Microsoft small-business server futures: 5 things to know

Microsoft small-business server futures: 5 things to know

Summary: At the Worldwide Partner Conference this week, I had a chance to ask Guy Haycock, Senior Product Planner for Windows Server Solution Marketing, some of the many questions that both my readers and I have had about "Aurora" and Small Business Server (SBS) ever since word of Aurora's existence leaked earlier this year.

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Microsoft is trying some new things -- and sticking with some tried and true ones -- with its next-generation small-business server offerings.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference this week, I had a chance to ask Guy Haycock, Senior Product Planner for Windows Server Solution Marketing, some of the many questions that both my readers and I have had about "Aurora" and Small Business Server (SBS) ever since word of Aurora's existence leaked earlier this year. Here are five things worth knowing about what's coming from the Softies on the Windows Server front for small-business (beyond the initial Aurora/SBS 7/Vail information I blogged yesterday).

Q: What, exactly, is Aurora? And how does it compare and contrast with SBS 7 and Vail?

A: Vail is the next version of Windows Home Server, Haycock reconfirmed. He said there will be one more test build (the Release Candidate) of Vail before the product is released to manufacturing (but he didn't provide a target date for that). SBS 7 is the successor to Small Business Server 2008 and will include the Windows Server 2008 R2 core. Aurora is based on the same code base as Vail, but like SBS 7, is aimed at the small-business (rather than the consumer/entertainment) market. Aurora will be comprised of a small on-premises Server core and will be supplemented by a number of cloud services, starting with Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), plus some as-yet-unspecified others, he said.

Q: Might Windows Intune, Microsoft's systems-management in the cloud offering, be one of these complementary Aurora services?

A: Could be, but nothing official to say yet, Haycock said. Microsoft's CRM Online is also an obvious possible add-on service for Aurora (though, again, there hasn't yet been an official commitment). I also wondered aloud whether the rumored BPOS Lite product -- about which Microsoft officials here wouldn't comment at all this week -- could be the add-on for Aurora. Haycock had no comment. He added that any third-party service that can access Active Directory and make use of Microsoft's directory-federation services also could be configured to be an Aurora add-on.

Q: What happens to Windows Foundation Server, another of Microsoft's entry-level servers, as a result of the introduction of Aurora?

A: Nothing, Haycock said. Microsoft will continue to develop and market Foundation Server as its solution for customers with 15 users or fewer. Aurora is its solution for customers with 25 and fewer users. SBS 7 is its solution for 75 or fewer users. Microsoft will return to marketing Vail WHS as a consumer-focused solution, rather than both a consumer and small-business one, he said.

Q: What are the pricing/licensing/availability details for SBS 7 and Aurora?

A: Microsoft isn't yet ready to talk turkey about when any of these three products will debut. But Haycock did share a few new tidbits. He said to expect the first Aurora and SBS 7 public previews in late August. Also in August, there will be a preview of a software development kit that will work with both Aurora and SBS 7 (some refer to it as the "Colorado extensibility SDK," Haycock said.) Microsoft is planning to continue to make the next version of SBS available via PC-preloads with select OEMs, as well as via volume licensing and retail. Aurora will likely be available through the same set of channels, Haycock said, though he added things could change before the product goes final.

Q: Is SBS 7 the last version of on-premises SBS?

A: Haycock said it's too early to say whether there will be an SBS 8 or whether SBS's future is a hybrid one, based on the Aurora concept. I've heard from at least one very vocal reseller who thinks Microsoft would be shooting itself in the foot if it does away with an on-premises SBS offering. He cited privacy, security, connectivity and margin pressures as reasons for his and his customers' cloud reticence.)  That said, it's  interesting to note that Microsoft is touting as SBS 7's biggest new feature its support for Office Web Apps, as a result of the inclusion of SharePoint 2010 in the bundle.

What else do you want to know about SBS 7, Aurora and/or Vail?

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Operating Systems, Servers, Software, Windows, SMBs

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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25 comments
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  • In Place upgrade?

    Will SBS 7 allow in-place upgrades for SBS 2008 servers?
    dvm
    • Which version?

      Under 15 users? Under 25 users? Or under 75 users;-)

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    • Good question

      @dvm

      SBS 2008 didn't allow in-place upgrades from 2003 for a number of reasons (not the least of which is the migration of 64-bit and the big jump from 2003 to 2008-era hardware necessitating a new box), but SBS 7 being based on Server 08 R2 would lend itself to an upgrade from 2008 [R1], so we'll have to see.

      Interesting is that Microsoft hasn't come up with a name for Aurora yet. If Foundation is for tiny businesses, and SBS is for "small" businesses of up to 75 systems, what do you call "Aurora" for supporting only 10 more workstations than the server that supports up to 15?

      Likewise, why doesn't Microsoft offer the SBS/WHS UI (that I'm assuming Aurora has) and hybrid platform for a server of any size?

      Also, any system requirements on any of these products? Will SBS 2008-era hardware work with SBS 7, or will it need upgrades?
      Joe_Raby
      • RE: Microsoft small-business server futures: 5 things to know

        @Joe_Raby

        Think in terms of the underlying software being migrated to... Exchange 2010 cannot be inplace upgraded to from Exchange 2007.
        Bitzie
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  • Cities in Colorado?

    Interesting that both Vail and Aurora are cities in Colorado, along with the Colorado SDK. Maybe, you should ask the (very active) SBS community in Denver and the Front Range?
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  • Cloud solution not acceptable for many

    The "very vocal reseller" is absolutely right. Any sort of cloud-based solution would be unacceptable to many businesses. I work for a charity that currently uses SBS. We handle some very sensitive information and need to know we have total control over it. Putting anything in the cloud is a total non-starter for us.
    Jeremy Barker
  • RE: Microsoft small-business server futures: 5 things to know

    Will there bea way to "Migrate" from SBS 2003 to SBS 7?
    That actually has been the killer for us to move from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008, it is almost a complete restart.
    snixon@...
    • RE: Microsoft small-business server futures: 5 things to know

      @snixon@... You are going from 32 bit to 64 bit. You can't do an inplace. Have you checked out www.sbsmigration.com?
      Bitzie
  • What is included?

    ISA or Forefront? Is everything on one server or does it require more than one? Is it full versions of Exchange, etc or cut-down versions with limited appeal? Anything new or included for rights management, encryption, etc.? Hosted is not something interesting due to cost and security.
    JRncal
  • RE: Microsoft small-business server futures: 5 things to know

    Microsoft's move to a "Cloud Formation" in its server operating system line-up is not a good thing. The speeds on the net are not that great right now and waiting on Internet2 is not profitable in the short term. Long term use of the cloud might be huge if speed and performance items account for 95% of the changes to be made in both system architecture and in internet/network stability and speed.

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  • Pay for 1000 users, but only 2 can use it!

    This is the brand new M$ empire for sure!
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