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Does Office 365 signal the end of Small Business Server?

Office 365 is being touted as the perfect solution for the same small businesses currently using Microsoft's Small Business Server to get Exchange and SharePoint. Will the cloud kill SBS?

On June 28, Microsoft officially launched Office 365, the cloud-based service that serves as the successor to BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite). It's designed to provide Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync (formerly Office Communications Server) to small and mid-sized businesses as hosted services. It also includes the Microsoft Office desktop applications (equivalent to Office Professional Plus edition). Office Web Apps, the online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, can also be used.

There are three different plans available:

  • One for small businesses that don't have an IT department
  • One for mid-size organizations and enterprises that do have IT staff, and
  • One that's directly targeted at educational institutions

If the small-business version sounds a lot like the same market Microsoft targeted with Windows Small Business Server (SBS), that's because it is. SBS 2011 is an "all-in-one" server product that integrates Windows Server with IIS Web Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Windows SharePoint Services (and, with the Premium add-on, SQL Server, Hyper-V, and Remote Desktop Services).

Microsoft released the latest version of SBS last December, but I've heard rumblings in the small business community about whether it might be the last one. Like the fears for the future of Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 (TMG), this is fueled by Microsoft's big push toward cloud computing, and the cloud is something that many see as a particularly compelling option for small businesses -- the very organizations that currently use SBS. Are those fears unfounded?

The small business dilemma

SBS 2011 Standard Edition is designed for (and limited to) no more than 75 users and devices (more about SBS 2011 Essentials later). Companies of that size often have no professional IT staff. They may have a person who does IT duties on a part-time basis along with his/her primary job, or they may have an independent contractor who comes in to do periodic network administrative tasks (and is called in a panic when something goes wrong). Either way, unless the business itself is IT-related, maintaining on-premise servers involves a substantial "hassle factor."

SBS takes some of the complexity out of setting up and maintaining a functional company network with enterprise-class components such as email and collaboration, as well as lowering the licensing cost for small organizations. But even administering SBS is too much work for some companies with limited personnel resources. In fact, many small businesses have used hosted services for at least some of their IT functions for many years. Hosted web services and hosted email services have been most commonplace.

SBS to the cloud -- only half in?

Microsoft addressed this by coming out with an edition of SBS 2011 called "SBS 2011 Essentials." It's a hybrid solution that aims to ease very small businesses into the cloud, by integrating on-premise and cloud-based software. The SBS on-site server acts as a domain controller that authenticates users and then passes them through to hosted Exchange and SharePoint services that are accessed over the Internet -- i.e., Office 365. Thus you get single sign-on for on-premise and cloud-based applications. When it comes to administration, simplicity is the name of the game, with the server using a dashboard console that's very similar to that of Windows Home Server.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Because it is limited to 25 or fewer users/devices (no CALs required), the Essentials edition won't be an option for those organizations with between 25 and 75 users. They'll need to stick with the Standard edition, which doesn't provide the cloud integration.

Given Microsoft's "all-in" commitment to the cloud, you have to wonder why they imposed the 25-user limit on the cloud-based version of SBS. What happens if a business with fewer than 25 users grows so that it now has 30 users? Does that mean they have to switch from the cloud-based networking model to an on-premise model? Assuming they want to keep using SBS, it would seem to. How does that make sense?

And to make matters worse, there appears to be no upgrade path from the Essentials edition to the Standard edition. Of course, you can still use Office 365 if you have a network based on SBS 2011 Standard edition, as well, but you don't get the out-of-the-box integration and you pay for the on-premise versions of applications that you aren't going to use.

Is SBS Standard on the way out?

Some of the folks who have been happily using SBS to service their small businesses and who aren't particularly interested in going to the cloud are worried that the debut of Office 365 signals the beginning of the end for their simple, low-cost server solution. There does seem to be more excitement around the Essentials product than the Standard, and I've noticed that the Microsoft web sites often put Essentials first when they discuss the editions. Is that a subtle clue that they're planning to eventually throw the traditional (non-cloud) version of SBS under the bus?

