Selling SBS 2003 Hardware [Advanced SBS 2003 Best Practices book excerpt]

Hiya folks – I am the co-author and the publisher of the Advanced Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book and I like to hold virtual book readings! So here u go. I am also delighted to announce that our SBS 2008 book is now HERE!

Selling SBS Hardware

Let’s stick with the car salesman analogy for a minute while we talk about how to sell your customer on the hardware needed for their deployment. Say that you know all there is to know about Audi’s 2000 S4 and you’re trying to sell a lease return. Each customer that looks at the vehicle remarks about its attractive body, its luxurious yet unpretentious styling, and the beautiful interior. “That’s not all,” you say. “Take a look under the hood. Here you see two turbochargers that augment the 2.7L engine to 250 horsepower. If you replace the stock programming with an aftermarket chip to increase the boost pressure, you can hit 320 horsepower easily. Just replace these diverter valves, add more robust piping here to make it more reliable, and swap out the standard Audi hose over there. This thing’s a beast. Pushing 20 lbs of boost, you’ll fly by every Mustang GT and will look good doing it, too.”


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While it’s obvious that you know your Audi in this scenario, your customer didn’t and is now overwhelmed by all of the noise you’ve fed into what could have been an informational dialogue leading to the sale of a great car. Similarly with hardware, if you start gushing about how the Opteron’s point-to-point bus gives it better scalability characteristics than Xeon, or about the benefits of dual-channel memory controllers, you’ll quickly move into the arena of techno­babble instead of technology-oriented sales.

Keep in mind that the presentation itself is completely different from the process of understanding today’s hardware landscape or of right-sizing. By this point you’ve done your homework, learning what each piece of server hardware does and how it interacts with other components. You’ve “right-sized,” determining just how much server is needed to deliver acceptable SBS performance, and you’ve compiled a list of components, including the server, a backup solution, software, and a maintenance plan, using your knowledge of hardware and an understanding of the customer’s needs. Now it’s time to explain the package in a way that the customer can easily understand.

For example, suppose a small business with five client computers wants to use an SBS server to organize collaborative projects between graphic artists, handle e-mail, and do some file sharing. They’re hoping $1,500 will be enough for hardware, so you determine that a 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 machine with dual 120 GB Serial ATA hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration would offer a respectable balance between performance, data security, and price. Add in a pair of external hard drives plus backup software, and SBS 2003. You’re probably coming in a little high on price, but at least you can suggest areas to cut back if it’s absolutely necessary.

In essence, you just synthesized your knowledge of hardware into a marketable package—something that small and medium businesses want and need. You propose the “right-sized” SBS 2003 package to your customer, extolling the benefits of Intel’s Pentium 4 not for its peppy 800 MHz front side bus Hyper- Threading Technology, but because it’s fast and it won’t cost them much money at all. The storage subsystem is easy for you to configure; that doesn’t matter to the customer, though. A RAID 1 array ensures the safety of your customer’s data in the event of a drive failure, and the capacity guarantees enough storage space for years to come. The two external hard drives are easy to use as backup




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CHAPTER Chaper 2 1 So Understanding You Want to Hardwre Be an in SMB the SBS Consultant?!?! Environment

devices and, rotated properly, ensure true data redundancy. You don’t even need to mention the performance of USB 2.0 or your opinion of hard drives versus tape drives. Simply present the package and explain its benefits as they pertain to the customer.



Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here!


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