Intro to Microsoft Small Business Server 2008By Brian Nelson
All of the media attention goes to those big enterprise IT operations, and rightfully so.
After all, those are the systems and networks that power the Fortune 500, the blue chip backbone of American business.
But, there is another segment of American business out there, and Microsoft knows that they need full functionality server-based architecture too.
With the release earlier this year of Windows Server 2008, it is only natural that Windows Small Business Server 2008 be close behind. Windows SBS 2008 is scheduled for launch on November 12.
What Is Small Business Server?
Targeted toward businesses that need the functionality of Microsoft’s server line of products but without the size to require several servers, Windows Small Business Server is a multi-product bundle designed to be run on a single server.
Windows Small Business Sever 2008 comes in two editions. One edition is Standard, and the other is named Premium. Although it may sound like it, there are not really two versions of Small Business Server.
The Premium edition is actually two servers; one server is the same as Small Business Server Standard, and the second server has Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for Small Businesses.
The Standard Edition, which is present as one of the two servers in the Premium Edition, is composed of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Exchange Server 2007 Standard, Windows Server Update Services, and SharePoint Services 3.0. It also comes with 120-day trials of Forefront for Exchange and Live OneCare for Server.
A 2 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM and 60 GB of disk space are the minimum hardware requirements to run SBS 2008. As always, suitable real world performance will take slightly more hardware. Microsoft Exchange in particular thrives with more memory, so you’ll want to be higher than the minimum 4 GB.
Although not part of the official specifications, the SBS 2008 backup system is geared toward backing up to an attached external hard drive. So, an external USB hard drive (or several USB hard drives) with the same or greater capacity than your server would be needed for full backups.
Your average technology professional rolls their eyes when someone mentions licensing, but for a small business, this cost can quickly undermine the success of any system.
Fortunately, Microsoft has gone the kinder gentler route with SBS 2008 licensing, accepting the reality that not everyone who needs sever-based functions has an IT budget that can swallow any price tag.
Windows SBS 2008 still requires Client Access Licenses (CAL), but they can be assigned either to users or machines. With many small businesses requiring employees to wear several hats, this can be a huge benefit when Carl the Human Resources guy needs to head down to the warehouse to become Carl the Shift Change Supervisor guy.
In addition, you can now buy CALs in singles instead of a block at a time, and SBS 2008 allows for five "temporary" access licenses so that a new hire can start right away while someone gets a new license purchased and installed.
Is Windows SBS 2008 Right for Your Business?
Once the decision has been made that Microsoft Server 2008 based technology is the way to go, the decision to use Windows SBS 2008 comes down to just a few things.
First, SBS 2008 is designed for up to 75 users. More than that and you need to move up to the Business Essentials line.
Whether or not to just go for a full Windows Server 2008 system is generally a matter of cost and skill. If you have a dedicated computer support staff with deep knowledge and experience, then Server 2008 is an option. If the computer support staff is Carl the HR Guy, and your business partner’s teenage son, then SBS is more likely the right fit for you.
When it comes to cost, Windows Small Business Server 2008 Standard has a retail price of $1,089 and Premium is $1,899. Both include just 5 CALs, so you will be buying more. Extra CALs cost around $75 for standard, and $185 for premium.
Upgrading to Small Business Server 2008
While most businesses buy SBS pre-installed on a machine designed just for SBS by the vender, some businesses may be considering going a different route. For them, there are some considerations to be made before running into the arms of SBS 2008.
SBS 2008 will only be offered on the x64 platform, so if you are planning on going with more familiar x32 machines, there is some rethinking to be done.
Also, Microsoft’s main upgrade path involves new hardware, not upgrading existing SBS 2003 Servers. All of the wizards and tools are based on the concept that the SBS 2008 upgrade will come with a server hardware upgrade as well. If not, Microsoft merely states that "a manual migration will be required." (Hey, those dark ominous clouds seem to be rolling in awfully fast.)
However, the big issue is that SBS 2008 does not have ISA (Internet and Security Acceleration) Server included. Instead, Microsoft considers Forefront on Exchange Server and Widows Live OneCare along with various reporting tools to be the replacement.
Of course, the Forefront part and OneCare are both only a 120-day trial, so another purchase is in your future if you migrate. This isn’t good news for shops that have spent a lot of time and effort getting their ISA systems in place for SBS 2003.
Still, with the updates to newer components including Exchange and SharePoint Services, the 2008 SBS suite is sure to fit plenty of small businesses.
By the way, if you are a small business with an infrastructure that could use some help, check out the HP and Microsoft sponsored Pimp My Infrastructure, a take-off on the MTV series Pimp My Ride where old beat up cars were fixed up into great cars.
About the Author
Brian Nelson (MCSE, CNA) is a professional freelance writer and small business owner with the freelance writing business ArcticLlama, LLC. Brian’s experience includes network and systems administration, financial planning and advising, and he even has a degree in Biochemistry. Brian specializes in several areas of highly technical writing for ArcticLlama including technology, science and medical. He is also a freelance financial writer specialist. He lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter. Brian contributes articles on Windows Server 2008 and other related topics.
Author's Website: http://www.arcticllama.com/
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