Monday, October 6, 2008

SMBNation 2008 – Day 1

Location: Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

Weather: Moist and windy

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Well the first official day of SMBNation 2008 kicked off with breakfast on the pier outside the conference center from 7 am. Have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the offering, it was pretty basic. This sentiment certainly seemed to be echoed by other attendees.

 

From there we moved into the conference centre proper. The first session on offer was a key note from Intel. Although their hardware offering is impressive I think that the blade system they demonstrated was a little out of the league of most attendees business. Maybe I’m wrong here but it is certainly aimed at the multi-server businesses.

 

Next up was Jeff Middleton speaking about migration to SBS 2008. His session was titled - The good, bad and ugly of migration to 2008 platforms. Although I was aware of many of the issues he raised I did learn that the migration is going to be more difficult that you think, especially Exchange server. Good news is that Jeff expects to have a 2008 migration product available from his SBSMigration site BUT it will only be available to people who have already purchased his previous SBS 2003 swing migration product. The reason for this is simply that you are going to need experience with swing migration before the swing migration to 2008 will make sense. Bad news is that it probably won’t be an overnight process. The ugly is that Exchange migration is going to be tricky because you can no longer simply fork lift the mail stores onto the new server, they will need to be sync’ed object by object.

 

The next session was given by Amy Babinchak called – Decisions, decisions, decisions. Making the Firewall choice for SBS 2008 since both versions of SBS 2008 no longer come with a firewall and only support a single network card. She ran over what the threats faced and what the perceived threats are from both the IT and business owners perspective. Again, I must admit that most of the information here was nothing new or earth shattering and any integrator worth their salt should be aware of this. However, it is good to have all these issues presented in a concise manner.

 

Next up was a session of the Gotcha’s of SBS2008 – Real world SBS 2008 deployments with Susan Bradley and Ofier Shimrat. This session covered topics as choosing the right sort or hardware, how to configure it and what issues you may face. There was plenty of information on offer here but in some respects maybe it was too much as the session ran well overtime. Perhaps the session tried to achieve too much and should have focused on smaller set of topics but none the less I did get some good information here.

 

Probably the highlight session of the day was the How to do software as a service with Grant Thompson and Scott Barlow simply because it demonstrated to me how many resellers, even here, that are fighting ‘cloud computing’ tooth and nail. It was very interesting to see how many resellers are running scared of the changes that are happening in our industry. I picked a number of techniques that would help resellers sell software as a service to customers and explain it to them in a language that they can understand.

 

Overall I can’t say that the sessions on offer were of a particularly high value to me personally but they do have to cater for a wide variety of attendees which I can understand. I would say however, that I did receive value out of the day but by far the greatest value I received on the day was from the networking with other attendees. It is extremely interesting to talk about their business, their customers and the solutions they have deployed. It clear from talking to many of them the more progressive ones that they are embracing the move to ‘cloud computing’ and facing the reality of this as a business model for themselves and their customers.

 

So that’s it from Day 1 of SMBNation and I look forward to providing you an update from tomorrow.