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We're currently running SBS 2011 for our AD domain controller (no Exchange) and looking at our options for moving to Server 2012 R2 Essentials.

I understand that Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials must be the domain controller at the root of the Active Directory Forest and must hold all the FSMO roles.

How do we implement fault tolerance with this approach?

Can we setup a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard machine and configure it as a replica DC?

How do the CALs work in this scenario since Essentials does not require CALs but Standard does?

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    Can we setup a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard machine and configure it as a replica DC? - Yes. How do the CALs work in this scenario since Essentials does not require CALs but Standard does? - You'll need to consult a Microsoft licensing expert to get that answered. – joeqwerty Mar 9 '17 at 15:25
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    Connections to Essentials don't require CALs. Connections to Windows Server Standard requires CALs, so you'll need to purchase the number/type of CALs necessary to ensure every user or device that might connect to the Standard server has a Windows Server 2012 (or 2016) CAL. Essentials is meant for small environments...ones where fault tolerance with multiple DCs isn't usually deployed. – I say Reinstate Monica Mar 10 '17 at 3:09
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How do we implement fault tolerance with this approach? Add another server to your Essentials domain, and configure it as member server and replica DC.

Essentials Server should be only one in your domain, other servers (standard and datacenter version) are allowed to be added to Essentials domain.

Appropriate CALs are necessary(should be purchased) for this member server(not for Essentials Server) which you want to add to your essentials domain.

Debunking Myths About Additional Domain Controllers In SBS Domains(it is also applied to Windows Server Essentials): https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/sbs/2007/10/04/debunking-myths-about-additional-domain-controllers-in-sbs-domains/

Best Regards, Eve Wang

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