Microsoft Gears Up for Midmarket Server Blitz

Microsoft gives its partners a better look at the Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008. The Microsoft products are aimed at the SMB and midmarket segments.

HOUSTON-Microsoft is gearing up for the release of its Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008.

Although the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference held here July 7-10 was the company's opportunity to introduce the technologies to its partners, Microsoft will officially launch SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 Nov. 12, said Steven VanRoekel, senior director of Windows Server Solutions at Microsoft.

"We're showcasing the Windows Server Solutions family" here, VanRoekel told eWEEK in a July 9 meeting at the conference. "SBS 2008 and Essential Business Server are tailored for midsized companies and we anticipate we'll see a lot of companies deploying it, and it will be growing into more opportunity for us to sell into more situations where in the past we only had SBS."

SBS 2008, previously known by the code name Cougar, is ideal for organizations with up to 50 PCs, helping them protect business data, expand business productivity and present a professional image to customers, he said.

EBS 2008 is designed for midsize organizations with up to 250 desktops, Microsoft officials said.

Windows Essential Business Server combines the technologies of Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, Forefront Security for Exchange Server, System Center Essentials 2007, the next version of Internet Security and Acceleration Server and, in the Premium Edition, SQL Server 2008 technology, Microsoft officials said.

Windows Essential Business Server enables organizations to scale up, VanRoekel said.

"The theme is about making complex consumer technology more consumable," he said. "We go from Windows Home Server, which is five questions during install, to SBS, which is a little more sophisticated, to Essential Business Server, which is 600 pages of documentation."

"We've been using Small Business Server 2008 in production since December," said John Endter, president of Microsoft partner E Squared C. "I recently did three Windows Small Business Server 2003 installs and [am] working with '08 now; it's no fun to go back and install 2003. Luckily, the owner of these systems plans to upgrade to '08 when it ships."

Endter said the "Essential Business Server takes the Small Business Server concept up one level. Some of our customers have asked for the functionality of Small Business Server, and EBS offers that to the midmarket."

He also said the licensing terms of Small Business Server 2008 make it flexible for small businesses to use and grow their solutions.

"We have some customers who six months into the deal want to expand, and we offer the ability to grow and scale," Endter said.

"We made it easy to move and made the price more attractive," VanRoekel said.

Meanwhile, Endter said among the things in Essential Business Server 2008 that his customers had been asking for is the remote Web workplaces capability. "Before this they had to build that on their own," he said.

Another highly desired feature that is now part of EBS 2008 is "centralized management," he said. In addition, "Small Business Server has been good for us, and seeing that the midmarket is a great opportunity for us, we expect to do well with the Essential Business Server."

Meanwhile, Microsoft will be releasing SDKs (software development kits) for both SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 within the next few weeks, the company said. Both products have been under evaluation as pre-release versions.