There are an estimated 2.6m to 11m Windows Server 2003 installations worldwide. In the UK, more than 300,000 small businesses are still thought to be dependent upon Windows Server 2003 with no clear plan to upgrade.
No matter how you look at this, there is a sizeable job for the IT channel to address over the next 12 months as support for this tried and trusted operating system will officially end in July 2015.
We recently saw the end of support for Office 2003 and Windows XP give impetus to the refresh of the desktop estate and boost Office 365 subscriptions. The refresh of the 2003 server platform and its packaged offering in the form of Small Business Server 2003 will arguably be even more compelling. This software is at the heart of the IT of many organisations where security and support are essential.
While cloud computing is revolutionising the speeding up of IT access and challenging price points, cloud is not a panacea for business IT. We believe at the Cloud Industry Forum that about 69 per cent of UK organisations have adopted cloud in some sense, but roughly the same proportion say they don't intend to put everything in the cloud yet.
So the market has become hybrid and will continue to develop in this way. Some workloads will remain on-premise, driven by legacy technology constraints, perceptions of data protections, sovereignty and assurance, slow internet in given areas, regulatory constraints or just company policy.
And some will move to the cloud to support remote workers, improve flexibility or agility, or for cost and OpEx advantages. Most organisations will combine cloud with on-premise, with the latter in particular required for managing network gateways, user credentials and policy, maintaining file stores, supporting print management and running specific applications.
Against this backdrop, how complete is your portfolio in terms of hybrid IT capability for customers? If you have a core competency around small businesses and the mid-market, there has never been a better time to expand into managed services.
That sector has historically been underserved, due to the cost of support. New hybrid technology, new OpEx pricing models, scaleable offerings, and predictable and profitable recurring revenue streams can provide for long-term security and improved performance.
Whatever you offer, make sure it provides for customer choice. Allow them to change their IT when they are willing and able to do so, without another major overhaul of their infrastructure.
A cloud-ready offering should give the best of both worlds and not force customers to choose between all cloud or on-premise.
Cloud means that people now have different ideas about what is possible, how to pay for IT, and what SLAs they can have. The products have developed to the point where resellers can adapt their business models, embarking confidently on a managed-services transformation.
Hybrid IT has been the prerogative of the better-resourced enterprise. But managed cloud server appliances can offer cloud flexibility which can be coupled with the assurance of on-premise IT in one seamless delivery with predictable profits, billing and support.
The channel must take this opportunity to build a strong and sustainable services business on managed and integrated appliances. Do not promote technology that will become obsolete, is capital intensive, and costs too much to support.
Andy Burton is chief revenue officer at Zynstra and founder of the Cloud Industry Forum
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