Today Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) and Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008), their bundles of server software for small and medium businesses (SMB):
Large enterprises typically have specialists on staff with the technical knowledge, budgets and time needed to manage IT environments — a luxury small and midsize businesses can rarely afford. Based on feedback directly from customers, SBS and EBS greatly help reduce the setup and ongoing management of IT, while enabling new scenarios to enhance end-user productivity, as well as saving companies money on license costs.
To ease customer concerns about the initial investment cost of rolling out new infrastructure technology, Microsoft has developed licensing and financing options that allow flexible payment terms from 24 months to 60 months. Both SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 are priced significantly less for qualified customers than it would cost to separately purchase products similar to those included in SBS 2008 and EBS 2008, and Microsoft is offering financing for the hardware, software and partner professional services.
Partners are a big part of sales to SMB, often with VARs selling turnkey industry specific software riding on top, so Microsoft is courting them heavily (as usual) as well as software and hardware developers. There are more details on the contents of the various flavors of these offerings in our earlier post on the subject or at the homepage for Microsoft’s Essential Server Solutions which is Microsoft’s new umbrella term covering SMB server products.
Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Steven VanRoekel, senior director of Microsoft’s Windows Server Solutions group announced the launch date for Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008:
I am excited to announce that Nov. 12, 2008, is the official launch date for Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008. Activities that day will signal availability of both solutions and kick off launch efforts worldwide. In many ways, though, we consider WPC our launch for partners and we want to help them plan and prepare for the solutions.
We are also announcing that both solutions are reaching the Release Candidate 1 milestone, another step toward final release. Pre-release versions of Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008 are available for download and evaluation now through www.multiplyyourpower.com.
SBS and EBS are Microsoft’s bundles of Windows Server 2008 and selected middleware directed at small and medium businesses respectively. Pricing for both had been announced in May.
Last week Microsoft announced the availability of pre-release versions of Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS) and and the new Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS) (formerly codenamed Centro) which are bundles of Microsoft server products targeted at small and medium sized businesses respectively. Microsoft promised that finished versions would be available later in the year, but since both products include SQL Server 2008 which won’t ship until 3Q and since further package integration time will be required, late 4Q would seem to be the maximum likelihood estimate.
However, most of the buzz was about the pricing which Microsoft also announced and which was up to 80% higher for SBS 2008 compared to its predecessor SBS 2003 R2:
(The new pricing and licensing for Microsoft’s products was complex enough for IDC to issue on May 13 a non-Microsoft-commissioned research note, in which IDC dissects the new pricing information in detail.) One highlight from the IDC note:
“The most important difference between Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium and Windows Small Business Server 2003 R3 Premium is the inclusion of the full release of SQL Server into the new product. Microsoft says that ISVs balked at supporting LOB (line-of-business) applications aboard the SQL Server Workgroup Edition and pressed Microsoft to give them a two-server version of the product so that the LOB application could be installed aboard a dedicated server that runs only the application and the database.”
Microsoft also touts all the swell new functionality and low maintenance features of SBS 2008, but the key customers are ISVs and VARs who package these server bundles up with specific vertical business applications and sell them to small businesses. Microsoft is still offering a bargain bundle price compared to separate purchases and by the time the Microsoft partners get through adding their value, a $1000 here or there really won’t matter that much.
One final note: Essential Business Server is not to be confused with System Center Essentials which is a Microsoft IT management software package for mid-sized businesses which is one of the pieces included in EBS. Apparently there was a brand name shortage.
Today Microsoft is cranking up the hoopla for the 2008 refresh of their mainline server and tools products: Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008. Visual Studio 2008 is already generally available and SQL Server 2008 won’t ship until 3Q, but some there is some claim to relevancy for the launch event beyond the marketing hype since Windows Server 2008 became generally available today.