With both Microsoft and HP paying more and more attention to the SMB market and with the recession now behind us (we hope!), both are hoping small companies will start upgrading their IT networks. With this in mind both are preparing new servers specifically for this space, while Google aims to teach SMBs how to spend their online advertising budgets.

Microsoft SMB Server 7 is Beta Ready

You may remember in the middle of August that Microsoft released previews of its new Aurora server for SMBs. Missing in that release, however, was any sign of the SMB Server 7, which is designed to complement Aurora and the other SMB server due for release called Vail.

Over the past week though, Microsoft (news, site) has confirmed that it will release a public beta of the server by the end of the month. It will be able to support up to 75 Client Access Licenses as well as provide backups and off-premise access to files and other items stored there.

As yet SMB Server 7 still has to be christened as Aurora and Vail already have, but that is expected to happen between now and the end of the month.

The principal difference between Aurora and SMB 7 appears to be the cloud element. Aurora is for companies with up to 25 user accounts and, more importantly, access to online services on a pay-as-you-go basis. There is no fixed date for release as yet, but it will definitely be before the end of the month, Microsoft assures us.

HP Releases Micro-Business Server

Also on the sever front is news from HP (news, site) which has been actively chasing both the SMB and the micro market for quite some time now.

Last week we outlined how it is now offering IT for just about everything deal. Within that package is the new ProLiant MicroServer gives companies centralized control and security of data as well as an easy to manage set-up and system.

The HP MicroServer is a cost effective starter server for businesses with less than 10 users and is designed to support networks were none exist to date. According to technology market researcher AMI  (news, site) 1.7 million small businesses will purchase their first server in the next five years. It will be interesting to see how many of them take this route.

Google Launches AdWords Small Business Center

Meanwhile, Google has also been busy this week with SMBs, this time teaching them how to spend ad money. It aims to do this with the launch of the AdWords Small Business Center, which is designed to provide SMBs with a hub that they can use to learn AdWord best practices.

AdWords is Google's flagship advertising product and one of its main sources of revenue. It offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text, banner and rich-media ads. It also includes local, national and international distribution.

However, Google is clearly not happy with the way SMBs are taking to it because last week it launched the AdWords Small Business Center.

Google AdWords SMBC.jpg

Google AdWords Small Business Center

The information provided will be broken down into beginner, intermediate or advanced, so that small business owners can benefit regardless of where they are in their learning.

At the core of this initiative is the AdWords Small Business Center website that will enable users to share AdWords best practices and provides key information on how to run a successful AdWords account. If you want to find out more check it out here.

Verizon Takes SMBs to Cloud

For SMBs that are looking to the cloud, Verizon has just announced that it is launching a cloud computing service for small and midsize U.S. businesses to supplement a cloud service for large companies that it launched last year.

Available for companies with up to 1000 employees, pricing starts at 3.7 cents per hour for a single virtual server with limited RAM and storage with no minimum commitment.

Housed on servers controlled by Verizon partner Terremark, it joins Verizon's Computing as a Service (CaaS) portfolio of cloud computing services, it is designed for companies that have limited IT resources and do not want to own or manage their IT infrastructure.

Verizon CaaS SMB offers built-in security including virtual private networks while allowing companies to add more security features. CaaS SMB also lets companies retain previous computing configurations of their data and servers so data can be easily accessed in the future.

Bitrix Upgrades Site Manager for SMBs

Finally, Bitrix (news, site) which has placed itself firmly in the SMB space has release the latest version of its Site Manager, this time in v9.0.

While pricing of the basic Web CMS makes it accessible for even home users and comes with a substantial range of functions even at the basic level, it does have seven different editions with the Ultimate edition priced at around US$ 10,000 and capable of providing a scalable e-commerce platform that is suitable not just for small businesses but for enterprises as well.

Bitrix says that with this release there are over 100 new features and improvements that will ensure that all the other 30 or so modules that users can pick and choose from when building their web platform are completely secure.

However v9.0 is not all about security and like previous versions has introduced a number of features that are designed to make web content management accessible to all.

It has also introduced better caching, database interaction and performance indicators and is now capable of serving up to 4 million unique visitors every day while at the same time maintaining workable response times.