Advice needed - New IT Manager RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Hello, I have recently started a new job as IT manager for a small company that is planning to grow from 25 users to 100+ within the next year. I have only had 4 years experience in my old job looking after around 20+ 5 user companies all running Small Business Server 2003.


    I am looking for advice as to what things I should do/expect as I’m moving from a break/fix job to one where I will have the time to properly maintain and manage a network as it grows.


    They currently use Small Business Server 2003 which I know has a 75 user limit, should I migrate now to separate Server and Exchange servers or wait till I hit the limit?


    What do other people recommend as good management/monitoring tools? I have looked at and considered Spiceworks ( but have no experience with it.


    Any other useful software that people recommend?


    Thanks in advance

    • Changed type Kevin Remde Monday, May 31, 2010 12:26 PM An ask for "advice" is not a question, but can have many more than one answer.
    Tuesday, June 9, 2009 8:29 PM

All replies

  • Hello,

    depending on the future needs you can move to Essential Business server, it supports up to 300 users/computers. It includes Management and monitoring.

    For upgrading and additional questions i suggest you use:

    or when changing from SBS to "normal" server version:

    Best regards Meinolf Weber Disclaimer: This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:03 PM
  • With the drastic increase in staff, is there also going to be a huge increase in services provided by your company?  If so, then the need for expanded servers and increased IT services could also expand.  Growing from 25 to 100+ users in 1 year is not having "time to properly maintain" in my opinion.  Do you have additional support staff?  Who is going to be handling helpdesk duties?  Who is setting up account?  Training staff?  Do you have policies in place?  I used Spiceworks for a few weeks.  It's ok, but I found I needed much more.  Is your company a Microsoft Registered Partner?  If so, you could get the Microsoft Action Pack (MAP) which includes a server license and a license for Microsoft System Center Essentials.  With that kind of increase, do you suddenly have up-time expectations?  If you only have 1 SBS server, what happens when it goes down?  Is that an acceptible risk with 100+ users?  In my organization of 50 users, we estimate it costs us ~$8,000 per hour that we are fully offline.  If you forsee needing to upgrade in the near future, I would recommend building 2 cheap DCs (so that if 1 goes down your 100 users have another DC to connect to) and moving your domain now, before you have 100 users.  Moving 25 means less variables to cause the process to break.  (I helped move 5000 users from 4 domains to 1 domain at a university.  There were issues, it took some time)  Build a file/print server and an Exchange server.  That would be my bare minimum to be able to support 100 users.  Also, unless they are all tech savy and provide their own support, your going to want a helpdesk/desktop admin person.  With that many users, do you have a good switching infrastructure?  Are they going to be dealing with large files?  Thus need gigabit access to your file store?  That's a few things I can think of off the top of my head.

    Good luck!
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:44 PM
  • Another option I think a lot of small-to-midsized companies are going to want to consider is moving e-mail offsite and letting Microsoft or some other provider host it for them.  Microsoft has Microsoft Online Services offerings, one of which is hosted Exchange, and a "BPOS" (Business Productivity Online Suite) that includes Exchange plus SharePoint and Office Communications Server (for IM and presence). 

    There are tools that are included with the solution that will help you migrate and synchronize your AD user accounts into the online services, and a tool that will migrate mailboxes over for you also.

    Kevin Remde US IT Evangelism - Microsoft Corporation
    Tuesday, September 29, 2009 12:16 PM
  • VMWare!  VMWare!  VMWare!  Get it started now.  Also Dell offers very good solutions for the $ on storage.  Think heavly on policies.  In small companies many don't like the thought but not having them will tear you to shreds.
    Tuesday, December 15, 2009 4:42 AM
  • I agree with all things that Mr. Evans said. You shold consider moving now, when you still  have a small number of users. You might also consider of writing a document like some kind of security policy I call it rules of conduct. Make every user and newcomer read it and sign it. In that way you sort of protect your back, because we all know what users ar capable of doing and then denying it. Also workout a good backup strategy and test you backups every now and then.
    Friday, December 18, 2009 10:23 AM
  • Hello, As a Manager and as you have task in future for about 100 users, try make the department take/start a network management for a current domain, while setting a respective domain, and start putting a users under it.
    Try setting, globally a vendor management act like if machine make it a single vendor, like wise etc.
    Microsoft have lot of managment tools check on microsoft site, make a notice of single platform unless otherwise if you need about mix environment.

