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Mailbag: Looking out for the Little Server

In my column for the April issue of RCP, "Looking out for the Little Server," I shared my concern that the stand-alone server category may suffer from benign neglect as the industry focuses on data-center blade designs that serve the cloud.

The column prompted a server solution specialist and Microsoft licensing expert with a major distributor, who asked that he not to be identified by name, to respond with some interesting observations:

"In reference to your column on April 1 (Looking out for the Little Server), I could not agree more. There are a number of players in this space that have convinced themselves that everyone in SMB will go to the cloud, for one reason or another. There are several factors that I'm seeing that push against that thought:

  • VARs are only going to move their customers to the cloud if they are convinced that it's secure
  • VARs are only going to move their customers to the cloud if they are convinced that they can continue to make money doing so
  • VARs that derive any substantial portion of their business from hardware sales are going to need to see substantial financial up-tick to move to the cloud
  • VARs will need to be convinced that their cloud providers are not going to take their customers direct
  • SMB end-users will need to be convinced of the security of the cloud
  • SMB end-users will need to be convinced of the stability and reliability of the cloud
  • SMB end-users will need to be convinced that their data will be theirs, and only theirs, no matter whose servers it resides on.

"SBS is a great play, but it needs to be extended to meet more needs. There should be a telephony product that fits better than OCS. There should be a version of CRM that fits this space. There should definitely be an ERP solution that the average small business can use. Microsoft has the stack, but none of the parts know each other.

"If you want to see a nice play, and it makes me crazy to say it, you can take a look at Lotus Foundations Start and Foundations Reach. If you put those two together and add a ShoreTel VoIP system (made to integrate), there's a great SMB play there. I'd love to see Microsoft make a better solution than this (ShoreTel makes a system that integrates with MS CRM, too), but I don't see the current regime supporting that."

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 19, 2010 at 11:58 AM