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My picks for the SMB 150!

SMB 150 Logo

I mentioned in my last blog post that I’ve been fortunate enough to be nominated to the SMB 150 this year. The SMB 150 is an annual list of the top 150 IT professionals in the worldwide Small and Medium Business IT Channel put together by SMB Nation and sponsored by Blackberry.

Here are details of how to place your vote.

But obviously, I’m not the only one who’s been nominated! I’m grateful to work in an industry with some of the finest folks you’re ever likely to meet, and I probably don’t tell half of these people how grateful I am for their work and support – so I thought I’d help shine a light on some of them here.

You can click on each of the individuals names to be taken to their voting page for the SMB 150.

The Brits

Back in 2009, I was one of only three or four Brits on the SMB 150. I’m glad to say the Brits are now represented in force!

Gareth Brown Owner at Sytec, Gareth is one of the founders of the SMB Community in the UK and continues to be one of the most respected and generous individuals you could wish know.
Chris Timm Chris took over the Thames Valley SBSC user group when it was failing and turned it into a thriving group again.
Paul Tomlinson One of the UK’s most successful MSP owners at Mirus and a great contributor to the CompTIA UK Channel Community.
Susanne Dansey Owner of Purple Cow Ideas Management and founder of the UK SMB Community, and a long-time positive influence on myself and so many others within our Channel.
Lee Evans Owner of Vital as well as being the Vice Chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community and a passionate advocate of raising standards in the Channel.
Mark Williams Owner of one of London’s top MSP’s at Pensar and the HTG 11 groups member of the year.
Adam Harris A key influencer in helping establish the CompTIA UK Channel Community in 2011 and beyond.
Andy Trish His business, NCI Technologies, goes from strength to strength and he is consistently one of the most active community leaders in the UK.
Dave Sobel The exiting facilitator of HTG 11 in the UK, “Mr Virtualization” and let’s face it – he’s pretty much a Brit now, right? Smile


The Bloggers

These are the folks who regularly write to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of us, and as a fellow blogger, I appreciate their writing! If you’ve not read one of these blogs, I encourage you to check them out!

Steve Noel Steve is a consistently great writer on Technology and Sales –
Wayne Small The man behind – one of the top Small Business Server resources online.
Karl Palachuk In my opinion, the “must read” blog in our industry – Small Biz Thoughts.
Brian Sherman The owner of Tech Success Communications, and the writer behind many blog posts across the web.
Tim Barrett The blogger behind the awesome No Geek Left Behind.
Eric Ligman Eric is known by many not just as one of the nicest folks in our industry, but as the writer of the Microsoft Partner Community blog.
Susan Bradley The SBS Diva – everyone’s first call for Small Business Server thoughts and guidance.
Vlad Mazek You might not always agree with him, but Vladville is a brutally honest perspective on the Channel which we need.


The Community Leaders

These are the people who have helped build the communities that many of us participate in and enjoy.

Arlin Sorensen Founder of the Heartlands Technology Peer Group and a real thought leader for our industry.
Christy Sacco The lady who works feverishly away behind the scenes to ensure HTG are the top Peer Group available.
Len Dicostanzo Len has driven the Autotask User Community to new heights and openly shares his experience and knowledge.
Andy Goodman “Handy Andy” is an SBS MVP and a champion within many IT communities both locally and globally.
Todd Thibodeaux The driving force behind the rise of CompTIA’s Communities in the US and now, the UK
Jeannine Edwards Tirelessly travels the world over to ensure that the ConnectWise User Group Community is super successful.
Harry Brelsford The founder of SMB Nation and one of the most influential individuals in our section of the industry.
Jeff Middleton Famous for his Swing Migration technique, Jeff is a champion of so many SMB IT communities across the globe.


The Vendors

The folks who provide the tools that enable MSP’s to thrive.

Walter Scott CEO of GFI Software, and the driving force behind that companies phenomenal global growth in the last few years.
Eric Webster Chief Revenue Officer at Doyenz, and instrumental in the companies expansion to the UK in 2011.
Scott Barlow Product Manager at Reflexion, who rightly have a reputation as one of the most MSP friendly companies you could work with.
Arnie Bellini CEO of ConnectWise, and the vision behind the thriving IT Nation.
Alistair Forbes Founder and General Manager at GFI Max who have doubled their customer base in the past two years to become the leading RMM tool.
Greg Starks SMB Business Development Manager at HP who has consistently provided value to his Channel partners.
Karen Guarino The partner “go to” at Reflexion – and someone who I often wonder ever sleeps at all given her dedication to helping others!


MSP’s and MSP Coaches

The owners of successful MSP’s and those who coach MSP’s.

Stephen Hall Founder of District Computers in Washington, DC and a Microsoft Partner Area Lead amongst other Community based engagements.
Erik Thorsell Owner of Success Computer Consulting in Minneapolis and a phenomenal IBM Partner who generously freely shares his advice and knowledge.
Jamison West Founder of Arterian in Seattle who have enjoyed an amazing period of growth, and a key member of both HTG peer groups and his local user group.
Teresa Bell Despite the collapse of the construction industry in the Florida area, including most of her clients, Teresa has not only kept Citrus NSG going but also grown the business.
George Sierchio Author, Blogger and Business Coach at Action Business Partners – I’ve never read an article of George’s that I didn’t find value in.
Stuart Crawford Owner at Ulistic, a Canadian company who are growing from strength to strength in the MSP Marketing segment.
Stuart Selbst Well respected coach to many successful MSP’s within the USA.


Quite a list – I hope you’ll consider voting for all those above, and that they all find their rightful place on the 2012 SMB 150 list.

