I have a client with about 30 users who wants a new server (hardware and software) for whom I think Small Business Server would have been an excellent choice. As it is not available with Server 2012, I need to find an appropriate solution.
The situation has some special characteristics. It is a non-profit that can get the software through TechSoup, so Windows Server cost doesn't matter much. My time is donated to them, so initial setup costs are not an issue. I try to have them do the regular daily/weekly maintenance, so simplicity there is of value.
My preferred configuration with SBS was to have email hosted elsewhere and use POP3 Connector to retrieve the mail. This works well for my clients and avoids issues with email failures when the local internet goes down or the server is being rebooted. This was a handy feature of SBS.
They are very interested in using Exchange for mail and calendars, both locally and remotely. The cloud-based solutions work well for some clients, but this one wants to avoid the monthly cost.
I'm leaning toward using Server 2012 Core and running two VMs in it, Server 2012 Standard and Exchange Server. The Standard would do all of the basic work (AD, DNS, DHCP, File Sharing) and the other would just run Exchange. They have no need for additional server-based applications.
My questions are pretty simple: does this sound like a good approach? If not, what would be preferable under these circumstances?
Are there any suggestions about using Exchange without it being THE email server? I can go in that direction if needed, but I did like how POP3 Connector worked.
They are buying a new server (likely HP or Dell) at the same time. I suspect they will end up with an E5-2404, 16 or 32G of RAM, and 2 or 4 SAS drives in RAID-1 arrays from a hardware RAID controller.
Thanks to all for your input!