. It can be very painful and drag you "off task" from the other things you've been doing since you didn't have to do sales.

The smaller your business, the harder this is.

Only one thing helps: Focus. Prioritize the one or two things you need to do right now to make payroll, get back on track, and get the machine moving again.

Seth Godin has a nice little book called The Dip. It's very important to figure out whether you're in a Dip or a crevice. Many people quit (or make bad decisions) when they're going through a dip. It can feel like a much bigger hole.

It's important that you don't quit just because you're in a dip.

At the same time, you need to also recognize when larger changes are needed and to stop doing things that don't work.

Sometimes we need to quit doing things. And that's very hard.

:-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Selling Hardware with The Cloud

One of the concerns that consultants have about cloud computing is: What do I sell? This is a legitimate concern.

Make no mistake: If you make your money selling servers, then you better be prepared for the world to change very fast. As for everything else, there will be a gradual transition. And some equipment will always exist onsite.

What's the gradual transition to? Well, in the short-term, we're going to see onsite storage in the form of NAS devices and lite servers (SBS Essentials and Foundation server). Desktops will fade into thin clients over the next three years. But monitors, UPSs, printers, switches, routers, firewalls, telephone systems, and QOS devices will all remain onsite.

Within five years some ISPs will be offering just a fiber cable onsite with hosted firewall at the other end of the cable. That is rare today (I don't know why. It's very obviously the next step.)

So how can you make money off the cloud right now today with both existing clients and new prospects? That's easy: The good old network audit.

Maybe "checkup" is a better idea. Especially around tax time, you might want to avoid the word audit. :-)

What is a Cloud Network Checkup? Well, start with my Cloud Prep checklist. Just send an email to cloud@greatlittlebook.com and it will auto-respond with my cloud checklist. This is a list of things to consider when moving a client to the cloud.

We are putting together a Bandwidth Audit for all existing clients plus new prospects. Here's how it works:

1) Contact the ISP to determine the current existing speed on the client's network. Ask whether they can get a free upgrade of this speed. In many cases, clients are eligible for free increases and just need to trade in their router. ISPs (especially phone companies and cable companies) would be overwhelmed if they told everyone about this, so they increase speeds when the opportunity arises. Create that opportunity.

Test the line! Unplug everything and speed test the line. Document this.

2) If replacing the router ("modem" for people who insist on use that term even though they're not modems anymore) was not part of Step One, speed test the line inside the router. If the LAN side is slower than the WAN side, quote the client a new router. Make sure it's a NEW router that has new chip sets and can handle the faster bandwidths going forward.

Once the router is up to spec . . .

3) Verify that all firewall settings are correct, including password and inbound/outbound rules. Then speed test inside the firewall. If this speed test is significantly slower than the WAN side of the firewall (the LAN side of the router), then quote the client a new firewall. Once again, new means new. Even a two year old firewall may not be able to move Internet traffic above 10-15 MBps.

4) If there's a wireless device, it should be a newer N type wireless device. Your wireless device might be clamping down a 40-plus MBps Internet connection to only 10-13 MBps wireless. If that's an issue for the client, quote a new wireless device.

5) Once again, disconnect everything from the LAN side of the switch and run speed tests on more than one port. If you get different results on different ports, the switch is going bad. Quote a new switch. If there is just a dramatic dropoff from the WAN side to the LAN side, quote a new switch.

Today you can get business class 100 MB switches at a very reasonable price. If possible, get a 1 GB (1,000 MB) switch for the client.

6) If the client has all 100 MB ports on the LAN side of the switch, all servers and workstations should have 100 MB NICs or better. If the client has all 1,000 MB ports on the LAN side of the switch, all servers and workstations should have 1,000 MB NICs or better. Quote upgrades as appropriate.

7) If the client is using VOIP, or planning on it, consider a QOS - Quality of Service - device that will shape the bandwidth and increase telephone performance.

In my opinion, ALL of these items need to be tested and replaced as needed.

So what hardware do you sell to clients during the transition to Cloud Computing? How about . . .

- NAS devices
- Lite servers
- Desktop PCs
- Thin Clients
- Monitors
- UPSs
- Printers
- Switches
- Routers
- Firewalls
- Telephone systems
- QOS devices

The key is to show up with a plan and a commitment that helping your clients improve their bandwidth will set then up for success in the cloud.

:-)





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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Please Don't CC: The Boss

Several years ago we had a client whose culture was very different from ours. Even though they were a good sized "small" business, no one felt like they could make decisions or take action without covering their butts. The result was that everyone who had any important communication cc'd their boss. And if their boss didn't want to make a decision without fearing the consequences, he'd cc his boss. And she'd cc her boss.
And they assumed we worked the same way, so they cc'd every email they could find in our company.

The result was that emails had huge strings of people cc'd - most of whom

1) Didn't care

2) Didn't want to be cc'd

3) Couldn't make a decision to save their lives

It was so absurd that every once in awhile my (smart-ass) brother would add cc: in the middle of string and include everyone@google.com.

Email is extremely important. As a result, it should be used appropriately and carefully. If you create a series of email discussions in which most of the people on the string have no input, are never going to read the emails, and just want to wait for the final conclusion, you are simply waisting resources.

So who should you cc? In my opinion, as few people as possible.

I don't want to be cc'd on anything unless absolutely necessary. Every once in awhile I have to remind my staff: If you're having a discussion with a [client] [prospect] [vendor] [etc], please do not cc me! I don't care about all the possible meeting places that we are not going to. I don't care about the options that will be rejected six emails from now. I don't care about all the options that will be forgotten.

When you have facts and details to report, cc me.

When a decision is made, cc me. Better yet: Don't cc me. Just execute it.

