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Welcome to Third Tier. The power of Micro Staffing is here.


Original Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: MPECS Inc. Blog: Our SBS (Small Business Solution) Options with Standalone and Cluster Hardware Considerations

We’ve received a number of questions about the “How” we present our SBS to prospective and existing clients.

Our primary focus is on what we have provided with Small Business Server starting with SBS 2003 Standard.

  • Active Directory permissions based security

  • Remote Web Access (RWA/RWW) Portal
  • Remote Desktop access via RD Gateway (since SBS 2008 Standard)
  • RemoteApp access via RD Gateway for LoBs (since SBS 2008 Standard)
  • E-mail services access via Outlook, Outlook Anywhere, Exchange ActiveSync, and Outlook Web Access
  • Remote Folders and Files access
  • SharePoint based document management system
  • SQL backend for LoB, SharePoint, and other needs

We focus on the services the prospect would require while our existing clients are already used to them.

Once we have an understanding of the prospect’s needs, since we already know our client’s business really well, we move forward with a proposal that would be geared towards their business size and sensitivity to downtime.

On the services front where we are installing into a standalone host we would have two options:

  1. Base

    1. Requires two Windows Server OS Licenses

    2. DC, Exchange, RDS, and LoB (WSUS and LoBs)
  2. Premium Add-On
    1. Requires one Windows Server OS License

    2. SQL and SharePoint

Obviously the server and CALs would also be needed for the various components that will be installed into the guest OS.

If we are setting up a cluster then one needs to consider the number of VMs running on one or more of the nodes in the event of a node failure.

On the hardware side we would have a number of options:

  1. Entry-Level Single

    1. E3-1270v3, 32GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS
  2. Mid-Level Single
    1. Single Socket 1U R1208JP4OC, E5-2600 series, 128GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS
  3. High-Level Single
    1. Dual Socket 2U R2208GZ4GC, E5-2600 pair, 128GB-256GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS or 16x 2.5” 10K SAS
  4. Entry-Level Asymmetric Cluster
    1. Pair of 1U R1208JP4OC or 2U R2208GZ4GC and an Intel JBOD2224S2DP
  5. Mid-Level Cluster
    1. Four 2U R2208GZ4GC and an Intel JBOD2224S2DP

      • Two Scale-Out File Server cluster nodes

      • Two Hyper-V cluster nodes
  6. High-End Cluster
    1. Six 2U R2208GZ4GC and three Intel JBOD2224S2DP units

      • Three Scale-Out File server cluster nodes

      • Three Intel JBODS with Two-Way or Three-Way Mirror and Enclosure Resilience
      • Three Hyper-V server cluster nodes

Within the above hardware configurations we would have a lot of flexibility that allows us to customize to the specific needs of the prospective client or our clients.

We work with a number of different firms that are prime candidates for at least an asymmetric cluster setup to minimize the possibility of downtime. The cost associated with these entry-level clusters versus a single larger server for the host platform makes them very attractive.

The basic VM configuration would involve fixed VHDX files unless the files are installed on dedicated partitions/LUNs. Note that we would use a shared set of partitions/LUNs if there are around 10 or more VMs as things get to be a bit of a bear to manage otherwise.

Our base VM configurations would be as follows:

  • DC: 4GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 1TB Data VHDX

  • Exchange: 8GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 250GB + 20GB/Mailbox Data VHDX
  • RDS: 4GB+, 95GB OS VHDX, and 100GB + 20GB/User Profile Disk
  • LoB: 8GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 1TB Data VHDX Minimum
  • SQL: 16GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 250GB+ Data VHDX
  • SharePoint: 16GB, 95GB OS VHDX, 200GB Data VHDX

We have a set of PowerShell steps and scripts that we use to configure these environments. PowerShell helps to greatly reduce the amount of time required to set things up. It also gives us consistency across all of our client deployments which is vital to troubleshooting if the need arises.

Shameless Plug: We’ve spent some time on the above in our SMBKitchen ASP Author Chats. If you are looking for more information the Author Chat is one of the best ways to do so.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
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

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Know an IT Guru?
Posted by Third Tier on 10 September 2014 05:45 PM

Third Tier is hiring independent consultants with extreme top end general IT knowledge. If you are the guru that other IT professionals look to when they can’t resolve an issue, then you might be Third Tier. If others work on problems for hours and you can look at it and resolve it in minutes, then you might be Third Tier.

