Thursday, 12 February 2015

Hyper-V: Set Up An Internal Network For Host/Guest File and Service Sharing

Here’s a quick and simple How-To for setting up network communication between a Hyper-V host, both Server and Windows 8/8.1, and any guests.

  1. Hyper-V Manager --> R.Click ServerName --> Virtual Switch Manager --> New --> INTERNAL.
    • Note the description for the internal vSwitch.
    • image
  2. Click APPLY and OK
  3. Assign the newly created vSwitch – Internal to the required VM(s)
    • image
  4. On the HOST: Start –> NCPA.CPL [Enter] –> Set an IPv4 IP Address
    • image
    • Use a different subnet for this network than anything else on the host’s NICs.
  5. On the Guest: Start –> NCPA.CPL [Enter] –> Set an IPv4 IP Address
    • image
    • Note the host and the guest are assigned an IP on the same subnet.
  6. On either the Host or the Guest open Windows Explorer
  7. \\IPv4Address\
  8. Authenticate
    1. To host: Either MachineName\Username or DomainName\Username
    2. To guest: MachineName\Username
  9. Copy and paste files and access services as expected
    • image 

If there is a need to work with UNC paths, HTTPS and certificates, and more then make sure to set up a small VM running DNS and ADDS if needed. One could also put DHCP on that VM to make addressing simple.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Monday, 2 February 2015

Sample Client Phish Prevention E-mail

Here’s a sample of an e-mail we would send to our clients on a semi-frequent basis to help keep users wary and informed.

If there is ever a doubt about an e-mail claiming to represent anything from a bank to a newspaper NEVER click on any link in that e-mail.

Open a new browser session and navigate directly to the purported site and log on there.

In today’s day and age we need to be very mindful of clicking on anything.

For anything with a link in it hover your mouse over and a small pop-up will happen:

image
The above snip came from hovering over the Unsubscribe link in the email below.

As a rule, NEVER click on a link on any e-mail with perhaps the exception of the ones CONTACT sends out with software update links. Even then, hover your mouse over the link in her e-mail just in case someone is specifically targeting the firm!

One more point: We’ve been seeing a LOT of Word and Excel based macro virus transmission files. Anyone sending something should be requested to do so in PDF format if at all possible. For folks on the not-so computer savvy side they can click on FILE –> SAVE AS –> PDF (change Save As Type to).

While PDF files are not much safer than Office files they, at least at this point, marginally better. ;)

Happy Monday everyone. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Business Guidance Pearls Mentoring Opportunity

Our blog post on Some IT Pro Business Guidance Pearls has generated a _lot_ of questions! Thank you for that. :)

So, how about this?

Third Tier has a special on a block of 3 hours that ends in a few days.

Drop in to the Third Tier Help Desk, register, and purchase a time block. From there, open a ticket: Business Guidance Pearls Mentorship.

I would pick up the ticket and get in touch about scheduling our time together.

The structure would be:

  • 1 Hour: Practice Assessment and Goals
  • 1 Hour: Goals Roadmap
  • 1 Hour: Goals Implementation Steps

I was very fortunate to have a former employer that worked very hard to teach me how to run an I.T. business. By “run” we’re talking about a lot more than just the bookkeeping and cash flow aspects.

Believe me when I say this, you’d not regret any minute spent. We’d look at the big picture right through to the details to facilitate growth in your I.T. Pro practice.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Some IT Pro Business Guidance Pearls

Here are some bits and pieces of business wisdom that I’ve gathered over the years. Much of my initial business formation came from my first employer out here Larry MacDonald while working for Logical Computer Company.

  • Keep a business journal (for me it’s my blog, Twitter, and forum helps)
  • Document everything (take pictures of everything with SmartPhone, use Snip in Windows ALL THE TIME)
  • Create build documentation for everything
    • We have builds for clusters, Exchange setups, Exchange migrations, SBS setups, SBS Migrations, More
  • Be consistent (build documentation helps)
  • Use Tasks in Outlook and on the phone to track everything
  • Be disciplined in tracking, responding, and being present to clients
  • Spend 10%-20% on R&D
  • Spend 10%-15% on lunches, dinners, and such with others
  • Put 10% away for a rainy day
  • Get involved with user groups or start one
  • Get a _good_ accountant and keep them

As far as recurring revenue:

  • IMSNHO, blended is better than full MSP
  • ~$60/User to $110/User for:
    • Server OS patch, Server App patch, and Microsoft App patch/install management
    • Desktop OS patch and Microsoft App patch management
    • A/V Management along with e-mail sanitation (we use ExchangeDefender)
    • Remote Server Monitoring and management included
    • On-site not included
    • Phone and e-mail support beyond 15 minutes not included
  • Offer backup rotation with quarterly full bare metal or hypervisor restore
    • $150-$250 per OS per month
    • Need a dedicated box for this (Intel S1400FP4 with 96GB ECC, and RAID 6 across spindles or SSDs)

Services

  • Non-contract break/fix:
    • $250/Hr immediate response
    • $200/Hr 4 hour response
    • $175/Hr 24 hour response
  • Contract on above
    • 4 Hour response included
    • Immediate response at 1.5 rate
    • Time Blocks offered at discounted rates

*Response being an acknowledgement of the request/ticket.

