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Small Business and Microsoft Windows Server
Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 and 2008 are full scale server platforms designed to scale up to meet the needs of the world’s largest companies. Of course, functionality like that doesn’t come without complexity. While a small single server Windows network may seem like a no brainer to an experience IT professional, it can be a major challenge for the small business owner.
Consider a landscaping business started by a father and son a few years back. Then, they just used their home computers to print out flyers and send emails. But, when success followed, things changed quickly. First they got office space and a receptionist. Still, just three computers linked via a wireless router was no big deal.
As they grew, things started getting more difficult. Now with multiple projects each day, a couple dozen employees ranging from landscapers, to sales people, to a billing person, to the father and son now managing the business, the ad hoc wireless network is stretching to its breaking point. Even worse, billing records, credit card numbers, and who knows what other personal information is scattered across a dozen hard drives. The currently implemented network security model involves giving harmless sounding names to important folders and shares. Clearly, it is time for a change.
But, the bad news comes fast for our business owners. Local accounts, global accounts, groups, Active Directory, machine accounts, it all sounds complicated, and frankly, with a business to run, there isn’t time to figure all of that stuff out. Besides, even if they are setup right today, there is no one with the time or ability to keep it running properly. Adding a full-time IT persons salary is out of the question, and dropping money on a consultant isn’t much better.
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SBS 2008 Rides a White Horse
It is just for businesses like these that Microsoft created the Small Business Server. SBS 2008 is the latest version and comes as a server bundle of Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Standard Edition, as well as Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. A “premium” edition is available with SQL Server 2008 Standard for Small Business.
The Standard Edition provides everything a company needs to move their data to a server based platform and bring the email system in house. SharePoint Services allows users to work collaboratively on projects and documents.
But, for the small business owner, the best part is that setting up and administering SBS 2008 is done almost entirely by easy to understand wizards that push much of the complicated configuration and administration to the background. For example, a new user is created by filling in fields on the wizard and SBS takes care of all the actual account creation. It even prompts to create an account for a new computer as well. No more difficulty forgetting to authorize that new computer that got ordered for the new employee.
A free trial demo of SBS 2008 is available on the Microsoft Windows Small Business Server website. The trial can be renewed such that it is possible to test the software for up to 240 days. If you have a small business, check it out. It just might be the solution you are looking for.