Reading some of the comments and views on Windows Server 2012 Essentials this evening, it appears that quite a number of partners aren’t very happy with the lack of Exchange as was previously found in Small Business Server (SBS).
I think this is short-sighted of these partners making these comments. If you are a partner, what makes you more money? New deployments or supporting existing ones? I would hazard a guess that it is the new deployments. SBS made Exchange easy, really easy, which meant that the amount of work to configure Exchange to work was limited. The hardest part was migrating any existing mail systems into Exchange.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials is designed around feature integration with Office 365. This means that you can offer your customers not only Exchange, but also Lync and SharePoint (yes, I know SharePoint was in SBS too, but it wasn’t the greatest of configurations). What’s more, how available and accessible is a single SBS server verses Office 365? Yep, Office 365 is better. So by giving your customers Windows Server 2012 Essentials and Office 365, are they not getting a better product, giving them more functionality and most likely a better customer experience, translated into happier customers?
All this, leaves you as a partner more time to focus on upsell, selling the customer more, varied products or trying to break into new customers or verticals and spending less time answering to menial support incidents, and lest not forget that moving to Office 365 isn’t a walk in the park by itself. If a customer is currently using SBS then their existing messaging environment will likely need to be updated to support some kind of temporary co-existence while users are migrated, and all of this is professional services work, work that frequently carries a big price tag and has high margins on it.
The moral of this story is that cloud is happening and I think that those partners who embrace it will succeed. Those who oppose it will likely find themselves losing work to people who do embrace it and for me personally, what sounds better as a job title? Systems Implementation Engineer or Cloud Solutions Integrator or Cloud Solutions Architect?