Microsoft has officially announced that as of July 5, 2012 their Small Business server product family is end-of-life and will no longer be available for purchase. Microsoft Small Business Server was designed to provide small businesses with cost effective access to Microsoft’s enterprise products such as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL.
Microsoft Small Business Server has always been a “special” product with a special set of problems. Small Business Server has always had 2 major factors contributing to its instability.
- Microsoft had to make major changes to allow the products to work together as part of one installation. The products themselves are not designed to be, and are not supported if installed together. This caused problems with standard updates which caused instability or left servers vulnerable while special versions of updates were being created.
- Microsoft had to protect their revenue which required them to put in limitations that would prevent larger companies from utilizing the small business product. Many of these limitations such as complex license checking that never worked reliably contributed to the systems instability. In addition, because of these limitations upgrades from an earlier version of small business server to another version or alternate product often took up to 5x longer and were virtually impossible to do without significant downtime.
Microsoft Small Business Server’s main purpose was the bundling of apps like SharePoint and Exchange. This bundling is becoming less relevant now days as most small companies are leveraging cloud solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 which offer greater performance, reliability and security.
Microsoft is launching a new product as part of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 aimed at small businesses call Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Instead of being a separate product it will contain all of the DNA of a full Windows Server 2012 product. It will have some limitations, but Microsoft is eliminating complex licensing and application integration. The new product will also have a simple, in-place upgrade path to Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Standard edition.
For those businesses utilizing Microsoft Small Business Server 2008/2012, your products will continue to function. Microsoft is officially ending support for Small Business Server 2008 in 2013 and Small Business Server 2012 in 2015.
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Essentials (and all other editions) are due out this fall along with Microsoft Windows 8 and the latest version of Microsoft Office.