Saturday, August 29, 2009

Can You Feel the Cloud Breathing Down Your Neck?

Let's do the math. In fact, let's do multiplication.

Let's take internet on demand times network-based applications times computing power on demand.

Thing One

If you haven't read The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr, go get that right now.

Thing Two

Verizon Wireless has a super-cool offer. It's an HP netbook with 3G internet access built in. You open it and cruise. A one step process.

See The HP Mini with Mobile Broadband Built-In. Verizon says:

    "Includes Mobile Broadband Built-In. Access America's Largest and Most Reliable 3G Network — covering more than 280 million people in 259 major metropolitan areas in the United States. Plans starting at $39.99 monthly access.

    $199.99 With a two-year agreement on a Mobile Broadband plan"

$199.99. How long before these start showing up at client offices?

It should be about 20 seconds before all the wireless providers offer this. Or, eventually, you'll just pop a SIM card in your netbook. Anyway, very cool.

Thing Three

Let's say your company's major applications are all available in a hosted environment. CRM (, Finances (Quickbooks Online)?, or a hosted line of business application.

Now you can pop open your netbook and work anywhere, anytime.

But Wait: There's More

Thing Four

Let's just say that Microsoft is patenting a computing device that scales up and down as needed to balance computer power needs and price. Let's just say the configuration looks a bit like this:

Microsoft Application for Scalable Computer Patent

This is Patent Application 20080319910. The summary is:

    "A computer with scalable performance level components and selectable software and service options has a user interface that allows individual performance levels to be selected. The scalable performance level components may include a processor, memory, graphics controller, etc. Software and services may include word processing, email, browsing, database access, etc. To support a pay-per-use business model, each selectable item may have a cost associated with it, allowing a user to pay for the services actually selected and that presumably correspond to the task or tasks being performed. An administrator may use a similar user interface to set performance levels for each computer in a network, allowing performance and cost to be set according to a user's requirements."

Note: We're talking about the U.S. Government here, so you can't actually download these images without a plug-in. The pdf's are much clearer than the tiff files, which makes no sense. Anyway, get the cripple ware tiff viewer here.

Far fetched?

Consider Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) or Microsoft's Azure.

Microsoft is playing catch-up, but the services are different and these companies (plus others) will be leap-frogging each other for years. Right now, all the processing power you want is $0.12 USD per hour and storage is $0.15 USD per GB per month.

The concept of plugging a thin/light device into the internet and simply having all the computing power you want is here.

- - - - -

So let's connect the dots.

If Microsoft is working on this, you know others are as well. Certainly Zenith, Citrix, Intel, Sun, and probably HP and Dell for starters.

There are clouds out on the Internet just waiting to be used.

Start brainstorming now. How will you make money off this?

One innovation we can't ignore: You need to be pushing this to your clients today. Today. Verizon wireless is doing it. AT&T will be next. Then Comcast, Viacomm, and BT. The providers of "the pipe" are going to try to own this business. And for some time they probably will.

Will you be the first person to tell your clients about this, or the second? Third?

One thing's for sure: If you put your head in the sand, you're going to miss one of the great growth opportunities of your lifetime. And five years from now, if you ignore this, you will be irrelevant.

I like you. Don't let that happen.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Friday, August 28, 2009

Zenith Smart Style Brings the Cloud to You

Zenith is rebranding their Cloud Service offering as Smart Style Computing. I just finished their two day business model training at Pointivity in San Diego.

If you're a Zenith partner, go sign up for this training right now at If you're not a Zenith partner, run don't walk to become a partner today.

Zenith expects to start shipping their on-premise cloud solution in October . . . just around the corner. And you can't buy it if you haven't done this training.

There was a recent write-up on this topic in Vertical Systems Reseller magazine.

Okay. So much for the announcements.

What is this thing?

Zenith's Smart Style computing is a unit that will include redundant servers and a backup, with the ability to quickly deploy virtual servers and workstations. The goal will be to create an entire client office "in a box" on virtual machines. The basic box is dirt cheap. Each server is small additional charge per month, and each virtual workstation is a very small charge per month.

Of course you're free to price this to your clients as you see fit.

One way to sell this (which we anticipate doing) is for you to provide this device plus thin clients and Microsoft SPLA licensing. In other words, you will own 100% of the client's technology. You'll own the hardware and resell the software on a monthly basis.

The client will buy technology as a service, so it's a total operating expenditure and not payments on an asset that depreciates. It means the client can count on a nice stable price for three years and avoid that big one-time bump for the purchase of the server.

When I went to the initial Zenith roadshow for this product in April, I knew right away that we needed to sell it. I talked to a client who had spent about $80,000 over the previous three years to support an SBS Server and ten users, with all managed service and hourly labor.

My basic pitch was that we would be able to even out monthly costs, cut the overall budget by 10%, and provide a much higher level of service and support.

How can I do that? Well . . . for one thing, desktop support will consist largely of rebooting the thin client to bring down a fresh image. Done.

The client was very eager to do this. He made it clear he didn't want to be the first person on such a system, but he's be willing to be an early adopter.

Another client said they'd go through an early adoption if I put my company through it by building up our own infrastructure on such a system. Resistance so far has been zero.

There are two big questions that everyone has:

1) If all my stuff is on one big thing, what happens when that thing breaks?

2) If something happens to KPEnterprises, who would support such a system?

Answer 1 is pretty straight forward. Because the BDR is included in the package, a total failure of two servers would just mean that we have to restore an image to something else. KPEnterprises would provide a loaner machine and the client would be back up same day.

If the price is right, we might even have a spare Smart Style Computing system in a box at our office.

Answer 2 is that there will be lots of companies supporting this technology by the time we get our hands on it and begin actually deploying it. If Zenith has as much success with this as they've had with the BDR devices, this should be no problem at all.

- - - - -

Most of the training for the last two days was not about the product itself. The training was a step up on cloud services and a pummelling on the business models that are available to cloud service providers (like YOU).

Do yourself a favor. Get into this space as quickly as you can.

The early adopters are lining up. The technology is emerging very quickly. And the future is a lot closer than you think.


Now Available:
Zero Downtime Migration Deep Dive Seminar -
Vegas October 1st

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cloud Considerations: Security

If you're interested in cloud computing, then keep an eye out for upcoming "Cloud Considerations" posts. I want to make it easy for you to highlight these if you wish.

This is kind of the first installment, but I have to say that it's founded in my past postings on cloud computing. For those, go to

- - - - -

I've talked to a lot of clients about cloud computing and moving their services off to the cloud.

The first question for almost every one of them is security. This is odd from some of them who regularly click on every shiny object they find. But we're all human and our minds are capable of holding two completely opposite beliefs at the same time.

No matter what their personal habits are, they want their company data to be secured. Questions include . . .

- Where will our data actually BE?

- Who will have access to our data?

- How is our data kept separate from other companies' data?

- Is our data backed up? Is this separate from others' data?
- - If not, how can they ever purge our data if we drop the service?

- If the company housing our data is sued, can the courts force them to hand over our data for any reason?

- If the company housing our data goes out of business, what happens to our data?

- As the government regulates my industry more and more, how will we know that we're complying with government guidelines?

- If there is a security breach, is the service company required to tell us that our data has been compromised?

(I REALLY welcome your additional security questions in the comments area.)

You get the picture. And if you can answer all those questions right now then I have to call you a BSer. Very few industries have figured out all these things. And the government will regulate all industries more and more going forward. But in the meantime, we need to come up with some answers (we as an industry).

We are just beginning to see buzz about security and hosted services (e.g., Trend-followers can bet on a huge increase in this.

In the great someday, every product will have a security notice that explains all this.

In the short term, you need to come up with reasonable answers for your clients.

Before that, you need to come up with the actual products and services you're going to sell. Details Details.


