I know a lot of time has past since they announced that Essential Business Server has been discontinued. I thought now would be a good time since the dust has settled to air some of my thoughts on this decision.
For some context, I've been following this product since it's first beta, code name "Centro". I've been doing SBS deployments for years beforehand and I noticed a discrepancy in "packaged" solutions going beyond 50-75 users into a standard Windows environment, and it was rough. When I had first caught wind this product would help bridge the gap between small business and mid-sized company I felt pretty excited. Maybe this will finally round out Microsoft's server solutions portfolio.
When they announced that they had discontinued the product, like most people in the EBS community I was shocked. EBS version 2 was just about to be released (no joke...it was pretty close to RTM) and the first version had done pretty well from what I heard. So I was surprised that they would stop selling it in June. There was definitely a group of people in the forums and community groups wondering what was the true cause.
The end result is the same either way I look at it though, so I took a different approach. I follow Microsoft technologies pretty closely and at the last PDC when Windows Azure was announced I asked myself a question: What does this mean for solutions I deal with? I thought about it awhile and I've come up with at least a rough forecast. Although I'm more focused on enterprise technology I'll give it a try.
Small Business Server is going to be solid for quite some time. Although I do think that the Exchange component might be ported to the cloud via Windows Azure, the simplistic packaging and value to small business is obvious. EBS...it makes sense that they discontinue. Move those people to Azure and lock in recurring revenue. Although I thought that the 3 server solution wasn't too complicated other people felt differently. And it apparently showed in the "surveys" that the EBS team took.
There will always be servers in the mid-sized company. The variable will be to what extent will they play and that will determine what will be kept.