VARs: Who Will Migrate To SBS Premium?

As the software giant prepares to release a widespread beta of the SBS upgrade in February, partners complain that the Workgroup Edition of SQL Server 2005 is not as robust as SQL Server 2005 Standard or SQL Server 2000 Standard. They also worry about compatibility issues.

“I don&'t think we&'re going to be able to get customers to upgrade. Why would they want to have fewer features and application issues?” said one partner who requested anonymity.

SBS 2003 R2 Standard and Premium Editions will be available on OEM servers by the end of the second quarter, Microsoft said.

Partners said the update will appeal to new customers rather than current users because of its use of SQL Workgroup and Windows Server 2003 SP1. Although it is dubbed Release 2, the SBS update won&'t ship with the recently released Windows Server 2003 R2.

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Another partner said he will do a lot of testing before migrating any clients. “It will mean a big switch-over for our clients that use SBS and its SQL components,” said Jason Harrison, president of Harrison Technology Consulting, Nashville, N.C. “There are some possible features that will not be in SQL 2005 Workgroup so it will be a downgrade in functionality. We have clients running SQL-based solutions that will simply not be able to upgrade to SBS R2 because of that one issue.”

Microsoft acknowledged those issues but said using Workgroup Edition was the only way to keep the price of SBS Premium down. “These are two very valid concerns,” said Guy Haycock, senior product manager at Microsoft. “But when you look at the details, SQL Server 2000 Standard is almost identical to what is now the 2005 Workgroup Edition.”

Partners are still worried that line-of-business applications won&'t migrate well. “If, in fact, those vendors won&'t support Workgroup Edition and demand instead to run on Standard Edition, we are going to have a big headache on our hands,” said Michael Cocanower, president of IT Synergy, Phoenix.