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Small Business Server - Right for me?

Posted on 2009-07-04
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I'm trying to figure out if Small Business Server 2008 would be right for me.  Currently I am using Microsoft Windows Server 2000 as my PDC.  I have ten users, no exchange server, but I am using SQL Server 2000 installed on the PDC.  I am looking at purchasing a new server and rather than purchasing Windows Server 2003/2008, purchasing Small Business Server 2008.  I have a few questions regarding SBS:

1)Will it act as a PDC and integrate DNS?
2)Will it work with a tape backup system?
3)Will it function as a DHCP server?
4)Will it allow for the installation of SQL Server?
5)How many CALs come with SBS?

Thank you
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Question by:TacomaVA
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Lee W, MVP earned 350 total points
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1.  No, it will not act as a PDC - nothing but an NT 4 server will.  There is no such thing as a PDC in Active Directory.  There are FSMO roles, 5 of them, which by default sit on the first AD DC but can be moved and split between servers.  EXCEPT in an SBS domain - in an SBS domain, the FSMO Roles MUST be held by the SBS server.  If they are not, then it will start rebooting itself after a grace period.
2.  If you buy a tape backup drive and 3rd party software.  The native backup system in SBS 2008 AND in Server 2008 does not support Tape backup.
3.  Yes.
4.  If you purchase the Premium version.
5.  5 CALs.

Frankly, I think you're asking the wrong questions.

The CALs are more expensive than regular CALs.  If you are not planning on using Exchange (which I recommend you DO plan on using it), then you will pay more for your CALs (beyond the included 5).

SBS MUST be the FSMO Master DC in your Active Domain.  Many people misunderstand the product are think it can be the only server or that it can't have any other DCs.  Both are FALSE.  You may have additional servers AND you may have additional DCs - the restriction is the FSMO roles (that I've mentioned three times).  This is why you can only have ONE SBS Server in a network (other NON-SBS servers are fine).  Because you can't have two servers that BOTH hold ALL the FSMO roles - there can be only one FSMO role for each role in a single domain environment.

You CANNOT have trusts to other domains with SBS (this is not generally a problem - I've yet to see a small business that needed trusts).

You CANNOT run Terminal Services ON THE SBS SERVER.  You CAN add another server and install terminal services on that second server.

You have a MAXIMUM of 75 CALs on an SBS domain.

You CANNOT use SBS in a workgroup - SBS REQUIRES it be the FSMO master DC which means it MUST be installed in a domain configuration.

Other than these restrictions, SBS is a thoroughly integrated system that offers features that are NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE for NON-SBS/EBS systems.  INCLUDING: integrated reporting on the server status, Remote Web Workplace for easy remote access to the network, and easy management with a variety of Wizards to configure and repair problems. It is otherwise a FULL copy of SERVER 2008 with EXCHANGE 2007 with all the other features and abilities that they have - DHCP, DNS, Active Directory, IIS, etc.

There's no technical reason I've encountered why you couldn't install SQL on SBS - provided the version of SQL you are installing is compatible with Server 2008.  If you want SQL WITH SBS, you need to purchase the premium version AND the Premium version CALs if you have more than 5 users who need access to the SQL server.
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by:John Hurst
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1. Yes (and can be the only Domain Controller).
2. Yes (check SBS2008 for what tape drive system)
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. Five (and then purchase more).

If you have SBS2003 or SBS2008, you can only add Server Standard to the same domain. Two SBS machines cannot coexist on the same domain. SBS2003 supports 50 users if I remember correctly. There is a limit.
... Thinkpads_User
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by:John Hurst
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In my answer to 1 above I did mean the only Domain machine.  .... T
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by:Lee W, MVP
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Thinkpads_User is mistaken - please see my comments - in particular:

> 1. Yes (and can be the only Domain Controller).
No such thing as a PDC; you CAN have OTHER DOMAIN CONTRLLERS - but only ONE SBS server.

> 2. Yes (check SBS2008 for what tape drive system)
NOT WITHOUT Third party software

> 3. Yes
We Agree

> 4. Yes
We essentially agree

> 5. Five (and then purchase more).
We agree.

The limits are:
SBS 2000 - 50 users
SBS 2003 - 75 users
SBS 2008 - 75 users.

