Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Computer Business Opportunity in B2B Small Business Space

If you are a small business computer consulting company owner who has been delivering services to customers in the B2C (Business-to-Consumer) space, you may be looking for another computer business opportunity to help you grow your profits and your client base.

Many small business computer consultants find great opportunities in the B2B (Business-to-Business) space, and specifically within Sweet Spot Clients(tm). Sweet Spot Clients are defined as small businesses with anywhere from 10 to 75 computers. This computer business opportunity can help consultants find steady, long-term clients that are willing and able to pay for ongoing services.

The following 3 tips introduce you to the B2B small business space and help you seize your best computer business opportunity to help build your company.

1: Don’t Focus on Micro- and Home-Based Small Businesses. Many consultants moving from home users into the small business space make the mistake of thinking that they can just run out and get some small business clients. They don’t stop to think about where the true computer business opportunity is, and that it’s not in very small clients. If you focus on home-based businesses and micro small businesses, you will run into many of the same problems as in the home users market.

2: Know the Main Reasons Micro and Home-Based Small Business Clients Are Not Profitable. As you are looking for the best computer business opportunity, you need to know exactly why working with micro- and home-based small businesses is not profitable. First of all, you will find a lot of consumer-grade PC’s and pirated software. Also, you will find that micro- and home-based small businesses will be reluctant to pay for services, because they are used to getting computer support for free from a friend, family member or other types of volunteers. And how can you possibly compete with free? Because IT is usually not as important to very small businesses services, micro small businesses will also not usually need great response time and won’t be willing to pay for it. Most importantly, very small businesses will be too small to afford a real dedicated server or a real network, leaving you very little computer business opportunity to build complex solutions and grow long-term relationships.

3: Focus on Sweet Spot Clients. Again, Sweet Spot Clients are defined as small businesses with anywhere from 10 to 75 computers. At this stage, you will find prospects, customers, and clients willing to get serious about putting in a real client/server network, a reliable back-up solution, a dependable UPS, and a truly secure firewall. Small business decision makers in this space understand that the systems need to be designed by a very sophisticated IT support services or network integrator firm, which is where your computer business opportunity will be strongest. As a small business starts growing, the stakes go up. These owners recognize the need to use IT more strategically.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10 Comman Mistakes New Windows Administrators Make

Trying to change everything all at once

When you come into a new job, or start working with a new technology, you may have all sorts of bright ideas. If you’re new to the workplace, you immediately hone in on those things that your predecessors were doing wrong. You’re full of all the best practices and tips and tricks that you learned in school. If you’re an experienced administrator coming from a different environment, you may be set in your ways and want to do things the way you did them before, rather than taking advantage of features of the new OS.

Overestimating the technical expertise of end users

Many new administrators expect users to have a better understanding of the technology than they do. Don’t assume that end users realize the importance of security, or that they will be able to accurately describe the errors they’re getting, or that they know what you mean when you tell them to perform a simple task such as going to Device Manager and checking the status of the sound card.

Many people in the business world use computers every day but know very little about them beyond how to operate a few specific applications. If you get frustrated with them, or make them feel stupid, most of them will try to avoid calling you when there’s a problem. Instead they’ll ignore it or worse, try to fix it themselves. That means the problem may be far worse when you finally do become aware of it.

Underestimating the technical expertise of end users

Although the above applies to many of your users, most companies will have at least a few who are advanced computer hobbyists and know a lot about technology. They’re the ones who will come up with inventive workarounds to circumvent the restrictions you put in place if those restrictions inconvenience them. Most of these users aren’t malicious; they just resent having someone else in control of their computer use - especially if you treat them as if they don’t know anything.

The best tactic with these users is to show them that you respect their skills, seek out their input, and let them know the reasons for the rules and restrictions. Point out that even a topnotch racecar driver who has demonstrated the ability to safely handle a vehicle at high speed must abide by the speed limits on the public roads, and it’s not because you doubt his/her technology skills that you must insist on everyone following the rules.

Not turning on auditing

Windows Server operating systems have built-in security auditing, but it’s not enabled by default. It’s also not one of the best documented features, so some administrators fail to take advantage of it. And that’s a shame, because with the auditing features, you can keep track of logon attempts, access to files and other objects, and directory service access.

