Monday, August 30, 2010


Well my transcript has been “found”. There was some issue when the exam was written that caused it not to be uploaded. So at least Microsoft is going to have it uploaded in the “the September run”. Luckily September is just around the corner, so let’s give them this much. After all, it only took a month… (Am I too nice to be able to run a business?)

Whilst we are on the subject of corporate Microsoft, to be able to be recognized as a SPLA reseller, you need to register on the SPLA essentials site. No problem, nice “Sign up” link and everything. That was almost 3 weeks ago. I have had numerous emails confirming activations and registrations of all sorts, and within this correspondence there are links to do further activations etc. Like a rabbit hole, just going in deeper and deeper with no final “here you go you are now registered and able to start selling”! I really think there should be a review of the flow of this registration and activation, really un-intuitive and error prone (As I’ve mentioned before). So this is another bottle neck I’m trying to circumnavigate.

On the brighter side, I received another job offer yesterday that after MUCH deliberation I declined. The company is a large retail chain in South Africa and it seems that they are now trying to go Agile. This would have been a very exciting position, had it not been for my delusion of having my own business. What makes this a positive is that they run TFS. They are busy upgrading to Visual Studio 2010 and then TFS will be next in line for an upgrade. A friend of mine that works there mentioned how the TFS instance came to be and by the sounds of it, they are in need of someone like me!

I was initially worried that although I have a brilliant idea, the paying client base in this country may not be able to support a service such as this. This gives me a little bit of hope! I now need to bide my time and then see if I can get myself in there.

Build a business one client at a time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cold Calling...

I made my first (of many I’m sure) cold calls today. You don’t often think that giving someone a call could be so nerve-wrecking. I got the lead form a friend of mine, saying that this company is basically using TFS for only source control (what a shame...). So I got this guy’s details (the Enterprise Architect), and did as much research on him as I could find. Then did the cold call prep.

You look at all possible scenarios, questions and answers that could rear its head in this call. You prepare a script, giving as much info in as few words and as clearly as possible.

Then the call...

I must admit the person was a lot more down to earth that I was expecting. He was polite and sounded very approachable. But BANG... the one scenario you did not prepare for. Panic sets in and you start darting around your script to try and find a quick question / solution / something to the response. Then after what seemed to be hours and as much seemingly pointless questions as I could stomach, it was over.

They’re actually getting rid of TFS due to a corporate policy to use open source tools.

In retrospect I should have realised the “corporate policy” card is usually something that is pulled because there was a problem somewhere or something did not work, or even just to get rid of the person on the other side (me in this case). I can think of a bunch of questions I should have asked – the biggest one obviously is what went wrong with TFS. Even in this I could have offered my services in moving from TFS to svn at the very least.

So a person lives and learns. I hope the next one will go better; at least I have some other scenario to plan for now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Missing Transcripts

I wrote the 70-512 exam more than 7 South African working days ago and it has still not appeared on my transcript. Getting a bit worried about that one, so I phoned the help full people at Microsoft. It appears as if the exam was never uploaded to Microsoft from Prometric, they are going to investigate and hopefully upload it manually. I hope that there are no issues surrounding this.

Will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SLA registration nightmares

I've been seinding our the new site to a couple of people / friends for some feedback and input. Maybe see if they can start generating some leads.

In addition to this I tried to register on Microsoft's SPLA essentials site. Was that a mission!! I had to go through the "sign up" about 7 times before it was happy to let me through (even just to tell me that the application was recieved and it will take about 3 - 8 business days to process). The registration process gave me the YSOD about 4 of those times. For the rest, it would just hang and do nothing to the point that I lost patience. I tried to send a comment to tell "them" that an error had occured and lo and behold yet another error occured on submission on the contact screen.

Quite ironically the site was deployed with the debug libraries. So I can see that is was developed using ASP.Net MVC and from the full stack trace of the error. I have to admit, not something I would not expect from Microsoft. I could deduce who potentially compiled it and that he obviously referenced the source code for MVC directly as apposed to referencing libraries..


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Team Foundation Consulting

Formally introducing Team Foundation Consulting.

Hhhmm - taking a chance here aren't we..

We were going back and forth looking for good fitting names, but alas, turns out Microsoft was taken :).

