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5 Opportunities in Windows Server 2012

A Windows server launch is always a date for partners to circle on their calendars. The launch this month of Windows Server 2012 was no exception. Billing the new server as a "cloud OS,"Microsoft did a lot of work in this release to integrate Windows Server 2012 with the forthcoming System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 and with Windows Azure to address the changing needs of the IT world.

To emphasize the importance of the product to partners, Microsoft's top channel executive, Jon Roskill, blogged earlier this month about high-level opportunities surrounding Windows Server 2012. He called out:

1. Datacenter Practice
Roskill's top opportunity involved deeper datacenter practice opportunities.

"With advanced capabilities like storage optimization, high availability, simplified backups and secure multi-tenancy, Windows Server 2012 enables you to deliver bigger, more complete solutions that go beyond virtualization," Roskill wrote. "Since these rich capabilities are built in, there are no additional licensing fees for customers -- freeing up budget for customers to spend on your services and solutions."

2. Consumerization of IT
The BYOD technologies and some new virtual desktop infrastructure capabilities present opportunities for partners to help with the customer challenges around device management, Roskill said.

3. Cloud Computing
A recurring Microsoft theme in the cloud battles is customer choice -- between on-premise and cloud. Microsoft is hoping partners will hit that theme hard with the cloud OS enabled by the Windows Server-Azure-System Center combination. "From elastic, cloud optimized applications to cross-premises identity management to services like automation and disaster recovery, your opportunities with the Cloud OS are quite broad," Roskill noted.

4. SMB Servers
The biggest partner controversy of the Windows Server 2012 is the decision not to build a new version of Windows Small Business Server on its code base. In fact, Microsoft doesn't plan to create any new versions of SBS. Roskill skirted the SBS end-of-life controversy by pointing to the remaining opportunity. He mentioned that more than 1 million customers are running SBS 2003 or earlier versions and will need to upgrade before SBS 2003 support ends in 2015. While the implication is that those customers should move to Windows Server 2012 Essentials, there's also a large SBS 2011 opportunity in that user base. Roskill also pointed to the "first-server market," Microsoft's designation for multi-PC customers with no server installed.

5. Upgrade on Current Hardware
For customers not ready to make the jump to new hardware, a lot of current hardware can handle Windows Server 2012. "With WS 2012 and Hyper-V you can do most SMB virtualization scenarios on many customers' current servers," Roskill said.

Check out the upcoming October issue of Redmond Channel Partner magazine for a lot more on what partners need to know about Windows Server 2012.

Posted by Scott Bekker on September 17, 2012