Deploying a Small Business (Part 1)

With all the announcements, release of new products and technologies and changing business needs it is hard to keep up.  VMWare releases a free version of ESX, Hyper-V is released, Hyper-V Server is announced and will be available shortly, Small Business Server 2008 hits the RTM stage etc...  How does one keep up?  How does one decide?  Deploy now or wait? How does one get the skills to deploy and manage?

All tough questions that recently faced by Allerion Oilfield Services located in Guelph, Ontario.  Allerion recently moved to a new building in Guelph and at the same time decided an infrastructure update was in order.  No time like construction time to ensure all the required components were in place to support the planned infrastructure.  If you have ever run CAT5 you know how much easier it is to do BEFORE the drywall goes up :)  Jeff Heath, the owner of Allerion, realized the upside that a proper IT infrastructure could provide but Jeff is a business guy who has spent his career managing businesses and while he is a gadget guy when it comes to the systems required to run his business more efficiently he knows it is time to call in the professionals.

Jeff knew exactly what he wanted.  He wanted a secure, reliable infrastructure that would provide the services required to host his business critical applications that are used in the office, on the road and at a remote site in Sarnia.  He also knew that he wanted to use Jonas Construction Software as his line of business tool.  What he didn’t know was Small Business Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Terminal Services, Hyper-V or how that would equate to what he wanted.

Enter the professionals, namely Synergenics.  Synergenics is a Guelph based solution provider that faces the same challenges as any other.  How to keep up to date on the latest technologies while still providing service to its clients.  Sure they could send people to training course after training course to keep up, but as anyone who has worked, or is working for a solution provider you make your money out in the field, not the classroom.  They keep up as best as they can, taking a training course when they can, updating certifications when necessary all while keeping their customers up and running.

This situation looked like an ideal one for me to help.  By combining our efforts; Jeff, Bob from Synergenics and myself were able to design a solution that met the needs of the business, that was ready to support future technologies and even included some of the latest and greatest technology available along with some on the job training to get a few of the guys at Synergenics familiar with Hyper-V.  This is a quick graphic of what we designed.



The core of the system is based around Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2.  This is a tried and tested system that was a perfect choice for Allerion.  It provided the SQL database for the Jonas software, as well as email services, centralized management and security.  After speaking with Jeff and Bob we also decided to purchase Software Assurance with SBS 2003 R2 as SBS 2008 was around the corner.  This gave them the option to upgrade to SBS 2008 when the time was right whether that is next month or next year. Bob and the staff at Allerion are well versed in SBS 2003 R2 and were quick to design, build and deploy the SBS sever into the new Allerion offices.

The Jonas Construction Software is a construction management solution that utilizes a SQL back end.  Users access the application via a remote terminal session.  This naturally led to the implementation of a Windows Terminal Server.  Given the requirement to access the application from with the office in Guelph, the remote office in Sarnia, a hotel in UAE or an oilfield in Northern Alberta this made sense and was a no brainer decision.  Again Bob and the Synergenics staff was on top of things designing a server to run Terminal Services.  But it didn’t end there.

You probably noticed that one of the servers was running Hyper-V.  We’ll go into that in part 2 of this blog post!