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Review: Support from ThirdTier is Top Notch September 21, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Productivity, Reviews.
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thirdtierOver the past several months, my firm (AxonTech) has had the opportunity to use the services of ThirdTier on several occasions. The first was more of a test to see what kind of support they could provide to one of our workstation techs on an Exchange issue that our network engineers were not available to work on. We contacted ThirdTier and David Shackelford (an Exchange MVP) walked our technician through the process. Follow up was excellent and we were very happy with the results and the price we paid for the service.

I have personally used ThirdTier on a couple of other occasions related to Exchange and Small Business Server. Each time, I have had excellent results, a quick response, good follow-up and paid a reasonable price.

When I contrast this with the support I receive from Microsoft and other vendors, it is like night and day. I have successfully scheduled call back appointments with ThirdTier that were actually kept on time. I can’t say that for the “competition”. Furthermore, the folks at ThirdTier actually value the information that I provide to them. I don’t waste time proving the basics to them like I do with a Microsoft technician that I have to wait up to four hours for to call me back.

The bottom line is that I spend less time and close tickets faster when I work with ThirdTier than I do when I work with Microsoft. That is unfortunate but true all the same. I was told recently by an IAMCP member that I just need to know how to “work the system” in order to get the results I want and  in all fairness, he might be right, However, I really don’t think that I should have to manipulate the technicians at Microsoft into transfering me to an appropriate person in the USA to deal with my issue. Hence, I look forward to using the services of ThirdTier as my third tier support until Microsoft can compete with their service.

Congratulations to Amy, Eriq, Chad and David on putting together a top notch service. I highly recommend that anyone that is frustrated with the time wasted on Microsoft technical support, give them a try. You will not be disappointed.

Check out ThirdTier today at http://www.ThirdTier.net.


SMBTN Partners with Virtual Administrator September 3, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Partners.
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VALogoThe SMB Technology Network™  is excited to announce the selection of Virtual Administrator as a preferred Master MSP.  SMBTN has long been committed to providing increasing value to its membership through education, collaboration and member networking. The addition of the Virtual Administrator suite of services, along with their clearly demonstrated commitment to be the most effective on-ramp to the MSP market, will provide SMBTN members with additional ammunition to equip themselves for success in the emerging Managed Services arena. Through its partnership with Virtual Administrator, SMBTN members will have access to the following opportunities:

  • Access to Virtual Administrator’s MSP toolkit which includes Hosted Kaseya, Hosted SonicWALL GMS, Intronis Backup, SpamSoap filtering and archiving, and the Trusted Advisor business coaching program
  • Access to all Virtual Administrator partner benefits including preferred rates on box.net and other services
  • SMBTN specific webinars focused on being successful in selling and marketing managed services provided by Virtual Administrator

“The SMBTN mission and ours go hand-in-hand, so it was a natural fit for us to extend our service matrix to the SMBTN membership. We’re very excited,” says Paul Barnett, Director of Marketing for Virtual Administrator. “SMBTN has long been committed to increasing the value of our membership,” said Jim Locke, President of the SMB Technology Network™. “Our selection of Virtual Administrator enhances that value instantly, even in areas where we already have strength. For instance, the addition of the Virtual Administrator Hosted SonicWALL GMS platform will augment our already solid presence in the SonicWALL market.”

Karl Palachuk’s Network Migration Workbook is Here! August 1, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Promotions.
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The Network Migration WorkbookKarl and Manuel Palachuk are pleased to announce the publication of The Network Migration Workbook and have a great pre-sales offer to share with you. For a limited time, SMB Books (SMBTN’s Official Bookstore) will be offering this eagerly anticipated, 600 page, perfect bound book for just $199 (a savings of over $100 off the cover price).  Don’t forget that SMBTN members save an extra 10% off all purchases over $25 from SMB Books by using discount code SMBTN2009. Order today and be amongst the first to receive this excellent resource when it ships on September 1, 2009.

Zero Downtime Migrations Are Real!

Let’s be honest, anyone can perform a network migration WITH downtime. You simply kick everyone off the system, put the client out of business for some period of time, and push through until you’re done.

Without downtime is another story.

Without downtime . . .

