Mindless Philosophy

You just need the tech to run your business

by Darren Street

Created on: Monday December 30, 2013


Back in the day when Windows was king, us technical people could be seen creating domain controllers, configuring IP stacks and just plain farting around with DFS (not the crap furniture store but Distributed File System). It seemed our whole lives could be lived in the wonderful electronic world of Microsoft. And what a system it was...it could do everything for thousands of people. email, web, databases, server and client software. The whole world was safe and happy under the watchful gaze from Mr Gates.

You just need the tech to run your business

Hmmm. There was one thing the Windows Server software couldn’t do that well. Serve a handful of people. Hundreds and thousands of people all concurrently connecting in multi clustered solutions... Great. 2 guys a printer and a Morphy Richards coffee machine...err not so great.

But why not I hear your ask?

Well because you basically needed the same software on a dedicated server regardless of whether you had two members of staff connecting to the network or two hundred.  Sure Microsoft tried to mitigate this somewhat by creating Small Business Server, but MS Exchange really needed to run on its own hardware to realise its power, the same being true for MS SQL server.

2 guys a printer and a Morphy Richards coffee machine

But it was sold to businesses and businesses bought it. Great....err not really because Windows Server software needed configuration to make it work. It’s not like an Android or Mac Tablet. You don’t switch it on and expect it to work. It just doesn’t.

So you needed a person to do this. Perhaps part-time initially who (if he/she was any good) would insist that you take full backups and that you needed a really expensive bit of kit to do that. Oh and perhaps some virus protection for Windows Server which was always 300 times more expensive that the regular client version.

So now you have a box in the corner of your office that is on all the time and it has a backup machine connected and it whirrs at 2am for 3-4 hours ensuring all your data is backed up. This gets you thinking as you don’t actually create that much data, let’s say 20-30 megabytes a day which is a lot, so how come it takes three hours to backup...? Well you have to backup the windows server software too as it would take an absolute effing age to restore without that.

So before you know it you have a big fat liability emerging. Oh no what’s next...what if the power goes down? OK let s get a UPS and attach to the server. Sooner or later you’ll need a support contract incase all this hardware goes tits up and your whole business will collapse.

OK that’s the financial headache, what about the people issues.

OK let drop into the wonderful world of hypothetical. You and your best mate sell widgets from your office on a industrial park in Frinton.  Betty your accounts lady comes in every Friday to cook the books. So you get Windows Small Business Server because you are a small business but now you have to CTRL ALT DELETE every morning to access your computer stuff. Unbeknownst to you...you do actually need 256bit 3DES Active Directory to ensure your top secret widget blue prints aren’t whisked away from under your nose.

But now you have access denied to all your important files because you aren’t “domain admins” and you never will be. You are a user now Sunny Jim and don’t forget it. So you beg Dave the IT bloke to grant you access...but he can’t because you don’t have VPN access. How much will that be?

So you have now bought all this stuff to safeguard and secure your minuscule data requirements which ensures that you don’t have access to it.


My Name is Darren Street and I have been clean from Microsoft Server for 3 days.

And by golly it feels good.

No more DFS or Active Directory...goodbye exchange server, adiós SQL Server. No more FSMO roles or account lockouts. No more sensible shutdown procedures.

It’s taken years off me. I feel a new man. I can hold my head up high and not worry about domain replication or successful overnight backups.

I just don’t care anymore and I love it.

So have I retired...no, gone mad... no, seen the light...yes.

I decided that small businesses don’t actually need half the software they are being told they need. In fact I suspect that point at which centralised computer policy management is a benefit and not a hindrance is higher than most people think. Contrary to popular belief users are people too, and can be trusted not to download  a virus or look at porn in the office. Sharing and securing files can be managed on a simple NAS device without the overhead of a MS behemoth. Corporate mail can be managed and delivered via an easy to manage web based interface. You just need the tech to run your business, everything else is a drain to your bottom line.

OK close your eyes and click your heels three times.

You just need the tech to run your business

You just need the tech to run your business

You just need the tech to run your business


Ray Stanley commented on 31 Dec 2013

Great blog. Just done the same thing. I am an IT contractor living in Melbourne and had 3 domain controllers, UPS's, DAT tape backup and all the headache of supporting it on a day today.

Migrated the lot to a cloud server and have never looked back. If the server goes bang can spin up a replica in 12 mins.

Try doing that with a home network.

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