If I’ve overlooked you, then I apologise, and do give me a nudge so I can make sure you get my vote. Smile

Taking a look at the SMB MVP Road show as it tours the UK

SMB MVP Community Roadshow LogoLast night I attended a special AMITPRO event at The Arden Hotel in Solihull. More than 50 Microsoft SMB Partners, IT Professionals, and Microsoft MVP’s got together to talk Small Business IT.

The event, the SMB MVP Community Roadshow, was put together by volunteers from around the world – and sponsored by HP, Microsoft and Jeff Middleton of

What was notable about this event was whilst HP and Microsoft laid out a considerable sum – not only for room hire, speaker expenses, loan equipment and transport costs – the event had a distinctly independent feel to it. This was no marketing or sales pitch and all of the speakers, who had given their time freely to get involved, spoke about the pro’s – and con’s – of working with Microsoft and HP as vendors.

What is an MVP?

Some background – the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) programme is the highest award given by Microsoft to those it considers “the best and brightest from technology communities around the world” who “actively share their … technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft”. We are lucky to have some great MVP’s within the European SMB IT Community, many of whom made the trip to Birmingham for this event.

Jeff Middleton

Jeff Middleton presenting on Swing MigrationThe event kicked off with Jeff Middleton giving an overview of the road show – which has already visited dozens of venues in North America, Israel, Belgium and the Nordic region of Europe – and is now set for four dates in the UK. Jeff gave some background on the Small Business User Group scene worldwide – how it was founded many years ago by some key individuals (many of whom were sat in the room!) – and initially supported by Microsoft, but thrived based on the work of group lead volunteers such as Andy Parkes of iBIT Solutions.

Our first presenter was SBS MVP Marina Roos of Rotterdam, Netherlands talking about Microsoft’s Multipoint Server solution. I don’t think I’m alone in saying this was an eye opener, as whilst I’d heard of Multipoint – I didn’t really understand the product or it’s application. Marina offered up a live demo of the product for us via Wi-Fi – and a number of people in the audience RDP’d into the HP Multipoint Server via iPads and Netbooks to test it out as Marina gave her presentation.

Oliver Sommer presenting on Microsoft SBSAfter some dinner and networking time, Oliver Sommer, SBS MVP of Trinity Computers in Germany, next spoke on the varying flavours of Microsoft Small Business Server that are now available. Ollie had a very short window to cram in an awful lot of information, and answered dozens of tough questions from the audience, sharing some valuable information – not only on SBS Standard, Premium, Essentials and how they might be deployed – but also on some 3rd Party Apps that could enhance SBS.

Finally, Jeff Middleton of talked about his now world famous “Swing Migration” Server Migration technique and how it applied for not only all types of Microsoft en-site server solutions – but also for those considering migrating to the Cloud. As somebody who has used both Microsoft’s “official” Whitepaper on SBS migrations and Jeff’s Swing Migration technique, I found this a valuable reminder of the pitfalls of migrations and how the Swing Migration system offers so many benefits to IT Professionals.


The evening closed with AMITPRO group lead Andy Parkes explaining to the many newcomers in the room how the Association of Midlands IT Professionals meets on a monthly basis with the intent on sharing knowledge, information and learning, and how everyone was welcome to return in the future. We hope that many of those newcomers found value in the evening and will come to visit us again.

The SMB MVP Road show now rolls onto Reading on Wednesday 16th November, followed by London on Thursday 17th November, and Edinburgh on Monday 21st November. Registration is still open – so if you fancy attending these meetings, get in quick!


I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, not just as an opportunity to learn from some of the best in our industry, but also to meet new faces and see such a healthy debate around SMB IT products, hardware and vendors. It really reminded me of how much I’ve got from the SMB IT Community, both in the UK and globally, over the years – and how many great individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, learning from, and sharing knowledge with.

If you attended the event and found it useful – feed this back to your representatives at Microsoft and HP. Personally, I thought both companies got way more positive exposure to their product range from true experts demonstrating their kit (warts and all) than any amount of vendor product sales pitches – but it’s only by feeding this back to the sponsors that they’ll appreciate this first hand and continue to support the SMB IT Community.

Attendees came from as far as Leeds, Exmouth and Cornwall to attend this event – which shows how valuable people perceive it to be. It’s hoped the SMB MVP Road show could return to the UK for further dates in the North of the Country in the near future. Fingers crossed!

A huge thanks to Robert Pearman, Andy Trish and Andy Parkes for being the lynchpins in organising this event, and to MVP’s Jeff Middleton, Marina Roos and Oliver Sommer for making the trip to see us. It was very much appreciated by all involved! Good luck with the remainder of your UK dates!

Photos courtesy of Vijay Riyait – one of those SBSC Community founders I mentioned. :-)

Do your female customers like you more because you are a Microsoft Gold Partner?

Andy Trish of NCI Technologies sent me this request for stories to be feature in an upcoming book:-

“Do you have a funny or strange story to tell?

Would you and your company like to be featured in a book being launched to Microsoft Partners in October?

One of the sections in a book being co-written by UK PAL Andy Trish is all about the funny and strange things Microsoft Partners encounter in their day to day business.

Do you have any funny or painful or costly stories relating specifically in your involvement as a Microsoft partner? Do your female customers like you more because you are a Gold Member or do they want to partner with you in more ways than one?

Microsoft staff surely you have some amusing tales about partners that you would like to share.

Stories must be one page or less and can make you famous or be completely anonymous. All customer or partner names that are being talked about will be removed. Please submit all stories to Andy by email on by 13th September 2009”.


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