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Real World Limits for SBS 2008 (or 2003 for that Matter)

Posted on 2008-09-29
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Last Modified: 2010-01-13
I am preparing an upgrade to SBS 2008 when available 11/12/08.  
In my research I see that MS has set a limit of 75 users for this product, but all the IT pros I discuss SBS configurations with recommend not going past 40 users, 50 tops.
The SBS product is a perfect fit for my organization, but I worry about pushing past the 40 user mark if the company grows.  Thus my questions...
1. - What is the (real world) limiting factor of the SBS product that makes it impractical to go beyond 40 or 50 users?
2. - Are there any hardware factors that I can anticipate when configuring a new server to help deal with these limitations?
3. - If I do go beyond the magical 40 or 50 user ceiling, what ill effects can I expect to see?
Thanks for your advice,
Ken C.
Brea, CA
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Question by:Creas
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Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 22602230
I don't have any clients with SBS and 40-50+ users, but I can say this:  For the most part, people OVERESTIMATE the power they need.  The BIGGEST problem is RAM - SBS 2003 and earlier were limited to 4 GB.  But SBS 2008, being 64 bit only, should handle a MINIMUM of 16 GB.

Now, realistically, Exchange Server can handle HUNDREDS of users on one system...

An AD DC can handle HUNDREDS of users on a single DC.

A file server can hundle HUNDREDS of users.  

If your SBS system has SQL on it (full SQL, not the MSDE databases) then I'd be a little worried... because SQL and Exchange are both memory intensive.  

How well the server performs will depend largely on your config.  A 1 GB RAM single core P4 with a mirrored set of hard drives will perform very poorly for 40-50 users... But a 4 GB RAM, Dual or Quad core CPU with a RAID 1 mirror and a RAID 10 system should perform fine.

As for your environment, you might want to consider going to EBS instead - it's designed to run a multi-server environment - for 50-300 users.  Of course, it is more expensive... but still offers a significant discount over what it would have cost if you went with a non-bundled solution.
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