Microsoft and SUSE Linux… My take…

November 7, 2006

I was very excited to hear about the opportunity for collaboration between Microsoft and Novell’s SUSE Linux.

 Basically, the settlement accounts for an agreement by Microsoft not to pursue “non-commercial” patent enforcement of developers for the next 5 years.  They’re supposed to distribute 70,000 coupons for a year of technical support for the SUSE Linux Enterprise server.  They’re supposed to work together to allow virtualization of Windows on Linux and Linux on Windows.  There’s supposed to be enhanced support for web services.

I’ve spent some time looking into Linux and have a copy of SUSE Linux 10 Unleashed.  It’s a good book and comes with a copy of the OS.  I’ve heard great things about the strides that have been made with Linux in the last several years.  It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a look at it.

The pathetic 64-bit driver support for Vista has been very disappointing.  I don’t know that I’d switch to Linux right now, but I can say that Open Source is starting to look like the best solution for a lot of tasks which are on my radar screen.

That was the third part of the agreement.  Novell was going to get help to implement the Open XML document format for OpenOffice and be able to make that available to the world.  I think this was probably done to shut down the EU and their crazy lawsuits about monopolies and stuff.  Who knows.  Apparently, Office 2007’s new XML based file structure will be available to Open Office users and also to MS Office 2000 and 2003 users.  That’s pretty cool.  It’s hard to see that anyone will lose from this arrangement.

I read some other blogs which said the deal was meant to put a squeeze on Red Hat.  That may be.  I’m certainly not in a position to know.  However, improving support for organizations running Linux and Windows is a great thing.  If you have an interest in that, you can check out www.winlinanswers.com This site is run by Jeremy Moskowitz, Group Policy Guru Extraordinaire.  I haven’t read his book, but I’d really like to.

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Downloads for Office Developer Conference

October 31, 2006

The links I posted previously for the Sharepoint and Office 2007 related material which I had problems with are content which was presented at the Office Developer Conference.  I found a link to the Office Developer Conference where the content is divided by tracks and the files can be right clicked to download.  MUCH SMOOTHER!!

http://msdn.microsoft.com/office/learn/conferences/default.aspx

SysInternal’s Mark Russinovich blog back on line

October 31, 2006

You may have heard that Microsoft bought SysInternals.  Well, now he’s publishing his blog again at TechNet.

http://blogs.technet.com/MarkRussinovich/

Check it out. If you want to read ALL the nitty-gritty details about how software works, this guys stuff is fantastic.  I can’t say I get it all the time (hardly ever) but I can get enough that it’s useful stuff.

Sharepoint Videos GALORE!!

October 31, 2006

This isn’t new.  Many of these have been out for quite a while.  However, I’ve just discovered many of them and thought someone else might appreciate it too.

 I’m having problems getting them downloaded.  The small ones have been no problem.  The link says DOWNLOAD, but on my system it fires up a Windows Media Player window and starts playing them.  If I select Save As… while it’s loading, it will let me copy them.  Twice it’s cancelled part of the way through because it said the file was corrupt. 

 Here’s the links if you’re interested.

2007 Office System Video:
Enterprise Content Management
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=562B9B75-55B7-4F5D-AFE4-1F78C8B7FC6D&displaylang=en 

2007 Office System Video:  Portalshttp://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=5EC4193A-8061-4FD8-8CA4-574540049FE9&displaylang=en 

2007 Office System Video:  Windows Sharepoint Services Platformhttp://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=621566FD-A3D8-4628-A2CB-538CC173509F&displaylang=en 

2007 Office System Video:  Business Intelligencehttp://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=AAFBC288-9F1E-4398-AE06-617CEFEC5823&displaylang=en 

2007 Office System:  How Do I Screencastshttp://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=BD5C77B0-F556-4136-8730-1D7FEEAE0A42&displaylang=enI got all of these and have watched a lot of them now. 

