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Replacing an SBS 2003 server

Posted on 2014-04-29
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We are currently using a Fujitsu TX100 server running a small SBS 2003 Premium network of 6 Windows 7 PCs and are now looking to replace it as it is reaching it's final months of extended support and EOL for 2003.

I can obtain SBS 2011 quite cheaply, but components within this will reach end of support in 2016. I've read they normally continue update for a further 5 years, which would make it a viable option, but are they likely to end it prematurely to push 2012.

Therefore, the obvious choice will be Windows 2012 Essentials and Office 365 on the PCs for mail, word, excel, access, powerpoint, etc.

I'm picking your brains for the best value, competent servers for a small network available in the UK either with 2012 preinstalled or without an operating system.

Thanks for any ideas.

Bill
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Question by:bill2013
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Perarduaadastra earned 500 total points
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Well, any of the big names will provide perfectly adequate hardware for the requirements outlined above.

I've recently done something similar for a client, and I settled on a Dell T110 II because in my view it offered the best value, had the OS pre-installed, and included a 3-year NBD warranty; the other vendors I looked at also offered an additional two years of warranty, but at additional cost, and some didn’t pre-install the OS either.

If you're looking to spend less, then you might consider one of the micro-servers being offered by HP and others; they are quite a bit cheaper but less upgradeable, and you'll most likely have to install the OS yourself. You could even use a standard PC, as has been done, but you're likely to run into support issues if there is a problem, as a server OS on a desktop computer would be an unsupported configuration from the point of view of both the OS and the computer manufacturers.

I consider SBS 2011 as still being the best Windows server choice if you need Exchange and/or MS SQL server for your network, but if you don't have this requirement then Server 2012 Essentials is the way forward, assuming that your organisation isn't going to grow past 25 users in the foreseeable future.

I've assumed that you're sticking with the tower format for the box, as you don't mention anything that implies a rack or a cabinet in your workplace, and towers tend to be cheaper than rackmount servers. Rackmounted servers also tend to be fearfully noisy and so are inherently less suited to small or single offices.
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by:bill2013
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Thanks Perarduaadastra, I will certainly check out the Poweredge server and it sounds about the right size for the job.

Yes, sticking with a tower and would prefer a branded one with onsite rather than a fast PC and me having the problems.

With 6 users I feel Server 2012/Office 365 has the edge, however, I would probably be tempted to go SBS/office 2010/13 if Exchange 2010 had a longer lifespan. Also no SQL based databases on the current server.
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by:Cris Hanna
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Extended support for SBS 2011 will not end early because it's based on the life cycle of the individual components and those are in use widely around the world.  I've installed 2 SBS 2011 servers since the first of the year.  That's 6-7 years of usage they can get out of them.  Much will change in that time regarding offerings for small businesses
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by:WORKS2011
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What kind of redundancy are you after, RAID, dual power supplies, etc?

Does your client care if any data is hosted? Specifically exchange?

I would go with at least a RAID configuration whether you choose SBS2011 or 2012 essentials.

Essentials will be cheaper without exchange going the hosting route but will have monthly charges.

I like Cris Hanna's notes about 6-7 years of usage, I've installed several SBS2011 servers and am faced with the same question you're asking here. Paying attention to the price point between both I find it comes down to redundancy (don't go too cheap it may / can catch up with you) and the other large price point is exchange.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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After deploying well over 200 Small Business Servers (2003, 2008 & 2011) in the past decade, today I couldn't ever justify the cost of doing that for only 6 users.  It just doesn't make any sense when Office 365 is such a great service and a good value.

Server 2012 Essentials works flawlessly with Office 365 -- including provisioning and syncing of account credentials.  Plus, it automatically backs up each workstation nightly (disk image backup).

The fact that you can install Office on up to 5 devices per user license is also a great benefit -- letting folks install the full Office Pro Plus on their home computers at no additional cost.

Lastly, there is very little that needs to be maintained with Server 2012 Essentials.  Since it's not running Exchange or SharePoint, you won't have to deal with the headaches of keeping those updated and in good health.  It does run very nicely on a much less expensive server (ie, the $1,200 range instead of the $3,500 range -- I usually get a server configured with RAID 1 or 10, depending on how much storage you need) and does not require any CALS.

So, in my opinion, for a very small environment, there is only one way I'd go -- 2012 Essentials + Office 365.
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by:WORKS2011
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Jeff good points however I would verify with the client first regarding hosting data, majority of law firms DO NOT like the cloud for obvious reasons and I would spend the time explaining to clients the pros and cons of "the cloud".
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by:bill2013
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All valid points.

RAID 1 a must via 2 SATA or SAS drives, SATA more than likely.

Cloud will be limited to mail and they are fine with that.

