One-Stop Shopping for Small Business Customers
Small Business Server is the first step for your customers needing to integrate their business infrastructure.
- By Jeremy Moskowitz
- July 01, 2005
The idea behind Microsoft's Small Business Server 2003-Premium
Edition (SBS-PE) is to have a "one-stop shop," providing everything
a customer will need to keep their small business humming along.
SBS-PE packs a huge amount of Microsoft software, tools and services
into one package, all configured to run on one server.
The only caveat is SBS-PE has a hard limit of support for 75 client
computers before requiring an upgrade to more server capacity. The
SBS-PE package includes:
- Windows Server 2003: This is the baseline OS that runs
the additional components, and provides file and print services
and dial-up/VPN services via Routing and Remote Access Services
- Windows SharePoint Services: This allows for inter-office
collaboration on documents, calendars and tasks.
- Exchange Server 2003: The Microsoft e-mail platform includes
Outlook Web Access to let users check their corporate e-mail accounts
from home or on the road.
- Shared Fax Service: This lets users send, receive, print
and store faxes right from their desks.
- SQL Server 2000: Applications that need to draw on data
repositories use Microsoft's database service to store that data.
For instance, Microsoft's CRM application (available separately)
will use the built-in SQL Server as its data repository.
- FrontPage 2003: Comes with SBS-PE so your customers can
design their own Web pages to get to SharePoint Services or other
- ISA Server 2000: This is Microsoft's industrial-strength
firewall for outside protection (see "Get in the Security Door
with ISA" ).
- CALs: Both the standard and premium editions of Windows
Small Business Server 2003 support up to 75 client licenses (CALs).
Installing SBS-PE is easy, as it's wizard-driven, like most Microsoft
products. Any customer with a little Windows exposure can handle
the install process. Once the package is installed, it's also quite
easy for your customers to get their first users into the system
and get going with e-mail and other basic functions.
|Windows Small Business Server 2003-Premium Edition
|Release: Standard Edition shipped in October 2003
Base Price: $1,499 with 5 CALs; Windows Small Business Server-Standard Edition: $599 with 5 CALs
The fact that all the components are meant to—and indeed
do—run on one server is one of the most amazing aspects of SBS-PE.
In larger environments, any IT professional worth his salt would
be laughed at for putting all those components on just one box.
Microsoft seems to realize that's a lot to expect from one server,
so it has thoughtfully written up an SBS hardware guide to help
your customer determine which servers might make the best candidates.
If a customer expresses concern about running all of SBS-PE on a
single server, you can assure them that it is relatively straightforward
to add server capacity with the Add Server Computer Wizard.
A server with multiple processors is another option. SBS-PE can
support two physical processors, or as many as four logical processors
using hyper-threading, which makes the operating system see a single
physical processor as two. In my experience, running all the SBS-PE
components on just one box usually works quite well, as long as
that box has sufficient capacity.
Microsoft is far and away the leader in this space. A handful of
other vendors—including Novell, IBM and Nitix—are pushing for an
"all-in-one" design similar to Redmond's comprehensive package,
but they're really playing catch-up to SBS-PE.
Novell Small Business Suite 6.5 comes in a license bundle for up
to 100 users and includes NetWare 6.5, GroupWise 6.5, BorderManager
3.8, ZENworks for Desktops 4.0 and Nterprise Branch Office.
The IBM Small Business Suite for Linux includes IBM Suites Installer,
Lotus Domino Application Server for Linux, Lotus Notes for Windows,
IBM DB2 Universal Database Workgroup Edition for Linux, IBM WebSphere
Application Server for Linux, IBM HTTP Server for Linux, Lotus SmartSuite
for Windows, IBM WebSphere Studio Entry Edition, Lotus Domino Designer
for Windows and IBM WebSphere Homepage Builder for Linux.
Nitix includes Web, e-mail, file and print services, plus additional
security, backup and disaster recovery features. Nitix is interoperable
with existing Windows, Macintosh and Linux desktops, as well as
Microsoft, Novell and Red Hat servers, so customers don't have to
overhaul their IT infrastructure. Also, customers can run Nitix
on entry-level and older computers, thereby increasing server hardware
All three of these solutions use Linux as the back end, however.
If Windows is what you want, Microsoft is really the only game in
What isn't as obvious at first glance is that Microsoft's real
competitor to SBS is Microsoft itself. Indeed, Microsoft's own Windows
2003 Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition compete with SBS, which
sometimes gets treated as a second-class citizen. For instance,
SBS has its own service packs that always come out after the equivalent
service pack for the full versions of Windows.
For customers that outgrow SBS and need to move on to something
bigger, Microsoft has a Transition Pack that removes the 75-license
limit. However, this Transition Pack doesn't do the actual work
of making the transition. That job is left to you, as the VAR or
consultant. Enterprising folks like those at SBSmigration.com make
a living out of migrating companies from SBS. The company even has
a "Swing-it!" kit specifically meant to guide technical staff through
- Includes comprehensive package of small business software
- All software designed to run on a single server
- Easy, wizard-driven configuration
- Flexible growth pattern—simple process to add server capacity if needed or get around 75-client maximum
- Novell Small Business Suite 6.5
- IBM Small Business Suite for Linux
- Microsoft's own Windows 2003 Standard and Enterprise Editions
- Designed for small businesses; also good choice for new customers
- Ability to sell additional products and services when businesses grow out of SBS
- Programs from Microsoft to sell SBS with Microsoft CRM
Marketing and Sales
SBS is an important focus area for Microsoft these days, and its
Web site is packed with quality marketing and sales material. You'll
find case studies, general details about positioning SBS, comparisons
of SBS-Standard Edition and SBS-Premium Edition, and descriptions
of some of its marketing programs—specifically how you can capitalize
on the release of SBS-PE with SP1 and how Redmond is encouraging
partners to co-market SBS with Microsoft Business Solutions CRM
With the release of SBS-PE with SP 1, you have the opportunity
to contact your existing SBS customers and sell them additional
services and other Microsoft small business products. By upgrading
your customers to this version, you can assure them they have the
latest service packs for all the individual components.
Customer relationship management (CRM) also presents a prime marketing
opportunity for SBS. If your small business customers need to better
manage sales opportunities and customer information, encourage them
to consider Microsoft CRM in conjunction with SBS-PE. The benefits
to you include incremental services revenue; the opportunity to
offer your customers a complete solution and build your relationship;
and the ability to drive sales of SBS-PE, Office 2003 and Windows
In early February, Microsoft announced special pricing on Microsoft
CRM for SBS customers, where they can save up to 50 percent of the
The Final Word
Microsoft's SBS-PE really is at the top of the small-business server
game. It's easy to install, easy to maintain, has wide support and
there are lots of potential customers. Those are the major upsides.
The potential issue of outgrowing and upgrading from SBS is a job
in itself. While that is a potential concern that you should be
prepared to address, it could also represent opportunity for additional
sales and service revenues down the road.
With that said, if you're looking to get your foot in the door
with new customers who might not have an integrated technology infrastructure,
SBS-PE is an excellent choice with which to get started.