EBS 2008 was released a year ago and included Windows Server, Microsoft System Centre Essentials, Microsoft Exchange and several ancillary programs. Its low price point was used to attract SMB businesses with up to 300 seats and a new release was due out this year.
But according to Microsoft, ESB garnered less than favourable sales figures and the company is now turning towards cloud-based services for the mid-ranged customer segment. In a blog post, the vendor announced it would discontinue EBS and future versions of the product line from June 30.
Total Computer Technology managing director, Robert Brown, was frustrated with Microsoft’s decision and said EBS filled a void for companies looking to move up from Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS), which packaged programs for businesses with 75 users or less.
“The problem with buying software normally is it’s expensive to buy individually whereas the SBS and EBS were well priced for SMBs,” Brown said. “Killing it off is going to turn people to Linux and alternatives because paying corporate rates for businesses of 100 people is just not affordable.”
While less than 10 per cent of the reseller’s clients were using EBS, Brown said it was a growing market. EBS’s departure may force the SMB integrator to work with other vendors to fill the gap.
“Depending on the client, we will either push them on a normal pricing model but if they’re price sensitive, we will look for alternatives from other vendors,” he said. “Normally, we don’t but it’s about supply and demand.
“If clients need another price point sometimes we need to look outside the box to provide services.”
Calvert Technologies was also disheartened by EBS’s demise. The Adelaide-based integrator was looking forward to taking the next version of EBS to the market after hearing positive feedback from Microsoft developers.
“In some ways, it’s not a surprise if you look at version one’s sales but we need to have a long-term view on things,” principal consultant, Dean Calvert, said. “Version two was looking good and was probably more market ready so it’s disappointing to pull the plug before it had a chance.”
Calvert blamed the early downfall of EBS on the global financial crisis, which inhibited customer sales over a new offering.
“It was a new way of doing things for those larger business and people were uncertain to do things the EBS way, which is a similar scenario to when SBS first came out,” he claimed. “It took three releases for SBS to get it right. EBS might have also taken version 2-3 to get the integration just right and the market place to accept it.”
But fellow IT integrator, Axxis Technology, was unfazed by the decision, claiming EBS was a “nowhere product”. Axxis Technology chief, Matthew Dickerson, claimed Australia was a particularly unsavoury marketplace for the offering since most SMBs function with 75 users or less and would have been satiated with SBS. Axxis hasn’t sold a single copy, he said.
“Once you went above 75 users, you’d probably want flexibility by going with individual products and solutions,” he said. “From the first time it came out, I didn’t see it suiting any particular market demographic and as a consequence, I was never convinced it would perform that well.”
While Dickerson agreed product bundles were indeed cheaper, the locked-in nature of EBS would have deterred customers. He also claimed the newer SBS 2008 cannibalised EBS’s marketshare by allowing customers to take SQL off the main server.
“This was one of the big complaints people had and which was an incentive to move onto EBS,” he said. “When the new SBS came out, it gave second Windows and SQL licences to run on a second server, which was great for growing businesses since running SQL on a busy server can be tough on the system.
“Microsoft didn’t read the market quite right and gave away too much with SBS 2008, which negated some of the advantages of EBS.”
Calvert disagreed with Dickerson’s analysis.
“EBS was aimed at larger, more complex networks different to your typical SBS environment,” he said. “SBS will go up to 75 users but is more fine-tuned to 50 or so whereas EBS was 25-300 users and you’d have separate role servers.”