8 Sep 2011

On Grass-Roots

Author: onq | Filed under: Breckenridge, Pontifications

There’s a wonderful little product from Microsoft that’s been garnering a lot of interest in the SMB space. No, it’s not SBS or even SBS Essentials. It’s the unfortunately-named Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, or WSSE as most people have come to start referring to it. During it’s development and beta process, it went by the code name Breckenridge. The product was officially announced back in November on the Windows Storage Server blog (http://blogs.technet.com/b/storageserver/archive/2010/11/08/announcing-windows-storage-server-2008-r2-essentials.aspx). Unfortunately, there’s not been a whole lot of activity since then. Why? Becuase for some strange reason, Microsoft decided that they would only make this product available through the OEM channel and rely on their hardware partners to develop and market the product. A lot of us in the SMB space have been waiting for someone to release WSSE in their product line, but it’s been very slow coming.


What is WSSE and why is it of interest in the SMB space? Essentially (no pun intended), WSSE is two core technologies from the Windows Home and Small Business Server product group, those technologies being Remote Web Access and Client Backup, put into an OS that can be domain joined and support up to 25 workstations. It’s like Windows Home Server without the 10 PC limitation and like SBS 2011 Essentials without the Active Directory restrictions. There’s a lot more to the product than that, but those are the two key selling points. For instance, I have a cusotmer who will be moving out of the SBS product and into traditional Windows solutions becuase they have grown too big for SBS. But they are really unhappy about the prospect of losing the Remote Web Access piece becuase a number of their key employees have been using it for years to work from home by connecting to their workstations in the office remotely. They also have a desire to have several of their key business desktops backed up. Well, a WSSE-based solution would be the perfect fit for this customer, as it will back up their workstations, allow them to keep the Remote Web Access technologies they rely on, and still use it in a larger Active Directory network.


If only I could find a company that’s making a WSSE device. And from what I’ve seen in mailing lists and blog posts, I’m far from the only one.


Well, last week, I ran across an e-mail from an associate pointing out that Highly Reliable Systems, a company we do a lot of business with for backup devices, was developing a Workstation Backup Applicance (WBA) based on WSSE. They had a page up at http://www.high-rely.com/HR3/includes/Smart%20Family/WBA/WBA.php┬ástating that they were working on the product and hoping to release it soon. As soon as I read the page, I called my account manager to get a quote so I could get this device in front of my customer to solve their workstation backup and remote access problem. Then on Tuesday, something unexpected happened – HRS changed the web page for the WBA indicating that due to lack of interest, they were stopping development on the product. I immediately fired off an e-mail to my account manager asking what the heck happened and why they were pulling the product when I had an order that was ready to go. I wasn’t the only one who hit them with the same question.


As a result, I had a conversation with the business development manager of Highly Reliable about the product and the actions that transpired behind the scenes. Essentially, they were having trouble confirming that there was enough interest in the product to guarantee enough sales to justify continued development of the device. Somehow, however, even though they thought they had reached out to all of their reseller partners regarding the product to gauge interest, no one had contacted my company to let us know about this appliance and gauge our interest. I had to find out from an unaffiliated source to learn that the product even was being developed.


The jist of the conversation is this: Highly Reliable Systems is back in research mode to see if there is enough interest among the SMB marketplace to justify the continued development of this solution. And while they’ve heard stories of people who have sales waiting in the wings if only such a product existed and was available, they’ve heard from very, very few people who actually want to place orders for this product. I offered to help spread the word amongst the community that there is a WSSE device that’s available now (or at least very, very soon) in the US from a company that has a good reputation for providing quality backup hardware. I also agreed to pass along the contact information for the parties at Highly Reliable Systems so that current HR resellers and those who aren’t resellers but would like to be can contact Highly Reliable and let them know specifics about their interest in a WSSE applicance.


So, if you have customers who have a need for a WSSE appliance and are ready to place an order, or if you have a projection of potential sales of such a unit if you could get your hands on it next week, please contact Jeff Bowling of Highly Reliable Systems. His phone number is 775-329-5139 x111, and his e-mail address is JB at high-rely dot com. Jeff wants to hear from you if you have an interest in this device. Even if you’re not ready to place an order right this second, he wants to know if you see a potential for this device in your customer space. If you are ready to place an order for this device, then contact him immediately.


I’ve seen a lot of e-mails in various mailing lists and posts on various blogs from people who have been crying out for a device based on WSSE. Well, this is your chance to ensure that a quality device becomes available. In other words, it’s time to put up or shut up. I’ll be placing an order for two of these units just as soon as I am able. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to get a WSSE device, this is it. Pick up the phone or fire up your e-mail client and get in touch with Jeff. He definitely wants to hear from you!

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