This week SAP has upgraded its Business ByDesign software enabling easier customization, both Microsoft and Drobo have released products for the SMB storage market, Blue Coat offers cloud-based security, and we take a look at SharePoint alternatives for SMBs.

SAP Upgrades Business ByDesign

Last August, almost three years after SAP (news, site) unveiled Business ByDesign, its SaaS business management suite, it released version 2.5.

At the time SAP had been the target of considerable criticism for the slow pace of its development. Clearly it has learned from that, as it has just announced the release of feature pack 2.6, which makes it serve as an open platform.

Specifically designed for midsized companies, SAP Business ByDesign is an integrated on-demand business software suite that enables customers to run a set of end-to-end business processes while having the option to gradually deploy the full, integrated suite at their own pace.

Using v2.6, partners will be able to customize the software, as well as offer enhancements to usability, support for additional mobile devices and on-demand integration of subsidiary operations into on-premise installations at headquarters.

In addition, SAP Business ByDesign is now available in Austria, Canada and Switzerland. With the new release, SAP takes another significant step in executing its cloud computing strategy.

According to SAP, since the launch of feature pack 2.5 in August 2010, SAP Business ByDesign has gained considerable market traction, with approximately 250 customers signed up.

Aurora Goes to RC

The first of two storage releases this week for the SMB sector is news that Microsoft (news, site) has finally gone to release candidate with its long-awaited Windows Small Business Server 2011, better known as Aurora. The latest version of Windows Home Server (WHS), previously codenamed Vail, was also released.

Aurora is intended for businesses with fewer than 25 users that are using a peer-to-peer network or no network at all. It provides backup and file restoration to users, who will also be able to gain access to data on Aurora from anywhere using personalized web addresses.

It is also designed to integrate between on-premise and online services and to use pay-as-you-go online services to extend server functionality without increasing workload and maintenance needs. If you want of find out more, visit the Microsoft blog.

Drobo’s New Storage Offerings

Storage vendor Drobo has also been busy recently and has introduced a line of easy-to-use and affordable storage solutions for SMBs. Designed specifically for customers who need critical business storage capacity without the complexity -- and price -- of legacy storage software, the Drobo business systems are optimal as primary and secondary storage for Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint.

This release is in keeping with previous Drobo releases which, in general, have advanced, scalable storage packaged and priced for people who don't have much IT training or corporate budgets. The new products include performance enhancements, management software and extended business support and services, in addition to the existing ease of use, capacity and storage features. Drobo also announced its Business Premier partner program.

SharePoint, Intranets, and SMBs

If you missed it this week, earlier on we took a look at economical alternatives to SharePoint in the intranet space and found some interesting possibilities.

The basis of the investigation is the fact that many organizations cannot afford US$ 50 to US$ 150 per user for a top-flight intranet.

Enterprise content management systems (ECMSs), and portals such as SharePoint, traditionally cost a pretty penny up front, and a shocking amount in annual licensing, support, maintenance and staffing. The costs of these systems have naturally created a niche for small-market solutions that have grown and evolved considerably in the past decade.

However, SharePoint has become the measuring stick, and the whipping boy, by which most all other intranet technology platforms are compared. Interested in more?

Security Using a Blue Coat

Finally this week, Blue Coat Systems, a provider of Web security and WAN optimization solutions, has released security in the cloud specifically for the SMB market.

Blue Coat Cloud Service is a scalable Internet-delivered service that uses Blue Coat technology and the company’s collaborative WebPulse community of more than 70 million users.

The first subscription module for the Blue Coat Cloud Service, the Web Security Module, brings Blue Coat enterprise-class technology to more organizations and provides real-time Web protection that can be managed and deployed from anywhere to protect users globally.

Citing Panda Security, Blue Coat says 46% of SMBs were infected by Web-based malware in 2010. At the same time, organizations are increasingly distributed.

With the Blue Coat Cloud Service, the company is extending its technology beyond its traditional large enterprise customers to SMBs.

The cloud-delivered service complements the existing Blue Coat portfolio of Web security appliances, including the recently announced ProxyOne appliance, and lets organizations choose the deployment option that works best for their business requirements.

The Web Security Module for the Blue Coat Cloud Service is in beta and will be generally available in the company’s fourth fiscal quarter, which ends April 30, 2011.