Friday, July 8, 2011

Microsoft Announces General Availability of SBS Essentials 2011

Windows Small Business Server 2011 EssentialsMicrosoft just recently announced the general availability of Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials last week. The server, which was designed to support small businesses with around 25 users, is able to be purchased via Microsoft's volume licensing channels or from original equipment managers and retail outlets. Microsoft's volume licensing customers are also supposed to have had access to Windows SBS 2011 Essentials since May 1.

This announcement claims that most of Microsoft's OEM partners currently offer SBS 2011 Essentials server products. While that may be true, only HP's offering is easy to find at the moment. It's a little confusing because Microsoft provides links to six OEMs on its Windows SBS purchasing options page with most of those links leading to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard offerings. Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard is slightly different in that it supports up to 75 users. Microsoft released SBS 2011 Standard to OEMs as well as volume licensing customers back in March.

Microsoft's announcement did indicate that more OEM server products using SBS 2011 Essentials software will be available "in the next few months". Windows SBS 2011 Essentials is designed to rely on cloud-based services, more so than Windows SBS 2011 Standard that is. One benefit that SBS 2011 Essentials has over SBS 2011 Standard is that no Client Access Licenses are required to use the Essentials version.

Microsoft is planning a means for better integration with Office 365, the latest collection of cloud-based services from Microsoft. This integration will be carried out via a Microsoft connector known as "Office 365 Integration Module for SBS Essentials". Microsoft expects the release of this module sometime this fall.

IT professionals can currently create new users manually in SBS 2011 Essentials as well as Office 365 and they can also use the same alias name in both the premises-based Essentials as well as in the cloud-based Office 365 suite. The integration module will automate porting user aliases created in Essentials into the Office 365 cloud.

More improvements to SMS 2011 Essentials will be coming in the future, either from Microsoft or one of its many partners. Microsoft did state in the announcement that "many more solutions for cloud backup, hosted email integration and online productivity are already on the market or will be available soon."

In addition to that, there is also an experimental connector currently available for Windows 7 users that is able to assist them in remotely monitoring SBS 2011 Essentials servers via their smartphones. It also works with the Windows Home Server 2011 as well as Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. The connector is currently available as a release candidate test version and is not recommended by Microsoft for use in production environments.

Source: - Windows SBS 2011 Essentials Released Broadly is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

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