Friday, January 29, 2010

Just an observation

image_2_706870B0

 

A while back I tried to do an in place upgrade of my http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au SharePoint site to SharePoint Foundation server beta. It didn’t go very well as I noted in this blog.

 

An in place upgrade is not the only migration option you have in SharePoint, you can do a database migration, which I have found to be generally the best way to go from SharePoint v2 to SharePoint v3. I thought that I’d be able to the same thing from v3 to SharePoint Foundation, however as you can see from the above screen shot the upgrade failed again.

 

It is interesting to note that my http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au isn’t a very complicate SharePoint site. It has a few standard Microsoft templates but nothing else really. Given that I haven’t been able to easily upgrade it worries me a bit that upgrading existing SharePoint v3 sites to SharePoint foundation is going to be more difficult that has been made out.

 

Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shared OneNote notebooks

For those who have not as yet experienced the joy of OneNote I’d suggest you give it a try. You can download a 60 day free trial from:

http://us20.trymicrosoftoffice.com/default.aspx?culture=en-US

Basically, OneNote is a digital notebook that allows you to save just about any form of digital information. You can use it to save text, images, web sites, files and more.

You can even print to OneNote from any application and send information directly from Internet Explorer and Outlook. Best of all, any information in OneNote is not only backed up but it is also indexed, which means you can search through all your notes quickly and easily.

Now this isn’t a blog post on the benefits of OneNote it is about how you can connect OneNote to SharePoint to provide shared notebook access. This enables a single notebook to be shared between multiple people. If you have a SharePoint site that is hosted on the Internet you can share this information between people just about anywhere.

So how do you go about doing that? First you’ll need to have a SharePoint site with a document library people can get access to. I normally like to create a separate OneNote document library to keep all the OneNote files together but there is no need to do that. You’ll also need to have OneNote installed on every machine that you wish to access the notebooks with.

Once you have all that in place and have launch OneNote complete the following to create a new notebook.


Select File | New | Notebook from the menu.


Give the new notebook a name and select a OneNote template.



To allow a shared notebook select the Multiple people will share the notebook option and then On a server.



In the path field enter the URL of your SharePoint document library.



If SharePoint is hosted on the Internet you will need to logon to the site.



The new notebook should appear. Now all any other user needs to do to connect and share the notebook is launch OneNote on their local machine and open the notebook from the URL you used to create the notebook.



Next time you open OneNote you will see some text at the top of the notebook indicating that you need to login to get the latest updates to the file. Simply click on this link and enter your login details. Any changes will then be automatically sync’ed.

If you don’t have a hosted SharePoint site you can still achieve the same result using Office Live. Information about how to configure that can be found in a free document I created a while back which can be found at - http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/onenote-and-office-live.

The good thing about sync’ing OneNote is that not only do you retain a local copy but there is always an offsite backup. So you can keep using OneNote on the road and when you connect back to the Internet all changes in all notebooks are synchronized. It makes it a very easy process for any team collaboration.

So there you are. If you haven’t looked at OneNote I’d recommend you do and if you can link it to SharePoint to provided shared notebook access I’m confident that it’ll prove a winner with most teams.

CIAOPS email lists

The facts are that most people still prefer email to other forms of information delivery, be they Twitter, Facebook, blogs and so on. In recognition of that fact I’ve create two mailing lists that people can use to keep up to date with what’s on offer from the CIAOPS.

 

1. CIAOPS Webinars

 

Subscribing to this list will keep you up to date on when we run our regular webinars. Emails will be sent prior to each webinar so you have plenty of time to indicate your interest. You can also visit the archive of these webinar announcements at any stage also. If you haven’t seen any of our webinars head over to the CIAOPS You Tube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/directorciaops) for some examples.

 

2. CIAOPS Newsletter

 

We announced this a while back but it seems appropriate to once again provide people with the details of how to obtain our regular newsletter. The newsletter is aiming to come out each month with technology information and productivity tips aimed at helping you get things done. You can also view the archive of these emails as well at any time.