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) auditing has been enhanced in Windows Server 2008 and can be done more granularly now. Without either the built-in auditing or third-party auditing software running, it can be almost impossible to pinpoint and analyze what happened in a security breach.

Not keeping systems updated

This one ought to be a no-brainer: Keeping your servers and client machines patched with the latest security updates can go a long way toward preventing downtime, data loss, and other consequences of malware and attacks. Yet many administrators fall behind, and their networks are running systems that aren’t properly patched.

This happens for several reasons. Understaffed and overworked IT departments just may not get around to applying patches as soon as they’re released. After all, it’s not always a matter of “just doing it” — everyone knows that some updates can break things, bringing your whole network to a stop. Thus it’s prudent to check out new patches in a testbed environment that simulates the applications and configurations of your production network. However, that takes time — time you may not have.

Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or other tools to simplify and automate the process once you’ve decided that a patch is safe to apply. And don’t forget that applications — not just the operating system — need to be kept updated, too.

Getting sloppy about security

Many administrators enforce best security practices for their users but get sloppy when it comes to their own workstations. For example, IT pros who would never allow users to run XP every day logged on with administrative accounts think nothing about running as administrators themselves while doing routine work that doesn’t require that level of privileges. Some administrators seem to think they’re immune to malware and attacks because they “know better.” But this over confidence can lead to disaster, as it does in the case of police officers who have a high occurrence of firearms accidents because they’re around guns all the time and become complacent about the dangers.

Not documenting changes and fixes

Documentation is one of the most important things that you, as a network admin, can do to make your own job easier and to make it easier for someone else to step in and take care of the network in your absence. Yet it’s also one of the most neglected of all administrative tasks.

You may think you’ll remember what patch you applied or what configuration change you made that fixed an exasperating problem, but a year later, you probably won’t. If you document your actions, you don’t have to waste precious time reinventing the wheel (or the fix) all over again.

Some admins don’t want to document what they do because they think that if they keep it all in their heads, they’ll be indispensible. In truth, no one is ever irreplaceable — and by making it difficult for anyone else to learn your job, you make it less likely that you’ll ever get promoted out of the job.

Failing to test backups

One of the things that home users end up regretting the most is forgetting to back up their important data — and thus losing it all when a hard drive fails. Most IT pros understand the importance of backing up and do it on a regular schedule. What some busy admins don’t remember to do regularly is test those backups to make sure that the data really is there and that it can be restored.

Overpromising and underdelivering

When your boss is pressuring you for answers to questions like “When can you have all the desktop systems upgraded to the new version of the software?” or “How much will it cost to get the new database server up and running?”, your natural tendency may be to give a response that makes you look good. But if you make promises you can’t keep and come in late or over budget, you do yourself more damage than good.

A good rule of thumb in any business is to underpromise and overdeliver instead of doing the opposite. If you think it will take two weeks to deploy a new system, give yourself some wiggle room and promise it in three weeks. If you’re pretty sure you’ll be able to buy the hardware you need for $10,000, ask for $12,000 just in case. Your boss will be impressed when you get the project done days ahead of time or spend less money than expected.

Being afraid to ask for help

Ego is a funny thing, and many IT administrators have a lot invested in theirs. When it comes to technology, you may be reluctant to admit that you don’t know it all, and thus afraid — or embarrassed — to ask for help. I’ve know MCSEs and MVPs who couldn’t bear to seek help from colleagues because they felt they were supposed to be the “experts” and that their reputations would be hurt if they admitted otherwise. But plunging ahead with a project when you don’t know what you’re doing can get you in hot water, cost the company money, and even cost you your job.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

HP Updates Desktop Virtualization Software

Hewlett-Packard hopes to widen the use of its desktop virtualization products with new software that will improve video playback and allow the use of USB peripherals such as webcams, the company announced Monday.

HP is also rebranding its desktop virtualization suite as the HP Virtual Client Essentials, and adding Linux support for its broker software, called Session Allocation Manager, which runs only on Windows today, HP said.

Most of the updates concern HP's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure suite, which allows a company to run multiple images of a desktop OS in virtual containers on a server, instead of having to manage a separate OS on each employee's PC.

