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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Google Apps & Office 365: the future for SMB email?

I have asked this many times in the last few years, will Google Apps or Office 365 take over from Exchange Server for most Small to Medium business?

Well if you define an SMB as under 250 users which is Googles delimiter then I think it may make a significant impact. People like a simple life, we rarely ask for extra complexity in anything we do, would you buy a car and ask for the most complicated controls or the one that is simple and easy to find the air con and sat nav?

So I see people wanting simple, what's more simple than a service that costs a flat fee per month with no contract and no hardware outlay. Well, perhaps that is right, SaaS is simple and all you need is a browser and away you go.

But is this the full story? In the last three years I have seen computer hardware become something so reliable we don't really think about it anymore. OK so we get techs to set them up and to install all our apps, but they don't go wrong as much anymore, it's just the software that causes us hassle now.

So if we move to Google Apps surely all our problems go away?

Yes and no, I see users able to work anywhere, on any device, SaaS enables this and I do it myself. I use my iPad as much as my laptop running Windows 7 as I do my iPhone.

I use Basecamp, Zendesk, Highrise, Sharepoint, Log Me In and GFI RM. I love my SaaS applications but I still have to manage my data and what I do with it.

I cannot do all my job on a tablet, it just doesn't suit some work, I would not want to prepare a Visio diagram on it, nor would I want to write a full IT audit on it either. I need my laptop for some work and I still need Windows, it's familiar and I know it well. When I just need to work, I need something I know I can use and that's why Windows is going to be here for a while yet.

So what's this got to do with your posts title? Well, what I mean is that just because someone moves to SaaS does not mean the problems of IT go away, users need help, printers jam, emails get missed, files are overwritten by accident. IT support goes on.

What is important is how you show this value in your role as an MSP to your customers. If you fear SaaS and dismiss it, the bottom liners will win and move away from your on premise world of servers and save £££ by buying Googles dream.

When they want to migrate Outlook to Gmail then who helps? When user need help with Gmail because they spent 10 years with Outlook and now are lost, who can they turn to?

You, the Google apps experts! Because you know Gmail your HelpDesk is invaluable. You show the customer value and because you can help them migrate from Outlook you make the SaaS dream work. Without you the dream fails to deliver.

It doesn't matter where technology goes, it will always need experts who understand how it works and how to use it to benefit a business. This is what MSPs need to be doing.

I have been providing business intelligence to my customers for many years now, I understand all the
aspects of what they do and how they do it.

If you break fix and are just another supplier then Google Apps et al will take your customers from you. If you know your customers true needs you will find healthy and happy future for the MSP.

Exchange Powershell - Count Mailboxes

Need to count the mailboxes on a Exchange 2007/2010 Server

Get-MailboxStatistics | Measure-Object

Monday, 21 November 2011

If you need to move your WSUS content you can do so with the wsusutil.exe tool from the Update Services installation folder.  However you may find a little gotcha when you try to move the files, the error

Fatal error: unable to access the log path because of the following error: Access is denied
Well the issue is not always the permissions but actually a bit of semantics.  The command for the move is

wsusuitl movecontent E:\myPath E:\myLog
What the syntax does not say is that you have to specify the logfile name and not just the location, the file will not be created for you.  You must specify the extension .log

Its an easy gotcha to fall for and it had me for over 20 minutes before I sussed it!

Monday, 14 November 2011

BES Express 5.0.3 & SBS 2011 Dispatcher Service will not start

I had one of our team install BES Express 5.0.3 onto a Small Business Server 2011 so that we could support all of five Blackberry users, so this should have been straight forward.  Well as is life it wasn't, it was the team members first BES install and after many hours of head scratching he came back to ask for an escalation.

I took a look and could see the issue was the Blackberry Dispatcher Service was stuck in in Starting mode.  This is never a good state for a service to be in so I knew it was likely that if we fixed this we fixed the issue.

Now BES uses SQL Server Express for its database and this had been installed on the SBS Server, but being SBS Server the SQL Server Browser Service was disabled.  The SQL Server Browser Service is required for Blackberry Administration Server (BAS) to operate.

So I enabled the service and hey presto, Blackberry Dispatcher Service now starts.  The BAS web page still did not load and I had to restart the Blackberry Administration Service - Native Code Container.

Once this restarted the BAS was available and we could get onto the task of adding the Blackberry handsets.

Friday, 11 November 2011

ODBC Links do not save passwords in Windows 7 x64

Had a really interesting one today, setting up an ODBC link into SQL Server 2005 from Access 2007 and no matter what we did the password field would not save the password for our SQL Account.

The customer knew the account worked and the DSN settings on another computer so we were confident it was not those that were at fault.

Well the problem turns out to be Windows 7 x64 and the ODBC applet that is in Administrative Tools.  This is the x64 version and we need the 32bit version for Office to make the link as Office is 32bit.

So we go to this location

If you run this you get the 32bit version of the ODBC applet and its exactly the same, enter your details and hey presto the link works and Access pulls down the data!

Legal Mumbo Jumbo

I know we have to have rules otherwise we would be in France as Al Murray says.  But sometimes the T&C of a contract can be ridiculous and frankly pointless.  Take this wonderful sentence below I have found in a T&C of a contract I am entering.

Any undertaking by the Customer not to do any act or thing shall be deemed to include an undertaking that the Customer shall procure that any user of the Services (to include without limitation any employee, agent or contractor) shall not do such act or thing. 
I mean what does that mean?  I have read it 10 times now and I am still unsure to be honest. Do I really have to pay someone £100 an hour to decipher this for me?  Is that what six years of Law School does for the world?  If it is then go be a Doctor, they actually help people.

I did not even bother to find out what the definition of "thing" is.

Rant over.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Windows 2003 Certificate Service will not start

I had a good one today, a Exchange 2003 Server with a SSL Certificate had expired.  So I quickly issued a CSR and renewed the SSL Certificate with DigiCert and away we go Outlook Web Access is working again and Outlook Anywhere.

Then after 3 hours Outlook Anywhere stops working and I get errors in the event log for 58 and 100 stating

So this wasn't a good time as we have users complaining about no Outlook Anywhere.  So what is the cause?

Well the error states about the CA certificate being expired so I used MMC to open the Certificates MMC and then saw that the Root Certificate had expired.  It expired in June mind so that was a little odd.

Well if the Root CA Certificate is expired then it needs to be renewed, this can be done by the Certificate Authority in Administrative Tools.

Choose the new the CA Certificate and agree to the change and you will then find that you have a new five year CA certificate in the Certificates MMC.

I started the Certificates Service and it stayed started!  Hurrah issue over.

Locked out of Symantec System Centre Console?

Although I don't use this application very often you sometimes find a site where the IT Support have left and no one knows the password to the Symantec System Centre Console.  If this happens to you, there is a handy tool from Symantec to resolve this, all you need is administrator access to the server console and you can use the IFORGOT.EXE tool to reset this.

The file and location is shown below, enter the username and password you want and its all done!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Just how many Exchange Mailboxes I have I got?

Sometimes we like to know how many mailboxes are on a server or in a database, back in the day we used to count the mailboxes in Exchange 2003.  Well I did, I was greener then!

So if you have Exchange 2007/2010, and if you don't why not?, how do you do this with the Powershell.

Well its simple, open the EMS and use

Get-Mailbox | Measure-Object

If you want to do this in a database then use

Get-Mailbox -Database databasename| Measure-Object

Its that simple with EMS!