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SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

(OP)
I bought this monster machine, dual quads, 4gb memory, to run SBS 2003 Premium for abour 35 users.  I'm working on the installation, I've installed it about three times, going on four, to get the kinks out.  I love the reporting and the remote web workspace for sure.  I want to start our company off on WSS 3 though and not WSS 2 that it comes with.  So that creates problem number one.  WSS 3 does work fine but the company web links all go to WSS 2.  A nuisance that I haven't figured out a solution for yet.  I thought about buying a CISCO ASA 5505 to run my remote workspace and create my own links to WSS 3, but that is $1600, what a waste to have to do that.

Next I keep running into things that I guess are just a major learning curve with SBS.  I'm finding SBS very much its own animal for sure.

A little history.  I currently have a Win 2000 AD environment over three locations for 35 total users (vpn tunnels through cisco routers).  Another Win 2000 runs a basic smtp/pop3 imail program.  I'm trying to get us into the 21st with full intranet on WSS 3 and Exchange.  My plan has been that I bought the SBS 2003 PREMIUM with software assurance and enough horse power to be able to upgrade next year to SBS 2008.  (I know, I can't upgrade to 64 bit on the same box, I'll have to get another box running, migrate, and reinstall on box, etc).

Coming from a nice good ole Win 2000 AD, and having been trained on Win 2003 server (70-290), I'm finding the SBS server quite a finicky animal.  I could write forever here but a couple items so far is having to use the http://sbs/connectcomputer to get a pc on the domain properly.  What a different concept that is.  Then I had to create a group policy to open up a port I use for VNC on these PCs. Then migrating a user from a domain to SBS requires copying the profile to a workgroup then migrating over.

Next I'm working on WSUS getting that working and find that confusing with the web interface and not being able to limit what you download since the server manager requires you to not muddle with that.  Next I'm working on getting to WSUS 3.

I installed WSS 3 with no problems and so far that seems fine.

So here I am contemplating if maybe I should return the software to Dell and just buy Win 2003 Server x64 AD and Exchange 2007 x64 to put on one box then install WSS 3 and WSUS 3 and call it a day.  But the big question is will those items run on one box ok not being SBS? Granted that is about $4k more and I don't get SQL 2005!

Wondering what anyones opinion might be.

My primary goal.. get on Exhange and Windows sharepoint services 3 and run WSUS 3, SQL, have easy remote access.  keep things simple. (SQL is just a bonus but not critical)

Ultimate goal:

Get on exchange 2007, WSS 3, WSUS 3, remote access, SQL (again SQL is bonus and not critical)

I'm building my users from scratch (not migrating my current AD over) and just trying to keep things neat, clean, and simple for a very stable system.

Rick

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

Well its a big no-no to have Exchange installed on a Domain Controller except if you are using SBS.  

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

One big transition concept for SBS: USE THE WIZARDS!!!

I was used to doing things through the various application interfaces and that is a big no-no with SBS.   It's a really smart system if you play by the rules, follow the "to do" list and run all the wizards.  SBSBackup is a fabulous feature, you would be foolish not to use it.

As I was told when first fiddling with SBS, do not attempt to circumvent the Wizards.  Suck it up and do it right.  connectcomputer is wonderful, SBS builds the AD for you.  GPOs can be set up easily once you know your way around.  Follow the rules and give it a chance.

You can also set up Sharepoint to run as an SQL instance, very useful.  SBS is a reliable, low-maintenance and easy to set-up system.  Just remember:  Nobody is too good to use the Wizards!

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

(OP)
Thank you for the replys.  I'm feeling better and better about going with SBS.  For sure the value saved my company about $5k.  So you feel the built in backup is good?  I wasn't sure whether to use Backupexec to backup vs the built in one.  Also looking for the best imaging option.  The only other hangup I have is getting WSS 3 to be accessible from RWW.  Starting off new I want to start on WSS 3.

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

I've seen some demos of WSS 3 and it does look quite nice.  Actually about to run some tests with it and hopefully have it setup on my own systems this weekend.  I would probably say if WSS is that critical to your plans, get another server and split some tasks.  For example, put file sharing and printing as well as a second DC on the second box along with WSS.  You're saving so much on licensing, a second server won't cost that much more.  You could also consider Virtual Server as well, though you'll still need a license for Windows.

I ALMOST completely agree with the existing SBS comments.  SBS is great, reliable, and a completely different beast from standard server.  You must follow the wizards if you want to keep it a stable system.

The one area I disagree in is backup.  It WOULD be fantastic... IF it offered differential backup capability.  Instead, it's all or nothing (Fulls only).  As a result, I use my own backup script (available on my web site) to schedule NTBackup jobs for various kinds of backups - System State, Exchange Information Store, Data Drive backups.  

Frankly, you seem mostly well informed and like you've done most of your homework - I think you'll be ok with SBS.  Nevertheless, I have some links you might find useful... and you can back track to my backup script if you want to evaluate it.  Check out:
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/sbs.asp

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

(OP)
Great information on your site, thank you.  

I still haven't found anyone using the Symantec Backupexec.  I've used it on my Win 2000 servers for users and already bought the license for SBS and was contemplating getting the System Recovery version but haven't heard anything about it.

Do you feel the the NTBACKUP has worked fine for you?

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

Provided I used external hard drives and NOT tape, I've not had a problem with it.  I also use VSS on the server so I don't need to go to my backups often, but I make them all the time and for years at various clients and not had a single problem I can recall.

BackupExec is a FAR more full featured programs - and there are many others that are FAR more full featured than NTBackup, but if you test your backup plan and know how to handle it, there's not much need for the expensive products (and frankly, I despise symantec.  By now I expect they've destroyed Backup Exec like they do almost every other product they've acquired... they are a FANTASTIC marketing company... but their programming staff is awful (maybe a few good ones, but they usually turn products to sh*t).

RE: SBS 2003 Premium or Win 2003 with Exchange 2007?

(OP)
I'm using backupexec now on my other two servers.  I wonder if I used the SBS backup over to another server and have my tape drive on the system running backup exec back that up. I'll probably need to install backupexec on the SBS unfortunately to make this all work as I find typing this.  Hmmm...  I have one tape drive LTO 200/400GB currently connected on the other server.  Currently I have the SBS being backed up from the other server to tape.  That may work keeping that scenario.  I'll need to test the restore to be sure.

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