Virtualized desktops are catching on at some businesses but companies need to provide workers with an experience similar to what they'd expect from a standard desktop PC, and that hasn't always been the case with multimedia content, said industry analyst Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

HP said it has solved that problem by developing an enhanced version of Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, which transfers presentation data between thin clients and Windows applications running on a virtualized server.

The existing RDP works fine for relaying basic on-screen data, such as keyboard strokes and mouse movements, but it's not good at carrying rich content such as a training video or webcast, said Manoj Malhotra, product marketing manager for HP's Client Virtualization group.

"The server gets overloaded when it tries to decode a video stream for a large number of users, and some employees end up having a poor experience," he said.

HP's enhanced RDP shifts the burden of decoding video away from the server and onto the thin clients, he said. That will allow companies to stream video to a large number of employees without a deterioration in performance, he said. The new protocol also lets them plug in a wide range of USB peripherals, which don't work well with the existing RDP, according to HP.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

SP2 beta for Windows Server 2008

Microsoft Tuesday gave its MSDN and TechNet subscribers access to the beta of Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and will make the software available to the general public in two days.

The beta includes all the hot fixes that have been released since SP1, which shipped in March. Also included are some new features for corporate users including full integration of Hyper-V into Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft shipped a beta of SP2 in October to a small group of users in its Technology Adoption Program. This week, Microsoft is opening up the testing and plans to release the software next year.

“We are tracking to ship Windows Vista SP2 in the first half of 2009,” Mike Nash, corporate vice president for Windows product management, announced on the Vista Team blog. The release will come ahead of Windows 7, which some speculate could ship by the end of 2009. Microsoft’s official timeframe is Jan. 2010.

The Hyper-V integration includes one free guest license for users of Windows Server 2008 Standard, four free licenses for users of the Enterprise version and an unlimited number of licenses for the DataCenter version.

SP2 also includes the ability to configure power management policies via Group Policy, and improved backward compatibility for older Terminal Server license keys that are only 512 bytes.

Other improvements include the addition of Windows Search 4.0; the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack that supports the most recent specification for Bluetooth technology; the ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista; the inclusion of Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi configuration; and the enablement of the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones.

Users must have SP1 installed before installing SP2 and need to have loaded the update to the Windows servicing stack.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Windows 7 Ultimate, Enterprise and Windows 7 for Small Businesses

In the Windows 7 Pre-release (M3) Privacy Supplement, Microsoft mentions details for BitLocker Drive Encryption: “BitLocker Drive Encryption (BitLocker) is available on computers running Windows 7 Enterprise Edition and Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. Should your computer be lost or stolen, BitLocker protects your data, by helping to prevent offline software attacks. Turning on BitLocker encrypts the hard drive where Windows is installed, including all information that is stored on that drive.”

Confirmation of the Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions comes with a quasi-confirmation of additional flavors of the next iteration of the Windows client. This because the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature has survived past Vista.

Just as it was the case with its precursor, Windows Anytime Upgrade for Windows 7 will streamline the upgrade process between editions of the operating system. “Windows Anytime Upgrade allows you to easily upgrade your version of Windows 7, by directing you to a participating merchant website where you can purchase the upgrade,” Microsoft revealed.

However, in addition to Ultimate and Enterprise, Microsoft has also revealed that it is cooking a Windows 7 for Small Businesses edition. In a job posting for Senior Marketing Manager of one of the company's Partners Business Marketing groups, the Redmond giant is looking to “increase the effectiveness of partner co-marketing direct to Small and Medium Business customers and through partners extensive indirect channel partners, including distribution and breadth reseller network.”

Among the responsibilities of the new role, Microsoft mentions: “Communicate and generate Partner excitement for Windows Vista Business, Windows 7 for Small Business, Office Ready, Server channel programs, and new Server launches with Windows Small Business Server & Essential Business Server 2008.”

Until now, there has been no official word from Microsoft related to the way it plans to deliver Windows 7 SKUs. However, so far, moves from the company indicate that a drastic simplification of Windows 7 editions compared to Windows Vista might in fact not be a top priority, or even in the plans.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008 launched

With the release of Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008, smaller manufacturers are being invited to clean up their front office infrastructure.

The point: Microsoft’s enterprise-class server technologies are a far cry from the muddle of bolt-ons that passes for professional productivity tools in many companies – and it’s now designed and priced to help them compete more successfully while also saving money.

