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News
Oct
6
Microsoft: Excitement Rekindled
Posted by Philip Elder on 06 October 2014 10:36 AM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Microsoft: Excitement Rekindled

Back in the day, heh ;) , I was privileged to work with the SBS team both
prior and post MVP award.

Many of us in SBS Land can remember just how active the team was around SBS
2003 RTM/R2, SBS 2008 Standard/Premium, and finally SBS 2011 Standard.

By the latter product release much of the old guard had moved on but the new
team and us SBS MVPs had a strong business relationship.

The key here is in the relationships and communication levels we were
experiencing with the teams.

For must of us both within the MVP realms but also in the public that came to
a full-stop when development of the then Windows Server 2012 pre-release cycle
became better known.

We were all held in the dark. This situation continued with the 2012 R2
development cycle.

Silence. Dead Silence *insert sound of crickets here*

For those of us both within the MVP community and outside the MVP community
that are truly passionate about the clients we serve, the products we work with,
and just all-around geeking out about tech the silence was deafening and
deadening.

Tie that into the seemingly endless “Death to the IT Pro” messages coming out
of Microsoft over the last number of years and there were a lot of flames
snuffed out these last two product release cycles.

Change for the Good

One thing is for certain: Something has changed at Microsoft.

While I most certainly cannot provide “insight” into Microsoft’s motivations
for the recent change I can most certainly say that the change is welcome. Big
Time!

We now have a public release of Windows vNext bits. We have forums to discuss
these bits.

For many of us MVPs we have, and I can’t say “unprecedented” given previous
experience, an amazing amount of information flowing from our product teams.

The conversations we’ve been having with the team(s) lately have been
refreshing. Yes, they’ve been listening to us.

And, I’ll make no bones about it, I feel very excited about this upcoming
product release like I had been with the then new versions of SBS Standard!

So, hat’s off to you in Microsoft whoever you are that allowed the floodgates
of communication, shared tech passion, and business relationships to happen
again!

And thanks to the Microsoft Teams that have been sharing your product
excitement. It is refreshing and invigorating for us to experience and work
with!

We both stand to benefit greatly from this “new” openness from Microsoft.

Oh, and Cluster is definitely key to our company’s future. ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster
MVP

MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

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


Read more »



Sep
15

Original Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: MPECS Inc. Blog: Our SBS (Small Business Solution) Options with Standalone and Cluster Hardware Considerations

We’ve received a number of questions about the “How” we present our SBS to prospective and existing clients.

Our primary focus is on what we have provided with Small Business Server starting with SBS 2003 Standard.

  • Active Directory permissions based security

  • Remote Web Access (RWA/RWW) Portal
  • Remote Desktop access via RD Gateway (since SBS 2008 Standard)
  • RemoteApp access via RD Gateway for LoBs (since SBS 2008 Standard)
  • E-mail services access via Outlook, Outlook Anywhere, Exchange ActiveSync, and Outlook Web Access
  • Remote Folders and Files access
  • SharePoint based document management system
  • SQL backend for LoB, SharePoint, and other needs

We focus on the services the prospect would require while our existing clients are already used to them.

Once we have an understanding of the prospect’s needs, since we already know our client’s business really well, we move forward with a proposal that would be geared towards their business size and sensitivity to downtime.

On the services front where we are installing into a standalone host we would have two options:

  1. Base

    1. Requires two Windows Server OS Licenses

    2. DC, Exchange, RDS, and LoB (WSUS and LoBs)
  2. Premium Add-On
    1. Requires one Windows Server OS License

    2. SQL and SharePoint

Obviously the server and CALs would also be needed for the various components that will be installed into the guest OS.

If we are setting up a cluster then one needs to consider the number of VMs running on one or more of the nodes in the event of a node failure.

