Calling all network manager type people

Put this onto your radar:


http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/essentials/default.mspx


Had a meeting with some bodies here at the MS Australian partner conference just a while ago, in particular the lovely Frederique Dennison (Product Marketing Manager, Secfurity and Management) where we were discussing network management tools and processes.


Microsoft is certainly ramping things up for the SME end of town and if you work in this space then you need to start getting familiar with System Center Essentials (SCE) before the guy up the road does. It’s going to change the way networks are maintained moving forward – making things easier, more visible, more pro-active rather than reactive (aka waiting for the phone to ring).


You can download a VHD of SCE to play with so you’re not installing it into your production environment to begin with, and being a virtual machine you could even play with it whilst flying home from the conference [8-|]


Hint: SCE is part of the wave hitting a network near you next year (http://msmvps.com/blogs/calvert/archive/2007/08/31/aussies-add-this-to-your-rss-feed.aspx), so get your board waxed and ready ahead of time.


 

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 – http://blogs.msdn.com/nickmayhew/archive/2007/08/21/award-finalists-announced.aspx (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 http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2007/07/31/4144618.aspx 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: http://www.iqubed.biz/blog
Mark Crall: http://sbsc.techcareteam.com/


Elisabeth Vanderverlt: http://elisabethcanadaiamcp.spaces.live.com/


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: http://www.vladville.com/2007/07/vladcast-episode-9-pal-program-with-vijay-riyat-and-dean-calvert.html.


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.

Products coming to end of support life

Got an email from John, my MS partner account manager. He was forwarding on a newsletter called the “Microsoft Support Lifecycle Customer Informational Update”.


Some relevant (SBS-ised) inclusions are:


SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a — Support Ended July 10, 2007, Custom Support available
On July 10, 2007, SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a (SP3a) transitioned out of its supported lifecycle. Custom Support will be available and additional details are available from your Technical Account Manager or Account Representative.


SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 0 — Support Ended July 10, 2007
SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 0 (SP0) transitioned out of support on July 10, 2007. Microsoft recommends customers upgrade to Service Pack 1. Please note that Custom Support is not available for this Service Pack.

Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 — Support Ends January 8, 2008
Support for Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will end on January 8, 2008.  Customers currently on Service Pack 1 should consider migrating to Service Pack 2.

There are tables included in the newsletter with plenty of products listed showing when mainstream and extended support finish. At the very least you should take note of when key applications being used are being “expired” – don’t want to be caught short.


Note the following URLs:

Microsoft Support Lifecycle Site:      http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle   Frequently Asked Questions:   http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifepolicy Service Pack Information:   http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifesupsps

If you want to subscribe to this newsletter directly go to https://profile.microsoft.com/RegSysProfileCenter/subscriptionwizard.aspx?wizid=98973176-f0b1-4f60-957d-5936c3b933c0&lcid=1033


 (sorry about the mixed fonts – it was the cut & paste!!)

LegacyDN to the rescue

Continuing with the swing migration from the last post, all continued to go exceptionally well with the process. We kicked off an Exchange backup remotly prior to heading to site so there was less waiting around. (I use RDP to manage servers just about everyday and I am still extremely impressed with how it has made my job so much easier).


The data transfer went a treat, in fact it was all going very well until it came time to mount the Exchange databases. The databases and log files were all in the right location but when mounting the databases we got error “ID No: c1041724” which I’d seen before.


Due to not seeing this error everyday I had to rummage through my notes and do some searching online, plus referred to Jeff’s swing migration notes. The usual checks against file system permissions, database integrity etc didn’t yield any change.


It was getting late and the client wanted to go home so I said I would keep working on this remotely for them to get it going (there’s that wonderful RDP again).


One of the things about this site is the DNS domain name is VERY long such that the NETBIOS name has been truncated. Add to this the fact the original IT support person/people hadn’t done things the SBS way and we have a rather interesting environment to move from. I figured there were some naming issues at play here and looked into using LegacyDN to resolve things.


