Why pay thousands of dollars for a Windows Server?

I ask this question because I really would like to know the answer to this question.    I do need to put the question into perspective and to clarify.  Microsoft has several server products from a home server to a small business server, data center, web and the standard “Windows Server”.  In an enterprise, a few thousand dollars means nothing.  However, does that justify having to pay licensing fees for every single computer?  I am quite frugal.  I won’t deny this but lets start off with a small business with just 5 people working at it.  Microsoft can get you a few ways.   For starters, a file server is an excellent tool to share files between users in an efficient manner.  Second, Outlook and specifically Exchange is in a majority companies.  Exchange provides organization to your emails, calendaring and tasks.  It can be a good tool to use.   Lastly, there is Microsoft Office.  Different versions exist but the big programs people use are Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook.  These are the stables of American business and are amazing tools once you master them.

For a small business to take advantage of these tools, they will have to shell out out thousands of dollars.  A few hundred for each Office suite, a few GRAND on a server and the respective licensing (per computer or per user), a few hundred on each desktop and then a continual maintenance contract for someone to keep everything running smoothly.

If you look at this from an accounting point of view..lets take an even number of $10,000.  $10,000 depreciated over 5 years is only $2000 per year.  This doesn’t take into account any downtime or any parts that need to be replaced.  We just want to keep things simple.   Now, what if we were to look at some open source alternatives?  First, there is gmail for your business.  the standard edition is free while the premium edition is only $50 per person per year.  That’s a lot of maintenance one saves by having Google take care of that for you.  How about Microsoft Office?  Well, there is your  apps and there is LibreOffice or even openoffice. The last two being basically the same.  I will not take away from the power that the office suite provides but why drive the Porsche to to pick up some eggs at the store when a Camry can do the same job?  What’s next?  That would be the server.   Instead of using Windows, one could setup a file server with linux and samba.  Both open source programs.  You still need the hardware but at least you aren’t paying for licensing.  Samba would allow you to share files with windows clients and can have an active directory structure.

Not taking away anything from Windows Server but it seems like overkill for a small business. You can set all these policies for computers and users but when you have just a few employees, why bother?

I guess that is my biggest concern.  Thousands spent on overkill.  It seems to be a recurring theme since I joined IT full time.  KVM switches everywhere, extra battery backups and for what?  I’ll tell you for what.  For the IT company to upcharge the sold equipment and log more hours per month in work.  I’d rather see the money saved go to the employees, or go to a faster upgrade of the equipment rather than a greedy IT firm.