REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 12, 2008 — With the launch today of Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008) and Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008), small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are getting new offerings that can help them succeed in the global marketplace.
To get a sense of what the new products will mean for SMBs and the partner community that supports them, PressPass talked with Steven VanRoekel, senior director of the Windows Server product group at Microsoft.
PressPass: Why has Microsoft created Windows EBS 2008 and Windows SBS 2008, and how does this new line of server products help small and midsize businesses?
VanRoekel: More than ever, small and midsize companies, what we call SMBs, can benefit from implementing infrastructure systems that allow them to do more with less. These companies are really the backbone of the global economy, and today they are facing the same economic challenges and global competition as larger companies. The new EBS 2008 and SBS 2008 products, like all of our programs and initiatives for this customer segment, are designed specifically to provide a number of options for SMBs in terms of affordable technology solutions that help solve today’s enterprise-sized challenges.
While large enterprises typically have specialists on staff with the technical knowledge and time needed to manage IT environments, SMBs can rarely afford that luxury. With our partners we’re making a variety of optimized and complete solutions available for small and midsize businesses. SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 provide significant upside for our partners, because they work well with a wide range of technologies and can easily be customized to meet their customers’ unique needs.
PressPass: How will Microsoft deliver these solutions?
VanRoekel: Our partner channel is our biggest link to customers, and thousands worldwide are trained in the SMB space. They have a great understanding of what different size organizations need most, and what they stand to gain from infrastructure solutions. Because of the vast experience partners bring to the table, we have been working with them very closely, especially our Small Business Specialists, even before we began developing these solutions, to better understand customers’ needs. Now that these products are on the market, partners have another great set of products to help solve the challenges their SMB customers face today.
PressPass: What role did the partner community play in developing these products?
VanRoekel: We’ve been fortunate to have a very good mix of partners involved in our advisory boards, technical previews and other avenues to provide feedback during the development of these products. Partner input can be seen throughout these new solutions: Hardware providers have created optimized offerings that match these products well, and software partners have worked with the extensible platforms of SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 to extend their applications for small and midsize businesses. They are providing a number of offerings that represent full environment support around critical areas such as backup and recovery, security, application delivery, unified communications, line-of-business applications, systems management, and more. Managed service providers round out SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 by providing remote monitoring and management software to enable managed services for their customers. We’ve also worked with hosting partners to ensure their solutions integrate well. Our deployment partners, who typically have the direct relationship with the SMB customer, can use all these different options to build custom solutions that meet the unique needs of each customer.
PressPass: How have hardware offerings been tailored for small and midsize customers?
VanRoekel: It was very exciting to watch this process, as Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and IBM used their own customer feedback from our previous version of Windows Small Business Server. By working with our engineering team for the past year, they have optimized their hardware configurations for a superior customer experience when installing, running and maintaining Windows SBS 2008.
Midsize companies have said they want less complex, more affordable infrastructure solutions. In response, HP, IBM and Intel designed and priced blade servers specifically for these customers. Combined with Windows EBS 2008, the blade servers really do give customers an “infrastructure in a box” that is easy to set up and manage. And as always, customers can choose from a wide variety of traditional rack-and-tower servers from Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo and Sun Microsystems.
PressPass: Are you working with ISVs to develop critical business applications? What are some examples?
VanRoekel: Many of our top independent software vendor (ISV) partners have extended their software offerings to simplify management functions. Applications that integrate with Windows EBS 2008 allow customers to perform system administrator tasks across the entire environment from a single, unified administration console.
Over the past year we have worked closely with our partners to integrate applications such as CA ARCserve, Citrix Access Essentials, Trend Micro Worry Free Business Security, and Symantec Backup Exec. These are each terrific examples of how integration can help simplify infrastructure management.
Many more partners are working now to integrate their applications into the EBS administration console, so over time partners and customers will have even more EBS Add-In applications to choose from. It’s been great to see these partners come on board.
PressPass: Application compatibility is often a top concern for customers. What has Microsoft done to ensure important business applications will work with these new platforms?
VanRoekel: Application compatibility is a critical design priority for us with all of our Windows Server solutions. The new platforms were built on Windows Server 2008, so the more than 150 applications certified for that platform will be compatible with Windows SBS 2008 and Windows EBS 2008 right out of the gate. We have also improved application compatibility so more critical business applications will “just work” for customers. Products supported on the Windows Server 2008 platform will run on the Premium Edition server or separate server already running Windows Server 2008 or SQL Server 2005.
Customers can check out the Windows Server catalog of offerings online to find out more. (Visit http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/, or visit the SBS and EBS third-party software catalogs at http://www.microsoft.com/wess under the solutions tab.)
Our partners can also extend their solutions using the software development kits available on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and more easily integrate their applications with the products’ central administration consoles. For EBS 2008, 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. We also have an Essential Business Server development center (http://msdn.microsoft.com/ebs) for guidance about application compatibility and Add-In development, including how-to’s, downloads, templates and code samples.
PressPass: What about Microsoft applications?
VanRoekel: In addition to the outreach aimed at the ISV community over the past year, the EBS team has worked to integrate Microsoft applications into the administration console, including Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager and Microsoft SQL Server, as well as Microsoft Dynamics applications.
The integration of these applications into the Windows EBS unified administration console makes it simpler and more cost-effective to administer these environments.
PressPass: How can customers find out more about these solutions and the partners who can help deploy them?
VanRoekel: We have several resources available for customers to find what they need and determine the solution that is right for them. Customers looking for a local IT expert to help them make the right hardware and software choices and help them with their deployment can find a local Small Business Specialist or Certified Partner at http://www.microsoft.com/wess/en/us/find-partner.aspx. There is also more product information and a list of the many partners we’ve been working with at http://www.thedreamserver.com.