That notion might seem a bit more outlandish if not for the demise, in June 2010, of SBS's "mid-size sibling," Essential Business Server. EBS (also known by its code name, Centro), was released in 2008 with much fanfare and was designed for organizations with 250-300 users. It included Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, ISA Server, and Forefront Security. One reason given by Microsoft for killing EBS was a desire to streamline their product lineup.

You can't blame people for wondering if more streamlining is about to take place. With rumors swirling around the future (or possible lack thereof) of other non-cloud products such as TMG and indications that the company is trying to regain more focus by reining in its recent "finger-in-every-pie" strategy, SBS (or at least the Standard edition) looks like a logical candidate to get the axe.

SBS fans may take comfort in the statement in the EBS TechNet blog post that announced the end of that product, which assures us that "we are working hard to build the next version of SBS and look forward to a second decade of success with this award-winning small business offering" [emphasis mine]. Pessimists will point out that this was written before the "all-in-with-the-cloud" philosophy came to dominate.

Reasons to let it die

Many will argue that SBS Standard has outlived its usefulness. They believe the cloud is the only sensible choice for small businesses, and they point to:

  • cost savings (especially up-front costs and unexpected emergency maintenance costs, as well as personnel costs)
  • the ability to cut the cord of dependency on IT consultants (on which many small organizations rely because they don't have in-house IT staff)
  • more reliability and less downtime due to the hardware/software, including redundancy and multiple frequent backups that cloud providers implement as part of standard operating procedure and that small businesses often can't afford to implement (or don't implement well) on their own.
  • better security, due to standard practices and more money to invest in security measures on the parts of cloud providers

Microsoft's Office Division president, Kurt DelBene, expects that more than half of small businesses will adopt Office 365 within ten years. And you have to admit that for a small company, it's pretty compelling. For $6 per month per user, you get a lot: an Exchange account (with 25GB mailbox), Office Web Apps, SharePoint Online, even Lync instant messaging, and online meetings. That last one is especially interesting. An OCS server is something that few small businesses can afford or have the expertise to support on-site in the past.

Despite the early start enjoyed by Google Apps, many agree with Gene Marks at Forbes, who believes Microsoft will win the small business cloud war. But in a sense, on-premise solutions such as SBS compete with Microsoft's cloud offerings. The company might not want to fragment its efforts to put more development resources into SBS if it's a shrinking market.

Reasons to keep it alive

All the arguments above sound good, and if IT decisions were made by robots, dropping SBS Standard might make a lot of sense. However, those decisions are made by humans, and there is still a great deal of human resistance and distrust of cloud computing -- perhaps especially among small business owners.

Corporate decisions are made by managers who report to officers who report to boards that are concerned primarily with the bottom line. Those officers and managers have, by necessity, gotten used to delegating responsibilities and trusting others to carry out various tasks. They probably have experience with outsourcing some duties.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

The entrepreneurs who run most small businesses tend to be control freaks (and I don't say that in a derogatory way; I am one of those entrepreneurial control freaks). We worry a lot, and we worry more when we can't see what's going on. We hate to fly -- not because we're afraid of heights but because the plane is controlled by a pilot we don't know, whose competency we can't be sure of, sitting behind a locked cockpit door, and who we have no power to fire in mid-flight if he doesn't do a good job.

Likewise, having our data and applications living in some remote data center and being managed and manipulated by persons unknown makes us very uncomfortable. We may come around to the cloud idea, but we'll do it slowly. In the meantime, we like having a cost-effective, relatively easy-to-maintain solution to meet our somewhat modest IT needs.

Another reason Microsoft should keep investing in SBS is choice. Even if they weigh the options and decide that the cloud makes sense for them, small businesspeople like having choices. We don't want to be tied in to just one possible way to do things, even if that would simplify our lives. If Microsoft doesn't give us choices (that we can afford), we might just look elsewhere for them.

