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SBS 2011 Standard or SBS 2012 Essentials

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.
2 Solutions
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Would be helpful to understand HOW you come by your dollar values - $7700 is EXCESSIVE in my opinion for a TYPICAL small business running SBS 2011.  And $13K is INSANELY high in my opinion.  If you break down your costs / feature sets I may be able to point to different strategies that are much better at cost savings.

As for your hope that MS will do an about face and go back to including Exchange in an SBS type offering won't happen.  While I don't work for MS, I'm active in the community and have participated in numerous conversations with MVPs and others at Microsoft and it's not going to happen.  (I don't work for MS and I don't have any particular contacts that have directly told me in a one on one conversation that it's not going to happen, but I've heard enough to know it's not going to happen unless they replace half of those who run the company - and even then, it's doubtful.  They WANT you on hosted exchange (yet they adamantly state that's not why they pulled the bundling).  The structure of the company and the way the product works, it's not going to happen.

SBS uses Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010, both of which have extended support through January 2020.

Buy a VOLUME LICENSE BEFORE June 30 - they will no longer be sold after June 30 and you can only buy OEM then through the end of the year.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Agreed. The price seems high on both counts. And agreed that waiting for the SBS "bundle" to come back is wishful thinking. If you can purchase VL by the deadline, go for it. But I never recommend OEM as I don't think you can reasonably reach that long investment return given OEM restrictions. In which case you need to plan another route.
Cris HannaCommented:
You won't see A package with Exchange on the same box as the rest of the integrated software..ever.   It violated MS's own best practice guidelines.

SBS 2011 will be in mainstream support until at least 2016, and the another 5 years of extended support.  I won't hesitate, for the right customers, to deploy SBS if available, but you're supporting other customers as well, you need a strategy for 2014 and beyond
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cmp119IT ManagerAuthor Commented:

The projected dollar amounts factor in additional peripherals, i.e. UPS, backup tape solutions, mail archival, media, additional software and licenses, annual maintenance costs, etc.  The actual servers are configured with mirrored drives for the OS and plenty of this disk space with a RAID5 for there data, etc.  The actual cost for the server itself is about $4.5K.  This particular client averages 11-15Gbs mailboxes with additional requirements for almost unlimited mail archival.  They also utilize several resource intensive financial apps, and their data is approximately 350Gbs.  This client is a small office, but their workflow requirements are much more demanding than your typical SMB.  When you factor in this sort of cost over the life time of the server (5 to 7 years) the investment will equate to dollars per day.


You know I won't even say never.  I've done that in the past and had to eat my words.  Not saying you're going to, but in this case I would hope so.  Microsoft has changed its tune several times in the past because the direction they envisioned was not what the public wanted or needed.

For this particular client that simply wants all their data available at all times, with pretty much unlimited storage for mail and data I would say based on what is available today SBS 2011 is the best solution for the money.  Since your comment states support will be available within the next 5-7 years, then that is a no brainer!

As far as other less demanding clients, SBS 2012 with hosted exchange will work well for them.  If they absolutely request hosting their own mail, then W2K12 Standard with 2 VMs should meet their needs.  Thank you for your feedback.  It's much appreciated.
Cris HannaCommented:
Never to me means, next 5 years, at least, but truly, Exchange on your Domain Controller is a security issue and Microsoft is not going to that path again.

Now as one of the MVP's for SBS, that leew mentioned, we are constantly suggesting ways and options for MS to consider in support smaller businesses.   Broadband isn't available everywhere yet, so "cloud" isn't an option for everyone.   So you may see some solutions for small business which include an on premises Exchange server, but it would be an additional box (real or virtualized), which could hopefully be integrated with the SBS console, etc.
cmp119IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
The answers received are confirmation needed to proceed with this project.  Thank you gentleman!
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