SBS 2008: Same old bundle with new Vista wrapper

Review of beta reveals lack of new applications

One area where all-in-one NAS file systems -- like those from Infrant (now Netgear), Buffalo Technology and SnapServer (now Adaptec) -- beat SBS 2008 is in backup support. Almost all flavors of NAS, even the ones offering 1TB of disk space for around $500, offer better client backup software and server backup support than Microsoft. Backup may be boring, but file restoration is exciting, and Microsoft doesn't share our excitement.

SBS 2008 allows clients to move their My Documents folders to the server, which helps because locally stored files lead dangerous lives. But Microsoft stops there, and doesn't even automatically add server connections in client My Network folders during installation for backup or easy file sharing.

Pricing and availability

SBS 2008 will be launched in November. That probably means January 2008 for volume shipments.

The server price jumps up to US$1,089, almost double the price of SBS 2003. Five Client Access Licenses (CAL) are included on both SBS 2008 Standard and Premium, which costs US$1,899 for the server, up from $1,499 for 2003 Premium. Standard CALs are US$77 (rather than $90 for 2003) while Premium licenses are US$189. Yes, add $112 per user for SQL access.

SBS 2008 Premium includes two server licenses so companies can separate applications from their primary server. SQL Workgroup has been updated to SQL Standard to support those applications. Premium users can use Standard CALs if they don't access SQL, which Microsoft promises will help keep the costs down. Microsoft also claims pricing will actually be lower for companies with more than 15 users of SBS 2008 Standard. CALs can now be bought individually rather than in five-packs.

Both versions of SBS include trial versions of Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server Small Business Server and the new Windows Live OneCare for Server. After four and three months respectively, the bills start accruing.

Summary

Many nice surprises lurk inside SBS 2008, including easier management with the improved console and a friendlier look. Predefined reports add value and can be mailed to multiple recipients, including outside server manager companies.

In many ways, SBS 2008 appears to be less a self-administered small-to-midsize business server product and more a platform for easy deployment and remote management for SMBs by Microsoft resellers. Think of this as the kitchen sink server. We just wonder if small businesses will swoon when they add up the cost of the software, server hardware, ongoing outside management and better backup.

Gaskin writes books, articles and jokes about technology and real life from his home office in the Dallas area. He's been helping small and midsized businesses use technology intelligently since 1986. He can be reached at readers@gaskin.com.

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James E. Gaskin

Network World
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