April 20, 2014

The demise of Small Business Server – part 2

The dawn of the cloud.

Since its launch just over a year ago Microsoft has been moving the Office 365 bandwagon along at an increasing pace. It has almost gotten to the point where new features and bug fixes are being deployed to the cloud before customers can install them in their own on-premise environments.

With the 2011 release of Small Business Server (SBS) we saw a level of integration in the Essentials package that brought SBS and Office 365 together in harmony. This allowed SMBs to have the best of both worlds – an on-premise server working in conjunction with their cloud productivity suite.

However, one version of SBS, SBS Standard 2011, was left on its own. A feature-limited version of the full products, it was powerful enough that a person with limited knowledge could run it efficiently for their organisation, or break it completely.

One of the products included in SBS Standard 2011 was SharePoint, but this was the Foundation version which was effectively free. While functional enough for most SMBs it could not match the feature set of SharePoint Online that is part of Office 365.

SBS Standard 2011 missed out on one product altogether; Lync. In order for a fully functional Lync environment with web/audio/video conferencing hosting, federation, and all the other bells and whistles offered by Lync Online, an SMB would be required to invest in more software licences and consulting fees.

Unfortunately, customers on SBS Standard 2011, while having more control over their environment and a variety of other benefits, were falling further and further behind businesses who were using Office 365.

When productivity tools are in the cloud it allows SMBs to be more agile and to scale up on demand. A common scenario is when an SMB that expands into another state and must then bring in their IT provider to determine how the remote users will connect back to the Small Business Server running in head office. This brings in challenges of virtual private networks, additional bandwidth, purchasing more licences, network delays, etc. By comparison a cloud-based SMB simply acquires new licences and adds new users in a matter of moments – regardless of their location.

While I agree with many of the SBS fans out there that the server software it still has a place in the SMB market, the fact is that Office 365 is rapidly chewing up SBS market share.

For a majority of the 2000’s I sold, implemented, supported and upgraded SBS solutions for customers. Now with Paradyne we shut them down on a weekly basis as more and more customers choose the path of least resistance for adopting new technologies.

As Howard Hughes would say, it’s the way of the future.

 

Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.

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