Microsoft has extended its Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 training sessions to June in the wake of high reseller demand.
David Allinson, SBS marketing manager at Microsoft, said Australian resellers were clamouring for the hands-on courses. SBS is tipped to empower partners to offer services and recurring revenues based on the five-to-50-seat server application.
'We had 328 come through in October when we kicked it off. January wasn't quite as full because January's like that, and the next lot of classes was full again,' he said.
Allinson said that the last 12-person session was scheduled for 9 June in Perth and the last one in May, in Melbourne, was already booked out.
'We've got another 105 people registered for the next set of classes,' he said. 'If they all sell out we could extend it again.'
Four more classes would be held in Sydney, two in Brisbane, one in Adelaide, one in Perth, two in Canberra and three in Melbourne. Hobart, Darwin, Cairns and other areas outside main centres would be covered as part of the regular Microsoft for Partners roadshow program, he said.
Many small businesses have no dedicated server software as many applications available required a considerable investment.
Allinson said SBS offered a lot of enterprise functionality out of one box -- such as Windows Server 2003, Exchange and SharePoint Services.
'What we have actually built in is nice administration tools and remote connectivity -- capability that really makes it easy to deploy and manage from a small business perspective,' he said.
Resellers might offer to integrate Mobile Information Server as a value-adding service for SBS customers, or provide helpdesk or sysadmin-type services via features built in to SBS, Allinson said.
'Mobile Information Server allows you to connect over GPRS, with Exchange Server over the network, so you can start using smartphones or XPDAs [retail-focused mobile POS devices] to read your email,' he said.
'You can actually email a quote to a potential customer from the kitchen at home on a Sunday, instead of having to go into the office.'
Such functionality could give small businesses an extra competitive edge, Allinson pointed out, by improving their response times and services offered without detracting too much from quality of life.
He said the main chance for resellers was to educate small businesses -- of which there were many thousands in Australia -- about the things they would be able to do with SBS that they couldn't do before.
'It actually can go up to 75 [seats] to cater for business growth,' Allinson added.
Allinson said Microsoft offers resellers $500 rebates for every three copies of SBS sold, up to $10,000. Some 200 Australian dealers have registered online for the program, which ends 31 March, he said.
'You don't have to be a Gold or Certified partner for that,' he said.
Allinson added that a US small business consultant, Harry Brelsford, was visiting Australia from the US for two weeks from next Wednesday, 18 February, to run workshops on how resellers could gain from SBS.
Brelsford had written books on the topic, Allinson said.