What’s next after SBS?

The announcement of Microsoft’s new lineup of server products, omitting the Small Business Server name has created a lot of buzz in small business circles.

Microsoft’s stance is that they have consolidated the disparate existence of 4 product skus and have consolidated them into a single sku called Essentials. With this consolidation, they have also removed two major components that were “non standard” in terms of the way these products were installed in SBS when compared with their intended usage within larger organisations. The two products, Exchange and Sharepoint, were addressed by the provision of options to install on separate virtual servers, or to integrate with Cloud based hosted versions of these platforms. With the introduction of a process/feature called Transmorg, the 25 user limit within Windows Server 2012 Essentials can be unlocked while keeping the “SBS” bits like Remote Web Access and Client Backups (previously not available in SBS Standard). However, there are supported limits to how many clients can be backed up, which has been set at 75. Additionally, new features of Windows Server 2012 are readily available in Essentials, particularly Storage Spaces, File History and Application Compatibility.

This is the Microsoft line and message they want to convey to the community.

On the other hand, there are a LOT of partners who are unhappy with the decision to discontinue the SBS brand name. The main concern that many partners have is that Microsoft are pushing customers to the cloud and are cutting the middle man from the equation. Indeed, this has been a prominent theme in many discussions. Many others are disillusioned by the way in which Microsoft have made these decisions without much regard or consultation with the small business community at large. Indeed, other factors like the discontinuation of the Small Business Specialist Competency in favour of more expensive and technically challenging Small Business Silver and Gold Competencies plus the removal of Software Assurance on SBS products after August 2012 were seen as more “aggression” from Microsoft as the organisation does not care for the community.

However, in the end, all that matters is that Microsoft will continue to do business as they see fit in order to provide the optimum outcome for their shareholders. If they choose to do this without the support of their small business reseller community, then that is the strategic decision that they have made and will have to live (or die) by. The community, on the other hand, must recognise that the business environment is constantly changing and that one must adapt with the general business sentiment or risk being swept aside and be irrelevant if they are resistant to change.

One factor that appears to have been missed in the emotion of this frenzy is the need of the small business customer. What does the business owner want? What motivates them to reach into their pockets to shell out money for IT? Who do they trust to provide them with technology that will enhance their operations and profitability?

Will YOU be that trusted advisor?


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