Great that 365 allows 5 devices per user as really only 5 users but 6 pcs, 5 laptops, 5 ipads and 5 iphones. Not sure I would fancy reviewing a large spreadsheet on a 4" screen.

Agree that 2012/365 is the winning combo.
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by:Cris Hanna
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You might want to do some math before you actually pull the plug, depending on which 0365 plan you're looking at.   To get the desktop versions of office that Jeff mentioned, you have to go with at least the Small Business Premium Plan.  That's $12.50/month/per user.  Over the course of 6 years (the life remaining if you did SBS 2011) that$5400.00
If you just want to do hosted email...no office, it's $4/mo/per user or 1728 over 6 years.  And then you still have to buy office.

You should make sure you're ready for all those questions.    I've never found Exchange to be much of an issue to maintain, once its setup...but I agree that SharePoint has it's issues/
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by:bill2013
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Cris, we looked at this a few months ago.

Based on the average user skipping a generation of Office, i.e buy 95, skip 97, buy 2000, skip xp/2002, buy 2003, skip 2007, buy 2010. Subscribing to Office 365, based on multiple devices against say 2 for purchased office worked out better.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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@WORKS2011

majority of law firms DO NOT like the cloud for obvious reasons

What are the obvious reasons?  If you are going to say "security" then you had better look at the not-so-obvious reasons to avoid deploying an on-premise Exchange Server for an organization of just 6 people.  Because I doubt very much that you would be able to detect a breach of security for that server, whereas Microsoft has a large team of experts managing security for Office 365 at every moment of the day.  Microsoft has been very transparent about their practices, and has even gone so far as to encrypt ALL email that goes through Office 365 -- something again, that a small, single office Exchange Server deployment would generally lack.

As IT Professionals, we need to deal with the actual facts of a situation, and be careful to not operate in a manner that is based on rumors and rhetoric.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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@Cris Hanna

If you are going to compare the cost at $5,400.00 you need to stack it up against the following which would be required if not using Office 365:

Office Pro License
Exchange Server License
Exchange CALs
Server 2012 Standard (vs Essentials)
Server 2012 CALs
Anti-Virus for Exchange
SPAM Filtering Service
Significant Hardware Difference for a server that needs to host both Exchange and Sharepoint as well as enough storage and additional licenses for backup
No cost-effective way to deploy Lync
Monthly maintenance cost to apply patches, service packs and roll-ups
Significant cost to provide a full disaster recovery plan

Without even taking a pencil to it, I would suspect that for only 6 users the cost for on-premises would be 2 to 3 times as much.  The main reason for this is that there are fixed costs (Exchange License, Hardware, Maintenance, Disaster Recovery) which would be just about the same amount if there were 50 users -- and those fixed costs are significant.  So for just 6 users it will never add up.

And are you really going to tell me that you never encounter an Exchange Database that somehow got in a Dirty Shutdown state?  Or a corrupt mailbox that had to be pulled out into a recovery store?  C'mon -- those things always happen.
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by:Cris Hanna
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Don't want to go too far off topic, but it should be pointed out that customer data held in the cloud, even by Microsoft, even in foreign countries, can be obtained via a US search warrant.  http://gigaom.com/2014/04/28/judges-ruling-spells-bad-news-for-u-s-cloud-providers/

It would be a bit hard to insure attorney client confidentiality, when emails, docs, etc are in the "same cloud" with 100,000 customers, when the FBI, DHS, etc, shows up with a search warrant for data held at Microsoft's Dublin datacenter.

If my data is held on premise, the only way the government stumbles across it is if they have a warrant specifically for my server and they shouldn't be able to obtain that unless I'm doing something bad ;-)
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by:Cris Hanna
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Jeff...I was simply comparing to SBS 2011 as that was the Author's original question
and regarding Exchange maintenance in your example...1 in 17 years. :-) (just last week)
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by:WORKS2011
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Thank you Cris my thoughts exactly and 99% of law firms.

As IT Professionals, we need to deal with the actual facts of a situation, and be careful to not operate in a manner that is based on rumors and rhetoric.
constructively speaking, practice what you preach Jeff.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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What exactly did I say which was based on rumors or rhetoric?
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by:bill2013
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Cris's points regarding the subscription costs of 365 keep bugging me, as I am not convinced they will use Office on more than a couple of devices each.

I can get Office 2013 Home and Business for around £150. Whether 365 or 2013 all data would be stored locally on the 2012 essentials server, apart from emails, of course.

They only use mail, word and excel - any problems with 2013 Home and Business I'm missing?
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by:Perarduaadastra
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With six users at £150 a pop, that's about £900. If you spread that over six years, the monthly cost of Office H&B 2013 per user is £12.50.

However, you would be frozen in time at that version, whereas the 365 package will give you newer versions as they become available, at no extra cost. That said, I didn't find much wrong with Office 2003 or 2007...

