This article is more than 1 year old

Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 - what's in it for you?

Not quite all-in for the cloud

The Essentials Truth

Outlook Web App in Exchange 2010 is better-looking and more functional, and the new Exchange also supports conversation features such as the ability to ignore a thread.

You can also hook SBS 2011 to cloud services using ADFS, but there are no wizards for this, just the standard Server 2008 tools.

Still, these features do not make a compelling upgrade story in themselves, though for customers on SBS 2008 who are replacing server hardware a simultaneous move to SBS 2011 might make sense. Microsoft seems to recognise this, and its guide to partner opportunities focuses on upgrades from SBS 2000 and 2003 rather than from SBS 2008.

Exchange 2010 upgraded Web Outlook App

Exchange 2010 features an upgraded Outlook Web App for remote email in the browser

The main selling point for SBS 2011 is simple: it is the most cost-effective way to deploy the Microsoft platform to small organisations. In that sense it is a great deal; but the downside is that you also get all the complexity of Enterprise products crammed onto a single box. This gets worse if customers also install third-party or custom applications onto that box, each with its own specialist requirements. Microsoft’s Premium option, which provides a second server joined to the SBS domain, does make it possible to add apps like these without breaking the main server.

The complexity of SBS is good news for partners, who generally get a stream of maintenance work following each deployment, and a lengthy migration task whenever the server hardware is changed.

SBS Essentials 2011, on the other hand, is a product that promises to be genuinely low-maintenance, and with single sign-on for local and cloud applications it looks ideal for organisations up to the 25 user limit. It makes sense for Microsoft to continue with the full-fat SBS Standard Edition; not every business wants to migrate to cloud computing. The 25 user limit though looks artificial and unnecessary. It would not surprise me if it gets extended or dropped. Since an Essentials server has less work to do than full SBS, it could in theory support more users rather than fewer, especially if you do without the client computer backup option. SBS 2011 Standard is a decent refresh, but next year’s Essentials looks the more interesting product.

SBS 2011 Standard costs $1,096 with 5 CALs, and $72 for additional CALs. The Premium add-on is $1,640, with SQL CALs $92 each if required. SBS Essentials will be $545 with no CALs required. UK pricing is not yet available. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like