Microsoft Offers SMBs Bundled Solutions

The Windows Essential Server Solutions promise greater efficiency, but at a price.

Microsoft wants to help small companies run their businesses more efficiently. But that efficiency is going to come at a price.

The software giant on May 13 unveiled Windows Essential Server Solutions, packaged offers for SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) designed to help businesses that tend to have small IT staff improve efficiency and increase productivity.

Microsoft customers and partners can go here to discover how they can evaluate pre-release versions of Windows Essential Server Solutions.

Joel Sider, senior product manager with the Windows Server Solutions Group at Microsoft, said the vendor was looking to give these smaller businesses an all-in-one offering.

"The philosophy here is to provide an integrated IT infrastructure for customers," Sider said. "Pulling [the various pieces] together is useful for SMBs."

Microsoft is doing this by packaging technologies that companies previously would have bought separately and offering them at a single price.

Double the Price Jump

Windows Small Business Server 2008 comes in Standard and Premium editions. Both include such products as Windows Server 2008, Windows SharePoint Services, Exchange Server 2007 and Forefront Security for Exchange. The Premium Edition also includes a second server running Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition.

Windows Essential Business Server 2008 also comes in two editions, with both a management server, a messaging server and a security server. The Premium Edition also offers a database server that includes Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition.

The solutions are slated for general availability later this year.

Customers will see price jumps in some of the products, particularly in the Client Access License fees. For example, the CAL for the Small Business Server 2008 Premium Edition is $189 each, up from about $90 currently.

Sider defended the price hikes, saying businesses will save 40 percent or more thanks to the greater efficiencies offered in the integrated solution, and that the overall cost of buying the packaged offerings is less than if the businesses were to buy all the pieces individually.