Small Business Server and Managed Services: The Perfect Mates?

Small Business Server and Managed Services: The Perfect Mates?

Managed Services and Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2008During my recent trip to Australia, Mathew Dickerson -- a local managed service provider -- told me his customers are expressing strong demand for Microsoft Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008, which launched yesterday.

That got me thinking: Are there clear opportunities to connect the dots between SBS 2008 and managed services? Software companies such as Kaseya, N-able and LPI Level Platforms Inc. certainly seem to think so. (And so do I.) Here's why.

First, some full disclosure: Since MSPmentor doesn't actually "test" SBS and MSP software, we're not in a position to say whose MSP software works best as a management tool for SBS.

Also, I'm not a big fan of Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server -- which is designed for mid-size businesses. I think Microsoft has a bad habit of creating artificial brand segments. Does the world really need a "mid-market" Windows Server squeezed between SBS and the traditional Windows Server? I don't think so -- though I'm sure plenty of readers will disagree with me.

Backing SBS

With those qualifiers in mind, here are some of the MSP-oriented announcements tied to SBS:
  • Kaseya: Offered up a press release stating, "As a result of providing SBS and EBS support, Kaseya's IT automation platform can now be used to deliver integrated and automated IT services, including network monitoring and alerts, patch management, backup and disaster recovery, endpoint security and anti-virus protection."
  • LPI Level Platforms Inc.: The company announced the "immediate availability" of best practices monitoring and management Solution Kits for Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 and Microsoft Essentials Business Server 2008.
  • N-able Technologies: The company says its N-central 6.7 software integrates with Windows Essential Business Server 2008, Windows Server 2008, Small Business Server 2008 and System Center Essentials 2007. For instance, N-central supports Essential Business Server’s operating system performance metrics, event log, remote control, management tasks, patch management and x86 and x64 Architecture Support, N-able claims.
  • Did I miss anyone? Don't flame me. Instead, post a comment with some info about your announcement.

Real Today?

Now for my challenge: There were numerous MSP-oriented press releases focused on yesterday's SBS launch. Also, many of those MSP-oriented software companies have sent me notes explaining why their platforms have far better integration with SBS -- right now -- compared to rival offerings.

Like I said, MSPmentor doesn't test MSP software. So buyer beware: As an MSP, you should ask "what's real today" with SBS integration vs. what will be real in 2009, 2010 and so on.

Some software companies -- no names mentioned -- have a habit of jumping on the Microsoft bandwagon by timing their press releases with major Microsoft announcements. But a press release isn't the same thing as shipping software. So check in with your software providers and put their claims to the test.

Opportunities Ahead

Despite those warnings, I do believe there's a clear opportunity for MSPs to cash in on SBS, both as a short-term sale and as a long-term services engagement.

Mathew Dickerson of Axxis Technology, the Australian MSP I mentioned earlier, sent me an email last night describing all the pent-up customer demand he's hearing for SBS 2008. Securing and backing up those new deployments -- through monthly service contracts -- should bolster Dickerson's recurring revenue.

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