SBS 2003 documentation and much more

Hi gang – I am Harry Brelsford, the CEO of SMB Nation (www.smbnation.com) and the author of Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices. I am starting to publish my book content here in my blog ’cause I can. (I own the copyright!). I plan to post the entire *purple book* by the time SBS 2008 is out.

all goodness…harrybbbbb

Documentation and Loose Ends!

It is essential that you take a few moments to gather the letters, e-mails, bids, drawings, yellow sticky notes, and the like and organize these in an SBS project notebook. The SBS project documentation serves several purposes.

First, if you should leave the organization, you properly share your SBS knowledge with your SBS successors via the SBS network notebook. In effect, people who follow you don’t have to start from the beginning. You, of course, would appreciate the same courtesy.

Second, because of the demands a small organization places on its staff, it’s unlikely that you will remember the finer points of your SBS installation several months hence. Thus the value of an SBS network notebook.

BEST PRACTICE: As you’ll see in later chapters, SBS 2003 is “self­documenting” if you simply click a link on the completion page of each wizard and save the configuration information as a file. I don’t want to tell you much more right yet, but the SBS development team made it real easy to create your network notebook with SBS 2003.

Loose ends run the whole spectrum of SBS computing. You name it, and I’ve probably seen it. Some doozies in this category include:

                      Sufficient quantity of telephone cable.  Lesson learned: Do you have enough telephone cabling to hook up the modems? And in this day and age, that might include DSL modems with its special cabling.

                      Length of telephone cable: Lesson learned: Are the telephone cables long enough?

                      Environmental controls. Lesson learned: Do you need a fan to help keep the server cool (because the work area is too warm)?

 

Another loose end to consider while planning your SBS network is training. One of the keys to success with an SBS network is to over-train your users! It’s a theme worth repeating (and I do so several times in this book!). Training can take several forms, all of which are discussed in Chapter 11.

BEST PRACTICE: Note the SBS project planning phase is typically 10 to 15 hours of consulting work if you are planning on doing it “right.” If you are undertaking your SBS project without a consultant, budget for one to two days of your own planning time.

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Server Installation Phase

The big day arrives. Sitting in your workspace are large boxes on a pallet, representing the new server, monitor, and additional networking accessories (hub, modems, UPS, and so on.).

The server installation phase includes:

                      Unpacking and physically building the server.

                      Physically installing the network accessories, such as the UPS, mo­dems, and hub.

                      Reseating the existing adapter cards that might have come loose during shipping.

                      Installing SBS.

                       

          Installing server-based applications, such as virus detection utilities,

 

third-party tape backup applications, and so on.

                      Performing several post-server installation tasks, such as creating the emergency repair disk (ERD), sharing folders, mapping drives, install­ing printers, and verifying security. This also includes completing SBS To Do List items (such as adding SBS licenses) and running SBS wiz­ards from the SBS consoles.

                      Configuring SBS 2003 applications. Typically Microsoft SQL Server must be configured for use. By itself, with no configuration out of the box, Microsoft SQL Server isn’t especially useful. It is also common to configure Microsoft Exchange above and beyond its basic configura­tion to accommodate public folders, etc. This step may also include running wizards from the SBS consoles.

                      Installing applications such as Great Plains Dynamics (accounting soft­ware).

 

It is important to have a server installation worksheet similar to Table 2-4.

Table 2-4: Server Installation Worksheet for SPRINGERS

 

Item

Description

Completed

Server Name

SPRINGERS1

 

Internal DNS Domain Name

SpingersLTD.local

 

External Internet Domain Name

SPRINGERSLTD.COM

 

Initial SBS Registration Name

Bob Easter

 

Organization

Springer Spaniels Limited

 

Installation Codes

Small Business Server (use fromproduct ID sticker on disc sleeve)

 

Area Code

206

 

Address

3456 Beach Front Road

 

City

Bainbridge Island

 

State/Province

WA

 

Zip

98110

 

Country

United States of America

 

Business Telephone

206-123-1234

 

Business Fax

206-123-1235

 

Initial Administrator Password

Husky9999!

