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: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30327

Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ (PDF) – Microsoft

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SBS 2011 Migration – Use the Migration Tool or Start from Scratch?

Scenario:  Your network consists of 25 Users and has been using SBS 2003 for a while now.

Questions that you might ask:

Will it be feasible and worth to use the migration tool or start from scratch or new builds?

How many hours will it take to complete this project?

Are you concerned about interruptions and downtime?

What are the Pros and Cons?

In today’s technology more IT Pros are leaning towards what’s the best strategy to use which would work well in their network when doing a complex migration. Be aware of the pros and cons and weigh up the consequences.  If you’re a Network Administrator of the company, chances are you have noted all the configurations made in your SBS 2003 and it’s just a matter of preparing the big migration. Brainstorm your questions and freely document what you can and take your time.  If you tend to be impulsive or procrastinate, try to make a well planned project. Before doing a migration multiple backups are important and a must have,  make sure that you have reliable backups. If the migration goes wrong then it might cause irreversible problems. Preparation and lab practices are also important factors to be considered prior to any network migrations to ensure effective results.

Running different diagnostics tools to check for errors is a must have – SBS Best Practice Analyzer, Netdiag, Microsoft Exchange Best Practice Analyzer, DCdiag and check Event Viewer for any errors.  Microsoft has a few SBS resources that you may utilize and they are free of charge.

Plan well, do this on a weekend or during non-business and not during normal business hours.  Inform all employees in your company about the changes just in case there are issues that will come up after the project has been completed. Be up front with them to negate if there will negative outcomes.

Others have succeeded on doing both options because they were well prepared and planned. Do an extensive research on using the migration tools if you are gearing towards this way. A great link here to read: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sbs/gg981878

You may use a Swing Migration if you do not choose to plan to do it from scratch. This is not free of charge but others have succeeded and might save you plenty of time between 12 hours versus > 24 hours of work. Please have a look:   http://www.sbsmigration.com/

Be aware of the Pros and Cons:

Are there any batch scripts applied on your SBS 2003? How much customization has been made and documented? If Exchange Server is involved things may go wrong and you may not succeed using a migration tool. If you decide to use the migration tool, think of all the fixes that you’ll have to do, this might be very time consuming and considering the time that you’ll spend on the new rebuild may not be this much.

At the end of the day, the question will still remain on what’s best to do and viable – use the migration tool or start from scratch? Goodluck!