REDMOND, Wash., March 30, 2004 The Infant Development Program, Inc. (IDP), Guthrie County Public Health and California Grown Nut Company have few daily tasks in common, but these small business operations all shared one problem: the technology in their small-office computing networks was out-of-date and inefficient. Furthermore, replacing these outmoded computer networks with a new system that was affordable, yet easy to install and manage, seemed like a very tall order. Upgrading to a new computer network typically requires a major commitment of time, money and technical resources — all in short supply for these organizations.
Zane Patalive, network engineer at the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC), a non-profit business and technology resource center sponsored by the state of Pennsylvania, says that these kinds of concerns are not unusual.
“Many small businesses are running on old and poorly integrated systems that were assembled by piecemeal over the years,” Patalive says. “Many people spend their days finding ways to work around their old technology rather than properly investing in complete solutions which will increase productivity and efficiency resulting in increased revenues.”
However, since the release of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, Patalive has a solution to recommend small businesses that need to upgrade computer networks with an affordable but highly effective system.
“At IMC, we have a responsibility to match customers’ needs to solutions that provide the best value and investment,”
“Windows Small Business Server 2003 fills a very important niche for many small operators. Considering today’s technology solutions for the small manufacturer or small-business owner, in my opinion, Microsoft is the only provider to consider.”
Just a few years ago, most of Patalive’s clients couldn’t afford a complete small-business solution because it would have involved multiple servers, a significant outlay for software and ongoing IT management expenses.
“Most of our clients would not have been able to afford a solution that is as all-encompassing as Small Business Server is today.”
Windows Small Business Server 2003 Breaks Down Barriers to Server Computing
Small businesses face the same needs to improve communication and interactions with employees, customers and suppliers as do larger companies. However, because they often have smaller budgets and more limited resources, many small businesses find it difficult to afford, install and manage the server networks that will enable them to achieve these benefits. Because Windows Small Business Server 2003 is an integrated, out-ofthebox product specifically designed for the needs of small businesses, the complexity and cost of deploying, configuring and maintaining a powerful network is much less.
“If you run a small business, that’s exactly what you want to stay focused on — running your business,”
says Derek Brown, director of product management for Windows Small Business Server 2003.
“But that doesn’t mean you want to forgo the productivity and efficiency of the latest technology. With Windows Small Business Server 2003, smaller organizations can now experience the benefits of server-based computing — with the total return on investment within weeks or months that small businesses require.”
Launched just six months ago, in October 2003, Windows Small Business Server 2003 has already racked up an impressive set of achievements. Market acceptance has been high, with sales increasing rapidly since release, and unit sales 170 percent higher than that for Small Business Server 2000 at the six-month milestone. The number of new Microsoft industry partners trained to deploy and service the platform has also increased steadily as well, reaching 47,000 — compared with 10,000 for Small Business Server 2000.
“Based on sales strength, our customers are telling us we got this release right,”
“By lowering cost and reducing the complexity of server computing, we’ve provided tens of thousands of small businesses an easy and inexpensive way to reap the benefits of enterprise-class computing technology into their small businesses.”
Windows Small Business Server 2003 is an integrated set of server products that includes Microsoft Windows Server 2003 technology, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 technology, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 technology, Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server), and services including Windows SharePoint Services, Windows Terminal Services, Windows Shared Fax services, and more. These technologies are packaged into a single, preconfigured solution that is simple to deploy because all the software has been pre-integrated and optimized to operate seamlessly right out of the box.
Server Networks Bring Cost-effective Productivity Gains to Small Businesses
Small-business operators in a wide variety of fields, from health care to manufacturing to family-owned farms, have found business value with Windows Small Business Server 2003.
Coordinating communication and tracking information in a busy agricultural work environment were the needs that attracted California Grown Nut Company to Windows Small Business Server 2003. A family-owned business in California’s Central Valley, California Grown Nut Company not only maintains its own almond orchards but also operates a regional almond processing facility that shells, hulls and packs almonds for distribution around the world.
Harvest is a very busy time for the company.
