Microsoft are set to drop SBS at the end of 2013

Microsoft have decided that Small Business Server 2011 (Essentials and Standard) will be it’s last SBS offerings. After 31st December 2013 they will no longer be available.

Server 2012 Essentials is set to replace SBS but how does this compare and what does it mean for existing SBS users due for an upgrade?

Here is a couple of links on Server 2012 Essentials:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2012/07/17/windows-server-2012-essentials-feature-list.aspx

Basically Essentials no longer has Exchange or Sharepoint (or SQL that came with the standard license). It still has features equivalent to RWW (Remote Web Workspace) and the usual bunch of wizards for ease of configuration of things like VPN, remote access and Windows updates etc. Otherwise MS have raised the limits for things like the number users and devices, they have included a bunch of Office 365 integration stuff which was a separate download for SBS 2011. There is also integration with MS’s online backup solution. Otherwise improvements are the general added features of Server 2012 like improved disk management etc. In addition it is possible to install add-ins that will allow integration with other 3rd party hosted solutions.

http://download.microsoft.com/download/0/B/2/0B22F531-338D-4843-B43B-814D922EB724/Windows%20Server%202012%20Essentials%20FAQ.pdf

This FAQ has some very basic advice from MS on re-creating an SBS equivalent with on-premises Exchange and SQL. You would be looking at 2012 Standard (for VM rights) + 2012 Essentials + Exchange and SQL licensing. This could be running on a single physical machine hosting as many VMs as you would need to support the required services/roles. This could work out pretty expensive for licensing compared to SBS.

Otherwise it seems MS are encouraging companies to adopt Office 365 or other hosted solutions for things like email and LOB apps. I have trialled Office 365 and have quite a bit of experience with its predecessor (MS Online) and migrating customers to Office 365 and it was pretty good. It is also quite competitive at about £4 per month per mailbox for Exchange. I believe there are options (or used to be) for partners to resell these services with a margin but I have no idea of the earning potential, if any. It is also very easy for less technical users to be really hands on with this and obtain support direct from Microsoft as part of their subscription.

Otherwise if the company is very small (less than 15 users), wants hosted mail and LOB and doesn’t care for RWW they could potentially go 2012 foundation for a cost effective solution.

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