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Our company is mid-size, and we are considering the purchase of both Exchange server and SQL server.

Buying all the software products and CAL's seperately seems kind of expensive, so I'm wondering if anyone have hands-on experience with Windows Essential Business.

I'm also interested to find out if it have any limitations (other than the obvious 300 user CAL limit), like SBS's limitation on multiple domain controllers etc.

A quick note about our enviroment if it plays a role in this; we have a datacenter wich could hold atleast ten times the amount of employees we have. The reason for this is that we produce newspapers, radio and TV. We have redunant servers, fibre channel network, SAN etc. Just about everything is virtualized with VMware Infrastructure.

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As you've already pointed out, the 300 user limit will be your major limitation, and if your not going to get to this, then Essential Business server is probably the most cost effective way to get the services you want.

The multiple domain controller issue has always been a common myth with SBS, you CAN have additional domain controllers with SBS, there recommended to provide fault tolerance. You cannot have another SBS server on the same network and I thing this is where the confusion came.

There are a few other limitations that you should be aware of, but are probably of limited concern:

  • Components cannot be separated, the messaging, security and management servers and complete units and require a logical server each. The
  • Your new Essentials Active Directory domain must be the root of the AD forest.
  • No child domains or AD trusts are allowed

Microsoft SBS and now Essentials server products are an excellent way for SME's to get Enterprise level products for an excellent price and I would recommend them for anyone who can fit under the user limit.

  • Thanks for the answer. Do you know if it's absolutely mandatory to use the included firewall software? We have several site-to-site VPN's to daughter companies (Cisco ASA on all ends), and I really don't want to touch the setup. – pauska Jun 30 '09 at 14:21
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    I cannot say for definite on essentials, but ISA has always been an optional install on an SBS system – Sam Cogan Jun 30 '09 at 14:52

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