Friday, April 03, 2009

Biz Server Nano Becomes Real

Harry Brelsford wrote a great article about the new Microsoft Foundation Server here:

Were you surprised by the new server?

If you haven't read about it, check out The Microsoft Announcement.

You'll find the official Foundation Server site at

A few interesting points:

1) The Foundation Server is focused very squarely on the micro-business: under 15 users. As we all know, this group represents the vast majority of small businesses. I'm sure Microsoft will give us the figures.

2) Like Home Server, this one appears to be sold only through OEM. That means system builder, not through licensing and therefore not through the same partner channel that sells all the other Server 2008 editions. For most of you, this means not through you.

Harry points out that offerings from IBM and others are emerging as a direct competition to SBS 2008. So one has to wonder, will this product decrease the sales of those potential competitors or simply deplete the sales of SBS 2008?

Where Will Foundation Server Fit?

As I've mentioned before . . .

(BTW, I want to publicly take credit for the "Biz Server Nano" idea. I only wish they'd used that name instead of Foundation.

If I sold OEM servers I'd market this as the Super-Good Server for Really Small Businesses. :-)
Maybe bundle it with the Super-Good Project Planner for Technical Consultants.)

Tiered Support and Direct Sales

As I mentioned in one of the earlier blog posts above, there are tiers of technical consultants. The folks who build clustered servers inside Hyper-V are not going to be selling Foundation Server, although they might use it at home. Certified partners in general probably won't sell it because they're having a great time selling SBS to small clients.

A handful of system builders (e.g., Dell, HP) will sell it. And probably a whole cadre of independent system builders.

BUT what about Registered Partners and very small SBSCs? Will they (you) sell it?
- If it remains OEM only, the answer is NO
- If it's like Home Server, the answer is NO

Okay. Next question: SHOULD you sell Foundation Server?
- It it remains OEM only, the answer is NO
- If you can sell licenses, then the answer is a resounding YES

Here's the deal: Assuming this server is as well thought-out and executed as Home Server and SBS, this really is a server perfectly designed for a specific market. Therefore, it is the right server to sell into that market.

You might slice up the world differently than I do, or than Microsoft does. But however you identify the market between "No Server" and SBS, there's a big chunk of businesses that need a server designed just for them.

As I've said before, a web server should not be in-house in such a business. Host that for $10/month. And Exchange should not be in-house if you can't repel an attack in real time.

That leaves file sharing, remote access, backup, and getting to the QuickBooks data. If you need those functions, and that's what we got here, then the match seems perfect.

One more note that might sting a bit: You can't charge $225/hour to service this machine. If a higher skill set is not required, clients are not likely to pay for it.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

What's the worst case scenario?

1) This remains OEM only

2) This is sold at Best Buy by people who can't even spell SBS

3) This "server" really consists of a marketing package to
- Click here and sign up for hosted Exchange (on Windows Live)
- Click here and sign up for hosted backup (on Windows Live)
- Click here and sign up for skydrive data store (on Windows Live)
- Click here and sign up to eliminate your highly skilled technical professional altogether (with Windows Live)

But that's worst case. I'm sure we won't find this server filled with such blatant direct-to-end-user sales. After all, Microsoft is totally committed to the channel.


Visit for books and more!


  1. Interesting post as always Karl. Could you expand on what you mean by "...can't repel an attack in real time." Are you talking a decent hardware firewall, or something else?

    Also, in this scenario is your case against OEM based on the fact that there are no transfer rights or other licensing benefits?



  2. On attacks: If someone is actively trying to compromise your server, can you deal with it right then, or are you stuck cleaning up afterward?

    Remember that email and http are the most used protocols on the internet. As a result, they are the most attacked and abused. If you don't monitor firewalls and servers so you can respond to an attack, then those services should exist somewhere else.

    As for OEM: An SBS install is a major event. And it is never wise to leave the client with no operating system just because a server dies, is stolen, or needs to be upgraded.

    Very few people know about or use the other benefits of licensing. But the ability to reinstall that O.S. on another piece of hardware is very important when you need it.

  3. Very interesting and useful post.


Feedback Welcome

Please note, however, that spam will be deleted, as will abusive posts.

Disagreements welcome!