Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Server Family Revised

Microsoft has a vision about how the world will be divided.

It goes something like this:

Home Server: For families.

Small Biz Server: for 5-50 desktop businesses.

Centro (3-server combo): for 50-250 desktop businesses.

Server Server: As needed to supplement businesses of all sizes.


Sounds good. But, of course, Microsoft has no control over what will happen when the new "2008" class of servers is released into the wild. Here are some speculations.

First, the home market will consist almost entirely of geeks and nerds. A second wave will come from early adopters (your clients who insist on doing computer work themselves). A third wave will come from . . . Um . . . . Okay, actually, there won't be a third wave.

Everyone who owns a Tivo and a slingbox and a media center PC will be tempted by Home Server. But they'll look at it when the Tivo dies and they need a new home PC.

Second, the micro business market will gobble up Home Server. Offices that use a desktop as a server can now use a "Home" server and feel good about it. But you'll object that they can't join a domain.

What's a domain? Why do I need a domain?

Micro businesses want to connect to the internet, save their quickbooks files so they can be used by two people. And they need to share a printer that wasn't intended for use on a network.

They may or may not know that they need to back up their stuff, or that they need a virus scanner.

So thousands of consultants will sell Home Server into the very small business market.

Third, Small Businesses that don't take technology seriously (just like those micro businesses, but with more users) will also adopt the Home Server.

Here's a prediction: The biggest growth in trade journal articles over the next twelve months will be how [doctors, lawyers, architects, irrigation specialists, contractors, realtors, etc.] can run their entire business on Home Server. After all, it's 1/3 the price of Small Business Server.

Fourth, Small Businesses that DO take technology seriously (IT Dependent) will stay with SBS 2003 or move to SBS 2008 when their servers need replacing. This market -- SBS 2008 -- will be significantly depleted by Home Server. And that's good for us. It's a nice dividing line for consultants and for clients.

Fifth, there's a significant space between the SBS market and the Centro market. Just because you outgrow SBS doesn't mean you're ready to buy three servers. The natural progression for us is to separate Exchange from everything else OR separate SQL from everything else. That's . . . let's see . . . two servers! We've been doing this for ten years.

And Microsoft can give Centro away if they want, but it doesn't address the larger cost: Three servers costs a lot more than one server. And we're not putting all this in place without a backup. So we need a bigger, better solution there.

As a result, I think there's a good size gap between SBS and Centro. When you get to 100 users, Centro makes a lot of sense. And I know that there's not many companies in the 50-75 range. But what about that 75-100 range? The reality is, you have to wean people onto the idea of three servers.


The biggest change for us re: Home Server will be the dividing lines that will emerge between

- "Homey" clients and serious clients

and between

- "Homey" consultants and true server consultants.

At the "low end" of our business there are lots of people who are happy serving not-too-serious clients who will never become 25 users, will never take their technology seriously, and who will never sign up for managed services.

At the same time, there are plenty of consultants who are happy charging $60/hour, avoiding active directory, and don't really want to learn about all that "high end" stuff like servers and licenses and enterprise-level solutions.

So a somewhat natural division will emerge (quite quickly) in which Homey clients will be served by Homey consultants. The market will be Home Server for Business. Best buy will put together a nice package with a $499 server (home server pre-installed), $29 firewall with 5-port switch, five cables, and a 1GB video card. Or you can buy one of those really cool Celeron servers from Dell.

This is all good news for us. All those people who are still afraid of Active Directory and Group Policies after seven years can find a natural home among clients who just need to get to the internet and share their quickbooks.

So Microsoft will draw a nice line for all of us between Home Server Businesses and businesses that need and use real business servers.

We will then take a big fat permanent marker and darken that line so that's it's very clear for everyone.


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