Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Windows Server 2012 Essentials aka the next generation of what was SBS, is now available for download from Microsoft. They announced the RC release here overnight.
I’ve been doing quite some testing with this and it shows some real promise as a product for what could be something wonderful. The biggest concern I have now with the product is the pricing for those that wish to grow above 25 users or those that wish to have an onpremise Exchange server rather than use a cloud hosted solution.
Check it out and see whats new and changed in this. It’s going to be the Microsoft product if you wish to support SMB clients moving forward.
Sunday, July 15th, 2012
If you are installing the public beta for Windows Server 2012 Essentials, you will have found that you can’t install it without the product key. You might have missed it, but it was displayed down in the Instructions section on the downloads page here
Good luck with your testing
Friday, July 13th, 2012
It’s great that the public beta of Windows Server 2012 Essentials is out now. It means that the general public can all get hold of it and test it. I’d highly suggest you do this ASAP.
What you need to consider though is that many vendors of third party products will also need to test and potentially modify their products to work with the new architecture within the Windows Server 2012 platform. It’s not reasonable to just assume it will work as there’s been a lot of change under the covers. Items such as StorageSpaces are bound to have an impact on things like Antivirus software and third party backup programs. Other changes such as within IIS are likely to affect software such as Kerio’s Connect mail system. Personally I’ve not tested any of these on Windows Server 2012 myself, so I can’t comment on how they work, but we will need to see guidance from them before assuming “it will just work”.
The one vendor that I do know is working closely with Microsoft is Trend Micro. They’ve announced an alliance of some sort that sees their Worry-Free Security Services running on Windows Server 2012 Essentials already.
Vendors to watch for during this period will be StorageCraft, Trend Micro, BackupAssist, Symantec as they typically have close relationships with Microsoft and will have been testing themselves during the beta of Windows Server 2012. They might however have not released anything publicly and therefore you will need to talk to them direct about their stance with this new product.
Friday, July 13th, 2012
Microsoft and HP did a joint announcement this week at the WorldWide Partner Conference about Windows Server 2012 Essentials and HP Servers. You can check out the video below that was done by the HP Coffee Coaching team.
David Fabritius is one of the key guys on the Product Marketing Team for Windows Server 2012 Essentials and Lucy Ellis is the SMB Server Product Manager from HP.
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Ok – here’s a few more links you will need in order to get the best out of testing the beta of Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
Make sure you check out how you can run DirectAccess and an On-Premises Exchange server as well.
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Well – Microsoft have now released a public beta for Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Now you can try it out for yourself and find out if it’s going to do everything you need to do for your clients.
Joe Nalewabau, the Group Program Manager for the Windows Server Essentials team announced the beta here
Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing a number of articles delving deeper into the product as well as comparisons of it vs. previous products with advice on how you can fill in any gaps for your clients.
Go on… what are you waiting for…. check it out!
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
I’m hoping that Microsoft has learnt a few things over the last week from the announcement of the phase out of SBS as we know it and the introduction of Windows Server 2012 Essentials into the market place. I’ve done a few blog posts on the subject as you can see below.
What strikes me across all this is that the real issue here is one of communication. Microsoft basically did not communicate enough good news with the bad news. Susan Bradley and Amy Babinchak from Third Tier did a wonderful presentation yesterday (recording to be available soon) on Windows Server 2012 Essentials that had nearly 200 people attending at one point. The content delivered was on target for the market place and the technical audience. IT’s what Microsoft should have done in the first place. Advertise “hey guys – there’s a new product replacing SBS and we’ll show you how freaking cool it is in this webcast”. I’m sure that they will do better in future.
What’s next I hear you ask? Rumour has it that a public beta will be coming out REAL SOON NOW… so keep your ears open so that you can get involved in it yourself and find out how well it suits your business needs and those of your clients.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
There’s lots of clarifications being sought right now because there’s a lot of confusion around Windows Server 2012 Essentials, and what it really means to the market/resellers/end users. Dave Seibert is one of the US based PALs and he’s been having meetings with various people at the Worldwide Partner Conference. David’s reported back to a number of us about his meetings, and it’s best summed up here.
My comment to Dave is that I will wait till I see all this from Microsoft before I decide on how good or bad the news is. Only then can we be sure if our feedback has been heard about Windows Server 2012 Essentials and if indeed we will be happy or not. Some aspects of what he’s been told ring true, others don’t and I want to be 100% sure that the information is not misunderstood. Also I really want to see from Microsoft the intended costs for the 26th user and beyond. That to me is a real issue that is needing to be addressed.
Monday, July 9th, 2012
Ok – with all the announcements last week about the death of SBS as we know it, there’s a few things that have been missed. I really feel that Microsoft could have done a better job of highlighting them so that people would have an understanding of just what was included in Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Here’s my summary of what’s in the box.
From the Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ PDF here’s a few excerpts…
So there it is buried in the Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ PDF are a few gems of hope. Check out the PDF to see more info across the board.
Sunday, July 8th, 2012
Well as announced this last week, SBS as we know it is dead. Understandably, resellers are up in arms over being blindsided by Microsoft with this discontinuation of the SBS product (with up to 75 users) as we have known it for years. But were they really blindsided or did they fail to read the signs? There’s a few things that I want to focus on in this blog post
Microsoft Cloud Vision
Steve Ballmer back a few years said something along the lines of “we’re all in for the cloud… and if you are not on-board then we’re not the vendor you want to partner with” I guess that people thought this was simply rhetoric. Most resellers didn’t see the writing on the wall for many of the products within the Microsoft stable. Essential Business Server v2 was the first to fall in the march towards the cloud. Most didn’t realise that SteveB was in fact driving the company down a specific path regardless of if the user base wanted that or not. SteveB is the one here that has made those decisions. SteveB is the one pushing his team to build products for markets that are not ready for them yet. If you want to shout and scream at someone, then SteveB at Microsoft.com is the person to do it to, not the SBS team. The SBS team are a great bunch of people that are doing the best they can to build a product to his definition of the SBS market. Sadly, I feel that the death of SBS as we know it is premature.
