Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cloud Service SuperStar Line-Up: Google and More!


The Cloud Services Roundtable has had great success this year. I guess we picked the right topic for 2010.

Well, we're not stopping now. We have a huge set of programs lined up for the end of the year. The next three look like this:

- Building a Successful Cloud Based Business with Ken Edwards from Maverick Mesa Computer Specialties

- Application Intelligence in the Cloud with Dmitriy Ayrapetov from SonicWALL

- The Google Apps SMB Channel with Jeff Ragusa from Google

We're also putting together a special program on managing a remote/virtual team in the emerging international economy. As you'll learn from all of these shows, you're about to become a global player . . . whether you intend to be one or not.

Here are the upcoming specifics:

- - -

Building a Successful Cloud Based Business
Ken Edwards, President, Maverick Mesa Computer Specialties

November 3, 2010
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Register Now for Free:

I ran into Ken (an old friend) at SMB Nation and he was telling me about how he designed a product, arranged to have it fabricated overseas, and now has a business destributing his product online . . . with zero added employees in the United States.

This is the future, baby!

And even if you're not planning to take that route yourself, you need to know how it works. This kind of business will become veyr common in the years ahead. You want to be a consultant in the future? This is a great place to start.

More information at

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Application Intelligence in the Cloud
Dmitriy Ayrapetov from SonicWALL

November 17, 2010
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Register Now for Free:

SonicWALL’s Dmitriy Ayrapetov joins our Podcast to discuss Application Intelligence for filtering, managing, and controlling application use in a network, especially as more applications become cloud based.

SonicWALL has been hailed by industry publications such as Network World, InfoWord, PC Magazine and SC Magazine for easy to use, high quality and high performance appliances and services. They are Business Solution Magazine’s 2010 Best Channel Vendor.

More information at

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The Google Apps SMB Channel
Jeff Ragusa, Google Apps SMB Channel Lead

December 1, 2010
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Register Now for Free:

Jeff Ragusa talks about the Google Apps SMB Channel! Google this year launched their SMB application marketplace; a one-stop shop where users can discover, purchase and deploy integrated third party cloud applications.

The Google Apps Marketplace is a store front aimed at the 25 million individual users that Google Apps has across two million businesses.

The Google Apps Partner team recently attended the SMB Nation Vegas conference in their ongoing efforts to find leading solution providers and MSPs for their Google Apps Authorized Reseller program.

More information at

- - -

Kicking Butt . . . one cheek at a time.

Join us live at the registration links above. Or listen anytime at


Autotask Rock Stars

"What's all the hubbub, bub?" - Bugs Bunny

With all the SMB Nation hubbub, you may have missed the big Autotask announcement of the First Ever Rock Star Awards.

The Rock Star program is intended to "share IT Service and Solution Provider best practices and IT business management tips which lead to faster bottom line results."

See the full announcement/press release at

So, of course, Autotask had a whole Rock Star themed appearance at SMB Nation. If you listen to the podcast with Len DiCostanzo, you'll hear Lou on the other side of the curtain playing his electric guitar for the folks at SMB Nation. We had fun at the end as Michael and Megan were orchestrating the music to "take us out" of the podcast. Fun stuff:

Autotask also had a great Rock Star party with some guy called "Diddy" at Ceasar's palace. Great pix are online at Facebook. I've never seen so many 21-year-old women in tiny black dresses in my life.

Anyway . . .

Community Dude Mark Crall introduced 28 Autotask customers rock stars, chosen because of their expertise and their willingness to help other users in the community. The rock starts are:
  • Andy Harper , Gaeltek – VA, USA
  • Travis Austin, MSPintegrations - CA, USA
  • Vince Tinnirello, Anchor Network Solutions, Inc - CO, USA
  • Alex Elliott, Advanced Technology Services, Inc. – IL, USA
  • Lee Evans, Vital – Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
  • Ritesh Kapadia, SynchroNet – TX, USA
  • Osama Faris, FAR Support Ltd. – ON, Canada
  • Stuart Selbst, Stuart Selbst Consulting – VA, USA
  • Jacob Braun, Wake Digital Media Corporation – MA, USA
  • Steve Meek, The Fulcrum Group, LLC – TX, USA
  • Win Pham, Performance IT – GA, USA
  • Ken Edwards, Maverick Mesa Computer Specialties, Inc. – AZ, USA
  • Tim Carney, SF Bay - Link Network Services, Inc. - CA, USA
  • Charles Tholen, Cognoscape – TX, USA
  • Brian Kerhin, Byte Harmony, Inc. – WI, USA
  • Nathan Franks, Dynamic Business Technologies – NSW, Australia
  • Steve Alexander, Third Eye Technologies, Inc. – NY, USA
  • Thomas Blandford, eTrepid Inc. – MD, USA
  • Craig Tribuno, Systems Engineering – ME, USA
  • Melanie Fricke, CMIT Solutions – TX, USA
  • Mary Beth Jokela, Concordant – MA, USA
  • Lorentz Hinrichsen, Wulf Consulting – PA, USA
  • Edd Nicklin, Future Reliance – Kingston, United Kingdom
  • Michael Garcia, LuxTech – Hertforshire, United Kingdom
  • Paul Tomlinson, Mirus IT Solutions – Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
  • Norb Doeberlein, Netzbahn – TX, USA
  • Tony Poole, Synergy Technology – Preston, United Kingdom

