actually it’s been waaaay too long, but I guess it’s OK when I consider how busy the last weeks have been.
I was just reading one of Chad’s older posts (http://msmvps.com/cgross/archive/2004/12/02/22108.aspx) and it made me think of one of the swing migrations we did a couple of weeks ago – this was a new client who’d had SBS2003 Premium installed for them by another provider but had not followed the wizards to any extent.
To begin with, the users on the network were still using PSTs for their email so they didn’t have any of the cool Exchange features available to them. Next, some of the machines on the network (XP based notebooks) were still in workgroup mode, so there was no possibility for them to take advantage of the power of group policy.
The “server” (which is just a PC acting as a server – a BIG no-no in my books) had a hardware IDE RAID card in it, but the 2 120Gb drives in the server were using software based mirroring which was placing a huge load on the server performance, so much so that at times their software became quite unusable.
The list went on and on. I had my first visit on new years eve to investigate a problem where the server would not boot properly – it would present a boot menu which the other providers had setup to allow booting from the mirrored drive, but the default boot option for SBS just didn’t work. Quick fix of the boot.ini file and restarts were fine again.
I investigated further – another problem was email had stopped coming in and was in fact bouncing back to the senders. I found an incorrect primary MX record for their domain and managed to get the owner of their ISP on the phone and arranged for their DNS records to be updated accordingly.
As I went through tidying things up I came to the conclusion that I was applying bandaids to the system and it really needed to be rebuilt. I simply told my client “You know what I’d really like to do with this server? I’d love to just wipe it clean and build it properly for you, so that I know it will work”. She was keen and after a brief discussion of when & how we agreed on my rebuilding the following weekend.
I knew I was going to use Jeff’s swing methodology to allow me to keep the Active Directory information which would mean the notebooks that were actually part of the domain could remain relatively untouched.
To make a long story short, we rebuilt the server whilst maintaining the AD settings, all notebooks are part of the domain complete with Exchange based mailboxes (with IMF happily running), anti-virus (went with Trend CSM on this one) and backups that work.
My client is very happy with the end result and I know that yet another SBS is running as it should.
So what’s the moral to this story? I guess if you’re an IT provider and you’re asked to install SBS for a client, if you don’t understand how SBS really works and why you need to use the wizards, please take your hands off that server and step away. If you just jump in like it’s “normal” Windows you’ll most likely break it, break the client, break yourself and damage SBS’s great reputation. There is a whole community out there to help you understand WHY you need to do things the SBS way, as well as HOW. (Also see here)
At the very least find and join your local SBS users/partners group where you can safely ask the hows and whys. Oh, that reminds me, need to promote the next Adelaide SBS UG meeting…