Join Me In Chicago September 23rd
Seminar - Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Love the Future

I Love the Future - I'm Probably Going To Spend The Rest of My Life There

- - - - -

I am lucky to have seen several glimpses of the future. It is interesting to see and interact with the people who are building the future - hardware, software, and services.

It's also interesting to see how these folks sometimes have no idea what the others are doing, but the products they're developing will help to push each other faster into the next generation of computing.

There's an old term you don't hear much anymore called Wintel. It was used to describe the whole Windows/Intel killer combination that made the PC market take off like a rocket. It was kind of like the military industrial complex for computers. It was much bigger than Microsoft and Intel.

Wintel represented the coalition of eager beavers building add-ons and accessories. Standardized (Hayes compatible) modems; standardized (Epson compatible) printers; standardized (AT style) cases. It seemed like everyone was creating a card that plugged into a standard port or slot - and making money doing it.

Standards didn't quite rule. Everyone, including Hayes, sometimes had an implementation that wasn't quite 100% within the guidelines. But the standard changed and evolved quickly.

Software developers made fortunes on games, screen savers, and specialty software to make your business run better.

"Anyone" could build a computer and add in all the whiz-bang hardware and software they wanted. It got faster every year, with a brighter promise of the future every year.

Computers kicked ass before anyone ever heard of the Internet.

And then came the Web. Evolution sped up several hundred percent per year.

The "real" world wide web, with usable browsers and usable servers, is just fifteen years old this year. You might hear http was around before that, etc. I personally built a web page and won an award for it in 1993. But there was no one to look at it except my customers and the awards committee. And the awards committee didn't have 1,000 other pages to look at!

Now we're on the verge of another massive change.

When was the last time you compared answering machines so you could buy a new one? Do you even remember?

Answering machines are still made. They exist and you can buy a brand new one today.

But 98% of us prefer voice mail. It just exists. It's there. Wherever there is.

We've stopped thinking about voice mail as a physical thing we buy and now we just buy the service we want. It comes with cell phones. It comes with AT&T service. It comes with VOIP. In fact, there are millions of unused voice mail accounts because it's just available because you signed up for something else.

Voice mail is a model for future technology. Clients don't want servers and desktop computers. They want technology to just work. They want their employees to sit down and just do their job. No one wants to install updates, fix a configuration, download a patch.

Technology is evolving away from a series of "things" you sell. It is becoming a service you provide. HP coined the term "All-in-One" awhile back. I thought it just applied to printers. But they use it to market their storage servers.

And maybe one day they'll use it to market a big black box that has only two ports: NIC and Power. And in that big box is everything you need to create virtual servers, virtual workstations, virtual switches, routers, firewalls, and specialty devices we can't imagine today.

Sun's doing this.

I'm leaving today for San Diego and the Zenith Infotech training on their version of cloud services. It's not a technical training. No hardware in sight. It's a business training on the business model of the future.

Citrix is building the tools you need to create this future. Available right now if you want to build your own.

Same with VMWare.

Same with MS Hyper-V.

I'm working with a software developer who is very close to releasing a product that will make the transition to hosted services and a "lighter" on-premise footprint very easy to accomplish.

I'm working with a hardware vendor who wants to bundle everything you need together provide all the technology a client needs (hardware, software, licenses, cals, etc.) into an easy monthly payment.

And that loops us back to Microsoft and Intel. They're still the biggest players in the PC space. And while they have competition for this or that, they are the absolute leaders in providing the core technology that will make all the rest possible.

But they're not alone.

We now have an alternative to Wintel: LAMP. The Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP industrial complex is alive and thriving.

Just like fifteen years ago, we're in an exciting time when anyone can build applications, offer them up, and see what's successful.

The happiest days of my technical career were the wild five years 1995-1999. I had fun and made a bunch of money doing it.

I believe we're about ready to do that again. 2010-2014. We can't even imagine how different our world will be at the end of that period. But I guarantee a bunch of people are going to make a bunch of money.

The future is here. I'm strapped in and the countdown has started.

Now we just need the economy to shake loose a little extra spending power so we can start implementing it!


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Did You Take a 25% Paycut?

As an employer, I got a nice little note from Robert Half Technology. The "good news" is that human labor is on sale.

Their examples:

Application Developer 2008 rate: $96 /hr
Application Developer 2009 rate: $78 /hr

SQL Database Developer 2008 rate: $104 /hr
SQL Database Developer 2009 rate: $87 /hr

System Administrator 2008 rate: $87 /hr
System Administrator 2009 rate: $66 /hr

Desktop Support 2008 rate: $44 /hr
Desktop Support 2009 rate: $31 /hr

Help Desk 2008 rate: $28 /hr
Help Desk 2009 rate: $23 /hr

- - - - -

One word: OUCH!

Cutting the price for outsourced personnel is one thing. But what about those "real" employees?

Well, I know we've cut back hours in the last year. In addition to layoffs, we've had to reduce hours. So while we've avoided pay rate decreases, we've clamped down on overtime and reduced schedules from time to time.

On a related note . . .

We recently hired a web development intern. We got a student who is very good, eager to learn, and not looking for a full time gig at $40,000 a year.

That ad ran almost a month ago and we still get resumes every single day. We're over 100 resumes so far. Some of them are from very skilled, experienced people who should (and will) find a job at $60K or more. But times are hard, so they're applying to anything.

Don't Get Mad At The Employer

A few people have sent me nasty notes about the rate I'm paying the intern, blah blah blah. I'm the most evil person in the history of the world, etc.

Hint: That won't help you get hired. I've had my share of financial woes (see previous post) and I need to manage my business reasonably without overpaying for supplies, services, . . . and labor.

This is a very, very hard time to own a business. But if you don't own a business, then you work for a business. And it's a hard time to be an employee!

Think about your wage like the stock market. Right now, your employee stock is probably down. Someday it will go up. With luck it may go way up. In the meantime, focus on what you can to keep yourself valuable and make yourself more valuable.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Monday, August 24, 2009

My 600th Blog Post

600 is just another number.

So is 10,000 for the Dow Jones.

But somehow we manage to make numbers meaningful.

It took me 3.5 years to get here. But I guess it's like everything else in life. One day at a time. One blog post at a time.

Thanks for reading!


Now Available:
The Network Migration Workbook: Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Q and A on Migrations: Profiles

On the last SMB Conference Call, Harry Brelsford and I chatted a bit about our Zero Downtime Migration Strategy and my upcoming appearance with Jeff Middleton at SMB Nation.

Listener Doug C. writes:

    "I just listened to the interview and thought it was great!

    I have a question about your SBS migration strategy. Does it require you to rebuild all of the desktop profiles?"

I responded to Doug directly, but thought I'd share my thoughts with everyone else as well.

A large part of The Network Migration Workbook is dedicated to the premise that perfecting each piece of the big process will improve the process overall.

So, a big part of what we do is explain each individual piece of the project in detail. Then you can choose which tools and techniques make the most sense.

Generally, for under 25 desktops, we’re going to rebuild the local profiles. The primary reason for that is that we’re taking the opportunity to move data to the server, clean off junk, remove programs that don’t belong, clean up renamed users, etc.

In other words, when we’re done, the desktop is perfect and beautiful, faster, and configured the way it should be.

This takes about 1 hour per workstation, depending on the level of detail the client wants to move over. If they want the end user to have an exact replica of their old desktop, that takes a little more time. If they are happy to have the employee get a vanilla desktop, that takes less time. Older machines take more time, newer ones less.

On a well maintained, newer network, the desktop portion is about 45 minutes per workstation. The worst we’ve seen with old, virus-laden workstations is 1.5 hours each (average for the project).

We also rely on Zenith Infotech to help out with these things. They can clean up the desktops weeks in advance and leave us with a 30 minute job per workstation (or less).

