Microsofts elimination of the Small Business Server makes way for additional functionality and features provided by Windows Server 2012
This fall, Microsoft is making changes to its small business server operating systems. The company is eliminating Small Business Server (SBS), the popular operating system for small businesses that uses a single server for file storage, on-premises corporate email through Microsoft Exchange and databases through Microsoft SQL Server. SBS2011 will no longer be sold after December.
Instead, Windows Server 2012 is the new small business operating system. It comes in several versions, Windows Server 2012 Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter. Foundation supports up to 15 users on a single server solution, which is available only on entry-level servers from OEM manufacturers. Essentials supports up to 25 users, but, unlike SBS 2011 Essentials, it can be upgraded in-place to support up to 75 users and 75 devices. The number of licensed processors and virtual machines included is another difference. Essentials costs $425 and Standard costs $882. The important point to remember is that the versions share important features.
Windows Server 2012 introduces several features that small businesses will love:
1. Flexibility where you choose to locate your mail services. You dont have to set up and maintain an on-premise Exchange mail server. As Ive written in previous columns, for most small businesses with less than 20 users, hosting Exchange is cost-efficient and quick to implement. WSE 2012 includes hooks to Office 365, Microsofts hosted Exchange service and the final release version will have add-ons to connect to other hosted providers.
2. A new flexible and reliable method of disk storage called Storage Spaces. Small businesses will no longer have to replace a server or rebuild it with new drives when it is low on disk space. Capacity can be easily expanded because drives are organized in pools. Additional internal or external drives of mixed types (SATA and SAS) can be added at will. The complexity and rigidity of redundant array of Inexpensive disks (RAID) levels are history! Storage spaces add resiliency and recovery features unmatched by older Microsoft operating systems such as Windows Server 2008 R2. Storage spaces may make obsolete the complexities of RAID storage systems.
3. A new file history feature that is significantly enhanced compared to the previous versions feature in older Microsoft operating systems. File history can back up those files to another location such as a server drive or external drive. It is like a combination of previous versions and Windows Backup! File history is well thought out. It will still back up to a local cache folder if the external or network drive is offline. File history is also sensitive to resource utilization. If another process needs a lot of resources, file history will suspend operations until the other process completes, so your computer wont be slowed unnecessarily by backups.
Reaping Big Benefits
If you are a small business owner who loved Microsoft SBS, dont despair. Windows Server 2012, which offers several price points, has new features that can really help move your business forward. Email server flexibility, a flexible and reliable disk storage option and an enhanced file history feature are among the many features from which small businesses will reap big benefits.
David Streit is an IT consultant and an entrepreneur, as principal of Stephill Associates, LLC. in ?Manalapan, New Jersey. Stephill provides IT infrastructure and technology advisory services for small business clients in New Jersey and New York City. Streit has worked with PCs and technology for more than 25 years. He and his wife, Claudia, have two daughters, Hillary and Stephanie. Stephill Associates website: stephillassociates.com