Archive for June, 2007

Upgrading to Trixbox v2.2

I’ve finally upgraded my old Asterisk@Home installation with Trixbox v2.2 (which is what the project is now called). How straight forward was this? Easy peasy! Just downloaded the VMWare image (650 MB zip file) and as I’d been running using VMWare Player, then I just had to open this new image. I set the IP address of the new VM and copied over the config to Trixbox and hey presto, we’re up and running! Okay, so I’m running this on my SBS 2003 box and VMWare Player gives warnings that you shouldn’t run this on a domain controller! I upgraded VMWare Player from 1.03 to 2.0 but that started causing BSODs on the SBS machine when starting the Trixbox image – not good! So, I reverted to keeping VMWare Player 1.0.3 – it works fine. The longest thing was finding how I enable voicemail? It actually has to be installed through one of the admin menus before it’ll appear in your Extension setup. The fact that I get a ton of sophisticated VoIP features and cheap calls is amazing. Seeing as Unified Messaging is all the rage at the moment, then even small businesses can be doing some clever stuff! I love the flexibility virtualisation is affording me as well.

The Trixbox Appliance looks really cool as well!

The power of blogging

A couple of great things have happened recently through my blog. One has been Microsoft’s Compete Evidence team contacting me from sunny Redmond after checking out the blog (obviously discerning readers!) and also an old colleague of mine getting in touch. Andrew Mills who is a Partner at the Law firm Freethcartwright LLP based in Nottingham got in touch and after some exchange of photos, we realised we had been apprentices at Marconi Radar in Chelmsford at the same time! Although we didn’t really know each other, eventhough we were on the same outward bounds course in the Lake District, it was good to reconnect with that time in my life. It was a time when there were such things as “sponsorships” for training and going to University. Andrew has obviously been much more successful than me but strange how our paths have crossed! It’s great to see him doing some really interesting things with the Impact Blog.

Microsoft Channel Summit

Firstly, thanks to Robbie for getting us in to this yesterday. The event was a who’s who of Microsoft UK including Gordon Frazer, Microsoft UK MD. The meeting was mainly large distributors and account resellers and other acronymns I didn’t really understand. It was reviewing the past years performance and looking forward to what Microsoft UK’s targets are going to be. Obviously, there’s lots of stuff I can’t say upon pain of death but what I can say is that it’s going to be a fantastic year for Microsoft in the UK (the Microsoft financial year isn’t quite over yet). What’s really positive for us partners going forward is that Microsoft is aiming at aggressive growth targets over the next few years. There’s major growth (double digit in most cases) across practically every area. Microsoft really is an amazing money making machine!

On the horizon there’s more good stuff coming such as Windows Server 2008, SBS Cougar, SQL Server Katmai and Visual Studio Orcas. You hear people saying Microsoft has had its day, well if this is decline then I’d hate to see success. The growth of SQL Server 2005 in the lower mid market is like a steam roller at the moment, which validates to me SBS 2003 R2 as a great development platform.

There was an acknowledgement that in the Server space it is a two horse race, Windows and Linux. Apparently, Windows grew faster than Linux so market share is being taken from somewhere. I suspect this is still from UNIX migrations rather than from Linux. I was talking to one distributor who also work with Novell and they said Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is going great guns at the moment.

What about Vista? It has sold 40 million copies since the January launch and someone said this matched Apple’s entire worldwide install base already? The question of “who was running Vista?” revealed that not many were! Contrast this with how many Small Business Partners are! I still think we should get more recognition of this fact from Microsoft.

So, the conclusion for me is that it’s never been a better time to be a Microsoft Partner or become one!

Are you happy with new the Partner Finder Tool on bcentral?

I’d be surprised if you said you were! If you haven’t tried it, then head over to bcentral and check out your results and see how it looks for yourself. If you’ve got issues then ring the Regional Service Centre on 0800 917 3128. I’ll be ringing! This is the way Microsoft tracks issues/dissatisfaction so the more people who ring about the same thing then the more likely something will get done. Remember, this is what Dave Overton asked us all to with the Action Pack issues!!

Post here with any related issues.

Thanks

UPDATE

So, I rang the Regional Service Centre this morning and spoke to the nice man there. He couldn’t resolve the issue but he logged it as a complaint and referred me back to the Microsoft UK phone number. So, after an email to Microsoft one of the UK technical guys phoned me and we confirmed some issues. Putting a space between the postcode confuses the tool (one of the first rules of development is validate your inputs) and give erroneous results. So, these issues are being worked on with the Microsoft Corp guys, so if you have particular scenarios which don’t look right then this would be useful feedback.

In general the new tool looks more functional and provides better information to prospective customers, so make sure you complete Solution Profiler. I’m liking the new Partner Bot in Messenger, it’s a really quick way of finding things by using keywords. That’s a nice bit of development, so hat’s off to the UK guys for that!!

MSDUK Nottingham Meet the Buyer Event

Today was I was at the East Midlands Conference Centre on the Nottingham University Campus. Another good event with some great Minority businesses and Corporate buyers from PepsiCo, HP and Capital One.

Brian Tippens who heads HP’s global diversity programme had come over from the US and was very enthusiastic and obviously very committed. The US just gets this, that having a diverse supplier base makes business sense. There’s two reasons to doing it which is, it is the right thing to do and because you never know where innovation is going to come from.

