Microsoft Reveals Details of SMB Servers

In the slow dance of the seven veils that characterizes tech product marketing, Microsoft Wednesday revealed additional details of its small and medium-sized business server bundles – and moved to solidify the offerings’ branding under the Essential Server Solutions family.

To date, the family consists of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008, formerly codenamed Cougar, and Windows Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008, previously known as Centro. The company announced formal naming of Centro last fall.

Both products are scheduled for shipment during the second half of the year.

The packages aim to provide basically plug-and-play solutions for small and mid-sized businesses.

“There are 31.9 million small businesses and 1.2 million mid-size companies worldwide in need of powerful IT solutions, and they typically have very small IT staffs, or none at all,” Bob Kelly, corporate vice president at Microsoft, said in a statement. “Windows Essential Server Solutions make the benefits of enterprise-class IT accessible, affordable and simpler for smaller organizations and their technology advisors.”

[cob:Related_Articles]SBS is designed for customers with up to 50 employees, but can support up to 75, while EBS is designed to support as many as 250, the company said. Both are built around Windows Server 2008, which is set to ship this month.

Building on SBS 2003 R2, SBS 2008 will provide new simplified server and PC backup capabilities. It also will include upgrades to Remote Web Workplace and integration with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. SBS also includes Exchange Server 2007.

A Premium Edition will add a second copy of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 to run on a separate server, according to a posting on Microsoft’s SBS blog.

In addition, SBS 2008 comes with one-year trial subscriptions to Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server Small Business Edition and Windows Live OneCare for Server, the company said. SBS 2008 will also tie in with Microsoft Office Live Small Business, the company’s online “cloud” service for Microsoft Office users, providing a tie in with the company’s emerging software-plus-services strategy.

Meanwhile, EBS will feature Exchange Server 2007, Forefront Security for Exchange Server, System Center Essentials 2007, and Internet Security and Acceleration Server. The Premium Edition will also feature SQL Server 2008.

Several Microsoft partners, including Dell, IBM and HP, will demonstrate the servers running on their hardware next week at the company’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event in Los Angeles, where Microsoft will formally roll out Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008.

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