Archive for November, 2007

AMITPRO Meeting on Server 2008 & Virtualisation

Last night was our Group meeting and we had Matt McSpirit of the Microsoft PTS Team come and present on Windows Server 2008 and Virtualisation. It was a really interesting session as no one in our Group has currently installed Server 2008, so to see Matt’s demos was great. The really interesting part for me and for many of the others was the Virtualisation aspect. The Hyper-V (as it’s now known) will be available in all versions of Server 2008 but the number of VMs that can be started will be different with Server Enterprise supporting 8 VMs. The other interesting point is that Hyper-V will be available as a separate thing which can be installed on a server and this will cost $28. Now you might think what’s the use of that? Well the scenario that I was playing around with in my head was installing future versions of SBS on Hyper-V, giving you the option of an install of System Centre Essentials (SCE) for monitoring/management on the same box. Why would you want to do this? How about Disaster Recovery through taking server snapshots or being able to migrate to new hardware. The other scenario might be for a Terminal Server.

The Terminal Services feature of Server 2008 looks like a killer feature as well with you being able to run an application from TS without opening a TS window to do this and being able to access TS using a secure http connection (sound like RWW?). Matt’s going to be sending me the presentations, so I’ll get those distributed to AMITPRO members.

SBSC Australia Roundtable Discussions

I saw this interesting post from the Aussie SBSC Blog. It’s great that they’re getting these conversations going but not only that but making them public on their blog. Robbie and the SBSC UK Programme gets an honourable mention for raising the bar here (read the linked document in the post). Nice one :-)

Radio Leicester Interview

Tomorrow at 2.00pm, I’m being interviewed with Shani Lee about our “Facebook for Business” workshop (still time to register, hint, hint!) by Radio Leicester (you can listen on the internet if you want to have a laugh). It’s already got 24 people registered which is amazing at it’s only been a few weeks since it was announced. It’s not about giving prescriptive advice, it’s about having a conversation and we really don’t know what to expect other than it’ll be fun and be getting local business people and academia interacting at the IOCT at De Montfort University.

For me it’s also about getting people thinking about how technology can impact their business and not just by saying you need a server installed and a support contract to go with that. If this goes well, we’ll do more events which are engaging people in dialogues rather than being lectured at or sold at.

That’s just my view and there are other people involved as well and I’m sure they’ve got a different perspective, but that’s the fun of it.

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HMRC Loses entire Child Benefit Database

This is the major news today in the UK, that HMRC has lost the personal details of 25 million people comprising of personal details and bank account details. This is the entire database records and an unprecedented data loss. I think people just cannot quite believe this at the moment. Alex who is an expert in such things is quite diplomatic about this but then he is a Lawyer.

The data was being transferred to the National Audit Office, so someone downloaded the records to two discs put them in an internal post system, which actually wasn’t really internal as it’s run by TNT. The discs never arrived! So, how sophisticated are we that this sensitive data cannot be securely transferred electronically from one Government department to another Government Agency. It almost beggars belief and we’re meant to be a first world nation.

The HMRC had to take down its website for child tax credits a while back because there was systematic abuse of the claims process and eventually removed the online system for making claims. HMRC dumped its Technology Partner EDS and is now working with Cap Gemini after the tax credits fiasco as £1.6bn of overpayments were made and will probably be written off.

It simply cannot get any worse than this and saying “sorry” just isn’t good enough any more.

Recovering Windows Data using Linux by Microsoft

Those Microsoft Port 25 guys have produced a whitepaper on how to recover data from Windows using Linux. Nice overview about the fundamentals but in this situation Knoppix is your friend. Knoppix is one of the original Live CD versions and is based on Debian, before everyone jumped on the Live CD bandwagon.

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Does Microsoft love us?

Mark Crall and Karl Palachuk have had some really interesting posts recently regarding Microsoft’s strategy to Small Businesses.  This relates to the Comcast deal and I know Microsoft are doing similar things with BT. They’ve already announced some Small Business services with BT and I’m sure there will be more. Should we be worried? Does this mean Microsoft doesn’t love us?

