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Microsoft midmarket server could save IT a bundle

Microsoft adds tools and upgrade discounts to its midmarket Windows Essential Business Server. This week the server combo hits its release candidate milestone.

Microsoft has set a November launch date for its midmarket server bundle.

Formerly code-named Centro, the Windows Essential Business Server Standard Edition combines Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, Systems Center Essentials 2007, ForeFront Security for Exchange and an upcoming release of ISA Server designed for the midmarket server called the Threat Management Gateway.

The Standard Edition, including five client access licenses (CALs) costs $5,472 and the Premium Edition, including five CALs, is $7,163. Additional CALs are $81 and $195 each for the Standard and Premium versions respectively.

More on Microsoft's midmarket Windows Essential Business Server
Microsoft's midmarket server comes together
IT shops need three 64-bit servers to run the bundle, and a Premium Edition requires a fourth box for an additional copy of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 to run line of business applications.

Windows shops can use existing investments in Microsoft technologies toward the purchase price of Windows Essential Business Server [ESB] for savings of up to 35% on the server bundle.

The savings will depend on the number of standalone products an IT shop already has in place, but the cost of the installed products, such as Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007 and Small Business Server 2003, can be applied toward a discount on the purchase of ESB.

No more midmarket limbo
This server fills a void in Microsoft's product line for companies that fall between small and enterprise-level licensing options.'s customers, for example, had few options when they outgrew Microsoft's Small Business Server, said Steve Rubin, president of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based IT consulting company that manages outsourced IT operations.

"With [Small Business Server] they'd hit 75 users and get stuck," Rubin said. "The other option for them is [to] buy a bunch of standalone products and have to integrate it all and deal with all the different [client access licenses]."

With ESB, customers get several products in one under a single license, like the mail server, antispam and antivirus, a database and so on configured to work together. And it can scale to about 300 users, he said.

"In many ways our midsize customers were paying more than anyone because they couldn't take advantage of enterprise volume discounts, and SBS wasn't a fit," said Joel Sider, a senior product manager in the Windows Server Solutions group.

To help figure out potential savings, Microsoft will come out with a tool for its channel partners and customers called Solutions Pathway that collects data on existing server investments and estimates savings should a company opt to upgrade to ESB.

Microsoft said management has also been centralized in one console to give IT the ability to manage 80% of common server administration tasks, including the management of third-party software add-ons through pop-up tabs.

ESB will work with the 160 applications that have been certified for Windows Server 2008, and vendors including Symantec Corp., CA Inc., Citrix Systems Inc. and Trend Micro Corp. will demo applications that work with ESB during Microsoft's Partner Conference in Houston this week.

AMD, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are also demonstrating systems running ESB at the conference.

Windows Essential Business Server will be sold mainly through the channel, with Microsoft gearing up to train 25,000 partners over the next year to configure, install and manage the bundle.

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