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IWUG and Essential Business Server presentation

Last night’s Indiana Windows Users Group (IWUG) was a web conference presented by Nick King, A Microsoft Technical manager for the Essential Business Server team. While we were sitting enjoying Dinner , Nick was sitting in Redmond Washington.

What is Essential Business Server (EBS)? A Product sku designed for medium business that have one or two IT Pros on staff. It fills the gap between Small Business Server and just purchasing an assortment of Microsoft products. EBS comes in two flavors, Standard and Premium. Standard includes 3 licenses of 64bit Windows Server 2008 Standard, 2 licenses of Exchange 2007, 1 license of System Center Essentials 2007, 1 license of Forefront Security for Exchange, and 1 license of Forefront Threat Management Gateway Medium Business Edition (formerly ISA Server). Premium edition includes all of the licenses in the standard version plus and additional license of Server 2008 Standard and one license of SQL 2008 Standard. More Information can be found on Microsoft’s website at the EBS home page.

EBS is more than just a collection of Microsoft SKUs. Microsoft has created and administrative portal that leverages Power Shell to create a new status at a glance portal. It also provides wizards allowing you to create users, groups, computers, SharePoint sites, etc… all from a single point. One question, I had while watching the demo was, “wasn’t this the grand vision of the MMC?” it was supposed to be the only place the administrator went to manage their server. Oh, well another Windows version, another way to manage it. Moving on. EBS is a good deal cost wise, according to the Nick, the EBS skus, represent a 30% savings, over purchasing the components individually. Standard has a list price of $5472 and Premium has a list of $7163.

EBS also helps with the rollout for administrators who rolling out either their first AD environment or are upgrading from Small Business Server (SBS). Microsoft has reduced the install screens from roughly 120 down to approximately 30. Also, the management portal is tabbed to help focus the administrators on exactly what they need. According to the presenter, the portal allows the admin to perform 85% of all their Microsoft infrastructure work without leaving the portal.

What questions did I come away with?

First is that the requirements are 64 bit processors for all 3 servers in the standard sku, the SQL server in premium includes either 32 or 64 bit. All new servers come with 64 bit procs, but many smaller companies might not want to purchase new hardware, just to move to this version.

Second, the memory requirements are 4 GB each for the management and the Exchange server and 2GB for the Security Server. If you have to purchase new hardware, no big deal, but some older hardware might require more capital expenditures.

Overall, the Essential business server appears to be a good deal. We use a general rule of $4K per server for an HP Proliant DL380. If you need to purchase new hardware, you are looking at $12K for hardware and $5K for the ESB standard. This is roughly $17K before we even add in general file storage or backups. Add in an additional $6K to jump to the Premium sku and additional server.

The presenter’s blog can be found at

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