Version 2 of Windows Small Business Server 2003 is the first major update to Microsoft’s flagship operating system for small businesses since its launch in 2004 (see 113, p. 177). However, R2 hit the first hurdle, being recalled when Microsoft discovered that the final version contained non-final versions of some of the core components.
New features are rare, but security is a priority: R2 includes Update Services, which centralizes the updating and management of patches. Elsewhere, the mailbox storage limit for Exchange Server 2003 has been increased to 75 GB, and the Premium version includes SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition. The upper limit of 75 users or devices is still in effect, but CALs have been enhanced to provide better access to additional Windows Server, Exchange, and SQL Server systems without the need to purchase additional licenses.
These are key improvements, but the Premium version also offers new database reporting services, a Report Generator, native database encryption, and hardware support enhanced to 3 GB of memory. Along with the new SQL Server 2005, SBS Premium also offers ISA Server 2004 and Office FrontPage 2003.
The installation begins with booting the designated server and inserting the CD-ROMs. However, on the back of the wallet is a DVD that will save you some time when changing discs. Be careful about the number of processors on your server, as SBS only supports two physical processors. With the latest Xeon dual-core processors already gaining significant penetration in the small business server market, this means that it now makes less sense to buy a dual-socket system (although, to clarify, SBS 2003 R2 supports dual configurations -socket). socket).
Existing SBS 2003 installations can be upgraded, but if you run out, you expect the entire process to take four to five hours. You are also presented with a list of tasks, which we recommend you follow to the letter. The main server administration console has not undergone significant changes, but now has additional input for upgrade services. This is just WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) from Microsoft, but it has been seamlessly integrated into the SBS package. Services must be synchronized by first downloading all necessary patches and updates, and then you can configure different schedules to prioritize the upgrade process for servers and workstations. Customers receive update settings from preconfigured Group Policy objects, so once you’ve reviewed and approved the latest patches, they’ll be applied at the agreed time.
Apart from its larger storage capacity, those familiar with Exchange 2003 will see no difference. However, beginners will find assistants for virtually all operations. They are designed to protect you from SBS courage and, for good reason: the size of this package makes manual configuration very difficult. Setting up the client is easy, with Outlook and shared fax services deployed automatically, and you can add custom applications to this process. It will also provide Connection Manager upload for remote workers and ActiveSync for Pocket PC users. The next time a client connects to a target system, all selected applications will be loaded and preconfigured automatically.
I found that the new server reporting tools worked well and I was able to email them to select users, where I can see a summary of network and internet usage. The performance report provides a summary of all detected errors and alerts, with suggested explanations and solutions.
For existing users of SBS 2003 Standard Edition, the small number of enhancements in R2 makes them worth buying only if you qualify for a free upgrade or can see value in the new CAL schemes. Premium sites receive a slightly better offer with updated SQL Server software and reporting features. But FrontPage 2003 was discontinued, making this feature redundant. However, the many features of the standard edition make it the ideal partner for small businesses looking for a complete server solution in a single package.