“At peak harvest time, we have 20 to 30 truckloads of nuts coming in, 24-hours a day, from different growers,”
says Christina Staack, office manager for California Grown Nut Company and a second-generation almond farmer and processor.
“All of this inventory has to be tracked separately for payment purposes. In addition, we have to schedule the harvesting, pick-up, coordinate the trucks, elevators and agricultural inspectors — it’s a lot like air traffic control. And when one thing changes, it affects lots of other people and operations. It’s a problem for us in the office because we’re usually the last to know. We needed a way to keep all the information straight and also to share information with all the individuals involved.”
In addition to a more efficient and reliable network, Staack says that the company’s greatest need was for a calendar and schedule system, which is one of the major benefits that California Grown Nut Company gained from Window Small Business Server 2003.
“The best thing in the new system is shared calendaring,”
“Using Outlook, we can make changes to schedules and everyone can track them from their own computers. Because our computers now operate on a network, anyone can call up Outlook and make a change from any point in the process without having to walk around and find the right person and get them the right information.”
Real Cost of Linux Weighed
When Staack and other California Nut Company employees began the search for a new computer network, they were initially drawn to a Linux platform.
“Cost was certainly a consideration when we started to evaluate systems, and a no-cost operating system certainly seemed attractive,” Staack says. “However, when we started looking at the real cost of the applications and services we required, and looked at our five-year plan for expanding our network, then Linux suddenly didn’t look like such a good deal.”
Many of the programs that California Grown Nut Company required didn’t work with Linux, and Linux didn’t offer the same ease of navigation that the Windows-based platform did.
“If the new system wasn’t easy to navigate, it just wouldn’t get used when we’re really busy. As we looked at Linux, it became less and less cost effective.”
Staack says that one of the best measures of Window Small Business Server 2003’s success is less stress during harvest time and the ability to get more work done in less time.
“It’s a quality of life thing for me,”
“I spend less time at the office tracking inventory and chasing information. That means I have more time for my family.”
Non-Profit Group Finds Non-Stress Solution
Like many small businesses, Infant Development Program, a Pennsylvania non-profit that operates educational and support programs for special-needs clients, found itself demanding more of its network just as its technology infrastructure was reaching obsolescence. With 25 staff members sharing a simple peer-to-peer network — and just a single computer linked to the Internet and e-mail — staff members spent a lot of time just queuing up to communicate and to research disorders and diagnoses.
“We all had to take turns using that one computer for both e-mail and for the Internet,”
says Amy Dicello, IDP executive director.
“One of the primary goals for a network upgrade was to allow the staff to focus on delivering services to our clients and fulfilling our mission to help children, not waiting on a computer.”
For IDP, Windows Small Business Server 2003 provided a low-cost, easily implemented network upgrade that transformed their linked PCs to an integrated server environment.
“By moving to a server network based on Window Small Business Server 2003, we not only gained Internet and e-mail access for all staff members, we also gained many other productivity and collaboration benefits that we hadn’t actually anticipated,”
Windows Small Business Server 2003 provides IDP with tools to build an intranet site using Windows SharePoint Services. This internal Web site allows IDP staff to share schedules, post meeting agendas and send team notes. Automatic system backup is another important feature, and is especially appreciated as IDP lost a hard-drive’s worth of information just three days before the Windows Small Business Server 2003 deployment.
“Probably the most unexpected benefit comes from easy remote access to our information and e-mail,”
“We can get into our system anywhere and any time, just using a Web browser and our password. This feature makes it easy to keep in touch and get work done without having to come into the office. We now wonder how we ever did without it.”
Small Town Government, Big Time Technology Returns
Guthrie County Public Health Department, which provides home nursing and other critical health-care services to citizens in southwestern Iowa’s Guthrie County, also faced the need to increase productivity of its aging computer infrastructure while complying with increased security and patient information privacy requirements. One of the triggers for the health department’s move to a Window Small Business Server 2003 infrastructure was the need for more effective back up of patient information.