This document is a fantastic comparison of the different versions of Sharepoint.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=4AA30856-4E6D-4E4F-8E9A-D8914FE390FD&displaylang=en 

Cool Downloads just released

October 28, 2006

Charles Van Heusen just blogged about the new CRM v3 R2 client which will work with Vista and Office 2007

http://ts2community.com/blogs/charlesv/archive/2006/10/26/3909.aspx

Office 2007 Developer Maps for Office objects, Sharepoint and Infopath

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=771aeb45-9d27-4d1f-acd1-9b950637d64e&displaylang=en

Office Accounting 2007 (I guess Small Business Accounting got a name change. Hopefully it will intelligently work with SQL 2000/2005 on SBS instead of installing yet ANOTHER MSDE instance.) SDK   http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=1b7c5f43-2bae-4103-9457-66b49ef6799a&displaylang=en

Allen’s excellent football

October 28, 2006

We went to a mall tonight, and I don’t even know where it was.  It was one of those outdoor malls which seem to be the new fad.  I hate them, by the way.  I much prefer the air-conditioned comfort of a real mall. 

They had a fountain out side with several jets of water.  Allen discovered a mini-nerf football in the fountain and became enamored of the idea of retreiving it.

We had come to the place to see the Barnes and Noble there that was HUGE!!  As I didn’t want him trudging around the place drenched, I told him I’d try to talk his mother into it and get it on the way back.

We spent some time in Barnes and Noble, developing a wishlist for the kids for Thanksgiving (we exchange gifts on Thanksgiving instead of Christmas – it’s OUR family tradition.)  The kids had a grand time playing with the wooden Thomas the train playset. Anastasia found a Disney Princess sticker book that she thought she HAD to have and a Dora the Explorer book.  Allen was too busy playing with the trains to look at books.

On the way out, Frances and I debated the merits of letting him get it.  After I won the “should he do it” we moved on to the “how much of his clothing should he remove to do it” discussion.  Frances was all for taking the pants off, but I insisted that rolling them up would be sufficient.   The water was freezing cold.  I half-way suspected that he’d get in and decide to jump right out.

My son was DEAD SET on getting that ball.  He followed my instructions to stay out of the jets of water and the falling fountain water and made a bee-line for that football.  He snatched it up and was thrilled to have it.  I had rolled his pants up almost to his butt.  They were pretty loose, so I thought that would work.  As soon as he hit the water, they dropped and his pants and the lower part of his shirt were completely soaked.  Frances looked at me as though she had been completely right (and she was) but I didn’t care, I wasn’t going to have had him remove the pants.

Anastasia dipped her feet in the water, and was distraught that she didn’t get a chance to go “swimming” too, but she survived.

Allen took the wet pants off when he got in the car, and Mom gave him a coat to put over his legs to keep him warm.

The kids weren’t impressed with the “mall” at all because it didn’t have a playground.  Standards.  You’ve got to have them.  Even without them, I think we all had a good time.

Talked to Julie from Nortel about AS1000 (?)

October 28, 2006

Nortel and Microsoft have formed a strategic alliance.  Nortel is supposed to be coming out with a IP PBX box geared towards smallish companies.  It’s designed to work with Live Communicator Server 2005 and the new Office 2007 version called Office something or another.  I don’t know what the status of it is, but it’s a product I’ll be watching. 

I’ve had an interest in getting something with this kind of functionality for quite a while.  We’ll see how it works out.

 The functionality I’m referring to, in case you’re not conversant with it, is presence awareness and telephony.  The big dream is to have one phone number that would ring at my desktop when I’m there, at my laptop when I’m there, or on my mobile.  It would automatically sense where I was and forward it to me.  

As I understand it, I’d have to pay for a SIP provider and then have the software / hardware internally to do this.  Julie said she’d get me pricing information on the product when she could.  I’m also going to be enquiring into their partner program. 

Communications and Collaboration is where I want to be going forward.

October meeting of DFW-SBS

October 28, 2006

Last nights meeting was on SSL VPNs.  I missed the first part of it because there was a hold up with the pizza (I go to pick it up.)

 Jonathan Merrill spoke on an Open Source program called SSL Explorer.  He discussed how he had used it to put into place to get the hospital where he works used to the SSL idea.  Once they got used to the security, they became less tolerant of the limitations of the software and went with an appliance from AEG (I think – I have it written down, but I don’t care enough to go find it.)

They discussed their box and the capabilities it provides.  It was very interesting.  The price point was probably a lot more than most of our members’ clients would shell out, but for those that have clients who are accountants or attorneys or doctors and have regulatory compliance hanging over their heads, it looked like it would be a pretty interesting story.

