Microsoft has long supported a special server package designed to bring essential server components to small businesses. With their current release of SBS 2011 Standard they are again focusing their attention on the interconnectivity that most businesses find essential.
While SBS has been a solid platform there are still areas which have been harder to manage than users might like so with the 2011 edition Microsoft is hoping to expand the penetration and to encourage users of older versions to upgrade.
At this point only the Standard version of the package is released for production. It is designed to handle up to 75 users and it allows users to be more productive with features such as e-mail, Internet connectivity, internal websites, remote access, and file and printer sharing. It includes an automatic backup capability with simple recovery features.
Eventually a second version, the Essentials Version will be released, designed for IT networks of up to 25 users. Essentials will be lower cost and not require CALS (Client Access Licenses) for the 25 users to connect. it is designed to support companies who will use hosted (cloud based) versions of Exchange and other collaboration components.
Finally, an add on package the Premium Add-on will be available. "The Windows Small Business Server Premium Add-on enables users to query, search, report, and analyze important business data or run business applications from a centralized database so that all employees can easily work from the same information. Moving to an add-on model which will be available for both editions, offers more choices to customers who want the flexibility to purchase an additional server either up front or as needed," is how the Microsoft site describes this piece.
Easy upgrade paths are promised for those companies which have already used SBS 2003 or 2008 making the transition to the new version a simpler process. Our experience has shown that this is not always a simple step and we will be testing the process before committing to clients that it is a simple as promised. Microsoft indicates that they have worked closely with the field to make this upgrade as simple as possible. Only time and experience will tell.
For companies whose server hardware is getting older and less reliable upgrading the SBS package at the same time as they replace their hardware makes sense. For those who have been running SBS 2003 moving to 2011 which is specially designed to support Windows 7 and Office 2010 will compliment upgrade plans for those packages as well. Many companies have been on the XP workstation operating system for many years and with hardware refreshes they are going to see an easier path to upgrading to Windows 7. If you are running SBS 2008 R2, the latest version of that server suite, you may not be as quick to move to the new 2011 version, but need to plan to be ready as the feature set and benefits play out more readily.
What server OS are you running now? Are you an SMB looking to install your first server? Is collaboration and sharing a need in your office? Have you been running a previous SBS version?
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