SMBKitchen: Deciding what to install

Now that we have our SBS 2008 ready to go we’re ready to install the new Essentials server.  And here’s where you need to decide role versus sku.

Essentials 2012 R2  can now be installed either as a role on a standard server not limited to 25 users or as the traditional no cals/limited to 25 user sku.

If you install the Essentials sku as a downgrade from Standard OR you install the Essentials as a role you need to also plan on the need for RDS cals, In addition in our test deployment we’re going to set up a member server so we’ll need server cals and Exchange cals as well. 

if you BUY an Essentials sku (an extra $500) you won’t need to buy RDS cals.  Confusing?  Yes.  I know. 

Essentials as a role can be deployed into an existing network.  It can join a domain. If you install the role into a network with a domain controller, it will see that DC and not need to BE a DC itself.  The only drawback with the Essentials role and sku at this time is that if you want to utilize the Office 365 wizard it requires either a single DC in order to work – or you go down to a single DC, run the wizard and then turn off password changing so that the password used for the integration sync doesn’t expire.  It’s been bugged and hopefully sooner versus later this will be fixed. 

In a small firm many times you can actually live with a single DC as it makes it easier to manage and service.  Multiple Domain controllers may be “best practice”…but they aren’t bullet proof practice.  They cause issues.  Single DCs means you rely on a backup rather than rebuilding DCs.

In the case of my proof of concept blogging project I’ll use the SKU.  Unlike prior versions there’s no initially getting into migration mode to worry about.  You just install the Essentials and there’s a wizard later on to join/migrate/.  So let’s set up our virtual machine and get going.

 I’m going to keep it simple and skimp on the memory since I’m a bit limited in this test box and planning on squeezing Exchange in here later.

I’m not even using a Gen2, but sticking with Gen1 type virtual server.

This blog series will be part of the SMB kitchen project.  More about the SMBKitchen project at –

3 Thoughts on “SMBKitchen: Deciding what to install

  1. I look forward to your discussion of joining clients which were in the SBS 2008 domain to essentials server. My experience was quite different from documentation. The “ownership” of machines ended up being an administrator, and the guidance states this is less than optimal.

    As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

  2. bradley on January 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm said:

    Log into the connect wizard as an admin, you then assign the user and you then can pick standard user. When you log in and run the connect wiz as the user, you assign them local admin rights in the process.

  3. RandyS on January 26, 2014 at 3:46 pm said:

    What did you mean by “you won’t need to buy RDS CALs”? If you install the Essentials SKU, then install an RDS server along side of it to be accessed through the gateway (in addition to accessing desktop PCs), will you need RDS CALs won’t you?

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