We got the By-Laws and Constitution passed.  Gary Paden has really taken the bull by the horns to get this done.  I really appreciated his work in getting it finished.  I had made nominations for Secretary – Bill Leeman and Treasurer – Fred Magee.  I was nominated for President (I accepted.).  We discussed that our next meeting was not going to be until December 7 since the meetings are the fourth Thursday from Jan – Oct and then the first Thursday in December.

Small Business Specialist Meeting with Michael Risse

October 28, 2006

Today I had the opportunity to be in a room with Michael Risse of Microsoft.  He’s the head of the Mid-Market Segment of Microsoft.  I was surprised to find that Microsoft considers Mid-Market to be 25 – 250 PC’s.  That seemed like a pretty big playground.

 There were five companies represented, three of which are members of the DFW-SBS group.  Three of us were small IT shops for whom the SBSC designation was significant.  I’m not sure about one of the other guys, but the last two gentlemen were from the same company and had 10 MCSE’s on staff.  I felt like he didn’t really represent the SBS Community, but who am I to judge.

Charlie Ramirez, a PAM with Microsoft who covers OK,TX,AR, and LA (Louisiana – not the city), was also there.  He’s based in Austin, so it was nice to see him.  He does a weekly partner webcast which I have not been diligent enough in attending.  I sent him an email with a list of some of my suggestions and I’m hoping he won’t blast me by saying “if you’d listen to the podcasts, you’d know all of this…”

I appreciated the effort that Microsoft made to listen to the field.  I don’t know that we said anything that he hadn’t heard a LOT before from others because he would start shaking his head in agreement as soon as someone would bring something up.   I think they said they’d just come from a similar meeting with Gold and Certified partners, so I guess he was up to his ears in “feedback”.

For all of the crap that one could give Microsoft, I think they are at least trying to learn from previous mistakes and work more closely with the partners.  I can appreciate the effort if not the end results.

Community Server and Sharepoint v3

October 22, 2006

I have been pursuing an online means to support the small groups at the church I go to.  I’ve been digging around and have found two different means to do it.

 My first thought was to have the sites done with Sharepoint.  Version 3’s capabilities FAR outstretch the previous version.  It’s really quite impressive.  Sharepoint, for those that might not know, is a free download for the Server 2003 OS. 

 However, that’s where the free stops.  If you want to publish the site to the world, and have a LOT of named persons actually be able to contribute to the site and manage it without an administrator being involved, you have to have a CAL (Client Access License) for each user. 

That might not be a big deal for an intranet, since presumably, all of your users will already have a CAL.  HOWEVER, to publish it to the web for the world, it looks like there is something called an External Connector which allows the log-in process to write the users to AD.  The retail price on this that I have seen is about $8,000.  That was quite surprising.

It didn’t end there however.  In order to use SQL Server 2005 as a back end, each named user must also have a CAL to access the DB.  The way around this is to get a Processor license for SQL.  I think the pricing on this is about $6,000.  I didn’t actually look that up. 

After the sticker shock on the first one, I just couldn’t bear to look it up.  Perhaps when Microsoft releases these to the world the prices will come down. 

Community Server has pretty much the same limitations.   The external connector is required for Server 2003 and the processor license is needed for the SQL implementation.

I should probably mention that the number of users for the system is anticipated to be several hundred if not a couple of thousand.

For smaller sites, it might not be that big of a deal.

I contacted Telligent to confirm that this was the case and got an answer back from Rob Howard who seemed to confirm that the licensing I described was correct.

I’ve spent some time pondering it and thought of a couple of answers.  Use an Open Source DB.  I’m not sure this would be as hard as it seems.  I’ve not used any of them before, but $8,000 is a pretty good incentive to do so.  Community Server releases their source code so perhaps this might be viable to do.

The other idea I had was to limit the users to 10-20 subdivisions and have the access through these.  The problem with this, as I understand it, is that I would lose control of the granular access to sites.  I could have a group of administrators, but they would be able to control ALL the sites, not just their own.  This might be a viable option, as 20 CALS would be a lot cheaper than an External Connector.

I also have a copy of SUSE Linux 10 and will be looking into Open Source packages with similar functionality.  If you happen to read this and know of one, I’d love to hear about it.

I’d like to get a file repository, blogs, wiki, calendar, pictures and have the option to add more.  If each of these components had an RSS feed, that would be outstanding.