If you accept that caveat, then buying it outright does seem more cost effective in your particular situation.

Hosted email does take the headache of mail server management and security away from the end users; however, it also means that if the authorities want to have a snoop through your emails they won't have to tell you by means of a warrant. They'll just help themselves and bind your provider to non-disclosure of the fact.
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by:bill2013
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With six users at £150 a pop, that's about £900. If you spread that over six years, the monthly cost of Office H&B 2013 per user is £12.50.

I make it £25 per year verses £108 for 365.
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by:bill2013
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however, it also means that if the authorities want to have a snoop through your emails they won't have to tell you by means of a warrant. They'll just help themselves and bind your provider to non-disclosure of the fact.

If we use a smart host for our exchange emails are we used exposed in a similar way?
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by:Perarduaadastra
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There are three kinds of people in the world; those who can count, and those who can't...

You're right, of course; £24.96 per year, to be precise (he said, clutching at straws to preserve the tattered remains of his dignity).

Regarding the use of a smart host, you'd have a better chance of maintaining confidentiality if you don't use their continuity or archiving facilities. Archiving you can do yourself, but continuity of service is a major advantage of smart hosting and one I'd be reluctant to relinquish.

However, Jeffrey Kane makes a very good point about the difficulties a small organisation will have in securing their email; such organisations simply don't have the in-house expertise necessary to do it.

It seems that you're between a rock and a hard place here:

Manage your email system yourself and you may not know there's a problem until it's far too late, or get highly trained and experienced email experts to do it for you and still not know there's a problem until it's far too late...
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by:bill2013
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Thanks, easily done, I agreed with your figures for a few moments.

The clients aren't really worried about emails being hosted, I was just trying to say that they won't be much more exposed than they are now.

How easy is it to set up Office 365 with hosted emails but excel/word files kept on the Server (2012 essentials)?

Is office 2013 a better option for server based data, but subscribing to 365 mail only?

What about office 2007 or 2010 and subscribing to 365 mail only?
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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Regarding security, please read the facts and don't propagate the fiction:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/10/privacy-authorities-across-europe-approve-microsoft-s-cloud-commitments.aspx

Regarding your last few questions:

The clients aren't really worried about emails being hosted, I was just trying to say that they won't be much more exposed than they are now.

I still contend that with Office 365 they will be LESS exposed than they are now.

How easy is it to set up Office 365 with hosted emails but excel/word files kept on the Server (2012 essentials)?

Simple.  Enable Folder Redirection on Server 2012 Essentials by clicking on the "Implement Group Policy" link under Devices Tasks on the Devices Tab in the Server Dashboard.  This will ensure that user's "My Documents" folders are actually stored on the server instead of their workstation.  For Company Shared documents, assign access to the shared folder in User Properties.

Is office 2013 a better option for server based data, but subscribing to 365 mail only?
What about office 2007 or 2010 and subscribing to 365 mail only?

I think you are far better off with users having the latest features available in Office.  Office 2013 has some great improvements that make it much easier for users to access powerful features that will make their documents work better for them.  Take a look at some of them from Excel:  http://chandoo.org/wp/2013/04/03/best-new-features-in-excel-2013/

I still like the subscription model, because even if it's a few £'s more per person, you are giving them the best available tools to get their work done.  Compare that to how much each person is paid and you'll find that even if it helps them improve their efficiency by .05% you will easily recover the difference in cost.
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by:bill2013
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I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for bill2013's comment #a40031651

for the following reason:

Thanks PD, have now ordered the T110 II with SAS drives with essentials installed. I'm combining this with 365.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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I don't understand.  With all the support and advice you received in this question you are withdrawing the points and closing out with your own comment as the solution?
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by:Cris Hanna
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I'm in agreement with Jeffrey Kane regarding no points being awarded.  Points should probably be split between Jeffrey and Perarduaadastra (hope I got the user name correct)
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by:bill2013
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I awarded the points to PD for his first comment - this is obvious to anyone from my thanks to him.

However, for the second time since the brand new expert exchange launched, accepted answers turn into requests to close questions.

I posted a msg immediately saying what had happened, accepted his answer again,

However, despite seeing those comments and the points awarded to PD, they have now been removed along with the accepted answer award on his comment.

I won't be renewing my subs when they expire in a couple of days - I really don't need this rubbish!!!
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by:bill2013
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I don't want any of the people who volunteer their time freely to help others that their efforts are unappreciated or ignored and should the above post be removed, I will post it again.
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by:bill2013
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And if the admin team say "you must have pressed the wrong button" TWICE for the first time in many time questions!!! what happened to my comments made two minutes after the question was "closed"?
I saw the comments and the answer from PD HAD been accepted.
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