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is it possible to have a configuration in a Windows 2003 SBS environment where in the event that the SBS box crashed/turned off/ or is being worked on that there can still exist a path to the internet for domain users and visitors to still use?

I would like to have the standalone router issue DHCP IPs. The primary DNS would point to the SBS, the secondary wouuld point to the ISP DNS Server.

My theory was that if someone was using the internet and the SBS box went down they wouldn't be able to access the network shares but still be able to use the internet. (We are moving everything into the clouds with Google Apps Non-Profit)

Does this seem like a reasonable configuration? Or are they're pitfalls that I will fall into?

Thanks Mark


Well I would eventually like to get away from the server environment. No one knows how to manage the thing except me since we are all volunteers that come in with our own specialty. We can't afford to pay for a tech either (Its a volunteer ambulance corps). Do they make a domain controller appliance? I dread the idea of the SBS server going down and having to fix it. The internet is most important for everyone since I moved the email server and calendar into the clouds (Google Apps). The SBS server is more of a luxury. Its used for My Documents folder redirection, and some policies as well. Thats about it.

Any way to put the server into the clouds so I don't have to manage it either? lol

I was doing some testing with the configuration and found that it didn't really work well. I had an active gateway connection but no where to resolve domain names when the server was off, and when I released/renewed the network card configuration I had no access to My Documents, but I did have internet access.

I suppose there is no way that my ISP will put a pointer in their DNS that can point back to my server? Probably doesn't even exist, just an idea lol.

Can I have a second domain controller on a small business server environment?

Thanks for your input!

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6 Answers

I guess your problem is DNS related, so the easy solution would be to add a second domain controller which also hosts your DNS zone.

Configuring clients to use your ISP's DNS (even as secondary) will give you all sorts of problems with Active Directory.

If you are running an Active Directory, you really should have a second domain controller anyway.

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+1 for the second domain controller being the solution. It's really not a good idea to use your router to provide dhcp and dns for your machines. –  kaerast Apr 4 '10 at 11:41
    
@Jon: Of course it can! Where on earth did you get that info from? –  Bryan Apr 22 '10 at 15:32
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You need to decide whether or not you are committed to using Small Business Server.

If you are, then you need to embrace it and use all of the services that are supplied with it and benefit from the many levels of integration and the built-in configuration and management tools.

If you are not committed to the benefits of SBS and working in that way, then honestly I think you are better off getting rid of it.

I think SBS is an excellent solution at an unbeatable price, but whenever I've seen customers with half-hearted implementations, it has generally proven to be problematic. I had one customer, for example, who insisted that DHCP must be done by his internet router, for exactly the same (misguided) reasons you give in your question. This never was reliable and far from safeguarding the internet connection (the server never went down!) it actually caused a load of problems when the server was working correctly. Of course, the customer blamed the server and whouldn't hear from me - an SBS MVP - that his problems were happening because his network was incorrectly configured.

How often do you expect your server to be down? Most Dell servers (for example) include next business day on-site warranty. Most of my customers have never needed to use it. Ask yourself weather your 'failover' plans are really justified considering the risk and consequences of a server failure.

On SBS, DHCP, DNS and Active Directory form a mutually dependent triangle of basic network infrastructure that is best not broken up. In my experience, it is always a mistake to move any of the built-in services off teh SBS box.

Why don't you take advantage of the Office Live integration in SBS and store you documents on an Office Live workspace?

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Realistically, your internet connection is probably more unstable than your domain controller. Perhaps look into beefing that up before you go with redundant domain controllers/DNS services/etc

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What you are describing is similar to a home network more than a corporate one. In such a case I recommend you use a firewall/router which includes a DHCP service. This can economically be set up by making use of an old low spec computer. There are a number of suitable products, many of which are free. I personally use and recommend Smoothwall. Although there is a comercial version the Express version is free.

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Wow, I feel your pain...I'm in the same boat!

I just did the exact same thing you are planning to do. I had my SBS2003 server at the forefront, dual NIC config. The problem was every time I have to do an update I end up needing a restart, which takes almost 15 minutes.

(I'm sure I will get some criticism for this, but...) I moved the server to the backend and put a D-Link router as the internet connection gateway/router. I have Primary DNS as SBS and Secondary as the router. The biggest issue I had was SBS2003 didn't want to relinquish DHCP control (one of the pitfalls), so I let it keep it and changed the lease time from a day to a week. That way, when I'm out, they have a week to get me in there to fix whatever goes on with the server.

So far, I've noticed a performance increase in my box by doing this...having every packet for every computer pass through it was beating it up.

I agree with you that the router should do DHCP, since I'll assume that you only have one subnet and don't need the powerful features of SBS's DHCP server. My next step is to figure out why SBS won't let go of DHCP, but I suppose that's another question. :-)

Reasonable...I don't know, but it's been a month and it's working for me.

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Also, I hate to post this link, but this is the question I asked @ EE regarding possible pitfalls...make sure when you change that you also follow these: experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/… –  Theo Apr 26 '10 at 13:30
    
You generally want Windows to handle DHCP to ease client registration in its DNS (at least in a SOHO solution). –  Oskar Duveborn Aug 29 '10 at 8:42
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In your SBS 2003 DHCP scope, add your router as your secondary DNS server. If your server goes down, your workstations are not going to lose their leases unless they too get rebooted (or you run a Repair or release/renew on the NIC).

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