As Rob Harris of beta user Robby Gordon Motorsports. “If time equals money, then we’re saving a lot of money. Our race car business is very performance-based with things constantly changing. I attribute a lot of our growth to Microsoft’s server solutions and the impact they have on our company’s ability to perform in a competitive worldwide arena.”

“Around the world, SMEs are the engine that drives economic growth and opportunity,” comments Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. “To help these businesses succeed, Microsoft has focused on creating integrated, affordable server solutions that are optimized to meet the needs of companies with limited IT resources.

Small Business Server and Essential Business Server deliver a comprehensive set of capabilities that will help small and midsize business thrive and grow.”

Designed for companies with up to 75 users or PCs, SBS 2008 is essentially an integrated server solution that provides many of the technologies used by larger companies, such as Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

Meanwhile, EBS 2008 is designed for businesses with up to 300 users or PCs, and allows IT managers to have more control over their environment by reducing complexity and automating common tasks.

Microsoft says that, because both support Windows Mobile phones, SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 can significantly boost mobile worker productivity, providing remote access to business email, calendar, contacts and files.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cisco slices up small business

Cisco Systems' two chief SMB executives Andrew Sage and Rick Moran both admitted that the company's share in the SMB is not large.

Both men who hail from Canada, an SMB country, are trying to change that in a big way.

Currently Cisco globally has just under $8 billion in revenue from the SMB.

The San Jose,-based company announced at its Channel Exchange event, held here, that it will make a $100 million channel investment to try and grow this market. With that investment, Cisco created the Small Business Technology Group to develop new products for this market in connectivity, security, remote access, productivity, customer interaction and customer support.

Moran, who is the vice president, small business solutions marketing for Cisco, described the market as an “unusual one to get to know”. For example Moran said that SMBs are a faster group to return from a down economy. “Customers here are like Sybil. They say they need help when they just hired five new people or when their phone system blew up and then that same customer could look upon new ways to expand their business. We have to address both sides of the need,” Moran said.

To that end, Cisco has segmented the SMB customer into three areas: Basic, Open to Guidance and Elite. Elites understand technology and they want to adopt it and they have IT staff. Moran said that Cisco does very well in this area and some of these customers become good leads for Cisco Certified Partners.

The buying patterns for all three segments are also hard to pin down. Cisco believes that the Basic customers buy from retail, while the Open to Guidance group may use retail, VARs, direct market resellers such as CDW or Insight or go to full service solution providers.

“The SMB has different needs than the other channels. There is no easy way to match customer type to a channel partner. Customers buy from who they want to buy from,” Sage said.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Hyper-V Virtualization with Windows Small Business Server 2008

You can use a virtualized server computing environment to address a variety of business goals that help improve business efficiency and reduce costs. The Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization technology provides software infrastructure and basic management tools that you can use to create and manage a virtualized server computing environment.

This provides an overview of virtualization in an environment based on the Windows Small Business Server 2008 software suite, and it discusses scenarios in which Windows SBS 2008 supports the Hyper-V technology. This does not discuss any other virtualization software or solutions. It assumes that you have a working knowledge of virtualization software in general and of Hyper-V in particular.

This document helps you understand and configure Hyper-V for your Windows SBS 2008 environment. This information is presented in the following sections:
  • Virtualization and Windows Small Business Server 2008
  • Licensing Considerations for Using Hyper-V in a Windows Small Business Server 2008 Environment
  • Technical Considerations for Using Hyper-V in a Windows Small Business Server 2008 Environment
  • Best Practices for Using Hyper-V with Windows Small Business Server 2008
  • Known Issues with Running Windows Small Business Server 2008 in a Hyper-V Environment
  • Scenarios for Deploying Windows Small Business Server 2008 in a Hyper-V environment
To learn more and to read the entire article at its source, please refer to the following page, Using Hyper-V with Windows Small Business Server 2008 (

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Windows 7: A Turning Point for Microsoft?

The now officially named Windows 7 carries the heavy burden of Vista's disappointments. Consumers, business users, and pundits have foisted such high expectations on the currently in development OS's back, that it 'will be a miracle if the final result satisfies anyone. However, lost amid all the hand-wringing is Microsoft's startling decision to lighten Windows 7's load.

