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Jan
9
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Two Smaller Servers Over One Big One
Posted by Philip Elder on 09 January 2014 02:01 PM

Original Post Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Windows Server 2012 R2 and Two Smaller Servers Over One Big One

Having some thoughts on designing client’s IT solutions to provide a relatively simple setup that allows for business to continue on in the event of a hardware failure.

Windows Server 2012 R2 gives us a few more options to facilitate business continuity.

Two smaller servers running their workloads allows for a number of different scenarios for recoverability:

  • Hyper-V Replica
    • For obvious reasons
  • DHCP Failover (built-in, run the wizard after installing the DHCP Role on two systems)
    • Very easy to do and gives clients full DHCP if one box goes down (no need to flip a switch somewhere else to enable DHCP)
    • Shares all Scope Options and Reservations between the two

Some of the benefits of this setup are:

  • AD is covered in the event of a full-stop
    • Hiccups can be taken care of by Burflags and/or AD Recycle Bin
    • AD continues despite one server going full-stop
  • File services and LoBs come back online when replica failover kicks in
  • A good backup regimen with restore tests allow flexibility (ShadowProtect)

Our preference has grown into having two key resources duplicated:
•    AD/DNS/DHCP across two separate VMs (2x servers)
•    Hyper-V Replica for VM hosting files and key LoBs

That folks is a poor man’s/woman’s “Cluster” setup.

Yes, there is a bit of extra cost involved for the licensing side of things. And, there may be a price difference on the hardware side of things.

But, when we look at the lifetime of the solution and take that extra cost we can then draw up a dollar amount per user per month using a 36 or 48 month amortization table (or even 60 month if five year warranty) and justify it as the cost of insurance relative to business stoppage costs. This works for us pretty much every time! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


Read more »



Aug
28
Some Thoughts on Microsoft in the SMB Space
Posted by Reprinted Article on 28 August 2013 06:31 PM

If one approaches this post from an emotional level, that is built on all of the angst, struggles, and pain born of the Cloud drums out of Microsoft, that is their message but also the many products and services cancellations, over these last three or so years then it would not be hard to go down a very not-so-happy path.

So many bridges between Microsoft and us IT Solution Providers that work on the front lines of the SMB IT space (by our definition SMB is 1-75 seats or so) have been burned or even out-right blown up.

Many of us have struggled with the angst over where we were going to take our business and what kind of business model we would have two, five, and even ten years down the road. After all, we are in it for the long-haul right?

Why We Do IT

This post is more a reflection of the SMB IT Provider that is in the business out of passion for the products and services we get to work with. But, most especially for the joy it brings us to have a set of very happy clients on the other end of our IT practices.

That is our greatest reward. That is clients whose businesses are in the business to make money and do so as efficiently as possible on their IT because of what we do for them.

For us, the reality has come home to roost that Microsoft is much less a partner today than a competitor.

Yes, we are still building our solutions on the Microsoft stack and will continue to do so. Our solutions absolutely rock utilizing the products we do. We will continue building solutions that our competitors, like Microsoft and other large IT Solutions providers, could hardly hope to develop for their clients.

Why?

Because we as small business IT Solutions Providers live, breath, and work in the SMB Trenches. We understand small business in a way that a Gartner Survey or any other such knowledge peddlers could never hope to. This is because we _are_ a small business.

We small businesses are _not_ consumers, pro-sumers, or any other such "consumer" of goods and services.

We _produce_ products and services for others to consume. Or, we develop and sell products and services for other businesses to utilize in their _production_ of goods and services (Business to Business).

Microsoft's Value in SMB

So, what value do we see in Microsoft in today's SMB IT marketplace?