There were lots of good networking opportunities with the other businesses and I met some great people doing great things.

It was interesting talking to Brian because he offered to put me in touch with his counterpart at Microsoft, Fernando Hernandez who is Microsoft’s Director of Supplier Diversity. One of the little known facts is that Microsoft is one of leaders in the area of Supplier Diversity.

The iQubed case Study goes Global

It’s official, the iQubed case study has been officially released by Microsoft on the Microsoft.com website and will be used at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver and posted around Microsoft Campus in Redmond with my picture on it!

It’s been an eventful 2.5 years since I started iQubed with the usual ups and downs that come with running your own business. The case study is a story of how I switched my strategy from deploying Linux to becoming a Microsoft Small Business Specialist and recently a Certified Partner. As Dave Overton says, deploy the solution that best fits you’re customer’s needs. It’s a simple statement but very true. If you only work with Windows then you owe it to yourself to learn about Linux and if you only deploy Linux, then again you owe it yourself to learn about Windows. In fact, more importantly, you owe to your customers.

The fact is that with SBS 2003 Microsoft got it absolutely right with a solution that ticked so many boxes for both IT businesses and end users, that it is pretty much a no brainer with most small businesses. With the replacement to SBS 2003, then the small business IT solution (out of the box) is going to be Game, Set and Match! But, Microsoft is not being prescriptive with their solutions i.e only a server will do. The OfficeLive offering is an amazingly flexible hosted solution which can do much more than I originally thought. They’ve very cleverly developed a model of “software plus a service” with OfficeLive.

I feel very excited about the Microsoft Technology roadmap and combine this with the interoperability work they are doing with Novell, I can only see myself wanting to continue being a Microsoft Partner.

It’s easy to criticise Microsoft and gods know they do some things which really frustrate me but taken as a whole they are an amazing company with amazing people (you know who you are). I can’t believe sometimes how open they are and how much they want Partners to succeed. I sometimes have to pinch myself to see I’m not dreaming with some of the opportunities they forward our way. One thing I’ve learnt, is that if you engage constructively with them, you’ll get a whole lot of loving back!

Time for a Group Hug!!

Thanks to Susanne for the post on her blog, she’s a star!

The Mark Crall Blog

This is one to really check out for those SBSers out there. Mark is a fellow SBSC PAL from the good ‘ol US of A and just started a new blog. He’s been using a solution called StorageCraft for things like disaster recovery and did a demo at the recent NOLA conference which Susan reported on.

He’s also set up a Groove Workspace for all the SBSC PALs to allow us to collaborate on an ongoing basis. Hey, we’re state of the art here!

So, all in all a pretty cool guy!

Institute of Creative Technology

The IOCT is something that was mentioned at the recent Women’s Business & Blogging Conference and is part of De Montfort University. I’ve just had a quick look at the website and it looks really interesting, bringing things like robots, and other technology together. What’s the purpose? I’ve no idea but it looks really cool and it’s in Leicester!

…and what does transliteracy mean?

The Distinguished Seminar on 4th July by Prof Alan Liu looks worth attending!

Sean Daniel on Cougar

Sean Daniel has some public information regarding Cougar which is the next version of our beloved SBS 2003. Some interesting things in it such as no support for tape for backups and the single NIC mode install behind a firewall will be the only option.

Women, Technology and Blogging

The conference yesterday had the title “Women” in it and one of the questions that the organiser Sue Thomas asked was “Why a Women’s” conference? I was one of 3 guys there and was only there because Sue had seen my blog post about the event and posted that men were welcome. I’m really glad she did. It’s an interesting question because there was an obvious feeling that the types of conversations were different than had it been a largely male dominated event. I can understand the motivations because being Indian and therefore from a recognised ethnic minority group, the same thought processes prevail when Minority Business Groups are formed. It’s natural to want to collaborate and network with people who you have something in common with, whether that’s gender, ethnicity or something else.

There were many extremely successful, intelligent and articulate women there and as I said in my previous post about the conference the presenters could’ve easily carried their own in any forum. I was talking to one of the presenters, Jory at lunchtime and were discussing BlogHer which provides a community for women bloggers and which now is being courted by many mainstream advertisers.

Was it about feminism? I think not, in the tradtional sense of feeling disempowered by a male dominated society. It wasn’t a “look how badly we are treated by the world” and “we should take up arms against it”. The great thing about Blogging is that it is a leveler in many senses and you are judged on the quality of your content as Meg Pickard showed. The fact that “Women” organised a conference on new media technology such as Blogging in Leicester, just shows you how forward thinking they are!

There are issues as to how female bloggers are perceived, in that once someone knows that a blogger is a woman they want to know what she looks like. Eileen talked about this experience in her talk and eventually she put a picture up of herself on her blog. The Kathy Sierra threats have been very sexually explicit in their threats, which forced her to stop blogging. I’m not sure you would get those type of threats against a male blogger?

Therefore, I would say keep it a women focused event because by showing a sucessful forum for women will automatically breed wider success just as Jory has done with BlogHer. It also goes to show how uncreative we men are! It’s true women are great communicaters whereas a male environment can get very competitive and egotistical!

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