More about “Beyond” Less about SBS

Posted: April 7, 2013 in Cloud
Tags: , ,

I wonder if I were clairvoyant when I titled my blog.  I was not imagining the demise of SBS, still all shiny and new in its 2011 issue.  No, I was thinking about all of the business issues that could be addressed once SBS was deployed and people figured out how to make it effective.

But here we are in a brave new world, and SBS is a memory, much like Clipper has become (yes, I was President at Nantucket, and it was hard to imagine that dBASE products would ever not be mainstream).  The new world is cloud services, but let me start out with a couple of comments:

  • Cloud is now a very hot and simultaneously cool word and concept, but when mainframes roamed the earth, that’s all there was.  Client-server meant that the day was foggy, not cloudy, and cloud stuff (SAS) is not new.  Just thank the marketing folks for this round of excitement.
  • Product offerings from the king and queen of packaged software, and that would be my friends down the street in Redmond, are simply getting better and more affordable.
  • For those of us who make a living helping SSB-targeted markets, this should be a giant Christmas present. No need for capital expenditures on hardware and OS, just pay as you go, data always accessible and backed up.
  • Having said that, customers at first hate the idea of paying EVERY month, no matter the total cost and benefits.  And they feel like their investment in servers from 2-10 years ago is being ignored, or worse, they are.
  • There is a lot for us to learn in order to be truly supportive and effective for our clients.

That is the new “Beyond.”  I look forward to telling you about my journey into it so far, and sharing some of what I have learned.

  1. Jeffrey, Upstate NY says:

    I had a small business client who was moving in the clould services direction, and they were happy with the service they signed up for. They owned a server for their own antivirus and Windows update services and for file and print services, and performed regular backups (they paid me to assist with the purchase and setup of a new server, and troubleshoot any issues when they occurred with the server or client machines). They contracted for their line-of-business applications with a cloud based service. They no long had any infrastructure costs associated with those services (allowing them to eliminate two of their previous servers), and were happy to pay a monthly fee, which to them outweighed the costs and inconveniences associated with maintaining a local capability.

    I agree with you that I personally do not like paying monthly fees for service, and not everyone wants their applications upgraded on someone else’s (Microsoft’s) schedule; however, one way to look at this is that as consultants, someone is paying us every month for IT support, so small companies without a dedicated IT person are paying a monthly bill one way or another.

    Like it or not, I see the day coming when the only locally installable software (MSI or ISO provided) will be provided to enterprises, because they will be the only ones who can negotiate with Microsoft for distribution rights. Even now, Windows 8 and Office 2013/365 are designed to be installed on demand from the web, not locally. I had to create an ISO for Windows 8 on a Windows 7 machine (the option is not available on Windows XP, which is where I originally ran the Windows 8 upgrade utility), and I had to call Microsoft tech support for the URL to download an installer for Office 2013.

    So how long will it be before everyone has thin clients and utilize Internet based servers for everything?


  2. I think Office 365, among other hosted services, is a belated handwriting on the wall. It is far cheaper, I believe, to subscribe than to purchase the hardware and software to do this locally (even if the total outlay over years is more, it is a gentle way of spending it). Even more important is the sometimes hidden cost of support and maintenance. Exchange, even in SBS, would sometimes fall over and break and the repairs are expensive. So are the backup solutions to make sure nothing is lost, and the unexpected outages can be disruptive to business.

    But there is another upside. Instead of providing care and feeding of SBS, I can now devote my time to my clients’ business needs and actually push them to use SharePoint more effectively instead of as a glorified shared file folder. And surprisingly, Lync is one of the most popular, useful and easiest to learn parts of Office 365. It has become my primary contact point for everyone in many organizations to easily reach me with an issue or question.

    I know personally what a big deal this is at Microsoft, moving from desktop retail packaging and enterprise volume licensing to software as a service. But they are doing some things quite well in this regard. Certainly Goggle, Amazon and others are all vigorously eating from this trough. It remains to be seen who will dominate or perhaps if the various ecosystems might yet co-exist and integrate.

    As to the question of when, things just happen so much faster now. Perhaps we are already there and just have to wait for the light to reach us, like from a distant galaxy.


  3. Jeffrey, Upstate NY says:

    The one part that Microsoft still has to address is a thin client, so companies and users do not have to worry about PC maintenance and configuration. Some companies, such as Secunia offer local patch management services, and GFI and others are offering cloud based PC management services, but without thin clients, there will still be heavily invested IT departments and reliance on specialized and knowledgable IT personnel. We also need a reliable and secure Internet infrastructure. The Internet still has a long way to go before it can be considered as reliable as POTS (the landline telephone system).

    Companies also need to address in their software the dependence on locally installed services, DLLs and configuration files to access applications. I just discovered the other day that Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 cannot be run in Windows safe mode because of dependencies on a licensing service that does not run in safe mode. However, Microsoft now provides acces to user profiles and data through the integration of Office 2013 (and 365) with Microsoft Live Accounts and SkyDrive.


  4. I disagree. You may not have looked much at either Office 365 hosted services nor Office 2013. O365 supports IE, FireFox, Chrome and Safari. You can synch the iPhone and iPad to your accounts. Although I haven’t done it, I am assured an Android tablet works as well and I have done Android phones. You rent services, not purchase software, and that can extend to Office 2013 Pro if you so elect.

    Installing Office 2013 Pro presents users with a new experience they may not fully recognize. It starts installing and almost immediately lets you start using it, provision features you are trying to use first. A sort of on demand install. In fact, Office 2013 supports a mode of operation that lets you go to any computer (Internet connected) and start to use it while it provisions based on your usage, and once you are finished using it, it goes away. There are lots of things like that happening as Microsoft makes a transition from being a shrink wrap retail sales and volume licensing company to a service provider by hosting product and having build outs that reflect best ways to use those services.

    You mention POTS. Yes, it was and is reliable. For the most part, so are faxes. Likely that both will go away entirely or at least be highly marginalized. POTS, and its progeny fax, are full of arcane and no longer relevant standards and terminology (battery, ring, tip, pulse,….) who instead of allowing forward movement are huge drags on it. Look at smartphones. They seem to do everything and are likely to exceed that infinite horizon with future generations. Except, it seems, deliver reliable voice calls. That is not because they cannot, IMHO, but because the economic incentives are elsewhere. It is about social media and texting and clever beer and fart apps. It is what sells new phones and what the carriers see as their revenue stream. If people stopped buying phones until calls got better, the R&D funds would divert to better calls as would the cellular infrastructure. Just watch the ads for an indication of what the drivers are.


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