Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Karl's 2010 SMB Roadmap Part 3 - "Big Servers, Little Servers, and Virtual Servers"

Part one in this series is The Destruction of The Channel.

Part two is The Last Server You'll Ever Own.

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If you've paid much attention to my discussion of Cloud Computing (see http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/#uds-search-results then you know that our little tech company has a pretty cool offering. It involves a light server on site and a cloud component.

At the same time I haven't been talking about our involvement in a beta program for some super cool new technology coming down the road. What I will say is that it is exactly the right next step. It just needs to be released before it becomes irrelevant!

In the last three years we have seen a dramatic series of changes in the server world. Not just for the giant corporations, but for the SMB space as well.

When SBS 2003 was at end of life, our world was simple and clear. We sold a beefy server that did it all. It was 32 bit with 4 GB RAM, had a buncha hard drives, and provided everything from active directory to file storage, Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint, VPN, CRM, line of business apps, faxing, and hand buffing of your car.

Virtualization has been around forever, but once processors and RAM became fast and cheap enough, virtualization technology took off. Dave Sobel and I did a seminar on managing virtualization projects a couple years ago. That has been very hot. Since then Dave has jumped in with both feet and is leading the community. His blog is excellent on this front. http://www.smbvirtualization.net/drupal-6.4/.

And if you want to join in the conversatoin, check out the SMB Virutalization Yahoo Group at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/smbvirtualization/.

Of course the hyper-V hardware component makes all of this a lot easier and more powerful. So now SBS 2008 is out, and its super-flexible licensing makes it perfect for virtualization. 64 bit means lots of memory. Hyper-V means two server can exist on the same box without choking to death.

At the same time, over the last three years, Microsoft has developed, released, and fine-tuned some smaller servers. As Microsoft and everyone else rushes to the cloud, we're finding ways to put Exchange there. And SQL, and even hosted desktops. We're moving all the easy stuff first, but I sincerely hope you can see that moving everything is just a matter of time.

Microsoft sometimes runs a partner marketing program called "First Server Right Server." Well maybe the first server is a cloud server. And maybe the right server is a little Foundation OEM or HP Storage/Windows Home Server. Maybe the right server isn't SBS any more.

Gulp Yes. Maybe SBS is no longer the right server for the SMB space. Maybe it will be when the next version is released. But the world keeps on spinning.

At the same, on premise cloud products (Like Zenith's new Smart Style box) will allow serious virtualization at a whole new level. And products like that will open up a whole new world of computing for many of us in the SMB space.

"Right Server" indeed.

If I could force you to look at your clients and think about the future, here's the exercise.

1. You cannot sell them the same kind of hardware and software they bought last time (3-4 years ago)

2. Let's put data where it is most reliably available and affordable

3. Let's focus on helping clients save money on hardware and software

4. Let's see what we can do to create recurring revenue streams

What does that look like for each of your clients? How much is hosted? Where is it hosted? How is it backed up? And how can you sell more and more clients with fewer service requests per client?

In case you haven't checked it out, I encourage you to visit Cloud Services Roundtable.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
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