Saturday, February 23, 2008

Server Roadmap Continued

Last Time I proposed a division of servers between Biz Server Nano and SBS 2012.

Here's my rationale:

The world is evolving. But sometimes the best solution is not the latest, greatest, gaggle of features crammed into a smaller, faster, cooler box. Sometimes the best solution is just plain basic technology that just plain works.

Why does Blackberry kick so very much butt? Because it just works. (Okay, not last week. But 99.9999% of the time.) You're not forced to replace everything every three or four years. It does one thing and does it very well. No: You don't get rich calendar integration and Office attachments.

You just get something that's simple, fast, easy, and reliable.

My point is: We need to segregate out the primary functions for our clients. We need to match three variables:
- the technology,
- the support services, and
- the client.

If you haven't looked at "appliances," you should. You want a web server? Chunk. Here's a web server. You want a mail server? Chunk. Here's a mail server. Whether you sell them or not, you should have an appreciation for the fact that there's a certain elegance to a product that just does what needs to be done extremely competently.

Sometimes, when a technology can be put in place and just work, we need to back away from the whiz-bang solutions and go with the technology that just works.

So let's look at the small and very small business market. And let's look at right-sizing.

First, the Nano market. That's 1-10 users.

The technology is Biz Server Nano plus hosted web and exchange. Onsite server has simple, primary functions (file sharing, backup, virus scanning).

Support is provided by technicians who focus on this specific market. Primary skills revolve around basic server maintenance and all levels of desktop maintenance. Also need to either manage the hosted service relationship or provide hosted services.

This is clearly the largest client base. It is also the easiest to get into as a consultant. The number of clients is nearly unlimited. Support here is primarily provided by sole proprietors who do not wish to become larger shops.

Second, the Small Biz market. That's 11-50 users.

The technology is Small Business Server 2012. Again, web and exchange are offsite. Primary functions of sbs2012 are domain security, file sharing, remote access, sharepoint, backup, and patch management for all machines on the network.

That's a combination that can work well together on the same box, and be delivered very reliably.

Support is provided by consultants who focus on the specialized technology of SBS: Active directory, remote access and the network technologies related to it, sharepoint, and add-on technologies such as SQL and CRM. With luck, these last two will be installed on separate servers.

The client base in the 10-50 range is the second largest base of client in the world. They require a higher level of attention and are far more willing to sign a service agreement. And once you get more than about ten of these clients, you're sure to need some additional staff.

Again, with web and exchange offsite, a certain amount of maintenance is also gone. As a rule, these clients demand a higher level of reliability and uptime, so they are willing to commit a bit more and pay more.

Third, the medium biz market. That's 50-250 users.

The technology is the core windows servers. Web is more likely to be onsite, as is exchange. The "big" server is a beefy machine that actually hosts virtual machines for SQL, etc.

The natural progression is from one server to two servers. From two to three, from three to four.

Even today, these folks are very likely to be using virtual machines and terminal services quite widely.

Support is provided by a team of technicians who, taken together, can master all the various technologies onsite. Reliability and uptime are primary concerns. All clients sign agreements. All clients expect top-end support.

Remember, its 2012, so Windows Essential Business Server (centro) has come and gone. This world isn't much different from the 1-5 client world: They want individual systems that each do their job extremely well. But they have the advantage that virtualization reigns supreme, which makes upgrades and migrations much easier than they were in the past.


Right-sizing tech support will simply happen on it's own. If Microsoft doesn't provide the right combination of servers, someone else will.

There's a natural home for every kind of consultant and every kind of client.

I can't tell a great story about the lines between 10 and 11 desktops or 50 and 51 desktops. But the division provides a framework for understanding the client types that exist out there.

And that's a little something to chew on for your future.


  1. Anonymous9:03 PM

    is that a typo? 1012? you mean 2012 like mentioned elsewhere in the article?



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