(Stephen Parker, Head of Cloud Strategy, NewLease)
Update – The following post provides an update on the availability of the SDK for service provider integration with WSE:
Key wording is – “Windows Server 2012 Essentials will include a Hosted Email Add-in Framework that is designed to help hosted email providers to develop add-ins offering a tailored and integrated management experience on Essentials with their own hosted email services. A service provider can pre-install their add-in with Essentials to allow customers to select their email option or make it available for customers to install after the initial setup.”
If you are a service provider offering hosted Exchange services you should be testing the new email integration facilities available in Windows Server 2012 Essentials and ensuring your customers and channel partners know that you have integration that “just works”. If you do not then you will leave the door open for Microsoft (Office 365) and other service providers the opportunity to step in.
Over the past few weeks Microsoft have been announcing availability of release candidates for the various Windows Server 2012 products (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/windows-server/2012-editions.aspx) and indicating when these will be available (RTM first week August, GA in Sept – WPC2012 keynote)
One of the big changes in the “simplification” process has been the removal of Small Business Server and it’s “replacement” with Windows Server 2012 Essentials. SBS has been at the heart of many small business specialist operations and as such it’s removal has created much comment.
One of the main reasons Microsoft gives for this shift is that the typical user of SBS is now using or considering the use of cloud based email services and therefore there is limited future requirement for the “all in one” format of SBS.
If we put on one side the relative merits of this position the result is that the base Windows server that will be installed in many small business environments will now NOT have a local copy of Exchange.
Obviously Microsoft are using this as an opportunity to promote the use of their own Office 365 cloud services, HOWEVER with Windows Server 2012 Essentials they have included support for service provider hosted Exchange. From the Microsoft SBS blog (http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2012/07/17/windows-server-2012-essentials-feature-list.aspx):
A major area of flexibility for Essentials 2012 was providing partners and customers with the choice of where they wanted their email service to be located. In SBS 2011 Standard, email was installed and always assumed to be on‑premises. In SBS 2011 Essentials, we had an add-in for Office 365 connectivity, but no integration was possible with an existing Exchange Server running locally on a second server.
With Essentials 2012, there are three deployment options for messaging and collaboration services for which we provide an integrated management experience:
- On-Premises. Essentials 2012 contains integration with an on-premises Exchange Server running on a second server, which can be either physical or virtual.
- Office 365. Essentials 2012 builds on the previous Office 365 Integration Module for SBS 2011 Essentials. This option is now part of the core product (no separate download is required) and it allows customers that have an Office 365 account to use this service for their email.
- Hosted Exchange. Hosted Exchange providers can offer add-ins to Essentials 2012 that will allow customers to select this option. We know that there are many different types of hosted email providers. While we have focused on hosted Exchange email providers, we engineered the product to be email service agnostic which allows non‑Exchange based email providers to be integrated through this mechanism (note that this specific feature is not available in the beta).”