Microsoft Back on Midmarket Bandwagon With Server System

In a move to cater to midsize businesses, Microsoft today announced a Windows Server System bundle aimed at companies with 50 to 250 PCs. The software giant is hoping to gain the traction in the midmarket that it has achieved with its Small Business Server.

The Windows Server System offering includes Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition, and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 Workgroup Edition.

“Midsize businesses tend to characterize themselves by the industry they are in — not by the technologies they need and use,” said Steven VanRoekel, director of Mid-Market Solutions in the Windows Server Group at Microsoft. “By marrying our small-business expertise with our enterprise products, Microsoft is showing midsize business customers that we understand their unique technology needs.”

The Uniqueness of Midsized Businesses

Microsoft said the technology demands of a midsize business can be as sophisticated as the largest enterprise, but IT management is significantly limited by modest staff and budget resources. The company figures most midsize businesses have just a few IT people on staff to keep all aspects of the business running and said its bundle can help create efficiencies and cost savings.

Despite Microsoft’s concern for the challenges facing midmarket businesses, Enderle Group principal analyst Rob Enderle told TechNewsWorld that the software giant is somewhat on again, off again when it comes to this segment.

“Microsoft’s midmarket division has languished over the last year or so, so it’s nice to see Microsoft beginning to focus specific core products on that segment again,” he said. “Microsoft has realized that they need to target the segment pretty heavily just to ensure that they continue to capture most of the Netware migrations as Novell’s executive team starts focusing back on its customer base.”

New Midsize Tools

Microsoft has also developed several tools targeting midsize businesses. The Midsized Business IT Center is a new Web site within Microsoft TechNet that provides technical information and resources to IT professionals and consultants who work with midsize businesses to effectively deploy and manage Microsoft servers, operating systems, and security technologies and applications.

Microsoft Security Assessment Tool (MSAT) is designed to help customers with fewer than 1,000 employees assess security vulnerabilities within their IT environment. Microsoft TCO Assessment Tool provides a detailed financial analysis that examines operational spending over three years in various IT scenarios and computes key investment metrics, including discounted return on investment (ROI), when upgrading to Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003.

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.0 is designed to help small and midsize businesses determine their security state in accordance with Microsoft security recommendations and offers specific remediation guidance. And Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer enables customers to generate a software inventory assessment of core Microsoft products installed on their local computer or throughout a network.

Working with Partners

Microsoft expects partners to have new opportunities to sell the Windows Server System to midsize companies. Partners can build applications and solutions on top of the Windows Server System platform and can offer remote managed services for monitoring and reporting, or patch and upgrade management services to generate additional revenue.

Still, Enderle said the come-and-go approach to focusing products on the midmarket has left Microsoft a hurdle to jump: trustworthiness. “It’s problematic for Microsoft that they just don’t seem to stay all that interested in the midmarket,” he said. “They tend to jump back into the enterprise on a whim and clearly Microsoft needs to overcome that perception.”

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