In a stunning reversal, Microsoft announced that future versions of Windows would no longer feature e-mail, contact management, calendar, photo management, and moviemaking in the initial install. Instead, Microsoft customers will be encouraged to download these apps from Windows Live online services. And although these services are, for now, somewhat underpowered compared with their current in-OS counterparts, there's every expectation that Microsoft will enrich the entire lineup in time for the Windows 7's 2009 or 2010 launch.

This is precisely the opposite of what Microsoft did 15 years ago when it launched what would be the last great version of DOS. Back in 1993, Microsoft stuffed the popular desktop PC platform (which still led Windows by a good margin) with its own versions of virtually every popular utility on the market. DOS 6 shipped with memory management, disk compression, backup, antivirus, and hard drive optimization. Two areas—memory management and compression—had, had before then spawned a cottage industry of solutions that were designed to access memory between 640K and 1MB (hard to believe, isn't it?) and help users extend their already-overstuffed 20MB (yes, I said "MB") hard drives.

Despite the bluster displayed by these utility manufacturers, Microsoft's effectively killed their businesses by its decision to build utilities into its OS, and few survived into the next decade.

Now, for perhaps the first time in memory, Microsoft is doing exactly the opposite—uncoupling key products from its operating system. Publicly, Microsoft said it has "believed for some time now that a combination of rich functionality that comes with the Windows OS and consumers' favorite services on the Web produce the best Windows Experience." Sounds rather like the Macy's Santa who sends customers to Gimbels in Miracle on 34th Street, but without the sincerity.

Look, I'm glad Microsoft is finally taking the fat out of its OS with Windows 7. While its techs are at it, why don't they look at grabbing the spinal column of Windows—the Registry—and ripping that out as well? Just reach into the back and pull. Sure, it'll make the OS a bit wobbly at first, but I'm sure Microsoft will come up with a better, and more reliable, substructure for Windows 7.

This is a watershed moment, but I don't think that Microsoft has really had a change of heart. I still think it wants to crush the competition. The problem is that it no longer controls the playing field. Applications run on the browser and can pretty much ignore the OS (unlike the browser, which needs the OS to run).

Microsoft has rarely built "best of breed" utilities (most of the DOS 6 replicants were pale imitations of its commercial competitors), and most of the in-OS apps that Windows 7 is shedding are decent products, but they're often not the best. Hey, I like Movie Maker, but I get much, much more out of Adobe Premiere Elements. What Microsoft did have going for it with these apps and the utilities it baked into the OS in the early 90's is convenience. The apps were available right inside the platform—no disks required. Back then there wasn't an Internet, where you could simply download a new option.

Today, if you don't like what's inside Windows, you simply go online and find another, often free or very affordable option. There's no way for Microsoft to effectively compete with this model except to give up. Obviously, Microsoft isn't giving up, but the idea of its products and services competing on their own merits is certainly a new concept for the company. The only thing that would be more shocking is if it unbundled Internet Explorer from Windows 7 and let consumers start by choosing how they want to surf the Web and access online small business services.

Monday, October 13, 2008

MySpace sells small businesses on self-service ads

New Corp’s MySpace allows small businesses and individuals to create their ads targeted to its 76 million members starting today.

MyAds, the self-service advertising service launched by MySpace, targets small businesses as they allow them to create and expose their own advertisements without burning a hole in their pockets. This service releases its “beta” version for a public test today after testing it for three months by 3,400 clients.

"If I'm a small business, I can't afford to hire an ad agency to do my creative. I can't afford to hire a graphic designer. I can't afford to hire a media buyer," Chris DeWolfe, MySpace chief executive stated in an interview.

A model customer of the service is Bacon Salt – a product that claims it can turn anything to taste like bacon. According to Arnie-Gullov Singh, an executive at Fox Interactive Media, this product’s traffic went up to 200% overnight with the use of MyAds.

The MyAds service is free to set up but has a minimum of $25 charge for campaigns which can go up to as high as $10,000. The fee that the advertisers will pay will depend on the number of clicks their ads get. Their ad will either be a 728x90 or a 300x250 banner ad. This will continue to be displayed until the campaign expires or had reached the advertiser’s spending limit.

MyAds uses the “Hypertarget” technology which means that advertisers can choose which audience they would want to expose their ads to. They can match their ads to specific users based on their profile helping them get a positive response.

