Microsoft sent a ripple through the business IT professional community recently with a formal statement advising that there will be no further versions of Small Business Server or SBS.
This would make the current version, SBS 2011, the last one that will exist in the marketplace.
Different versions of Small Business Server go back as far as the NT 4.0 era, and SBS has been at the IT heart and soul of many small enterprises around the world. SBS was in fact one single server that combined a Windows server operating system, domain controller role, core network services, a version of Exchange Server, and based on the edition might possibly incorporate a variety of components for instance SharePoint, ISA, as well as SQL Server.
Although a number of individuals were critical of Small Business Server especially when it combined products in ways which are totally against best practice it did and does include very helpful functionality such as Remote Web Workplace and has very user friendly administrative wizards to assist many small business owners perform some of the more common administrative tasks.
A successful community of small business IT professionals has developed around Small Business Server and some of them have shown their frustration and disappointment at Microsoft’s decision to discontinue the product line.
However the IT marketplace is changing heading to a more cloud-based model and Microsoft are putting more and more financial commitment into the products which allow that change to occur, indeed push that change along as fast as they can !
You only need to have a look at their resolve for developing a leading virtualization platform and their moves in the System Centre product family and the rapid advancement of Office 365 to know where Microsoft’s future direction lies.
SBS does not currently have its own support lifecycle rather it falls into the support lifecycle of the individual components. The primary ones are:
Each of the aforementioned continues to be under mainstream support for at least an additional year or more (depending on service packs), and extended support for many more years so there is no need for immediate panic.
So Microsoft would love SBS users to migrate to Office 365 or perhaps a combination of Windows 2012 or 2012 essentials depending on the application requirements of the business.The facts are that small companies which are working on low bandwidth internet connections (often due to costs or geographic position) or those with specific data protection/compliance requirements simply cannot shift to Office 365 as Microsoft presumably desires so what is the alternative now ?
Windows Server 2012 licensing details tells us that the Standard edition license will provide for 2 virtual machines on a single host so we’re able to anticipate that a beneficial small business IT solution for those having basic file/print/email needs and a inadequate internet connection will be a single server running two guest VMs, maybe server 2012 as a domain controller and the other as an Exchange server running Exchange 2013.
So what’s new : well nothing really
The IT industry has always prospered around the constant advancement of technology from the never ending cycle of upgrades that our customers go through and these changes are just another chapter of the same book !