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.