Conclusion

Office 365 is an exciting option for many small businesses, but I hope Microsoft doesn't decide it's such a great choice that it should be the only choice and doesn't discontinue the Standard edition of SBS, which has served many companies well for many years. While, in general, I think Microsoft should stop trying to be all things to all customers and stay on a strategic business course that will unify its product offerings, I think they also need to recognize that the migration to the cloud may come about more slowly in the SMB market than they're anticipating. In the meantime, more choices mean more customers and more customer goodwill. And speaking of choice, how about increasing the user limit for SBS Essentials so companies with up to 75 users can choose whichever of the SBS 2011 editions (cloud-based or not) best fits their needs?

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

46 comments
billballew
billballew

365 and the cloud scares me to death! We are moving back to the 70's client server environment with exorbitant pricing. I have a small company with 8 employees. I priced 360 at $603/month. That is $7236 a year ??? and that is only the beginning. We have Server 2003 and 10 workstations on XP Pro. We???re thinking of adding a server at approx $6000. We declined simply because we cannot afford that kind of expense. 365 and the cloud would kill our business. It is preferable(cheaper) to pay a tech, install an Apache server and go to Openoffice. The other option is to use the money for more office space and go back to paper processing (still cheaper). Can???t go there no matter the argument. ??? Sorry Charlie throw the tuna back

WyeKnott
WyeKnott

To suggest that Microsoft will support "Freedom of Choice" is merely wishful thinking. Consider the GUIs of Office 2007, 2010, Windows 7, etc. -- what choice does one have, really? In addition, since Microsoft essentially controls the channel via its Product Key technology, it can coerce users into "upgrading" whether they wish to or not. IMHO, this is NOT "Freedom of Choice". Microsoft marketing folks will decide what you want and how much you're going to spend -- not you! I think Microsoft is trying to force everyone onto "The Cloud" in spite of its many pitfalls because it's the only way they can force the software market to keep on churning. One powerful incentive for them to do this is that SOS effectively eliminates the distribution channel partners and allows Microsoft to sell EVERYTHING at MSRP! It's squarely aimed at eliminating competition as well as Microsoft "Partners" of all persuasions.

Amigut
Amigut

SBS technology is clearly oriented to future. Microsoft focuses on the two most important segments of small business market - companies with their own server infrastructure and companies without such, although separation of the "cloud" and local capacity is somewhat conventional.

parissis
parissis

Cloud sounds great, and sexy, and nice, and scalable, and much safer than a home solution, and everything, and I really want to move to the cloud... BUT: A. I am running a small law firm and will probably install locally SBS 2011 behind a couple of s/w and h/w firewalls. Long story short: Being small, I am not that attractive of a target. So, chances are not that thousands of hackers are trying to get hands on my clients' lawsuits and stuff. In any case, I took all reasonable care (just like I did with the reinforced door and the alarm system, reagrding my office space). If I move to the cloud and something goes wrong with the provider (do Sony and Nintendo recent hacks ring any bells?), how do I explain a client's lawsuit or a buisiness contract being in some jerk's blog a few days later? B. In case you're not a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant or any other person dealing with 100% sensitive data, but an iventor, how can you be sure that what your stored - nobody - knows - where - designs will not apper with somebody else's name under it? C. In case you're a direct or indirect business competitor with a SaaS provider, how can you explain to the Board where you stored all the company data? D. As other people also suggested, what happens if the secretary forgets to pay the internet bill? And I am talking about firing her... What I am trying to say, is that there should always be room for SBS, because it serves a whole market segment that does not seem to be able to store everything on the cloud. Different views will be appreciated.

mysterchr
mysterchr

There are a lot of good comments floating about. Mine is focused on the section about reasons to let it die and move to the cloud. The author, Debra, says that it's a good thing to let it die so that you can "Cut the cord of dependency on IT consultants." My thought to this statement is, who's going to be supporting these cloud services? I know MS isn't going to be providing support for six dollars a month. So who provides the support? As a consultant and an IT technician in general, over half your requests are application support where users themselves don't know how to use their own programs. So where does the support come from?

