Closing the Gap

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print

Microsoft says its new Essential Server family, targeted for small and midmarket businesses, will help customers drive recurring revenue. 

"There was a pretty wide gap, and now we will be able to close that," VanRoekel said.

Small Business Server is targeted at businesses with up to 75 seats and enterprise-level products are aimed at businesses with more than 250 seats or devices, he said, leaving a void into which most midmarket businesses fall.

With the introduction, he said, customers have more options based on their budgets, their customers, their IT needs and their resources, he said. Partners will be able to serve their customers better by offering products that more closely fit their business requirements, their budgets and their resources.

VanRoekel said that, currently, Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium edition ships with a copy of SQL Server.  But partners said they often installed SQL Server on a separate server other than SBS for redundancy and scalability. 

Based on that feedback, Windows SBS 2008 Premium edition, he said, will now ship with a separate copy of SBS and a separate copy of SQL Server to accommodate partner and customer demands.

"Now, they can install a separate copy of SQL on an entirely different server, so that if any applications running on that fail, they don't take down the entire server network," VanRoekel said.  The change also improves partners' ability to easily scale a customer's business applications as they grow and need additional server space, he said.

Virtualization capabilities are also included, since the products are based on Windows Server 2008 Standard edition, which includes virtualization, VanRoekel said.

In addition, the Essential Server family will include server anti-virus, e-mail filtering via Forefront Security for Exchange and integrated online collaboration tools, he said. For instance, if a partner sets up SBS and connects a customer to the Internet, that partner can also offer one-click access to buy a domain name, VanRoekel said. Since many SMBs don't have a company-specific domain name, this can be a crucial service offering for partners.

"A lot of SMBs will have a Hotmail or a Yahoo address, which doesn't make them look very professional," he said. This collaboration tool lets partners help their customers buy a domain name and set up their e-mail server correctly, VanRoekel said. Office Live Small Business is also included, which gives partners the opportunity to create customer Web sites quickly and efficiently. 

Sharepoint for sharing secure documents is also included, as well as a free trial of AdWords to introduce small and midmarket customers to digital marketing and online advertising, VanRoekel said.

The Essential Server family is in private beta and will be released to a public beta by the end of the first half of 2008, he said.  The products will be released in the second half of 2008, but VanRoekel did not disclose specific dates. Microsoft also declined to comment on product pricing.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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