The Reseller Channel
SteveB wants to crush the competition, but I fear that he will do so at the expense of many many resellers. But maybe those resellers weren’t really the partners that Microsoft wanted in the first place. Maybe it’s been part of the plan all along to move to the cloud so that Microsoft could weed out the resellers that were not “worthy” of taking to the next level. Maybe it’s a good thing – either way though I feel it creates some level of distrust between Microsoft and the reseller channel that will be hard to overcome.
Am I worried about MY business in the SMB Industry? Heck no. I’ve always strived to build solutions for clients that fit their business requirements. It just happens that SBS has filled that need for 15 years now. It means that I like many others need to retool myself and rehone myself on other products and technologies so that I can build solutions for my clients needs. I will survive – of that I am sure. Sadly however I feel for other SMB resellers. Those that built their business around just ONE product. They will also have to retrain themselves. The sad part about this is that whilst they may have the desire, they may not have the cash flow in the current global economy to do so in a timely manner. For them it will mean closing up shop. They will blame Microsoft for this, and to an extent they are valid in that view. I wonder if Microsoft took this into consideration when they made this decision?
I also feel for our customers. With this change, I believe that Microsoft are doing themselves and the client base a disservice. I feel they are going to lose potential customers with this “all in for the cloud” vision because in many cases, the pipes that connect the clients to the cloud are just not up to standard… and won’t be for a few years. The Internet connection for most clients is the biggest single limiting factor. Microsoft have failed to take this into account that the here and now speeds and reliability are not up to it.
Another point I worry about is the wide variety of solutions that customers will be exposed to. With SBS being around for so long now, it was a pretty much certainty that when we walked into a new customer they’d have SBS. We could easily pick that up and run with it. Now, I hear talk of people looking at various Linux solutions as well. That’s a concern in the long run as I fear customers will have poorly implemented solutions by relatively untrained resellers. The customers won’t have as much choice then when it comes to choosing a reseller that can support their solution. The end result of this is that resellers will either need to skill up on the various Linux alternative solutions out there as well as the Microsoft offering or they will need to just focus on one type of solution. Either way, I’m not sure that this is good for the customers.
The community was once very strong around SBS. Sadly over the last few years, there’s been quite a softening overall of the community spirit. A certain degree of apathy has grown and continues to grow within the community. People relying on a few people to do the grunt work and then always taking, not giving back which was the main reason I got into this space to begin with.
The community will survive too – but it will be different. It already IS different. It will be one where information is not so readily shared. Where information will be sold more so than given… or if given will be given amongst a select few within the confines of the various groups have have sprung up as a result of the community fracturing. Who is to blame for this? Honestly – the community is. The community has not gotten behind things the way they could have. The community has gotten soft and seriously has not contributed the way they should have. But people will blame Microsoft for it.
Back in 2010, when Microsoft were building SBS 2011 Essentials & SBS 2011 Standard, I made a prediction to some of my MVP buddies. I told them that I would be very surprised if Microsoft didn’t in fact not produce an SBS 2011 Standard given their focus on the cloud. I envisaged that Microsoft would make SBS a role that you added to your Windows Server product. Looks like I was out by a version but essentially this is what we’ve got now. I fully don’t expect there to be a future version of Window Server 2012 Essentials either – it will be as I describe – a role that is added onto the full product.
Can we build solutions on Windows Server 2012 Essentials? Sure we can. I lament the fact though that those solutions will be built only to suit 25 users. We can use normal products beyond that and the associated costs with them. This is a thing that SMB businesses must carry. Alternates to the Microsoft stack are there. Kerio for one makes a decent mail system and we’ve been working with it for some time. I’ll be seeing what we can do to incorporate Kerio more into potential future solutions as well.
I’ve not done the numbers yet, but there may well be a good case for actually building a 50 user solution based on Windows Server 2012 Essentials and then morphing it up to a 50 user solution. It looks as if the added cost will only be around $425 USD which is the cost of the base product. Time will tell.
The End Game
Ultimately the end game here from my perspective is to build a solid business helping SMB Clients overcome their business problems with IT solutions that are both enduring and cost effective. Whilst I might have a personal issue with the cloud in some aspects, it does not stop me from acknowledging that in the right circumstances, the cloud is a great solution. It does not stop me building my own cloud solutions for our clients. It does not stop me recommending the cloud where it’s appropriate for a clients needs taking into account business risk/return.
None of this stops me from looking at what is left of the Microsoft solution stack and building great solutions for my customers using it as I have done in the past. None of this stops me from using not just Microsoft products, but products from other vendors as well to build those solutions. Nothing stops me from learning new products and new ways to do this.
None of this stops you either. We’ve had our pity party, now let’s get our butts into gear and move on. Microsoft have made their decisions. Microsoft won’t change. We will. We will and we will be stronger for it. We will survive!
I’ll be doing blog posts in future about how we can use Windows Server 2012 Essentials to build solutions for our clients business needs. Stay tuned!