  • Products/Features
    • Hyper-V
      • Virtualization solutions have become affordable, both on VMware and Hyper-V, as a result of the competition between the two.
        • All one needs to do is watch VMware's stock and current restructuring efforts to see the impact Hyper-V has had on their margins.
      • Stack builds on a single box save our clients a lot on hardware, power consumption, cooling, and noise.
      • Clusters are very affordable for our clients when truly commodity based hardware (Intel Server Systems) are utilized over Tier 1.
    • Windows Server Essentials Experience Role
      • Finally, the Remote Web Access portal, RD Gateway, and other SBS-Like goodies can be dropped into a Windows Server Standard server setup.
    • Storage Spaces
      • Still new, but with lots of potential to impact how we do things for our clients with larger data sets.
    • Exchange
      • Despite the poor start to the product at what was probably Early Preview bits branded as RTM, Exchange Server 2013 is an awesome product with great potential for on-premises mail and BYOD management.
  • Partner Program
    • Loss of the Small Business Specialist program.
      • This is probably the "nail in the coffin" as far as the Cloud message to SMB IT Providers.
    • Competency Program structures drive us to expand or further distance ourselves from the Partner Program
      • Some of us are not comfortable with the idea of hiring on.
      • Plus, there are any number of other reasons for us to remain where we are at for now.
      • There are opportunities though. We just need the vision, time, and energy to pick them out and develop them.
    • Cloud, Cloud, Cloud, Cloud (Monty Python-esque theme here :) )
      • The drums are still beating.
      • The message is becoming all the clearer: Folks in SMB do not require any outside IT help. You can do it all yourself!
    • Cloud Essentials Program
      • Better get on board and start playing around with the freebie credit for Azure as this is one spot where we can develop some business opportunities.
  • TechNet
    • Now, keep in mind that folks that are Open Licensed will continue on with their TechNet subscriptions that are a Software Assurance benefit.
    • The loss of TechNet for lab use is most certainly of concern, but one has to wonder why it was terminated.
      • IMNSHO, we are at a point where the passionate SMB IT Provider, and Microsoft, have received yet another black eye due to the unscrupulous folks that abuse the system.

We are of the opinion that the current wave of Microsoft products, with the exception of Office 2013, are probably some of the best that we've seen in years.

Yes, mousers cried foul over the loss of the Start Button in Windows 8. But keyboarders never missed it. :) And yeah, there is a bit of a training struggle for folks to understand that there are two "rooms" if you will in Windows 8.

Microsoft "Partner"

With all of the changes that we've seen in Microsoft over these last two to three years we really have to wonder where they are going to be in two, three, or even five years.

Sadly the reality that the desktop PC is not really going to disappear in a business setting does not seem to phase anyone in stratosphere management at large corporations like Microsoft. :(

To top it all off, IMNSHO, the server is _not_ going to disappear in the SMB space.  Nor will the need for on-premises mail.

However, with the advent of so many failed/bad Microsoft product updates lately on so many products, some bringing down Hyper-V Failover Clusters, one really has to wonder how far off the vision has gone from providing a rock solid on-premises product experience from RTM to retirement?

Hopefully the bad patching situation that has been happening lately is only temporary and Microsoft moves some development back into actually testing those updates before deploying them to the world.

After all, being in business is about the products and services right? It's about providing the best possible value to the end-customer/client isn't it?

Can folks _really trust_ a company to provide a great Cloud experience when it seems like the on-premises products and services may be on their death-beds? Why develop patches and _test_ them if there is no will to keep the on-premises products alive?

And that begs this question: Can we SMB IT Solution Providers trust a company that has not come right out and said it, but has essentially drummed the message all the more clearly in these last 12-18 months that the "end is nigh" for the SMB IT Solution Provider? SMB belongs in the Cloud after all. Right?

Be straight with us. Be clear with us. If we knew where we truly stood as a "Partner" of Microsoft we would be better able to make decisions about where we are and where we need to go in the new era of competition _with_ Microsoft.

Trust is based on honesty between the parties. The messages out of Microsoft have been so mixed, and sometimes outright confusing, these last few years that one is never sure where we stand anymore.

Most certainly we need to be very aware, and wary, of what is happening both within the companies that produce the products we utilize and then within the product groups themselves.

Business Opportunities

On the flip-side the current state of SMB IT can provide an awesome opportunity for us to advance our on-premises and hybrid solution sets and skillsets. While it may seem daunting at first, we can indeed continue to build our SMB IT practice and triumph despite the naysayer's constant messages!

And, perhaps in the midst of all of this we could end up growing our businesses into that Microsoft Partner Competency holder that would get noticed and direct Partner support (note the absence of the quotes).

In the end, we may not reach those competency levels and/or even get noticed.

But, we can go home at the end of the day, maybe work a bit in the evening for our clients, knowing full well that there is a great group of folks, our clients, on the receiving end of our products and services that are very happy with us and what we do.

And that my friends is why, for the most part, we can sleep well at night eh? ;)

Well, maybe most nights. We are, after all, small business owners so the occasional sleepless night is a prerequisite! :D

Thanks for reading.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Aug
28
Some Thoughts on Microsoft in the SMB Space
Posted by Reprinted Article on 28 August 2013 06:31 PM

If one approaches this post from an emotional level, that is built on all of the angst, struggles, and pain born of the Cloud drums out of Microsoft, that is their message but also the many products and services cancellations, over these last three or so years then it would not be hard to go down a very not-so-happy path.

