Deploying SBS 2003 and 30 Vista workstations

Hello Experts.  I have a medium sized SBS 2003 deployment coming up in a few months.  It consists of an SBS 2003 standard server, 30 Vista desktops, 2 Vista laptops. I wanted to run a couple of things by the community:

1. I quoted an SBS Standard  box with one NIC because they will not be using SQL and I will be setting up a Sonicawall or Watchguard so ISA is not going to be used. Does this sound reasonable?

2. What is the best way to deploy the desktops? I want to use either BDD 2007 or Dell's OpenManage to clone the machines. Does anyone have any experience imaging with SBS 2003? I ask becuase I know //server/connectcomputer is required and I would like to know of the best way to deploy these machine without sitting in front of each for ALL the software and networking installs.  I was hoping to do one, then clone it with BDD and THEN go and run //server/connectcomputer once all of the machines are up and running with all software. Any info regarding deployments with SBS would REALLY help.

3. What is the best way to archive email? I use Journaling now, but is that really the best way to keep mail available so company executives can see any message if they need to?

4. What is the best way to backup SBS and Exchange currently? Tape is old and I'm thinking of a removable hard drive solution...

5. What is a good disaster recovery procedure?  I've seen many, but is there any popular SBS template?

6. Is there a particular domain provider that works perhaps better than others in regards to SBS?

7. their mail is pop3 right the POP Connector a solid means of using mail in Exchange 2003 or should I serve it onsite?
I know these are loaded questions but any suggestions, pointers or tips would be great...this is my first ground-up SBS install and deployment.  I've run several SBS installs integrating new and old hardware, but this is the largest and first using ALL new hardware.  Thanks!

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1. That sounds reasonable for what you're trying to achieve. (Don't forget to forward those ports)

2. You should have no troubles as long as you clone the machines before joining to the domain. You will have to run connectcomputer manually on each, but that doesn't mean you can't clone them all first. With XP, you have to sysprep, but not sure if Vista is the same (I've not yet had to deploy images for Vista) Don't forget Vista Business or Ultimate for use with the domain.

3. I'll leave this question to someone with a bit more experience.

4. This is up to you. I have used both with SBS's built in backup and BackUp Exec. It is your choice really. If you go the external HD route, try the portable WD Passports. See #5 for why.

5. If using external hd's for backup, such as the WD Passports I recommended, I would do a Full Normal backup every night, and then depending on how critical the data is, take one of the drives offsite daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

6. When you say domain provider, do you mean like registrar for a .com? Any will be fine as long as it lets you create and edit MX and A records.

7. It's not a terrible solution, but it's not really meant as a permanent solution. It will work, but I recommend using straight exchange instead of the pop3 connectors.

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Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
I can answer some of your questions and will leave some to others:

1.  Yes - no need for a second NIC or ISA when you are using a hardware firewall, IMO.  Others may have different opinions, though.

3.  Any kind of archiving will generally require you to set up journaling anyway.  There are some 3rd party products that have a fancier interface and better management tools - GFI Mail Archiver is one I've looked at.  However, it requires the journaling setup on Exchange anyway, so if that's doing the job for you now, you might not need to add any other software.

4.  D2D backup is certainly feasible, but I've seen it cause some problems on older servers because of reboot issues with USB hard drives.  Someone else might have more current experience with this.  Whatever physical media you use, I STRONGLY recommend you use a 3rd party backup software rather than NTBackup.  Backup Exec and Brightstor are two popular choices, both of which I've used.

6.  I'm not sure I understand this question - domain provider?  Any domain registry and ISP will be able to provide you with the services you need; SBS is irrelevant.

7. With 30 users, I strongly recommend hosting the mail on the SBS server.  Having that many users using POP email can be an administrative burden.  Although the SBS POP3 Connector works pretty well, it's much slower than using Exchange and puts an additional burden on the server periodically because it downloads mail at intervals rather than continuously.  Also, if you use POP3 email, using the same domain name internally and externally can cause lots of types of failure in sending and receiving.

8.  With that many users, depending on the circumstances, file storage requirements, 3rd party apps running, etc., etc., you might want to have a second Windows 2003 standard server doing your file serving and let the SBS server do all the rest.    
Stephen MandersonSoftware EngineerCommented:
1. I would say that this would depend on the level of security you you want, ISA does offer more than just a Firewall, it also offers proxy services and allows you to have alot more control over what traffic goes in and out the network and I would also tie in closely with the other services SBS has to offer such as SMTP, OWA. As you can setup application filters to monitor the traffic on there particular services at application level.

2. For the deploy of the 30 workstations I would actually just request that dell doesnt install all the additional crap they like to send out with their machines, Last month I got 40 machines delivered with nothing but vista business and drivers. Let them boot up for the first time used connectcomputer after server config and deployed software via SBS so I have the server side option to remove the software in one go. All in all i would say it took alot less time than imaging.

3. Setup email archiving for all incoming and outgoing emails via exchange, then say every 6 months or so export it to file and keep hard copies of the data.

4. Right this is where I would go down the route of how quickly do you want the server to be back up and running.. Of course asap.. I would also suggest a 4 hours on site warrenty from dellso should anything hapen to the server you will have the new equipment at your door fast. So with that being said I personally prefer Aconis true image server with universal restore. Allows a complete image backup of the server and can be restored to any machine (inc workstation on different hardware when using universal restore). But I woudnt trust NT backup, had a few reported failures of backups.

5. I guess I sort of answered this already in the previous. Just be sure to take regular off site backups

6. Any domain provider will do here, however If you are looking to use mail relay then use a well known host to avoid any blacklisting of mail being sent. I personally use 1and1

7. I wouldnt not use POP for more than 10 workstations as said before it becomes a hassle and you have to wait 15 minutes for mail to be downloaded. Take a look at the following link o how to transition from POP to full SMTP.

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