Any small business still looking to host their own server onsite and resist the growth of the Cloud might be disappointed by the latest news from Microsoft.
The tech giant has revealed the versions of Server 2012 that will be available. Only four versions will be on offer including DataCentre, Standard, Essentials and Foundation. That means no small business server, no storage server or home server as was available in the 2008 version.
An overview of what will be available includes the DataCentre, designed for highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments; Standard, especially for low-density or non-virtualised environments; Foundation that’s designed for an economical general purpose server and Essentials, with small business environments in mind. The latter offers a server with a 25 user account limit, a simple and easy to use interface that is pre-configured for connectivity to cloud based services.
That may sound highly technical but it reflects a strategy from Microsoft, one would think, to streamline their offer and push their Cloud Services. If you use Hosted Exchange, which is based on Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2010, you’ll know how the service is designed to make the best of the Cloud; sharing tasks, calendars and contacts across staff, synchronising with a variety of platforms, increasing the ability to work remotely and access the same information wherever you are as well as reducing the cost of IT and technology in the office.
The reduction in the number of server options by Microsoft is inevitably to push people towards their cloud services, particularly for small business. But is it a chicken and the egg situation? Cloud Computing specifically targeting SMEs is a multi-million pound business. The economic situation means that many small businesses, unable to source loans from banks and other funding bodies have turned to their own books and are seeking ways to cut costs. Reducing their IT outlay, finding a solution that better suits their needs and is not as expensive as an in-house server is inevitably going to be a more attractive option.
Small Businesses looking for ever more flexible and dynamic solutions out pressure on providers, even tech giants like Microsoft to keep up with their needs.
Providers and platforms actively encourage this mindset. They want to show SMEs that they can benefit from flexible technology solutions and that it can benefit their business and how they operate.
So which came first? Did SMEs put demand on providers to create flexible solutions and Microsoft responds to this need by streamlining their offer reflecting demand, or is demand being funnelled by Microsoft’s reduction of server offers?
It’s probably a bit of both; Microsoft, acknowledging take-up of Hosted Exchange and the desire among SMEs to mix and match IT solutions in the cloud realise they can tailor the packages they sell to match. It benefits both. It helps Microsoft push their new servers and helps Small Business pick the solution that’s right for them.
What does it mean for Cloud providers? The message remains on track. The first six months of 2012 have seen an explosion in the use of Cloud computing, exactly as predicted. SMEs actively looking for ways to improve their IT in a strategy that helps them cut costs as well as grow their business makes it easier for providers, be their Hosted exchange re-sellers or those like Giacom offering a range of solutions, to sell the benefits and the impact they can have.