A few weeks ago I blogged on having attended the Microsoft conference in London billed Transition to the Cloud.

Steve Bulmers message to us resellers was pretty bleak. In their view resellers who rely on on-site support and service contracts were doomed and we would not be selling any more servers to SMEs. We all had to become Azure platform developers or die. Not very subtle and all a bit gloomy.

We took this message onboard and have spent the intervening weeks discussing this message both internally and with a number of clients (some even read the blog!).

Thinking the Microsoft message over carefully and examing what we do and what our clients do now and what they will probably doing in the future has, to our minds, revealed a less pessimistic future for us.

Firstly although we can quite see that we will not be putting in Microsoft Exchange in-house for the smallest clients, say the 1-10 user range, ALL our clients currently run one or more server-based applications that they would have difficulty in putting in the cloud. Most sites run network versions of Sage for example, and many others have other SQL based database applications for running their businesses. These range from plant nursery software, financial services databases, CAD/CAM parametric design software, etc. Now all these applications can go into the cloud on dedicated servers (and Sage offer hosted Sage for example) but when you consider the cost of hosting your file storage, hosting your Exchange, hosting your various applications, the costs really mount up. In fact for most clients with any kind of need above the most basic email/file/print facility the monthly cost of putting all this in cloud over a period of a few years would well exceed the cost of having it on-premise.

We have started to migrate a couple of clients away from Small Business Server to Office365. Now both these clients have downsized in recent years and their existing servers are due for a hardware refresh. We analysed what they do and they fitted the profile for a cloud based business; no database applications or other ‘unusual’ applications, email requirement and lots of mobility. Interestingly neither client wanted their data hosted in the cloud and both have opted for local NAS devices.

Talking the Microsoft strategy over with a number of clients some were a bit panicked with the idea that we would no longer be providing on-site support, even if they had no servers. Seems that we are wanted after all 🙂

Also this morning Microsoft dropped a note through to Partners about the next version of Small business Server, cunningly called Small Business Server 2011. This will come in three flavours now; Essentials, Standard and Premium. The major difference over SBS 2008 is the Essentials version. This comes without Exchange and presumes that you will use Office 365 for email. Interesting that Microsoft still see small businesses using the other two versions of SBS over the next few years.

The other bit of good news is the Microsoft Intune tool. This is a piece of client software that talks back to a portal on the intenet and monitors the client PC for patches, viruses, malware, performance issues, etc. The Intune subscription also includes an upgrade to windows 7 Ultimate. We see this as being an excellent tool for us and our clients as we will be able down to the level of individual workstations no matter where the are.

I’ll add more about our cloud strategy over the next few weeks.

by hostadmin on Nov 25, 2010 at 2:44 PM

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