Tech pros vent fury over Microsoft SBS axe


Microsoft's decision to can its Small Business Server (SBS) product been met with disgust by IT professionals, with many calling on the software giant to delay its end of life for at least several years.

As reported by IT Pro yesterday, Microsoft is calling time on its SMB-focused Windows SBS 2011 product, which allows up to 75 users to access on-premise Sharepoint and Exchange.

In a Microsoft Small Business Server blog post, confirming the move, the company said: "Windows SBS 2011 Standard will be the final such Windows SBS offering.

The Microsoft view is that cloud is the future, but the UK infrastructure is not in a position to support it.

"It will remain available through the OEM channel until December 31, 2013, and will remain available in all other current channels until June 30, 2013," it added.

Some of its features are expected to be included in Microsoft's Windows Server Essentials product a 25 user product that will allow SMBs to access the firm's online productivity suite, Office 365.

Since news of the product's demise broke, the decision has been widely criticised by members of the Microsoft technical community, who claim the move is a heavy-handed attempt by the firm to push cloud on customers before they are ready.

Speaking to IT Pro under condition of anonymity, a Microsoft insider described the product's axe as "wildly premature" given its popularity and the state of the UK's networking infrastructure.

"I'm more than happy to get on board with Microsoft's view that cloud is the future, but the UK infrastructure is not in a position to reliably support cloud solutions for a lot of small businesses," he said.

"I appreciate that, even if there is a network problem [with on-premise Exchange], you still won't be able to access your email, but I think we should have had at least another outing for on-premise SBS before they killed it."

On-premise Exchange will still be available to use on a standalone server for end users that aren't ready to move their email to the cloud, explained our source, but it will not be cheap.

"The explanation from Microsoft has been, this is what end users want,' and you have to wonder exactly who it is they've spoken to," he added.

"If they were upfront and said the reason we are doing this is because we've identified cloud as a high touch revenue stream for our business, I think they would have got a lot more respect from the [IT professional] community."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.