Fortunately I’d brought their old server home with me just in case (Dell 400SC with 512Mb RAM and 2 IDE hard drives!) and so fired it up to use LegacyDN to check the Exchange organisation name details. Cross checking this against the new server showed there was a mismatch.


You should refer to http://support.microsoft.com/?id=324606 for details on how to use LegacyDN and the tool itself can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=5ef7786b-a699-4aad-b104-bf9de3f473e5&displaylang=en.


Once it’s downloaded you need to run it from a command prompt as “legacydn /forcewrite” which runs it in edit mode. Be aware that this is a powerful tool and using it incorrectly can render your Exchange environment completely unusable – you’ve been warned.


I updated the organisation name and saved the settings….now for the big test.


I went to mount the private information store database and got another error message. Dang, what was it now? Ahhh yes – I’d not checked the box to say “this database can be overwritten by a restore”. Checked the box and tried mounting again – this time it was successful. Same for the public information store.


We’ve had migrations where the database just mounted seamlessly but there are the odd times where we have to resort to additional steps. Next week we swing from SBS2000 to SBS2003 so I’m sure there will be some other issues to work with but in the case it was simply the organisation name that required massaging.


So there are several lessons here.


Firstly – the server should have been setup using the wizards in the first place. Get with the program folks – don’t go playing with building servers if you don’t know what you’re doing!


Secondly – in future I’m going to run LegacyDN as a matter of course to at least document the organisation name settings. If nothing else this saves me from having to take away the old server for reference.


Thirdly – make sure you set the right perception for the client when performing work. I always make sure I let the client know there can be issues and problems that have to be worked out with anything involving server changes. Don’t over promise or set false expectations.


Fourth – make sure you adjust the mailbox quotas to what they were before (or as agreed with the client) before you start the SMTP service. I missed doing this and they had some mail bounce before I worked out what was happening [:O]


Fifth – always, always, always make sure when making a server changeover that you have a way of connecting to the Internet for searching, IMing for help, downloading additional tools etc. SBS can be the gateway for the whole network and if it’s not fully operational such that Internet access if not available then you can get very stuck. I fortunately had my 3G card with me so my notebook had a connection, plus I tend to carry a heap of resources with me but it’s worth noting this anyway.



Perhaps it’s time I starting writing a Tips & Tricks book?

Is your SWING not being TRUSTED?

We all know that SBS cannot have a trust relationship with another domain – that’s a given. But SBS sometimes doesn’t seem to know this.


We encountered this just now in performing a swing migration for a client.


The FSMO roles had been seized over and all was looking fine, afterall we’ve done plenty of swing migrations.


Anyway upon kicking off the SBS setup process we got an error message telling us we had a trust relationship that this was a show stopper.


We double checked the FSMO role assignments, ensured there were no phantom domain controllers or other funny things lurking around. A restart didn’t yield any improvement either so it was off to search the ‘net for an answer (since Jeff seemed to be sleeping too).


I found a newsgroup thread where someone else had received a similar message and had resorted to calling Microsoft PSS. I figured it was worth a try giving his posted solution a go.


So if you encounter this error here’s what you do:


Click Start/Run and enter %temp% then hit OK. This opens up the temporary files folder for the account. In there you’ll most likely find a folder called something like “SIT17477.tmp”. In there is a file called SETUP.SDB.


Edit this file in notepad and look for the line that under the [GUID to Friendly Name Mapping] section that ends with “TrustCheck”.


Delete this line and save the file.


If you have any other SITXXXXX temp folders remove them to be safe then re-run the SBS setup process.


When we did this the process ran fine.


I’m not sure what caused this to be borked up – I guess if someone knows they’ll post a comment back but for now we’ll keep swinging with this server and get another happy customer.


BTW – please don’t try this “hack” to get around the ‘no domain trust’ block in SBS. This is only for the setup process and there’s no telling what mess you’ll be in if you try to do things outside the way SBS is supposed to operate.