Friday, January 1, 2010

Two more points

An interesting read over on Dave Overaton’s blog ”Server line-up for small businesses (and home) is increasing in options (or complexity for some) - SBS 2008, Home, Foundation, Windows Standard Server or BPOS - how do you choose?” where he attempts to discern the best option in IT for a small business.

Interestingly he rates a Windows PC network at the top and SBS and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite last. I also especially liked these charts he has come up with:



and



Now I am generally in agreement with the conclusions that he reaches but I think that he has overlooked two important facts.

1. It is unlikely that a single IT solution is going to be adopted by most businesses these days.

As I noted in my recent blog post “Up in the sky”, in relation to cloud services at least

“data also shows that only 16% of those who have adopted cloud computing, or will within 12 months, will go solely with an off-premises model. But 50% of those respondents will go with a mixture on both on-premises and off premises.”

So what about the combination of a Windows PC network and BPOS? What about Windows Foundation server combined with BPOS? These are certainly going to provide far more options and flexibility than just the single product on its own.

2. Do not overlook the impact of Google Apps

If there ever an elephant in the room that most Microsoft types constantly neglect, ignore, dismiss over overlook it’s Google. Using their cloud based solution of Google Apps works extremely well for businesses in this target market (much like BPOS does). Again, it will provide its strongest appeal when used in conjunction with a Windows network or Windows Foundation server say.

I understand where Dave is coming from in his analysis but I’d like to contend that he is thinking about SMB customers in terms of the ‘old world’. Today’s SMB customers want the flexibility to work anywhere, with unlimited access to their data and the ability to share it will all the members of their team easily and quickly. They don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars for a server based solution (read SBS) when they can achieve something almost identical with online services on a per month per user basis. As I have said many time before, cloud computing not only changes the technology side of the argument but it also changes the economic argument for a customer. This economic model is far more important to a customer generally.

Dave has done a remarkable job with his analysis however he has perhaps unwittingly confirmed again, in my mind at least, the way technology people look at technology is not the way that customers do. Secondly, it highlights the fact that resellers face a herculean task trying to support the huge variety of possible solutions for a customer. That is sure fire way to burn people out in the end. Finally, I still see that online services, from Goggle, Microsoft or whomever, are going to have a major impact in the SMB space.