eharris
eharris

I have used SBS for 10+ years. Over that time, as the organizations I've supported grew, we expanded on the SBS base. Blackberry Server integration, Quickbooks, Needles (legal software), Windows Mobile integration, remote desktop and many other vertical applications were added. You add remote services to that and for client's they are doing cloud computing. I wonder if Microsoft is considering the fact that small businesses use the server environment for more than domain controlling, AD, Exchange, etc. For remote employees to access the environment, we use Outlook Web Access and Remote Workspace. To client's using those features, they are already using Cloud computing. The server just happens to be located where the customer can control, manage and grow it as their needs dictate. SBS is really a low IT maintenance product. The Google approach is great for some organizations, especially those who may not need a true server-based LAN. Those that are virtual by design. If they need a specific server app installed however, there is no Google solution. Google's strategy does not consider non-Google server-based applications. Microsoft's approach does/did. There are still people writing software based on the client-server model. Surely MS can come up with another SBS strategy to compete with Google other than killing a product that gives small businesses a compelling reason to buy MS Server products in the first place. It's funny Google is taking an outside-in approach (mobile device-internet-LAN-desktop) to their strategy because they could not compete with the inside-out approach established by Microsoft, IBM and Apple. They always have thumbed their nose at virtual, mobile, web technologies and let others define/refine those technologies, then they come rushing in trying to take control using bully methods. It's becoming tougher to do that now that others are using platforms and OSes that MS does not own. If Microsoft was insightful enough to seriously consider the mobile device-internet-LAN-desktop ecosystem, they would not have allowed Google to establish themselves and create the threat that exists. With SBS, they will be giving away a key chip (the SBS chip).

peter.lyons
peter.lyons

What does the Data Protection Registrar say about data that is held in the Cloud, does this meet all the requirements of the DPA? What verification processes are acceptable to the DPA for data held in this way? Are they the result of an independent thrird party? Does Some clarity is needed.here

SethRK
SethRK

It has been about two years since we migrated from SBS (exchange and sharepoint) to Google Apps Premium (now Google Apps for Business) and we have not looked back. I have more than enough to do without having to manage SBS. The rare episode without internet is far less inconvenience than having the SBS server off-line for maintenance. We still run our CRM off a local server, but I can envision a future in which at least the SQL Server database it uses is moved to Azure or some other cloud host. I am confident that the large vendors do a better job of backup, redundancy, and resource management than I can do here. Cloud solutions are definitely the future for most businesses and with that in mind we are re-writing the commercial applications that we sell to be deployable on cloud service providers. The only issue of merit, I believe, is bandwidth, and that is getting better and cheaper all the time.

dale303
dale303

Am I missing something here but just how many small offices only need the standard set of MS Office apps? I have a quite a few small business clients. OK, there is a not insignificant percentage, who will only need basic office apps and email but the vast majority of my small business clients are in specialist fields where the server not only deals with office documents and emails but lots of other formats such as graphics, movies, cad, etc. The bulk of these files are in formats Office apps can't read. Not only that, the accountant clients run the server versions of Sage or PTP, the estate agents, use Vebra, etc and that's just the 'off the shelf' database based apps. The video editing companies need TB of storage and the dentists need something else again. They all have their own special needs. If you're going to need a server to run the databases for these apps and store their files anyway, why pay extra to store your email elsewhere and you office docs in a different place to everything else?

RichardMtl
RichardMtl

I was on the Beta team of Aurora (SBS 2011 Essentials). I really wasn't impressed at all. I showed it to my study group and they too agreed with me. We truly do not see the appeal of that product. It is just a few dollars less than SBS 2011 Standard but you only get a fraction of the functionality. Once you factor in the Cloud, it will cost you MORE. I think it is aimed at people who are bad at math (so it probably will do well - lol). During the Beta, I complained about several key features that it was lacking. Microsoft basically didn't care. They are forcing us to the cloud. Microsoft is a marketing company and I am an Engineer so we naturally disagree :) Microsoft is trying to improve their cash flow and bottom line by extracting as much money from our pockets as possible. If Microsoft wants to succeed, they should watch Steve Jobs. While it is true that Apple's products are overpriced, people are willing to pay because those products WORK. Give the people what the want and you will make money. If you don't, someone else will :) Richard www.compunetics.ca

