As many of you will have heard by now, Microsoft announced late last week the end of Microsoft Small Business server as we know it. In the most recent version they introduced Small Business Server Essentials which was Pre-licenses with 25 users and included all of the key features with the exception of Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint. The idea of this is that it would be a great introduction to small businesses into the world of a server and should they require it, then they could use Microsoft Exchange via a hosted service such as Office 365. Now with the announcement last week, this is the only version that will remain at the end of June 2013.
The end is nigh
A lot of small IT providers rely on SBS to make up a key part of their sales, hell we shift a fair few SBS servers……so is this the end? Not at all, this simply represents a shift in how we present our solutions to the marketplace moving forward. A lot of IT providers do not like using Office 365 as Microsoft ‘own’ the relationship where billing is concerned and it makes them uncomfortable. The concept that all of us aspire towards is being the ‘one stop shop’ for our clients and the Office 365 billing model goes against this as the client would receive multiple bills from different providers for services. But does this *really* bother the client? After all if we, the provider, manage the relationship for them then there is no real issue. That said Office 365 is not the only solutions. There are a number of ‘white label’ hosting providers that will allow you to provide hosted Exchange to your client with your own branding, this is something that we have done for some time now and it works well.
So it’s all about the cloud then?
Does this mean that we all need to go knee deep into the cloud? Not at all, after all there are alternatives to Microsoft Exchange such as Kerio. With fierce pricing it is a definite alternative to Exchange and more cost effective. What we need to do now moving forward is to talk to our clients and see what they are looking for in terms of their business needs and put forward a technology based solution that will work for them; all be it on premise Exchange, Hosted Exchange, Kerio or some other technology that will empower their business.
Now is a great time to be in the IT business as we see the landscape change so substantially that it will drive creativity and innovation through the IT providers that service small businesses. I for one think that this is a change for the better but like any change it *is* uncomfortable but ultimately you have the chance to shape IT solutions in the SMB workspace moving forward.
Let the good times roll!