    Rahul S
    Friday, January 8, 2010 6:58 AM
  • I have to agree with John005037.  A lot of people have given advice for the server-side of things, but a huge challenge you're going to face is on the client-side of things.  If I had the opportunity to start from where you are I would look at the VDI solutions out there and virtualize those desktops from day 1.  You can automate the desktop-provisioning process to make it as easy as adding a new user to the proper AD group.  And you can ensure that all business computers are kept under strict policy.  You can use thin clients in the office, and give connectivity to laptop users who are out of the office.  The VMWare View 4 product is excellent, and there are some cool new thin clients that use the PCOIP protocol to give your in-house users a true multimedia experience with their desktop.... but Citrix is coming out with their new solution Q1 this year.  While I love Microsoft they don't really have a solution that scales in my opinion... yet... Everyone's keeping an eye on performance and adoption with 2k8R2 and beyond.  I'm sure they'll be a real player in both virtualization and desktop virtualization soon enough.
    Saturday, January 9, 2010 3:10 PM
  • It is great to read all the feedback and here of all the options that are at your disposal. I think the main thing has been missed, how big is your budget, and is this one big budget or spread across a number of years.


    I am going down the VMware route with MS Server 2008 R2 sat on Dell Servers, but this is costing a small fortune to date. We have a network with around 120 PC/Laptops but 400+ users, so this makes the licensing very interesting indeed. We are a School and a Charity which gives us lower prices, but it all mounts up.

    Friday, February 5, 2010 9:59 AM
  • If you expect to hit 100 users in the next year now is the time to prepare for retiring the small business server.

    I could write several paragraphs on this.

    If you want some free advise pick up the phone and give me a call.

    I am not going to post my # here but you can get it on my website.



    Chris Ondo - Senior Network Administrator

    Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:59 PM

    Unfortunately essentials business server is discontinued ~ (probably happened AFTER Meihnolf's post)

    So that's not really an alternative. You WILL HAVE to split apart Exchange server since your SBS will no longer support users past 75 (I think that's the limit) users or 75 GB Store.

    So, when you have that many users, take these considerations in mind:

    1. Get GOOD servers, RAID, redundant power supplies, etc. I would not virtualize, it has a performance overhead. Get switches with good backbones, routers with fast processors. When you have that many users, you need hardware that can process the workload quickly. Cheap stuff will scream, panic and die when faced with enormous processing workloads.

    2. Security - Policies, both written and in the form of hardware devices such as spam filters, URL filters, etc.

    3. Divide - Divide your broadcast Domains, VLAN's and Divide your server tasks so that your user's get speedy access. Don't save money by putting too many tasks on one single server.

    3. Place servers close to the workgroup that will use them the most (virtually speaking) i.e. your acct server should be on the same switch or VLAN as your acct department. This will lower traffic across the backbone.

    4. Backup and make sure you have point in time backups and do disaster recovery simulations one a year.

    5. Antivirus, antispam, antimalware. keep your cleint PC free of malware to minimize traffic on LAN and WAN.

    6. Good routers with packet filter. Block all services and ports on the LANs that you do not specifially use.

    7. Find a good Integrator/Consultant  with enterprise network experience to help you through the first couple months.

    8. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN ahead. And then plan some more.

    Enterprise network is a whole different ballgame from Small Business Computing. Equipment is different. You need servers, routers and switches that can handle the workload. As network sizes grow, problems grow exponentially.

    If you get good hardware, good security policy (enforced), the cabling is good and everything is properly configured, then 99.9999% of the problems will originate between the keyboard and the chair.


    Miguel Fra / Falcon ITS
    Computer & Network Support , Miami, FL
    Visit our Knowledgebase Sharepoint Site

    Saturday, May 29, 2010 6:48 PM