tiredoftechrepublic
tiredoftechrepublic

Poor ISP infrastructure will be the end of the 'Cloud' (agree with JohnMcGrew) When I get calls from my clients that their internet is down, I am thankful they have everything they need, except email. Even then, Exchange is available for in-house users. I find it hard to believe people don't see the 'Cloud' as an attempt to monopolize the control of businesses. Ever heard of 'Corporate Sabotage"? The more data you put 'out there'... the more insecure your data is. I firmly believe small businesses will go to the 'Cloud' in droves, due to the fact of it being less costly (at first) for them. I also firmly believe that consultants like myself will be severely phased out, unless small businesses are educated beyond the hype. If one of my clients decides to go to the 'Cloud', I will suggest that they unplug their modem for the day and see how production adds up at cob. Also, a note for those clients of mine that switch and want to come back... my fees have gone up considerably. Addendum I see I have gotten 2 negative votes on my post... All I have to say is, come back here in a couple of years and read: "I told you so" @ RicardMtl, I cast a positive vote for you and brought your score up to 0... I guess people do not like the idea of having their data secure. I guess everyone that voted negative on our 'anti-cloud' comments, have never had a severe outage of their ISP. Most of my clients do not trust anyone but the DAT drive and a 6 tape rotation & off-site storage. And for good reasons. When you wake up one day and your data has been compromised in the 'Cloud', you will wish that you had taken a different route! Onward gullible sheep... Put your trust in someone you don't even remotely know. (pun intended)

Giottod
Giottod

My biggest concern with cloud services is for rural areas. For example where I live there is 1 telephone company. We had a storm come through a couple of weeks ago and town lost power for days. If a business is using cloud services or SAAS this means downtime and lost productivity and ultimately revenue.

Dierbaar
Dierbaar

Thanks Debra for your usual thought provoking article! I am about to break the wrap on Windows SBS 2011 Essentials, after I have tried the Office 365 Enterprise beta. I am over 60 now and I need to provide my smaller customers with something that they can handle mostly by themselves. Your example of being a "Control Freak" was right on the money! The end of my personal "Control Freak" reign looms in the near future, so I will dance with the one who brought me; Microsoft Office in it's varied forms. I don't like the idea of business cloud services running on the Internet. Back in the early 1990's, Sprint and X.25 networks were the way big business did the cloud - dependable, secure X.25. Now I battle with rootkits and botnets that are way smarter than I am. Good night dear one! Control Freaks to the Cloud!

tony
tony

Microsoft admits that they cannot guarantee that in the cloud my data will not be stored outside of the EU. Thus, by using the cloud, I am potentially breaking the EU data protection laws. This is one reason I run SBS - I have complete control and can ensure legal compliance.

carlsf
carlsf

We are sick of M$ silly games and extracting $$$ from us for WHAT.... Every product change (O/S and Office) has cost us in money in product purchase and training of users, this has had a major impact on our bottom line. We have now drawn the line and have moved to GOOGLE CHROME and their cloud APPS, all work well and our users like and now enjoy the ability to use Google for both their WORK and HOME use. We tied this to ZOHO's CRM package and workers can perform their jobs from both WORK and HOME a win win for our business and employees. Productivity is up, as worker downtime is gone. Workers have discovered if they have to stay at home due to family needs, they can work from home to complete their job. AND the BONUS we have saved a large sum $$ in the process, NO more feeding the Micro$oft black hole.

a.portman
a.portman

The issues raised, connectivity and special aps, are big. The same church that does not have the money for a full AD network is not going to have the money for the fat bandwidth they may need. Nor are they going to have the serious cash for data conversion. I don't see those small software companies bringing cloud versions of their software to market either. Many of them are small operations themselves. For those users in big cities with easy to access bandwidth, connectivity is a hassle. Now, how about the tractor dealer 150 miles north of Omaha? He has maybe one carrier. He may not be their number one priority when weather decides you don't need to be on line today. MS is probably going to phase SMS out. They may have Foundation Server 2008 that may be positioned to take its' place. Now how do I get my churchsoft icon from my local server onto my virtual desktop?

rickscr
rickscr

Dependable Fast Internet access - not everyone has it. As has been mentioned before specialty apps and there are a lot of them.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

M$ will probably try to shoehorn you into some app they have that might or might not be as good as whatever specialist program you are using, but the fact of the matter is, if you are using Quickbooks or Pastel accounting (or whatever) you are not going to be able to migrate and still do everything you can do now. Plus that migration will be painful and might just involve taking on (capturing), rather than converting your existing data. Not many small businesses are prepared for that!