If you've in the SMB Community long, or gone to more than a few conferences, you've met at least one of these folks. Probably many more than one. I can name ten of theme who owe me a beer . . .



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Live Mini Podcast with Amy Babinchak, SBSer of the Year

Live from SMB Nation in Las Vegas . . .

We're going to do a quick podcast with Amy Babinchak, the newly-announced SBSer of the Year.

Amy is a Microsoft MVP, a small business consultant, a community leader, and one of the principals in Third Tier Consulting.

We are honored to have Amy with us and hope you'll join us live from SMB Nation.

Register here:

10 AM Sunday October 24th.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Live Podcasts from SMB Nation

We're at SMB Nation this week in Vegas.

And we've got some great mini-podcasts lined up. Please register and join us.

Also see info over at Over at

- Friday Oct. 22nd at 11:00 AM = SMB Nation Podcast - Intel
- Brief interview with Intel's Christopher Graham. Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Friday Oct. 22nd at 1:30 PM = SMB Nation Podcast - Autotask
- Brief interview with Len DiCostanzo re defining a service catalog, leading into discussion about our VARStreet solution. Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Saturday Oct. 23rd at 9:45 AM = SMB Nation Podcast - CIAOPS
- Brief interview with Robert Crane about the latest SharePoint opportunities. Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Saturday Oct. 23rd at 2:00 PM = SMB Nation Podcast - Zenith
- Brief interview with Maurice Saluan from Zenith. Live from the Podcast Pavilion (booth 205/207).

We're also working on a special podcast for Sunday AM. Stay tuned and connect with me on Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Making Money with Hosted Sharepoint - Oct. 20th Podcast

Next Cloud Services Roundtable:

Making Money with Hosted Sharepoint

with Mr. Robert Crane, author The Sharepoint Operations Guide.

Register Now for Free:

October 20, 2010
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Robert is the author of the Sharepoint Operations Guide, a very handy and easy-to-use guide - even though it's more than 1,500 pages!

You can view Robert's site and see what he's up to at .

Robert is one of the featured speakers at SMB Nation this week. He's in Northern California right now, wandering about and heading to Casa Palachuk for a few days. Then he heads back to San Fran while I head to Vegas. We'll meet up with him again there.

If you've used Sharepoint, and sold it to your clients, then you know that it can be a very profitable product with the right client. We'll investigate the latest developments with Sharepoint and how you can use it to make money in a hosted environment.

Register Free at . . .


Friday, October 15, 2010

Intel Hybrid Cloud Roadshow Kicks Off in Vegas

Intel has partnered with Small Biz Thoughts to bring you a great roadshow filled with prizes and information to help your company make money in cloud services.

Specifically, the prizes include an Intel Hybrid Cloud Server at each roadshow. We will be giving away one server at each stop. We'll also be giving away some copies of my books, including the Network Migration Workbook . . . a $300 value.

The site for Roadshow Stops and Registration is at Small Biz Thoughts. There you can register for FREE, find out more about the Hybrid Cloud, listen to relevant podcasts, see the videos we're about to post, and more.

The first Intel Hybrid Cloud Roadshow stop is Las Vegas at the SMB Nation conference. We'll be in the agenda. So plan to stop by and put your hands on this cool machine.

Other stops currently scheduled include Chicago on November 16th, Grand Rapids on November 17th, and New York City on December 8th.

This will be a great whistle stop series and we'll be posting up videos, audio clips, and more.

Check out the site. If you'll be near one of these cities, please register. We look forward to meeting you on the road AND introducing you to this cool new technology.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Catch Me At SMB Nation - Podcasts and More

Next week the SMB community will be Las Vegas for SMB Nation. In addition to being an attendee at the event, I'm bringing two staff members with me, and I'll be doing some presentations.