  • You can do network migrations during the workweek
  •  The client doesn’t have to ever send people home because of you
  • You can work when 3rd party support is available
  • You don’t have to pay overtime
  • and Neither does the client
  • You look like a hero!

ZDTM (Zero Downtime Migrations) Are Not Easy — But They Are Manageable

ZDTMs require only a few key skills.

First, you need to be a good project manager. For SMB projects, this is a skill you can learn very quickly.

Second, you need a very thorough and complete checklist. You need to be able to manage the project while one of your technicians executes the project.

Third, you need a process that is repeatable and profitable. That means staying inside the scope of work.

It also means you have to quote the job properly!

The Network Migration Workbook gives you everything you need.

It won’t fit in your back pocket. It’s on full letter size paper and it’s almost 600 pages.

But it definitely has everything you need.

We start with a discussion of the entire process so you see the big picture. We talk about the scope of work and how critical it is to your internal processes and your relationship with the client.

Next, we introduce the pre-discovery process. That means making a list of all the things you need to discover so you really understand the project.

After the pre-discovery is complete, you can quote the project. We lay out a process based on 10+ years of SBS Migration experience. We divide the migration into seven distinction stages.

We show you how to estimate the labor required for each stage. So you can always create a quote that’s exactly suited for each client.

Those seven stages become seven service requests. You and the client agree on everything. As you finish each stage, you track every minute of every job. ALL work is inside the scope of the project.

If it’s not inside the scope, then it must be outside the scope. In that case, you create a new service request that’s billable.

The client agrees because they’ve bought in from the beginning.

Now you’ve delivered your migration project on time and inside the budget. All other work is outside the scope of the migration project and therefore billable.

Don’t worry. We show you how to complete every piece of this process.

We give you every Excel spreadsheet, the wording for the service requests, and click-by-click every keystroke it takes to deliver a migration with zero downtime.

Download Table of Contents (pdf)

Download First 3 Pages of Chapter 1 (pdf)

Download First 3 Pages of Chapter 5 (pdf)

Two Monster Checklists

You want true click-by-click instructions? We got ’em!

Appendix A is a 220 page checklist that details every piece of the migration process for SBS 2003. Why 2003? Because we realistically believe that some people will be doing 2003 to 2003 migrations for some time to come.

Appendix B is a 250 page checklist that details every piece of the SBS 2008 migration — click by click. With a good project manager, you’ll be able to hand over any migration to any technician and guarantee success.

We cover every procedure: From quoting the project, to building the server, to migrating the desktops. We’ve got a “golden” section called My Favorite Whitepapers that lists the most important Microsoft Knowledgebase articles and other resources out on the Internet. This list is so good, we’ve been offered to $100 just for these ten pages!

Awesome Network Documentation

You’ve probably heard of (or used) Karl’s Network Documentation Workbook. Well, this book includes many new and revised forms from the next version of the Network Documentation Workbook.

When you’re finished with this migration, you will have a perfectly new, perfectly documented system.

More importantly, the migration process outlined here will give you a repeatable and profitable network migration strategy.

Even if you can’t read through the entire book before your next migration, you’ll start saving money right away. Why? Because you’ll define the project properly. You’ll quote the project profitably. You will save hundreds of dollars by simply following our pre-discover and discovery process.

No More Surprises! Where do you lose money on a migration? You lose money when you find surprises. 

  • Network equipment you didn’t know about
  • Databases no one mentioned
  • “Critical” vacation pictures that take up 62GB
  • Unexpected ISP changes in the middle of the migration 
  • Third party vendors who are not available when you’ve got the database offline
  • Scope Creep!

The Zero Downtime Migration Process eliminates the unknown and makes you more profitable.

You’ll finish every project on time.

You’ll remove the RISK of the unknown.

And you’ll be the hero because the client won’t lose money during the process!

Money Back Guarantee

If you buy any Network Migration Books or Seminars from Great Little Book Publishing, we Guarantee your satisfaction – of you get a 100% refund – No Questions Asked!

Order Now!

Buy Now

Special Pre-Release Price Only $199 !!!