On the hardware side we would have a number of options:

  1. Entry-Level Single

    1. E3-1270v3, 32GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS
  2. Mid-Level Single
    1. Single Socket 1U R1208JP4OC, E5-2600 series, 128GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS
  3. High-Level Single
    1. Dual Socket 2U R2208GZ4GC, E5-2600 pair, 128GB-256GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS or 16x 2.5” 10K SAS
  4. Entry-Level Asymmetric Cluster
    1. Pair of 1U R1208JP4OC or 2U R2208GZ4GC and an Intel JBOD2224S2DP
  5. Mid-Level Cluster
    1. Four 2U R2208GZ4GC and an Intel JBOD2224S2DP

      • Two Scale-Out File Server cluster nodes

      • Two Hyper-V cluster nodes
  6. High-End Cluster
    1. Six 2U R2208GZ4GC and three Intel JBOD2224S2DP units

      • Three Scale-Out File server cluster nodes

      • Three Intel JBODS with Two-Way or Three-Way Mirror and Enclosure Resilience
      • Three Hyper-V server cluster nodes

Within the above hardware configurations we would have a lot of flexibility that allows us to customize to the specific needs of the prospective client or our clients.

We work with a number of different firms that are prime candidates for at least an asymmetric cluster setup to minimize the possibility of downtime. The cost associated with these entry-level clusters versus a single larger server for the host platform makes them very attractive.

The basic VM configuration would involve fixed VHDX files unless the files are installed on dedicated partitions/LUNs. Note that we would use a shared set of partitions/LUNs if there are around 10 or more VMs as things get to be a bit of a bear to manage otherwise.

Our base VM configurations would be as follows:

  • DC: 4GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 1TB Data VHDX

  • Exchange: 8GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 250GB + 20GB/Mailbox Data VHDX
  • RDS: 4GB+, 95GB OS VHDX, and 100GB + 20GB/User Profile Disk
  • LoB: 8GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 1TB Data VHDX Minimum
  • SQL: 16GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 250GB+ Data VHDX
  • SharePoint: 16GB, 95GB OS VHDX, 200GB Data VHDX

We have a set of PowerShell steps and scripts that we use to configure these environments. PowerShell helps to greatly reduce the amount of time required to set things up. It also gives us consistency across all of our client deployments which is vital to troubleshooting if the need arises.

Shameless Plug: We’ve spent some time on the above in our SMBKitchen ASP Author Chats. If you are looking for more information the Author Chat is one of the best ways to do so.

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

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


Read more »



Jan
17
One Post SBS Configuration
Posted by Philip Elder on 17 January 2014 02:52 PM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: One Post SBS Configuration

We are doing the following and are quite successful with the setup:

  • 2x Windows Server STD
  • Windows CALs
  • Exchange STD
  • Exchange CALs
  • RDS CALs

With that we set up one host with Hyper-V (2012 R2 preferred).

  • VM 1: DC
  • VM 2: Exchange 2013 CU3
  • VM 3: RDS
  • VM 4: LoB, WSUS

We just finished migrating our last SBS 2003 out to this setup (though with two servers and a few extra licenses).

For larger firms we can set up two identical servers and have licensing in place to allow for the following:

  • Server 1 & 2: DC VM with DHCP Failover enabled (new 2012 R2 feature)
  • Server 1: LoB VM with Replica to Server 2
  • Server 1: Exchange
  • Server 1: RDS VM with Replica to Server 2

Because Exchange and SQL have their own built-in redundancy features we have the option to configure in-guest clustering to build out the required redundancy for them.

Or, we can go with two servers with dual SAS HBAs and a dual controller SAS direct attached storage (MD3220, VTrak E610sD, DS3524) and set up an actual Hyper-V Failover Cluster. This option works very well for the very downtime conscious client.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-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


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Aug
27
Exchange Error: Edit E-mail Address Policy – Address List Service Cannot Be Found
Posted by Reprinted Article on 27 August 2013 08:01 AM

We were attempting to update the E-mail Address Policy (EAP) on an Exchange server and hit this error:

image

Edit E-mail Address Policy

The wizard could not complete.

Error:

An Exchange 2007 server on which an address list service is active cannot be found.

This particular SBS 2008 with Exchange 2007 was being tweaked as it is a restore into our lab cluster setup.

A quick search pointed to the Exchange System Attendant service not being online and sure enough it was not.

After starting the server we had a successful EAP change:

image

We could then move on to our next tasks at hand for this project.

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 »




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