So many bridges between Microsoft and us IT Solution Providers that work on the front lines of the SMB IT space (by our definition SMB is 1-75 seats or so) have been burned or even out-right blown up.

Many of us have struggled with the angst over where we were going to take our business and what kind of business model we would have two, five, and even ten years down the road. After all, we are in it for the long-haul right?

Why We Do IT

This post is more a reflection of the SMB IT Provider that is in the business out of passion for the products and services we get to work with. But, most especially for the joy it brings us to have a set of very happy clients on the other end of our IT practices.

That is our greatest reward. That is clients whose businesses are in the business to make money and do so as efficiently as possible on their IT because of what we do for them.

For us, the reality has come home to roost that Microsoft is much less a partner today than a competitor.

Yes, we are still building our solutions on the Microsoft stack and will continue to do so. Our solutions absolutely rock utilizing the products we do. We will continue building solutions that our competitors, like Microsoft and other large IT Solutions providers, could hardly hope to develop for their clients.

Why?

Because we as small business IT Solutions Providers live, breath, and work in the SMB Trenches. We understand small business in a way that a Gartner Survey or any other such knowledge peddlers could never hope to. This is because we _are_ a small business.

We small businesses are _not_ consumers, pro-sumers, or any other such "consumer" of goods and services.

We _produce_ products and services for others to consume. Or, we develop and sell products and services for other businesses to utilize in their _production_ of goods and services (Business to Business).

Microsoft's Value in SMB

So, what value do we see in Microsoft in today's SMB IT marketplace?

  • Products/Features
    • Hyper-V
      • Virtualization solutions have become affordable, both on VMware and Hyper-V, as a result of the competition between the two.
        • All one needs to do is watch VMware's stock and current restructuring efforts to see the impact Hyper-V has had on their margins.
      • Stack builds on a single box save our clients a lot on hardware, power consumption, cooling, and noise.
      • Clusters are very affordable for our clients when truly commodity based hardware (Intel Server Systems) are utilized over Tier 1.
    • Windows Server Essentials Experience Role
      • Finally, the Remote Web Access portal, RD Gateway, and other SBS-Like goodies can be dropped into a Windows Server Standard server setup.
    • Storage Spaces
      • Still new, but with lots of potential to impact how we do things for our clients with larger data sets.
    • Exchange
      • Despite the poor start to the product at what was probably Early Preview bits branded as RTM, Exchange Server 2013 is an awesome product with great potential for on-premises mail and BYOD management.
  • Partner Program
    • Loss of the Small Business Specialist program.
      • This is probably the "nail in the coffin" as far as the Cloud message to SMB IT Providers.
    • Competency Program structures drive us to expand or further distance ourselves from the Partner Program
      • Some of us are not comfortable with the idea of hiring on.
      • Plus, there are any number of other reasons for us to remain where we are at for now.
      • There are opportunities though. We just need the vision, time, and energy to pick them out and develop them.
    • Cloud, Cloud, Cloud, Cloud (Monty Python-esque theme here :) )
      • The drums are still beating.
      • The message is becoming all the clearer: Folks in SMB do not require any outside IT help. You can do it all yourself!
    • Cloud Essentials Program
      • Better get on board and start playing around with the freebie credit for Azure as this is one spot where we can develop some business opportunities.
  • TechNet
    • Now, keep in mind that folks that are Open Licensed will continue on with their TechNet subscriptions that are a Software Assurance benefit.
    • The loss of TechNet for lab use is most certainly of concern, but one has to wonder why it was terminated.
      • IMNSHO, we are at a point where the passionate SMB IT Provider, and Microsoft, have received yet another black eye due to the unscrupulous folks that abuse the system.

We are of the opinion that the current wave of Microsoft products, with the exception of Office 2013, are probably some of the best that we've seen in years.

Yes, mousers cried foul over the loss of the Start Button in Windows 8. But keyboarders never missed it. :) And yeah, there is a bit of a training struggle for folks to understand that there are two "rooms" if you will in Windows 8.

Microsoft "Partner"

With all of the changes that we've seen in Microsoft over these last two to three years we really have to wonder where they are going to be in two, three, or even five years.

Sadly the reality that the desktop PC is not really going to disappear in a business setting does not seem to phase anyone in stratosphere management at large corporations like Microsoft. :(

To top it all off, IMNSHO, the server is _not_ going to disappear in the SMB space.  Nor will the need for on-premises mail.