Hope that helps. Let me know if you need more info on any piece of this.

- - - -

As a general rule, workstations are the messiest and most time-consuming part of a migration. They're also fraught with the most danger because you can "mess up" someone's personal space pretty badly.

Our experience with managed services is that some clients only want to cover the servers and not the workstations because they don't see the workstations as being "that important." But out experience is that the workstations are the most important part of managed service because that's where all the labor happens.

That's where the client's employees get all the work done and that's where almost everything goes wrong.

And that's why we want the opportunity to touch every desktop and give them a super tune-up on the day of the migration.

One of the problems with just moving active directory and not doing an overhaul on the desktops is that you don't know what problems you've left for yourself.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stuart Crawford on: Are you ready for online computing?

My friend Stuart Crawford from Bulletproof InfoTech in the Great White North is doing a special webinar intro to cloud computing.

The Internet and "cloud computing" are all the buzz in today's world. Are you looking at moving applications and services out to the Internet? Are you tired of constant upgrades and hardware which never seems to stay current?

There is a major shift in the way small business in Calgary, Red Deer and in general are looking at the way they run applications in their business. Today, many small businesses run Microsoft Outlook online, access documents via Microsoft SharePoint, host online meetings with Live Meeting and run many other services online.

Your special invite

Stuart would like to invite you to his webinar on August 25th at 9 AM (Mountain) entitled "Does My Cloud Have A Silver Lining?" This webinar will answer any questions you may have with online services or cloud computing. It will address the impact online services will have with Small Business owners and share some of our client success stories with online services.

Says Stuart:

    "The world has come back to running solutions online. I remember when we hosted our email through Internet Service Providers in Calgary such as Cadvision, Nucleus and others. Businesses made a shift to online email services through Microsoft Exchange and now we have Exchange running online with Bulletproof.

    Is the cloud the right fit for your business? If you are unsure, join me on Tuesday August 25th at 9 AM for a great 45 minute webinar on cloud services for Small Business. For more information please visit Stuart Crawford's Blog"


The Recession Hits Home

Sometimes I give the impression that nothing ever goes wrong in my business. I don't mean to do that, but I'm like everyone else: I'd rather focus on what we do right than what we do wrong.

So let me take this opportunity to come clean about the recession and my little consulting company.

The stock market was wandering south for a year when it fell off a cliff in October of 2008. We managed to hang in there that quarter. We even made a profit.

In Q1 of 2009 we got rid of a PITA (pain in the ass) client. We also laid off a technician in order to remain profitable. In Q2 things picked up a bit with some server installs. Profitable again.

So we managed to have three profitable quarters in the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

But it was painful.

Back in February I blogged about Our Scary Budget projections. Basically, we stopped projecting growth (started projecting less revenue each month) until September and then projected only tiny growth for the end of the year.

It always hurts to cut back employees, but sometimes you have to do it.

I had dinner last night with several current and former technicians. I'm grateful we can all still get together and tell stories. One of the stories was about how few service requests we have in the system.

When client budgets are stretched, they stop asking for help. They don't always know what's covered, so they cut back on everything and we need to just keep plugging along doing maintenance.

Thank goodness for managed services!

We have an actual "floor" with regard to service revenue. If there are no server sales, no desktop sales, no software sales, and no broken computers, we are still guaranteed that maintenance labor.

But that floor settles downward in a recession. A client drops a desktop here, a desktop there. At $60 per station, the guaranteed revenue floats down a bit. When our clients are in recession, we're eventually in recession as well.

Our worst-hit client had to lay off 1/3 of their staff. Their bill went down $900 per month. Yes, they take less labor to support, but I wish we were both back where we were.

And the final numbers are in for July. We did not make money.

Gulp. We lost money.

Lots of it.

Thank goodness for the stock rally as I'm selling stocks to put the money into my business.

Now, I don't mind doing that to grow the company. But I don't want to do it just to keep the lights on!

July hardware sales were 85% below our projections (these are the scary revised projections) for July.
Software sales were 100% below projections. Not one nickel in software sales.
Material sales (all other goods) were 99% below projections.

Now all of that isn't totally horrible because margins are small and the actual reduction in profit wasn't huge. A few thousand dollars. It hurts. I don't like it. But many consultants live without selling hardware and software.

Labor is what hurts.

Even in the down economy, our hourly project labor has been about 32% of the managed service revenue. This is actually higher than the 25% we normally estimate because we get paid to make changes, including taking machines offline, deleting users, archiving mailboxes, etc.

Well, July sucked.

We billed less than $600 in hourly labor in the month of July. Many thousands below the scary budget.

The numbers aren't in for August, but it's a lot better.

Still, our managed service monthly revenue is about 15% below the monthly revenue in January.

At this point, we're about as lean as we can get with fixed costs. Our landlord came to us and volunteered to cut our rent in Q1, so we can't really ask him to do more.

My friend Joe Panettieri (The MSP Mentor) posted a note just two weeks ago about MSPs having trouble paying their bills.

We live in a world where costs float up and down. Expenses float up and down.

But expenses don't float down very easily. My hardware/software example is the exception. We don't stock servers or workstations, so we only buy them after the client pays us.

But with everything else, we have commitments. We can get stuck with "seats" we're paying for but not using. I have a "3 pack" and I'm back to being the one sales guy. We have to do regular sweeps to reduce the number of CALs for spam filtering, anti-virus, Zenith.

Managing shrinkage is very difficult, especially when it happens suddenly.


Where do we go from here? UP!

I'm still projecting growth starting in September. Slow. But we have a server installation on the horizon. We're continuing to do client Roadmap meetings.

Cloud services are going to start a lot slower than some people have projected, but I think they'll be a huge growth area for the next 16 months. That's the kind of investment I'm happy to make.

We need one more good client (25 seats or so) and we'll be back in the pink.

So the truth is, our lean little machine is one sale away from being back where we belong.

In the meantime, we're counting paperclips and continuing to tighten our belt.

We'll probably lose $1,000 in August, which is close enough that we just might not! That's only a few hours labor in the next week.

September will be much better.

Somebody said Flat is the new up. That may be true for the next few months.


Join Me In Chicago September 23rd
Seminar - Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Zero Downtime Migrations Seminar - Chicago

Will you please join me in Chicago on September 23rd for a 2.5 hour seminar on Zero Downtime Migrations?

The seminar is called An Introduction to Zero Downtime Migration Strategies.

It's perfect for anyone moving to SBS or any other Windows-based server. And, yes, that's either SBS 2008 or SBS 2003.

Please use this discount code. A limited number of seats are eligible for this code. (I'm not kidding: Only the first 50 people who sign up will get the discount. We exceeded that in Portland. Sign up today!)

The discount code is ZDTM09 and takes the price from $49 to $ Free. Sponsored by the Chicago SBS User Group.

Info and registration are on the SMB Books Zero Downtime Migration Seminar page.

We'll cover
- Project Management for ZDTM
- Zero Downtime Migration Strategies

Wednesday September 23rd, 2009
6:30 - 9:00 PM

Marriott O'Hare
8535 West Higgins Rd
Chicago, Illinois

Only $49 !
Sponsored by the Chicago SBS User Group
(For more information on the Chicago SBS User Group, visit

Mark your calendars and plan to be in Chicago on September 23rd

Agenda Notes:

- Project Management in a Managed Service Business
We all work projects. But do we all work them profitably and efficiently? Whether you're 100% managed service or just getting started, come and learn the most important elements of keeping project labor on the "billable" side of the ledger.

- Zero Downtime Migration Strategies
Join one of the authors of The Network Migration Workbook for an introduction to SBS Migration that will make your business more profitable and your clients a lot happier. Is ZDTM really possible and practical in your business? Attend and find out.