Another good thing MyAds has for advertisers is that it will not require them to be account holders or users of MySpace in order to place their ad on the site. This service will allow the advertisers to lead users to other sites outside of MySpace.

Jeff Berman, MySpace president of sales and marketing, said "We are working with virtually every one of the top 100 brands in the country now. So the concerns that advertisers previously had being in the space have largely been addressed. We are going up against major portals and Yahoo for major integrated branded ad campaigns, and winning. I think that is the best proof that there is of where we stand with advertisers."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Windows HPC Server 2008 Goes Mainstream

Microsoft late last month released Windows HPC Server 2008, the data center-class operating system that promises to broaden the development and implementation of high-performance computing (HPC) applications on the Windows platform. Company officials launched the successor to Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 at the High Performance on Wall Street computing conference in New York.

Based on the core Windows Server 2008 OS, Microsoft's new HPC platform is regarded as a substantially improved upgrade for creating large server clusters. It could also be pivotal in bringing parallel computing on the Windows platform to a wider swath of applications that require support for real-time, low-latency computations. Microsoft says the new release is also much faster to deploy and easier to administer than Computer Cluster Server 2003.

"Microsoft has taken high-performance computing to the mainstream by making it part of our overall product strategy," said Bill Laing, corporate VP of Microsoft's Windows Server and Solutions division, speaking in a keynote address at the Wall Street conference.

Pitching High Performance

Redmond is engaged in a 25-city launch event to target a broad swath of customer segments, including manufacturing, life sciences, public sector, and oil and gas, among others.

Despite tightened integration with Visual Studio and .NET Framework, some developers might find HPC Server 2008 challenging, says John Powers, founder and CEO of Oakland-based Digipede Technologies LLC. "I think the programming model still needs additional improvements," Powers explains, citing lack of support for legacy code that doesn't utilize Windows Communication Foundation.

Much of the legacy code that developers may need to support is Linux-based, he says. Mendillo notes that support for Iron Ruby, Iron Python, Fortan and a built-in Posix-compliant shell should help many developers bridge to non-Windows environments.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Computer Security Advice for Small Businesses

Companies in today’s business environment continuously are confronted with online threats to their networks. These threats put personal and confidential information at risk and come in many forms, including viruses, worms and spyware.

While small business owners work hard to prevent these external threats from invading the company’s network, surprisingly, many common business security threats are caused by employees unknowingly opening their network to viruses by downloading or clicking on items that mimic or appear to be standard programs. Others unwittingly infect the corporate network by sharing a memory stick between work and an infected home computer.

While large businesses typically have the resources to combat virus outbreaks, small and midsized companies need additional guidance in taking on internal security issues. Educating people and businesses on how new security threats can cripple company networks through user actions can be a critical first step to protecting ourselves from the latest security threats.

USB devices

A large number of security threats to companies result from undocumented or unsecured USB drives. When these devices are placed on several different PCs – from an employee’s work computer to his home laptop – viruses can be carried from one computer to the other. An employee may take a USB drive home to load family pictures and bring it back to the office, only to share a virus from the home computer with a work PC.

Employers should talk to their employees about getting in the habit of basic computer hygiene with all the PCs they use. If workers keep their home computers safe and up to date, companies are likely to benefit from the greater awareness instilled in the employee, as well as the reduction in viruses spreading through USB drives.


Firewalls are now every day practice within a small business. Companies understand the importance of securing the network and employees’ computers from the inside.

What happens when employees start traveling and working remotely? Once outside the company firewall, employees start to access different wireless providers and automatically open themselves up for attacks. When an employee is traveling, they are less likely to run normal updates, preventing their computer from updating its current security protection.

Network Access Protection, a security feature from Microsoft’s latest operating system, ensures that when an employee is back in the office their computer must be fully updated before it will allow the machine to reconnect to the server. The employee must run the appropriate security updates, helping the company catch any threats that may infiltrate the employee’s PC. Planning and budgeting to support remote working solutions should be part of any IT plan, but one step that is sometimes overlooked is the review of the company’s existing technology licenses. Businesses sometimes discover discounts or unused rights to software that could easily support NAP.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Microsoft Small Business Server 2008

The concept behind Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) is simple. Take Windows Server, Exchange email and some other pieces like SharePoint Server, bundle them into a single box with some easy-to-use management tools, and sell it cheaply as an everything-you-need package for small businesses.

