I had a bit of an enlightenment yesterday . . . granted, it wasn’t something new – just something that hits me every now and then.

Those of us serving the SMB market are a unique breed.  We’ve all heard the analogies of someone’s knowledge either being an inch wide & a mile deep, or a mile wide and an inch deep.  Well, I personally think that many of us in the SMB space are evolving into being a mile wide AND a mile deep to serve our customers.  As an example, let’s look at some of the highlights from my week last week:

1)   Troubleshot a networking issue where a client had one machine that would randomly drop of the network.  It would show a link, but could not ping any network resource (besides itself), nor would it respond to a ping from anything else.  Bad part was this client is a non-profit radio station and the problem machine was their primary on-air broadcast machine.  Eventually found a random hub sitting between this PC & the main switch (still don’t know why it was there).  Removed the hub & voila!

2)  I’m still working on an Exchange / listserv issue for a client we recently migrated from a P2P lan to SBS Std.  They have a number of listservs they either manage or belong to – and they are not receiving any messages for these listservs.  Listserv provider indicates there isn’t a problem on their end.  Exchange / SMTP logging has been cranked up and I can’t find any connection attempts from the listserv to deliver messages.  Right now it appears almost as if the messages are just getting ‘lost’ in cyberspace . . .  very frustrating.

3)  Spent the better part of a day providing go-live support for a retail client who moved from old cash registers to Microsoft’s new Point of Sale application.  I’m also working on one last piece for this client – considering that with their plain old cash registers they kept their inventory in an Access database, they have several reports they use for reordering, etc.  Well, since POS can’t create these reports out-of-the-box, I’m doing a custom procedure in Access / VBA to pull the necessary sales data out of a half-dozen different tables in the POS MSDE database and insert it into the single table in the client’s existing Access database.  That way they can continue to use the reports they’re used to, and I don’t have to worry about them mucking around in the live POS database  :^)

4)  Prepared to do a Swing Migration of an SBS 2000 box to SBS 2003.  Met with the customer, reviewed their workflow, daily activities and identified severl Excel-based solutions that we are going to migrate into a Sharepoint solution.

5)  Consulted with a new client on disaster recovery / business continuity planning.  This process with this client has just begun and we’ll meet again after they’ve finished their current homework assignment :^)

6)  As mentioned in my earlier post, assisted Susan, Vlad & Nick with moving msmvps.com to it’s new server . . . what was interesting was having Nick & I both TS’d in to the new server at the same time, working on effectively the same files at the same time, with an IM chat going to keep us sane and check over everything . . .  e.g. – ‘I need to edit the web.config file, you don’t have that open, do you?’  :^)

So just from those highlights, I dealt with networking, Exchange, LOB app, MSDE/Access/reporting, Sharepoint, business process, disaster recovery planning, IIS, web publishing, SQL and asp.net web apps . . .  and in all honesty, this was a rather slow week.

So for everyone out there where you are the first call your client makes, whether its the backup, email, LOB app, phone system or copy machine that is acting up – here’s to you – for answering the questions you know, learning the answers you don’t, and providing your small business customers with a level of service every business deserves, but few receive.