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Windows SBS 2011 or Windows Server 2012 for email and web hosting

    Question

  • We are buying a new server but still undecided on which Windows Server version to go with it. The main office is located in Los Angeles with branches in Hawaii, San Francisco and Arizona. The workstations are a mix of Windows XP, Vista and 7.

    Aside from active directory and file and application roles, the two other major requirements are company email and web hosting. Company email and public website are both hosted currently at Godaddy. We plan to transfer them to the new server. We use Outlook for email in the workstations.

    Which Windows Server version do you recommend for both requirements considering they are hosted in Godaddy? Is it advisable to transfer the hosting of our public website in the new server?

    Thank you.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:08 AM

Answers

  • Thanks, that makes answering your original question quite simple - SBS is only for up to 75 users so its licensing won't fit your needs.

    If you went for WS2012 standard you could run Hyper-V with 1 VM for AD / File Serving and 1 VM for Web Hosting comfortably.

    That leaves you a decision to either push email out to something like O365 (consider if the kiosk plans would meet your needs for branch users, they're extremely cheap) or add another WS license for another VM for Exchange.

    Make sure you account for all the CAL and exchange CAL costs, and have your backup and DR scenarios mapped out especially if you start internally hosting email and websites.


    Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:24 PM
  • Exchange licensing is not an area I have a great deal of knowledge in, give the MS licensing team a call and you'll get a pretty quick answer, you can work through the costs from there.

    You can compare O365 costs here, if your non core 50 users only need e-mail, then Kiosk plans will likely be very cost effective for them with an E plan for the main users. Setup and maintenance will be significantly reduced compared to building your own internal Exchange system, and the E plans include MS support and access to the online exchange server via PowerShell in addition to the web interface if you need it.

    • Marked as answer by willztech Friday, November 16, 2012 9:16 PM
    Friday, November 16, 2012 2:04 PM

All replies

  • SBS includes a lot of things that you wont get in 2012 essentials (like Exchange), so there's at a minimum a cost difference, they have very different feature sets.

    From a security perspective, you should keep a delineation between your internal infrastructure and your public website, so for example I wouldn't recommend putting AD, file server role, and a public facing website on the same server installation (obviously fine if you plan to run VMs to segregate them).

    You haven't given the reason you want to bring your e-mail and web hosting in-house so it's hard to provide a recommendation. If you have a security or good busines reason to host your own e-mail and public website then fine, but as a small company do you really want the hassle of managing Exchange and website security?

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:51 AM
  • Really appreciate your reply, Melakh.

    Basically the company wants to save in hosting costs. This is the first time we will manage Exchange and host a website internally, if we pursue it. Is it hard to manage Exchange and secure the website? This will make us decide which direction to go.

    Thank you.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 5:33 PM
  • I could do you a better answer if you give me a bit more information - what size of company are you, do you have existing infrastructure or is this your first server, what IT support do you have in place or is it only you supporting?

    Exchange is probably the most annoying MS product to configure and maintain, it's not hard per se, but there are a lot of different things you'll need to think about in configuration and maintenance. You will assume direct control for a major gateway in to your organisation and need to give serious thought to security (attachments and virus control for example) and absolutely your backup regime.

    I don't know how much you currently pay, but from a cost perspective if you had 100 users on Office 365 E1 plan for email for example, you'd be paying about £600 a month including backup and support and a bunch of default AV and spam filters. Even if you only needed a couple of external support days a year for incidents, the ROI on bringing this in house may not look as good as you hope, then add your time for general maintenance tasks.

    Securing a website in IIS is not that hard as long as you follow best practices, and the website itself is well written from a security perspective.

    But I will go back to my original comment - if you can in any way afford it, do not combine an internet facing server (IIS / Exchange) with your other roles - you do not want someone who hacks your website to have access to your internal files and your domain controller.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 8:24 PM
  • Thank you, Melakh.

    The company currently has more than 50 employees with 80% in the store branches. Everyone has an email account. The company recently acquired about 20 stores that will add about 50 employees in the email list. 

    We have an existing server with Windows Server 2003 with AD and file server. Internet is provided by Verizon FIOS (fiber) with download/upload speed of 10 Mbps. I am the only IT support. The new server is expected to accommodate the growth.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:45 PM
  • Thanks, that makes answering your original question quite simple - SBS is only for up to 75 users so its licensing won't fit your needs.

    If you went for WS2012 standard you could run Hyper-V with 1 VM for AD / File Serving and 1 VM for Web Hosting comfortably.

    That leaves you a decision to either push email out to something like O365 (consider if the kiosk plans would meet your needs for branch users, they're extremely cheap) or add another WS license for another VM for Exchange.

    Make sure you account for all the CAL and exchange CAL costs, and have your backup and DR scenarios mapped out especially if you start internally hosting email and websites.


    Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:24 PM
  • Thank you again for the prompt reply, Melakh. That clears up the options.

    Forgot to mention that only around 50 employees will access the server as users. The rest will only have email accounts if we implement Exchange.

    I understand that SBS2011 has Exchange included. Will the number of email accounts be considered in counting the CALs in SBS2011?

    Looks like Office365 is another option for our email. Is it better than Exchange in terms of cost, setup and maintenance?

    Friday, November 16, 2012 1:40 AM
  • Exchange licensing is not an area I have a great deal of knowledge in, give the MS licensing team a call and you'll get a pretty quick answer, you can work through the costs from there.

    You can compare O365 costs here, if your non core 50 users only need e-mail, then Kiosk plans will likely be very cost effective for them with an E plan for the main users. Setup and maintenance will be significantly reduced compared to building your own internal Exchange system, and the E plans include MS support and access to the online exchange server via PowerShell in addition to the web interface if you need it.

    • Marked as answer by willztech Friday, November 16, 2012 9:16 PM
    Friday, November 16, 2012 2:04 PM
  • Thank you, Melakh.

    My questions have been answered sufficiently. Your replies are very helpful in guiding us how to move forward.

    Friday, November 16, 2012 9:16 PM