Microsoft - Time to Step Up With Web Apps for Small Business

Could you move your small business off of your Microsoft Exchange server to an alternative, like Google Apps? Security industry analyst Mike Rothman is attempting just that.

An industry analyst formerly with Meta (now Gartner), Mike runs his own small business, Security Incite, providing analyst services to security industry product vendors and business clients. Mike is also an author and creator of the Pragmatic CSO (Chief Security Officer), a program to help CSOs more effectively implement security strategies for enterprise and small business customers.

Like most small businesses, running Windows Small Business Server is the recommended Microsoft-based solution. But that means Mike or an outside contractor/services firm would have to maintain the server, backups and day-to-day problems that crop up. On the other hand, Mike doesn't necessarily have the resources to spend struggling to get an alternative IT software infrastructure working, integrated and producing results. But, it looks like he is seeing success from his efforts.

Mac and Google Apps for Small Business

"Before the holidays I mentioned my desire to drop Exchange. I got a lot of positive feedback and lots of suggestions for how to navigate the move. Thanks for everyone who gave me some pointers.

Right before Xmas, I DID IT. It was actually surprisingly easy, although I've had to jump through some hoops to get everything to sync correctly. I haven't cut the cord to the Office suite yet. I'll try Mac Office 2008 when it comes out later this month and then decide between that and iWork. Now that I'm not beholden to Exchange, I don't have to deal with the misery that is Entourage.

I do have to say that I like the Gmail web interface. It took me a day or so to get acclimated, but the conversations view is unbelievable. It's amazing that the other web-based services haven't moved to that model. Yahoo! are you listening? I also have my mail replicated to, but I like the web interface better. For now anyway...

Google also does a great job fighting spam. I get about 2-3 in my inbox a day. A bunch are in my spam folder and lord knows how many don't even make it that far. I was going to pay the $50 for Google Apps Premium, mostly for Postini - but I haven't felt compelled to do that. I'll probably upgrade once space starts getting tight (Apps Free comes with 6 GB for email), but not quite yet."

I have to say, when Mike first claimed he was attempting to make the switch from the world of Windows, Office and Exchange, and run his business on non-Microsoft technologies, I thought he'd gone off the deep end. Maybe one to many security vendor briefings? Maybe.

Mike's business is now running on Google Apps for your Domain, the iCal software for Mac, and Blackberry integration. No more Windows, Exchange or Office applications.

The transition from a Windows-based small business to Apple Macs and Google Apps can be done, but clearly the path isn't yet easy or seemless. Those less technically orient than Mike Rothman may find the transition more challenging. But that represents opportunities for small IT services firms to step in and provide Mac, Google and Linux alternatives to Microsoft's products.

Is this situation an outlier, something that rarely happens? No. Web 2.0 delivered apps are a perfect solution for small businesses and those without the IT expertise or budget required to keep a Microsoft infrastructure running. As the integration becomes even easier, and it will, the value proposition of the heavy Windows Small Business Server makes less and less sense for small businesses (<25 employees by most industry definitions).

Microsoft... Where oh where are your Web 2.0 On Demand applications for small businesses?

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