Include me in decision making if you really need it. But if you've learned that my response is "I don't care. Let me know what you decide" then leave me out.

Let the boss get some work done.

If someone includes me on too many emails, I assign her the task of reading through my inbox, finding all the emails she sent me, and either deleting them or sorting them into the appropriate public folders.

- - - - -

A Few Email Maintenance Rules For Success

1) If you need to cc everyone on earth in order to cover your butt, you're working in the wrong place. Quit and get a job you enjoy.

2) When email comes in, it should be filed as follows:

- Delete without reading. This is true for about 60% of all email, in my experience. Newsletters I can't get to now, etc.

- Read, forward, delete. Once you determine who should do something, hand it off and nuke it.

- Read and execute. If you can't take action, assign to someone else and delete. If you can't do that, then add to your personal task list. If you can't do that, delete it. (If you're not going to address it and no one else is either, why keep it around?)

- File it in Public Folders or elsewhere. If it's just informational ("Yes, we'll do that.") you might want to keep the email for proof that a decision was made. MOVE it (don't copy) from your Inbox to the appropriate public folder.

In summary, once you open an email you either delete it, file it away, forward it to someone for execution, or execute yourself. The only other thing you can do is to add the item to your to-do list and then delete the email.

3) Don't cc anyone who doesn't care, won't give input, doesn't want it, won't read it, or only wants to know the final conclusion.

That means 99% of the time, don't cc the boss!

If your boss is a micro-managing control freak, he'll still want to be involved at some point. At least make his job a little easier and present him with a detailed proposal to approve rather than make him decide between vinaigrette and balsamic vinaigrette. Give him a finished proposal and ask for changes.

Here's the deal with micro-managers: They are okay with finished proposals to review. It still gives them total control. They don't have to be involved in every decision along the way. But if you involve them, they won't be able to help jumping in.

Micro managers are always working on urgent but non-important details. Help them out. They need love too.

Bosses: There's an easy way for both you and your staff to ease into this new behavior. Disappear. Leave the office and don't communicate with them for a day. You'll be amazed at how people figured out what to do and informed you afterward. It's liberating. Who knows. Someday you might take off on a real vacation.

:-)





SBS and Cloud Services:

Zero Downtime Migration Stategies for SBS and the Cloud

An all-day seminar.

Early Registration only $199

Includes lunch, snacks, and 6 hours of real-world technical training.


Cloud Services Roundtable Presents Zmanda Cloud Backup


Please join us today, Wednesday
April 6th
9:00 AM Pacific

For the Cloud Services Roundtable conference call.


Register now: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/754637601

Topic:
Zmanda Cloud Backup with Chander Kant

I'm going to be interviewing Zmanda's Co-Founder and CEO, Chander Kant. Zmanda is the global leader in open source enterprise backup and recovery. Their key products include Amanda Enterprise, Zmanada Recovery Manager for MySQL, and Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB).

ZCB is a radically simple-to-use and cost-effective backup and disaster recovery solution. Businesses in more than 45 countries trust Zmanda to protect their corporate data.

Killer App

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Come listen to Chander Kant describe the benefits of backup with Zmanda and how they got to where they are will enterprise backups.

Free.

Register now: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/754637601

- - -

Always check out upcoming podcasts at http://www.cloudservicesroundtable.com.

Members can download all the old podcasts and products free.

- - -

:-)





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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Breaking News – Small Business Server 2011 Essentials available to download!

My friend HarryB just released this news flash. - Breaking – Small Business Server 2011 Essentials - Download NOW!


To keep up with Harry, subscribe to his email at http://www.smbnation.com/.

Says Harry:
"Minutes ago Microsoft announced the general availability (GA) for the 180-day version of Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. What’s that mean for the channel? It frickin means you can download it at Microsoft.com and start playing with it today!"

You can get the full story at the Official SBS Blog.
I've been waiting for this product for YEARS. This is a great product for transitioning to the cloud. I'll be blogging about the specifics of that.

What amazing timing. I am finishing the first draft of my SBS Essentials chapter for the Network Migration Workbook this week. Now I can use RTM code. Woo hoo.

Download and check it out. I think you'll like the product a lot!

:-)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Stratascale: Security In The Cloud

If you attended SMB Nation last fall, you might have talked to the folks from Stratascale (http://www.stratascale.com/Resellers). Stratascale provides innovative server and cloud hosting solutions. They pride themselves on offering solutions that control costs, provide agility, and supply peace of mind.

Join us now for a great webinar with Denoid Tucker, Vice President of Technology at Stratascale.

Topic: Security in the Cloud

The benefits of the cloud – flexibility, efficiency, speed – are enabled because of shared resources, which have the potential to compromise security. As a cloud hosting provider, Stratascale is constantly addressing the question of security in cloud server environments.

This webinar will cover the real - and perceived - risks with cloud security. And, of course, we'll talk about how you can address these concerns.

Denoid Tucker Vic President of Technology

Denoid Tucker is responsible for the strategic expansion of StrataScale’s entire service portfolio, including its cloud hosting and dedicated server hosting solutions. He has more than 20 years of experience in network systems architecture and deployment of large-scale IT environments.

This gives him a unique understanding of how to build innovative physical and virtual IT infrastructure for small business and enterprise companies with vastly different business models.

Please join us

Tuesday
April 5th
10 AM Pacific
(1 PM Eastern)

Register Free: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/832480472

For more information on this webinar and the free Cloud Services Roundtable podcasts, see www.cloudservicesroundtable.com

:-)







SBS and Cloud Services:

Zero Downtime Migration Stategies for SBS and the Cloud

An all-day seminar.

Early Registration only $199

Includes lunch, snacks, and 6 hours of real-world technical training.