Archive for May, 2006

'I Want to Break Free'

Looks like Dell is going to be installing some Google stuff on its PCs. Some reports seem to be suggesting that this is the beginning of the end of its relationship with Microsoft. I think this is rather exaggerated and needs to be put in to context. Dell is going to install Google’s desktop search tool and other bits and pieces. At the end of the day you’ll still buy Windows XP and Microsoft Office, so I’m not sure how significant this is!

This is the least of Dell’s worries as its revenues and profits have been sliding recently. Even this has to be put in to context because Dell is doing well but not as well as before. It has pulverised many other PC manufacturers in to submission and the likes of IBM have sold their loss making PC division to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo. Dell has a ultra efficient supply chain but if all you’re going to do is compete on price, then there’s only one way that is going to go! As small business owners we all know that all too well!

So, the Dell direct model is slowly giving way to some channel sales and the opening of some retail outlets in the US. There are already IT companies that I know that resell Dell hardware. I prefer to stick with IBM’s System X Servers for two reasons. Firstly, they are technically better solutions and IBM is a leader in R&D and Dell is not! Secondly, buying a server means you are implementing a more sophisticated IT infrastructure and with that you need expert support, which is where IBM’s channel model comes in its own.

Please buy Windows XP Pro!

This is a plea from me to make my job easier and your server deployment smoother and to save you money as well! Don’t buy a PC with Windows XP Home for business use, pay the additional £50 that Dell charge you to upgrade to Windows XP Pro! This way, we won’t have that conversation with me having to say you’ll have to upgrade all your machines to Windows XP Pro, and you saying do I really need to do that?

So what’s the difference? The main one is that XP Home can’t be a member of a domain and do a domain logon. In simple terms that means you can’t create a user account at the server and then be able to login to any PC you have on your network and have all the associated rights and permissions set by the server. There are other important differences but this is a biggy!

Then, when you want that brand new Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 implementation, then things will just be so much easier!

Apparently, Microsoft Vista, will be available in even more flavours! Aaarrrggghhh!

Using Instant Messenging for Business Use?

I was thinking about this issue yesterday as I started using MSN Messenger again to talk to friends and family. Then I started wondering about its use in Business. I know a lot of people use it for communicating with friends and family. I then saw this article on The Register about US Brokerage firms adopting IM mainly based on AIM (America Online’s Instant Messenger). There seemed to be some unease from the Regulatory authorities about IM but they couldn’t quite articulate what they are not happy about. They haven’t banned its use, but just said that appropriate ‘records’ should be kept.

We happily use it for personal communication but we have that slightly queezy feeling when considering it for business use. In terms of security it is no less secure than email as email traffic is not encrypted in any way. We can open attachments in emails to spread viruses and worms. Conversations can be logged and archived as well in most Instant Messenging systems. May be the real reason for not using it in small businesses, is that we are afraid that employees will just spend the whole day talking to friends, family and colleagues about non-work issues. Well, I guess this already happens with email!

IM has long been a core component of corporate messaging platforms such as IBM’s Lotus Notes/Domino and they swear by it! May be small businesses need to consider whether IM might be useful in their day to day communications? What do you think?

'People Ready' Business

Microsoft have just launched a new approach to marketing its product and services, which has been coined the ‘People Ready’ Business. So, what’s this all about? Is there any substance to it behind the glossy marketing campaign? I know there are a lot of people who are cynical about anything Microsoft launches.

However, this really does cut to the chase, because what is it that drives a business, any business? It’s the people! Well, doh, isn’t that a revelation! It seems obvious, it seems common sense but all too often Technology companies have sold the product based on its features. You need that new whizzy thing because it’s got Active Directory with domain logons with kerberos security, Group Policy, Terminal Services, Sharepoint Services, .NET Technology and the list goes on… Do you understand all that? Well, most businesses don’t and don’t want to and why should they?

So the Microsoft Campaign is about saying give your people the right tools, information and opportunities to do the job effectively and efficiently. It’s about empowering people. This sounds almost philosophical and in a way it is. The business owner that understands the value of technology, in making his employees more productive, is the one that’s going to give them flexible working, send them on training and invest in the growth of his company. That’s the person I want to work with!

All Change!

I’ve decided to change my blogging system from Bloglines. There’s nothing wrong with Bloglines except I couldn’t work out how to enable comments. I think this is a one off choice that you make when you create the blog. If that’s the case, then I think they need to change that! was the first result that came back from Google, so here we are. I want to use this blog to give the latest news on iQubed, share my thoughts on business news and technology issues which are affecting Small Businesses. Also, want to get feedback on people using my website and services.

We shall see what the results are!

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