Microsoft SBS retires. What now?

Change is inevitable, it can happen when we least expect or want it to, which could pose a problem, especially if the change being made will affect your entire organization. Microsoft has recently pulled the plug on a popular business based service, Microsoft Small Business Server 2008, which in turn has forced many, if not all, vendors to remove the product from catalogs. You can still purchase SBS 2011 through 2013 (unless you are a non-profit). There are alternatives however.

If your company has employed a Microsoft SBS 2008 or older solution, you aren’t totally left in the dark. Before announcing the end of SBS, Microsoft announced Microsoft Windows Server 2012, which is meant to be the replacement for SBS.

In the past, Microsoft has been a company of options, not content with releasing just one or two versions of an operating system or server structure, instead opting for many. With Windows Server 2012, the options have been slimmed down to just four, of which two will be best for the majority of small businesses.

Foundation
Foundation is the most basic version of Windows Server 2012, with support for common activities like file and printer sharing. It won’t however support virtual environments, meaning, in other words, you will have to stick with physical servers instead of being able to run different servers on one physical machine. It’s also limited to 15 users and under.

The downside with Foundation is that it will only be available on new servers created by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). If you want to utilize this version, you’re going to have to buy a new server. If you’re looking to centralize basic office functions, or connect the office internally, and don’t currently have any servers, this might be a good option for you.

Essentials
If you currently use SBS, or another retired Microsoft product, you’re best bet is Essentials. At a cost of around USD $425, it’s a low cost upgrade aimed specifically at businesses with 25 or fewer users. An upgrade to Essentials brings about the ability to easily connect and manage Microsoft’s cloud based solutions such as Office 365 and the cloud version of Sharepoint, as well as others. Essentials also has Client Backup, and Remote Web Access, features which are mature and have been brought forward from SBS and Home Server.  Essentials can also integrate with an onsite Exchange 2010 server if you are keeping email in-house vs the cloud.  A separate server license will be needed for Exchange.

The downside to this is if you have more than 25 users in your company you’ll either need to pay for an upgrade to Server Standard to “unlock” Essentials to unlimited users, or pick another version. Aside from this, Essentials, unlike Foundation, does support a fully virtualized server environment. Essentials will be a good upgrade for companies that are interested in transitioning to the cloud but may still want some featured in-house during the transition (Exchange, Sharepoint).
Interested in learning more about integrating Windows Server 2012 in your company? Please contact us, we can help.

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