However, with the advent of so many failed/bad Microsoft product updates lately on so many products, some bringing down Hyper-V Failover Clusters, one really has to wonder how far off the vision has gone from providing a rock solid on-premises product experience from RTM to retirement?

Hopefully the bad patching situation that has been happening lately is only temporary and Microsoft moves some development back into actually testing those updates before deploying them to the world.

After all, being in business is about the products and services right? It's about providing the best possible value to the end-customer/client isn't it?

Can folks _really trust_ a company to provide a great Cloud experience when it seems like the on-premises products and services may be on their death-beds? Why develop patches and _test_ them if there is no will to keep the on-premises products alive?

And that begs this question: Can we SMB IT Solution Providers trust a company that has not come right out and said it, but has essentially drummed the message all the more clearly in these last 12-18 months that the "end is nigh" for the SMB IT Solution Provider? SMB belongs in the Cloud after all. Right?

Be straight with us. Be clear with us. If we knew where we truly stood as a "Partner" of Microsoft we would be better able to make decisions about where we are and where we need to go in the new era of competition _with_ Microsoft.

Trust is based on honesty between the parties. The messages out of Microsoft have been so mixed, and sometimes outright confusing, these last few years that one is never sure where we stand anymore.

Most certainly we need to be very aware, and wary, of what is happening both within the companies that produce the products we utilize and then within the product groups themselves.

Business Opportunities

On the flip-side the current state of SMB IT can provide an awesome opportunity for us to advance our on-premises and hybrid solution sets and skillsets. While it may seem daunting at first, we can indeed continue to build our SMB IT practice and triumph despite the naysayer's constant messages!

And, perhaps in the midst of all of this we could end up growing our businesses into that Microsoft Partner Competency holder that would get noticed and direct Partner support (note the absence of the quotes).

In the end, we may not reach those competency levels and/or even get noticed.

But, we can go home at the end of the day, maybe work a bit in the evening for our clients, knowing full well that there is a great group of folks, our clients, on the receiving end of our products and services that are very happy with us and what we do.

And that my friends is why, for the most part, we can sleep well at night eh? ;)

Well, maybe most nights. We are, after all, small business owners so the occasional sleepless night is a prerequisite! :D

Thanks for reading.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Aug
22
SMB Kitchen – Presenting at the SMB TechFest in Orange County, CA October 19th!
Posted by Reprinted Article on 22 August 2013 08:06 AM

I’m excited to announce that I will be doing some presenting at the upcoming TechFest in Orange County, California! :)

Amy Babinchak will be delving into the changes we are seeing in our industry and how she is working those changes into her own IT practice Harbor Computer Services.

Boon Tee will be looking at Hyper-V Replica and how it can be deployed in all manner of businesses.

Susan Bradley is going to present on a wide variety of security issues that SMB faces today and some of the tools that can be used to address them.

I will be delving into the materials I have already posted to the SMB Kitchen on Hyper-V, clustering with Hyper-V, with a special focus on selling Hyper-V clusters into SMB starting at the 15 seat level and above.

We will also have a Q&A session at the end where folks will be able to ask us questions.

And, of course, we will have lots of time to kibitz throughout the event!

image

If you can please join Amy Babinchak, Boon Tee, Susan Bradley, and myself for an excellent business and technical focused non-marketing fluff day. I can guarantee you there will be pearls to be had! :D

Oh, and we will have whiteboards for discussion times! W00t!

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMB Kitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Aug
22
SMB Kitchen – Presenting at the SMB TechFest in Orange County, CA October 19th!
Posted by Reprinted Article on 22 August 2013 08:06 AM

I’m excited to announce that I will be doing some presenting at the upcoming TechFest in Orange County, California! :)

Amy Babinchak will be delving into the changes we are seeing in our industry and how she is working those changes into her own IT practice Harbor Computer Services.

Boon Tee will be looking at Hyper-V Replica and how it can be deployed in all manner of businesses.

Susan Bradley is going to present on a wide variety of security issues that SMB faces today and some of the tools that can be used to address them.

I will be delving into the materials I have already posted to the SMB Kitchen on Hyper-V, clustering with Hyper-V, with a special focus on selling Hyper-V clusters into SMB starting at the 15 seat level and above.

We will also have a Q&A session at the end where folks will be able to ask us questions.