 

Information about the webinars and the newsletter will still be published here, so if you are a regular reader of the blog then there is probably no need to sign up for either. However, if you know of anyone else who may benefit from what we offer via these emails lists then I’d ask you to send the link and get them to sign up.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New version of Evernote available



One of the best applications I have found is Evernote. Basically you can think of it as an electronic notebook. In many ways it is similar one of my other favourite applications (OneNote) but has a number of differences that still make it something I use regularly.

One of the main areas that I thought Evernote lagged OneNote was the in the way that it presented information. I like OneNote’s ability to easily create and organize information via sections and tabs. The new version of Evernote is certainly a step closer to being as easy to visualize as OneNote, although it still has a ways to go.

Probably the biggest plus Evernote has for me is the ability to access and add to your information via a browser. You can of course use an application that you load onto just about any platform, but it is this ability to access Evernote information via a web page that put it above OneNote in functionality I believe. I always found it handy if I was ever on a customer’s machine to take a screen shot of the error. With Evernote I could save that information directly via a browser and have it sync’ed with my desktop machine upon my return.

There is still a place for OneNote and Evernote in my took kit but the latest Evernote version 3.5 is certainly getting closer to including all the bits I like in OneNote. Even better, Evernote is free to use and you can’t beat that for value.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Work/life balance

image

For those who are interested in an experiment on lifestyle design and the work/family balance then I would suggest you have a look at the TV show “The Nest” which is shown on SBS Australia currently on Friday nights from 8.30pm.

 

As with all TV shows these days there is also a web site you can visit:

 

http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/thenest/episodes/page/i/1/h/Episodes/

 

that allows you to watch past episodes (although you only seem to be able to watch the very last one).

 

If you are interested in productivity then it is not only worth watching but also reading some of the comments that are made about the episodes by web site visitors.

SharePoint Guide on special

If you are interested in purchasing my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide (www.wssops.com) I notice that SMB Books has a discount running:

 

Super Amazing Sale Through January 31st:
Party Like It's $19.99 Off !


A Bunch of Great Offers from SMB Books
- Our Newest Books
- Our Greatest Books
- All Rolled Into One Sale!

Just enter the code
PARTY1999 and you will receive $19.99 off EACH ITEM you order.

(All Deals Expire January 31st, 2010.  Place as many orders as you wish. Books make great Valentine's Day gifts!)

 

You’ll find my SharePoint Guide at:

 

http://www.smbbooks.com/products/procra01.htm

 

and if you enter the code PARTY1999 when you purchase you’ll get $19.99 off. So if you have been thinking about it you have until January 31 to take advantage of this offer.

SharePoint Guide DVD

Part of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide is a DVD that not only contains my own documentation but also other SharePoint documents. It also contains a number of SharePoint videos, installation files to allow you to get SharePoint up and running quickly without all the downloading as well as links to many other SharePoint resources.

 

You can now download a document that shows exactly what the DVD includes. Because the DVD is part of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide subscription it also gets updated as new content becomes available but at least the download will give you some idea of what the DVD contains.

 

Don’t forget that you don’t have to purchase the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide to benefit. Referral incentives are also now available. You can download this brochure and send it to people who maybe interested.

 

For more information about the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide please don’t hesitate to contact me via director@ciaops.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CIAOPS SharePoint webinar

We are gearing up for the next webinar. Here are the details:

 

CIAOPS webinar 100204 - SharePoint and Office

 

This webinar will show you how to get the best of out of your Microsoft Office applications when used in conjunction with SharePoint. You learn how to utilize check in and checkout with Word, how to embed an updating Excel graph into SharePoint, how to link SharePoint calendars to Outlook, how to create a synchronized notebook using OneNote and much more.

Details

Date: Thursday 4th February 2010
Time: 10:00am
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: $10 ex GST
Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Prerequisites: None

Registration: To register send an email to director@ciaops.com.

 

The webinar will also be available as a recording after the event of you are unable to attend on the day.

