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Network Solution for multiple companies

Posted on 2015-01-27
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-02-28
I've got a site with 1 SBS 2011 server, six users.
The complication is that the SBS 2011 server houses data for 3 different companies.
Let's call them Company A, Company B, Company C
Company A is owned by Mr.X, and Mr.Y owns Companies B and C.
At the moment, all users log into the SBS 2011 domain (CompanyA.LOCAL).  They can access whatever company data they are privy to via drive mappings and permissions.
We use the Exchange facility on the SBS 2011 box, all mail for all the companies comes into the Exchange store and distributed to the users as specified.
All works well, however Mr. Y is now not wanting Company B and Company C data to be stored on the same box as Company A.  He would prefer to have a situation where all Company B and Company C data is to be on a separate box, the thought being that if Company B and C went somewhere else, the box could be picked up and moved with all the data on it.

An added complication is that none of the companies want to use the cloud for storage (either email or data files).

So my first thoughts were to buy a decent NAS or even a PC and put the Company B & C data on this.  But if they're looking for the email to be separate as well, that's another issue.  If I was to get a PC, is there a third party mail server I could run on it that would not interfere with Exchange on the main server?

Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks, Alex
Question by:alexh75
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LVL 53

Assisted Solution

by:Will Szymkowski
Will Szymkowski earned 664 total points
ID: 40573759
The companies sound pretty small. How many users are using Exchange? Exchange seems like an expensive solution for this small of an environment.

Anyways, you can purchase a NAS (with redundancy) which can host your files. For Exchange, you will need a different type of storage because NAS is not supported.

You could by another separate server with internal storage (RAID configuration) and install Exchange using that server and have the databases local to the server as well. You could then use Windows Server Backup to backup your Exchange to your NAS. This way you have a backup outside of the Exchange server in case your server fails.

Personally it would be much easier if the user wanted to go with something like Office 365 for hosted mail.

LVL 96

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 1336 total points
ID: 40573830
Exchange is a CHEAP solution when implemented on SBS... however, with SBS no longer offered, it becomes much more expensive.  If they ONLY need an email server, then they can use a variety of options for that.  Hosted Exchange (Office 365) wouldn't be a bad idea.

It's simple enough to separate this all out, but it's potentially costly.  Get three network switches, one for each company.  Then get three routers (one for each company).  Then make sure the ISP offers AT LEAST 3 IPs (more likely, 5 static IPs) and each company can share the ISP with its own unique IP.  Company A can remain on the SBS server.  The other companies need to determine what their needs are - if it's JUST file storage and e-mail they can move email to the cloud and use NAS systems for file storage.  IF they don't want the cloud for e-mail then it depends if they NEED/WANT exchange.  If they do, you need (for each company) and a physical server for each, an Exchange license, a Windows Server license, and appropriate CALs (Then you virtualize a DC and a separate Exchange server on the physical server (I'd use HYper-V) and you can simulate something of an SBS environment... but the cost for this will probably exceed $3000 before labor.  If they don't need Exchange and can make do with a simple mail server, then you could probably run that on Windows 2012 R2 Foundation (only available pre-installed on low end server hardware).  Cost for that is probably going to abe $1200-2000 EACH.

Author Comment

ID: 40573912
Will, Lee, thanks for the comments.
Note that my initial plan was to carry on with the SBS 2011 server (and the built-in Exchange), but only Company A's email would now go through this Exchange, and only Company A's data would be stored on this server.
The idea behind this would be that the SBS 2011 would be the DC and DHCP server in this setup.  All workstations attached to the network would still authenticate to the SBS 2011 box.
Moving on to the second box......
Lee, if it helps matters, Company B and C data and email can both reside on the same box - they don't have to be split.
The question is what would the box be (server/workstation), and what OS?
If it was just for a data store, I'd use a low-end server/decent desktop with mirrored storage, and something like Windows 7 64 bit.  Job done.  But they need the Company B/C email on it too.  That's the complication.
No, they probably don't need anything as complicated as Exchange on the 2nd box.  You mentioned a simple mail server, could you elaborate on this please?
Many thanks
LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 1336 total points
ID: 40573964
Keep in mind, Exchange provides shared calendars, contacts, synchronizing with phones and tablets.  A more basic, simple mail server wouldn't be able to do these items as well.  You could use IMAP to sync Mail, but I don't think that will do anything for syncing contacts.

That said, a "simple" mail server, FOR EXAMPLE (not that I've used it) might be https://www.hmailserver.com/ - and there are many potential others.  If you're comfortable with Linux, you could setup a linux based mail server as well.

Author Comment

ID: 40574069
Thanks Lee, I was looking at Kerio Connect. it looks quite promising and I think this would run on a simple Windows 7 box.
Sophos Anti-Virus built in, and with Active Sync and Outlook support built in.  At least, so it says.....

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