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Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server compared

In November, Microsoft will release the newest version of Small Business Server alongside their new entry in the server race -- Windows Essential Business Server. See how these two products compare and contrast.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Microsoft's newest entry in the Windows Server line - Windows Essential Business Server.  With this foray into the mid-market, Microsoft has created a little confusion when it comes to figuring out the target for their two non-large enterprise server products -- Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server.

Windows Small Business Server 2008

 Windows Small Business Server 2008 is designed for organizations with up to 75 computers and comes in two editions--Standard and Premium.  The Standard edition is comprised of a single server package of products that includes:

  • Exchange Server 2007 Standard Edition
  • Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
  • Microsoft ForeFront Security for Exchange
  • Windows Live OneCare for Server
  • Windows Server Update Services 3.0

The Premium package adds SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition on a second physical server.  So, in total an SBS installation runs on either one or two servers depending on the edition you select.

Windows SBS 2008 clients can use one of two client access license (CAL) types.  For each client on the SBS network, you need, at a minimum, an SBS 2008 CAL Suite license.  For any users accessing the second server or SBS 2008 Premium features, you must also purchase an SBS 2008 CAL Suite for Premium license.  You can purchase either user- or device-based CALs for Windows SBS 2008 clients.

The second SBS 2008 server can run as either a 32-bit or 64-bit system while the first system must run on 64-bit hardware.  Remember, Exchange Server 2007 is supported only on 64-bit hardware, so this limitation makes sense.  SBS 2008 will ship initially with both SQL 2005 and SQL 2008.  However, after a year, Microsoft plans to stop shipping SQL 2005 with SBS 2008 and will require that customers run SQL 2008; downgrade rights will no longer be allowed.  SBS 2008 does not support Terminal Services, either, although Remote Administration does work. 

As for hardware, Microsoft recommends that the primary SBS 2008 Server have at least 4GB of RAM, 60 GB of disk space and a 2 GHz or faster processor.  Bear in mind that, by design, Exchange 2007 will use as much RAM as you give it, so load up!  The database server, the second server in the Premium pair, requires at least 2GB or RAM and a minimum of 40 GB of disk space.  Either configuration should be relatively inexpensive to obtain.

Compared to Windows Essential Business Server

Here are some ways in which Windows SBS 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server differ:

  • Windows Essential Business Server supports up to 300 computers. Windows SBS supports up to 75. After 300 computers, you need to move to the regular, separate products.
  • Windows Essentials Business Server is a three or four server solution depending on the edition--Standard or Premium. SBS 2008 is a one or two server solution.
  • Windows Essential Business Server includes Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway Medium Business Edition. This product provides edge security not offered in SBS 2008.
  • Windows Essential Business Server includes Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007. This is a network and server management solution not offered with SBS 2008.

Essentials is designed for what Microsoft considers the midmarket while SBS is aimed squarely at small business, as it always has.  Essentials includes some additional functionality not found in SBS, primarily focused on management and security.

Microsoft plans to begin shipping Windows SBS 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server on November 12, 2008.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

18 comments
quadri24
quadri24

pls i will like to knw if there is anyplace for me to download the EBS, microsoft killed it and i'm in serious need to download it

mark.silvia
mark.silvia

It seems like with six versions of Windows Vista and now 4 versions of Small Business server, Microsoft is following General Motors'(GM) business model. For example, GM has 8-9 different brands ranging from Buick to Vauxhall. I understand the need to segment the market, but this is ridiculous!

hvanderw
hvanderw

does the Essential Bus. server allow terminal services ? if not .... thanks but no thanks

reisen55
reisen55

This company has lost it's connection with reality. Servers merely control everything and with Vista such a black-eye on their corporate logo these days, why would they release continual NEW VERSIONS (not upgrades) of NEW SERVER OPERATING SYSTEMS. This variety of upgrade has to be extensively pre-tested in a non-production environment and you can forget the assurances of the Micro$oft team members who claim flawless execution, blah blah blah. Oh yeah, I want to upgrade and put my clients out of business. I avoided doing that with Vista, wisely and will continue to be very happy with Server 2003 thank you very much.

daffoml
daffoml

There's only 2 versions of SBS, Standard, and Premium, just like the last 2 (3?) versions of SBS. They're putting out so many version because people are asking for them.

LouCed
LouCed

This article was a bit light. (Not a fault for such a small piece). Anyone know of a good comp/cont paper not by ms on this?

ithelp48
ithelp48

I am seeing similar trends in the .Net framework, and also IE. I should have known better when it came to the IE8 beta, but curiosity got the best of me. Its starting to feel like MS is more focused on reinventing its own wheel instead of focusing on product support for the products that already work.

