Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What Keeps You From Installing SBS 2008?

In case you haven't checked it out, the Autotask interface includes a built-in link to their community portal.

The Portal includes a bunch of stuff on Autotask, of course. But it also includes great discussions about business, technology, strategy, and surviving in a changing world.

A recent poll on the Autotask Community asked the question What Keeps You From Installing SBS 2008? After a month of responses from a community with 22,000 users, here are the results (from those motivated enough to respond):

- We're Upgrading as Servers are replaced 49.2%
- No good reason to upgrade 15.6%
- We don't know the new product 12.5%
- The general economy 11.7%
- We don't plan to sell SBS 2008 8.6%
- We want to learn how virtualization works with SBS before we sell it 2.3%

In a recent user group meeting, I accidentally went ballistic on a friend who is not selling SBS 2008 into his client base. His argument is, essentially, that his clients are not asking for the new operating system.

Of course not.

It's not their job to know about or ask about the new O.S. That's your job as the consultant!

"The clients aren't asking for SBS 2008."


Did your clients ask for dual core or quad core processors? Did they ask for 64 bit processing? Did they ask for the Internet?

I'm sorry to have to break it to you, but . . . it's not your clients' job to know about technology. That's why they pay you $100 or $120 or $150 per hour!

Clients are NEVER going to ask for new technology. They would be happy to wrap the world in plastic, stop the grandfather clock, and never change anything forever.

When it comes to technology, many people believe that no change = saving money. So they use old technology that's "good enough."

If you have clients clinging to Office 97, you know what I mean. They will spend any amount of money to chase errors in Excel or Access rather than spend LESS money upgrading to a modern SQL program -- or finding a hosted alternative.

The Good News is that about half the people are upgrading as servers are replaced. This makes the most sense, in my opinion. Especially with SBS 2008, you'll want new fresh hardware. And it's kind of a shame to use a server for less than three years and throw it away. So, in the natural course of things, they'll get a new server.

And with fresh hardware comes the newest, coolest technology.

Some of the reasons for not adopting will naturally disappear (the economy, lack of familiarity with the product).

The one I don't understand is the 16% who say "No good reason to upgrade." It seems to me that any server more than 36 months old is a good reason to upgrade.

As I tell my clients, a three year old server is probably the slowest machine in the office. When it was new, 1.5GHz was fast. 2 GB RAM was common. 3 GB was max. Now we can put 8 or 12 in the new machine with Quad Core 3 GHz processors.

Performance is a good reason to upgrade.

Oh. Did I mention that the fans and power supplies have been running 24/7 for three years? And those hard drives have been spinning for more than 26,000 hours without a break?

A three year old car is a bargain to operate.
A ten year old car is marginal.
A twenty year old car is a money sieve.

A one year old server is a bargain to operate.
A three year old server is marginal.
A five year old server is a money sieve.


Visit for books and more!


  1. I think you've accidentally stumbled upon the difference between successful IT solution providers and "Trusted Advisors"

    The difference is, one group knows how to market and the other one is "trusted" to nod or grimace at whoever they take their orders from.

    The reason your victim reacted the way he did is because he's in that SPF / Trusted Advisor / Independant Ethical Consultant crowd that was able to survive simply on the pent up demand.

    Now that the demand is gone.... Well, to the great extent so are they.


  2. Clients don't pay you, their trusted advisor and IT partner to hawk whatever the newest (and in this case more expensive) product is. They pay you to look out for their interests, which for most SMB customers has not been Server 2008, or Vista.

    SBS 2008 is more expensive and dramatically slower than SBS 2003.

    We'll install it as needed, but if there is some super compelling reason to rush upgrades, it is a well-kept secret.

  3. If a client has to stay on 2003 because they LOB requires it, that's one thing.

    But when you have choices, I don't see any case in which the responsible thing is to put a client on a six year old operating system. I love SBS2003. But I loved SBS2000 (in fact, I thought it was the perfect operating system until I installed 2003).

    But 2003 doesn't take advantage of newer technology. It doesn't understand virtualization. The licensing is not as flexible. Features like the "old" RWW pale in comparison to the new RWW.

    And unless you're installing SBS2008 on old hardware, I'm sorry, but you can't complain about speed. Forget minimums. RAM is $25/gig. If you install anything on a new server with 8GB RAM, it will be plenty fast.

    We certainly don't sell every new thing to every client.

    But the responsible thing *is* to put clients on new, forward-facing technology rather than on old, backward-facing technology.

    And as for price . . . I think a price increase after six years is reasonble. If you take that couple hundred dollars and spread it over the life of the server, it's a pretty small percentage of the true cost of running a server.

  4. Wall, meet Karl. Karl, wall. Enjoy!

    Trusted Advisor / Ethical Consulant / Unemployed IT laborer does not mean understanding of technology or business.

    Think of it as a hot dog stand operator with a keyboard. Would you talk to a hot dog stand operator about marginal increases in cost, technology or efficiency benefits, etc? Of course not.

    The whole TA Microsoft pitch was taken to fanatical extents by some folks who have virtually transformed themselves to the subservient employees of a business only looking to do the bare minimum to get by - you aren't talking highly trained, highly skilled, business-savvy providers out there that are going to help a business over the problems they have created for themselves.

    In a way, from the Trusted Advisor perspective, you are way off Karl. ;) Why should anyone retrain and investigate new technology if the current technology works and there is even one negative review about it out there? If you're getting paid to remove spyware, why would you install a solution that would eliminate the problem in the first place?


  5. I see your point. But every business has "technician" and advisors.

    Several years ago I had a house painted and the "technicians" painted right over a spot of dry rot. When I found out, I was pissed. I expected them to at least stop and tell me it was there.

    Two years later I had another house painted and they sent out an advisor to inspect the house before they started. He found some siding that had dry rot. Rather than paint over it, he recommended that we replace the bad boards before they started.

    Now the advisor would have painted over the dry rot if I insisted. I suppose there are people who do that.

    I'm one of those people who is willing to pay a little more and work with people who help me spend my money wisely. I look for clients with the same attitude.

    It's not hard, really. When we charge $225/hour and Cousin Larry charges $65, the client knows that we're advisors and not technicians.

    At the same time, the client has a real right to be mad at us if they discover 12 months from now that we sold them the wrong thing just because we're not comfortable with the newer technology.

  6. Vlad seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about something?

    SBS 2003 R2 is not six years old, Karl. I know that "3 years old later this year" doesn't sound quite as damnig as "six years old", but...


Feedback Welcome

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

Disagreements welcome!