 

Don’t forget our previous webinars that are also available on request:

 

- 091112 Introduction to SharePoint

- 091126 Basics of using SharePoint

- 091210 Basic SharePoint administration

- 100107 SharePoint Questions and Answers 1

Monday, January 18, 2010

A change of browser


A while ago I swapped form using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to Firefox. The main reason was the number of handy add ons that Firefox has available. One of these is NoScript which blocks  Javascript and Flash but can be easily configured to allow pre-determined safe sites. Most browser threats these days come via scripts, so the more protection the better.

For the past week I decided that I would use Google Chrome as my default browser and I must say that I’m impressed. It is fast, stable and supports many (not all) of the little add ons that I use. I use a site on a daily basis that is very heavily Java based and I gotta say that here it really flys, even compared to Firefox. So I’m now using Chrome everyday without hesitation.

Interestingly, I came across this news report “Calls to ditch Internet Explorer after China hacks” that details how the recent major cyber attacks against Google were perpetrated via Internet Explorer and Adobe Acrobat. Internet Explorer has had a really bad name in relation to security and even with the release of version 8 it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Again, you do need to take these reports with a pinch of salt being they come from mainstream media (read techno-illiterate and sensationalism seeking) and are about a competitor to Google (i.e. Microsoft). However, the most interesting thing is that I haven’t seen much response from Microsoft about the attacks (Did they also get attacked? If they didn’t why didn’t they? Or did they and they are just not admitting it?).

After using both Firefox and Chrome I can honestly see no need to return to Internet Explorer, it just feels old. Perhaps there is a need to really strip Internet Explorer back and make a really simple and secure version which is really what most people need. The problem in this business is once you fall behind it normally takes a monumental improvement in a product to catch up as it has to be so much better than what is already out there to even warrant attention. Personally, I can’t see Microsoft doing this. They have reached middle age and a technical leap of that size just doesn’t seem possible to them any more.

If the browser is the default application through which which most people access the web how many of these are unpatched and insecure? Even if you are up to date all these unpatched systems still represent a threat because when you are connected to the web you are also connecting to them. The joys of an interconnected world!

So what is your browser of choice? Whatever it is make sure it is up to date (as well as your version of Adobe Acrobat).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pictures in my blog

I have had a few people say that they can’t see the pictures in this blog. I know about the issue and it seems to comes down to the reader you are using. As you can see, the two readers I use:



www.bloglines.com

and



www.google.com/reader

both work fine. The major issue seems to be with Outlook. Interesting that Microsoft Outlook does read Microsoft SharePoint correctly eh?

I do have it on my list of things to look at if I get a chance but I am still pondering whether I should move this blog into my updated www.ciaops.com web site. Still mulling that one over.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

We are not an island


The other day my optical mouse decided to pack up. As you can probably appreciate it is pretty hard to work a PC these days without a mouse. Of course I didn’t have a spare so I took a walk down to the local PC shop. Now I had passed the store many times but never actually gone inside so I was intrigued to see what it was like.

The staff were friend enough and pointed me towards a suitable replacement mouse. As I was paying for it I started to ask about their business, how it was going. I told them that I was in IT and so on and so on. The reaction I received was basically, here’s you receipt, have a nice day, goodbye.

Now, sure I didn’t buy the most expensive item in the shop but is that much trouble to engage with someone who maybe an opportunity for your business? I’d shown some interest in who and what they were and basically I got totally shut down. Thank you, have a nice day.

I started to think about the wider circle of IT people that I know, who typically run their own business and most are quite the opposite. However, that is probably because of a relationship that has been built up over a number of years. When I think about some IT businesses that are acquaintances it made me realize that many of them are like my local PC shop, all they seem to be apparently interested in is their own business.

Maybe they have seen too many tire kickers to be bothered any more but most smaller businesses would tell you that receive most of their business through referrals. Typically these referrals are not a direct connection they are a friend of a friend. It would seem to me that the more contacts you can foster the better your chances of picking up business.

I myself have been guilty of believing that customers choose you because they admire your knowledge or what you are technically capable of. The reality is that customers give you the business because they ‘like’ you more the next business. They get some sort emotional gut reaction which tells them that this person is worth doing businesses with.

