As we all know, there is a large number of products out there that serve small businesses, and large enterprises, but often lost in the middle is the mid-size business, with 25-500 PCs and usually just a few IT staff to keep all aspects of the business ticking over.
Now, as Steven VanRoekel, director of Microsoft's midsize business solutions strategy, discusses, to better serve the huge number of mid-size businesses out there, and to help those IT staff I mentioned earlier, we announced, quite a while back now, the development of 'Centro', code-name for a new infrastructure solution designed with mid-sized business in mind.
But what will it include? How will it differ from a small business offering, or an enterprise solution? Well, 'Centro' will bring together Microsoft Windows Server 'Longhorn', Microsoft Exchange 2007 and security technologies, and a new, integrated management experience. helping mid-size businesses to achieve greater efficiency by simplifying the management and deployment of the company’s infrastructure, while also facilitating greater integration, security and automation of specific tasks.
Like I said, this announcement was made a while back, but as Mary Jo Foley states, we've recently broken our silence around 'Centro' and we are pleased to announce that we have opened up 'Centro' to the Technology Adoption Program, or TAP, so, if you have three 64-bit machines that you can spare to test some of the most exciting technology Microsoft is working on - this could be for you!
I know the system requirements are a little daunting, but this is the only way we can test "Centro". So, if you are already on the Longhorn Beta or the Exchange Beta, then you are already two thirds of the way there!
Mary Jo goes on to say "Centro won't be Microsoft's first product aimed squarely at the mid-market, a segment Microsoft defines as companies with between 25 and 250 PCs. Many of Microsoft's Dynamics ERP and CRM products are targeted primarily at these kinds of businesses. Microsoft is simultaneously reading a new version of its lower-end Windows Small Business Server suite, code-named "Cougar" - that will include Longhorn Server as part of the bundle, and include tighter links to Windows Vista and Office 2007. Both Centro and Cougar are expected to be 64-bit only"
So, what are some of the benefits of being on the 'Centro' TAP? Well, direct access to the Centro product team for a start, but you can also influence the direction of the product, and gain valuable product support throughout.
If you are interested in joining the 'Centro' Beta please go to http://connect.microsoft.com, click on Invitations, sign in with your Windows Live ID (Passport ID) and enter the following invite ID: Extr-GHBC-JCJM. You will be asked to take a short Survey. Once you complete the survey look for an email from MsftConn@microsoft.com. If you don't already trust this address, please add it to your trusted email addresses.
Microsoft MVPs - Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly about this techbeta. There is a different invite ID to the Beta for you.
If you are really serious and would like to do the TAP, here is a message from Mike van de Merwe, who is running the TAP for Centro:
You know you want to be more involved in Centro. You even want to start using it to run your business! Techbeta doesn’t let you do that but TAP does! We are looking for more people to nominate themselves for the Centro Technology Adoption Program to do exactly what you want to do: run Centro in your production environments. Why would you do something like this? You get access to product support once you deploy Centro in production; you will have an assigned program manager from Microsoft who will work with you to mitigate risks in deploying and maintaining Centro; and you will be invited to participate in 1-2 onsite training sessions in Redmond. Let Mike (email@example.com) know that you are interested and we’ll get the ball rolling.
If you have any questions what so ever, or you want more information on 'Centro', head on over to The SBS and Centro Community Lead Blog, produced by Kevin Beares.
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