The 2008 version updates the product to use 64-bit Server 2008 and Exchange 2007, and comes with a new user-friendly management console.

It is the first version to have deeply integrated security, with services for patch and antivirus management across the network, as well as spam and antivirus protection for Exchange.

These default to Microsoft's OneCare and Forefront security products, though you can also plug in third-party alternatives.

The SBS product line-up has changed in this release. ISA Server, which handled firewall, proxy, filtering and publishing services in earlier premium versions of SBS, has been removed.

That is good insofar as ISA is hard to configure, and for security is better placed on a separate box, but bad in that it had useful features.

SBS Premium is now a two-box solution, while to get ISA back you now need the Essential Business Server suite on three or more servers.

Overall I found SBS 2008 a brilliant but frustrating product. On the plus side, when everything is running sweetly it does lots of useful things.

You get not only the basics like email and file sharing, but extras including remote access to email and documents via the Remote Web Workplace, and document collaboration, discussions and wikis from SharePoint.

The new differential disk-based backup is much faster than tape, and the underlying 64-bit 2008 Server is a solid product that will scale nicely if the business grows, especially with the Premium option for an extra server.

Now the frustration. The friendly console hides fiendish complexity. If a non-technical person were to install this, I can imagine them being delighted by the console, but running a mile if they happened to open, say, the Exchange Management Console.

Break anything, and fixing it can be a world of pain. The answer is to tread carefully and always have an expert to hand. SBS 2003 did a better job of integrating the console with the grown-up tools.

Another snag is that migration is tricky. Existing hardware is unlikely to be up to the job, there is no in-place upgrade, and those who rely on tape backup or ISA Server will need to reconfigure or buy extra stuff.

The big questions: do you need SBS at all? Some businesses will be fine with just Google Apps or the like, while others can get along with Linux or perhaps Apple's Leopard Server.

Nevertheless, there is a substantial section of the market where SBS is the best fit, because it runs Windows and that is what both custom and third-party applications most often require.

2008 is a decent upgrade. Still, as online hosted services improve, it is hard to see this product having much market five years from now. This could be the last Small Business Server.

This review is based on the last release candidate. Microsoft SBS 2008 is due for full launch on 12 November.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New managed Ethernet I/O modules

Korenix UK has just launched a new range of DIN rail-mounted, managed Ethernet I/O modules for distributed monitoring and control

The new modules have a built-in OPC server and support Modbus/TCP protocol, which is commonly used in most industrial environments The Korenix Jet I/O 6500 Series is equipped with one RJ-45 Ethernet port and multiple analogue and digital I/O channels, as well as temperature measurement (thermocouple, RTD) connectors.

Users can therefore collect I/O data, configure rules for pre-defined alarms, automatically activate events (by SNMP trap) and change the status of devices through their Ethernet network.

The built-in OPC server and Windows-based management utilities mean that users can easily monitor and control I/O devices and integrate easily with SCADA/HMI software applications.

Modbus/TCP uses encoded binary data and the TCP/IP error detection mechanism to enable temperature and humidity measurement, then communicating the result between the connected devices.

Supported network protocols include IP, TCP, UDP, SNMP, HTTP, Telnet, BOOTP and DHCP.

Andy Cross, Business Development Manager at Korenix UK comments: "The 6500 Series boasts an unrivalled combination of industrial open standards technology and is therefore enables users to easily communicate with their existing industrial SCADA and HMI systems.

With all Korenix products, users also benefit from a clear cost advantage and technical excellence".

The Jet I/O 6500 Series incorporates a 16-bit, 100MHz, RISC-based processor, built-in watchdog timer and real time clock.

The modules have an aluminium housing and are protected to IP31.

Module dimensions are 120mm (H) x 55mm (W) x 75mm (D) and the units operate in temperatures from - 20C up to +70C.

For more information on the Korenix Jet I/O 6500, please contact Korenix UK.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Software602 Releases Web Collaboration Server

Software602 has released Groupware Server 6, a Web collaboration suite aimed at SMBs.

