I am asking this question one more time before we bite the bullet and make a final decision next week.
I really like SBS 2011 and I would like to purchase new server hardware and this OS on it. It works well, and is still a relatively new product by today's standards. We really need Exchange hosted on premise, and looking at the cost of acquiring the server hardware (2 separate server solution) Windows Server 2012 Standard, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Exchange 2013 and 15 CALS the cost rises to $13K. Even buying one beefy server and hosting a VM for Exchange and another for 2012 Essentials is not far away for the $13K cost. For a small office that's a bit to swallow. Its hard to justify and swallow when the cost for an SBS 2011 solution which is about $7700.
I also looked into the SBS 2012 Essentials and Office365 alternative, and it offers some advantages. However, once you add all the bells and whistles with unlimited mail storage and other things this cost will outweigh the up front cost of on-premise hosting. I believe its not completely tailorable as advertised. I tried signing up for the one eval of Office365, and wanted to speak with a support person and a week has gone and I have not spoken to a specialist yet. This is frightening to me, and my clients won't stand for it. I have been managing the network for one of my client's network 12 years now, and I can immediately address any problem, add/delete/modify tasks, and have complete control of the environment. I am also concerned about office365 with ms office 2010 rental, and how they will force application upgrades as they become available. Most all of my clients use there existing MS Office apps for 5 to 7 seven years without major issues, and aren't keen with upgrade changes and wait as long possible to deal with it. They basically need MS Office Standard for all their needs, so anything beyond is not desirable or worth the investment.
I have a strong suspicion I am not the only consultant (administrator) dealing with such issues. My only major concern is maintaining SBS 2011 for the next 5 years. I believe its doable based on support availability of SBS 2003 & 2008. If I could extend it to possibly 6 or 7 years that would be ideal. I will be happy with 5 years, but will be very content with anything beyond that since it will allow my client to take full advantage of their investment.
My thought is Microsoft will suddenly change there latest SBS offering to include Exchange on-premise integration again. Just like the publics dissatisfaction with Windows8, and how they are backtracking and offering an interface comprable to Windows7. How do you feel about support for SBS 2011 (W2K8 & Ex2010) for the next 5 to 7 years from today? I need to ensure Windows Security Updates, Roll-ups, hotfixes are still supplied during this time frame. I understand no one knows for sure, but you guys deal with a much wider client base and have more resources at your disposal. Feedback is appreciated.