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Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 Premium vs. Standard Edition

written by: Brian Nelson•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 3/9/2011

Microsoft realizes that not all small businesses have the same needs. For some companies a server based network and email system are all that is needed. For others however, there may be more needs. For those companies, there is SBS Premium Edition.

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    SBS 2008 Premium Edition

    The main difference between SBS 2008 Standard Edition and SBS 2008 Premium Edition is that the Standard Edition is a single hardware server product, while the Premium Edition is designed to be a two hardware server product. The primary purpose of the second server in the Premium Edition is to run Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition for Small Business.

    The Premium Edition shows Microsoft’s continuing commitment to its own best practices suggestions which place a database server on its own separate hardware. The Premium Edition, therefore, allows for businesses that require server-based applications like customer and contact management or accounting applications which use a centralized database to have the proper hardware setup to run them optimally.

    In addition, small businesses which rely upon proprietary industry specific software such as medical and dental offices can also leverage a centralized shared database. Some of these niche applications are not upgraded as frequently as more mainstream products. Should an issue arise that a necessary business application is not ready to run on SQL Server 2008, the Small Business Server Premium Edition also includes SQL Server 2005 Standard which may be run in place of the newer version.

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    Pricing Differences

    Windows Small Business Sever 2008 Standard has a list price of $1,089, while the Premium Edition has a list price of $1,899. However, that $800 does not represent the true difference in cost. Like other Windows Server product lines, Client Access Licenses (CAL) are also required for the SBS users or devices accessing the servers. In SBS 2008, Microsoft has broken out the CALs according to the edition. Thus, users accessing the features of the Premium edition, primarily the SQL Server, will require upgraded Premium CALs as well.

    The list price for a single additional Standard Edition CAL is $77 while the same CAL for Premium Edition access is $189, so depending upon how many users require access to the Premium features, the price difference can be dramatically different.

    Business with an existing relationship with a re-seller can often get significant discounts on these prices.

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    Choosing the Right Edition

    Determining whether a small business requires the Premium Edition or whether the Standard Edition is sufficient really boils down to inventorying the applications necessary to run the business, and determining if any of those require, or would otherwise benefit from, a centralized database in the form of Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008. If so, then Small Business Sever best practices would suggest that purchasing the upgraded Premium Edition is the right move for that environment. If not, there is little reason to incur the extra expense for the Premium Edition.

    Either way, with two editions available, small businesses of any size and with a variety of needs can be assured that there is an SBS solution that will fit their needs.