So you don’t think you compete with Best Buy?

If you’re a small biz VAP/VAR, think again . . .


While at the Microsoft Across America event in Lincoln this afternoon, my partner (Amy) had the chance to visit with the Best Buy rep from Chicago, and he mentioned how Best Buy is rolling out on-site IT service for both home & smallbiz users.  (For more on this, you can read up here, here or here)  All of those links focus heavily on the home-user segment, but according to Amy’s converation with the Best Buy rep this afternoon, small business is a big target. 


Am I worried?  Not at the moment.  First, it’s a new initiative.  Second, the small biz owner who would buy a ‘server’ from Best Buy isn’t exactly our target market.  Third, I’m still a firm believer that it’s the relationship that matters to small businesses – they don’t want to have to deal with someone new every time they have an issue – they want consistency, and to know they can depend on ME, not just our company.  Most of our regular customers would rather wait an extra day or two to have their issue resolved by their regular tech than have someone else come out on the same day.  I don’t see Best Buy nurturing that type of relationship.  Fourth, I can’t help but laugh whenever I think of a Best Buy tech installing / configuring / supporting SBS :^)  But on the other hand, I’m not so naive as to completely dismiss them.  Best Buy does have the resources available that if they decide to really go after small business, they could make one hell of a dent.

Microsoft Across America

This afternoon I was able to experience Microsoft Across America and spent several hours visiting with small business owners.  Now, Best Buy didn’t want any MS partners there who could potentially take their sales for Windows, Office, SBS, etc.  However, the bus also included demos of Small Business Manager, Retail Management System and Customer Relationship Management, none of which Best Buy can sell.  As a result, we were able to be on the bus since we’re a certified RMS partner – so I took the liberty of packing plenty of business cards and wearing my Windows Small Business Server MVP polo (you ROCK Susan!), which came in handy :^).


The bus set up was pretty cool – but the generators were just loud enough to be annoying.  It rained in Lincoln most of the day, so the turn-out wasn’t great – but it was steady enough where we almost always had someone to talk to, but the bus was never really crowded – which let us really spend some time talking to the people we saw to find out what features would benefit them the most.  Only real down side with the rain was that it prevented putting out the plasma screen on the outside of the bus . . .   


I had a great time demo-ing SBS, especially since all the PCs on the bus were fully configured as clients, so I could demo everything from RWW to Sharepoint to Shared Calendars in Outlook . . . we definitely got Oooh’s & Ahhhh’s from everyone, and a few good leads for both SBS & RMS.  We already knew two of the MS reps who were there, including our rep out of Des Moines (Hi Darren!) – but got to meet Julie from the Minneapolis office.  (And trust me – Julie knows One Note – I was able to pick up a lot of tips and pointers just watching her demo it!)


All in all, it was a good day.  Now if we can just get MS to let partners reserve the bus for certain events – e.g., our chamber has a B2B trade-show every fall . . . wow, would it rock if we could use the bus for that show! 

So Exchange SP1 seems to have hosed your Companyweb?

Have no fear, young grasshopper . . .


So I’m applying Exch SP1 on the server here at the office (been running it at home for a little while).  So I finish the install and notice that I can’t access my Companyweb site . . . (which is a bit of a big deal for us – we’re becoming very dependent on Sharepoint . . . we might be able to survive a day without it – but that would be a maximum.


So I’m checking out the Event Viewer, and see the familiar 50070 error relating to Sharepoint.  Luckilly, I know that Susie has blogged this . . .   So I’m checking the fix, and realize that my MSSQL$SHAREPOINT service isn’t running, so I start it and it immediately stops.  So I tried it again (I mean really, did I think the service was playing with me and that by trying it again I’d effectively be showing it that I’m serious – I really want it to start?   But admit it – you’ve all done it too!  :^)   Needless to say – the second time wasn’t a charm.  I open Enterprise Manager to verify – and it cannot connect or start the Sharepoint instance either.  Well, maybe a reboot will help.  (Come on – it may be Windows 2003, but it’s still Windows!  ;^)   And it was a Service Pack installation, even though it didn’t tell me that a reboot was necessary.  So I reboot – and still no dice.


So, since I had ran with the first error I saw, I figured I might want to go check out a few of those other errors in the Event Viewer.  A few entries down, I found these two errors:


Event Type: Error
Event Source: MSSQL$SHAREPOINT
Event Category: (2)
Event ID: 17055
Date:  7/1/2004
Time:  5:28:24 PM
User:  N/A
Computer: DC
Description:
17120 :
SQL Server could not spawn FRunCM thread.


Event Type: Error
Event Source: MSSQL$SHAREPOINT
Event Category: (2)
Event ID: 17052
Date:  7/1/2004
Time:  5:28:24 PM
User:  N/A
Computer: DC
Description:
Error: 17826, Severity: 18, State: 1
Could not set up Net-Library ‘SSNETLIB’.


I googled the first, which didn’t help a whole lot.  However, when I googled the second, I at least got a decent number of threads, and the first few pointed to authentication.  Ok, that’s fine & dandy – but the MSSQL$SHAREPOINT service uses the Local System account by default.  I went into the MSSQL$SHAREPOINT service properties and verified that it was set to use the Local System account, which it was.  I decided that just for shits & giggles, I’d change the Log On parameters.  I switched from the Local System account to the Administrator account, and voila! the service finally started and I was able to access Companyweb.  I edited the service properties and switched it back to use the Local System account, stopped the service & restarted it successfully. 


I still have no idea what caused this – and I’m pretty sure that it was related to Exchange SP1 – I rebooted the server before applying the SP, I happened to open Companyweb right before I applied the SP (was thinking about looking something else up and opened IE instead of My Computer :^)  . . .   So Companyweb was working right before Exchange SP1 was installed, but broke after . . .