Yes, you heard right, after 25 years with the same logo, Microsoft has finally revealed a new look. “Out with the old and in with the new” is following along in their product line as well. In the last blog we touched briefly on Windows 8 and in this blog we are going to touch on changes to the Windows Server product offerings, specifically, how they will affect many of our clients.

With the release of Windows Server 2012, also brings a lot of changes to how it is licensed. In fact, the product known to most small businesses as Microsoft Windows SBS (Small Business Server) has been discontinued. This product has been very attractive to Small Business owners because it bundles the server operating system, domain controller role, and core file and print services with components such as Exchange, Sharepoint, ISA, and SQL server at an attractive price. However, Microsoft announced that the current version, SBS 2011, will be the last.

The big question facing small business is, “what will replace it?” The answer is quite simple, but doesn’t bode well with most people we have discussed it with. Companies will have three options, adopt a cloud infrastructure for some of the core services (Exchange, Sharepoint, etc), buy the necessary licenses separately like larger organizations, or invest in third-party solutions for some of the services.

The cloud definitely has its advantages for those with fast internet connections and a small number of users – no capital investment in hardware or software, no maintenance fees, and no upgrades. So in essence, business owners are looking at a switch from capital expenditures to operating expenditures. The cloud model, although good for many, doesn’t work for everyone. For one, there is a monthly charge per user which can get costly, especially for growing organizations. Secondly, if the organization has a slow Internet connection, users will see major performance degradation by moving services to the cloud.

For those organizations that want to continue to host services onsite, there is some good news that has come out of the Microsoft Server 2012 licensing model. Microsoft has announced that the Standard edition license will provide for 2 virtual machines on a single host. These organizations can then have a single physical server with 2 guest virtual machines, one as a domain/file/print server and the other as an Exchange server, only paying the cost of one Windows Server Standard 2012 license.  Another option for on-premise would be to evaluate third-party solutions for the Microsoft applications.  Third-party solutions are often more cost-effective, but need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the necessary functionality is available for your organization.

To put it bluntly, changes are coming, but isn’t that what Information Technology is all about? The ways in which we conduct day-to-day business is not going to change, but the way it is delivered will! Have more questions? Feel free to contact us for a no-cost, hassle-free, evaluation of your organization.