Super Give It To Me Right Now SpecialEveryone who orders this product before midnight on Tuesday August 4thwill receive a FREE two-hour audio introduction to the Zero Downtime Migration process.No codes. Just buy The Network Migration Workbook right now and we’ll send you the MP3 files.

Buy Now and Get the Bonus MP3s!

Speakeasy Offers Double Commissions on Business Ethernet June 12, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Partners, Promotions.
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Speakeasy is currently offering 2 months free for your customers and double commissions to you for a limited time when you sell our business Ethernet out of select CO’s.  We recently asked our vendor to light up more CO’s with business class Ethernet and they lit up 15 CO’s across the US.  Now we need to sell as many circuits out of those CO’s as possible by the end of the month.  The CO’s are listed below, if you have any customers needing a new connection in any of these areas, please e-mail Scott Goddard (our Speakeasy rep) or call him at 866-306-3001 with the address and he will qualify the location to ensure they are eligible for service and this promotion. 



Address City



Los Angeles, CA





Los Angeles, CA





Los Angeles, CA





Los Angeles, CA





Los Angeles, CA





Los Angeles, CA





Los Angeles, CA





Oakland, CA





San Francisco, CA





San Francisco, CA





San Jose, CA





San Jose, CA





Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV





Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV





Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV





Business Class Ethernet is a very easy sell as it is a full duplex internet connection with the same SLAs as a T1 for much lower pricing per Meg, for instance our 3/3 Mbps circuit starts at $380 a month.  Pricing and more details about the service can be found in the order form attached.  We can also offer dynamic voice via SIP Trunks, Dial tone or VoIP over these connections which could save your customers money on phone services.   

If you  haven’t yet sold any Speakeasy Internet or VOIP service, I encourage you to take a look at it. Our program with Speakeasy offers SMBTN Business Members a recurring 10% monthly commission on all Speakeasy products for the duration of service. Some SMBTN members are making more than $8000 per year on these commissions alone!

SonicWALL Benefit Update May 15, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Alerts, Benefits.
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We were recently advised by Securematics (our fulfillment partner for Sonicwall products) that Sonicwall has changed SMBTN’s partner status from Silver Partner to Approved. At this point we are not clear on the reason for this modification. We are working diligently with our representatives at Securematics to rectify this issue and have submitted updated sales statistics to Sonicwall that document the contributions made by SMBTN members over the term of our relationship. 

Historically speaking, it was Sonicwall who proposed this partnership to the SMB Technology Network nearly five years ago and it has been wildly successful. In just the first quarter of 2009 (despite the current economy), SMBTN members sold over $46,000 of Sonicwall products and services to their clients. Hence, we hope to resolve this matter with them quickly in a manner that is beneficial to all parties.

We will continue to provide you with updates on this matter as they become available. In the interim, I encourage you to voice your concern about the program with your representative at Sonicwall or Securematics or post your comments here. If you have any specific questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact SMBTN Member Services.

SMBTN Offers E-Folder November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, IT Business, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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efolder-logo-imageNext week, the SMB Technology Network will begin offering e-Folder to its members. Guest accounts for interested members will be available on Wednesday, November 26, 2009, along with pricing information. Our eFolder web portal may be found here. To pre-register for a guest account or to obtain pricing information, please e-mail SMBTN Member Services or call them at (888) GO-SMBTN.

SMBTN members can choose to deploy either the standard SMBTN branded eFolder client or can have their own branding created and refelected to their customers. Watch for more information next week!

SMBTN Health Benefits Program is LIVE! November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN.
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association-health-programs-logoSMBTN members will now receive savings up to 40% on Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Disability Income, and Long-Term Care Insurance and More!

The SMB Technology Network is pleased to announce new health benefits programs, exclusively designed for our members.  All members who participate in these programs will receive special premium rates and enhanced insurance coverage for yourself, your family or your company. These benefits can be extended to part-time and full-time employees of your company, as well.

We are pleased to offer significant association value to our members on programs including:

• Health Insurance
• Student Health Insurance
• Life Insurance
• Long-Term Care Insurance
• Disability Income
• Critical Illness
• Cancer and Accident Policy
• Dental and Vision
• And More!

