Google claims the cloud is more reliable

Now this recent post by Google claims that their cloud computing email solution, Gmail, is more reliable that companies that have on premises email solutions like Exchange server. They then use that to tout the superiority of cloud computing (especially their own).

You have to take a report from Google touting the superiority of their products with a grain of salt, as you would with something from Microsoft, however I believe it does indicate the way things are moving.

I would seriously ask any customer these days why they want to have an onsite mail server. There are so many hosted solutions that do it better, cheaper and more reliably. E-mails are a constant source of issues within a business for the simple reason they let something in from outside the network. You can neither really control the flow in or out of e-mails. Many more SBS customers I speak with no longer run Exchange on SBS, they out source it for the simple reason it is too complex to maintain internally without dedicated staff. Also when it comes to things like Blackberrys and Windows Mobile Devices most businesses don’t have the expertise to make it happen.

So if the trend is for email to move to the cloud I’m sure it won’t be long before all the other components follow.

As an aside you know what I’d really be interested to see? How Microsoft’s hosted Exchange stacks up to Gmail. Personally, I reckon it would be just as reliable and probably have a much richer environment than Gmail because Exchange already incorporates, tasks, calendars and so on. However, the  bottom line is that its all moving to the cloud. Are you? 

Don’t check emails, process emails

Has your email taken on a life of its own? Is it the nexus of everything you do? Is it your to-do list, calendar, task scheduler and more? If it is then you are not doubt in a world of pain. My advice? You need to make a mental shift and realize that email is simply a medium for things to do, nothing else.


Everyone I know says that they “check” their email. No wonder their inboxes are overflowing and they feel constantly overwhelmed. Why? Because emails are required to be processed. That means after you have checked an email DO SOMETHING WITH IT! Don’t just leave it sitting there in your inbox. Process the damm thing and move onto the next thing you need to get done. Convert emails to actions. When you read an email ask what actions you need to take as a result of this email? Whether you delete the email, archive, respond or even defer it make sure that you have a system that allows you to process emails.


In reality you should aim to process your inbox to empty by the end of the day. Sure not always possible but none the less a good target to aim for. Your inbox is simply a container for emails as they arrive, it is not a container for saving them for all eternity while your procrastinate with how to best handle each one. Deal with it and move on. It is far more satisfying to finish the day with an empty inbox. You know you have achieved something!


You may have a laugh but have a look at your inbox right now, now look at anyone else’s inbox and I’ll bet there are many, many emails that have sat there for month even years. If you want to recover your productivity you need a system to process emails effectively and efficiently. I’ll write something about a system that works for me soon but for the time being, if you REALLY want to master your emails, start thinking PROCESS not CHECKING.

Utilizing SharePoint to improve your business

Well, as promised, I have uploaded the final draft of the presentation I gave recently at SMBNation on SharePoint. You will find the document at:


if that link doesn’t work try


The document is in PDF format, 22 pages in all and approximately 1.5MB. I hope that it has been able to cover my presentation faithfully and I welcome any feedback (or corrections) anyone has on what I have written.

Novembers update is almost ready

I am just completing the final touches to the November update of the Windows SharePoint Guide ( As always, subscribers will be able to download the updates from the web. This month will include how to install a web part that allows you to to check the security of your SharePoint users as well as site inheritance. For most SharePoint administrators this should prove pretty handy since it does so in a nice graphical manner, something which SharePoint currently doesn’t do natively.


I believe that this is the major benefit of subscribing to my SharePoint Guide. Although you may not have expertise in SharePoint you can come up to speed very quickly using the Guide. Also, because I utilize SharePoint heavily, you are gaining the benefits of my research efforts. When you look at the cost (less than an hour or so’s work) combined with the fact that it is continually updated to incorporate best practices and available tools, it is a good investment. If you don’t believe me then read the testimonials at


I’ll also let you know that I have also almost finished a document covering everything from my presentation at SMBNation in Seattle recently. I certainly hope that it does justice to what I presented. So if you attended my session on “Utilizing SharePoint to improve your business” I’d commend you to download the document and let me know if does in fact cover everything I spoke about. If you weren’t at SMBNation then I’d still commend you to read it and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear you take. I’ll post back here when the document is ready but it isn’t far away now.

Learn by looking

Want an easy way to highlight why someone needs a tool like SharePoint? Do a quick survey of your target’s office or cubicle and note how many bits of paper are stuck up on the walls, partitions, monitor, etc. Now go and do the same to anyone else in the business. If there are lots and lots of bits of paper (and there will be) like phone lists, accounting charge codes, things to do, etc ask the question – If you have an IT system why do you have all these bits of paper stuck all over the place?


See my point? Why the hell should someone have all that information stuck up around them (and their employees) if they are supposed to have an IT system that is designed to save just such information? Hello? Do you see the problem? Maybe Mr/Ms Customer you SHOULD learn how to use your IT systems to get rid of all this information wall paper. Maybe Mr/Ms Customer we need to take a LOOK at WHY you are doing things rather than HOW you are doing things.


If you want to be a ‘trusted advisor’ for you customers and prospects you better be focused on solving business issues and removing pain points rather than moving product. In tough times customers want to know better ways that they can utilize what they’ve already got. Guess what? If you throw Windows Sharepoint into the mix you have just given them an even more powerful tool for no additional cost (amazing but true). Now is that a ‘trusted advisor’ or what?


