More notes on the new release of Small Business Server 2008.

Small businesses have more options than ever before as they grow to 5-10 people and begin to think about adding a server or two. Some businesses will be able to reduce costs by using a hosted mail service and only using a server onsite to share files and printers to a small group. But that won’t be right for all businesses – SBS 2008 has across-the-board improvements in an already impressive product and it will still be the right choice for many offices looking to step up to a new level of technology as they grow, as well as for offices ready to migrate from an old server that’s ready to retire.

Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 was the first polished release of a complex suite of products tied together with various wizards and limitations designed to make it easier to manage. It combined Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003, and Sharepoint, plus ISA Server (a complex firewall manager) and SQL Server for LOB database applications.

One of the best features in SBS 2003 was a management console that brought together virtually every administrative tool that an IT person might need, from a variety of places – Microsoft Management Consoles for various network services (DNS, DHCP, Active Directory, Group Policy), Exchange System Manager, IIS, and more, plus specialized screens for easy access to all the housekeeping necessary for users, computers, monitoring, and other tasks.


The new management console in SBS 2008 does not cover as many services as the SBS 2003 console. Instead, SBS 2008 requires far more use of the individual administrative tools built into Windows Server 2008. The SBS Console is, however, deceptively simple – it was the center of most of my setup chores and will cover 95% of the day-to-day network administration.


The redesigned consoles for Server Manager and Exchange Management Console aren’t as visually pretty but they’ve been extensively reorganized to make them easier to use.

Make no mistake, though: although I keep talking about how easy it all is, the reality is that Small Business Server has never been easy enough for a non-technical person to set it up correctly. The IT world is getting more complex and SBS 2008 reflects that – I had to visit some very deep places indeed to accomplish a pretty straightforward migration.

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