Saturday, March 6, 2010

Big news day

The first bit of news is that Microsoft is officially killing off Essential Business Server (EBS) which was sorta a bigger version of Small Business Server. The announcement came as a surprise to many and disappoints some who have been building a business around a product that suits larger businesses. Some of the reasons for the death of EBS?

 

“midsize businesses are rapidly turning to technologies such as management, virtualization and cloud computing as a means to cut costs, improve efficiency, and increase competitiveness.”

 

so says the Official Microsoft EBS blog.

 

Next bit of news is that Microsoft plans to release Office and SharePoint 2010 on the 12th of May which was announced on the SharePoint Team blog.

 

Even though the Official Microsoft EBS blog says, discontinuing EBS:

 

“will not impact any other Windows Server products and solutions, including the next version of Windows Small Business Server (SBS)”

 

you gotta wonder eh? It certainly only seems like a matter of time before that which instigated the demise of EBS starts to white ant the SBS end of the market. Most IT people will tell you that what happens at the larger end of town ultimately end up filtering down to the smaller end.

 

Almost two years ago now, in this blog, I speculated that SBS 2008 would be the last version of SBS we would see. I still believe that is the case, however I believe we may see something called “SBS” which really isn’t. I’m not going to split hairs on what ‘being SBS’ actually is, because I will still content that the fate of SBS will be the same as EBS. It will take longer to eventuate because the SBS product has a longer history and greater support base but it will happen in the end.

 

The imminent release of Office 2010 further marks a march to cloud computing and change in the landscape. Why? Because not only will Microsoft make available a version of Office available for free download but it will also have versions (including a free one) available via the web.

 

Office and SharePoint 2010 will survive because they can go to the cloud, EBS didn’t because it couldn’t. As I said, I reckon that the same logic applies to SBS, it is going to struggle as a product to survive a move to the cloud. Personally, I wouldn’t be betting my business on SBS at the moment.

 

On the other side of the ledger I think that it is good for Microsoft to reduce the number of products it sells and focus more of its energy on making those that sell well better. If all the resources from EBS get thrown into SBS to make it something better, then that can only be good? Microsoft needs to do what it believe is right for its business. At the end of the day that is going to burn some people who believed in the EBS product but in all my travels I have never seen an EBS installation and have only heard of one actual client who had installed it. Now I will readily admit that I am not as well travelled as other IT Professionals and I probably move in the limited circles of the ‘S’ in SMB, however I would have expected to have seen and heard more of EBS in all the time it has been released.

 

To say that current IT trends are not having an effect on customers and resellers is naive. Technology people need to appreciate that many aspects of traditional IT are being commoditized and perhaps sadly coming to be the domain of accountants rather than technicians. Someone told me once that change takes longer than you think to occur but when it does it ends up being much greater than you could have imagined. I certainly wonder what even the next 12 months will bring. The only certainty will be change but the uncertainty is just how much.

 

When a volcano erupts it can reek some of the most drastic changes on our environment, causing, flooding, tsunamis, earthquakes, solar winter and so on. Yet at the same time the earth that is brought to the surface during a volcanic eruption is some of the most fertile. In a nutshell every change brings threats and opportunities, what the end result becomes is only determined by a reaction to these events. A rational person appreciates that if they can’t change their circumstances then they can only react to the circumstances they find themselves in.

 

As much as I appreciate people will suffer because of the loss of EBS, I also see great opportunity in the changes that are brought to the IT landscape. It is up to myself to determine how best to exploit these for my business, because quite simply they are a fact of life and will always continue to be so. I may not like them but in the end I’ve just gotta deal with them.