If you are even remotely considering SMB Nation this year, please contact me about last-minute pricing for my Preday event on October 21st and contact Harry about last-minute deals for the big show itself.

Podcasts Aplenty!

Over at the Small Biz Thoughts web site, we've listed the podcasts you can check into for live reports from SMB Nation. We'll keep you updated here and on Twitter and Facebook if there are any changes.

The full schedule is at

Stay tuned here and on Facebook/Twitter for updated information on times and topics for the live podcasts.

- Thursday Oct. 21st at 9:00 AM = SMB Nation Podcast - Zenith Info Tech
- Live from the SMB Nation Preday show with Stephan Cico from Zenith Info Tech.

- Friday Oct. 22nd at 11:00 AM = SMB Nation Podcast - Intel
- Brief interview with Intel's Christopher Graham. Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Friday Oct. 22nd at 1:30 PM = SMB Nation Podcast - Autotask
- Brief interview with Len DiCostanzo re defining a service catalog, leading into discussion about our VARStreet solution.  Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Saturday Oct. 23rd at 9:45 AM = SMB Nation Podcast - CIAOPS
- Brief interview with Robert Crane about the latest SharePoint opportunities.  Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Saturday Oct. 23rd at 2:00 PM = SMB Nation Podcast - Zenith
- Brief interview with Maurice Saluan from Zenith.  Live from the Podcast Pavilion.

- Sunday Oct. 24th at 10:00 AM
- - To be announced. Stay tuned.

- - - - -

On other fronts, please check out these events at SMB Nation:

Where You Can Run Into Karl

Thurs. Oct 21st, 10AM - 5PM
Preday Training
Walking Into The Cloud
Information and Registration at

Friday October 22nd, 3:00 PM:
Hands on Lab with Intel on Intel Hybrid Cloud
- See SMB Nation agenda

Friday October 22nd, 5:15 PM:
Migration Madness: Migrating from SBS to The Cloud
My presentation in the Technical track
- See SMB Nation agenda

Saturday October 23rd, all day
Hands on Labs with HP on HP Thin Client Technologies
- See SMB Nation agenda

- - - - -

I'll be busy during the whole show. Please track me down and shake my hand. I'd love to see you there!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

If You Don't Test Your DRP, You Don't HAVE One!

In my weekly SMB Email (coming out tonight), I talk about testing backups.

I won't repeat that here, but the short version is very simple: If You Don't Test Your Backup, You Don't HAVE One!

At least you can't prove you have a backup unless you can restore from it.

In our experience, 50% of all backup "systems" with new clients are not working when we take on the client. This has held true with tapes, discs, internet backups, on-site systems, off-site systems, etc.

Why? Well . . . Something goes wrong. Some jobs don't kick off until the previous job finishes. So if that job never finishes, you're done. Of course discs go bad (spinning 24x7x365 can do that). Configurations change and backups don't, so the job is set to backup the old data and not the new. USB ports go bad. NAS devices drop a connection. Ports go bad on switches. Cables get unplugged.

And so forth. There are hundreds of reasons why a backup job can stop working.

Any good backup system will have (accurate) logs about the job, how it's performing, and whether it was successful.

But the ultimate test is that you have to restore from that backup to verify that it worked. Period. Every month. Religiously.

The same holds true for Disaster Recovery Plans -- DRPs.

Here's the bad news: DRPs are even more fragile than backups. By definition, you need a great backup in order to perform a disaster recovery. But you also need many other things. Perfect documentation. Replacement hardware. Tech support for business applications. Communications. Insurance information. Account numbers. A chain of command. Authorization processes for all kinds of subsystems. A triage system for old equipment. And so forth.

Imagine that a client's office was destroyed by fire. You have no equipment. No printers, no server, no desktops, no hard copy files. No nothing.

[Side note: You have to think in these terms in order to create a workable DRP. A failed hard drive is not a disaster; it's a minor annoyance. In fact, a failed server shouldn't be much of a disaster either. A business runs on all the hundreds of things and processes that are inter-connected and used to make the operation flow. A disaster affects the organization itself, not just the technology.]

The client needs to continue taking orders, delivering products/services, paying bills, paying payroll, etc. In other words, they need to do everything they did yesterday. And they're all stressed out. And short-tempered, frustrated, and generally not fun to deal with. They might not have a place to work or the tools to get the work done.

They turn to you because you're the highly skilled technical professional. If the first words out of your mouth are "I don't know what to do," they'll be referring to you as their previous consultant.

