Windows Small Business Server 2003 has not be available to buy from the end of 2013.

You think that’s bad, you won’t be able to buy SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 either!


The most appropriate option you will have will be to buy Windows Server 2012 Essentials. 
So what, we hear you say?


Windows Server 2012  editions

Here are the reasons you should be thinking that this development might impact you.


If you are running anything before Office 2007 Pro (i.e XP) then if you have a problem with your hardware and you replace it, you will have to downgrade from Office 2013 to Office 2010 Pro in order for SBS 2003 to continue to work. In August 2014 Microsoft will discontinue support for Exchange Server running on SBS 2003 so this product will cease to be safe and secure.

Incidentally you will have to buy a bit of software which is non-OEM but instead Open Licence or Volume Licence so you can have legitimate downgrade rights.

Windows Server 2012  OEM openerThe problems don’t stop there however, because the current SBS suite of software from 2003 to 2011 relies on virtualisation to maximise the benefits. This essentially means that although the suite of products that run on it ‘theoretically’ need separate servers, they can actually all live on one server with ‘virtualised’ space created for each product.


What on earth does this mean!


 Simply put:

  • One box is required, we call it ‘tin’ but you might call it a Server
  • The box would have SBS 2003, 2008 or 2011 installed with a single licence required
  • There would then be a number of ‘virtualised environments’ which share the same base server
    • The first ‘virtual server’ might run ‘Domain Administration, File & Print Storage
    • The second ‘virtual server’ could then run the Exchange system for email
    • Other products that might be added to this scenario would be SQL, Web Server, SharePoint Server, Domain Administration for Security and Access Control
The point is that all of this can run (virtualised) inside one box.

Windows Server 2008 hyper-v component architectureDownload a copy of this diagram here

This complicated but excellent diagram from Microsoft does in fact show the complexity of the replacement required after SBS ceases to be available at the end of 2013.

What it shows is something that requires your time and attention, because if any of the scenarios set out above are on your radar, you need to be thinking about this now.


Here is one imaginary scenario:


You are a new start business which needs to establish a new IT setup to include:


  • Domain Administration, File, Print and Storage
  • Exchange Server for email
  • SQL database
  • Web Server
  • SharePoint

This setup on SBS would have required one licence for SBS, plus premium for SQL.

Now, Windows Server 2012 essentials (25 users) will support two virtual servers per licence. So in the instance of the list above, it is not one licence you need but 3 server licences.


Windows Server 2012 essentials (25 users)Herein lies the next and in our view the most crucial element you should consider in your thinking.


Microsoft wants you to live in the cloud, their products are all focussing on the cloud and their solutions are pushing you in that direction. Your problem is that unless all of your outlets, facilities and users are in well-connected city centre locations, the connection to the cloud in the UK is frankly woeful!


broadband speeds across the ukOfcom published figures (the most recent were published in August 2012 but relate to May 2012), showing that headline speeds (that’s the speed you got sold) versus the real speed were detectably lower, and this supposes you can get high speed broadband in the first place. 2013 figures show that there is 66% availability in Glasgow City.


glasgow 2013 boradband speedsHowever in Perth & Kinross (where your satellite office might be) it is only 36%.


perth & kinross 2013 boradband speedsThis will severely hamper your ability to migrate your entire infrastructure to the cloud and not see a discernable difference across your business, and with it a rise on staff complaints and a drop in productivity.

There are solutions out there, but like every IT infrastructure and business software solution we provide, it requires knowledge and the application of some deep thinking to make sure your business performs in line with your expectations.


We are Microsoft Silver Partners and can of course give you both excellent advice on how to move to the new environments, as well as very competitive pricing for the software and the setup.

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Post by Bob Potter

I am passionate about empowering the team to absorb the daily challenges clients may face to keep their systems running reliably and efficiently. I gain real satisfaction from a job well done.