The future of SBS

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 site, Amy at 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.

21 Thoughts on “The future of SBS

  1. Thanks for this. So it appears that you suggest one 2012 Standard and run three virtual servers on it. Now the big question, what type of hardware do you need to run three virtual servers? I am currently running SBS2008 on a Quad Core Xeon with only 8 gigs of RAM very successfully. Do you think that hardware (with additional RAM) can handle it?

  2. bradley on September 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm said:

    I’m surprised (shocked) that the SBS 2008 is happy with 8 gigs of ram.

    I have 24gig in my HyperV that runs a 15gig SBS 2008 and a couple of other servers.

    Def bump up that RAM.

    Essentials would need no more than 4 at the most. The Exchange would prob need 8 to 10 for that instance.

  3. I am glad I could shock you! Truthfully, I have had no performance issues with only 8. My current hardware has a max of 24GB RAM. Wondering if that would be enough for this.

    So, in your proposed solution, is the Essentials server essential? Are those items you listed not in the 2012 Standard? I was thinking running all the basic stuff (like AD) on the parent then run only two virtual servers. Bad idea?

    Sorry, I am very new to this visualization stuff.

  4. bradley on September 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm said:

    Essentials server is the only one with RWA. And if you are used to the integration of SBS – i.e. add a user to the console and not have to fuss with a lot of permissions settings, you want Essentials.

    2012 standard does not offer up any sort of remote access solution out of the box for remote users.

  5. bradley on September 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm said:

    Also you can’t do the AD role on the HyperV parent. You must only do HyperV and nothing but HyperV.

    Find my recent HyperV series and I already talked about where the domain controller has to go.

    It cannot go on the HyperV box.

  6. Joe Raby on September 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm said:

    I too have clients on 8GB of RAM with SBS 2008 (R”1″ with Exchange 2007) and it works fine.

    I ran a few test scenarios where I increased it to 16GB with their workload and it didn’t offer much of a noticeable improvement. Mind you, that was a couple of years ago when RAM was far more expensive too.

    BTW: There’s a lot of interest in running Lync on-premise with far lower specs than what Microsoft recommends and users are saying that it works for small workloads with minimal RAM (10 users or less, generally). Remember that Lync is supposed to scale for dozens of users. I use Lync (Online) too, but most of it is for remote helpdesk, since it replaces the old LiveMeeting/Communicator platform. It’s not difficult to get users to run a simple ActiveX control on Windows to give me access to their machine, although I really wish it supported admin privileges, which it does not. It does, however, support multiple remote monitors, which Communicator didn’t. I run a pretty small business though, and we don’t use a PBX, nor do I want to put huge money into IP PBX hardware or SIP trunking, so we just use Vonage here with one of their V-Portal routers. Our SBS Essentials box does all the network routing and DHCP though. As good as Lync Server sounds for enterprise voice, it just doesn’t fit into our budget (and we get Lync Server as part of MAPS too!).

  7. You can add WSUS to the SharePoint Box as well, it will not install on the Essentials box (last I heard).

  8. RAM, just like talk, is cheap. We put 3 x 8GB DIMMs in a single CPU SBS 2011 box at the moment or 4 x 8GB for dual Xeons.

    I quite like the idea of Hyper-V + VMs for the future of “SBS”.

    My concern (other than pricing for Server 2012 + CALs + Exchange + CALs being much more expensive than SBS) is where we’ve had a really tight budget and ended up with something like a HP ML110 G7 – Xeon E3, 16GB and SATA RAID1 for storage.

    SBS wasn’t super quick but it runs okay. However, that spec’ is not going to stand up to HyperV + VMs, so we need to figure something out for low-cost, on-premise options.


  9. With your proposed setup, what if you need more that 25 users? Seems I understood that Essentials is limited to 25.

  10. bradley on September 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm said:

    “Transmorg” From 25-75 buy another Server 2012 key code and you’ll unlock the server from the 25 limit. You will also have to buy server cals for that system now.

  11. Okay, my brain wants to explode with all this.

    My SBS CALS covered Exchange. Will I have to by server CALS AND Exchange CALS?

