Archive for February, 2008

SBSC Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 Event

This is a heads-up on an event that I’ve arranged in conjunction with Steve Smith, Sharepoint MVP. It’s been booked for 29th April at 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start at Microsoft London, Victoria with capacity for up to 96 people. It will have sessions focused on Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 delivered by Steve Smith and Craig Carpenter. Steve and Craig are co-owners of Combined Knowledge which provides Sharepoint Training for Administrators and Developers as well as arranging the Sharepoint User Group Meetings around the UK. If you want Sharepoint Training then look at Combined Knowledge as they have been contributors to some of the MS Press books on Sharepoint as well as having a strategic partnership with one of the leading Sharepoint Consultancies in the US, Mindsharp.

This is a not to be missed event with the sessions delivered by some of the leading experts in Sharepoint. Let me know if you’re interested as this event will be opened up to the general Sharepoint User Group Membership as well. More details as to the sessions will follow shortly so start spreading the word!

NLab Social Networks Conference – 19/20 June

I’ve blogged before about the NLabs Social Networks Conference before but I’m going to do it again. It’s a must attend event on 19/20 June at De Montfort University, Leicester. It’s got a great range of speakers from across the world, well the US mostly I think but that is the world isn’t? If you’re a Microsoft Partner (… or not), then come along and see Steve Clayton in person and hear his insightful views on the world of Social Networking. There are too many great people, workshops, conversations going to be happening there that it will be a shame if you missed it. There are even bursaries available for eligible people, so you might not even have to pay for it! It’s all part of a long term agenda to bridge that divide between creativity and business. It’s being driven by a number of key people such as Professor Sue Thomas and Toby Moores, CEO of Sleepydog and founder of the Creative Coffee Club.

Sign-up as soon as you can when the registration opens, which I believe is soon or if you want to know more contact me directly, all my contact info is on the blog.

The Opennesss Continues at Microsoft

If you read my blog then you know I have been critical sometimes of the decisions that Microsoft have taken in the past about how open it has been about certain aspects of its technology. Dave and myself have discussed and disagreed about this a number of times but I’ve always respected his point of view. Also, you’ll know that I’m fan of the Port25 guys who are quietly working away on Open Source/Linux and interoperability issues. They have been reaching out to some of the Open Source communities as well.

I don’t think Microsoft is evil and it’s been a journey for me to learn more about it. I believe Microsoft is learning to be more open and seeing Open Source increasingly as an opportunity than a threat. I think it has learnt from its legal battles with the US Government and the EC. It was apparent to me from it’s rather gracious acceptance of the final EC decision.

The Port 25 guys have a blog post highlighting a new Strategic plan to make much of its documentation , APIs and protocols for many of its major technologies available to developers for free. This is great news!

However, interestingly this news has not been highlighted on any other Microsoft blog. In fact I can’t remember anyone else even talking about the work of things like the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft. When people at Microsoft talk about being able to convey better their own story, yet they fail to talk about their own good work in trying to be more open and work collaboratively.

Ah well, maybe I’ll have to keep highlighting this good work for Microsoft!!!

Autotask Hits The UK

Again, at the last AMITPRO Meeting we had David Salzberg of Autotask presenting. For those that that are not aware Autotask is a tool for running your managed services business. They are US based but David has come to the UK to set up the local operations here, check the market out and get some sales. He’s been doing some work with my fellow US PAL Mark Crall and I understand that Autotask has been adding some SBS Workflows into their product. Also, there is a product called Autotask Go which is an entry level product. I had a chat with David the other day and said that seeing Autotask Go released in the UK would be very interesting especially as David got a hard time over the US/UK pricing – everyone does it! Also, they are looking at closer integration into a number of other products such as Hound Dog and Sage.

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Microsoft Going Regional?

At the last AMITPRO meeting we had Dominic Gill, Regional Manager of Economic Affairs for Microsoft presenting on the West Midlands Business Link IT Advisory Service that is being piloted. The great news is that SBSC Partners are playing a key role in this and in particular AMITPRO. I’ve known Dom for many years, well before he was at Microsoft and he’s doing a great job linking with Microsoft Partners in the West Midlands Region and also the work he’s doing with the Black Country Consortium. There has been some great feedback from the guys as to why Microsoft should adopt a more regional approach and I know Dom is going to be feeding this back to some high level meetings in Microsoft involving Gordon Fraser, Microsoft UK MD. I think this approach holds out much hope for both SBSC Partners and for Microsoft and I’ll be giving my full support to making this a success.

The Tug of War which is ODF vs OpenXML

There’s been a number of posts recently about the continuing battle between ODF and OpenXML. IBM has been letting fly as to why OpenXML shouldn’t be accepted by ISO. In return Microsoft has been retaliating by claiming its technical superiority and isn’t XML document based formats so wonderful! Apparently they weren’t so wonderful when ODF was the game in town, but that’s a small detail!

So, what’s it all about? I don’t really know which format is better and do I really care? What I care about and what customers care about is that Applications inter-operate especially when it comes to something as fundamental as their documents. So, I’m increasingly just thinking why can’t you just work together on this? Radical? Bill Gates in his keynote at the recent London Pre-launch event said that Microsoft was working with companies such as IBM on standards for webservices, so is this too much to ask?

