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Microsoft's Windows Essential Business Server for Midsize Businesses

written by: Brian Nelson•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/20/2009

Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server is the more well known of the company’s small business offerings. However, Windows Essential Business Server might actually be a better fit for many businesses.

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    Windows Essential Business Server 2008

    EBS Logo Microsoft’s Windows Essential Business Server, or EBS, is designed for “mid-sized” businesses and contains the Microsoft products and technologies most commonly used by midsized businesses. For Microsoft, a mid-sized business is one that will have more than 75, but less than 300 users over the next two or three years. Thus, EBS supports 300 simultaneous connections versus Small Business Server’s 75.

    Microsoft’s paradigm figures that most mid-sized businesses have one to three IT professionals on staff or as accessible consultants or partners. Thus, EBS is designed to provide easier and more streamline system administration to computer professionals who are likely to be stretched thin by operational demands and who don’t have the luxury of dedicating the time and resources to managing a complex infrastructure. However, despite the attempt at such ease of use, EBS is still designed to be managed by IT professionals, unlike SBS which is designed to allow for use by small business owners and non-IT professionals.

    Windows Essential Business Server 2008 combines several server based technologies into a single package for easier install and administration as well as better overall pricing. EBS 2008 comes in two editions, Standard and Premium, with the Premium Edition aimed at businesses with a need for in-line applications and other centralized database needs.

    The EBS Standard edition starts with Windows Server 2008 Standard technologies and builds on top of that platform with Microsoft Exchange 2007 Standard Edition for email, and Microsoft Forefront for security. Additionally, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 can be downloaded and used with EBS.

    Each server technology is preconfigured and integrated according to Microsoft’s best practices for midsized businesses. Licensing allows for three separate servers, a Management Server, an email or Messaging Sever, and a Security Server. Administration of the whole platform is accomplished via the Unified Administration Console which allows for easier “one-stop” administration versus the need to administer each product manually via its own interface.

    Windows Essential Business Server 2008 Premium contains the same technologies and adds Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition to the mix. This is in contrast to SBS 2008 Premium which provides SQL Server 2008 Small Business Edition instead. The Premium Edition also allows for SQL Server to be installed on its own separate Database Server bringing the total potentially installed servers to four.

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    Pricing starts at a list price of $5,067 for EBS 2008 Standard, and $7,163 list for SBS 2008 Premium. Of course, access licenses or CALs are required for user or device access and come in various packs and are even available for purchase as a single CAL. A 50-pack for the Standard Edition lists at $4,050 while a 50-pack for the Premium Edition lists at $9,750.

    For companies within the size constraints and willing to forgo some of the customization provided by separate products, Microsoft’s Essential Business Server 2008 can provide an easier to administer yet powerful platform for less money.

    To try it and see if EBS 2008 is right for your business, download a free 60-day trial from Microsoft’s website. The trial can be reset up to three times for a total of a 240-day trial period.