We have over 1,000 IT firms servicing small and medium businesses that look to us to provide help to their staff when they get stuck or have a back log of work. It could be anything from a DNS to a failed cluster, hyper-v performance or AD recovery, SharePoint permissions to failed server migration. Our clients are IT professionals with some smarts.

If you are looking to add a couple of billable hours to your day, we can pay you $131.25 per hour of collected revenue for you work. Send your resume to

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Where’s the money in managing mobile devices?
Posted by Third Tier on 20 August 2014 03:29 PM

There no get rich quick scheme when it comes to managing mobile for most of us. For most of use we have clients and those clients own some mobile devices but employees own the majority of them. So should you bother offering mobile device management? Yes you should as part of the total package of technology management.

Here’s where you can make some money:

  • Step one. Be the person that does the initial configuration
  • A lot of mobile management is actually a human resources problem and not a technology problem but here is where you can shine by offering policies that help them define the acceptable use and employee responsibility to protecting the data that they are about to download. Also define what happens when the employee leaves, device is stolen or simply taken out of service.
  • Technical mobile device policies. Design and implement them! PIN enforcement, quarantine new devices pending approval, limit the data stored, etc.
  • Install malware protection. Most anti-virus vendors are now including mobile protection with the licenses you purchase for the desktop. Make sure it gets installed.
  • Educate end users on safe mobile device usage.
  • Get involved in selling devices and cellular service. The major distributors offer good programs that help business through the painful process of managing cellphone plans. If you can reduce the 2 hour go to the store time, your client will love you.

You may have noticed that almost none of this is an automated process. Rather it’s consulting, training and sales and it’s high touch. It’s a service and services require smiling faces and helpful people to provide that service. Be that person and you’ll have a long business life with loyal clients.

In care you don’t know, this is the kind of stuff that SMBKitchen ASP is all about. It’s about being the best small business IT firm and how to stay successful for the long term.


Are you not a member of SMBKitchen ASP? Join up. $300 for new members. Just register for an account then proceed to payments, click buy more support and add the ASP to your cart.  Our goal is to help IT firms be more aware, be better consultants and survive in the new era.

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Ditching WSUS
Posted by Third Tier on 18 August 2014 02:43 PM

If you are a long time Small Business Server manager then you probably fell in love with WSUS at some point. I did. It used to be that we could sit back and gloat while others suffered from bad updates that caused massive problems for multiple clients simultaneously. Over the last couple of years though the relationship as soured as WSUS became a bloated messy database whose clean up tools didn’t work and log files ballooned out of control constantly. From a hands free self-managing update solution, WSUS became a continual maintenance nightmare. In addition to these problems, we’re also assisting customers with moving off of SBS so now WSUS isn’t there by default; it has become a yes/no decision point. All together then, it’s time to ditch WSUS.

When you ditch WSUS you’ve got a lot of choice for replacement. There’s Intune, Kaseya and other managed platforms, purpose built patching solutions like GFI and Solarwinds and then there’s the one that we chose, LogMeIn Central. As LogMeIn Rescue users already, the move to Central is a natural. We can control updates, remote access and perform vital management tasks all from a single rather inexpensive location.

Servers will update only manually. The updates will be downloaded but not installed until we touch them for our monthly maintenance program. PC’s will update automatically.

Overall this move is in keeping with my philosophy to only gather the information you need and keep overhead as low as possible.


Are you not a member of SMBKitchen ASP? Join up. $300 for new members. Just register for an account then proceed to payments, click buy more support and add the ASP to your cart.  Our goal is to help IT firms be more aware, be better consultants and survive in the new era.


Not a Third Tier customer yet? Let me introduce:  We’re Third Tier. We provide advanced Third Tier support for IT Professionals. Come on over, create an account (no charge) and follow our social media locations.

Third Tier Get Support BlogFeed Blog Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook LinkedIn LinkedIN

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How to access an RDSH individual farm member
Posted by Third Tier on 14 August 2014 12:04 PM

I used to go through the process of removing a server from the farm, by dropping its share in the load balance to zero in order to perform maintenance and perform management tasks. The other day I found myself frustrated with this process and decided to look for another way. And what to you know, it’s very simple!

Open a command prompt and type mstsc.exe /admin then type in the IP address of the server that you’d like to manage. It’s really that simple.


Not a Third Tier customer yet? Let me introduce:  We’re Third Tier. We provide advanced Third Tier support for IT Professionals. Come on over, create an account (no charge) and follow our social media locations.

Third Tier Get Support BlogFeed Blog Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook LinkedIn LinkedIN

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