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SBS 2003 or Windows Server 2003?

Posted on 2006-06-26
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Last Modified: 2006-11-18
Summary:
A small non-profit office needs a file/print/backup, an Exchange server and a Terminal Server.  Should we buy one server or two?

Detail:
I have a client that is planning on upgrading our peer-to-peer network by installing a server.  They want to be able to have remote access to files and eventually a database.  They have not chosen the database, so we aren't sure how it will be remotely accessed in the future.  They would like to leave their remote access options open.  
This is for a small office of 6-7 employees (3 travel frequently) and 1 employee in a remote office.  
I was thinking of going with SBS 2003 because of the need/want for an Exchange server.  The problem is that SBS 2003 does not have terminal services (application mode), only VPN.

Should we go with an SBS 2003 server box now and add a Windows Server 2003 terminal server box in the future if needed OR buy a Windows Server 2003 box with Exhange now and install TS on it in the future?
We are a non-profit so we can get all of the OSes and licenses donated for either product, so cost is not an issue.  We can only place one Microsoft order from TechSoup every 2 years, so whatever we order now we have to get what we need for the next 2 years.
Yes, the domain controller will be on the same box as the Exchange server.   This is not ideal, but for a small organization it is sometimes the only affordable route.  
An after thought:  I suppose that if we really needed to we could have 2 Windows Server 2003 boxes.  One as the domain, backup, and TS and the other one only with Exchange.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  
Thanks,
Ben
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Question by:benab
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by:dooleydog
ID: 16983595
If you can swing it, two.

While you can put exchange on a DC, and also use a DC for TS, it is better to keep them separate for security reasons.

If you choose one server, be extremely careful with  security

Good Luck,

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by:oBdA
ID: 16983600
I'd go with SBS and a dedicated terminal server. The SBS has wizards for the configuration, which makes administration a bit easier, and a dedicated terminal server is always a good idea: to start with, it's not recommended to let users logon to a DC; in addition, to use a terminal server properly usually requires installation of all sorts of software that normally isn't installed on a server, and if this breaks a terminal server (yes, those things happen), the terminal server is easier to restore than a DC.
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by:GinEric
ID: 16984460
Just my opinion, but I think the approach is backwards.  The Windows Server 2003 (R2) should be first, and you'd better decide now if you want the 64-bit edition, and then add the Small Business Server later.

You can only have one SBS in a network.  You can have as many Standard Servers as you want.  Of course there's always the Enterprise Edition too.

In any case, I'd bet the transistion will take at least two months, wizards or no.  If you don't go with the Standard Edition first, according to your non-profit statements above, you'd have to wait two years for it?  By then SBS will be Vista SBS and Standard will be some form of Vista as well.

By the way, your position is Strategic, you can look up what that means on Microsoft.com, SBS would make you Dependent, and you don't want to skip that way.

With the Standard Edition, you can also implement more than one server, so you can immediately have a Backup Domain Controller [BDC], which you won't have with SBS.

SBS is just not the appropriate tool for your current position.  Someone can donate a box if needs be for two servers, but SBS will lock you in to only one server.  SBS is really an addition to Windows Server networks that are ready for it, not the primary starting point.
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by:oBdA
ID: 16984653
Hu?
* The SBS is a domain controller, it has to be the forest root, and is as such *the* primary starting point.
* You can *not* add an SBS to an existing domain.
* You *can* add domain controllers to an SBS domain.
* Starting with a standard server would mean getting a W2k3 license, plus an Exchange license. That would be overkill for 6 users, and it would make the SBS "to be added later" rather superfluous.
And how and of what would an SBS "make you dependent"? Not any more than using Microsoft operating systems and software in general.
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by:benab
ID: 16984928
Thanks for your comments.  Yes oBdA, you are correct.  SBS does need to be the primary domain controller.  There can only be one domain.  That is no problem for us.  We only need one domain.
I should point out that because we are not sure what database they will choose in the future for contact managemenet, I was thinking of SBS premium because it comes with SQL server.  

