Microsoft Adds Cloud Services to Small Business Server

Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) often seems to be all about big business and big sales organizations, but this year’s event also holds some goodies for smaller firms as well.

In an announcement at WPC 2010 in Washington on Monday, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) officials said they will release preview versions of two upcoming versions of Small Business Server (SBS) in the next couple of months.

“I am very pleased to say that … today, we disclosed that we will issue not one, but two, public preview releases for the next version of SBS by the end of our summer in the Pacific Northwest — an update to the standard edition plus a new server that will be our first to deliver both traditional and cloud computing capabilities for small businesses,” Kevin Kean, a spokesperson for the SBS team, said in a blog post Monday.

Microsoft has offered SBS for more than a decade. However, with the advent of cloud computing and Windows Azure, small businesses were in danger of being left out.

Although the Windows Azure platform appliance announced by the company Monday is not in the plan for SMBs any time soon, since the appliance will require hundreds or thousands of servers, Microsoft is still planning to make cloud computing possible for smaller resellers, systems integrators, and other small companies.

First will be a preview of the next release of SBS, “SBS 7,” which will provide updated remote access capabilities. Additionally, it will include updated components that bring the suite up to date with the latest versions of Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2), Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1), SharePoint 2010 Foundation, Windows Server Update Services 3.0, and SQL Server 2008 R2, the blog post said.

“Small business customers will find significant security and management enhancements as well as much richer features for providing file-and-print, e-mail and Internet services to employees,” Kean added. As with the current release, SBS 7 will support 75 users.

Meanwhile, the second preview release — codenamed “Aurora” — will add cloud computing support.

“A new edition of Windows Small Business Server, Aurora is an affordable, easy to use ‘first server’ option for small businesses that will be the company’s first to deliver both traditional and cloud capabilities,” the post continued.

Aurora will provide cloud-based automated backup and restore, as well as the ability to access and organize data via the cloud, and other services, such as file and print sharing, and running critical applications on-site. In addition, SBS users will benefit from a growing catalog of online applications and services on a pay-as-you-go basis. Aurora is designed to handle up to 25 users.

Microsoft is also going to release a Windows Server Solution Software Development Kit (SDK) that will enable developers to create add-ins and to integrate online services with Aurora, the blog post said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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