Irrational and illogical it maybe but if you stop and think about your interactions with businesses you deal with (provided you have a choice) they you tend to go with the one you ‘like’. In many cases you can’t definitively say what you ‘like’ but you have a ‘gut’ feeling and that has a surprising amount of sway when it comes to making a decision.

Perhaps the point that I’m finally coming to realize after all these years is that business is more about person relationships, gut feelings and perceptions than anything rational. I think the road to success is at least partially paved with firstly understanding this and secondly utilizing it. Maybe a good investment in your business is to get to know your peers better or perhaps getting to know people who aren’t your peers and exploring outside your normal boundaries.

How will you treat the next unknown that ‘walks into your shop’? After this experience of mine I’m certainly going to try and be more engaging and attempt to build some sort of relationship. Even if they simply end up a Facebook friend you just never know do you?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Can I ask?

If you read this blog regularly can I ask you to complete a quick 6 question survey for me? You’ll find it here:

 

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/229186/blog-feedback

 

I want to get a better idea of what the people who actually read this blog think is good and think is bad. You can of course always send me feedback directly via director@ciaops.com, however at the very least I’d ask you to complete the anonymous survey to give a better idea of you’re after.

 

As always I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog and I thank in advance for completing the anonymous survey.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The results are in

Today I received the feedback from my presentation at SMB Nation in October 2009 so I thought I’d share it here.

 

image_4_1AF33293

 

image_6_1AF33293

 

Some other select comments:

 

- Best presentation I've seen so far

- This one presentation was most valuable to this point

- Go Longer- Great Content!

- Best class so far at SMB Nation – Informative

- Robert is a very effective speaker and he has a great command of SharePoint. Even though I sat in on his presentation last year, I still learned a lot more about SharePoint this year.

- Best speaker and best content so far! Fantastic

 

I gotta say that I’m stoked with the positive feedback. Thanks to everyone who attended and took the time to comment. Feedback really helps me ensure that my presentations are hitting the mark and providing value for those that attend. You are never sure when you are preparing your presentation just how it will be received so it is nice to hear.

 

There were plenty of suggestions about running some form of workshop on SharePoint next year and I’ll try and propose that when submissions roll around again this year. I’ll have a think about what else I could offer SMB Nation attendees (provided I get the gig of course).

 

Again, to all those who attended my presentation, took time to provide feedback and to SMB Nation for providing me the opportunity to present many thanks. I hopefully look forward to providing something even better this year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Computers as well?


Here’s a report that details how watching too much television can severely affect your health. The article “TV's deadly effects: study proves box link to early grave” details:

''People who watch four or more hours of television a day have a 46 per cent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 per cent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.''

My question is, doesn’t that perhaps also apply to computer usage? How many of us spend more than four hours behind a screen, sitting in the same chair everyday? Now imagine if you went from your chair in front of a computer to a chair in front of TV. You would certainly seem to significantly shorten your life span doing just that wouldn't you?

The most logical thing you would think you could do to counter such effects would be to exercise more. But:

''The risks associated with prolonged sitting are also not necessarily offset by doing more exercise, because in this study, even people who were exercising, if they also watched high amounts of television, they also had an increased risk of premature death.''

This means that you need to make sure you move around a bit at the office and in front of the TV. The article recommends that you get up and move around every 20 minutes or so.

I’m off to do just that now.

Newsletter 1 released

image_2_6DFA2515

 

Well I’ve just sent of my first email newsletter using MailChimp. If you are not a subscriber you can view the newsletter at:

 

http://us1.campaign-archive.com/?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=5af3f65e40

 

I must say that I am very impressed with what Mailchimp has to offer. So far I have only taken advantage of their free services (which are extensive), but I can potentially see me taking up their paid options. In the past I have used Constant Contact for this sort of thing but Mailchimp seems to offer a whole lot more for less.

 

Obviously, this is my first attempt at an email newsletter using Mailchimp so there are going to be some rough edges while I work out the full functionality and get the content right. I’m relying on readers to tell me what works and what doesn’t and I’ll adjust from there. I’m really interested to see what people say as I receive a whole swag of email newsletters everyday and most I have to say I delete without even looking at.