The business model is being build around Microsoft's Team Foundation Server 2010 as I'm sure you are aware of by now. I liked the Team Foundation (actually a suggestion from my wife that is completely non IT) as I believe that TFS can be the foundation of a cohesive, managed and productive team. Having a look at the Microsoft Trademarks it does appear that Team Foundation or anything to that effect is in fact not trademarked or registered. I hope that this is not going to cause a problem, then again any publicity is good publicity.

We feel that it is a fitting name and speaks to the point that encompasses what we are trying to acomplish : building awareness around Team Foundation Server 2010 as a component of a well intergrated and productive unit, be it as a part of software developement or not.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Domains and stuff

Last week was a bit of a slow one. We got the site "mostly" up , had a few issues registering the domain and actually getting the domain pointing to the site. (Note to self - make sure that the people you get to register the domain allows the routing or pointing with the registration and does not require you to subscribe to a hosting package.)

I decided to use Google Sites for the initial incarnation of the site - Why : cause it is cheap and easy, giving some decent templates to work with!

In order for me to have a routed domain I needed to take a hosting package from the hoster that I'm planning on using (which was fortunately not a big deal as I needed the email etc to create a profile based on the company and not around me personally). So I opted for the cheapest one (about R20 per month). This package does include space and a site builder but I already have the google site up and configured so I'm using that for the time being, in addition to a fairly decent mail / mail routing package.

The site: I'm by no means a graphic designer or anything, so this site is purely to get a presence out there. When time and income allows I can always change and "re-invent" it as needed.

I spent time this morning registering my company so it is now officially a Microsoft Registered Partner.I still need to spend time on the details surrounding my information and registration (hopefully that still has impact towards credibility). Now the problem is to get the certified partner status, as for that I need 2 MCP's and 3 customer referrals, bit of an issue for a (so far) one man show.

Now I'm waiting for the TFS Exam transcript to show on my mcp profile, activating the MCTS, so I can get closer to the ALM Competency.

We have decided to focus on consulting around TFS and ALM processes, but clearly drawing attention to the hosted services that is in the pipe-line. If I get consulting gig's I can always sell the hosted option to a more receptive client. One of the options that I would consider is outsourced management of the TFS environment that could bridge the gap between a fully hosted solution and just consulting once-off.

So this week it is finalising the site and start getting that out in the open using some PPC style advertising on some local IT sites.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Next Steps.

Today (even though it is a public holiday in South Africa) I'm sitting here with my wife and looking at what is next..
We have defined some plug criteria (when do we call this a bust, pull the plug and try something else..) and the next steps that should take up most of this week.

Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have a online presence and have some advertising pushed out via some niche delivery mechanisms..

I have also set up this blog and started moving my "posts" to this blog site.

Friday, August 6, 2010

MCTS : TFS 2010 here I come..

woo-hoo wrote the 70-512 exam and passed it.... I was a bit concerned about the depth of knowledge needed etc, but after taking advice and working through the TFS Admin (one of those tortuously long detailed guides) and TFS Install documents. In addition to a fair degree of working experience it seemed to be good enough :)...

Having this exam under my belt should provide me with the MCTS for TFS 2010 administration. First check box for the ALM competency checked....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OK I can work with this..

Got the reply from Grant (see previous post) and he highlights that firstly they used TFS 2008 (this was back in 2007) and it was a huge infrastructure overhead to accommodate the hosting story with TFS 2008 as you could not share instances due to security concerns etc etc - luckily with TFS 2010 that was address in a way making use of collections.

And then the mindset of people and the willingness to have you IP (source code) reside in the cloud. This is one that I'm going to struggle with but hopefully with the huge emphasis on cloud these days that mindset is being chiseled away.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bad News?

Today I was doing some reading up on TFS in general. I then remembered about Grant Holiday. If you don't know him then you obviously do not take this TFS thing serious :). Why he is of such keen interest to me is that he helped start up one of the first hosted TFS services (in Australia), then went to work for Microsoft - still actively involved in TFS.

The first post on his blog really make my heart drop. Basically it stated that TFSNow (the hosted TFS company that he was involved in) no longer offers TFS as a hosted service.

That is not what I would have liked to hear. Why would one of the first companies to market no longer offer the service.

I dropped him a mail and anxiously await some insight into this....