 

Hard disk

SBS operating system and applicationspartition is 10GB. Data partition isapproximately 20GB. Both partitions areformatted NTFS. Server has a RAID-5 configuration. If you have only a singlehard disk or mirrored drives (but not RAID5), you may continue for the purposes oflearning SBS 2003 via the SPRINGERSmethodology. However, you’ll want toconsider RAID 5 or mirrored drives in the real world.

 

 

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Item

Description

Completed

 

NOTE: In Appendix D I’ll introduce thesetup configuration on Microsoft VirtualPC (the virtual emulation environment) thatwould allow you to configure an SBSnetwork (server and client computers) ona single machine for learning anddemonstration purposes. I often set up SBSnetworks that way on my laptop todemonstrate the product.

 

Time Zone

Pacific

 

User Accounts

Administrator (password= Husky9999!)

 

Printers

Install new HP Color LaserJet 5M printeron network with HP5 share name.

 

Registry

No known Registry modifications neededin SBS. However, if you plan to set upSPRINGERS on Microsoft Virtual PC, there is a Registry modification needed onthe host operating system (e.g., theWindows XP Pro operating system on yoursuper-duper laptop) that is necessary inorder for Virtual PC to emulate two network adapter cards (this is detailed in aKBase article: 825374: How to Configurea Guest PC to Emulate More Than One Network Adapter). Note this applies toVirtual PC version 5.2 and might be fixedby the time you are reading these words.

 

Folders

Create additional folders on Data partition: Accounting (this is where Great PlainsDynamics will be installed along with thestorage area for the accounting data) Backup (this folder will contain on-the­fly backups of company data between tapebackups, such as internal SQL Serverdatabase backups)

 

Shares

Create ACCT on the Accounting folder. Everyone allowed change rights. Fullcontrol rights to NormH, BarryM.

 

 

 

 

Item

Description

Completed

Internal IP Addressing

Use the default 192.168.16.2 IP address and the 255.255.255.0 Subnet Mask.

 

External IP Addressing

Use the following: IP: 207.202.238.215 Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0 Default Gateway: 207.202.238.1 Preferred DNS: 209.20.130.35 Alternate DNS: 209.20.130.33

 

Misc.

Windows Server 2003 operating system tobe installed on C:. SBS components(Exchange, etc.) to be installed on C:. Willapprove all licensing questions with “Yes.”

 

 

Regarding partitions, SBS requires that the partition containing the operating system (typically the C: drive) be formatted as NTFS to operate correctly. NTFS (NT file system) is the partition scheme that allows advanced security and file management. The other partition selection is FAT32. FAT32 is the successor to FAT from the file allocation table world of the MS-DOS days of old. FAT partitions are less protected and considered less robust. The Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com provides extensive information on NTFS and FAT. Further discussion here would be beyond the scope of this book.

Workstation Installation Phase

The workstation installation phase is really the work that occurs in Chapter 4 when you will connect a workstation to the SBS 2003 network. That said, there are a few key steps in the workstation installation stage worth listing:

                      Complete the SBS workstation installation sheet. That information is found on my Web site for download at http://www.smbnation.com.

                      Physically unpack and construct workstations.

 

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                      Reseat the existing adapter cards that might have come loose dur­ing shipping.

                      Complete installation of client operating system if necessary.

                      Complete the Add User/Setup Computer Wizard to create the configu­ration information for the workstation to join the SBS network. Then at the workstation, launch the IE Web browser and point to the http:// SSL1/ConnectComputer to launch the over-the-wire process for join­ing a workstation to the SBS network. Bye-bye Magic Disk from prior SBS releases. Very nice touch.

                      Perform basic SBS client component tests, answer user questions, and so on.

                      Enable and demonstrate network file sharing from client PCs.

                      Enable and demonstrate network printing from client PCs.

                      Enable and demonstrate basic internal e-mail via Outlook and Microsoft Exchange.

