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Small Business Server – Why 2011 couldn’t come sooner

So it’s no secret – the various iterations of Small Business Server have all been fond favourites of the Geek-Guru team. The combination of great price point and good feature set have meant that SBS based servers sit well with clients looking to take their first steps towards a domain based infrastructure and equally well for SMEs looking for a keenly priced server to replace older or obsolete systems.

But what’s in SBS 2011 that’s got us so excited?

Small Business Server 2008 was based on the same core as Server 2008 and was designed to work in combination with Windows Vista based clients. It supported Windows 7, but right from the beginning it was clear that SBS 2008 would have preferred a homogeneous Vista environment. Now, you don’t need an expert to know that Vista was an unqualified failure, both in terms of sales and in terms of user acceptance. The majority of our clients either avoided Vista completely or opted to upgrade quickly when Windows 7 was released and as such a homogeneous Vista network is almost unheard of. Whilst Windows Server 2008 was quickly replaced by Server 2008 R2, SBS 2008 staunchly remained and even though Microsoft fixed the obvious incompatibilities, SBS 2008 always felt slightly out of place alongside it’s superior cousin.

Small Business Server 2011 is based on the 2008 R2 core and is designed from the ground up to work alongside Windows 7. The 2008 R2 core is sleeker, faster and generally nicer to work with than the 2008 core and includes features designed explicitly to make the most of Windows 7 features. Implementing SBS 2011 finally enables SMEs to take advantage of an enhanced Hyper-V virtualisation platform, opens up some nice tweaks and improvements and the big one, finally brings Exchange 1010 to the table.

Exchange has always been the killer-app when it comes to Small Business Server and is one of the primary reasons a lot of our clients choose to upgrade to a server system in the first place. SBS 2008 shipped with Exchange 2007 which was a huge improvement over 2003. It introduced an array of features that end users loved, and administrators needed, and represented a leap forward in terms of stability, reliability and disaster recovery. When Exchange 2010 hit the shelves it felt like an upgrade to 2007 rather than a brand new product – which in fairness was what we (and the market) wanted. Rather than trying to be ground-breaking in its design it simply built on the good bits of 2007 and made them even better. As with 2008 R2, those that could upgrade Exchange did so – but SBS users were left dangling with 2007 for slightly longer than was comfortable.

All in all SBS 2011 looks like it’s going to be hugely popular. Microsoft have retained the ability to add a second server, through the use of a premium upgrade, and have extended the options for running virtualised SBS environments on Hyper-V. Microsoft have also redefined the way standard and premium versions are purchased with the premium offering coming as an add-on pack that can be purchased at any time – either with the initial system or as needs dictate further down the road. This is beyond doubt a fantastic move on Microsoft’s parts, removing the need to make the standard/premium decision early on when businesses may not know exactly what they will need in the future.

SBS 2011 is the bringing together of a number of technologies we love, in a well-priced package, with a well thought out licensing model. And that’s why the Geek-Guru team are excited!

Posted on by Tim
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