 

I hope to be able to release a newsletter at least once every month and to ensure that it includes plenty of value for readers (as I would like people to read it). So much so that I also hope they’ll pass it onto others who will in turn subscribe. All in all I’m very interested to see how this progresses as a marketing exercise given the number of email newsletters people already receive. However, from what I’ve found Mailchimp seems to give me the best tools to achieve what I’m after.

 

Wondering how to become a subscriber? To receive the newsletter via email you can subscribe at the bottom of the home page of www.ciaops.com. Alternatively, I will post the links to each newsletter here as I release them. Finally you can also view the archive at:

 

http://us1.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=c851ddf6cf

 

So please subscribe, have a look and give me your feedback (director@ciaops.com) as I really want to understand how to create something people actually read!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Today’s webinar on YouTube

I’ve upload the first 8 minutes or so of today’s SharePoint webinar to my YouTube channel as a bit of a preview for those who are interested.

SharePoint Questions and Answer 1

 

The full video is available for download by attendees upon completion of a short email survey. For those people that didn’t attend you can still purchase the webinar download via director@ciaops.com. Any of the previous webinars are available either on YouTube (in parts due to the 10 minute upload restriction) or download via director@ciaops.com. Subscribers to the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide always receive free access to the webinars live or on download (another great reason to subscribe!).

 

Look out for another webinar in about 2 weeks, the details will be posted to this blog soon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More change


If you haven’t heard, Google has now launched it own phone called the Nexus One. You can read more about it at “Google launches Nexus One 'superphone’" and read an online review from Endgadget. Interestingly, Google is offering this phone directly to customers via its web site, which means you can just buy the handset and insert just about any carrier’s SIM. This is certainly a big change from the way things have been traditionally, yet it is not the only change that this Google phone is likely to create.

The article “Google shows how to trash a business model or three” demonstrates how the Google phone could dramatically affect not only the handset, phone provider and GPS markets but how the operating system that runs on the Nexus One (Android) could end up running in many common household devices. If this is not bad enough for the competition I can think of another major reason why the competition should be running scared.

What would happen if Google offered the phone for free say, in exchange for pushing you advertising? Would you take it? Such a business model really only makes sense for someone like Google and it could potentially blow competitors our of the water. How can they compete with a $0 phone? The phone business is not what’s important to Google, it’s about getting more people connected to the Internet so they view Google Ads, and in that respect it makes sense to subsidize handsets for consumers.

You’d therefore think that it’s also logical for Google to offer free Internet WiFi access to people wouldn’t you? Guess what? They’re already doing that, see “Free WiFi for the holidays”. Do you begin to see how Google is shaking up the market? I certainly do and can only see it only getting rougher for anyone who doesn’t appreciate that (barring an anti-competition suit from the U.S. Department of Justice or the European Union, which is becoming more likely every day now).
 
If you want to start understanding the mind of Google I’d recommend you read “What Would Google Do” by Jeff Jarvis. You can even read in on the Amazon Kindle but maybe soon the Google e-book device.

Given that this year the number of mobile devices accessing the Internet (i.e. mobile phones) will exceed the number of desktop devices (i.e. PC’s), so I’ve heard at least, who stands to benefit the most from this? Perhaps Google and Apple? Who stands to loss the most from this? Perhaps Microsoft? What is Microsoft’s response so far to the threat? Good question. Not having used either alternative to Microsoft’s offering I can only speculate, but having read “What Would Google Do” and know who I’d put money on at this stage.

Another nail



One the major selling points of something like Microsoft Exchange Server is that it not only allows you to send and receive emails, but it also has a calendar that in a network environment you can share with others. This allows people to see when others are busy, schedule meetings and so on. Very handy. The problem now is that this type of functionality is locked inside a business’s network and also it typically doesn’t work with people using other calendaring platforms like Google Calendar.

A potential solution to this issue that I have discovered is Tungle. In summary here’s what it offers:

Schedule - Send invitations proposing multiple times and let Tungle find the time that works for everyone. Tungle handles everything from time zones, to double booking, to updating your calendar.