Ken487
Ken487

The question that I have with eliminating SBS for a small business is how do they cover unique applications (i.e. church management software or accounting) when they move to the cloud? Ken

marc
marc

Cover Thy bases

tomw
tomw

I like cloud bases options. Just not as the primary option. Can you live without your data if the Internet is down? What if your Internet connection is down all day? Unless you're shelling out $600/mo for a Service Level Agreement, that can happen. Most small businesses I know do not have that kind of connectivity and isn't really cost effective. It all looks good on paper until the Internet is down. I can see small business starting out with Office 365 and moving up to SBS as they rely more heavily on data.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

They need to make a reliable product. Their recent downtime will deeply affect the confidence others have in the product, and thus their sales. Their competitors enjoy much higher reliability, rendering it a game of catch-up the hare simply cannot cover enough ground to catch the tortoise.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you think Microsoft's secret plan is to kill off SBS Standard like it killed EBS? Is that part of a long term strategy to force us all into the cloud? Or does SBS Standard simply make no sense now that small businesses have the option to use Office 365 to provide essentially the same services at a low monthly cost with none of the administrative worry?

tiredoftechrepublic
tiredoftechrepublic

quote "I am confident that the large vendors do a better job of backup, redundancy, and resource management than I can do here." end quote Really? What makes you so confident?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

How do you really believe that comment? The News of the World Story in the UK has just proved how subject to Data Theft we all are. Those who where initially supposed to be adversely affected where supposed to only be Celebrities, Royalty and Politicians. Now we find that members of the General Public who where caught up in the Bombings and members of dead military personal families where also adversely affected even though they have only found out years latter. Is it really believable that the Finical Section of this News Paper didn't do the same thing to directors or senior management of Companies that they where interested in? Personally they have shown complete contempt for the Law and I don't believe that we have even began to understand just how widespread that this practice actually is. What I find impossible to believe that this was limited to just that 1 Media Outlet that passed as a Newspaper. Its even harder to believe that the Mass Media are the only parties involved, what was stopping Finical Investment Consultants from doing the same thing to Company Directors of reported [i]Shaky companies[/i] or anyone else who they thought that they could make money from? Do you really believe that you data is safe in a Public Cloud that you have no personal control over and how is it possible if you do? It will only be the way of the future till the Brown Stuff hits the Fan and then those companies who willingly go to the Cloud will no longer be suitable to run for numerous reasons and most likely will be subject to Legal Action which sends them Broke. So how much Insurance Cover do you have to protect the business from the results of a Data Breach and more importantly how much does it cost per year? Col

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

"Apple's products are overpriced, people are willing to pay because those products WORK" - Nuh-uh. People are willing to pay because those products LOOK COOL. If they really worked as well as they claimed they did, they wouldn't spend so much time and effort justifying the expense and defending the products.

RichardMtl
RichardMtl

It is refreshing to read all these negative Cloud comments, especially Capt. Wilikona :). At computer events, I hear so many gullible people buying into the hype that I sometimes second guess myself. I hate the cloud so much that I started a blog. Most of my concerns are addressed well here but if anyone cares to read it, check it out here. http://compunetics.ca/Blog.php My study group is currently learning SBS 2011 but we are also seriously looking in Apple's Mac OS X. (another blog I wrote too). Only one of my small business customers showed even a remote interest in the Cloud and after I shared my opinions of it with him, he wants SBS 2011 Standard. Unless I can hold my data in my hand (DVD, external drive, etc.), I don't OWN it and I don't CONTROL it. I don't trust Microsoft (or anyone else for that matter) to manage my data. From my blog summary... Check out the dictionary definition of ???cloud???. Use Google and type in ???define:cloud??? and you will find??? - overcast: make overcast or cloudy - obscure: make less visible or unclear - make gloomy or depressed - defile: place under suspicion or cast doubt upon - out of touch with reality; "his head was in the clouds" - make less clear; "the stroke clouded memories of her youth" - a cause of worry or gloom or trouble; "the only cloud on the horizon was the possibility of dissent by the French" - suspicion affecting your reputation; "after that mistake he was under a cloud" No one can be against choice. Give us options. The Cloud may be good for some people but to remove a in-house solution like SBS standard will just force customer to look elsewhere. Richard www.Compunetics.ca