My view is that we shouldn’t be surprised by Microsoft’s moves. One thing we know is that the SME/SMB sector is large and the current number of SBSC Partners couldn’t service the number of potential businesses in this area. Microsoft wants to make money, it’s very good at doing that and arguably the best that there has ever been. Should we be surprised that it has multiple strategies for the small business market. Not that many years ago the SBSC Programme did not exist and so Microsoft did not have channel partners in the Small Business space, or partners that were managed programmatically. The SME market is large enough for many niches and I do believe Microsoft is committed to the SBSC Partners because we will drive the innovation and the case studies and the new adoptions. Which business market doesn’t have competition and fierce competition at that? One thing is sure, Microsoft is on a roll delivering financial performances and growth which are making organisations like Sun and Novell look like they are going backwards at a rapid rate. We need to ride that wave and we need to learn how to ride it effectively! Reading Karl’s blog is a very good place to start along with Susanne’s blog and listening to successful business people like my fellow UK PAL Gareth Brown of Sytec. High quality advice delivered with passion, leadership, humility and with optimism. People who see a glass half full rather than half empty. There are many, many others so don’t believe SBSC is not full of leaders but remember a Community (…any Community) is made up of ordinary people. If I can’t learn something from meeting another SBSC Partner, then there’s something wrong with me not something wrong with the other person.

One thing you can bet your house on is that the SBSC PALs will make it known through the channels we have that SBSC Partners should be a key component of Microsoft’s Small Business Strategy.

How to take out a Data Centre

If you’ve not heard the news then one of Rackspace’s Data Centres has been going through some major problems after a truck crashed into a nearby power transformer. The electricity company then cut the power to the local area, so that the driver could be rescued (fair enough). The nearby Rackspace Dallas Fort Worth Data Centre switched over to its backup power units, except they had been recyling their chiller units at this time. When the auxilliary power came on the chiller units had to be recycled again leaving the Data Centre with 30 minutes of no cooling. The temperature started to rise rapidly and to prevent the place melting down Rackspace started taking servers off-line. This power outage has caused ongoing problems for Rackspace and obviously exposed serious short comings in their systems. One of our customers was effected with their hosted Exchange Server in not being able to connect during the afternoons for an hour or two. There was no warning for Rackspace customer’s that their servers were about to be pulled, Rackspace had to make the decision there and then.

You can read all about it at the Rackspace website and watch the video from the CEO apologising.

Writing Facebook Status Messages

So, how good is your Facebook status message? Is it philosophical, topical, biographical, hypocritical (well, not sure about that last one – it’s just rhymes with the rest). I’m very envious of people who seem to write such mind bendingly clever, witty and rhetorical remarks whereas I’m writing to tell people I’m going for a crap or picking my nose (not really, but you know what I mean). My wife, Ratinder, has discovered that it is a very powerful weapon against me and once wrote that I wouldn’t go for a coffee with her and my sister then saw it and gave me a hard time!

They are also great at starting a conversation and is making me think again about Twitter and micro-blogging again. This exchange by Jim Benson is a great example of this. I just got introduced to Jim by Sue Thomas of De Montfort University via Facebook and was checking out his blog.

Just saw Sue’s status message that she’s off to Redmond as she’s been invited by Microsoft to go talk about her research into Transliteracy and Social Networking. Pretty cool heh? I can’t wait to hear all about it.

On a bit of a digression, Sue introduced me to a concept of learning from people/organisations which are totally at an extreme to what you do (she had some term for it which I can’t remember now). I’ve always had a diverse range of interests which go beyond just techie stuff, so I’m pretty open to this idea. It makes a lot of sense because if you always network within your own peer networks then the sort of information will always be within the bounds of your current knowledge (mostly) but to be really creative perhaps you need to look at ideas/views from people who have a totally different perspective to you, i.e. The Creative Coffee Club.

Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 RTM

Microsoft has released Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 RTM to MSDN and is detailed in a number of places but check out Dave’s blog for some info. So, if you’re an MSDN Subscriber go download it now. If you’re a non-MSDN Subscriber then Daniel Moth offers some advice or consider having a play with Visual Studio Express 2008 tools. If you want to know why you should consider using VS 2008 then Daniel has his top 10 reasons. He convinced me at a recent MSDN Event.

More Blog Updates

I’ve decided to add a couple of videos to the blog, which are just on the right hand side. The first one is a Machinima Creation about the Creative Coffee Club, the second one is Steve Clayton talking about the Blue Monster and the third is the “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us” video. All very interesting in their own right and thought provoking.

This is also a test post to see that the new application Wordbook will cross post my blog entries to my Facebook mini-feed in my profile.

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