You can add ANY version of Server to an SBS domain (Enterprise, Datacenter, Web, Standard) - that doesn't matter so long as it's not an "SBS" server.
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by:John Hurst
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Hi Lee, I think did qualify my first post at the bottom about only one SBS server. In a small business environment I never use another domain controller. Sorry if I confused everyone.
... Thinkpads_User
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by:TacomaVA
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Thanks everyone for responding.  Do you need a CAL for a printer that connects to the server?  Or do you just need a CAL for a computer where a user would be logging into the server?  For example, I have ten users, plus an additional file sever and four printers.  So would I need eleven CALs?  Does the SBS server itself count as one CAL?  If so, then I would need twelve CALs correct?
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by:John Hurst
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Leew gave a really good overall description and well worth your attention. To your last questions, printers generally do not consume CAL's. I thnk there are some specific exceptions but that doesn't apply to any of my clients with small business servers. I don't think the Server itself is a CAL. CAL's are for clients using server software. So in your example above, you need 10 CAL's. ... Thinkpads_User
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 350 total points
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I've never heard of a printer needing a CAL.  Generally, you license as Per DEVICE or Per USER - the "Device" would be something a user uses for INPUT into the system - a PDA, a desktop, a laptop, a Terminal Client - not an output device such as a printer.  MOST people license per USER - unless you have 30 users coming in on 3 shifts, Per User is generally less expensive and requires fewer CALs than Per Device.

That said, no one here is qualified and/or accredited to provide you with a LEGAL licensing question answer.  I suggest if you are concerned about how many CALs you may need, you should contact the product manufacturer - for example, in this case, I'd contact Microsoft Licensing & Presales Support.
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by:John Hurst
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I again agree with Lee. The example I saw on printers was a multifunction printer that would share a file (say a .PDF scan) to a server in way that requires authentication. That said, I have no such devices, and just qualifying my comment. I also agree that you should get your actual licensing requirements from your vendor - I always do so myself. ... Thinkpads_User
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by:TacomaVA
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Ahh okay, two of my printers have scanning ability and I'm FTPing the files back to my server.  So in that case, I'd need two CALs for the printers.
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by:John Hurst
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As both of us have said, please do ask your vendor for certainty. I am not an expert in licensing and I was just covering all the bases I could. Please take a look at this site:
http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsServer2003/sbs/evaluation/faq/licensing.mspx

... Thinkpads_User
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by:Lee W, MVP
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You have 10 users... why would you be using DEVICE CALs?

YOU choose ONE OR THE OTHER when you install and then that's what you use (you cannot change this later - and the choice is essentially a legal one - it's not a setting you actually make on the server, it;s a choice you document so that you know how you are licensed and what licenses you must now buy forever more.
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by:naughtynat
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Just thought I would put my 2c worth in.

Just about the Premium version which it sounds like you might be interested in for using SQL with, the cost of purchase is much higher. Part of the reason for this is that you also get a 2nd server license. So you could run Server 2008 and the SQL on a seperate box, or maybe have that other server setup as a Terminal Server. Not sure if that is applicable but that is partly the reason why it costs so much more.

Printers do not require a license. I can remember looking this up before by I can not remember where abouts exactly I got this information.

For your requirements I would think per USER is better. The only time when per DEVICE is better is really if you have shift workers where you have multiple people using the same machines.

In relation to the licensing requirements I can only tell you what I know about Terminal Server (which is most likely the same). With TS everyone that is connecting to the TS needs the licensed copy of that software. IE you can not just purchase 1 copy for the server if 10 other people are remoting into the server and using the software. Generally this software is "per device" in that if you get office installed onto your computer and 3 people use it that is fine. If you have 3 computers that you use, you can not install it on all 3 computers (there is some execptions for Notebook/PC for sole use). So if you had 10 people connection you would get a 10 USER license. But you would need 11 copies for Office 2007 (1 server, 10 workstations). Hopefully that makes sense.

Good luck.
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by:naughtynat
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It also is probably worth looking at this page just to give you some idea of the costs associated with the purchase of the upgrade because we all know how import the budget it as well.

http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/pricing.aspx

Not going to be exact but will give you a ball-park figure.

http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/licensing-overview.aspx

Exact from the words of Microsoft about licensing. User is per NAMED USER - so doesnt include built in ones like Administrator.

http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/compare-features.aspx

Again this gives you a good overview of exactly what is in the unit and isnt.
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