Realvdude
Realvdude

However, depending on your business and a cloud solution, you might have been able to be back to business at the closest hotel with power and high speed internet. you may have even had employees that did not know the company lost power, if they were working from home or on the road. For SBS you could have moved your computers to a location with power, but you still have to network it together. Even then, you might not be able to support remote workers.

parissis
parissis

MS and Google have probably already "typically" covered those issues, by deploying data centres in Ireland and the Netherlands. HOWEVER, I cannot easily trust that a US company will not "need a backup solution" outside Europe, you know, "in case" their EU data centres face a blackout, or for whatever other "reason"...

sipeki
sipeki

Google or MS have not addressed this issue that EU law states that a European company has to store data in Europe or ask for specific permission from each person they keep data on to store the data outside Europe. Even then it is not clear if this is okay. MS and Google need to address this matter before I would recommend migration to the cloud. Google Apps is great.

dale303
dale303

Not only, that. Because Microsoft is a US company, the Patriot Act will allow US investigators access to *any* data stored on Microsoft equipment regardless of who owns it or where it's located.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Serious question: Most companies use (or used MS Office) but nearly every one of them has other apps, too. How does Google Apps support things outside the "standard" office productivity apps? Did you not formerly use anything that was not in MS Office? What did you do for accounting, case management (legal), some other industry-specific app, etc? What are you doing to meet such needs now?

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Big files. Working with a 2 MB spreadsheet or 25 MB PowerPoint over what amounts to a WAN link is not my idea of a good time.

philip
philip

They do not cover apps like Accounting (look what happened to MS Office Accounting). A mixed bag with a local Server for Accounts and Payroll, with preferably a way of sucking a local backup of all except Exchange (pulling in 25GB mailboxes anyone?) would be a good compromise. Exchange scares me when it goes wrong, and the mailstore grows like topsy if you do not put limits on the Users. Moving Exchange offsite would solve most of my Clients problems of Server-load and size of (local) backup/dataset.

hbull
hbull

You run them on a server on premise, both SBS Essentials and Standard can do that, or if you want you can run them hosted on the cloud. Office 365 does not allow you to run line of business applications on the cloud. For that you need a server.

Realvdude
Realvdude

Who will either try to get your app to run in Windows Azure (ala VM) or set you up to continue to run the app on a locally on something less than a server. Either way, it will probably cost more than the SBS Essentials. I haven't looked into church management software in a long time, but back when I did, virtually all ran peered (shared), with one computer housing the data, rather than a true client/server environment. Not that it was a bad way to go, rather it allowed each computer to perform the work for that user, but it was also more network intensive.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

How dependent are you willing to have your (client's) entire functionality dependent upon an Internet connection? I'm happy to have my small clients outsource certain functions, like e-mail/Exchange services. After all, if their Internet connection goes down, they're not going to be doing e-mail anyway. But unless you have a guaranteed service agreement and multiple redundant channels, (which few small businesses have or can afford) are you willing to have sales/accounting/word processing/etc (all functions that if they are not there bring everything to a halt) dependent as well? I am not.

capeterson67
capeterson67

It is a nice product for a company that doesn't depend on it's IT infrastructure for daily operations. If you can't bring up a webpage for awhile, fine. If you can't access the company database to enter an order or more importantly, print out payroll? That's different. Also, while cloud computing sounds nice, how slow might this function for those companies whose internet access is basic broadband?

