Hiding the announcement like a politician hides bad news, Microsoft announced the end of life for their Small Business Server (SBS) last July. It’s now nearly six months later, and they are still trying to figure out what the replacement for Small Business Server should really be. Just this month, Microsoft has changed the licensing rights for those that purchase Small Business Server 2011 with Software Assurance. The original announcement gave Software Assurance purchasers rights to one Windows Server 2012 Standard license, one Exchange 2010 Standard license and the associated CALs to match the Small Business Server CALs. The new announcement gives the purchaser rights to two Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses along with the Exchange 2010 license. Additionally, you will be able to upgrade to Exchange 2013 if you wish.
One other announcement that has been made by Microsoft is how to transmogrify Windows 2012 Server Essentials into a normal Windows 2012 Server environment. Transmogrification (yes, this is a real word according to Microsoft), can be simply accomplished by activating a Windows 2012 Server Essentials environment with a Windows 2012 Server product code. There are no additional charges outside of the CAL requirement for every user/device connected to server. This act also increase the number of computers that can be backed by the Essentials server up from 25 to 75
So what does this really mean to the business owner? The choices have become more numerous than before which really means you need an expert to determine what is best for your business. Let’s assume that you are moving from SBS 2003 to something. What should you choose?
One choice would be Small Business Server 2011. Although you can no longer purchase Software Assurance for the product, you can still purchase it until July of this year. Jeff Middleton of IT Pro Experts argues that SBS 2011 will have validity for the next five years. I think this is a valid assumption if you think your company will grow within the restraints of SBS (75 users).
Another choice would be to move to either Small Business Server Essentials 2011 or Windows 2012 Server Essentials for your internal server as long as you will stay within the 25 user limit. For this size business, I would recommend an outside mail server such as Microsoft Office 365.
For larger businesses, you could go to a Windows Server version and either have your email hosted in-house or in the cloud. In doing analysis for a number of different clients, I have found that the conversion costs to cloud email versus keeping mail in-house break even at about 5 years.
These are just high level overviews of what choices are available. There are many variations within the choices I have mentioned. If you have more questions, let me know an I will try to address them.
Cisco has released their “Connected World Technology Report 2011“. This was a worldwide study of 1,441 College Students (age 18–24) and 1,412 End Users (21–29) who completed an online survey between May 13 and June 8, 2011. The study covered 14 countries with about 200 entries per country. The End Users were screened were college graduates or higher, employed full time in a non-IT role, and worked for an organization that employs 10+ people worldwide. The purpose of the study was to examine the behavior and expectations of the world’s next generation of workers and how their demands for information access are changing business communications and the future of work.
Among other findings, the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report revealed:
- One of every three college students and young employees believes the Internet is as important as air, water, food, and shelter.
- Two of five said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility.
Regarding security-related issues in the workplace, seven of ten employees admitted to knowingly breaking IT policies on a regular basis, and three of five believe they are not responsible for protecting corporate information and devices.
When looking into the detailed answers of End Users from the US, your current employees, some things definitely pop out.
- Nearly Two-Thirds of End Users believe ‘Company-Issued Devices Should Be Available for Both Work and Play.’
- When asked, US End Users were split evenly on whether their company should give the same equipment to everyone, or they should be given a budget to buy their own equipment, or they should have company supplied equipment but be able to use their own devices at work.
- Over half thought they should be able to access their corporate network from their home computer and nearly as many thought they should be able to from personal mobile devices. A third thought they should be able to access the corporate network from any computer anywhere.
- In an answer to that expectation, over half the End Users could access their corporate network remotely, but not always from all locations.
- In deference to their international colleagues, nearly two-thirds US End Users would take a higher salary over the ability to work remotely.
- About a third of US End Users report their company restricts access to Online games and Social Networking sites. Of those restricted, a third thinks it would be nice for work/life balance issues if these sites were available. While nearly as many think that they and their co-workers would waste a huge amount of time if the sites were available.
- 40% believe that their company IT policies need slight improvement or updating. Even though, over half believe the company policies are fair.
- Only 34% always follow their company IT policies while another 53% say they follow those policies most of the time.
- 64% of those that break the company policies believe that they are doing nothing wrong.
Most of the US End Users responding to the survey were between the ages of 25 and 29. Half of the End Users worked for companies with more than 750 people. A third of the respondents worked for companies with less than 100 people.
So what can be drawn from this study? From the employee’s point of view, remote access is desirable and may lead to better productivity. There is no real consensus on who should supply end user equipment, but employers should be looking at or developing policies on Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) questions. But for most employees in the US, pay is more important than remote access and flexibility.
Employers should recognize that they need to define policies. Those policies can be restrictive if fair. Once policies are defined, they need to be updated on a regular basis.
There were a lot of other issues questioned in this study, but I believe these are the key points for the small business owner that is looking ahead:
- Be aware that younger users expect more in IT connectivity.
- They will basically follow the rules if the rules seem logical. Otherwise, they will find a way around them.
- Times have changed. If you aren’t already doing it, you should look at restricting Internet access during your work day. Tomorrow may be too late because expectation of access is already there.
- Make sure your employees understand their responsibility for the security of the company’s data and equipment.