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I'd like to save the extra thousand or so and just have Windows standard server 2008 r2. Is there any reason I'd want to have Windows Enterprise 2008 r2 with Exchange Enterprise 2010? This will only be an Exchange box with possibly file server. It will not be a domain controller. I'm going to get Exchange Enterprise so I can't change it but I don't know I need enterprise OS. What do you think?

Thank you.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The only real reason you'll need to use Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise edition for Exchange is if you want to use the high availability DAG features of Exchange 2010.

The requirement of the Enterprise edition of the operating system is because DAGs use pieces of Windows clustering to do their thing, which is not available in the Standard edition.

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so if I have no clustering I don't need it? – johnny Dec 16 '10 at 21:02
Correct. As long as you don't want to implement Database Availability groups, you'll be fine with the Standard edition of Windows. – Ben Pilbrow Dec 16 '10 at 21:06
And, as mentioned by @Ernie, there are limitations in Standard for RAM and CPUs as well. But failover clustering is the big differentiator for most people. – mfinni Dec 16 '10 at 21:24

Heres a website where you can check some of the differences between Standard and Enterprise.

The most notable differences that I can see for you are clustering and RAM support. Exchange is a bit resource intense, so depending on whether or not you want to get above 32gb of ram is a bit of a concern.

If you arent interested in clustering and its not going to be an overly busy server then the standard edition should be right up your alley.

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Thank you for your answer. – johnny Dec 16 '10 at 21:17

Good thing about Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise is that it allows you to run 4 virtual machines of Windows Server 2008R2 (licenses for that included in that price). In comparison Standard edition doesn't allow you for something like that. While you may not need virtualization just yet but possibility to have 4 systems instead of 1 is a good thing for future. If at any time you decide you need to add SQL Server or some DNS you just set up another VM machine and you're done. You could have Exchange VM, SQL VM, and AD, DNS on the same box (of course the other physical box in your location should cover the redundancy if needed).

As for Exchange features only DAG requires you to use Enterprise features.

Extra thousand today for 3 systems more might be extra two thousands later on.

Keep in mind that most recommendations by Microsoft are to put things like Exchange, SQL, AD and others on different servers.

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Interesting. So I can take the same media, same Enterprise license and just install it on the same bare metal but have a virtual machine..? – johnny Dec 16 '10 at 22:56
While this is true and a very good point, I would point out that if the server is utilising DAS (if the OP is looking to save a thousand $units of currency, I doubt there's a SAN involved), then it's probably not such a good idea. For example, a HP DL380 has 8 disks; You would use 2 for Windows (mirrored), 2 for your Exchange transaction logs (mirrored) and the remaining 4 would be used for your Exchange database (RAID5). All the disks are used, and the Windows license only allows VMs on that host. In this instance, the OP has gained nothing from buying the Enterprise version. – Ben Pilbrow Dec 17 '10 at 0:43
Well I have setup at my client where he has 2 for HOST and 6 disk in RAID 10 with Exchange, AD and SQL, and Terminal Services, SHarePoint on same machine (4 virtual systems). It works fine. I agree SAN would be best but it's not always necessary. – MadBoy Dec 17 '10 at 8:41
@johnny yes you treat your main licenses as HyperV host, and you can install 4 VM's Enterprise on the HOST using same media. Sometimes you need to call microsoft to activate it but usually it works fine without it. – MadBoy Dec 17 '10 at 8:42
Eek! Obviously I don't know the exact setup of that machine, but from what you've described it sounds like a performance nightmare. Those apps are all heavy and whack the disk a lot. Also, that means your SQL and Exchange logs are on the same set of disks as the actual databases. Not cool! – Ben Pilbrow Dec 17 '10 at 9:16

Server 2008 Versioning

Ben is entirely correct on the main reasons to purchase Enterprise over Standard. I would still recommend Enterprise (or even Datacenter, depending on your usage), however. The reason is virtualization.

Virtualization Licensing

MadBoy is correct about the licensing. You can either install it on the bare metal and have up to four hosted copies of the OS inside something like VMware Server or Virtual Server, or install a hypervisor such as Hyper-V or ESX and put your four installs (not five!) in there.

With Datacenter edition, however, you can have unlimited virtualized instances of Server 2008 (any version, up to and including Datacenter) for all the licensed CPU's you've purchased (keep in mind Datacenter edition is purchased in two-CPU SKU's). If you're using fairly recent, high-memory physical server hosts, you can easily fit 10-20 or more moderately used servers per dual quad-core 48GB host. You may not think you need this much, but you can quickly get to that number when you think of having two domain controllers for the forest, two more for the domain, an additional for a lag site, several PKI servers (makes Exchange 2010 easier to work with for certificates), one or more file servers, etc.

It's well worth taking some time to think how big this IT infrastructure is going to get. Rushing forward with Standard edition can hurt you in the future in total cost.

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please see my comment to MadBoy's answer, as it is kind of relevant to your post too. – Ben Pilbrow Dec 17 '10 at 0:44
so what's hyper-v MS's version of vmware? – johnny Dec 17 '10 at 4:51
Hyper-V is Microsoft role for virtualization. – MadBoy Dec 17 '10 at 9:39
Ben -- that's a fair point, if I'm understanding it correctly. I wouldn't necessarily suggest putting all those heavy applications on the same physical server if disk IO might be a concern. At some point (especially the 16 core 50gb RAM server the OP is posting about) one would think of having separate storage :) – Jeff McJunkin Dec 17 '10 at 16:58

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