Archive for October, 2006

Getting SuSE Linux Enterprise Server v10 to play nicely with SBS 2003

As Novell recently sent me an eval version of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server v10, I thought I would see how easy it is to get it to be a member of an Active Directory Domain and to be able to authenticate Linux logins against AD. The answer is very simple using YAST which is SuSE’s configuration tool. You don’t have to touch the command line at all!

Here are some screenshots showing the results

The following screenshots show Vista RC1 Network Neighbourhood View (Phagwara is the Linux Server and Ekonkar is the SBS 2003 Server)



The following screenshots show the Linux Server view of the Network (with the permissions tab on one of Share level folders)

Linux Server View of Windows Network



This is quite an achievement and actually very useful, probably more useful than having Linux (using Samba) act as the Windows Domain Controller. This way you can introduce Linux based member servers and Linux desktops and have Windows based authentication to your Active Directory environment, whilst using Windows Management tools to manage the system. If you want the details you’ll have to look at the following resource. SLES 10 abstracts all of this away from you and you can set it up with a few selections from YAST.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

I’ve just been on a 2 day training course on Exchange Server 2007. This was a different world coming from the Small Business Environment. Much of the talk was of clustering, high availability, compliance (Sarbannes Oxley), archiving, network load balancing and security. Okay, so we’re not going to be deploying this in the average small business. I wanted to see the features that would be available in the next version of Small Business Server.

The administration is vastly improved and simplified from Exchange Server 2003 and you now have command line scripting! Yes, you heard right, something akin to ksh or bash (these are not my words but descriptions in the course material). After all these years berating the administration of Linux through scripts, Microsoft is now adopting this approach through PowerShell. I have to say most of the people on the course didn’t like it! I think it’s great!

The beta of Exchange Server 2007 is available if you want to try it out and it’s definitely worth trying. The Unified Messaging looks interesting but it’s not clear what PBX equipment is going to work with it. It’s about time they added standard SIP interoperability.

Happy Diwali

This weekend is Diwali celebrations, so happy Diwali to everyone! Diwali is celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs. As a Sikh, we celebrate it because it coincides with a number of important Sikh historical events, including the laying of the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab.

There’s a lot of talk in the news lately about certain things dividing us as a society. The reality is that there are more things which bring us together and in a place like Leicester you see this everyday. I am bilingual and speak both Punjabi and English without any issues to society as a whole. I spent a year of my life in India when I was 10 and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. My parents have lived and worked on 3 continents, so being able to be part of different communities is absolutely part of their makeup.

HP Overtakes Dell in PC Sales

This was inevitable! Not that HP would overtake Dell but that Dell’s business model would start to crack. They are so desparate to ship more volume that my Dell Account Manager used to ring me everyday to see if my customers had decided to buy. I explained to him that Small Business customers don’t work that way and they might sit on a quote for a while and that ringing me everyday was not productive. Of course he’s based in India and he’s a very nice chap and dedicated to giving the best service he can. Problem is that Dell just don’t get it working with IT Consultants or through resellers. We’re selling solutions and our money is made on services not hardware margins, so I’m I really going to chase that customer hard to see if he’s made a decision on a cheap desktop where the margin might be £50. I don’t think so!!

BBC News Website Comments on Vista

Having your say about Vista before it’s release is all the rage and even the BBC News Website can’t resist so here are some views solicited by the BBC on readers thoughts on using the Beta versions of Vista!

What I’m not convinced about is the decision to have all these different versions from a point of view of selling to small businesses. The problems we get when we encounter Windows XP Home in small businesses are going to get worse with Vista!

We Need More than just the Plumbing

Novell and IBM have brought out a new offering which is a mix and match approach of hardware, operating system and some middleware. Here is what you get :

  • IBM System X or Bladecenter Hardware
  • InfoPrint 1532n Express
  • SuSE Linux Enterprise Server v10
  • IBM Websphere Application Server Community Edition
  • IBM DB2 Express-C Database
  • Likewise Management Suite

Okay, so what applications are you going to run on it? May be you’ll just code up your own groupware solution to run on the application server! What CRM system are you going to deploy that will use DB2 Express-C? Hmmm, starts to get tricky doesn’t it? Oh! and what about an intranet site with document management that integrates with your Office Productivity suite? Don’t be silly, what small business would want that!

This is what frustrates me, is that Novell and IBM will just throw a load of technologies together and say here you go we’re providing you with all the basic plumbing, but sorry you’ll have to pay our enterprise license fees to get any of the good stuff like Domino Server/Lotus Notes, Tivoli, etc. They have the products that functionally still outperform Exchange Server/Outlook but just not for the small business market. I want to have a real choice between SBS 2003 and a Linux based solution!!

Engineers 'Don't Add Value to Boards', say Directors

I saw this article in my recent update magazine from the Institution of Enginnering & Technology. Apparently many UK companies don’t see engineering as a valuable resource or a viable route to becoming a board member. The figures for what professions make up boardrooms are :-

  • HR, 91%
  • Accountancy, 88%
  • Law, 84%
  • Marketing, 81%
  • Sales, 75%

Compared to the following :-

  • Manufacturing, 37%
  • Civil Engineering, 1%

The reason cited for deeming engineers unsuitable was a lack of business/management qualifications. I think this is rather short sighted and with the performance of some companies maybe they would be better off being run by people with Engineering backgrounds. I’m certainly proud to be a Chartered Engineer and consider it to be equal to any of the other professions.

Microsoft UK Small Business Team

These guys and gals are really doing the business to support the Small Business Specialist Community and if you need proof then look at Steve Wright’s post here. Robbie Upcroft came up the night before with Susanne Dansey to talk to the Midlands SBS Group and stayed over to present a seminar at the B2B Expo in Coventry with Leicestershire based Small Business Specialists BMS. So who says Microsoft is not doing enough for the Small Business Specialists?

A Song For Our Time!

Susanne has a great post here and just to say go and listen to the song, I’m singing it now!!!

The Challenge We Face!

Looking at IDC and Gartner it’s apparent the challenge that is faced by those IT Suppliers who are going to be supporting Vista. It’s not so much as of a challenge as the reality of new technology launches. No matter how much Microsoft and we as partners want to accelerate the adoption of Vista/Office 2007, I think IDC sums it up and here is a link to the document

The 2007 launch of Windows Vista will be an important event, but at this time, we do not see that product causing a significant short- or long-term acceleration of sales of Windows client products.

So, what do we do? Well, I guess the trick is to find those gems who want to be early adopters and get ahead of the adoption curve. The thing that will drive some decisions will be the purchase of new hardware as this is often the easiest way to introduce a new OS.

Gartner are saying that most organisations will be deploying in 2008 having taken a 12-18 month planning phase. Read the document below.


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