Sign Up Here. Use discount code ZDTM09.

See you there!

- - - - -

Some Feedback from the Portland Seminar in June:

- "Great presentation! Well thought out and presented. Very persuasive."

- "Good slides and info!"

- "No hotel bar." (There's one in every crowd.)

- "Very relevant. Thanks."

- "Not enough time to cover all the info!"

- "Great points regarding project management from a high level."

- "Too brief."

- "If I can 'get' this, it will revolutionize and revitalize my business, giving me my life back!"


Going to Be In Chicago September 23rd?
Attend The
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Sponsored by the Chicago SBS User Group!

Harry Call Not Posted - Next Up: Zero Downtime Migrations

Unfortunately, technical difficulties happen. As a result, our excellent SMB Conference Call with Harry Brelsford was not recorded yesterday. I am very sorry for that, especially since it won't be in the archive.

Stuff happens.

But it also points out that you need to listen to these calls live if you don't want to take a chance that you'll miss one!

A few highlights:

- The SMB Nation Fall Conference sounds better than ever this year. VOIP, SBS Migrations, and SBS 2008 will all be front and center

- Microsoft has decided to sponsor a launch party for Windows 7 at SMB Nation! Awesome.

- Social networking will also be front and center. Private note to Harry: You publicly invited me to sit on the Social Networking Panel. Of course there's no recording, so I have no proof of that . . .

- Jeff Middleton and I will do a 90 minute presentation on Migration Strategies on the first day. Be there!

- I'll be doing three live podcasts from the showroom floor at SMB Nation. One each day. Stay tuned for details.

And in other SMB Nation news . . .

- Harry's got some big announcements coming up in his email posting. Sign up for "the tribe" at

- - - - -

Our next SMB Confernece Call will be on Zero Downtime Migrations.

September 2nd. 9:00 AM Pacific.

More info soon. Or you can just Register Now


Going to Be In Chicago September 23rd?
Attend The
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Sponsored by the Chicago SBS User Group!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Join Harry B. and Win a Free Pass to SMB Nation

Please join me Wednesday at 9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern as I interview Harry Brelsford on the SMB Conference Call. That just over three hours from now.

From among those who register and listen to the call, Harry will pick one lucky winner to attend SMB Nation for FREE!

Harry is the CEO of SMB Nation ( from Bainbridge Island, WA.

-- -- -- --

Right now Harry is busy preparing for the big SMB Nation Fall Show at the Riviera in Las Vegas.

Preday events are on October 1st. The conference proper is October 2-4.

We'll talk to Harry about SMB Nation, plans for new books, how the SBS 2008 book is doing, and take your questions.

Bonus for Listeners:

Harry will draw one admission pass to the SMB Nation Fall Conference from among those who attend this conference call.

Register Today for your chance.

Harry Info:

•Web address:

•Blog address: SMB Dude at

•Video link:

•Twitter @harrybrelsford

-- -- -- --

Next Up: The Next SMB Conference Call will be September 2nd with Manuel Palachuk (my brother) and me. We'll talk about our new book - The Network Migration Workbook - and answer your questions.

More info soon at the SMB Conference Call Page


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Robert Crane's Amazing SharePoint Operations Guide

If you sell, install, or configure SharePoint then you should take a look at Robert Crane's SharePoint Operations Guide. It's over 1,000 pages and includes all updates for a year.

You can find out more at CIA Ops - That's Robert's site (Computer Information Agency) at

There you'll also find a huge collection of resources including . . .

- Robert's CIA Ops Blog -

- Lots of Free Downloads

- Slide decks from presentations

- A must-have collection of SharePoint Links

- SharePoint Templates

- and more!

We also have a lot of information over at SMB Books, including . . .

- Free download of Windows SharePoint Operations Guide - Chapter 1

- Recording of my interview with Robert on the The SMB Conference Call from September 2008

- Bundle offers along with Noel's SharePoint 2007 Unleashed

- and more.

- - - - -

End of Summer Special

Now through the end of August, purchase Robert's SharePoint Operations Guide along with any other item and receive $20 off your order.

Just use Discount Cost Crane09 at checkout.

. . . And if you want to meet Robert, he'll be a featured speaker at SMB Nation this Fall in Vegas.

See you there.


Now Available:
The Network Migration Workbook: Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zenith Cloud Taking Shape

My friends Bob Nitrio and Mike Cortez did the big two-day training on the Zenith Box Office Product (now called smart computing) about a month ago. They loved it.

By all reports, it was amazing. Now I'm very excited to be going to the training myself next week. I'm taking Todd with me in hopes that he'll get so excited he'll sell ten of these things by the time they're released.

I first discussed the Box Office product in April: Zenith Peeks Into the Future . It has evolved considerable since then. In fact, I suspect it has evolved beyond the training I'll receive.

It's interesting because Cloud Computing is exactly where "managed services" was four years ago. As I reported here and here, cloud computing had quite a little buzz at Comptia's Breakaway.

Some people have claimed to have figured out the whole thing. And guess what? They're ready to sell it to you for a price.

Here's the enterprise vision of "The Cloud" for most consultants:

- The big monster companies have been building up the infrastructure for this for a long time. Google, Ebay, Yahoo. Microsoft is a little late to the game, but not much. They certainly have the resources to catch up, especially since they have the ability to create the technology they need!

- "Chrome OS" doesn't really exist. It will some day. But there's nothing un-predictable about it. An O.S. that essentially serves up the Internet is the inevitable next step. Read The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr. By the time Google releases Chrome OS, there will be six or seven competitors, including "Gazelle" from Microsoft.

- For a bizarre little video on Azure, see Billions of servers being deployed just so they can be available to anyone who needs them.

- Google "utility computing per hour" and you'll find offerings from Sun, Google, Microsoft, and a bunch of people you've never heard of.

. . . But I don't need 10,000 computers working on a math problem for an hour.

My clients want a good reliable base for business technology. While most of them don't care about servers or infrastructure, they kind of understand how their current technology works.

Putting critical data "out there somewhere" will not be comfortable until *I* can tell a story about how it's completely reliable, secure, and available in a usable form if the the company "out there somewhere" ceases to exist.

So enterprise cloud computing is great if you're an enterprise.

But for small business, I'm going to have to sell something that either exists on-premise or at a specific location where the client can visit it, touch it, and feel comfortable that they know where their data is.

I am hoping that Zenith's solution will provide that. Ideally, I'd like to drop one of their on-premise units into a client office and back it up to a unit at my colo facility.

- - - - -

Sometimes it's nice to relax and enjoy the lull when technology is stable. We've really had that 80% of the time since SBS 2003 was released. Changes have come in measured steps. It has been a great opportunity to make money!

But times are about to change very quickly. I think SBS 2008 represents the first of a series of changes from Microsoft and others that will dramatically shift how we acquire and use technology. Not that SBS 2008 does things so differently today. But it lays the groundwork for a computing environment that works very nicely with the cloud.

By the end of this year many vendors will have options to just "click here" and send some critical function off to the cloud.

I'm eager to get going! I'm actually more excited about the next three years than I've been in a very long time. I can't wait for the next stage of technical development to get here.

Strap in and settle down: This rocket will take off as the economy emerges from recession. By January 1, you better have a pretty clear idea of what you're doing with cloud computing.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Friday, August 14, 2009

Calyptix and Third Tier Partner

From my friends Ben and Amy . . .

August 12, 2009 03:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Calyptix and Third Tier Partner to Combine Internet Security and Remote Services Platform for IT Professionals
Partners Unify Internet Security and Remote Services Solution to Support Internet Service Providers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. & DETROIT--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Internet security firm, Calyptix Security, has partnered with Third Tier, a leading provider of remote support services for IT professionals and business owners, to offer small business IT professionals the comprehensive security and services resources and expertise they need to deliver IT services at the highest level.

