Microsoft Announces Beta Availability of Small Business Server 2000

REDMOND, Wash., July 14, 2000 — Microsoft today announced beta availability of Microsoft Small Business Server 2000, the third-generation release of the full-featured network solution for small businesses with up to 50 PCs, and the gateway to the evolving bCentral .NET services.

According to Microsoft, Small Business Server 2000 was designed with three objectives in mind. First, to provide a comprehensive server solution designed to empower small businesses with tools that help them Internet-enable their business, manage and grow customer relationships and enhance employee productivity. Second, to help technology providers build volume businesses and bring a new standard to customer service with an efficient, predictable Windows 2000 setup and tools that facilitate proactive and remote servicing. Finally, Small Business Server 2000 was designed to enable technology providers with a platform offering a broad services portfolio that includes Internet connectivity, application integration and custom solution development, which helps them build solutions to meet the unique needs of their small-business customers.

According to Katy Hunter, group product manager in Microsoft’s Small Business Division, Small Business Server 2000 exceeds these objectives.

“With the comprehensive solution offered by Small Business Server 2000, technology providers can give their small-business customers the tools they need to harness the power of the Internet and better serve their customers,”
Hunter said.
“With the Internet functionality and Windows 2000 backbone, Small Business Server 2000 really opens the door for technology providers to bring their small-businesses customers the foundation to leverage Microsoft’s .NET technologies and help bring them successfully into the new economy. In addition, with the fantastic technology provider-focused tools such as remote management, system monitoring and one-step setup, Small Business Server delivers a tremendous value proposition to our technology provider partners.”

Harry Brelsford, principal of Matthew/Brelsford Associates on Bainbridge Island, Wash., couldn’t agree more. As a technology provider, he is constantly on the lookout for technologies that allow his small-business customers to do more with less.
“Small Business Server has always been a good horse to ride,”
said Brelsford, author of Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft’s Small Business Server 4.5 in 21 Days (MacMillan). Brelsford said that Small Business Server 2000 is an improvement on an already solid product.
“Small Business Server 2000 is the third release of a Microsoft product, and they’ve got it right,”
he said.
“I’m excited about it.”

The real beauty of Small Business Server 2000, according to Brelsford, lies in the factor usually at the top of every small business person’s list: cost.
“For between $1,500 and $2,000 my clients get a comprehensive network solution,”
he said.
“It’s been my experience that the comparable costs to buy the individual components is over $5,000. This really offers empowerment for small businesses. For a relatively low cost, they get big-league features. At the most pragmatic level, it’s a tremendous value.”

One component that everyone agrees is critical, Brelsford said, is the Internet Security and Acceleration Server.
“Small business people who built their businesses from the ground up are very concerned about security, so it’s critical that they believe in Small Business Server and trust it, and part of the trust is to make sure they have effective protection from intruders on the Internet,”
he said.

Brelsford added that his customers have all been satisfied.
“I have not had a security breach from the Internet,”
he said. Of equal concern to small-business owners, he said, is the
“low productivity of ‘Web-surfing employees'”
who can present as much of a problem as external forces.
“At least half my clients are concerned with what their employees are doing on the Internet,”
he said.
“At least 50 percent of my customers use the reporting function to keep an eye on what’s going on. It’s very popular.”

But the real
“hidden jewel,”
according to Brelsford, is Small Business Server 2000’s SQL Server.
“It’s a very powerful database,”
Brelsford said.
“It’s the same thing a major airline or hospital would use. It’s robust, and it’s proven. What I like about it is that the third-party software vendors write their code to the SQL Server. That’s a benefit because it’s an open environment, which allows custom reporting. More importantly, what I’ve really come to like is its reliability. It’s configurable.”

Brelsford said that the fact that SQL Server is configurable allows small businesses to perform a number of key functions, such as running midday backups inside the database.
“For small-business owners, it’s really important to have data available, and protected,”
he said.
“Business is really at the core of Small Business Server 2000. It’s a business person who signs the invoices for my services, and that’s where the value add has to be. It’s the middle word, and it’s true.”

In addition to the benefits Small Business Server 2000 delivers to his clients, Brelsford said, the server has made his life easier as well.
“One of the key components that Microsoft has really improved is the remote administration capability,”
he said.
“I can basically take over my clients’ servers, in a very secure way, from wherever I happen to be, sort of like a remote control. So over the Internet I can get on the networks and work. It saves me hours by reducing travel time — I live on an island, you know — and that ultimately saves my clients money.”

For Curt Hicks, president of the Center for Computer Resources — a Microsoft Certified Solution Provider Partner — in Berkley, Mich., Small Business Server has provided an avenue for his clients to truly use the Internet as a business tool.
“I look at it as a communications platform,”
he said.
“Everyone on the network shares information. It brings it all together — internal and external resources.”

Hicks said he got hooked on Small Business Server at Microsoft’s Fusion conference in 1997. Up until that point, he said, he provided clients with a solution similar to that offered by Small Business Server by using several different third-party products. Separate vendors were used for faxing and modem sharing, for example.
“With Small Business Server, everything is in one package,”
he said.
“We can do networking with the Windows 2000 Server. The Exchange 2000 Server facilitates messaging collaboration and email. SQL Server is a relational database management tool that stores data. Internet Security and Acceleration Server, the gateway to the Internet, acts as both a firewall and a monitor to keep track of where people are going on the Internet. It’s designed to help small businesses use the Internet properly, and it’s very effective.”

Other features popular with his clients include the capability to share bandwidth and modems, and the Internet information server, which allows clients to host an intranet site for sharing internal information.

Hicks added that his clients have saved considerable time thanks to Small Business Server.
“There’s definitely been a productivity increase,”
he said.
“Sending faxes, for example. What used to take 15 minutes now takes five seconds. And sharing information — by using Outlook for scheduling, so that someone doesn’t have to go see if three people are available for a meeting, for example — has been a real time saver. And you can put a contact folder on the server and share it with everyone rather that having a Rolodex at every desk.”

One client saved so much in international shipping charges that Small Business Server and Hicks’ services paid for themselves within six months.
“They were using Federal Express to send discs to Australia,”
he said.
“They were sending drawings every day that were larger than two megabytes. Most email servers can’t handle a file of that size, so we gave them the capability to send attachments of unlimited size.”

At the core of Small Business Server’s appeal, according to Hicks, is the server’s communications capability.
“You can actually create and stage your own Web site and update it with very current information,”
he said,
“and we’ve done broadcast faxing. It’s a good way to keep in touch with customers and vendors in a more efficient and timely fashion. Virtual Private Networking using the dedicated Internet access allows clients to access their contacts, schedules, email and databases from anywhere. That’s been a significant benefit for our clients. They can be anywhere in the world and still access what’s going on in the office.”

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