And, of course, we will have lots of time to kibitz throughout the event!

image

If you can please join Amy Babinchak, Boon Tee, Susan Bradley, and myself for an excellent business and technical focused non-marketing fluff day. I can guarantee you there will be pearls to be had! :D

Oh, and we will have whiteboards for discussion times! W00t!

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMB Kitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

Windows Live Writer


Read more »



Aug
14
Microsoft Slaughtering It’s Own Cash Cow?
Posted by Reprinted Article on 14 August 2013 03:28 PM

We in SMB IT have been hearing the Microsoft Cloud Drums for quite a few years now.

In the first year or two the call was along the lines of how great Microsoft’s new Cloud was to be and how we were all going to do well selling it.

Well, in SMB IT that pretty much fell flat on its face once it became apparent the SMB IT Provider was not be be billing the customer Microsoft was.

Plus, where was the SMB IT Provider supposed to fit in to the picture anyway?

The drums kept beating but the SMB IT Solution Provider did not listen.

Microsoft made some changes in their sales model for the Microsoft Cloud product line that allowed the SMB IT Provider to bill their clients, but uptake was probably very slow if at all.

Off to conferences and Webinars we go where “Partners” trumpet their great success selling Microsoft and other Cloud Vendor’s wares. How great their success was they were proclaiming but in the end we received a lot of fluff with little substance.

The drums are still beating today. However, they no longer beat for us to take up the call and sell Microsoft Cloud.

IMNSHO, they now beat the message to the end customer to avoid working with us altogether.

You don’t need the SMB IT Provider! You can do it all yourself! We’re making it really easy for you!

To be fair, Microsoft pushed really hard to get the SMB IT Provider on board with training and certification. They spent hundreds of thousands if not millions on getting us to on-board with the Small Business Specialist Community and the certification structures it required.

Those of us that took up to that beat, that is the SBSC and all it entailed, did really well and Microsoft took great pains to support us.

Unfortunately, in the end, the folks that drove Microsoft to create the SBSC and make efforts to bring things up to par kept on doing what they were doing: Giving Microsoft and other legitimate SMB IT Providers a black eye.

As much as the “Trusted Advisor” role has been poo poo’d by many behind the Cloud drum beating we are the ones that the SMB Business Owner will listen to over commercials, surveys, and Consumer Reports.

Yes, the ones responsible for the black eyes for both Microsoft and those SMB IT Providers doing the right thing will be the ones most hurt by their customers bailing away from the pain they’ve been in for however many years by adopting the Cloud over on-premises.

Why would those customers, that is the ones that have been repeatedly burned, trust us anyway? And why would they trust Microsoft to provide a Cloud service that say Google or Amazon may be able to do just as well if not better?

While we and our client population may not be in the majority as far as SMB IT, we do represent a substantial number of small to medium businesses and the directions they take with the IT infrastructure.

A sales driver within SMB is the excited Geek coming in with a new product that perfectly fits in to their client’s business model. In fact, the Geek would have a demo prepared that directly relates to _that specific client_ without even thinking about it.

That situation translates into sales. _Lots_ of sales. And business owners talk.

Perhaps I’m overestimating our worth here? Maybe I am but then again, maybe I am not.

The drums today are beating “You SMB Business go Cloud. Period.”

We are cautioning our clients that a hybrid approach may be a better rule of thumb for so many reasons. Think PRISM for one and the Patriot Act for another.

Now, given the Microsoft’s position for us is all-in for the Cloud one has to wonder how long it will be before Microsoft removes the “choice” in SME and Enterprise environments?

Meaning, how long before Microsoft makes on-premises a lot more expensive than their Cloud offerings to in effect remove that option?

Certainly the restructuring that has happened around a services model this new Microsoft fiscal year may indicate such.

Most certainly Microsoft is at a crossroads.

Depending on the tact they take over the next 12 to 24 months we could see a vastly different company down the road that may in fact be more like Apple was before it was bailed out or like RIM is today.

Drum beating the message and forcing us in SMB into a direction because as single units we are essentially powerless against them is one thing (though we’ve been seeing that we are not so powerless after all over this last year or so).

However, trying the same tact with SME and Enterprise businesses may well fall flat on its face.

No one person or business has ever liked being shoe-horned into an option.

If given no option by a vendor, then it is more likely that another will be found, or much to the possible surprise of Microsoft, and others before them, the business may carry on and/or build what is needed from within.

Most certainly changes are afoot and we need to be very aware of what is happening around us!

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
www.thirdtier.net/enterprise-solutions-for-small-business/

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