Small business IT professionals can leverage the Calyptix-Third Tier relationship to provide services that will distinguish them in their marketplace with access to extensive security and services expertise on Microsoft technologies, UNIX, networking and Internet and IT security matters.

Third Tier will work with Calyptix resellers to integrate the AccessEnforcer™ Internet security product into client networks with Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS), Essential Business Server (EBS) and other leading solutions to provide a more efficient alternative to traditional vendor support. Third Tier consists of experts focused on small business technologies such as Microsoft’s SBS and counts Eriq Neale author of Windows Small Business Server 2008 Unleashed, among its members.

“I have worked closely with this partnership to deploy EBS with the AccessEnforcer and found it extremely helpful,” noted Wendy Frank of Accell, Inc., a Philadelphia-based Microsoft certified partner. “Timely and affordable access to subject matter experts saves us time and money and ensures the best result for our clients.”

“We’re excited about the opportunity this partnership presents to deliver a solution purpose built for small and medium businesses and the IT professionals they depend on,” comments Amy Babinchak, Managing Partner of Third Tier. “By combining our focus on the needs of small businesses, we help IT professionals deliver timely and affordable solutions to their customers.”


Third Tier’s expertise includes a wide range of SMB technologies including Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint, Virtualization, Active Directory, DNS, Macintosh, AccessEnforcer, ISA, SBS, EBS and general networking. Visit


Calyptix manufactures and sells AccessEnforcer, an all-in-one security appliance tailored to work with Microsoft's Small Business Server, related server products and Active Directory to provide network security and control of users, groups and devices from a single interface in a plug & play format that is simple to deploy, activate and maintain. Nearly 200 authorized resellers nationwide distribute AccessEnforcer. Visit


Calyptix Security
Ben Yarbrough, 704-971-8989
[email protected]


Third Tier
Amy Babinchak
[email protected]


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monster Deal from Intel: Services Workshops

Intel is putting on two great workshops. Unfortunately, I don't have a good link right now. I'll post it on my blog as soon as I get it. (I'll actually edit this blog as well.) In the meantime, email me at [email protected] if you are interested.

The workshops are . . .

August 25th in Blue Bell, PA


August 27th in Edison, NJ

The goals of the workshop are very clear:

1) Introduce MSPs to cool new technologies and strategies for success

2) Train MSPs on the technology, and on the LogMeIn Rescue program

Here's what you get with the workshop:

- 6 Month LogMeIn Rescue license - Value $975

- Complete Intel B43-based system with 19" LCD Monitor - Value $900

- Four hours of training to put it all together

Your cost only $999

Plus one Anti-Theft ready laptop will be raffled at each event!

The System:

- Micro-ATX mini tower with 350w power supply
- DB43LD motherboard (Intel, of course)
- C2D Wolfdate CPU: 3.16 Ghz 1333 6Mb - 64 bit with virtualization technology
- 1 GB RAM
- 250 GB Sata2 hard drive
- Windows XP Pro
- 19" LCD Monitor
- Keyboard, Mouse

This is a hands-on workshop with both the technology and the Intel Channel relationship tools.

Email me and I'll make sure the right person contacts you.

- - - - -

I'm sneaking up to Portland to talk to the Intel folks about a deeper involvement in the MSP community. Their RPAT remote management system with LogMeIn is a killer app for remote service providers.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Enter to Win a Free Pass to SMB Nation

Harry Brelsford will be the next guest on the SMB Conference Call.

And on that call, he's giving away a Free Pass to SMB Nation. Must register and attend to win. Obviously, the webinar software knows who attended.

Harry is the CEO of SMB Nation ( from Bainbridge Island, WA.

He is a long-time SMB channel partner who has served customers and mentored other partners (SMB Nation has over 35,000 tribal members who are SMB technology consultants).

He oversees the popular SMB Nation worldwide events including Webinar, workshops and multi-day conferences. He holds an MBA (and numerous certifications such as MCSE, MCT, CNE, et al) and is the author of 17 books.

He is also the publisher of SMB Partner Community magazine. His 20-years of SMB technology experience were supplemented by teaching 12+ years at night as an adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University and other higher-learning institutions.

Harry is a frequent speaker at industry events. Harry’s recent books include the Microsoft Response Point Primer and Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 Blueprint. He is currently exploring the SMB VoIP space.

SMB Nation is a publishing and events company, targeted at the SMB technology community. SMB Nation spreads the knowledge of SMB technology trends through its books, magazine, online services, conferences and world-wide seminars and workshops.

As an active participant in the technology community, SMB Nation has a long history of channel partner and consultant advocacy and evangelism.

Bonus for Listeners:
Harry will draw one admission pass to the SMB Nation Fall Conference from among those who attend this conference call.
Register Today for your chance.

Join us August 19th at 9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern
Register Now!


- - - -

Find out more on the SMB Conference Call page.

Tell all your friends and colleagues!

Wed. August 19th
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 N Eastern

Mark Your Calendar Today!


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bob Godgart's Take on Cloud Computing

I posted the SMB Conference Call with Autotask today.

The show features "The Bobs" from Autotask - Bob Godgart and Bob Vogel. Bob G. was a keynote speaker at the Comptia Breakaway the just concluded in Vegas. His keynote was on the opportunities for all of going forward with Cloud Computing.

So while our SMB Conference Call addressed the the Autotask product for about half the time, we also spent a great deal of time on Cloud Computing and where it fits in the SMB / MSP models. As a true pioneer in technology trends over the years, Bob's insights are very informative.

Not surprisingly, success is projected for the same types of people who have always been successful:

- Those who get in before it becomes a commodity market


- Those who focus very clearly on what's best for the client

- - - - -

It is absolutely worth your while to listen to Bob's insights on Cloud Computing and the future of your industry. Whether you use (or plan to use) Autotask or not, the half hour on Cloud Computing is very informative.

Give it a listen and post comments here. Or you can email me at [email protected] or email Bob directly at [email protected].
Stay tuned. This story will continue for a few years.


Now Available: Introduction to Zero Downtime MigrationsSeminar on MP3 Download

Comptia Breakaway is Great

I've been a member of Comptia but never attended their Breakaway conference before. One of the attendees summed it up best on Thursday morning: "It had a lot more content and a lot better content than I expected for a vendor-focused conference."

How true.

Thing One: Vendor Focused

So what's a vendor-focused conference?

Conferences are very expensive. In addition to the hotel bills (imagine what a ballroom costs compared to your $169/night room), food is over the top expensive. Chicken lump and lettuce salad: $40 per plate for lunch, $60 for dinner. Morning snack break $20 per person. Afternoon $30. And it goes up from there. A conference like this costs millions of dollars to put on.

So somebody has to pay for all that. There are two basic models, with hybrids possible.

Model One: Content Focused. In this model, the content is built up, speakers are signed up, attendees pay to be there. Attendees are lured because of content and vendors are a necessary part of the process. For example, a sponsor might pay to put on a seminar at SMB Nation, but it's up to them to make it appealing enough to get people to attend.

Once people are signed up (or based on past experience or promises of attendees), vendors choose to sponsor such events.

Revenue for paying the hotel bills comes from attendees and sponsors.

Model Two: Vendor Focused. In this model, vendors buy attendance. They define a demographic and pay money to get the attention of businesses that fit the demographic. Attendees get part or all of their attendance paid for, but they are expected to attend the events on their calendar. They are being paid to attend seminars.

In such cases, the content can sometimes be extremely sales-oriented.

For example, I sat through a presentation from an anti-virus company who felt the need to define bots and worms. I don't think anyone told him that this was a technical conference.

Thing Two: Content

Comptia's content was top-notch at this event.

