Windows SBS 2011 is an excellent step in the right direction for Microsoft and for the SBS line. Previously, Microsoft tried to move into midsize companies through its Windows Essential Business Server, but when it became clear that the market didn't need a product line between SBS and Windows Server, Microsoft pulled the plug on WEBS. Instead, the company reached into the cloud and tapped an in-house directory service. That is, Microsoft came up with SBS Essentials, which I believe is an experiment in small cloud-based solutions with the intent of one day of delivering a single, hybrid (on-premise/cloud) version.
The one frustration I have is that there isn't an easy way for existing SBS Standard users to upgrade to the new Essentials version. That may assuage Microsoft partners fearful of cloud-based competition, but it isn't a smart move in terms of satisfying the customer. Perhaps as Microsoft gets more experience with the cloud via SBS Essentials, Office 365, and other offerings, it'll stop the dual approach.
Or perhaps there will always be a place for both cloud and on-premise versions, and Microsoft simply is serving both needs. What do you believe? Do you think we will always need a traditional on-premise SBS with all the add-on apps?
This article, "Two flavors of Small Business Server 2011: Which to choose," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.