In line with its strategy to target the long-neglected midmarket business segment with products designed for that sectors specific needs, Microsoft Corp. is working on a new infrastructure server software solution that bundles together a number of its leading products.
Centro, the code name for the new product, will bring together Windows Server "Longhorn"; the next version of Exchange, code-named Exchange 12; the next generation of security technologies, including the upcoming version of ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server; and System Center management technologies, said Microsofts Steven VanRoekel, director of midmarket solutions in the Windows Server Group.
Microsoft, which is based here, is hoping to release Centro in 2007 as part of the Longhorn wave of products, but Bob Muglia, Microsofts senior vice president for Windows Server, left open the possibility that Centro might not ship until 2008.
Andrew Field, president of online printing company PrintingForLess.com, in Livingston, Mont., which has a staff of 125, welcomed Microsofts decision to create solutions that automate many of the tasks his IT staff members spend many hours on.
"We dont have a huge IT staff, but we have 20 servers and a huge network, as we are an e-commerce firm. If Microsoft can deliver an out-of-the-box solution like Centro that will be really useful, I would be very interested in it. I need my small IT department to spend less time on non-value-added stuff, the churn, and more time doing things that move the business forward," Field said.
Several Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, have admitted they have long ignored the mid-market.
"The midmarket customer has been the least-well-served across the spectrum of people served by IT. They are not only competing with the enterprise but they also face specific IT challenges," Ballmer said at the Microsoft Business Summit here last week.
Anthony Risicato, an IT administrator at Exact Advertising LLC, in New York, said Microsofts move into the midmarket falls under the heading of "better late than never." Risicato said, "This market segment has long been neglected at worst and undersupported at best. The hoops IT folks have to jump through to efficiently run a small enterprise are astounding."
Centro will be available preinstalled from Microsoft OEMs and system builders and is expected to run on two to three servers.