There are a few ways to evaluate whether a conference was worthwhile. The primary criterion is whether I heard something, learned something, or was inspired by something that could change my business. Breakaway definitely did all those things for me.

Heard: Janet Schijns from Motorola gave some great perspective on the economy -- and some tough love. See my post on the subject of Don't Blame The Economy.

Learned: The Cloud Computing steering group was extremely educational. Other things were too, but this really stood out to me. One guy wanted to show off his "solution" but everyone else was interested in helping define the future. Participants ranged from vendors to VARs. My notes on this hour are totally golden.

Inspired: As I posted a few days ago, Bob Godgart's presentation on Cloud Computing was exactly what the industry needs. Right now, we're at the FUD stage of Cloud Computing - Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Bob gives a bright vision of the future - a VERY bright vision. Not only will we stay in business: We'll all make a bunch more money in more ways than we can today!

A good deal of the content was pushing the limits of "Small" and some was solidly in the "Medium" category. So as an SMB event, this one was high-S / low-M. My suspicion is that vendors paid to see more M folks in the audience. It was also low on the MSP model. Don't get me wrong. There were plenty of MSPs, but there were also plenty who really didn't care about that model.

Thing Three: Attendees

The other big criterion for a good conference is the people you get to hob-knob with in the hallways, at the breaks, over dinner, and "after hours."

Again, Breakaway was excellent. Of course I had my regular cadre of friends. But I met new and interesting people in the categories of both vendor and attendee. All of these categories bring value.

From old friends I find out what's going on, what trends they're seeing, and how they're reacting to our ever-changing environment. And the more times you connect with them in these environments, the deeper you dig into their business model and success strategies.

New and interesting vendors are just good "DNA" getting mixed into the community. And just because they're new to me doesn't mean they're new to business. Every person attending this event is sustaining a business well enough to be gone for a Monday-Thursday conference. So they've figured out some very important stuff about building a business you can step away from.

Vendor contacts are always great. Some vendors don't get it. In general these are the "hired guns" who go from city to city collecting business cards and giving the same message to 10,000 people a year. Those who do get it actually engage the audience, focus their presentations on the people in front of them, and make a sincere effort to participate at a human level.

One vendor really stands out to me for the Comptia Breakaway: Intel. Intel was front and center at the trade show. But were they pimping themselves? No. They bought expensive real estate right at the entrance so they could highlight a half dozen of their OEM manufacturers. In fact their give-away depended on visiting their OEM partners and learning about what they're doing.

I also had a lengthy one-on-one meeting with someone from Intel and found out about some really cool programs they've got. I'm going to sneak up to Portland and invite myself in to some meetings there.

Honorable Mention: The Dread Pirate Roberts

Derek De Vette from Diskeeper is one of the nicest people you could hope to hang out with.

So we're hanging around the Nine Lives Media booth (See The VAR Guy and MSP Mentor). Well, Joe and Amy left for meetings, so Derek and I just hung out.

Whenever someone came by, they assumed one of us was The VAR Guy. So we just pretended we were!

As we explained,
    The VAR Guy had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. He took me to his cabin and he told me his secret. "I am not The VAR Guy," he said. "My name is Ryan; I inherited the blog from the previous VAR Guy, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from is not the real VAR Guy either. His name was Cummerbund. The real VAR Guy has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia."

Hey, what's the point of visiting a vendor booth if you can't destroy their reputation?


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Getting Ready for SMB Nation

I'm in Vegas this week for Comptia's Breakaway. And I'm getting ready to go to . . . Vegas in October for SMB Nation!

Our big all-day pre-day seminar is selling well.

Thank you all very much.

NOTE: If you tried to order the three-payment option and freaked out at the price, try again. This is now fixed. You will be billed three smaller payments, not three times the full price. Ooops.

Find out more and register now for this all-day Zero Downtime Migration workshop.

Anyway, so here's what I did this morning to get ready for SMB Nation:

- Posted an ad for a web development intern. We need this for several reasons, but the most important one is to build the online community web site for owners of The Network Migration Workbook.

This person will also do some overhauls of existing web sites. Relax Focus Succeed needs to be on a CMS platform. That way we can load up more information, organize it better, and everything will be easier to find.

SMB Books also needs to move to CMS.

We're going with Joomla for all of these.

- Ordered the Prize Wheel. Hey, we're going to be in Vegas, baby! So the SMB Books booth at SMB Nation will have a spinning prize wheel.

Not 100% sure what we'll give away. What do you think of leftover ducks?

Seriously, we'll probably give away discounts and some free books. Don't know how to estimate traffic, so I don't want to haul a bunch of books and then have to ship them back.

We might just have someone go run around to all the other vendor booths, collect their give-aways, and then give them away ourselves with the prize wheel. We'll call it a green initiative since we'll be recycling swag.

If you have other ideas, let us know.

SMB Nation will be great this year. If you haven't signed up yet, get a super deal from SMBTN. See Jim Locke's Blog at to get in at $399.

Then go sign up for our pre-day event.

Everybody wins!

See ya here.

- - - - -

Now Shipping: 

This four-book set includes more than 1,300 pages and covers everything you need to set up, run, and fine-tune a great consulting business. PLUS there are dozens of downloads that include additional material, valuable checklists, Excel spreadsheets, and more. SOP

Don't Start From Scratch!

You may not implement everything exactly as I lay it out, but I discuss the issues and why you might create one policy or another. Then I propose some policies you can take and mold to fit your company.

Can you do all this yourself? Absolutely!

 How's that working so far? These books will save you hundreds - and more likely thousands - of dollars in just a few weeks. Time and time again I've helped businesses create small changes that resulted in huge instant increases in profit.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Comptia Looks Cloudy

A couple of events conspired to put Cloud Computing on everyone's radar today at the Comptia Breakaway.

Bob Godgart from Autotask ascended into the clouds at his keynote with some great perspective on making money in the emerging cloud-based environment.

One of the consistent fears from VARs and MSPs is about their future when the desktops and servers disappear.

After all, if you make your living installing and fixing servers, what do you do when the servers don't exist. We've covered this many times, and we'll revisit it many more times in the years ahead. You can't be in the hardware fixing business if you want to make money. You need to be in the technology business.

Bob spelled out a great set of opportunities involving the architecture that does remain on-premise, the management of technology within the cloud, the coordination of various (hosted) packages, and a series of other consulting roles that need to be filled.

One of his coolest suggestions was to think about how YOUR CLIENTS can sell or provide cloud services to their clients. Who's going to help them design and set that up? You!

The question is NOT whether there's work for technology consultants, it's whether you'll make the transition or hold on the past as it fades.

As you can imagine, I recommend the future.

Bob did not know that about fifty people spent time this morning in a Comptia working group talking about the same issues.

How do we deal with legacy applications? Is there bandwidth enough? If not now, when? How much more secure do the data have to be? Etc.

- - - - -

Bob Godgart and Bob Vogel are already scheduled to be on my SMB Conference Call tomorrow - Wed. 9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern.

We'll ask them about cloud services and how this fits in with their business model.

(No big surprise here. From the stage, Bob G mentioned the benefits of using a hosted line of business application. If we're moving all of our clients out to hosted services, he says, shouldn't we do the same thing?)

Anyway, we'll also discuss the details of the super-cool tool for providing helpdesk capabilities to your clients.

. . . And whatever else comes up.

We have seats left. Join Wednesday by registering now:


The Network Migration Workbook is now available for presales.
Save $100 today.

Swing Migration vs. Zero Downtime Migration

With the announcement of the new book - The Network Migration Workbook - a number of people have asked "How does this compare to Jeff Middleton's Swing Migration?" (See

Hmmm. I guess I'd start by looking at the last several posts on the table of contents for our new book. But let's go ahead and answer the question.

I invite Jeff to add his comments here or elsewhere.

