A few days ago ‘Centro’ got renamed to the Essential Business Server (EBS). This seems like a bit of a cock up, to say the least.

Maybe I should step back. Not many people are familiar with Centro. I mean EBS. Once upon a time (way back in 1997) there was BackOffice Small Business Server, a product developed by Microsoft for the small business, bundling many of the commonly used features into a nice little product. Over time this became Windows Small Business Server (SBS)*, and all was good (subjective to opinion, of course - but lets not get political).

SBS is the bastard child of the “regular” windows domain, as it provides a single CAL for everything, and is effectively cheaper. Great, except that it has limits - 75 users or devices (dependant on CAL used), only one computer in a domain can be running SBS, SBS must be the root of the Active Directory forest, trusts cannot be setup with any other domains, it cannot have any child domains. Which is a good thing really as 75 users on a single server is getting a bit iffy, especially as companies of this size are starting to use SQL heavily, and you can't use the SBS SQL licence on another machine.

Enter EBS - a product designed to split the roles, much like you would in a “regular” windows domain, across multiple servers. In the case of EBS, it's actually 3. Now here's the problem Microsoft; Essential Business Server. This sounds like a single product, for a single server. Having spoken to some “lesser” technical guys online, who actually weren't aware of Centro, they came to that conclusion. If even average technical users make the assumption that it's a single product for a single server, not a bundle, then how are managers supposed to make this call? Granted Centro, I mean EBS, is still in the realm of having an external IT support team make decisions for you, and no dedicated internal IT roles, but how many SBS deployments are there around that have been deployed internally by someone who has inherited the “part time IT part time something-else” post? Quite a lot I'd imagine, since this is who SBS is aimed at.

Eventually the question will become “How do I transition from SBS to EBS?". Right now it doesn't look like there's been anything announced (or if there has then I've missed it), but I'd imagine that the SBS transition pack will be refactored into transitioning from SBS to EBS, and then we'll see a new transition pack that will take EBS to a standard domain licencing. Hopefully they'll retain a transition pack to go from SBS to a standard domain, but the pessimist in me thinks otherwise.

  • There are infact 2 flavours to SBS; standard and premium. In most cases you'll find that people have premium.