To take advantage of this tremendous membership benefit, visit the SMBTN Association Health Programs website and fill out the online form.  An Association Health Program representative will contact you with a free, no obligation quote.  Or call them toll free at 888-450-3040. 

Programs are contracted through nationwide A-Rated insurance carriers, as rated by A.M. Best and are offered by SMBTN in conjunction with Health Benefits Professionals & Association Health Programs. Rates and availability may vary by state.

This truly is the best program out there and it is made available exclusively for SMBTN members!  With savings of up to 40% and the current economic conditions, I have already called to get my quote. Find out how you can benefit from this membership program today!

Best Practices for Using ReImage November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

A couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new relationship with a company called ReImage. ReImage is a software tool that promises to repair broken Windows XP installations in as little as 30 minutes.

I have personally run the tool on 25-30 machines over the past month with great success and have come to rely upon it as a first response tool for issues I encounter with XP. Like most tools, it is not perfect and won’t correct every issue. However, after working with it for this period of time, I have come up with some best practices that should assist you, when you decide to give it a try.

  1. Run ReImage from safe-mode with networking or its boot CD. If you are using a remote support tool like LogMeIn IT Reach or Rescue, you can still run this tool by first rebooting the computer into “Safe Mode” and then reconnecting with it to make the repair.
  2. ReImage is an ActiveX control and must be run from Microsoft Internet Explorer. It currently does not support Firefox and Beta versions of Internet Explorer.
  3. While I often run ReImage in its Autofix and Reboot mode on computers that are really messed up, I recommend that you run it in standard mode for most systems and review the Analysis report before making any repairs. ReImage will disable startup applications it is not aware of and gives you the option of bringing them back at a later date using MSConfig. A cursory review of the analysis report permits you to uncheck those programs that you do not want disabled and provides you with other important troubleshooting information.
  4. If you are running ReImage on a machine that you suspect is infected with a rootkit, run it from the boot CD.
  5. Temporarily turn off any antivirus software while running ReImage, as the product contains AVG antivirus. When the initial repair is complete, I recommend that you reenable your regular antivirus software and run a full scan of the hard drive.
  6. ReImage won’t help old/weak PC’s that are laden with a lot of legitimate memory resident programs (e.g. Skype + ICQ + Miranda + Yahoo + MSN + AV + Anti-Spyware + Firewall + Windows/Google Desktop Search etc).  In such a case the hardware itself cannot support the load of so many programs.
  7. Reimage will indicate a slow HDD (which can indicate an HDD on its way to die) and low RAM. Paying attention to such warnings (written in red) shown by Reimage can be a key to find the problem, even if Reimage itself cannot (obviously) fix it, it can still diagnose it.
  8. Fixing 3rd party programs (anything that is not a part of Windows XP) is limited to scenarios in which an unhealthy OS causes a 3rd party application not to run well. However, in many cases it’s the 3rd party application is faulty and it is not the OS, so Reimage won’t help.
  9. When the PC is connected to a faulty network. A normal LAN is always advised, Wi-Fi is a greater risk. A firewall/gateway with strong content filtering mechanism MAY harm Reimage by altering the communication with the ReImage server. However, most of my clients are running SonicWALL TotalSecure firewalls with all the bells and whistles and have had no issue.
  10. PCs that suffer from spontaneous blue screens/ reboots while working/ idle are highly recommended to be fixed using Boot CD only. If spontaneous blue screens/reboots keep happening in Boot CD then it’s a hardware problem that must be addressed first. (Boot CD does NOT work in “from CD” mode. Only “from ramdisk” mode)
  11. Known issues with HDD (bad sectors etc, corrupt file system etc). Bad sectors are the time to replace the HDD. Corrupt file-system requires first running ChkDisk and making sure all is back to normal.
  12. If you have any issues, contact Technical Support and they will assist you. We have had great luck with them. They are good listeners and are very receptive to the feedback offered by SMBTN members.

The thing I like best about ReImage is that it meets the first criteria I have for SMB IT consulting which is “first, do no harm” (sounds familiar, huh?). Before it makes any repairs, it images a copy of all the files that it plans to modify so if you have a problem with a repair, you can restore the computer to its original state. It also does not effect user data.