I like the suggestion of not making the Terminal Server  a domain controller.  Of course we would not have a backup domain controller, but that probably isn't needed with such a small office.  

Yes, I plan on keeping security tight.  We have Symantec Client Security and will only forward port mail ports and VPN ports to the server.  We will encrypt documents on the laptops.  No passwords will be saved.
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by:benab
ID: 16985126
We will also be using Backup Exec 10d for backup.  It says it supports SBS.  We will probably go with an online backup service for laptop documents.

So oBdA, you are suggesting going with SBS on one server and adding a 2nd TS later when needed?  We would purchase both licenses so we could use them in the future.  We would rather get them for deep discount right now than have to decide a year later that we want to purchase them.
The SBS server would be for file/print/backup/Exchange/VPN

In the scenerio of a primary SBS server and then a Terminal Server, this is what we would go with:
Terminal server:
Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition  - http://tinyurl.com/7y397  
Windows Terminal Services User CAL (multiple CALS) - http://tinyurl.com/s2wsn

SBS server:
Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition  - http://tinyurl.com/p2s2o
Small Business Server 2003 User Client Add-On Pack  - http://tinyurl.com/z58e4
Backup Exec 10d with CPS for Windows Servers   - http://tinyurl.com/eqxer
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oBdA earned 250 total points
ID: 16985230
In an environment like that, a second DC usually isn't of much use; if the SBS is down, then (very probably) all necessary services will be down, too, so the additional DC won't really provide much of a redundancy.
What's more important is that you use real server hardware, and you should have a support agreement that will allow you to replace failed hardware components in a defined time frame. You don't want the single most important machine down for four weeks because a power supply or whatever has to be ordered from wherever.
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by:GinEric
ID: 16989300
All I can say is that "if the SBS is down, then (very probably) all necessary services will be down," answers the reason why SBS is the wrong starting point, especially for a small office of about 3 employees.  It means you're totally "dependent" on the SBS server; that's how you're dependent.

It's very limited.

Standard and Enterprise are not.

You most certainly can add an SBS to an existing domain.

Never say never.
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by:oBdA
ID: 16990455
What else, other than the Domain Controller, would be the starting point of a domain then?
You would start by installing two DCs, both running Exchange, and two Enterprise member servers in a server cluster running SQL and file services, with two redundant SANs, plus the two servers running the ISA array, and finally the two terminal servers?
Or how else would you reduce the dependency on the servers? Sorry, but I can't quite follow you here.
If immediate restoration of a broken server is required, and it can't be solved with a support contract, you still have the option of buying two identical machines to have a cold standby.
And for what purpose exactly would you "add" (given it would be possible) the SBS later to the network--there's nothing left to do for it anymore?

Windows Small Business Server 2003: Product Information
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/evaluation/faq/prodinfo.mspx
Q. Can Windows Small Business Server 2003 be attached to a larger corporate network, effectively working as a branch office server?
A. Windows Small Business Server 2003 cannot be used in a branch office scenario because it does not support Active Directory trusts and must be installed at the root of the forest.
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by:benab
ID: 16991614
I think you are right oBdA.  

Any other things I consider before telling my client that they will need 2 servers if they want terminal services?  I think we would buy a workstation class machine with lots of memory for the terminal server because it won't be as critical as the rest of the network.

-Ben
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by:oBdA
ID: 16996346
Should work; if possible, make sure you put a fast drive into the machine. For a maximum of six users, 2GB should be enough for the beginning.
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Author Comment

by:benab
ID: 17001115
Thanks.  Do you mean 2GB for the SBS/Exchange server or the Terminal Server?  
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by:oBdA
ID: 17001231
That was for the terminal server. Since you'll be using the SBS Premium, I'd say 2GB minimum, too, but since memory isn't that expensive anymore, go for 4GB if you have the possibility (Exchange and SQL are memory hogs). If you want to start with 2GB, make sure you can add more memory later.
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by:benab
ID: 17003781
Great.  Thanks much for your help.
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