Category Archives: 4875

The PAL is dead…long live the PAL

Today, June 30, marks the official end of my tenure as the SBSC PAL for Australia, and it’s been quite a year.

I’m not going to go into huge detail because, well, quite frankly I’m sure you’ve got more important things to read but for those in the know this has been the first year the SBSC PAL position has existed. It’s been a bit like a very young child learning to walk – we’ve been a bit wobbly, there have been a few times we’ve fallen over (but no tears!) but we’ve certainly learned plenty and won’t be looking back & returning to crawling!

In a nutshell, the SBSC PAL is a community liaison position – it’s an opportunity for someone passionate about helping to grow the SBSC community to be the conduit between the SBSCs and Microsoft at both a regional and corporate level. I accepted the position last year not really knowing what was expected of me, nor what I could expect of Microsoft. I think most of the other PALs from around the world felt the same way too. For the record, it’s a non-paying position. We got a ticket to the MS Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver last year but that’s really it.

We have invested our own time, time away from our busy businesses and lives, to get together on conference calls with Microsoft to not only get information from them on what the SBSC program is doing moving forward but also to give them feedback – what can Microsoft do better for the SBSCs, what are the SBSCs looking for, how can we work better together etc etc. My last call was from the very noisy Qantas Club at Sydney airport where I must have looked quite odd with my hands covering my ears so I could hear the call and occasionally unmuting my mobile phone to nearly yell my comments into the phone!

Microsoft Australia has seen a few different bodies in the local SBSC liaison position – Lorna Farrar (went to Seattle), Wendy Smith (maternity leave) and now Robbie Upcroft – who realises he’s entered “Hotel California” as far as the community goes. He might try to check out every once in a while (actually he doesn’t really try) but he can never really leave. Robbie has returned to Australia following a 2 year stint in the UK working with Microsoft and has certainly hit the road running as far as SBS and the SBSC program goes. He is a tremendous champion of the SME reseller community and welcomes honest, no bull feedback and gives us honest, no bull answers to our questions. Great to have you back Robbie.

And so it is now that I hand the SBSC PAL reigns over to our new PAL – Hilton Travis. Hilton is just as passionate about the community as Robbie or I (perhaps more?) but has his own unique delivery style – kind of like a Mack truck hitting a chicken 🙂 Hilton is going to be a great SBSC PAL and I wish him all the very best for the year ahead. I’m sure he’ll make many waves and will certainly get into Microsoft’s ear about what can be done to improve the SBSC program overall -he’ll also deliver back to the community, and I dare say much better than I can too.

With 2 “no bull” characters driving the pointy end of the SBSC program here in Australia, we can all expect to see some amazing things moving forward, provided Microsoft Corp listen to what’s being said, pay attention and take action.

But it takes more than just me, or Robbie, or even Hilton to make things happen. As a community we need to raise our collective voices so that we’ll be properly heard. Get in touch with Robbie or Hilton either directly or via your local SBS group to make sure you can get your message out. But don’t let this be a one way communication – listen to what Microsoft come back with, try to understand its position and appreciate the fact that it takes a lot to move such a large business. In my personal experience with many Microsofties, they do care, they do listen, they do deliver our feedback into the machine, it can just take a long time for things to come out and during this time it might look like nothing’s happening. Don’t give up on them though. (BTW I do NOT own Microsoft shares!!).

So all the best Hilton – I’ll see you in a few days at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston and I’m sure you’ll make a very memorable contribution to the SBSC program.

Microsoft SBS technical training for Australia

I’ve received an email from Microsoft with the following information in it regarding the next round of technical training sessions coming up. If you’re working with Small Business Server then make sure you register for these events being held through September.

This technical training focuses on the Small Business Server 2003 Release 2 and will be delivered in two sessions, with each session focusing on a different aspect of SBS Server 2003 R2. The sessions will run for approximately three (3) hours with a lunch break in between the sessions. The session’s outlines are:

 Session 1 – Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 – Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 SP2 Features

 This session introduces the new features on SBS 2003 R2 in regards to Exchange 2003 SP2 and Outlook 2003 SP2. After completing this course, you will be able to:

·         Describe the new flexible client licensing in SBS 2003 R2. ·         Identify ways to increase mobile security and efficiency through new Windows Mobile 5.0 policies and Direct Push technology. ·         Provide increased message hygiene by using the Open SPF standard as well as an improved Intelligent Message Filter. ·         Show how to allow for more storage with an increased mailbox size limit of 75GB.Session 2 – Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 – Windows SharePoint Services V2.0\V3.0 Features 

