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Support for SBS 2008

Given its "kitchen sink" nature, SBS is and has been a difficult product to support. Not that the product is unwieldy or cantankerous, but there are so many differing technologies squeezed into a single server that it becomes difficult for a single person to know all the pieces in enough detail to be self-sufficient in supporting the product. When a box is up and running smoothly, not much regular maintenance is needed, which is by design. When things go wrong, however, even the top-notch support professionals can find themselves out of their league fairly quickly, given the right circumstances.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources that the support professional can turn to when he or she gets into one of these situations. The following are a few of the resources that the top-tier support professional should be familiar with.

Community Support

One of the greatest resources for SBS support is the worldwide SBS community. Thousands of support professionals who ply their craft in supporting small businesses have built one of the strongest user support communities for any Microsoft product. Through mailing lists, blogs, newsgroups, webcasts, radio programs, electronic discussion forums, and so on, these individuals give their knowledge and experience back to the community for the benefit of all.

One manifestation of this community spirit is in the large number of SBS user groups that exist around the world. Many large metropolitan areas have a user group, or maybe more than one, and some smaller areas do as well. Some groups have strong affiliations with Microsoft, some have affiliations with other professional organizations or vendors, and others are entirely self-sustaining.

As you move forward into the world of SBS 2008, look in your local area for an SBS user group, if you do not already belong to one. If there is not a group in your area, look to start one. Contact user group leaders to help you get information on how to start a group, or use one of the online group resources to get started. You can also start a blog and document some of the solutions you have run across as you get familiar with SBS 2008 in your client space. Join a mailing list and participate in the discussions, especially if you have expertise in a topic being discussed. By participating in the larger community, you might build contacts and relationships with others who may be able to help you out should you find yourself in a real jam.

Online Support

A number of web sites around the globe offer documentation or forums geared toward the SBS product space. Some even offer support for other support professionals. If you find that you are unable to locate a resolution to an issue you may be facing in the mailing lists or blogs space, joining one of these online support forums may help put you in touch with someone who has resolved your issue, or something similar. Some of these sites might have a subscription fee to access some of their content, but many offer free registration or open access to their services. In general, gaining access to these forums and resources before you need them is best.

The public SBS newsgroups also make an excellent support resource. Found at news://connectnews.microsoft.com/microsoft.connect.windows.server.sbs08, these forums are monitored by a large number of individuals, including Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), who share their time and expertise to answer questions posted to the group. Microsoft employees monitor these groups as well, and some Microsoft support professionals respond to posts in the newsgroups.

Official Product Support

Of course, Microsoft also provides support for the SBS 2008 product, and there are a number of avenues for the support professional to get support from Microsoft. In addition to the traditional call for support line, Microsoft also has a web-based support offering that has a lower cost than phone support and can be used for less-critical support needs. Support professionals who are either Microsoft partners or work for a Microsoft partner can get access to the Partner newsgroups as well.

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