Picking up where the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company's 602LAN Suite left off. Groupware Server 6 includes instant messaging with a searchable archive, XML RSS feeds and a subscription-based real-time spam filter, courtesy of Commtouch, that "provides an affordable and maintenance-free solution to viruses and spam," according to Software602. The product also enables browser-based access to e-mail, contacts, tasks, public folders, shared calendars and online documents. Via Outlook Connector, users can tap into Microsoft Outlook without buying an Exchange Server.

Pricing for Groupware Server 6 starts at $299.95 per server, which includes a 10-user license.

Microsoft Server Support, Windows Server Support, Exchange server support

Friday, July 4, 2008

Small Business Technical Support

Small Business Technical support (also tech support) is a range of services providing assistance with technology products such as mobile phones, televisions, computers, or other electronic or mechanical goods. In general, technical support services attempt to help the user solve specific problems with a product—rather than providing training, customization, or other support services.

Most companies offer technical support for the products they sell, either freely available or for a fee. Small Business Technical support may be delivered over the telephone or via various online media such as e-mail or a Web site. Larger organizations frequently have internal technical support available to their staff for computer related problem . The internet is also a good source for freely available tech support, where experienced users may provide advice and assistance with problems. In addition, some fee-based service companies charge for premium technical support services.

Technical support may be delivered by different technologies depending on the situation. For example direct questions can be addressed using SMS, email or fax; basic software problems can be addressed over the telephone or using remote support; while more complicated problems with equipment may need to be dealt with in person.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Tips For Outlook Expresss

The malicious use of JavaScript can pull a lot of information off a computer — specifically, browsing history and cookies. It can’t format your hard drive, but it can help someone steal information without your knowledge.

Because of Outlook Express’ integration with Internet Explorer, disabling JavaScript takes a little more effort. Follow these steps:

1. In Outlook Express, go to Tools | Options, and select the Security tab.
2. Enable the Restricted Sites Zone (More Secure) option.
3. Go to Start | Control Panel, and double-click the Internet Options applet.
4. On the Security tab, click the Custom Level button.
5. Under Scripting, select Disable under the Active Scripting heading.


Friday, June 27, 2008

What is Small Business Technical Support?

What is Small business computer support?

According to enwikipedia,

Small Business Computer Support embraces a comprehensive array of computer support functions pertaining to computer software, hardware, and communications. With the increasing scope of the Internet based services and the spread of high speed connections, it is now possible for small businesses to employ high qualified computer technicians to look after the maintenance of your business system resources, and to provide computer repair facilities 24x7.

Online tech support companies have professional computer engineers who remotely manage your systems and prevent the need to haul them to repair shops, thereby saving you time and money. Most small businesses have approved of such services as they can now their computers productive and effective at all times.

Small business computer support eliminates the need for sending personnel to customers’ offices to fix the issue. They provide support more quickly and efficiently than any in-house staff can with expertise being the sole reason. The complete procedure is done online using remote desktop connection. With your permission, the technicians remotely take hold of faulty computers, diagnose issues, and resolve them right away. Everything is being done before customer who enjoys the authority to control the actions taken on the computers.

Server Technical Support provides cost-effective, reliable technical support for contracted servers in computing facilities and departmental networks across campus. Staff manage all aspects of related information technology, including consulting and server administration. Student laboratory management contracts are also available and include agreements for hiring, training, and maintaining student labs using Labman.

Monday, June 2, 2008

iYogi - Technical Support Services

When your customers have a problem, the most important thing is getting it solved, quickly. Customers that are helped promptly and effectively remember that your company was there for them. And sometimes, that's the difference between the next sale going to you or the competition.

You want someone to answer your phone quickly and courteously. You want your Technical Support rep to be knowledgeable, and solve problems confidently and professionally. You don't want a "technician" on the phone whose only interest is in technical "stuff." You also don’t want your customer’s questions passed around because no one knows the answer! You want someone who cares about your customers, and who lets your customers know that you care about them. Your customers may be world-class engineers, teachers, architects, or college professors, but they are not experts in computers. That is where Hudson and its staff of professionals come in.

iYogi Technical Support the gap between your non-technical customers and the technical world. Our job is to help your customers resolve their problems quickly, professionally and with rave reviews for how well you helped them. When we do our job right, you get the credit and the peaceful sleep of knowing that you made the right choice.