shall I keep SBS or Upgrade?

Good Day,
My company is running a SBS2003 domain. The same SBS includes my DC, DNS, DHCP, AD, Exchange, File & Print, Sharepoint and SQL server features. Now if I am to expand the company over different locations and add two more branches; is it wise to keep SBS with out upgrading to Standard server 2003, purchase all the licenses of the different products and get servers running on each location. Now I have already opened another branch and connected them through a 512KB MPLS link and the link is not sufficient as it always fails to cover our load.
Now my question is if I need all these features and I am plannign to expand but the number of my users are not going to exceed 50 users; what would be the best practice according to your expertise and according to Microsoft Recomendations?
Thank you for your adherence and responce.
Who is Participating?
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
I've just worked with a client to help them implement a 5-branch scenario using SBS at the headquarters and it worked just fine.

To cover data replication, we put a Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition at each branch as well as at the headquarters so that we could run DFS Replication ( which will only run on Windows Server 2003 R2, not SBS (even if R2).

For disaster recovery we used SonicWall's new Continuous Data Protection appliances in each location.

Overall, I think it works just great and would fully disagree with those who say that SBS is not designed for that kind of deployment.

If the number of users is not going to exceed 75 then I would stick with SBS and have a server on each remote site (you don't need to run a DC on remote site unless you want additional remote Exchange server but I can't see why you need one with your user base) . The reason your link drops is probably because of the bandwidth on the link itself - you can get somethine like an "Always on" VPN link between the sites.

One of the disadvantages to upgrade (to standard 2003 server) is the cost factor - cost of OS and cost of licence. If you are doing the upgrade, you need to purchase the OS and software (Windows 2003, Exchange 2003, SQL and Sharepoint). THen you need licences on EACH (except Win2003 server as I think you can transfer your current sbs licences but I am not sure about this you need to chexck with M$) and I can tell you Exchange CALs and SQL CALs are VERY expensive.

If you have SBS and want to go to full product then you can purchase a transition pack. This turns what you have in to the full product, including CALs, which can reduce the cost.

What do the remote sites need ON SITE? Can they connect back to the home office for most things?
For example, if everything is on the home office server/s then you could look at using terminal services. The remote sites would just need thin clients and would connect back to a terminal server in the office. That terminal server would have everything that they need on it and it would make things easier for you to maintain, everything on a central server rather than scattered about.

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Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
My advice would be to stick with SBS server if you have no reason to change, the only reasons I can see for wanting to change is if you:

Plan to have more than 75 users
Need to have multiple Domains or trusts

You could always use thin clients with TS as Sembee suggests or alternatively (though more expensive) you can place additional domain controllers on the other sites to localise DNS, DHCP and authentication and to some extent data storage.
STRATEGICAMSAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone,
Thanks alot for the solid information.
I really want to stick to SBS as it is much easier to manage. The problem is in the region I am in the ISPS provide network connections that are unstable thus unreliable. I would defenitly go for a server on each site but what are my chances for disaster recovery, data replication and data storage.
If you go for SBS on each site then you have very little options with regards to data replication because SBS is not supposed to talk to anything else - certainly not another SBS server. It doesn't trust anything else.

Once you get in to multi site environments you really should be moving to full products - SBS is not designed for that kind of deployment.

STRATEGICAMSAuthor Commented:
Good Day,
TechSoEasy I think your solution is the best I have heard off till now. I am very interested in your solution and I would be very gratefull if you would forward explicit details of the implementations in one of the branches infact any data you can provide and exactly how did the data replication work.  I would also need any contacts or techinical  support that was helping in the setup.

My email Address is:                             ***REMOVED BY TECHSOEASY -- EE'S MICROSOFT ZONE ADVISOR***

Thanks & Regards,
STRATEGICAMSAuthor Commented:
I appologies for that I wasn't aware of the Expert-Exchange rules and regulations.
But thanks for the information and I must say that I will work on the solution provided by you. If you think there is any more sites that could help as a reference please refer them on this post.
thanks again
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