Windows

Microsoft to introduce Windows Essential Business Server

With the scramble for the midmarket space growing all the time, Microsoft is developing the Essentials line of products. In November, Microsoft is expected to formally announce Windows Essential Business Server, a conglomeration of a number of Microsoft products.

The midmarket, the space somewhere between the mom and pop shop and a multinational conglomerate, is quickly becoming the sweet spot for many companies.  A great number of organizations fit the midmarket mold; they aren't small businesses that can take advantage of products aimed at the small business market, but neither are they huge organizations with hundreds of IT staff, each specially trained to perform a single particular task.  Instead, IT personnel in most midmarket companies wear many hats and have to have a deep understanding of many areas and products.

Microsoft has designed the Essential product line with this space in mind.  Windows Essential Business Server is essentially a number of disparate Microsoft products wrapped up and sold as a single package for business with up to 300 PCs.  This PC limitation is a hard license limit.  If you have more than 300 PCs in your organization, Windows Essential Business Server is not for you.

Essentials also includes a revamped installer process and management console, both which will be discussed in my next post.  In this post, you'll learn about what makes up Windows Essential Business Server and what is required to make it run.

Windows Essentials Business Server is slated for a November 12 official launch.

What's included?

There are two editions of Windows Essentials Business Server available: Standard and Premium.  Both editions include Windows Server 2008, System Center Essentials 2007, Exchange Server 2007, ISA Server, and Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server.  The Premium edition adds SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition to the mix.

How is it deployed?

Microsoft intends Essentials to be deployed in a three-server scenario for the Standard Edition and a four-server scenario for the Premium Edition.

  • Management Server: Windows Server 2008 with AD and System Center Essentials 2007.
  • Messaging Server: Windows Server 2008 with AD, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Forefront for Exchange.
  • Security Server: Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, and ISA Server.
  • (Premium) Database Server: Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Standard.

All servers in the Essentials setup are 64-bit systems.  Remember, Exchange Server 2007 is a 64-bit only system, so the 64-bit nature of Essentials makes sense.

What's required?

As is always the case, Microsoft has some recommendations regarding the hardware that should we used with Essentials.

All servers must include processors capable of supporting 64-bit operating systems.

For single-core servers, a 2.5GHz or faster processor is recommended.

For multi-core servers or multiple physical processors, each core or processor must run at 1.5Ghz or better.

On the RAM side, Microsoft recommends that you equip the management and messaging servers with at least 4GB of RAM and the security server with at least 2GB.

When it comes to storage, RAID is highly recommended and Microsoft also suggests that you separate the operating system and application partitions on different physical disks.  In the management and messaging servers, Microsoft recommends at least eight physical disks, with two used for the operating system (RAID 1) and the remaining six for application data (RAID 5).  Whenever possible, use 10K RPM or fasters disks.

If you add a database server to the mix, make sure that you storage system can handle the load that you intend to place on the database.  Separating the operating system and database files is standard good practice on database servers.

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...

17 comments
ryumaou@hotmail.com
ryumaou@hotmail.com

I actually like the sound of this, in a general sense. I mean, it is what the mid-market would want, or should need, so, in that sense, I like it. I'd be a little concerned about upgradability on the off chance the company grew larger than 300 workstations.

steven.allan
steven.allan

If your org has a user base of 280 people, then EBS probably aint for you. a 50 user org will love it by the looks of things! I am considering it for our next major upgrade project as it will have lower hardware and licensing costs compared with the standard server products.

vyassh
vyassh

Standard version of servers supported 4 GB - upto 2003 versions. I am not aware if bar has been raised. Considering today's applications and performance expectations, 4 GB would be one of the bottlenecks.

davidt
davidt

the 64-bit server can address as much memory as you can cram into it (42TB? 4 to the 4th power)

jgaskell
jgaskell

64-bit Windows Server 2008 Standard is limited to 32GB. As SBS is based on this edition, I would assume this is the limit for SBS, as well. Other 64-bit Windows Server editions have a limit of 2TB.

steven.allan
steven.allan

With it being 64 bit, more RAM will be supported with extended addressing.

davidt
davidt

What's the difference between this and Small Business Server? Much more hardware? Are they going to rename SBS to Tiny Business Server?

gregory.petty
gregory.petty

SBS is limited to 75 users (hard limit), where as this one has set the hard limit to 300 computer accounts. Now, my question is this: Is MS going to offer a direct upgrade from SBS to Essentials? Currently, you can purchase upgrade licensing in order to break apart the services from one (or two, in the premium edition) box to many. However, going from SBS to Essentials sounds like it would be a good move for midsized businesses outgrowing their SBS environment. Not a bad move, on paper. Now, to see it in action...

GlennTh
GlennTh

I was speaking to someone at Microsoft last year and was told that they were planning on offering upgrades from SBS to EBS for those that want or need it. There will also be a migration path offered. As was stated, EBS is aimed at the medium sized businesses with 25 to 300 users.

davidt
davidt

I thought SBS could be the one and only server in a domain...my SBS Premium system here has everything in one box (and how I wished I had gone 64-bit with it). But it seems adequate with only 30 clients...I can't imagine expanding much more with even a fully-loaded 32-bit sys.

jgaskell
jgaskell

You can have as many servers as you want in the same domain as SBS (as long as they are licensed). You can even have additional domain controllers, though the SBS machine has to keep the FSMO roles and it doesn't support trusts.

richard.wilson
richard.wilson

SBS is one box for standard, two for premium... Windows Essential Business Server is three boxes for standard, four for premium. So, yes, there is more hardware. There is also more disk space, more resources, more utilities... As the post said, Windows Essential Business Server is for companies in the mid-range size. (up to 300 PCs) Would you really run a full AD environment with Exchange and Forefront and System Center Essentials for 300 PCs/Users off of one box?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

"Messaging Server: Windows Server 2008 with AD, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007" MS do not recommend or support AD and Exchange installed on a single server.

richard.wilson
richard.wilson

What that probably means is that you have the capability of running AD on the second server for a BDC. Maybe you don't need Exchange '07... Also, according to the MS website, all three servers in the Standard Edition come with "Windows Server 2008 Standard Technologies". So I don't think they are trying to say you must have AD and Exchange 2007 on the same server. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver/essential/ebs/prodinfo/editions.mspx

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