Death of an era for Small Business IT

On the 5th of July, a day usually used by politicians to hide bad news, Microsoft announced the end of the Small Business Server (SBS).   In its place, Microsoft presented a “lite” version of their Windows Server product that included the very popular Remote Web Access feature.  But there would no longer be a bundled package including Exchange and Sharepoint.

Over the last month, many things have been said and written about the Microsoft decision.  Complaints have been made that Microsoft has turned their back on many of the larger businesses that were using SBS.  But the truth of the matter is that SBS is a complex environment and always has.  I would suspect that the support costs of the product were much higher than most of Microsoft’s product line.  After all, to be a true expert in SBS, you had to be an expert in the server operating system, active directory, Exchange and Sharepoint.  Most IT professionals working in larger businesses would specialize in one of those products, but not all of them.  I remember being approached by a senior level support person from a national IT firm and being told “We install and support SBS.  But we don’t install the Exchange or Sharepoint components because they are too complex for small business.”

Microsoft has cited the movement of email and file support to the cloud as one of the main reasons for the change.  I suspect that is true for a lot of reasons.  One that I have not seen mentioned is the change in perspective of the newer generations starting their own or taking over businesses.  These generations have been the leaders in the move to smart phones, tablets, and always being connected.  They don’t remember dial-up and a complete lack of inter-network capability.

This blog sounds like the regret at the end of an era.  But it is not.  It is an honest view of the facts and the understanding that an era has changed.

I’m not sure what the new era is going to be like, but it will be different.  What I will point out is how the new era is based on what was done in the old era and what lessons were learned then.    From my perspective of computing, what is new was old.  It is just polished to look more shiny.

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