Goodbye SBS and Welcome Windows Server 2012 Essentials

It’s the end of the road for SBS and Microsoft introduces a much better cloud-enabled server platform solution and a more flexible product – Windows Small Business Server Essentials has been renamed Windows Server 2012 Essentials. SBS will disappear in a year after its milestone but will still be sold until June 2013, Dec 2013, and >5 years depending on the licensing models. Essentials 2012 is part of the Windows Server 2012 family which comes in four different versions – Foundation, Essentials, Standard, and Data Center all have major draw to the cloud. Windows Server Essentials will only support up to 25 Users. If you need more licensing Windows Server 2012 Standard is doable. Also, if you are looking to  implement virtualization Essentials 2012 has no virtualization rights.

Don’t be surprised if there will be frustrations among the Small Business Consultants and Consumers when SBS departs,  it might be a tough transition for them to move to Essentials 2012.

The main focus here is the email flexibility on the Essentials 2012, Consultants and Customers will have their option whether they wanted their email on-premises, hosted or cloud.

Download Windows Server 2012 Essentials Beta:

Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ (PDF) – Microsoft

What’s the Best Router…..the Final Update!

Well, it has been a couple of months now since I have blogged on What’s the Best Router….an update……The D-Link router has been returned to the Vendor which was a hassle free experience. It is now time to give my final update and progress of my new Netgear Dual-Band router.  So far it is performing great and we haven’t had any major issues. The setup is very easy, I had to do a manual configuration and it’s just my own preference but it might be easier for most of you to opt out of the manual setup and use the setup wizard which should take up to 2 minutes to setup, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.  This will assign automatic SSID and network security which is WPA2 and a complex pass-phrase, all you need to do is to write down the SSID and pass-phrase.

I will be focusing on some of the best features of Netgear and explain a little bit as to why these are important and might give you some good hints and decide to purchase a similar router with all of these great features. These are some of the most popular features of Netgear that you may also find on similar modern routers.

Parental Controls – Are you worried at your children’s (commonly teenagers) safety and not knowing the sites that they visit every day?  This is a big concern and this router has the advanced Parental Controls feature and it’s free of charge from Netgear. You may modify the default filter from Custom to High and restrict hours of use using the scheduler. You may white list and black list keywords, websites and domain names. You may also exclude certain computers that you do not wish to have the Parental Controls enabled.

Guests Networks  – Creating  different or multiples SSIDs  for your guests is a nice option to keep them segregated from your private SSID  and  not open to your wireless network to security risks. Make sure to disable “Allow guest to access My Local Network” to keep your shared critical and confidential network files not accessible at all from your house guests.

DLNA Media Streaming – One of the biggest trends in the industry right now is Media Streaming.  Web-based media streaming is the most popular one; you may subscribe to Netflix, VUDU, Hulu, Amazon Video, and the most popular one  is YouTube and stream them in your HDTV, Computer, Blu-ray, Tablets and X-box/Playstation 3.  If you intend to stream high-definition video, you should probably invest in an 802.11n Wi-Fi router which is the latest Standard. You must have either Cable or fiber-optic broadband internet to provide the highest speeds, and slickest streaming performance.

Simultaneous Dual Band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) – If you have multiple wireless devices, these two bands will run simultaneously for better network performance. Remember, to make use of the dual band you will need wireless network adapters that supports the dual band technology. Clients that supports 802.11b/g  can be set to run on the 2.4 GHz side of a simultaneous dual-band router without affecting the performance of 802.11n clients running at 5 GHz.

See for yourself and decide if you’ll need all of these features or not.  Similar features can also be found on the Modern Routers, old routers will not support most of these features.

  • NETGEAR Genie®—Easy dashboard control to manage, monitor, and repair home networks
  • Live Parental Controls with flexible and customizable filter settings
  • Simultaneous Dual Band—Runs both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands simultaneously
  • ReadySHARE® Printer—Wirelessly print from your Mac® Computer or PC to a connected USB printer
  • Two (2) ports for ReadySHARE® USB Storage Access—Wirelessly share a USB drive with Mac® computers and PCs
  • DLNA® compatible—Stream media to DLNA HDTVs, Blu-rayTM players and game consoles
  • Multiple SSID guest networks (separate security and access restrictions)
  • Broadband usage meter measures Internet usage

We have a few Posters/Members at Tech Support Forums lately asking us in Networking Forums if it’s worth buying a new, modern/advanced router. My reply to all of them is – definitely YES. It won’t be a waste of money at all and you’ll definitely benefit from all the enhanced network security and other great features.

There’s no need to spend a fortune for a good router; you don’t need a Dual Band router if there are not too many wireless devices running simultaneously in your network but will be good to be prepared in a near future if you decide to add more wireless devices and will be doing heavy video streaming.  Before buying a router, I’d suggest  to download the PDF Manual from the Manufacturer’s site to read the complete technical details of the router.  Again, reviews are also important, Trustedreviews is one good site that you may find honest reviews.

Here are some of my router  recommendations:

Buffalo Technology AirStation HighPower N600
Netgear WNDR3700 N600 Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router
Linksys E3200 High-Performance Simultaneous Dual-Band
Asus Black Diamond Dual Band Wireless-N 600 
D-Link DIR-632 Wireless-N 8-Port Router
Netgear N300 Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router 
TRENDnet 300Mbps Wireless N ADSL 2/2+ Modem Router
TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless N

It has been a pleasure blogging my experience using  two different routers – the D-Link  which only worked flawlessly for two weeks and finally, the Netgear. I am happy to say that I have found the best router for me and it’s a keeper!

How to Configure WSUS and link to Group Policy Objects

Important to know before you proceed:

You must be a member of Domain Admins or WSUS Administrators group to perform this method.  Do not edit the Default Domain or Default Domain Controller GPOs as this is not a good practice.

If your network is more complex you might have multiple GPOs linked to several organizational units (OUs) and that you may have different WSUS policy settings applied to different types of computers.

First Task: Create a computer group on the WSUS Server:

Open up Update Services, expand Computers, and then click on All Computers. From this Tutorial I will select Update Services Client Computers then click on Add Computer Group from the Actions Pane. You may choose any that applies to your needs except for Unassigned Computers.

Now, you will see the Computer Groups have been added.

Second Task:  Enable client-side targeting:

Locate the Organizational Unit (OU) that you wish to apply the GPO Policy to. Open the GPO Editor, expand Computer Configuration, expand Administrative Templates, and expand Windows Components then select Windows Update. Double click on the Enable client-side targeting and click Enabled, then type the name of the computer group that you have created in the Update Services or WSUS Console. Click OK when finished.

For the client computers configured with an Active Directory-based GPO, it will take a few minutes (up to 30min) after Group Policy refreshes to appear on the Computers page in the WSUS console.

To synchronize schedule, from Update Services, go to Synchronizations, then click on Synchronization option from the right pane, then choose Synchronization Schedule from the Options page, you may choose to manually or automatically synchronize schedule. In this Tutorial we will choose Synchronize Automatically. Click OK when finished.

I hope that this guide helped you configured and linked WSUS with GPO(s) in your domain network.