It’s getting to an absurd point where on Mark Shuttleworth’s blog a commenter says reject OpenXML as a standard to uphold standards! The Register has it spot on that it’s the very people that these organisations are purporting to protect that suffer in the end.

We all know and understand that Microsoft is scared of losing business to organisations across the world who were starting to mandate their documents had to be accessible in an openly documented/standard. Wouldn’t you want that as a customer? Hell, it’s your data and why be tied in to a solution when at some point in the future you might wish to switch solutions. The problem is that Microsoft is just not being honest about this being a major reason they went down the ISO route, when they so bitterly opposed XML document formats in the shape of ODF.

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SBSC PALs q3 Conf Call Slide Decks

Here are the slide decks from the recent SBSC PALs conf call. There are a number of feedback issues Microsoft is looking for, so leave a comment or get in touch directly if you have any thoughts. There is also a list of resources at the end which is worth looking at and a link to Global Offers.

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Another Big Year for Microsoft

Since I’ve been working with Microsoft as a Partner, every year seems to be a big year. A Year in which it has to prove itself, a year in which people line up to say that it will fail. Every year I’ve seen it deliver in terms of market share, market growth, revenues and profits.

But the technology is crap? There is no innovation? It’s just one big monoplistic behemoth! It’s management is devoid of ideas!

… and everytime I think wow! if that’s failure then I’ll take that!

Do you remember GEC? A stalwart of British Engineering Industry and a big investor of young Engineering Graduates (including me). It was hated by the City because Lord Weinstock ran a very sensible unexciting business, steady revenues/profits and lots of cash in the Bank … boring, boring, boring! Where is GEC now? Wiped off the face of the industrial landscape of Britain because after Lord Weinstock, Lord Simpson gambled the company on a whim on a high risk Telecommunications strategy and spent all the money in the bank and mounted massive debts. The City loved it, Shares went sky high – this was exciting – until it all came crashing down around everyone and it was all lost.

So, you have to ask yourself what you want? A company who can last over 30 years and still be growing is doing more things right than it is doing wrong. Microsoft will succeed again this year because it invests so heavily in its Partner Community but also because the technology is good. Those who say it isn’t often haven’t even looked at the solutions.

You’ve got a real choice here. You could go and sell Linux and Apple, sell software solutions around IBM, Oracle and develop using Java, PHP, Ruby, etc. But I’m betting you’re not going to do that ???

UPDATE

The BBC Dot Life Blog seems to agree with me.

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Possible bug in Draytek Vigor 2800VG

Having recently set up a new SBS 2003 installation with a Draytek Vigor 2800VG, there was some really strange behaviour happening. The client machines were reporting that cookies were not enabled and a Cisco VPN client was connecting intermittently to a Rackspace server. Having gone through all the browser settings, group policy and cookie blocking at the router we could find no rhyme or reason for this. Eventually we found that by adding a WAN IP Alias (which is a way in the Draytek router to add additional static IP addresses and have them added to the NAT Pool) and then configuring Port Forwarding to another Win 2003 Server on the local LAN, that this was causing the error. Take this off and problems went away. I’m leaning towards a bug in the 2.8 version of the Draytek 2800 firmware and have noticed some other people on the Draytek User Forum having strange issues when configuring the port forwarding after upgrading to firmware 2.8. There is a 2.8.1 which is at RC3 so this might be an indication there some issues with 2.8. Also, my own router seems to have Port Forwarding broken and have switched to using the "Open Ports" feature which essentially does the samething after upgrading to 2.8. I’ve submitted this as a support issue to Draytek so we’ll see the official response but I’m just wondering if anyone else has been seeing this?

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Server 2008 and Tools Partner Pre-launch

Last Wed was a pre-launch event for Server 2008 and Tools down at the London Hilton, Park Lane. It was a packed house of 600 Partners who had come to hear about the Partner opportunities around the imminent launch of Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008.

Check out the Heroes Happen Here website for more Partner info.

DSCF0001 The keynote in the afternoon was delivered by none other than Bill Gates, who talked of the major technology trends as he sees them. Before, he came onto stage there was a short film parody of him leaving Microsoft and phoning around key people around the world, like Spielberg, Clooney, Obama, Bono, etc trying to get another job/role and being politely rejected by them. It made fun of his appearance and despite all his money he doesn’t spend it on a decent haircut.

DSCF0004 I won’t say his talk was highly inspiring and motivational in a Steve Ballmer kind of way. It was interesting and competent and at the end of the day you could still tell he was a geek at heart. He spoke of his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the work it is doing researching cures to many of the diseases that affect some of the poorest people in the world. When you have billions of dollars to spend and you focus it in this way then you are going to have some impact.

It was a great thing for me to see at first hand the founder of Microsoft and a testament to starting your own small business and growing it into such a major force. What we forget is that when Microsoft was starting there were many incumbents such as IBM who were eventually swept aside by a startup!!

Steve and Dave have a write up of the event as well.

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