                      Set a date to return to fully configure Outlook (shared calendar, shared contact list).

                      Propose a date for network (logon, printing, saving) and Outlook training.

 

The middle steps involve testing the setup. Those are key steps in the success of attaching and using an SBS workstation. Too often I’ve observed homegrown SBS networks where the connectivity wasn’t fully tested. In effect, the SBS network never did completely work. In fact, at one site, the users jokingly called it an SBS notwork! Unfortunately, those SBS networks that forego workstation testing usually discover such things (gremlins) later rather than sooner.

And it shouldn’t be lost on you that training is mentioned as the last step of the workstation installation phase. Again, training is important.

Follow-Up Phase

As far as this book is concerned, the follow-up phase encompasses the balance of the SBS installation and administration experience. Why? It is the follow-up phase where additional SBS functions, such as faxing, and applications, such as SQL Server, are introduced. There are important reasons for staging the introduction of many SBS features as separate, discrete tasks contained within a phase separate from server and workstation setup.

It has been my experience with organizations implementing SBS that the mere introduction of a computer network is enough to start with. The users need to become familiar with the basic Windows networking environment that is the foundation of SBS. In fact, for many users, being able to log on, save a file, and print are features enough to start out with.

Even network-experienced and computer-savvy organizations cannot absorb too many features too early. For example, e-mail is a great early candidate to introduce on the SBS network. But I have often found that even the best users aren’t ready to tackle SQL Server (SBS 2003 premium edition) and its strengths too early, so this speaks to delaying the heavy stuff for a while on your SBS networks.

Lastly, there is the Christmas-morning emotional response. Given a pile of wrapped toys, a child will eagerly attack, opening each and every gift until, several hours later, the child is overstimulated and sobbing in a corner. Such is the case with many SBS sites. Users want to do everything right now on the first day the network is available. But by the end of the day, the same users are bewildered, frustrated, and, worst of all, have negative feelings toward the new SBS network. You, the SBS administrator, don’t want and can’t tolerate such an early defeat. Be smart. Stage the rollout of SBS features over time.

Celebration Phase

Yee-haw! Call it an opportunity to get a free lunch, but one of the most successful things I’ve accomplished is gathering user feedback that might not readily reveal itself during day-to-day SBS network use. And, based on user feedback, I can offer the opportunity to provide additional meaningful services that my SBS customer might not have initially considered. Five additional services, beyond core out-of-the-box SBS functionality, have proven popular with customers:

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                      Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) customization — You can achieve the highest and best use of your SBS system by using the powers of WSS! Consider using it as a basic document manage­ment package.

                      Public folders — Many users, when they become addicted to e-mail, want additional help implementing public folders (shared resources) in Microsoft Exchange.

                      Microsoft Outlook customization — When users start to use the con­tact list in Microsoft Outlook, the follow-up requests to create custom forms can be expected.

                      SQL Server tables — The really hard-core SBS sites (using the premium version) know that SQL Server can handle their most demanding database challenges, but few of these SBS sites actually know how to execute SQL queries and so on.

                      Web page development — Last, but certainly not least, the discus­sion over the pizza lunch inevitably turns to Web pages and elec­tronic commerce.

 

SBS Expectation Management andPerception

Avoiding disappointments is perhaps job one for an SBS administrator and certainly an SBS consultant. Recall that, in Chapter 1, I set the framework for understanding what SBS actually is. Disappointment can be avoided early, for example, by understanding that you will need to purchase a third-party virus scanning application because SBS is devoid of such a critical goodie.

BEST PRACTICE: Something to consider before you get too far along is the assured outcome of the SBS 2003 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) stock-keeping unit (SKU). Here, HP will just about completely install SBS on one of its SMB server machines (e.g., the ML 350 model used in this book as an example). When

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you start up, you’ll complete a mini-setup process that constitutes the personalization of your server machine and accepting the license agreement. I’ll discuss the OEM SKU more in Appendix E, but what’s important to understand here is that the SBS 2003 OEM SKU is a rapid setup methodology with an assured outcome (and a positive outcome at that).

