Microsoft “gets” Small Business

repost from Because It’s Everyone’s Business
CNN_Money_article - Tech Giants that 'get' Small Business Because It's Everybody's Business

This week, a new report from Compass Intelligence ranked Microsoft as #1 among the top technology vendors that are effectively serving small businesses.

Stephanie Mehta at CNN published an article this week that listed the top ten vendors, with Microsoft going from #6 last year to #1.   Ms. Mehta goes on to describe that all of the top ten ‘get’ small business and I will leave it to the Microsoft PR folks to talk about the bigger picture on behalf of the company and our entire portfolio of SMB products and services — but I wanted to offer my personal perspective from within the System Center team.

I started my IT career working for a local PC reseller with 5 employees that serviced small businesses.  From there, I went to a larger integrator that worked through the “channel” and “distribution” before starting to work for various backup vendors and eventually Microsoft.   I even spent a few years as a self-employed consultant with small business customers, so I’d like to think that I ‘get’ small business and am really proud to see that Microsoft is delivering products and offers that are being appreciated by this key business segment.

Being in the top ten is a great thing, but for me, what is even more encouraging is the uplift from one year to the next says that perhaps we are doing some things right.  And one of the things that I think we are doing right, but admittedly I didn’t know about even two years ago, was around helping small and medium businesses (SMB) with managing all of the technology that they have.

I have managed DPM, the backup and recovery product within System Center, for the past four years, but I must confess that I had been much more of a “backup guy” than a “management guy”.  So this year, when I began working with System Center Essentials(SCE) – it was a real revelation.

Systen Center Essentials

Frankly, I used to think that DPM was one of the hidden gems from Microsoft – but for small/medium businesses, SCE might be even more so.

System Center offers a few powerhouse enterprise management products, such as Operations Manager (formerly MOM) and Configuration Manager (formerly SMS).  And as an enterprise customer and implementer, I have had experiences with them since MOM and SMS were both 1.0 products and I was deploying Windows NT.   But System Center Essentials really right-sizes several different management technologies and delivers them in a really elegant and unified console for small and medium businesses – designed for organizations with up to 500 PCs and to be managed by an IT generalist instead of infrastructure or management specialist.

Last week, marked my 4th anniversary as a Microsoft employee and seeing offerings like SC Essentials reminds me of one of the main reasons that I joined Microsoft to help drive SC Data Protection Manager – being able to take enterprise class technologies and make them mainstream.

Five years ago, the only way to do disk-based replication with snapshots for fast recovery was to spend tens of thousands of dollars on storage hardware.  Today, unified disk- and tape-based protection (DPM) is available as a software solution from the vendor whose data that you want to protect, e.g. Microsoft SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, etc.

Just a few months ago, Windows Server 2008 R2 delivered File Classification Infrastructure (FCI), where the file system natively provides the plumbing to mark files for retention or preservation.  This is something that Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) vendors have struggled with for years upon years – and only the largest of enterprises could afford to attempt.

Only three years ago, smaller companies might have wanted software deployment help (instead of carrying CD’s to each workstation), update management (instead of everyone running Windows Update – or not), and to have insight into why things sometimes break and how to fix them.  But until SCE 2007, some of those technologies were not as viable for small and medium businesses.  SCE 2007 brought those technologies to mainstream for midsized organizations.  And SCE 2010 improves on that by adding virtualization management.  Hey, who would have thought midsized businesses would be virtualizing even small offices?  It’s just another example of bringing those enterprise technologies to mainstream and even small business.

Please know that I don’t think that we are perfect.  There are lots of things that we can do better and I really appreciate it when folks help me understand new areas that can be improved.  But I do think we are doing some good things and maybe some of the technologies above are among the reasons that Microsoft moved up in the list of technology vendors that ‘get’ small business.  They are some of the reasons that I am most proud to be here.

Thanks for reading.


JBUFF 2009 low-res Jason Buffington
Senior Technical Product Manager – System Center

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System Center Data Protection Manager
System Center Essentials

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