We expect to announce a great program for SMBTN members that want to use ReImage within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have ideas about enhancements to the product or are having issues with a trial that you are having any difficulty addressing, please contact SMBTN Member Services and we will get you in touch with the right people at ReImage.

Boost Business with Customized HP/Microsoft Marketing Campaigns November 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Marketing, Partners, Promotions.
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HP/Microsoft Frontline Partner LogoHP has a new and cost-effective way for you to quickly boost your sales revenue of HP business computing systems and industry-standard servers running Microsoft operating systems and business software. To help you with the development and customization of marketing materials to use to find incremental revenue streams, we have launched a series of marketing campaigns utilizing integrated HP and Microsoft messaging. Within each campaign, you can easily and quickly customize a range of marketing materials with your logo, call to action, contact information and company profile and deploy a new campaign in mere minutes. And it’s free for you to use!


Register and utilize the new marketing campaigns and their customizable materials at www.hpmspartnermarketing.com. By using these customized deliverables for your demand generation campaigns, you may be able to find new revenue opportunities and accelerate sales of more Microsoft solutions built on reliable HP technology. So, don’t delay—get registered today!


In addition to the campaigns, there are other aspects about the website that you need to know about:

·         New Campaign: Mid-Market Infrastructure featuring HP BladeSystem running Windows Server 2008 launched earlier this week. Be the first to get this solution to your prospects.

·         Updated Campaigns: First Server, Right Server, Remote Access Solution, Upgrade the Client and Enable Your Mobile Workforce campaigns were all updated this month. Now is the time to start executing these extremely fresh campaigns.

·         Robust Incentives: Starting on 10/30, if you’re among the First 50 to customize marketing materials, you will be eligible for a $1000 subsidy good for printing or mailing services. Don’t miss this opportunity!

·         FLP Store: We just opened a store from which you can purchase FLP-branded or custom-branded promotional items with your logo.


As part of the terms and conditions to customizing and running a campaign, you are agreeing to report all campaign results. We also have a feedback form  that you can use to file any constructive criticism in order to ensure that we keep improving the campaign model we’ve created for you. Both the results and feedback data that we receive from you enable us to continue to offer updated campaigns each quarter, as well as, the ability to implement new campaigns at www.hpmspartnermarketing.com.


Have questions? Send an email to concierge@hpmspartnermarketing.com.


— The HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership Team


Small Biz Thoughts by Karl Palachuk: Ducks In The Wild Sale/Contest November 6, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Partners, Promotions.
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Don’t forget to send Karl your favorite “duckie” pictures and take this opportunity to enhance your knowledge of the SMB IT business by picking up one of the many great books offered by SMB Books, the official bookstore of the SMB Technology Network. Remember, all SMBTN members save 10% on purchases from SMB Books every day. Good Luck!

From Karl’s blog:

It begins.

I’ve recieved a few duck pictures.

We gave away almost a thousand rubber duckies at SMB Nation.

Now come the pictures.

This lovely duck found a place to swim — in someone’s beer!

Cell phones are great.

Do you have a better duck picture? Did you attend SMB Nation and come away with a duck?

Well, we want to know what the far-flung flock is up to. We have now disseminated ducks to several continents.

Please join our duck photo contest — and win big at SMB Books!

The rules are simple:

1) You send me a picture of your rubber ducky. Karlp@greatlittlebook.com. You can be in the picture. The duck can be doing whatever turns you on.

2) I’ll send you a coupon code good for $10 USD off any purchase of $20 or more at SMBBooks.com.

3) Promotion ends November 30th, 2008.
Coupons are good through December 31st.

4) The big winner of the “Best Duck Photo” contest will receive an additional $50 Coupon, good for any purchase at SMB Books.

5) If you don’t have a duck, send an entertaining picture and we’ll include a duck with your order. While supplies last.

6) There is no cost to enter.

Good Luck!

– – – –

Fine Print:

Photos will be judged by whoever is walking by the hallway on the last day of the contest.

In the event of a tie, the two winners will be flown to Amsterdam for a night on the town with their entire staff, all expenses paid.

We do not anticipate a tie.


via Small Biz Thoughts by Karl Palachuk: Ducks In The Wild Sale/Contest