Scope of Work

If you are using a consultant, a scope of work should be defined, largely based on much of the planning work accomplished previously. In my firm, the scope of work is typically delivered as a detailed proposal that describes how the work will be accomplished. Likewise, the engagement letter, which refers to the proposal for scope items, is a contract between my consulting firm and the client. An engagement letter typically covers items such as terms and conditions of payment, how disputes will be resolved, and so on.

BEST PRACTICE: Here is an additional thought for SBS consultants about the scope of work and engagement letters. Many SBS consultants ask how you get paid for your planning efforts if you haven’t yet created a scope of work or gotten the client to sign the engagement letter.

The answer is you should contract with the client for 10+ hours of your consulting time to assist with planning. Perhaps this consulting time could be evidenced with an engagement letter separate from the SBS project engagement letter you intend to present later. It has been my experience that if the customer is not interested in paying you for 10+ hours of your planning time, that customer isn’t very serious about having a successful SBS installation. Also, if the SBS customer is cautious about the planning phase, explain that the scope of work you create with 10+ hours of planning time can be easily converted into a request for proposals (RFP) that could be distributed to other consulting firms and resellers.

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The thought here is that you can get 10+ hours into your SBS project with this customer, and either one (or both) of you decide that you don’t care to work together anymore. This approach provides an out for all involved.

The scope of work would likely contain the following items:

                      A detailed proposal

                      A schedule

                      A budget

                      A project task list or checklist

 

Notes:

Overcommunicate

Another theme to this book is that of overcommunicating before, during, and after your SBS project. It is very easy to do. You can do it in person via periodic SBS network meetings, pizza lunches, and the like. You might consider sending out an SBS project update e-mail, such as presented in Figure 2-5.

Figure 2-5

SBS e-newsletter.

Selecting SBS Service Providers

Another planning issue is that of selecting the service providers for products and services for your SBS network. There are several types of SBS service providers:

                      SBS consultants

                      Hardware and software resellers

                      Wiring and cabling contractors

 

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                      Telcos

                      Internet service providers (ISP)

 

First, a comment regarding service providers. In general, the very best way to retain a service provider is via referral of a mutually respected third party, typically a friend at another organization that has used a service provider he is pleased with. Acquiring or avoiding a service via this avenue is greatly recommended. In fact, as an SBS consultant, one of my key motivators to perform at the highest level is the prospect of getting referrals from my existing SBS client base!

Now here is a bit of advice they didn’t teach you in the Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) program or the Harvard Business School, for that matter. Avoid retaining a service provider based on an advertisement in the media, telephone book, and other outlandish promotional venues. Under these circumstances, it is very difficult to ascertain the quality of a service provider’s work, communications style, and other critical factors.

SBS Consultants

Of course, one of the earliest and most important decisions you will make relates to whether you will engage the services of an SBS consultant. I wrote this book so that you could indeed implement an SBS network on your own with both study and practice (the two key tenets to this book). But many of you might want to extend the SBS best practices in this book by having an SBS consultant on your team for all or part of the SBS project. Furthermore, many of you are reading this book with the thought of becoming an SBS consultant.

Assume that you indeed plan to use an SBS consultant. You need to consider a few things up front. First, many Windows Server gurus have bestowed the title of SBS consultant on themselves because the shoe appears to fit. Such is not the case for reasons I presented in Chapter 1 that underscore how different SBS is from Windows Server. So what’s my advice to you, the SBS customer? Avoid being the early training grounds for tomorrow’s SBS guru (unless you’re getting a significant discount on the billing rate being charged by the greenhorn SBS consultant, a point I surface in the next paragraph).

However, SBS gurus are in relatively short supply right now, so what should you do if all you have to select from are SBS newbies? At a minimum, negotiate a training rate that is significantly less (perhaps 50 percent) than the consultant’s normal fees. I also recommend that, armed with this book, you work side-by­side with the SBS consultant to make it right!

