12 Jul 2010

On Announcements

Author: q | Filed under: Observations, SBS

So the word is finally out today: http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2010/07/12/announcing-previews-of-our-simple-and-affordable-servers-for-small-businesses.aspx. Microsoft has announced that a preview release of SBS v7 is coming and that a new product will join the ranks of the SBS space, code named Aurora. Now let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin, not to mention the flood of blog posts, tweets, as well as other status updates.

What does today”s announcement really mean? Well, it means that Microsoft has publicly stated that a preview releases of these two products will be available soon, and that you can read more about them and sign up to find out when the preview releases will be available at http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/beta.aspx. That should answer the questions about “is there going to be another version of SBS after 2008” and “what is this Aurora thing that looks like it might be the next version of SBS” for most people. It also means that I”m somewhat *less* limited in what I can say about the products and the space.

I”ve already seen some speculation and confusion about these two products from people on the ”net. What follows is my personal take on these two products and how I think they”ll fit into the space.

SBS v7 is pitched as a component refresh of the traditional SBS bundle. That means the latest versions of the core WIndows OS, Exchange, Sharepoint, WSUS, and SQL. The announcement doesn”t say anything about any new features being added, but does allude to a “richer remote access experience.” User limitations appear to be remaining the same at 75 users. I have not yet seen SBS v7,so I cannot say anything about it other than what”s listed in the product announcement. If you”re familiar with SBS 2008,my guess is that you”ll be pretty familiar with what SBS v& will be bringing to the table. We”ll know more after the preview release becomes official.

Aurora is the new kid on the block, is geared to be an “ideal ”first server”” according to the marketing. Supporting up to 25 user accounts, it presents the first “hybrid” product in the space, one that combines traditional on-premise equipment tied in with cloud services. Again, until the preview release becomes available, there”s not much more to say.

What I do see coming down the pike is a LOT of discussion over proper server sizing, premise versus cloud, capital versus operating expenses, and so on. These products are going to mark a turning point in how many IT service shops approach providing services for their customers. Folks who have been avoiding dealing with the cloud are going to have to in order to fully understand how best to pitch these products to their customers. Those who have complained that SBS is too “big” for smaller shops now have an alternate solution.

For me, we”ll be looking at Aurora for smaller sites who aren”t concerned about having their e-mail hosted on premise. Or even small shops who are looking at Kerio as an on premise e-mail solution. We”ll also be looking at SBS for those organizations who continue to want all of their technology services entirely on site: e-mail, collaboration, LOB apps, etc. The only real limits for how we may choose a solution is the seat count: 25 for Aurora and 75 for SBS. Businesses over 25 employees automatically have Aurora ruled out, and businesses over 75 employees automatically have SBS ruled out. Everything else is fair game.

In the coming months, as more information becomes available about these products and what they really can and cannot do, we”ll get a better picture of how we”re going to use these products as solutions for our customers. When to choose Aurora over SBS and vice versa. Until then, we are in research mode, and we will continue to promote solutions to our customers based on the needs of the customers and the products that we have at our disposal.

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