Publish - Customize your personal scheduling page. Show only the times you want to be available. Invite others to schedule meetings with you. Meetings get booked on your terms and others don’t have to sign up.

Share - Share calendars across companies, systems and time zones. You control who you share with and what you share – free/busy or full details

Tungle works from Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal/Entourage and Lotus Notes. I have created an account and published my calendar at http://tungle.me/ciaops. If you visit the you’ll see all the available times I have. If you wanted to have a meeting with me then you could simply select a time and make a request via the web page. All the details, once approved, get sync’ed to everyone’s calendar.



I’ve already used Tungle to schedule couple of meetings and I have to say that so far it was worked really well as most requests I get are ‘I’d like to meet when are you free’. So rather than bouncing requests back and forth via email email I can simply get the person to select a time in Tungle and it’ll end up in my calendar. All very nice and easy.

Once you have something like Tungle, then why would you need Exchange calendaring? I could simply use Outlook and sync my calendar with other members of my team no matter what calendar they use. I can let external parties view my availability directly from the web or their iPhone. I don’t you can do that as easily from Exchange.

Now I must admit I can’t see how these guys are going to make money (hello premium services I’ll bet) but this ‘proof of concept’ is certainly a great step. Of course there will always be concerns over privacy but these can be worked around (like only publishing a ‘business calendar’), however if the business value grossly outweighs this then it is less of a concern.

If you need a tool to allow people to schedule appointments with you and reduce the amount of time wasted finding a convenient free slot for everyone concerned then I’d suggest you take a look at Tungle. If you are interested to see how Tungle could be another nail in the coffin of the traditional Microsoft Exchange calendaring, I’d also recommend you take a look.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Regression to the mean


So it’s 2010 and plenty of people out there are making New Year’s resolutions. Personally I’m not one for picking a specific date to commence a goal, once I’ve set it I’d rather get going immediately. I do however appreciate that everyone is different and that the important thing is finding something that works for you. I will however point out why I believe New Year’s and most other resolutions fail miserably.

We are all typically the average (or mean) of our environment. If you want to reduce your golf handicap, you don’t play with people who you constantly beat, you play with people who are better than you. Even though you may lose, your game will improve because it is moving towards a higher average. The same theory applies in many other walks of life if you stop and think about it. Maybe the reason you aren’t a billionaire is that you don’t hang out with billionaires, instead you typically hang out with people in your own socio-economic demographic (i.e. those who make a similar amount if money as your do).

Now let’s say that you’ve made a resolution to change. Typically this change is quite different from your current situation (or mean/average position). One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. People who probably do very little exercise suddenly decide to do 10 times the exercise they would normally do. If they could maintain that 10 times regime then everything would be great however I’ll content that the chances of being able to maintain any deviation from the mean actually decrease the further the deviation is from the mean. In this case I would say that the chances of maintaining the 10 times resolution are no better than one in 10 i.e. 10%.

Instead, if they made a resolution to do just a little bit more exercise (at least initially), to twice their current average or mean say, I’d bet their chances of succeeding are now one in two i.e. 50%. The issue is that people fail to appreciate the inertia that the mean or average effect brings. In short, it is very difficult to change overnight, because what you are ultimately looking to achieve is an improvement of your mean performance, whatever that is and one sudden massive change doesn’t stand much chance.

If you plan to make a life changing resolution then to be successful you need to look at it like walking down a road as well. In such a situation you either walk down the left or the right hand sides. Walking down the centre is simply madness because sooner or later you will lose an argument with a vehicle. So before you start out you need to come to a decision of either walking on the left hand side (no I won’t do this) or the right hand side (yes, I will do this) but never down the middle of the road (maybe I’ll do this).

As simple and obvious as all this sounds most people typically over look these things when making their resolutions. They figure the more radical the change the better without understanding that the chances of success decrease with the distance from the current mean or average. True success lies in improving the mean value of your resolution and the easiest method achieving this is via small but regular increments. This regularity requires a discipline to make the desired change - that is, walking down the right hand side of the road rather than the middle.

