HOUSTON – July 7, 2008 – Today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft detailed how IT consultants working with small and midsize businesses will benefit from Windows Essential Server Solutions: Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008.
PressPass spoke with Steven VanRoekel, senior director of the Windows Server Solutions group at Microsoft, to find out what partners and customers can expect from today’s announcements.
PressPass: What are you announcing today?
Steven VanRoekel, senior director, Windows Server Solutions Group, Microsoft
VanRoekel: We’re making several announcements that are especially important for partners as they prepare to use Windows Essential Server Solutions to help their small and midsize customers be more productive and grow.
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.
I’m also pleased to announce that Dell and Wortmann AG in Europe are among the companies planning to deliver hardware systems powered by Essential Business Server 2008 and Small Business Server 2008. Software development kits and other resources will be available to software vendors, so their products can be truly integrated with and managed from within the Windows Essential Server Solutions.
PressPass: What exactly are Windows Essential Server Solutions?
VanRoekel: Windows Essential Server Solutions, which include Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008, are our family of integrated, all-in-one IT solutions designed and priced for small and midsize businesses. By combining Microsoft technologies such as Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, SQL Server 2008 and other Microsoft products and services, these solutions make the benefits of enterprise-class IT accessible, affordable and simpler for smaller organizations.
PressPass: What business opportunities do the solutions present to Microsoft partners?
VanRoekel: According to IDC, there are roughly 35 million small and midsize businesses (SMBs) worldwide, and many see IT as a way to prosper and grow their business. In fact, according to IDC, IT spending worldwide will grow by 5.2 percent annually through 2012, but worldwide SMB IT spending will grow by 7.0 percent during this same period. *
Small and midsize organizations frequently rely on consultants to build and manage their IT. Accordingly, we designed the solutions with partners in mind. Specifically, Windows Essential Server Solutions give partners consistent platforms that help reduce deployment costs, grow managed service revenues, earn higher margins and support more customers more efficiently. And, perhaps most importantly, the solutions help partners develop stronger, mutually beneficial relationships with their clients.
Some partners have told us they believe they will be able to increase their customer base by 25 percent to 50 percent with Small Business Server 2008. Other partners foresee 20 percent to 50 percent growth of their customer base with Essential Business Server 2008, which is a brand-new Microsoft product, because it allows them to more easily deliver products, consulting and deployment services for midsize clients.
Partners have forecast cost savings of 10 percent to 20 percent with the solutions, because they provide a consistent infrastructure partners can easily deploy to more customers. This means cost savings they can pass on to the client that free up budget for new business applications and capabilities, such as collaboration and support for remote or mobile workers. These applications in turn generate higher margins for partners and help them deliver greater value to their customers.
PressPass: How is Microsoft helping IT consultants take advantage of Windows Essential Server Solutions?
VanRoekel:Our partners were front and center as we built the Windows Essential Server Solutions. We collaborated with them throughout the whole product design, development and testing process. Our goal was to ensure they can implement and manage the solutions for customers in an easily repeatable manner. In addition, the Premium Editions of the solutions provide great platforms for the business applications that their customers want. The Remote Web Workplace feature helps partners easily support their customers’ mobile employees. And the solutions’ pricing provides partners with not only more upfront revenue, but also generous cost savings for clients.
We’re also making big investment in training, programs and offers to help partners take advantage of the solutions. In the next year we plan to train more than 25,000 partners through events and online tools, and at the Worldwide Partner Conference we expect to educate more than 2,000 partners. And, of course, Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008 are an important part of the current and future Microsoft Partner Program offerings.
We are also introducing a new online tool, called Solutions Pathway. This tool will allow partners to easily assess customers’ current investments in Microsoft server technologies, and then receive savings of approximately 30 percent or more on upgrades or migrations to the solutions.
Beyond this, we are rolling out a number of special offers, such as rebates of up to $200 (U.S.) for solution provider partners configuring Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 for clients who acquire the software and purchase Software Assurance within a certain time period. Software Assurance will provide the upgrade to Small Business Server 2008 at no additional cost when it is available, with full access to support, tools and training.
PressPass: What opportunities do independent software vendors (ISVs) have with Windows Essential Server Solutions?
VanRoekel: Both Essential Server Solutions products are a great way for our software partners to meet the needs of SMB customers. The more than 160 applications certified to run on Windows Server 2008 will be compatible with Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008. Building on that, we are making software development kits available on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), so software partners will be able to easily integrate their applications with the solutions’ central administration consoles. We estimate this will allow IT consultants and their customers to perform as much as 80 percent of their typical IT management tasks through one console, saving significant time and resources. This week we are introducing the Essential Business Server development center to provide guidance about application compatibility and integration, including how-to’s, downloads, templates and code samples.
At WPC this week, several of our software partners including CA, Citrix Systems, Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro Inc. are demonstrating their applications’ integration with Essential Business Server, which some of our beta testers are already using. We’re also showcasing Essential Business Server’s integration with other Microsoft applications, including Microsoft Dynamics, System Center Data Protection Manager and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. CA, Symantec and Trend Micro plan to integrate their applications with Small Business Server 2008 too.
PressPass: Who are your hardware partners?
VanRoekel: Our hardware partners are excited about the new opportunities presented by the Essential Server Solutions to help our joint customers. There will be a wide variety of systems running or optimized for both products by the end of the year. AMD, Dell, HP, IBM and Intel are all demonstrating systems at the Worldwide Partner Conference this week. Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Wortmann AG in Europe also plan to deliver products built on both of the solutions. HP, IBM and Intel are integrating their hardware management software with Essential Business Server.
PressPass: What is the one thing you would like partners to take away from this interview?
I hope our partners will download and evaluate the Windows Essential Server Solutions and take advantage of the wealth of training and guidance we are providing as we progress toward launch. We are investing in their success, and the success of their customers.
* IDC, Global Small and Medium-Sized Business 2008-2012 Forecast: SMB IT Spending by Category and Region, Doc # 210984, March 2008.