    Also, with more than 25 users, can I still use Essentials with all its wizards, or will “transmorging” it mean I have to go to Server 2012 Standard without them?

  12. bradley on September 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm said:

    I’ll do a follow up post.
    Yes you’ll need exchange and server cals for those other two servers. We’re not licensed for Exchange in the Essential era.

    After transmorg and up to 75 users, the wizards will still work. You’ll still be on Essentials but just with the limit of 25 users taken off.

  13. bradley on September 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm said:

    I’ll do a follow up post.
    Yes you’ll need exchange and server cals for those other two servers. We’re not licensed for Exchange in the Essential era.

    After transmorg and up to 75 users, the wizards will still work. You’ll still be on Essentials but just with the limit of 25 users taken off.

  14. sad to see SBS go. we have been setting most people up with SBS Essentials 2011 and Google Apps/365 for the past year.

    Will especially miss RWA though. OWA, Sharepoint, Remote Desktop and a private Skydrive was a great selling point – especially the sky drive type access for ipad users. Before I fire up the lab this weekend to test, is there any way to get RWA working on a non-SBS 2012 server?

  15. bradley on September 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm said:

    RWA is a specific web site coded up for SBS. It’s not native in any non SBS server. It is included in Essentials server however.

  16. Will the Essentials 2012 console automatically create Exchange accounts when a new user is created after it has been expanded past the 25 user limit?

    Also do we know if it is possible to upgrade an expanded Essentials server when a future version of Essentials comes out?

  17. The Essentials console will still work after the transmorg. All of the wizards will still work.

    As to upgrading, I think we’ll have to wait and see where this marketplace shakes out. If there’s a huge demand, maybe. If not, and everyone ends up staying below 25, do you honestly see them building a migration path? Seriously?

    At that point you are no longer locked to a FSMO role gated server. And that’s way too long down the planning road/crystal ball to see what’s coming and what your clients will want, in my opinion.

  18. The skinny on the pricing differences between SBS Premium Addon vs Breaking it out to Windows Server 2012 Standard w/25 User cals, Windows Small Business Essencials 2012 (25 user cals), Exchange Server 2010 w/ 50 user cals turns out to be very close to the same as what I was quoted for SBS Premium Addon. The big difference is SQL. SQL can get very pricey with user cals. SQL Server with 50 user Cals comes to $10k plus. With virtualization, it just makes alot of sense to break out SBS. I just wish Windows Server Standard came with RWW/RWA built in and that there was a more economical SQL Server for smaller shops.

  19. “And where’s SBS? Or rather…how can you build a SBS like replacement?”
    It took a year last time. Give them some time.

  20. With the advent of virtualization it just makes sense to use virtualization rather than SBS. I have been using SBS since it first released and have had the headache of having to reboot the entire server when one of the components of SBS became unruly. There is also the issue of disaster recovery. Virtualization makes alot of the headaches go away. I had contemplated break up SBS last year when we surpassed the 50 user mark. SBS was a smoking deal period. The only obstacle i need to hurdle at this point is RWW. Our users work from home and out of the office on a very regular basis and the beauty of RWW was welcomed by our users with open arms. I am confused as to how to accomplish this in a non SBS world with budget constraints in place. I have convinced our CEO and CFO that we will break up our upgrad from SBS 2003 into two fiscal years. My plan is a virtualized HP monster Server (Gen * with lost of RAM). Move AD to the new server. Then move shares to the new server. Then Install Exchange in its own Virtual Server and move off of SBS Exchange. If anyone has any suggestions on an RWW replacement, pleas chime in. I also need to look at moving a handful of users off a Terminal Server. I am bouncing back and forth on the VDI solution compared to the New TS solution, so if anyone has opinions on that let me know. I know when it is all done, and we have pulled the plug on our old SBS system we will be in a better position to handle up time and growth. Until then, I am going through alot of aspirin for those unforseen headaches that always popup when experiencing growing pains. But I am also very excited about virtualization and how it will solve some age old problems we have been dealing with for many years.

  21. bradley on October 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm said:

    RWW replacement = Windows server 2012 essentials as your DC or Storage Server 2008 r2 Essentials

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