How many road kills are we likely to see in the next few days as people walk down the centre of the road vacillating with all the best intentions of making a change but dooming themselves to failure because they failed to understand the overriding trend of the regression to the mean? It’s all simple math really.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Email newsletter coming soon

After some thought I have come to the conclusion that blogs are great but they are typically very unstructured. As an author what you see here is normally what grabs my fancy at any time. Many people reading this blog may wish to refer to items at a later stage but all that can get messed up in the whole RSS reader thing. Also, if you wanted to refer to an item that was mentioned some time ago it may be difficult to find given the fact that the topics aren’t particularly structured. It doesn’t make the most appropriate communication medium does it?

I’ve also decided that if I want to lift my profile I need to access people who don’t traditionally regularly read blogs (which is probably the majority of people in the real world isn’t it?). For these people the most effective method of communication is via email since they are more familiar with receiving and retaining it for future reference. From a marketing point of view it is also probably easier for them to forward email correspondence than to refer a contact to a blog.

With all this in mind I have decided from this month I’m going to start doing a regular email newsletter (probably every month at this stage). It will contain topics that I discuss here on my blog (but in a more structured manner), information about technology (especially cloud computing) and what’s happening with the CIAOPS (like my upcoming SharePoint webinar).

So what I’m initially asking for is that if you read this blog kinda regularly, if you could go and sign up for my newsletter at:

http://ciaops.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=c851ddf6cf

I would really appreciate it.

I’m looking to produce the first newsletter around the 15th of January so if you have any suggestions about what you’d like to see, what you think would interest people or how I should do this then I’d love to hear from you (director@ciaops.com). I can’t promise that I’ll get it right initially but I can promise that I’ll be looking at working constantly to improve what I offer based on feedback, so don’t be shy, let me know your thoughts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Two more points

An interesting read over on Dave Overaton’s blog ”Server line-up for small businesses (and home) is increasing in options (or complexity for some) - SBS 2008, Home, Foundation, Windows Standard Server or BPOS - how do you choose?” where he attempts to discern the best option in IT for a small business.

Interestingly he rates a Windows PC network at the top and SBS and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite last. I also especially liked these charts he has come up with:



and



Now I am generally in agreement with the conclusions that he reaches but I think that he has overlooked two important facts.

1. It is unlikely that a single IT solution is going to be adopted by most businesses these days.

As I noted in my recent blog post “Up in the sky”, in relation to cloud services at least

“data also shows that only 16% of those who have adopted cloud computing, or will within 12 months, will go solely with an off-premises model. But 50% of those respondents will go with a mixture on both on-premises and off premises.”

So what about the combination of a Windows PC network and BPOS? What about Windows Foundation server combined with BPOS? These are certainly going to provide far more options and flexibility than just the single product on its own.

2. Do not overlook the impact of Google Apps

If there ever an elephant in the room that most Microsoft types constantly neglect, ignore, dismiss over overlook it’s Google. Using their cloud based solution of Google Apps works extremely well for businesses in this target market (much like BPOS does). Again, it will provide its strongest appeal when used in conjunction with a Windows network or Windows Foundation server say.

I understand where Dave is coming from in his analysis but I’d like to contend that he is thinking about SMB customers in terms of the ‘old world’. Today’s SMB customers want the flexibility to work anywhere, with unlimited access to their data and the ability to share it will all the members of their team easily and quickly. They don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars for a server based solution (read SBS) when they can achieve something almost identical with online services on a per month per user basis. As I have said many time before, cloud computing not only changes the technology side of the argument but it also changes the economic argument for a customer. This economic model is far more important to a customer generally.

Dave has done a remarkable job with his analysis however he has perhaps unwittingly confirmed again, in my mind at least, the way technology people look at technology is not the way that customers do. Secondly, it highlights the fact that resellers face a herculean task trying to support the huge variety of possible solutions for a customer. That is sure fire way to burn people out in the end. Finally, I still see that online services, from Goggle, Microsoft or whomever, are going to have a major impact in the SMB space.