Microsoft Centro Redubbed Windows Essential Business Server
Microsoft's long-awaited mid-market server bundle now has a name:
Windows Essential Business Server, which is slated to hit beta two in 30
to 60 days.
The offering, which had gone by its code name Centro, fills a big gap in
Microsoft's infrastructure lineup, targeting companies with up to 250
desktops. The current Small Business Server is restricted for use on
one server and tops out at 75 users. Customers have clamored for a graceful growth path between that and the complex-and-pricey enterprise
The new mid-market product, in beta since this summer, is positioned as
a complete solution for infrastructure, management, e-mail and
security, said Russ Madlener, director of product marketing in
Microsoft's Windows Server Solution group.
There will be two SKUS: Standard Edition with Windows Server 2008,
Exchange Server 2007, and System Center Essentials for management, ISA
Server and Forefront Security for Exchange. The Premium Edition will add
SQL Server 2008. The software can run across three server boxes,
distributing the workload.
No pricing is available, but the offering will come with a single,
central client access license (CAL), along with a set of tools to ease
CAL management for IT managers, Madlener said.
Small business customers and the partners who service them have been
clamoring for an easy-to-install offering to act as an upgrade from SBS.
"We have lots of clients on SBS and bursting at the 75-seat limit. Until
now they were forced into the enterprise Windows level, getting into
multiple boxes and managing that gets very messy and hard to control.
Centro will help amazingly in terms of CALs," said Steve Rubin,
president of WorkITsafe LLC, a New York City-based solution provider.
Lyf Wildenberg, president of MyTech Partners, Minneapolis agreed. "Seventy percent of our customers are on SBS and the rest have grown out
of it or are working on migration plans.
Like SBS, the new bundle will offer Windows remote management, allowing an
on-premises or remote IT professional to log in and work on local machines through a terminal services
session. But "the real play there is that the tools
will let the user, just as in SBS, go to a portal, log in and take
control of his or her work machine remotely," Wildenberg said.
Splitting up functions across multiple servers may also erase barriers
to entry for other Microsoft applications and products, he noted. "With
SBS so much was on one server, a lot of companies wouldn't run other
stuff on there," he noted.
George Podolak, IT manager for Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, a 150-person
New York architectural firm, is looking at the product. For him, the
major selling point is the new Exchange Server with its edge services as
well as the overall management capabilities. But the company may or may not
take the plunge, since it has already implemented standalone
Exchange 2007 and spent a lot of time getting the network running well.
Madlener said the typical user company will be one with 75 to 250
employees and one or maybe two dedicated IT people.
Madlener said the product should be available through both OEM and other
partner channels in the second half of 2008. Windows Server 2008 is due
early next year and SQL Server 2008 is expected in June, so it is
possible that delays to those core products could impact delivery date.
Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.