Wednesday, August 08, 2012

SBS is a Community, Stick together!

Well, I’ve seen a lot of unhappy faces (umm, emoticons?) about a name change from Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials to Windows Essential Server 2012.  People don’t like the removal of the “SBS” part, and there is a revolt. 

Before I joined Microsoft, I spent countless hours with my roommates with Windows NT4 server, Proxy Server, and more software, trying to share an Internet connection with my room mates.  I did my first interview with an on campus Microsoft employee, and my first day on the job I was going to his going away lunch!  Well, I remember distinctly getting the email from him that said “I could work on any team, but I’d probably be a good fit for SBS”.  Larry was the GM of SBS at the time.  I instantly “MSN Searched” (ok in University I used Google) it and was like “This is what I need for my apartment!”.  It was a natural fit.

I love SBS (I say love because I still do), but not because of a product that I built, or that SBS 2003 was selling like hotcakes or because it actually solved the problem I had in my house, or even because I liked randomly walking into a small business and seeing it there, or because it taught me everything I know about servers; I love SBS because of the people involved.

90% of the very close friends I have in Seattle have worked on or had a part in the SBS product at some point.  We have all moved onto other projects inside or out of the company (many to MultiPoint server!).  I hosted an “ex-SBS PM” lunch on campus the other day, and almost ALL of the PMs from over 10 years got together for lunch!!  When does that ever happen?  Almost unheard of.

After some time on the product, I actually got to meet the community. An absolutely insane bunch of very close nit specialists who deal with the problems of businesses from 5-100 employees.  I say insane, because the stuff that bunch of professionals deal with is unbelievable to me.  I also got to tour both the east and west costs visiting user groups.  A gathering of the minds to figure out problems for small businesses.

My first user group visit I was disappointed that Microsoft wasn’t the only presenters.  Over time, I realized that these user groups weren’t about Microsoft at all.  Sure the central product, SBS, was what people were installing, but Small Businesses needed desktop clients, printers, specialized LOBs, accounting software and much more.  And their customers had needs, like working remotely, from a boat, via satellite (and there were even more wacky sites) … challenges that Enterprises would never allow, but small business owners wanted, and pushed.SBS

My point here is this logo, created by the community doesn’t mention Microsoft, doesn’t have a server on it, and doesn’t need a brand to be useful.  Small Business Specialists (SBS) are still needed.  Someone to guide these “wing-it” small businesses through the weeds of technology, help them with their wacky requests, while keeping it secure.

So, Microsoft may have formed this community around a brand, but it doesn’t die with a product name.  Friendships have been made, user groups are in place, the need for small business is there.  You know what those small businesses need. Be a Bobcat, or a Cougar, and stick together, keep your microphone and continue to have fun supporting SMBs…  And if you use Windows Essentials Server 2012 or Office 365 in the process, so be it.  :)