Integrated IT Designed for Midsized Businesses

Editor’s Note, Nov. 7, 2007 –
Updates were made to the feature to correct details about the product and industry partner participation.

REDMOND, Wash., Nov 7, 2007 – There are approximately 1.4 million midsized businesses in the world and their IT needs are unique. But in order to maintain growth, they require the same powerful technology solutions used by large companies. To address this need, Microsoft is developing an integrated IT solution for midsized organizations, previously known by the codename “Centro.” Today Microsoft unveiled the product’s official name, “Windows Essential Business Server,” and announced its key components and features, as well as an initial set of industry partners planning to support this new solution. Next week at TechEd: IT Forum in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft will be demonstrating Windows Essential Business Server.

Steven VanRoekel, Director, Windows Server Solution Group, Microsoft

PressPass spoke with Steven VanRoekel, director of the Windows Server Solutions group at Microsoft, about today’s news.  He oversees product management of the family of server products that are tailored to the specific needs of distinct customer segments, including home users, small businesses and, now, midsized companies.

PressPass: What are you announcing today?

Steven VanRoekel: Today we gave Windows Server codename “Centro” an official name: Windows Essential Business Server. We are also communicating the key features and technologies customers will find in Windows Essential Business Server to increase the manageability and reliability of their IT systems, and to help them boost businesses productivity and growth.

In addition, we are announcing that hardware partners, including Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, IBM and Intel, will support Windows Essential Business Server, and that software partners such as CA, Citrix, FullArmor, McAfee, Quest, Symantec and Trend Micro plan to provide ”Add-In” solutions for Windows Essential Business Server to enhance the product’s benefits.

PressPass: So, what exactly is Windows Essential Business Server?

VanRoekel: Windows Essential Business Server is an integrated server infrastructure solution designed for the unique needs of midsized organizations. Combining the technologies of Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, Forefront Security for Exchange, System Center Essentials, the next version of ISA Server and SQL Server 2008 into an “all-in-one” solution.

With Windows Essential Business Server, IT professionals will find the acquisition, setup and ongoing management of IT vastly simplified. It provides a unified console for management of key IT workloads, it is pre-configured with a tremendous amount of built-in best practices, and it will be licensed – with a Standard and Premium Edition – in a way that makes IT budgeting and purchase simpler and more predictable.

Windows Essential Business Server provides a single Client Access License for all included products and offers new technologies that simplify license management.  Within the administration console, IT professionals can easily ascertain how many licenses they have, who the licenses are assigned to and – when an employee leaves the company – easily re-assign licenses. 

We have extensively researched the needs of IT professionals in midsized organizations through studies and surveys, and talked with them directly through hundreds of customer visits, focus groups, and meetings with customer and partner advisory boards.

PressPass: What have you learned through this research? How is IT different in midsized companies, versus small business or the enterprise?

VanRoekel: Midsized companies – organizations with up to 250 PCs or so – typically have one or very few IT professionals managing the breadth of the company’s needs, including networking, servers, messaging, line of business applications and databases, as well as desktops and end user help. Suffice to say, these IT professionals are commonly stretched very thin on time and resources. They are often in reactive, “fire fighting” mode with little time to focus on strategic IT projects, or even to develop consistent processes. I have heard more than one say their role is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” They want to do more to really contribute to their company’s bottom line, but they are just too busy keeping systems up and running.

Windows Essential Business Server is aimed at turning this around for these customers. It provides a new, unified management experience and integrated infrastructure that is easy to ”consume,” as they say, versus having to manage, install and maintain individual products or technologies . Tasks that currently take hours, if not days, are going to be much simpler and faster with Windows Essential Business Server. This will really help IT professionals be more proactive in their planning and efforts. For example, Windows Essential Business Server will provide the platform and the IT reliability to deploy new line of business applications that contribute to business success.

PressPass: How do Microsoft’s partners play a role with Windows Essential Business Server?

VanRoekel: We have been working with our hardware and software partners since we began development of Windows Essential Business Server, and they are excited about the opportunities it presents to help our joint customers in midsized businesses.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers foresees an outstanding offering for midsize businesses in Europe with its reliable and energy saving PRIMERGY Servers running Windows Essential Business Server, in combination with other offerings and services.

HP views its BladeSystem c-Class c3000, or “Shorty,” as an ideal platform for Windows Essential Business Server because of its form factor, flexibility of configurations and design leadership. It will be shown at the Windows Essential Server booth at TechEd: IT Forum booth next week. IBM also sees its IBM BladeCenter S and System x servers as an excellent, well-priced platform for Windows Essential Business Server, with an integrated business-in-a box foundation, configurable shared storage and office-friendly 110v power.

Next week at TechEd: IT Forum we are demonstrating Windows Essential Business Server running on the upcoming Intel Modular Server, built on Intel Multi-Flex Technology. It is a simple-to-use, flexible, all-in one server and storage system for small and midsized businesses, and a great way for channel resellers to help customers better manage their IT needs.

At the conference we’ll also be demonstrating prototypes of software partner “Add-Ins” that customers will be able to deploy and manage through the Windows Essential Business Server unified administration console. Customers will be able to use CA ARCserve Backup to more easily manage essential data protection tasks – enabling them to launch, monitor, and troubleshoot backup jobs. Citrix Access Essentials will allow IT professionals to easily provide the on-site experience for offsite workers, offering wizard-driven installation and configuration as part of its integrated setup.

FullArmor’s Workflow Studio allows IT administrators to automate day to day administrative tasks, and its Endpoint Policy Manager provides endpoint compliance, reporting, and policy enforcement for Group Policy. Symantec’s security and backup portfolio will also integrate with the Windows Essential Business Server console, offering added simplicity and flexibility for managing Symantec Backup Exec and Symantec Endpoint Protection.

HP, IBM and Intel all plan to make their hardware management software “Add-Ins” for Windows Essential Business Server, too. And Microsoft will provide Windows Essential Business Server “Add-Ins” for its applications, such as SQL Server 2008, System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 for integrated management of backup and recovery, Office SharePoint Server for collaboration and content management and Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM.

Also, for many solution providers and consultants, Windows Essential Business Server represents a great way to serve the needs of midsized clients. The many solution providers that implement Windows Small Business Server or Windows Server for their customers see Windows Essential Business Server as a way to expand their businesses in the mid-market, where IT spending is growing fast.

PressPass: When will Windows Essential Business Server be available?

VanRoekel: Windows Essential Business Server is slated for availability in the second half of 2008, as part of the Windows Server 2008 “wave” of products. The product is currently in private beta. Information about participating is here. We anticipate making a public beta available in the first half of 2008.

PressPass: You also oversee product management for Windows Small Business Server.  Is there any update on the next version, code-named “Cougar”?

VanRoekel: The next version of Windows Small Business Server is currently in its first, private beta release. We couldn’t be happier with how the beta program is progressing. The passion for this product within the small business customer and partner community is incredible. We are looking forward to providing additional details on this product in the coming months.

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