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.  :)


Wayne Small said...

Sean - the issue is not the name change. It's the discontiuation of a package that worked pretty well. That package contained not only an onpremise Exchange and Sharepoint server, but also SMB styled pricing for said solution for up to 75 users. All that is now gone with Windows Server 2012 Essentials. It's fare more than a name change mate...

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


I completely agree with you.

It is not about the product anymore.

It is about the client and _then_ community and solution set we have all built up together _around_ that product.

Going forward we will need to take a new path, a new adventure, into building a similar solution set on the Microsoft Stack (or others).

In the end, this 10-15 year strong community will could stay together and not fragment. I too hope that we can move past SBS and continue to build that community.


Amy - Harbor Computer Services said...


This is far more than a name change. It is a full product cancellation and replacement with a new product. As Wayne mentions it is not only a new product, new name, new infrastructure but it is also new pricing which is significantly higher. This is the death of the "suite" and the pain your experienced trying to setup your apartment without SBS now exists for many more small businesses because of this change.

I do completely agree with you on the community angle. This community is strong and retooling to work together even without a product to rally around.

Hilton Travis said...

Just because Microsoft has finally done what I've been warning people about for years (not just dropping SBS - I'm honestly surprised they eventually released SBS 2008 R2/SBS 2011 - but taking their partners on directly, trying to cut all margins out of the channel and doing what they can to pretend that SMBs don't exist) doesn't mean there aren't other vendors out there who can't take up the challenge.

Look at Kerio for starters - their Connect and Workspace products have not only viability in SMB, but Kerio themselves are focused pretty much on SMB.

Then there's also ClearOS which has SBS-replacing products available.

Just because Microsoft is walking away from the SMB/SBS community doesn't mean that the community will truly suffer in any way.

Neil said...

Having played with SBS 2011, Hyper-V and, Server 2008 (R2) I can honestly defend what Microsoft has done. I can see Sean sitting there slack-jawed because he knows me to be a hardcore Linux/UNIX guy. (Also a little scared because he knows how long this comment will go-on for.)

The thing is SBS technically broke a lot of the rules of what a Microsoft network looks and works like, just to get it all onto one box. IE: Putting the Domain Controller on the same machine as the Exchange server.

Speaking of Exchange. Putting Exchange 2010 into SBS was like fitting all 6'7" of me into a Myata. Exchange is just become too big to do the job any more and there are a lot of web/cloud based solutions that are less hassle and more appropriate for the SMB environment.

With SaaS coming on and virtualization safely in the bag, the time for the SBS of yore has passed. Its like people clinging to their XP installs: The future is now and it doesn't look like it did back in 2003.

Instead of mourning the passing of SBS, welcome its cousin: Hyper-V. It will make your life happy again.

Anonymous said...

Nice to know your business emails and online conversations will be in the hands of whatever country (Russia, China, India etc.. and there data security laws NOT) Microsoft decides to use because it is cheap. Right cloud services are great (for giving away your private company information).

Anonymous said...

Also I tried the cloud services approach for email. Guess what happened when they lost or messed up the email accounts during a server upgrade on their part. All emails and information was lost.

What happens when Microsoft Marketing decides providing this Office 365 is no longer a service or product they want to provide??? Well you are seeing it with SBS and several other products in the past that people committed to. Sorry Microsoft but no way.

Sean Daniel said...

Hi there, I understand your concern, but if it makes you feel better. Microsoft is moving 80,000 mailboxes from on premise Exchange to Office365. Our corporate mailboxes are on Office365. at least mine is already.

Anonymous said...

Great and all but you work for Microsoft.

I will move clients to the cloud.
1. MS can guarantee that their cloud is local to my country and or my province. So I and my client aren't subject to DMCA or Patriot Act.
2. Has financial backed SLA in case of security breach. The bigger you are the bigger the target on your back. So if you are are breached I can sue for damages.
3. I am free to store any content that is with in the laws but MS may have a problem. IE Pornography (Pornographic companies do have exchange servers)
4. Do month my month billing instead of everything up front.
5. Pays for internet and slow wan connections.

cocina en Madrid said...

That is how everything starts...very good business...

Kathy Peters said...

Change - something that is inevitable. However I don't see the point of changing a package that is perfectly working.

Ken Doyle said...

What's good with cloud is that it connects a business to all possible suppliers while managing your clients at the same time. It's an effective system for managing resources.

Anonymous said...

the cloud is about as good as SBS2011 - it's crap..