Small Business Server Setup

rchobbs used Ask the Experts™

I would like some advice on how to best configure a small workgroup (15-25 users) using the best integration methods with what is on hand. Here is the situation: the company already has 3 servers, a PE 2600 (5 yrs old) that runs SBS2003, another Terminal Server box that runs TS and Backup (Windows Server 2003), and lastly a new PE 2900 with no OS. I would like a recommendation for moving forward. The PE 2900 is the newest and I would like it to be the backbone. Here are my questions:

How should my DC, DNS and DHCP be separated and which machines should run what OS?
What is the best configuration for IIS and Exchange (same machine or separate)?
Which box should run SQL and my mail filtering programs?

Ideally I would like your best recommendation and how you would setup this small network for redundancy and performance.

Thank you in advance!

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Solutions Architect
Top Expert 2016
Depends on alot of things.
I assume you want to keep your SBS server.
you can move your SBS server to the new hardware.  (either swing method or half swing)

for the old server, you probably want to install a DC (for backup purpose) and move your backup from terminal server to this old server as well.

I would not think anything about trying to spilt up your DC, DNS and DHCP.
if you install a second DC you got DC and DNS.
DHCP should only install on 1 server (which is on your latest one)

I would move AD DNS DHCP exchange IIS everything to new server.No problem in having exchange IIS on the same box.Rebuild current box and have SQL,Mail filtering,additional AD,DNS and DHCP on that.
SBS is designed to have everything running on the same box. So I wouldn't recommend to take away any components/services and put that on a separate server. You cannot split up SBS components and put on different servers.

So basically I would suggest you to replace your currect server with the new one. Use Swing IT to do the migration ( I think it costs $300 for a go. If you want to do this manually you can follow this Microsoft link which outline the step by step guide. I personally favour Swing IT as it takes away a lot of hazzles.

Remember if you do the manual migration you have 7 days - so plan it out thoroughly.If you have two SBS boxes on the same network for longer than 7 days they will periodically shutdown.

You mentioned SQL - is it the SQL that comes with your SBS 2003 Premier Edition? If so then no you must run it on the same server. You must keep all SBS components running on one box. Until you move to SBS2008, then you can split the SQL portion out and run it on a separate server.

So in general, replace your old server with the new one, run ALL the components (that come with SBS) on it. You can reformat the old server (perform a FULL hard disk format if you intend to use that again) and install a new OS and use that either as a secondary DC or a member server.

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Thank you all for your responses. I like the idea of migrating all data to my new server, but there are a few questions/issues I have.

As of right now I have a primary server with 4 IDE hot swap drives running SBS2003. My new box, a PE2900 has 4 500GB SATA hot swap drives... How would you suggest the migration? I planned on cloning the hard drives from the old server and using acronis universal restore to boot from the cloned disk on the new server. any ideas since the hard drives are incompatible ?

also, i have the option of using windows server 2003 ent on the new server (already installed-will be wiped) or buying sbs 2008 and installing that. Any recommendations on os?

lastly, you can't have a dhcp server on two machines correct? unless one is a backup?...

thank you!

new server details: Dell Power Edge 2900 Xeon Quad core Processor 3.0 ghz 1333mhz with 4 gb ram, and 4 500gb hard drives
I would built the new server from scratch, I wouldn't go with cloning or any other imaging technologies.
You can have 2 dhcp servers on the network.not a problem I can't find the link its 70/30 are something like that.


What OS would you run?
I would still go with SBS2003, SBS 2008 is new so wait for couple of months for  service pack 1 then you can deploy it in the production.
If you testing SBS and E2k7 in the test environment and you are comfortable then go for sbs2008 otherwise sbs2003.


Is the migration from SBS2003 (old server) going to be at all possible... This could get scary!
Why not?
You deply a another SBS2003 on the network AD would replicated installe AD integrated DNS.
With exchange just move the mailboxxes.Only thing is you need to do this with in 7 days.


Would you suggest installing SBS2003 then migrating to SBS 08 or straight to 08 and then make the transfer of data?

Thank you for your help.
Yeah I would say install SBS 2003 and then may in 6 months or in a yr migrade to SBS 2008 with exchange 2007 as well.


OK, perfect. However, I would like to maintain the same name for the new server (RCH)... is this possible on a fresh install?
No ,because you need to have the 2 server simantaneously for the migration


Ok very good. So what would you recommend I do with my old SBS2003 box? Should it be just a backup server for data as well as a backup DNS, AD, DHCP? I have three total servers: One PE 2900 (NEW), PE 2600 (OLD DC, EXCH, DNS, AD, Etc) and a PE 1800 (Terminal Server, Backup server, and GFI mail filter)

Any recommendation on reconfiguring?

First I wouldn't recommend using any imaging or cloning technologies. There are some restrictions on imaging, not only hard disks must be compatible I think even motherboard and chipset have to be identical too. Secondly stick with SBS because that comes with Exchange, Sharepoint, ISA SQL etc. If you switch to W2K3 Ent you need to purchase each of these separately, with their own CALs, at extra cost.

In terms of migration I wouldn't recommend you to migrate to SBS2003 and then in a year time SBS2008. Why suffer the same hazzle TWICE? SBS2008 is new so I personally would avoid it for the time being. So my view is, if you need to do this now then stick with SBS2003 and forget SBS2008; if you can hold on until nid next year then you may consider going straight to SBS2008. I don't think it is much benefit for you moving on to SBS2008 unless you need to separate SQL and put it on another box. Only upgrade to SBS2008 when you really need to. Beside sticking with SBS2003 would save money on new licences/CALs.

You can't keep the same server name with manual migration, but I think you can with Swing IT. I am not 100% sure but you can check their website. Beside, Swing IT takes away the hazzles of manual migration. Trust me it will be money worth spending.

It is entirely up to you what you want to do with the old server after migration. But whatever you do, don't plug it back in the network without wiping SBS. May be you can go and purchase another W2K3 (Standard) OS licence, install it on the old server and use that as an additional file server? You do not need any extra CALs because your SBS CALs would cover you using any W2K3 server within your network. But remember, you CANNOT separate any components/services from your SBS2003 box and put it to another server!!

Finally, I can't see why you need 2 dhcp servers. You only have a small user base so why do you need 2 dhcp servers? If you want a backup DC, install W2K3 on it promote it to DC and lets AD replicates (together with DNS). Create the same dhcp scoope on the backup DC but do not authorise it.

Hope this helps.

I would make the old SBS server as additional DC,DNS,(I assuming this has got oldest hardware) and use the third box for TS,SQL or any other apps.

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