Essentially, the Swing Migration process is intended to move the "identity" of the server to new hardware without letting the desktop know that anything is changed. Users, machines, ACLs, SIDs, etc.

Swing Migrations are great. They take the labor "offsite" while the old server keeps chugging along. You build up the new server at your office and then just switch servers on the day of migration.

"Upgrade" migrations are lot easier with the Swing toolset because you don't have to recreate all that stuff.

So, Swing Migrations are awesome.

But as one person commented in an email to me, Jeff doesn't cover the project as a project. We provide a great deal of information to cover designing, quoting, and running the migration project.

We provide guidance regarding tools -- in fact we explicitly endorse Jeff's Swing Migration process. But in the end Jeff's toolset addresses only part of the migration process.

One of our key goals in any migration is to take this once-every-three-years opportunity to clean up the network, put data where it belongs, clean up profiles, get rid of messy group policy and active directory crap. Jeff's process does a lot of that. We do a lot more.

We provide detailed guidance on every aspect of the migration process. And we do so in a manner so you can pull out sections and run processes in isolation from "the big" migration.

And we put a huge emphasis on doing this all with zero downtime. So, for example, if you want to upgrade the SharePoint services or a line of business application, we've got the procedures for you.

Jeff and I had a phone conversation a few weeks ago that provides a great illustration of the differences in our approaches to Active Directory migration.

Let's say you have a client with a messed up server: users have been renamed; users have been added and removed without the wizards; machines have been added without the wizards; there are ghosted machines on the network; group policies are totally messed up. And so forth. I'm sure you've seen it.

Jeff summed it up this way:

- We are not afraid of re-creating ten users and ten machines by hand.

- Jeff's not afraid of digging in and cleaning up Active Directory.

There a trade-off in all things. As we say in the book, with 50 users, you don't want to re-create everything by hand. And with five users it's faster to simply type in the names than to spend time cleaning up A.D.

What Jeff Doesn't Cover

If you review the Table of Contents (See this site to download Table of Contents and chapter samples), you'll see that moving users and PCs is only one piece of the puzzle. It's a big, important piece, but just one piece.

When we migrate a network we want to end up with a new, clean, beautiful, perfect network on the latest version of every application. Jeff's Swing Migration doesn't do that.

We address everything from opening the server and re-seating the memory chips to creating perfect documentation when you're done. In the middle we clean up everything we touch, including user profiles.

- - - - -

In the end, "Migration" is not just about Active Directory. It's about
  • Email / Exchange (and moving across versions)
  • SharePoint (and moving across versions)
  • SQL (and moving across versions)
  • Line of Business Applications (with possible version updates
  • Data transfers and cleanup
  • Profile migration and cleanup
  • Accounting Packages (with possible version updates)
  • Business Contact Management / CRM migration
  • Blackberry Server move
  • Moving Encryption keys
  • Installing Anti-Virus
  • Recofiguring everything that touches or relies on the server (e.g., routers, firewalls, phones, printers, scanners)
  • Patch management systems
  • Backup systems (perhaps a new type)
  • IIS and web sites
  • ETC.
We love Jeff's Swing Migration toolset and we encourage you to buy it. Just remember that it addresses a specific piece of the migration process. You'll also need a handy dandy big book of migrations. That's where we come in. Please feel free to post questions and comments. :-)

- - - -

Update November 2011: See an updated article on this on my blog: Comparing Swing Migration and Zero Downtime Migration

- - - -

The Network Migration Workbook is now available
at $50 off

Save today.

Motorola: Don't Blame the Economy

Well, the first presentation of the Comptia Breakaway certainly kicked it off with a bang.

When you go to these events, you always pray that the keynotes will be worth your time. Very often they are the embodiment of the word droning. "Blah blah blah. The future is bright if you buy our products."

Monday's keynote by Motorola Channel Chief Janet Schijns was great for me. I was tired and ready to be bored, but right off the top she hit me with a line I had not heard before:

    Are you willing to make the claim that your business is only doing well because of the economy?


    Then you can't make the claim that your business is only doing poorly because of the economy!

We're humans, so when things are going great we take the credit. And when things go south, well that's because of outside forces we can't control.

In other words, no one is willing to admit that they're not doing things right.

To be fair, you might not know that you're doing things wrong until the economy goes on the skids. In other words, you've got a good business model for good times, but you don't adjust when the economy changes.

You ARE responsible for your business model. As a result, you DO get the credit when things are moving up. But you also need to be responsible when conditions change.

Several vendors have told me that they've seen many small shops disappear this year. Those folks were not necessarily bad business people (some were, of course). Many of them simply had "good times" business models.

So here's the hard part:

If you're still in business, and you've had a resilient business model, congratulations.

Now you need to change it again. The economy is going to pick up. And as you move from having too much capacity to taking on new jobs, you need to make that move wisely. Do not hire another person until way after it's clear you need someone and can sustain the larger payroll.

The result will be a bubble of money flowing into your company as you maintain a steady payroll and take on more jobs.

Just a thought.


The Network Migration Workbook is now available for presales.
Save $100 today.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Migration to SBS 2003 and SBS 2008

SBS 2008 has been out almost a year. And we're publishing a new book on SBS migrations. So why do we have a case study on SBS 2003 and why do we provide a massive checklist for migrating to SBS 2003?

Well . . . It's Microsoft's fault. Okay. Not really. But it's 1/6 Microsoft's fault.

First, we've entered an era in which Microsoft is completely unwilling to push people into new technologies. The whole Vista fiasco is a perfect example. If you count service packs, Windows XP will be seven generations old when W7 ships. But guess what, you can run old crap on Windows XP for the rest of your life.

Second, SBS is very complicated. Tools that help with the "migration" of active directory are great. If you're not using a Swing Migration (or at least ADMT), you should be. But that does you no good when it comes to moving an SQL database to a new server.

SBS 2008 gives you options about SQL versions to install. All fine in theory, but there's a brand new SQL Express database with some tools that don't want to just slide into place if you're installing SQL 2005. Either move it to a different server or get out the pry bar. There's no automated process here.

Our company policy is that we do not put old operating systems on new hardware. The most obvious reason is that we have to go dig up drivers and hope that they work. In addition to that, we don't want a client to have all the new cool technology and no way to use it (e.g., Hyper-V). New servers all come with virtualization capabilities, but Server 2003 can't take advantage of that hardware layer.

Third, there are budget issues. For one reason or another, people are "re-purposing" hardware and squeezing every nickle they can out of what they have. For some people, this is always true. But in times of economic distress, we see a lot more of this. I would would prefer that a client NOT take their existing SBS 2003 open license and move it to a two-year-old server that has been taken out of service somewhere else. But today I wouldn't argue much.

Fourth, there are lazy-ass line of business (LOB) vendors who never update their software. So it won't work on 2008, it won't work on 64 bit, and it won't work on anything newer than .net 1.0. Not only DON'T they upgrade their stuff, they're not CAPABLE of upgrading because they don't keep up with technology. They built this Franken-Ware and don't have a clue how to pull it into the modern era. You can't change that.

Fifth, There are some pretty complicated systems that are just going to move into a virtual machine. So migrating same-to-same is the fastest, easiest way to go. They'll pay software assurance until Microsoft stops selling it and they'll freeze their SBS 2003 box in time.

When the apes take over the planet and worship The Bomb, this SBS 2003 box will hum right along in it's virtual environment, unaware that the rest of the world has evolved.

The Point Is: We believe there will be lots of SBS 2003 to SBS 2003 migrations out there for the next few years.

So while we have a massive SBS 2008 migration checklist, we also have a great SBS 2003 migration checklist.

We will maintain only the SBS 2008 checklist going forward. But we address both checklists in The Network Migration Workbook.

