September 2010: Windows Small Business Server: The Next Generation

Posted on: August 31st, 2010 by billp | No Comments

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have taken advantage of the simplicity of Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server (SBS). SBS is an integrated server suite designed for running the network infrastructure of businesses having no more than 75 workstations or users. SBS incorporates some of Microsoft’s premier enterprise technologies such as Exchange Server for e-mail and calendaring, SharePoint for collaboration, Internet Information Service (IIS) for web server services, and SQL Server for database applications into a simplified server suite with easy management via a unified management console and enhanced monitoring.

Contrary to the rumor mill claims that SBS 2008 would be the last version in the product’s line, Microsoft will be releasing a new version of SBS in late 2010 or early 2011. In fact, there will be two versions – one that is the next generation of the traditional product, and a second that embraces Microsoft’s cloud computing initiatives.

SBS 7 is the unofficial name for the product that represents the evolution of the traditional on-premise SBS product line. The core will be a modified Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit only), Exchange Server 2010, and SharePoint Foundation 2010. SQL Server will be a premium add-on.

SBS “Aurora” is the far more interesting and exciting product. First, it is limited to 25 users because it is targeting the much-smaller businesses. It is a hybrid server in that it combines on-premise features with cloud-based features. Microsoft’s term for this is “cross-premise.” Your users and computers will still be created and managed in an on-premise directory (Active Directory, or AD), but that directory will be federated with cloud services such as Exchange Online. This gives you the best of both worlds – the control of an on-premise server with the flexibility, scalability, security, and anywhere-access of cloud-based services.

Even more interesting is that Microsoft is integrating key Windows Home Server (WHS) features into Aurora. Windows Home Server was designed to be a solution for homes with multiple connected PCs to offer file sharing, automated backups, and remote access. It is a very successful product and has even been used by some small businesses instead of SBS or similar server products due to its simplicity and low cost.

The WHS backup feature is a key feature that is being incorporated into Aurora. Aurora backup provides full, image-based backups of your managed PCs as well as file-based backups, making it excellent for both file restores and disaster recovery. You can optionally enable server-based Shadow Copies so that multiple versions of documents on users’ PCs are saved on the server in a central location.

One of the best WHS features, Drive Extender, is perhaps the most impressive addition to the Aurora. Drive Extender treats all of the available storage attached to the server as a single pool of storage instead of partitioning it into discrete drive letters. In other words, your internal hard disks and external USB hard disks all appear as a single pool of storage. If you run low on storage, simply add another internal or external hard disk and Drive Extender automatically adds it to the seamless pool of storage. Data duplication functionality at the share level is also provided. When this feature is enabled, all stored files are guaranteed to sit on two separate physical hard drives to help prevent data loss in the event of a hardware failure.

You can read more on Microsoft’s site at Introducing the next version of Windows Small Business Server! If you’re interested in Small Business Server, Windows Home Server, or any other Microsoft technologies mentioned in this newsletter, Colden Company can help. Please contact us at 518-885-2857, info@coldencompany.com, or Twitter for assistance with Microsoft or any of your business computing needs.


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