The Million Server Man: 5 Questions with Chris van Wesep

Continuing our series of interviews with really smart people who work in Redmond, today's guest is Chris van Wesep, a Senior Product Manager for Windows Server AND Small Business Server in the SMB space.

He's part of a team sells 250,000 Windows Server licenses per year and has a great view of what types of things drive sales in the Server market in the US.

So, Chris, I understand you have a national view of Windows Server sales in the  SMB space. I have a lot of infrastructure partners who are looking to get customers to migrate to the latest platform, what kinds of things are getting customers to move to Win2k3 R2 today?

Security is the MAJOR draw. If you want your customers to upgrade, security is a good to thing to talk about.

Win2k3 R2 is the most secure version of the server ever...and, by the way, that will continue with Windows Server 2008 (yes, that's the official name).

But there are specific new features in R2 that people are finding useful. One of the favorites is the ability to set file restrictions and storage quota limits at a user level. For example, If you don’t want to let folks in the finance department put MP3 files on the corporate server, you can make that happen.

And, hey, don't forget to tell you partners that they can make money off of Windows Server now with the promo (up to $10,000 back to the customer in partner subsidy).

Ok, great...are there other aspects that get customers attention?

The two biggest right now have got to be Exchange 2007 and SharePoint 2007. We’re getting a TON of customer interest in both of these products. In fact, SharePoint is, I think, our fastest growing server product.

For example,  I was in Iowa last week and talked to 8 different customers and you know what? EVERYONE is asking about SharePoint. So, I figure, if Iowa is the bellwether for presidential politics, it's probably a good sign of what is going on in the server market.

How's that for deep analysis?

Let's turn to Longhorn, er, Windows Server 2008 (we've mastered the cute names, haven't we?).. A lot of my customers are curious about whether they need/should buy SA on Win2k3? What’s in Longhorn that will make it worth their while?

Windows Server 2008 is a major refresh of the operating system and will launch next year with the new version of SQL and Visual Studio. 

I think what customers are going to love about Longhorn is just spending less time on management, less time worrying about security, and less time configuring the additional stuff that really makes the system hum.

Let me give you an example.

Say your salespeople are out on the road, checking their email, doing who knows what...sometimes those machines will get infected and then, they come back into your office, and've now got a system-wide problem.

With WinSvr2008 and the Network Access Protection, any device that touches the network is quarantined and checked before access is allowed.

That's HUGE, man! Rock and roll!

Some other cool stuff includes how much easier it is to access your information regardless of where you.  The new version of Terminal Services lets you do this without even setting up a VPN first.  Plus the new virtualization technology is really going to be a game changer for customers who really want to maximize their servers.  

There's a lot...but those are just a few

I want it. Where can partners get a copy and start playing around?

This is definitely going to a big release and we’ve already had over 125,000 downloads of Beta 3 which was just released a few weeks ago. You can download it at

OK, I've thrown some softballs, now a hardball...Nobody believes that Windows Server is the best web hosting platform. It’s Apache city…anything to refute that?

You're definitely right. It's a game of catch up for us, but we're not giving up, by a long shot. 

Take a look at the recent release of Expressions Suite as well as Silverlight. Both of these products have been extremely well received by the web development community and we’re excited to see what designers will create with them.

From the server perspective, there is a new version of IIS (Internet Information Services) in Windows Server 2008. The best part is that developers can use any language-PHP, Python, java, whatever- and still deploy on Windows. This is a first and I think it'll make developers platform neutral and it'll be another reason for IT administrators to give the Longhorn platform a serious look.

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