Microsoft has a new version of Small Business Server which will be launched on November 12. It’s called Small Business Server 2008. I was in the beta testing program for this and I’m quite excited about it. Similar to 2003 there are two editions, Standard and Premium. Standard includes: Server 2008 64 bit, Exchange 2007 Standard Edition, SharePoint Services 3.0, WSUS 3.0, and all the standard SBS features like RWW, as well as the standard limitations like 75 users max. Premium adds a second full Server 2008 license (32 or 64 bit) and SQL Server 2008 Standard. The Client Access Licenses (CALs) are a little different. There are different CALS for the Standard and Premium Editions with the Premium CALs being a little more expensive. CALs are available in multiples of one rather than the minimum of five in 2003. It is based on Server 2008 so by default it’s more secure than the previous version based on Server 2003. It is 64 bit only which means it can address more RAM, 32 GB vs. 4 GB for 2003. When 2003 was released RAM was expensive and 32 bit server OS’s were the norm. This is no longer the case. 4 GB can be a major choke point with a heavily loaded SBS server. The second server license in Premium is a very nice addition. This allows you to run SQL or whatever on a second server rather than trying to run it all on the SBS server. Many Line of Business applications don’t support running on a domain controller which means they are not supported running on an SBS server. The second server is also capable of running Hyper-V, Server 2008’s virtualization role. The second server is licensed to be installed as the parent and also as a child. This means you can install a decent server with lots of RAM, use the second server as the parent with the Hyper-V role enabled, and both SBS and another Server 2008 instance in child partitions (virtual machines). When I was beta testing SBS 2008 I did this and actually had three child partitions. One of them was running Untangle, an open source firewall/gateway. On a small network of 25 users a server with a couple of decent Xeon CPUs and 16 GB of RAM could easily run all of this on one box.
All in all SBS 2008 is a good product, well suited to a small business of ten to sixty users. If you grow beyond that you can migrate to the new Essential Business Server 2008 or the full Enterprise versions of Server 2008, Exchange, SQL, etc. Kudos to the SBS development team for a great product.