This session will introduce WSS v2.0, however it will be mainly focused on WSS V3.0. Students will learn the advantages of using Windows SharePoint services in their SBS 2003 R2 environment. After completing this course, you will be able to:

 ·           Describe the benefits of using SharePoint as an information sharing tool.·           Show the advantages of using WSS V3.0 in their environment.·           Preparing for and upgrading to WSS V3.0.·           Integrate WSS V3.0 into Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 environment. ·           Utilizing advanced WSS V3.0 features to enhance the current environment.

Register now at

Spread the word with your workmates, associates and anyone else you come across. I expect all Small Business Specialists to be there too [:D]

I thought I should crow about this one…

I’m at the Microsoft Australian partner conference, being held on Hamilton Island. There are 633 Microsoft partners here and around 140-150 Microsoft staff, together with 23 exhibitors including Trend, Kaseya, Wacom, ProCurve etc.

Anyway, Friday night is the big gala dinner where the partner awards are given out. I’m proud to say we’re a finalist for the Partner of the Year award for the Network Infrastructure category.

We’re up against 2 giants – Commander & Southern Cross. Just being a finalist is something special but winning will be even sweeter.

Anyway, just in case you don’t believe me, check out Nick Mayhew’s blog post – (scroll down to the bottom 25% in the list).

Note one key name missing from this list – Axxis! Mathew Dickerson is most certainly here dressed up with Axxis branded clothes and golf buggy, as you’d expect. I forgot to bring my camera to show you but then he really doesn’t need any more publicity 🙂

If we win, expect another post and a rather sore head. If we don’t win I’ll still be very happy with being a finalist. Chalk one up for the SMB focussed partner.

SBSC Get Together Today

I’m at the Microsoft Australian Partner Conference, being held on Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands, just off the mid-north Queensland coast. Weather is not too bad – lots of cloud but we’re getting bursts of sunlight which keep us awake (together with copious loads of coffee).

There’s a meeting of the SBSCs at the conference this afternoon in room 312 of the Reef View Hotel at 3:45 today. Pip Marlow (SMSP Director) and Tracey Fellows (MS Australia Managing Director) will both be there.

If you’re here at the conference, and are a Small Business Specialist, make sure you come along to find out what’s happening with the SBSC program in Australia and to ask any questions you’ve got.

Eric Ligman just posted on the SBSC PALs too…

see for Eric’s post which also gives contact details for the PALs around the world.

My mailbox is protected by Exchange Defender too so take care if sending me any mail.

BTW – Ben Walton is the New Zealand PAL but his contact details aren’t on the page. If you’re from NZ and trying to contact Ben ping me and I’ll pass your message onto him in the meantime.

Small Business Specialist Community Partner Area Lead

So there’s been a lot of noise around the place lately about the SBSC PALs that have been “appointed” by Microsoft. There’s not yet been an official announcement yet – I believe this will be coming around September. I figured it was time I came clean and ‘fessed up that I’m the Australian SBSC PAL for 2007/2008.

What does this mean? What is an SBSC PAL? What does this mean to you? – All good questions.

There has already been a fair bit of explaination of the SBSC PALs by other PALs around the world so rather than regurgitate all the great work they’ve done you can read their view of things on their blogs. See:

Vijay Riyait blog:
Mark Crall:

Elisabeth Vanderverlt:

There are more blog sites for the other PALs – I’ll need to update my list as I get them together.

You can also listen to this Vladcast I did on July 30:

Essentially I don’t see my role in the IT community changing radically. I will continue to work hard to improve the overall IT community as best as I can (with what available time I have) but I guess now I can have a bit louder voice into Microsoft about what we all want to see done to improve things for SBSCs and ultimately for our clients.

For the Australian SBSCs out there, I want to hear from you about what you would like to see changed to make it easier for you to serve your clients. Be realistic here – if I go back to Microsoft telling them that the SBSCs collectively had said that giving them a million dollars each is going to make things truly amazing I think we’ll lose some credibility!

I communicate regularly with the other SBSC PALs around the world (we’re using Groove at the moment – very cool stuff) so we can certainly get some momentum going around the world that could see great change.

SBSCs – it’s time for us to raise our collective voices and be heard. Let me know what you want and we’ll see what can be done.