You learn so much by looking. You learn even more by listening. Combine these two with thinking and you just can’t lose! Why? Not many IT providers I know actually do any of the three.

Crowd mentality

We wake up every day to bleaker and bleaker headlines. We watch as governments flail in vain attempts to provide a ‘quick-fix’ solution. Everyone we talk to is worried about what the ‘credit-crunch’ will mean to them. My advice? Take a step back, stop and think whether ‘following the herd’ is such a great strategy.


My favourite book is ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu and the quote that really rings true at the moment for me is


In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace.

In essence, this means that ‘blind freddy’ could have seen the economic turmoil in which we are embroiled coming sooner or later. A smart operator would have taken the necessary steps to prepare for this, even though that would probably have gone against what the ‘crowd’ was saying.


So now we are facing some tough times no doubt. Every individual and every business is going to be affected. Is there much that you can do to prevent it? Probably not. The best tactic will be to develop a strategy to ride it out. However, once again the smart operators are looking beyond the current issues and preparing themselves to benefit from the next phase.


The best evidence of this is what Warren Buffet said recently (another commentary). Most people would agree that Warren is a pretty smart dude and knows what his talking about, his record as one of the richest men in the world (US$52 billion) certainly stands as testimony to that. Here’s what he said –


A simple rule dictates my buying: be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.

In simple terms he believes prices are low and now is a good time to start accumulating quality assets that will rise in value over the long term. Sounds pretty simple but how many people will do it? It is much easier to run with the crowd isn’t it?


I believe that now more than ever you need to be evaluating your business and determining whether it is prepared for the upcoming financial storm AND what lies beyond. To be successful in my books you are going to have to look above and beyond what everyone else is doing or saying. It takes courage to stand up and be different but remember it is your life and your business. You need to determine what works for you! You need to cast an unemotional eye across all aspects of your business and whether the investment you are making (in time, effort and money) is actually giving you a good rate of return. If it isn’t, will it? Should you jettison it? Should you look at taking something else on to add to your ‘portfolio’ that will pay dividends in the future? Doing something that has a poor rate of return day after day after day is plain dumb.


Preparing for anything is not easy, it involves time and effort but if you view it as an investment you will receive far more than you ever invested. You can never hope to achieve this unless you invest in the first place. I wish you could but as they say – you can’t get something for nothing.


So become a ‘smart operator’ and look beyond the emotional crowd mentality that currently rules almost everything we hear these days. Learn from the masters of their game (Sun Tzu and Warren Buffet to name but two) and prepare for what lies ahead rather than simply reacting to what is happening now. Yet above all remember this last piece of advice from Sun Tzu –


You have to believe in yourself

Something I forgot to say

At my recent Sharepoint presentation at SMBNation I failed to mention a really great quote I found from management guru Peter Drucker –


“We have to extend the range of human beings through tools they have to work with rather than through a sudden quantum jump in human ability.”


I think that this really encapsulates what we need to be doing with technology. Most businesses I have come across simply EXPECT their employees to be able to use the tools they are given. The reality is in fact that most people only use a tiny percentage of the full potential of an application simply because they do not know that all the features of the product. It seems to me that most businesses simply expect their employees to be ‘experts’ in things like Windows, Word and Excel. The reality is quite the opposite from what I have seen.


The issue is that most businesses have the tools but they fail to utilize them in an effective and efficient manner. Note how I said effective and efficient. Why? Simply because it is not much use being efficient if you aren’t firstly effective. You need to ensure that the task you are attempting is worthwhile and provides value. What’s the point of being efficient in something that has no value?


For all the benefits that technology has provided us it has also lulled us into some very poor habits. We continue to store vast amounts of unnecessary information simply because we can. When we run out of space we get more space rather than examining the necessity of what we have already saved and how to store that more efficiently. However, I think the single greatest fallacy of technology that people reinforce everyday is poor time management (or low productivity).


In simple terms they allow technology to dictate their routine and their responses. ‘Bing’ – Oh great a new email, I’ll interrupt what I’m doing to see what it says. How is that being productive? It is simply being Pavolv’s dog! Another great time waster people fall into is that when they want to procrastinate they’ll go to their email and scroll up and down for a while till they find an email they’ll reply to or delete. I know of many, many more examples like this and it is not the fault of technology per se, it is just that technology makes being unproductive so much easier and the vast majority of people continue to fall into this trap everyday, simply because they haven’t be shown how to be anything else.


I totally agree with Drucker’s statement but I would add that any use of the tools needs to be done effectively and then efficiently, but in essence people are not suddenly going to become smarter or more efficient by themselves are they now?

SBS2008 Best Practices analyzer

New from Microsoft:


Windows Small Business Server 2008 Best Practices Analyzer

The Windows Small Business Server 2008 Best Practices Analyzer examines a server that is running Windows Small Business Server 2008 (Windows SBS) and presents a list of information and errors that administrators should review.
The Windows SBS Best Practices Analyzer examines the server and collects configuration information from many sources including:
• Active Directory Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
• Registry
• Metabase
After collecting information about server configuration, the Windows SBS Best Practices Analyzer verifies that the information is correct and then presents administrators with a list of information and issues sorted by severity. The list describes each issue and provides a recommendation or possible solution.


Haven’t run it myself yet but will be doing it soon.