Tim Anderson’s ITWriting – Tech writing blog » Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 too expensive for hardware, market:

Is SBS 2008 too expensive?  Or was SBS 2003 too cheap?  Seriously.  I’m not saying that to someone expecting the dirt cheap prices of SBS 2003 that it isn’t a bit of a gulp moment, but maybe the problem isn’t with SBS 2008 but rather with SBS 2003?  And maybe one needs to think about a 10 user Windows Home Server with Hosted email for those 5 and under folks?

Name the number one missused OS and I’d argue it was someone who bought SBS 2003 premium because it was cheap SQL.  SBS 2003 got sold in the wrong place too many times.

I also totally cringe when SBS 2003 was sold for less than $700 on hardware (software included).  That sucker was an overgrown cheap celeron desktop and was not server quality.  It made for a totally LOUSY SBS experience on that hardware.

And for the record, for someone used to Windows desktop, managing a SBS server is much easier than learning to manage Linux.  On Amy Luby’s SMBManagedServices yahoogroup today the discussion point was made that one has to be careful with Open Source Solution projects that they may have hidden costs and bugs that have to be worked through that you don’t anticipate.


8 Responses to Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 too expensive for hardware, market

  1. Daniel Mundy says:

    Most of my clients are 5-10 user offices running in a workgroup. I propose SBS 2003 as it is a lot easier to manage, because they now have AD. Most don’t need premium.

    The cost increase of SBS 2008 will mean either our servers get a lot more expensive, or we have to use cheaper hardware. We don’t do desktop hardware for our servers, they are all Xeon on Intel server boards, but SBS is now less accessible to a lot of my client base…

  2. Chris Knight says:

    My maintenance times for FreeBSD (with Apache, PHP, MySQL/PostgreSQL/Firebird, Samba, bind, sendmail/postfix, OpenLDAP, SpamAssassin, amavisd, clamav, perl, kerberos, isc-dhcp and any combination thereof) is significantly less than my SBS maintenance times. Including major version upgrades.

    Mind you I had an extra 8 years to develop the maintenance process on FreeBSD, as I only bothered with SBS as of 2003. The lack of built-in snapshot backup kept me away from SBS 2000 as I had become quite fond of CDP’s SnapBack and when I heard that Microsoft bought their technology and incorporated it into Win2003 and calling it VSS, I was more than happy to move from NT4 to 2003.

    But this boils down to experience and familiarity of a system and building on top of your knowledge domain. The learning experience is about the same, it just depends on whether you cram it into 3-6 months or spread it over several years.

    You’re quite right re the budget servers – penny-wise but pound-foolish. What they save in initial hardware costs gets blown away quickly in productivity loss and technician time in any major maintenance cycle.

    SBS 2003 was too cheap, especially given that Premium gave you SQL + ISA. Microsoft have slowly eaten away at the value proposition, bringing it back to where it should be really.

    The problem is that there’s an expectation that server-grade systems should cost next to nothing. This is why there’s such a move by vendors to the “cloud”. The scale means that the feature set can be provided at a next to nothing cost. It only sucks big-time when you’re in a region like Australia where the incumbent telco makes the “cloud” proposition totally nonviable due to data costs.

    Argh, ranting about telcos. Time to stop.

  3. Joe Raby says:

    A Xeon quad-core 3300-series pedestal (tower) system with 8GB of RAM, 2x 500GB enterprise SATA drives with software RAID 1 as well as a backup option with a couple of 2.5″ USB drives, and SBS 2008 Standard can run at under $2600US, and if it’s built with retail components, the hardware warranty is typically 3 years on the most expensive parts (CPU, mobo, HDD’s, power supply, lifetime for RAM, etc.).

    That’s not out-to-lunch, but it’ll still give you a system that’s validated for use as a server.

    A company has to see the value in a long-term investment though, and there will extra costs such as networking gear, software assurance, as well as possible workstation upgrades. Leasing is sometimes preferable for purchases though, and it can work in tandem with spreading software payments via software assurance. Working that together with your managed services contracts is a good idea too, then a company can see, bottom-line, what it will cost per month/per year for their IT, making it easy to budget for.

    A good SBS’er knows that you should be offering a complete solution though, not just a computer. Your support should be a part of that solution too. 😉

  4. Rosewood says:

    I agree that the pricing jump from SBS2003 to 2008 is a bit much. SBS2003 was a perfect fit for my clients. They needed all the features that Exchange brings to the table, including the groupware features. From there, everyone was different. Some loved the fax capabilities. Others loved the offline files. Others it was the VPN. Most of my clients used subsets of the features that made sense for them and most of my clients are 5 or less. SBS2003 was amazing as it brought big boy features into their office that they loved and didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for.

    Also, by 2006 I could get hardware that ran it just fine for that size of an office dirty cheap. I’m not sure why so many people assume quality with cost, but it is an outdated mindset. What was amazing crazy expensive hardware spec in 2003 when SBS2003 came out was easily bested by midrange hardware in 2006. By 2007, the cheapest server from Dell could easily best some of the more expensive hardware of 2003.

    SBS2008, for the vast majority of my clients, doesn’t bring anything new to the table. What it does bring comes at way too steep of a price, especially in the market today. Eventually my clients will upgrade but it will be begrudgingly. Selling SBS2003 was the easiest thing in the world. So many features for a few hundred bucks, it sold itself.

    If Microsoft wants money from micro businesses, offices of 10 or less people / computers, it will have to cut the cost on SBS2008 or not be surprised when they stop buying. Maybe MS doesn’t want that market, but that attitude wasn’t there back in 2003.

    I know google is already making a push and I’m already seriously considering their services for one office where SBS2008 is just way too expensive.

  5. indy says:

    I have a client that gave me no budget, and I presented the google solution and the SBS 2008 solutions. They didn’t waste a moment in going the Google solution. A lot of these smaller clients do not want “hassle hardware” onsite, and honestly I can’t blame them. I maintain the network and workstations, Google maintains the google side, at a cost so much less than I could possibly complete with. Just for me to do maintenance on these servers and verify health is more than the yealy cost of google.

    They are willing to risk the cloud (which I’m uncertain of quite yet,) what with Google pulling services here and there, at least with MS you KNOW they can’t pull SBS features randomly.

  6. JamesB says:

    “And maybe one needs to think about a 10 user Windows Home Server with Hosted email for those 5 and under folks?”

    Wonder where you have been hearing that for the past 3 months?

  7. bradley says:

    Been saying that here.

  8. Brett says:

    Absolutely. None of our clients have the slightest interest in 2008. I don’t even like using it as an administrator. I don’t know why people go gaga over it. I’m no Linux fanboy but I’m seriously considering going that route for file and print sharing, get a sonicwall device and just having our clients get hosted email and apps. Maybe I’ll just virtualize these old SBS 2003 boxes and throw them on an ESXi system.

    SBS 2008 is just not an easy sell for us now especially since ISA is now gone. Why take that away? Why not get rid of that pain in the butt Exchange 2007? How many small businesses want to host their own email anymore?