“As the years went by, we just kept adding more desktop computers to our office,”
says Rita Peterson, an office assistant in the Public Health Department.
“But since these computers weren’t linked to a server, doing a back up of the information in each computer was a real problem. We had to go around every day and make sure that each of the PCs was backed up individually”
And with just one e-mail account for the entire ten-person office, the confidentiality of messages and information could not be assured, which jeopardized the strict confidentiality requirements of the federal U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Lacking an internal intranet also meant that communication among staff required physically transferring and exchanging an overwhelming amount of paper memos and computer disks.
Deploying Windows Small Business Server 2003 not only reduced operational costs by more than US$25,000 for an overall return on investment of 330 percent, but the health department has also increased information security and compliance with HIPAA requirements. The department also received additional benefits from hosting its own e-mail server.
“We feel a lot more confident that messages from doctors and patients are followed up on because they are routed to the right person,”
says Peterson. The internal network also enhances collaboration among the staff. Developing shared schedules and calendars is simple, and Outlook Web Access allows nurses to respond to critical e-mail from any Web browser.
The ability to work remotely also provides Guthrie County Public Health officials with other advantages. Nurses at off-site immunization clinics can log onto laptop computers to check state records to verify a child’s immunization status. In the event of a disaster, such as a bioterrorism event, health officials can tap into office resources from an offsite location using laptops or other mobile devices.
Industry Partners Extend Value of Window Small Business Server 2003
Six months after launch date, Microsoft systems integrators and deployment partners also have enthusiastic reactions to Small Business Server.
Arlin Sorensen, president of Heartland Technology Services in Harlan, Iowa, has found a ready market for Windows Small Business Server 2003.
“It’s an excellent product and there’s nothing else quite like it on the market,”
“It’s easy to sell the value of Small Business Server because it’s a no-brainer to show a five-to-one, or 10-to-one return on investment in just a matter of months.”
To grow the revenue opportunity around Windows Small Business Server 2003, Larry Hedin, Heartland Technology’s Sales and Marketing manager, has developed a set of seminars to introduce prospective small-business customers to the product. Over the course of three hours, staff member from Heartland Technology walks the audience through the basic feature set and provides local, real-world case study examples of small businesses that have succeeded in reducing costs and increasing productivity with Windows Small Business Server 2003. This impresses some customers to the point of purchase, says Sorensen, and is visibly increasing his customer base.
Heartland also saves time and money by being able to manage the server from any location using remote Terminal Services, which helps staff members provide quick responses to network issues.
“Our client base is anywhere from 75 to 100 miles from our office, so customers end up spending a lot of money for the time it takes for us to just get there and back. With Windows Small Business Server 2003, we can provide faster service and save customers up to 50 percent of the support dollars they had been spending through remote management. We encourage them to use those same dollars to enhance their business by using more of the feature set in Windows Small Business Server 2003.”
Windows Small Business Server 2003 has been good for business at Heartland Technology Solution.
“It’s easy to show customers how quickly they get a return on investment with Windows Small Business Server 2003. People can understand the value of this kind of investment. And it makes my job pleasant. You help people make the transition from I hate my network because it doesn’t do anything,’ to I can’t do business without my network,'”
Reaching Goals for Small Businesses
“With Small Business Server, Microsoft continues to help small businesses grow and prosper,”
says Microsoft’s Brown.
It’s very gratifying to talk to the small business owner, read their success stories and realize that positive impact this product can have on their businesses. Knowing we’ve made a difference gets us super excited about the journey ahead and the amazing potential of software to be part of the small business dream.
According to Brown, Microsoft will continue to reach out to customers and partners for feedback about how to improve technology for their businesses and how to break down the barriers that prevent them from gaining the advantage of leading-edge technology.
“We’ve seen a very strong response from customers who are having great success using Windows Small Business Server 2003 to increase productivity and efficiency in their businesses,”
“And we hear about the tremendous market opportunity that the solution has provide for our partners. This is very exciting for us, because it means we are on track as we move forward, helping small business owners become more successful and competitive in a rapidly changing economy.”