It is with much regret I have to report the announcement of the death sentence imposed on Microsoft Home Server, SBS Standard and SBS Premium.
For many years Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) has been an old friend to NCI and our customers, to have to report it’s demise is heartbreaking.
Windows SBS 2011 Standard is the last product of its kind with integrated Exchange and Sharepoint and will be available through the OEM channels until Dec 31st 2013 and other channels until June 20th 2013.
Since the days of NT4 the engineers at NCI have been working alongside the SBS Product teams helping to develop future versions, reporting bugs on current versions and excelling in the knowledge and support of a fantastic product. NCI achieved finalist status in the 2006 Microsoft Worldwide Partner awards for Small Business Server and NCI’s Director Andy Trish has been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status for the last 4 years for his work in the technical community with SBS.
Windows Home Server will also not be continued, instead a brand new product called Windows Server Essentials will be released on to the market incorporating some of the major Home Server features such as client backup.
Windows Server Essentials is not designed to replace Small Business Server in its current form but it will allow SMB’s to connect to Microsoft’s Office 365 package through built in links in its management console. Although pricing hasn’t yet been announced a 25 user limit is imposed on Windows Server Essentials with no additional Client Access Licenses being necessary, i.e it comes with 25 Cals by default. Microsoft in their wisdom have changed the recommended amount of users that SBS deals with over the years depending on what products they were releasing to compete with SBS but the SME world knows it as 5 – 75 users. EBS when released made the marketing team reduce the top figure to 50 and Foundation Server moved the bottom figure up, the reality was Microsoft had created a fantastic product that met the needs of SME’s globally if you were a 5 man band or a team reaching 75 users or devices and that product was Small Business Server.
On premise email built in to SBS with wizards that made the product easy for SME’s to administer always fitted in to the space that Microsoft wanted to bring on board in the past, but now all their focus is Cloud. Questions asked to me by Microsoft are why wouldn’t your customers want Office 365 instead of having to manage a server and pay for hardware, the reality is there are many reasons why but Microsoft doesn’t care, they simply want to recoup their investment in Cloud having announced recently a $500 million a quarter loss in its online services division.
In the past many discussions between NCI’s Director, Andy Trish and Microsoft Executives have resulted in SME’s being given a choice of Cloud, Hybrid and On Premise solutions, For the SME it now appears choice is being taken away, it’s cloud or pay the same price as the big players for your on premise server solution. Microsoft are betting on the former in the hope more customers migrate to the cloud. Microsoft as all companies do, have changed over the years, in my opinion the last years changes have been far more noticeable than others. The days were I used to love Microsoft for listening and adapting, advising and partnering seem a distant past, now a giant beast of an organisation has moved from innovating and motivating its own staff and partners to dictating to them all. Is this the start of the fall of the giant empire or will Microsoft recognise that partners are people too and they know what their customers want to succeed in business?
A Server that connects to Office 365 has been available for a while now, SBS Essentials. None of NCI’s customers bought it despite it having its uses because SBS Standard or Premium meet their needs better and helps them grow their business. The world is seeing a continuous financial downturn and Microsoft is pushing low cost, budget products that financially may help short term, the long term picture may be a different thing. NCI’s customers have always said to us they don’t want budget products on cost, they want products that will help them compete in today’s world. SBS Standard and Premium did that, case studies carried out and paid for by Microsoft on NCI’s customers are proof of that fact.
So now that the axe has fallen all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall into place. The death of the Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) makes sense when you don’t have the suite of products that helped that community function. The requirement to take an Office 365 exam to qualify for the new Small Business Competency also stands when the only product designed specifically for the SME market is cloud focused. Reports are that the exam was originally created for the enterprise and is quite difficult for SME’s. One thing I don’t understand is why there is a requirement to complete an exam for a brand new competency on a product that is going to die.
More information on Windows Server Essentials will be announced later this month.
So it is with sadness I say goodbye to an old friend, product and culture, the future in the SME world is a bleak (and more expensive) place without you, R.I.P. SBS.
I don’t want to say goodbye to Microsoft, you’ve been an ally, a friend, a playmate and a confident, please don’t force me to. http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/06/19/thats-all-folks-why-the-writing-is-on-the-wall-at-microsoft/