A few days ago Microsoft announced two new SBS previews. Named “SBS 7” and “SBS Aurora” for now, their preview releases will be available at the end of summer. (But only to those who sign up to participate – sign up here if you want to try them out.)

Here's what I can glean from the information out there now. SBS 7 works much like 2008, with new software versions and management/security improvements. Exchange 2007 moved up to Exchange 2010 R1, for example.

Aurora is designed for a smaller user base (25 users max), and is cloud-ready. There's fewer details about the software included, but Microsoft did mention an automated backup/restore and an SDK meant for partners to build add-ins into Aurora.

Now, this is pretty big news by itself. But what I'm wondering is, what does this mean for OCS?

Will We Have Office Communications on Aurora?

From the initial news, it looks like more attention has been paid to remote access on these new versions. SBS 7 is promised a “richer remote access experience;” Aurora is described as delivering “traditional and cloud capabilities.”
Since much of OCS' capabilities are dependent on server access on- and off-site. So I'm not worried.

In fact, Aurora sounds like a great help to small-business OCS use. Think about this…

  • It's designed to support up to 25 users. This means a lighter stack, easier to run and to manage (even on older equipment).

  • Since Aurora can be accessed as a cloud-based service, building a hosted OCS solution with it becomes that much easier. It may even help with simplifying out-of-the-office connections.

  • Presumably,Aurora will be priced lower than SBS 7.

  • The software is in development now – during/after primary development on OCS 2010. So you could take advantage of both Aurora's cloud services and OCS 2010's virtual server needs all at once. Small,zippy OCS platform.

There's another article on SBS 7 and Aurora at MCP Magazine, if you want to read more.

We're signing up for the Aurora preview. If you're signing up too, please email us or leave a comment. I'd like to hear you about your Aurora experiences, with and without OCS. This one could be a big help for small businesses considering OCS.

Will the New Small Business Server Help Out OCS?
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