Microsoft Essential Business Server RC1 Imminent, Launch Set For Nov. 12

Server release candidate

Small Business Server 2008, a new release of the popular server package for small businesses, will reach the RC1 milestone at the same time and also launch Nov. 12.

Essential Business Server 2008, targeted toward businesses with up to 300 desktops and other devices, bundles Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007 and other products into an all-in-one solution. Small Business Server does the same for companies with up to 75 devices.

EBS is eagerly awaited by solution providers whose SBS customers have run out of capacity. "We're putting a pretty big strategic bet on EBS to help us push into the midmarket," said Michael Cocanower, president of IT Synergy, a Phoenix-based solution provider. While 80 percent of the company's customers have 50 PCs or less, IT Synergy caters to businesses with up to 250 PCs and bigger customers that outgrow SBS have no upgrade path other than assembling individual Microsoft products.

E Squared C LLC, a Minden, Nev., solution provider, also has clients that have reluctantly moved beyond SBS when they exceeded the 75-device limit. "We see a need for EBS for a few of our larger clients," said president John Endter. "I think EBS is going to be the product that helps us move into this and#91;midmarketand#93; space."

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The standard edition of SBS combines Windows Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services and other products into one bundle that runs on a single physical server. A premium edition adds the SQL Server 2008 database running on a second server. EBS Standard Edition will require three physical servers running management, messaging and security applications, while the premium edition will add the database running on a fourth server. Aside from the benefit of its all-in-one configuration, EBS " like SBS " offers an integrated management console and the Remote Web Access tools for accessing PCs via the Web.

"This gives our SBS clients a much clearer migration path," said Dave Sobel, president/owner of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based solution provider. EBS will provide failover and other system redundancy capabilities that SBS lacks, noted Sobel, who has been testing both EBS and the new SBS release. "I've been highly impressed with the stability and capabilities of the release candidates," he said.

Sobel said one question he's looking to get answered at the Worldwide Partner Conference is how EBS fits with Microsoft's virtualization technology strategy. "The virtualization direction still isn't clear. That needs to get solved," he said.

IT Synergy has been working with early versions of EBS and even has one customer running the product under Microsoft's Technology Adoption Program with a second slated to do the same later this month. Cocanower said he hopes to hear more at WPC about tools for analyzing customer IT environments before installing EBS.

Pre-release versions of SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 are available at