So . . .

Chapter 7 of The Network Migration Workbook is a case study of an SBS 2003 migration. In fact, since most readers will be familiar with SBS 2003 migrations at some level, we decided to present a fairly complex migration that took months to complete. It involves five LOB applications, one primary (SBS) server, one storage server, and one minor web server. In all, almost $1 Million worth of software.

Awhile back there was an online discussion about whether a $100,000 implementation was ever "small business." Just because you only have 15 unique logons doesn't mean you don't have a big, expensive computer operation.

Note: Despite it's complexity, the rules and procedures for achieving Zero Downtime made this "just another job" that had a lot less stress because the client was never down.

Chapter 8 of The Network Migration Workbook is a case study of an SBS 2008 migration. For this one we selected just about the most plain vanilla migration we could come up with. It is one of our favorite clients. We took over maintenance of their systems from an in-house I.T. guy.


We have four appendices to the book.

Appendix A is the actual click-by-click SBS 2003 Migration Checklist. Done.

Appendix B is the actual click-by-click SBS 2008 Migration Checklist. This piece will be complete and go to the printers this week!

Appendix C is a process-focused index to the SBS 2008 Migration Checklist. What's that? Well, let's say you are NOT doing a full SBS migration, but you just need to move Exchange to a new server. You want to make sure you know everything you need to know, set it up properly, and migrating it with zero downtime. This index calls out the relevant pages and sections from The Big Checklist so you can isolate those pages and create your product-specific checklist.

Same for SQL, SharePoint, IIS, etc.

Appendix D provides information on registering the book so you can gain access to the owners-only web site we are building. This site will give you electronic versions of the checklists, access to owners-only blogs and forums, and a place to post and exchange specific checklists for products we don't cover in The Big Checklist.

For example, let's say you specialize in Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Firewall. You will want to remove the section we have on SonicWall firewalls and insert your own checklist. Once integrated, you'll fine-tune this over time. If you think other users of Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Firewall will also benefit from your experience, you might post that checklist (or at least tell people you have it so they can connect directly).

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Scheduled Ship Date: September 1, 2009

Also consider attending our 8-hour live seminar in Vegas (pre-day to SMB Nation).

All attendees of the October 1st Seminar in Las Vegas will receive a free copy of the book included in their registration.

Find Out More

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Now Shipping: 

This four-book set includes more than 1,300 pages and covers everything you need to set up, run, and fine-tune a great consulting business. PLUS there are dozens of downloads that include additional material, valuable checklists, Excel spreadsheets, and more. SOP

Don't Start From Scratch!

You may not implement everything exactly as I lay it out, but I discuss the issues and why you might create one policy or another. Then I propose some policies you can take and mold to fit your company.

Can you do all this yourself? Absolutely!

 How's that working so far? These books will save you hundreds - and more likely thousands - of dollars in just a few weeks. Time and time again I've helped businesses create small changes that resulted in huge instant increases in profit.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Pre-Sales Begin! Network Migration Workbook is Here!

At long last - many months after we thought it would be done - we are happy to announce the publication of The Network Migration Workbook.


The Network Migration Workbook
by Karl W. Palachuk and Manuel L. Palachuk

List Price $299.95
Pre-Sales Price: $199

Format: 8.25" x 11" - 590 pages - Perfect Bound

Ship Date: September 1, 2009

Skip the Hype and Just Order Now

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Zero Downtime Migrations Are Real!

Let's be honest, anyone can perform a network migration WITH downtime. You simply kick everyone off the system, put the client out of business for some period of time, and push through until you're done.

Without downtime is another story.

Without downtime . . .
* You can do network migrations during the workweek
* The client doesn't have to ever send people home because of you
* You can work when 3rd party support is available
* You don't have to pay overtime
* and Neither does the client
* You look like a hero!

ZDTM (Zero Downtime Migrations) Are Not Easy -- But They Are Manageable

ZDTMs require only a few key skills.

First, you need to be a good project manager. For SMB projects, this is a skill you can learn very quickly.

Second, you need a very thorough and complete checklist. You need to be able to manage the project while one of your technicians executes the project.

Third, you need a process that is repeatable and profitable. That means staying inside the scope of work.

It also means you have to quote the job properly!

The Network Migration Workbook gives you everything you need.

It won't fit in your back pocket. It's on full letter size paper and it's almost 600 pages.

But it definitely has everything you need.

We start with a discussion of the entire process so you see the big picture. We talk about the scope of work and how critical it is to your internal processes and your relationship with the client.

Next, we introduce the pre-discovery process. That means making a list of all the things you need to discover so you really understand the project.

After the pre-discovery is complete, you can quote the project. We lay out a process based on 10+ years of SBS Migration experience. We divide the migration into seven distinction stages.

We show you how to estimate the labor required for each stage. So you can always create a quote that's exactly suited for each client.

Those seven stages become seven service requests. You and the client agree on everything. As you finish each stage, you track every minute of every job. ALL work is inside the scope of the project.

If it's not inside the scope, then it must be outside the scope. In that case, you create a new service request that's billable.

The client agrees because they've bought in from the beginning.

Now you've delivered your migration project on time and inside the budget. All other work is outside the scope of the migration project and therefore billable.

Don't worry. We show you how to complete every piece of this process.

We give you every Excel spreadsheet, the wording for the service requests, and click-by-click every keystroke it takes to deliver a migration with zero downtime.

Download Table of Contents (pdf)

Download First 3 Pages of Chapter 1 (pdf)

Download First 3 Pages of Chapter 5 (pdf)

Two Monster Checklists

You want true click-by-click instructions? We got 'em!

Appendix A is a 220 page checklist that details every piece of the migration process for SBS 2003. Why 2003? Because we realistically believe that some people will be doing 2003 to 2003 migrations for some time to come.

Appendix B is a 250 page checklist that details every piece of the SBS 2008 migration -- click by click. With a good project manager, you'll be able to hand over any migration to any technician and guarantee success.

We cover every procedure: From quoting the project, to building the server, to migrating the desktops. We've got a "golden" section called My Favorite Whitepapers that lists the most important Microsoft Knowledgebase articles and other resources out on the Internet. This list is so good, we've been offered to $100 just for these ten pages!

Awesome Network Documentation

You've probably heard of (or used) Karl's Network Documentation Workbook. Well, this book includes many new and revised forms from the next version of the Network Documentation Workbook.

When you're finished with this migration, you will have a perfectly new, perfectly documented system.

More importantly, the migration process outlined here will give you a repeatable and profitable network migration strategy.

Even if you can't read through the entire book before your next migration, you'll start saving money right away. Why? Because you'll define the project properly. You'll quote the project profitably. You will save hundreds of dollars by simply following our pre-discover and discovery process.

No More Surprises! Where do you lose money on a migration? You lose money when you find surprises.

* Network equipment you didn't know about
* Databases no one mentioned
* "Critical" vacation pictures that take up 62GB
* Unexpected ISP changes in the middle of the migration
* Third party vendors who are not available when you've got the database offline
* Scope Creep!

The Zero Downtime Migration Process eliminates the unknown and makes you more profitable.

You'll finish every project on time.

You'll remove the RISK of the unknown.

And you'll be the hero because the client won't lose money during the process!

Money Back Guarantee

If you buy any Network Migration Books or Seminars from Great Little Book Publishing, we Guarantee your satisfaction - of you get a 100% refund - No Questions Asked!

Order Now!

Buy Now

Special Pre-Release Price Only $199 !!!

Super Give It To Me Right Now Special

Everyone who orders this product before midnight on Tuesday August 4th

will receive a FREE two-hour audio introduction to the Zero Downtime Migration process.

No codes. Just buy The Network Migration Workbook right now and we'll send you the MP3 files.

Buy Now and Get the Bonus MP3s!