So, lesson one, you need at least a basic, rudimentary plan of how you will recover their business when disaster strikes. Do you have DRP information stored somewhere in your PSA system (Autotask, ConnectWise, Tigerpaw)? Is it stored at the client's house or in a safe deposit box? Does the client know where to get this information, or is it stored in their garage, in an unmarked wooden box, next to the Ark of the Covenant?

Just as with a backup, we take great pride in our DRPs. And just as with a backup, we never know absolutely for sure that the DRP works unless we test it.

Please be very clear on this point: A Backup Is Not A Disaster Recovery Plan. A backup is one key component. It should be tested every month. But a backup won't help you with the control software for the welding machine, the impact printers for purchase orders, the customized invoice paper, new chairs, insurance claims, emergency bank loans, rental laptops, and a million other details that you won't be able to think of while pointing to the melted server and wondering whether you'll be able to get that hard drive out.

For most small businesses, a DRP is pretty simple. There's a very small, and obvious, chain of command. P.R. and press relations is minor. With modern backup strategies, temporary systems can be set up in virtual machines or in the cloud.

In other words, getting the client limping along is usually not a huge undertaking that requires teams of specialists.

But to get the client fully functional, there need to be checklists, processes, and a prior agreement on how things will flow. Yes, the owner will likely make changes to the plan in the middle of the crisis. But those decisions should be made with an understanding of what the plan is in the first place!

The only way to make this go smoothly is to . . . .

1) HAVE a Disaster Recovery Plan

2) Walk Through the DRP with the client . . . at least once

3) Test the pieces of the plan that you can test

4) Keep the DRP up to date

The plan does not have to be excruciatingly detailed. In fact, it should be simple enough that you can cover it with the business owner in an hour and have everyone feel like they understand it. No one will read this plan during a disaster. In all likelihood, no one will ever read it except you. But you need to explain it to the client so that you get sign-off for the plan.

The DRP walk-through is a simple presentation, probably with a white board, so that everyone knows what to expect. We all know what to do in a fire. Many offices even practice this. But most offices have no idea what to do after the fire.

The initial walk-through should be with the owner/manager. Then, after revisions are integrated, the entire staff should sit in on a revised walk-through. You're obviously not building up a new office, just talking through it, answering questions, and making sure everyone has heard the process once.

Many pieces of the plan can be tested. The most obvious of these is restoring the server. But you can also do things like have the boss bring in the insurance contact list, the employee phone contact list, etc.

Some pieces of the DRP cannot be "tested" but can still be verified. For example, if you're going to need three specialized printers, you can research what you need, where you'll get it, how much it costs, how to expidite the order, how to place the order, and additional information that's needed. All of this information might change, so it should be checked at least once a year. In a real disaster, you probably won't have access to the office to look on the back of a machine to find out what the model number is.

And, to be honest, you don't personally have to update all this info. You can help the client collect it the first time and then just work with their staff to verify information each year after that. In this way, the client's employees will actually have a little "hands on" experience with what they will be asked to do when the "big one" hits.

- - - -

The bottom line: If you don't test your DRP, you don't have one.

And if you're not offering such services to your clients, you should be. No one else is! Besides . . . once you make friends with their insurance rep, that person will introduce you to more people who don't have DRPs at all.


Join Me In Las Vegas

October 21, 2010 . . . for

Walking Into The Cloud

* Six-Hour training *

Get ready NOW to start making money with Cloud Services in the SMB Space.

Find Out About Migrating from SBS to The Cloud

Registration is only $249!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Cloud Marketing Info Request

As you may know, Jeff Johnson from Technology Marketing Toolkit is going to be our guest on the next Cloud Services Roundtable broadcast.

October 6th
9:00 AM Pacific

Register Now at

This is a hot topic and we have a lot of people registered.

I have a small favor to ask. I’m not offering a reward, but in the end, you will certainly benefit.

Let me explain...

Jeff is going to be covering marketing strategies for selling more cloud services to your clients and prospects.

But since this is such a broad topic, I wanted to narrow the content down to a few key points for Jeff to focus on. To that end, could you take a few seconds to answer 2 very important questions?

They are:

1. What is the single most important question you would like us to cover about marketing cloud services?


2. What is the single biggest problem, headache, or pain you have in marketing and selling cloud services?

Please take a minute to reply to this post, or send me an email with your answers. Any feedback you have is appreciated so that I can make sure we create a very informative and enlightening session for you and our other clients.



Join Me In Las Vegas

October 21, 2010 . . . for

Walking Into The Cloud

* Six-Hour training *

Get ready NOW to start making money with Cloud Services in the SMB Space.

Find Out

About Migrating from SBS to The Cloud

Registration is only $249!