So Server 2012 is at general availability. There are trials of Server 2012 Foundation, Storage server (the big one not the essentials server), Standard 2012 and Datacenter.
And where’s SBS? Or rather…how can you build a SBS like replacement?
It’s potentially doable. I say potentially as there’s still some planets that need to align. Namely we need to get full support for Exchange 2010 on Server 2012. Which I honestly expect. (trust me if I didn’t expect this, you’d see me in Ballmer’s office in a heartbeat).
So here’s the ingredients as I see them.
One copy of Windows 2012 standard – you will be setting this up as a HyperV parent in a workgroup. You will then install two child instances, one as the future base for Exchange 2010, one for the base for SharePoint 2013 (which isn’t released yet as 2010 is not supported on Server 2012). Right now only Exchange 2013 [beta] works on Server 2012 but given that they’ve given me as a SA customer a copy of Windows 2012 and Exchange 2010 I’m going to assume that at some point in time this mix will work – I’m guessing that there are lots of big customers that are louder (aka pay more than I do) and thus this will get working.
One copy of Windows 2012 Essentials – This gives you Remote Web Access, client backup, and the normal wizards of SBS that we’re used to.
So you stand up the parent of Windows 2012 standard, you then install Essentials as a child, and then the two instances of the Windows Server 2012 standard (remember you have 1+2 virtualization rights). In one instance install the Exchange. In the other install the SharePoint 2013. We will need to deal with Server cals, as while the Essentials is “cal-less” and goes up to 25 users (at $400 ish for the base price) the Server 2012 needs Server cals for the clients and Exchange cals. WSUS (assuming you still want WSUS and aren’t ready to strangle it’s little neck lately) can be put on one of the servers. SharePoint patching won’t blow backups. Exchange will be fully supported OFF the domain controller, and you’ll easily put your line of business apps on that Sharepoint server box — as an aside I’m finding more and more of my line of business apps upgrade to Sql 2008 r2 express and clearly state that they are not a fan of installing on a domain controller.
As to the exact how to, don’t worry. Between Jeff Middleton’s new http://www.itproexperts.com/ site, Amy at www.thirdtier.net there will be guidance walking you down this path. Not today for sure, as I am still waiting on Exchange 2010 support on 2012, and SharePoint 2013 (free version) isn’t out yet, but rest assured, there will be guidance and support from SMB sources.
Will this ultimately cost more in the long run? Yes I can see it will. Currently right now SBS 2011 standard is the cheaper configuration for on on premise solution. When the dust settles and it no longer is sold, this DIY SBS solution will ultimately (I think) cost more because, let’s get real with each other, it’s in Microsoft’s best interests to move us to a monthly fee solution. They want us to pay them constantly and not just when we feel like upgrading.
So we’ll have to sharpen the pencils when the final numbers come out and sit down with our clients and see where their money/cloud trust/on premise needs/paranoid shakes out and what roles we’ll put here, versus there.
Now let me be devil’s advocate about the cloud. Lync is the one cloud solution in Office 365 that cannot be easily replicated on premise. You need multiple servers and it just cannot be done cheaply for SMB. That’s the one thing that you really need to sign up for the Cloud essential partner sign up – you get office 365 E3 plan for the year – and really kick the tires on. You cannot recreate that well at all on premises. As I was just chatting earlier today with someone, Lync is one of those solutions that you may have clients that have a business that would LOVE that solution. They also can be fuddy duddy <cough CPAs> that know that their client base isn’t that progressive and thus just wouldn’t utilize that in their firm.
Bottom line we’re in an era where one size doesn’t fit most. For some I see that you’ll be deploying the 15 user max OEM Foundation server. For some Essentials with hosted Exchange. And for those that still want an on premise box, there is a SBS like solution that CAN BE DONE with Windows 2012 standard AND Windows 2012 Essentials.
I still see a need for an on premise file server (sorry Paul, you are never happy are you?) as not all firms have the bandwidth and risk tolerance for cloud solutions, and I honestly still see that a SBS like solution is possible in the 2012 era of servers.