LPI Opens Door To Managed Windows Home Server Opportunities

"No one is going after that opportunity. There are millions of business with two or three to 10 PCs," said Peter Sandiford, CEO of LPI.

Windows Home Server was released In November 2007 and offers file sharing, automated backup and remote access to connected PCs for customers that aren't ready for Windows Small Business Server. LPI tested the management of Windows Home Server with a select group of MSPs, which found success managing and monitoring the devices for clients running that product, Sandiford said.

"A lot of MSPs have these folks that started a business and have three to 10 seats. They're difficult to deal with in a break-fix model because if something goes wrong, it's just as big a crisis for them as a bigger company. If we can start to take those customers and centrally manage them and put together an offering that includes antivirus, spam filtering and remote management, now it becomes a nice recurring profit center," said Aaron Booker, president of Hardlines Company, a Washington-based solution provider.

Managing a small client's IT also allows the solution provider to help the client as its IT needs grow, Booker added. "It's better than being on a break-fix relationship. You have fewer problems, less breaking, less fixing, less crisis," he said.

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Managed Windows Home Server is also an option for workgroup settings within larger companies, Sandiford said. "It fills a need. Say some group needs to be managed. You just drop in Windows Home Server and you can manage it in a defined environment without getting into security issues on the domain," he said. "The juices are flowing. Microsoft is getting servers into the small end of the market and MSPs are able to attack a market they weren't getting into before."

LPI, Ottawa, may target the home integrator market in the future, Sandiford said, trying to get solution providers in that market to manage Windows Home Server and the PCs, home theaters and home automation controllers that might be associated with it.

"New high-end homes are running Windows Home Server anyway. I don't see that happening in the next year, but we are really excited about the small end of the market," he said.