There are a lot of benefits over time as far as financial stability but also client relationships become a lot more stable and long term with support contracts in place versus a break/fix model.

We soon discover the clients that value our IT services and those that don’t when we move into the above model. What business that runs a fleet does not have a crew of mechanics to maintain that fleet? Why is IT infrastructure any different?

A major plus is in the routines that we build up. Our schedule gets a lot more stable and predictable. While we are still at our client’s beck and call we now have an established set of boundaries as far as how, when, and where the help would be provided.

We can have a few more evenings a week pursuing other things and _not_ looking at screens! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Thursday, 11 December 2014

SMB Kitchen ASP Author’s Chat: Wednesday the 17th Open To All!

You are invited to a preview during our SMBKitchen Chat on December 17th 7pm eastern. Download to your calendar now!

Our Chat will introduce the following new items at Third Tier. In addition we'll cover our usual content about security and patching. Join us for this special sneak preview of...

Tech Your Books: You know your books are supposed to do more for you than just keep you out of trouble with the IRS right? They are supposed to be a powerful business tool that helps you be more profitable and provide information so you can make evidence backed decisions about your business. It’s time to Tech Your Books!

Look, A Whale! What do you do when you’ve got a Whale? Be it a crisis or a project, your company could benefit greatly if you choose to have a third party representing your organization.

Our First Product: SBS IaaS Ever since Microsoft ceased production of small business server saying that small businesses would prefer to be "in the cloud" IT providers have wondered where that leaves them. Well we have a solution for you - Be The Cloud! 

Super Secret News: ASP members have been enjoying reading classified documents from US intelligence and security agencies giving them the early information on the latest hacks, industry targets and break-out infections. Learn about our after ASP plans to bring this information to you.

In addition to these great new Third Tier services, we are continuing to offer advanced helpdesk and microstaffing.If you would like to read more about each of these, we have some information available on our website already with more to come soon. http://www.thirdtier.net

And ItsA Gonna Be A Gooder! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Microsoft Ups Support Ticket to $499 – We Have a Great Alternative: Third Tier!

It seems that this may, or may not, depending on one’s thoughts of how Microsoft sees IT Pros in today’s “Cloud First Mobile First” be another shot at IT Pros that provide much of the front line support to SMB/SME clients.

I’ve been helping out with Third Tier for well over a year and a half now. I’ve been privileged to work on a team of amazing folks as well as work with a great group of IT Pros.

I believe that we at Third Tier offer a viable alternative to Microsoft’s $499 ticket (though I’m not sure what that will work out to in Canada as we pay substantially more than the US equivalent) for spot support or even ongoing support needs.

Given the experience our team has the Third Tier rate of $175/Hour is very reasonable. Active Directory, Exchange, Remote Desktop Services, Hyper-V, VMware, Cluster, and very soon a number of key vertical products and services to help our IT Pros get the job done right the first time!

Third Tier offers a Micro Staffing program where we can be a part of your IT Pro team for ongoing support challenges or staffing challenges. We can be a part of your team for a very reasonable cost.

I’m also excited about some of the things we’ve been working on at Third Tier to provide our IT Pros with a one-stop solution for their data centre that will allow them to provide IaaS and even our SBS (Small Business Solution) at a very reasonable cost per seat! More to come on that soon.

One final thought. If one is caught in a bind with a server down situation then the Microsoft ticket may be the best way. With Action Pack we still get BizCrit (Business Critical) support though via a call back model.

Our response model tends towards scheduled time for tickets as opposed to crash responses. So, please keep that in mind.

Here are some of the areas we can help you with:

  • Disaster Recovery Planning and Practice
  • Infrastructure planning, migration, support, and recovery
  • Active Directory and Group Policy planning, support, and recovery
  • Remote Desktop Services planning, support, and recovery
  • Exchange planning, migration, support, and recovery
  • SQL planning, migration, support, and recovery
  • Hyper-V planning, support, and recovery
  • Virtualization Solution Performance planning and support
  • Specialized Bookkeeping Support and Services
  • IT Business Models, Plans, Direction, Vision, and More

Whatever the task, we have a team member that can help. Not only that, one can expect the task to be done in short order and in a professional manner.

If you have not checked us out before please do now.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Monday, 1 December 2014

Cluster: Firewall GPO Settings

Here are some firewall settings that we configure via GPO for both our AD environment but also for our cluster setups.

Domain linked GPO:

image

At the domain level, thus all systems are impacted by these settings, we configure Remote Desktop inbound, Remote Event Log Management, Remote Volume Management, and finally Remote Firewall management.

Cluster OU linked GPO:

image

Here we set the inbound rules that allow us to manage our clusters. The Inbound Rule for Remote Shutdown is a critical one to implement as that allows Cluster Aware Updating to run.

And, there is one rule that seems to be in both places. Chalk that up to export/import. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business