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

I agree that Microsoft has released a number of versions of Windows Server 2008, but it's not THAT different than they did with Windows Server 2003. In reality, it's market segmentation, and it really does make sense, I think. For a very small shop, a single server solution can make sense and most very small shops won't care about things like network/server management. So, these businesses shouldn't have to pay for what they don't intend to use. Sure, smaller organizations could simply use the full product versions, but SBS and Essentials include new management interfaces that bring things together, too. Maybe these interfaces will make their way to the full products someday but for now, they are only in SBS and Essentials. On the Vista question, I wouldn't simply do a mass upgrade of existing systems... why risk it? However, for new systems, I think we're at a point where Vista is generally acceptable. Of course, application compatibility does come into play but by this point, viable vendors should have their act together on the Vista front. As for Microsoft continuing to release server OS's, I don't think that should come as much of a surprise. Microsoft is in business to provide software and new versions are what it's all about. Obviously, as you point out, heavy testing is a major necessity, but the newer products, especially Server 2008 and Exchange 2007 truly are ready for prime time. Scott

showard2007
showard2007

There is nothing wrong with Exchange 2k7 and Server 2k8 and Vista. These technologies work great and when all three are used together. These NEW VERSIONS actually work if you put some thought into them

paul.stephenson
paul.stephenson

I think he means SBS + EBS together makes 4. I see nothing wrong with the release of EBS to be honest. I don't think it will be as confusing as the vista fiasco with the 6 versions as they are clearly marketed at different sized businesses. Small company, then your pretty much guarantee'd to want SBS over EBS unless you have some real specialist reason, in which case you'd probably not be looking at an integrated solution anyway. From there on in my opinion it's just a choice of whether the business is wanting to buy a 'solution' or seperate products to integrate together.

max.collins
max.collins

I am also looking for a compariason of the new SBS verse the last SBS - In Singapore we have been selling SBS successful to a range a clients but with the new product it is not clear what is included. For single user customers we always use the ISA firewall - this is not longer included as I understand. We also recommended shared fax services but the MS information makes no statements on this funtionality. So if someone has more details please share - Thanks

showard2007
showard2007

Scott summed it up perfectly. Plus with Server 2008 and Exchange 2007 my clients have seen less TCO than the 2003 versions.

davidt
davidt

I purchased the first Vista box 2 months ago to test on our network and apps (and we have proprietary apps as well as commercial). Everything loads and works except Symantec Corporate AV (they didn't patch it for Vista, they want you to pay for an upgrade). So I've been happy with it. BTW, it's an SBS2003 network with 45 XP systems.

reisen55
reisen55

Of wrecking my clients and their businesses. Yes, I have experimented with Vista (and making a blanket statement that there is "nothing wrong ... with Vista" is incredible???) I have tried my client's CORE BUSINESS APPLICATIONS on Vista. You know, those third party ones that companies USE EVERYDAY to run their business. They refused to even load. Period. Oh, my clients are just waiting to go to Vista so they can do nothing. And I am just waiting for those lawsuits filed against me for putting them out of business. Nothing wrong with Vista? Oh Please. And I am glad you have clients or money to invest in NEW TECHNOLOGY SOFTWARE soooo freely.

showard2007
showard2007

If you can't get Vista to work its probably because you get an ID10T error. Plain and simple. Most third party apps run just fine... shouldn't say all, but the only one I haven't gotten to work immediately was Cisco's VPN client... Do all of your clients work on Mac's, cuz it seems like you should use one since u seem to be an idiot. And hey if you send me a list of Apps, I will send you a list of the fixes if need be to make them work.

TechniquePhreak
TechniquePhreak

I work with hedgefunds and venture capital firms, all of which utilize very sensitive, poorly developed financial industry specific apps that really, really don't migrate well. And not a one has experienced a single issue with migrating to Vista. Now to the point though, MS has been strong on the server side of technology for a very long time, and this is not a new model for them. This is the same server tech, spread over versions that are best suited for specific types of companies. The SBS boxes provide SMBs with everything their larger, enterprise counterparts use, in a much more affordable package.. And yes, you could build these servers seperately, but SBS weaves services together beautifully. You seem to be succumbing to the hype. Give us a list of the apps that *you* are having problems supporting on Vista. Otherwise, you're just a bunch of hot air and will be ignored.