Those consultants who are SBS gurus tend to be nichers. Like a medical specialist, true SBS gurus basically live and breathe SBS all day long. You’ll potentially pay extra for this level of expertise (perhaps a 50 percent premium over the bill rates of a general practitioner), but it’s typically considered to be well worth it.

BEST PRACTICE: SBS consulting is something I cover in much more detail in my SMB Consulting Best Practices book. However, if you’re looking for an SBS consultant, be sure to check Microsoft’s SBS page at http://www.microsoft.com, where an SBS consulting partner locator tool is maintained. That’ll help you locate an SBS guru in your area.

Hardware and Software Resellers

To be brutally honest, when purchasing for SBS networks, I’ve found the very best hardware and software buys on the Internet and via 800 numbers. My short list of select vendors that I’ve used via this approach include the following:

Hardware

          HP/Compaq. (www.hp.com and its HP small business page at http://www.hp.com/sbso/index_evo.html?jumpid=go/business-evo that I show in Figure 2-6)

Notes:

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Figure 2-6

No hardware manufacturer has made a bigger commitment to the SBS 2003 market than HP!

Software

• CDW. (www.cdw.com)

BEST PRACTICE: If you are an SBS consultant, you may well want to resell software and hardware as another revenue source. While I personally don’t do this, you should look at this possibility. For software sales, one firm has made it easy for the small business consultant to become a software reseller and make a little pocket change at the same time. The firm, License Online, can be reached at 1-800-414-6596 or http://www.licenseonline.com. Good luck!

I’ve advised clients to be cautious about using resellers to perform the installation work, because these organizations, often storefront retail establishments, typically lack SBS-specific expertise.

BEST PRACTICE: Hardware and software resellers can be a good source of free consulting as long as you keep in mind that you get what you pay for. For example, if you call HP to order your server, the sales consultant can serve as a reality check regarding the number of processors, amount of RAM, and hard disk storage to order. That second opinion is of value and can be obtained for free.

The online help system via the Server Management console in SBS

2003 also speaks to hardware requirements.

Wiring and Cabling Contractors

Here again, getting a reference is a great way to locate a competent wiring and cabling service provider. You might check with the property management firm that manages your office space. They most likely use one or two such firms when building out office space.

BEST PRACTICE: Be sure to have the wiring and cabling contractor test and certify his work (network cabling, wall jacks, and so on). Faulty network cabling can wreak havoc on an SBS network, and you should have some type of recourse against the contractor. A cabling and wiring certification provides the documentation you need to seek relief.

One of my SBS jobs, at a mortgage brokerage, suffered from faulty wiring. After trying to troubleshoot the software, server, other hardware, and so on, it was finally discovered the wiring was the culprit. So, beware. Bad cabling happens.

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Telcos

Here my options are limited for giving advice. You might not have the ability to select from multiple telephone companies (telcos) that can provide you with the additional lines needed for your Internet connection, faxing, and remote access. Increasingly though, many areas now have local telco competition, so choice is increasingly becoming available.

BEST PRACTICE: Whenever working with a telco on any matter related to your SBS network, be sure to allow plenty of lead-time for the delivery of the services that you are requesting. Due to a booming demand for telephone lines, backlogs in filling service orders can be measured in weeks in many locations.

Internet Service Providers

Aside from using an ISP referral that you deem trustworthy, you have great flexibility in working with any old ISP you might stumble across. The E-mail and Internet Connection Wizard (EICW) in SBS 2003 is open to working with existing ISP accounts, large ISPs, small ISPs, even your dog’s ISP (just a little Springer Spaniel humor there). The EICW is displayed and discussed in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. In the planning phase of the SPRINGERS methodology, it behooves you to be a prudent purchaser of ISP services and shop around. Look at ISPs that best meet your technological needs and budget. For example, you might well find an ISP that is hurricane- and earthquake-proof (having backup batteries on-site that will run for weeks and other features), but such an ISP might be very expensive to do business with.

SBS Trivia: Did you know that the first release of SBS (SBS 4.0) had an ISP referral tool? It’s true!

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