jbitgood
jbitgood

This is just one of the many reasons why hosted services should and will continue to be a niche product. I have only once found a legitimate reason for a client to use that model, and that's because a good number of their employees live in different states. I find it frustrating when a potential client has an infrastructure in place in their one and only location and all they want to talk about is moving everything to "the cloud." It's just a new overhyped buzzword for an old, old concept. After the rush is over, we'll be seeing lots of people regretting the decision and paying barrels of cash to move everything back to their office.

benhurrr
benhurrr

Microsoft as a software company has to offer an option for a cloud solution as it is a new and promising technology. I do not think they want to kill the standard SBS if it is still on demand. It is for the SMB'S to choose what best suit their needs, and depending on that one or both technologies will keep on thriving.

Jeffrey1980
Jeffrey1980

I doubt microsoft wants to kill off SBS Standards, if anything, they just want to move down to 1 global product posted via my Galaxy Tab Android

SethRK
SethRK

Our customers are, I believe, pretty typical of small businesses. With the possible exception of those with in-house IT, no matter how much we remind them, they do not secure their networks, backup their data, or upgrade hardware to handle increased needs. And these are healthcare providers who are under HIPAA mandates to secure data and to have disaster recovery plans in place. A cloud provider would not have to work very hard at all to do better than these businesses are doing on their own. As with choosing any vendor (including IT consultants), you must do your homework.

sipeki
sipeki

The beauty with the cloud is that you can quickly access your business apps anywhere, be it a Hotel, Coffee shop, or mobile device. Maybe not perfect but least you could keep in touch with your customers and keep them in the loop.

GraemeLeggett
GraemeLeggett

If all your users are on site, why bother shifting your data off unless its to take advantage of the inbuilt backup security or mail-filtering. Use of the cloud is dependent on a quality connection, though if you are using Outlook in cached mode you can survive modest interruptions to email connectivity. And there are always something's for which offsite data doesn't work (Sage accounts for instance)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

I once had a customer like that. They where a large Medical Practice who where Doctors not Computer Geeks and they didn't have the money to waste locking it down. The Practice Managers Wife tried to get his Timetable and accessed Patient Data as well as the Practices Accounting App. They now have the tightest system that they can manage and advise everyone else that they know to do the same. They did this after the demonstration to the owner by his wife as to how easy it was for an idiot to break in. His words not mine I should add. I'm not sure what worried him more the fact that she got Patient Information or saw the Bank Balance of the practice. ;) Things like are better than all the advise you can dish out no matter how good it is. The trouble is that until they understand the implications they have no idea just how easy it is and think you are trying to make more money out of them. OH and the owner now is a Complete Geek who insists on using Linux on all his home computers. Another Guy a Surgeon constantly refused to allow me into to update his AV Program which had expired. He would say that their is nothing wrong so why do I want to charge him more for something that is unnecessary? Several weeks latter he got a Automated E Mail for the College of Surgeons telling him that the E Mail he sent them was infected and they where adding him to their Black List if it happened again. No need to say how long he took to demand Instant Action. :^0 Col

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

The News of the World has proved that a Company when offered the right insensitive will do as they please and totally ignore the Law even go as far to adversely impact on a Ongoing Police Murder/Kidnapping Investigation. So is it so Believable that the same company or people from that company at the very least will think twice about cracking another Mobile Technology to get the story that they want? Is it any more believable that News of the World was the only place doing this? Probably more importantly do you believe that Business is there to help you or themselves? If you derive a slight benefit from another business so much the better but you can not seriously believe that, that was their initial aim. :^0 Just remember that because we are not aware that it???s happening doesn???t mean that it???s secure. [b]It only means that we have as yet to find out.[/b] The News of the World shows that 7 years after the initial event we are now only now beginning to understand the depth of this Security Breach that we where told was not possible. And we are slowly coming to understand just how many people where adversely affected without ever knowing so does that mean that what happened tot hem was OK? Basically if a tree falls in a forest and there is nobody there does it make any noise? The same applies if there is a Data Breach from within a Public Cloud and no one knows does that mean it didn???t happen? I???ll not even mention the limited available Bandwidth which is rapidly running out as this Wireless Technology gets more widespread use. Col