Windows Server

Introducing Windows Small Business Server 2011: What is Included with Windows SBS 2011?

7/24/2011 5:00:35 PM
Windows SBS includes a number of Microsoft server applications; some are retail products, and others are available as free downloads. Even in the case of a free product, however, you benefit by obtaining it with Windows SBS in several ways, including ease of installation and automated configuration.

Windows SBS 2011, as shown in Figure 1, is designed for use on a network that consists of 1 server and up to 75 workstations. One primary server performs all the infrastructure services required for the operation of the network. The Premium Add-On (available as a separate product) provides the ability to install a second server and run line-of-business (LOB) applications.

Figure 1. Windows SBS 2011 server configurations.

The following sections examine each of the components included in the Windows SBS product.

1. Windows Server 2008 R2

The Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system is a fundamental component of the Windows SBS package; it provides the environment in which all the other components run. Windows SBS 2011 includes Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, with all the components found in the retail and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) operating system products.

Windows Server 2008 R2 includes a large collection of applications and services, packaged as roles, many of which Windows SBS relies on to provide the infrastructure that your network needs to run. The biggest difference between Windows SBS 2011 and a standalone version of the operating system is that SBS automatically installs and configures many of these roles for you, while with a standalone Windows Server 2008 R2 product you must add the roles that define the functions you want the server to perform.

For example, to configure the server to function as a domain controller, you must install the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) role and then run a wizard to promote the server. When you install Windows SBS, the setup program adds the AD DS role for you, along with many of the other available roles, and configures them as needed. In a large business environment, this automatic configuration would not be practical because there are likely to be multiple servers on the network, with each one dedicated to a few specific roles. On a small business network with only one infrastructure server, however, SBS installs all the roles, services, and applications required for a typical network. You can, of course, disable elements that you do not need after the installation, or install additional roles as needed (with some limitations).

Another big difference between the Windows SBS version of Windows Server 2008 R2 and the standalone versions is the inclusion of the Windows SBS Console tool, shown in Figure 2. This console, not included in the standalone versions of Windows Server 2008 R2, provides a central administration tool for all the applications and services installed with Windows SBS. This console also insulates the relatively inexperienced administrator from many of the more advanced, yet infrequently used configuration settings provided by the standard Windows Server tools. As you gain experience with Windows SBS, or if you are already an experienced Windows administrator, you still have access to all the familiar tools included with Windows Server 2008 R2.

The version of Windows Server 2008 R2 in Windows SBS 2011 includes a five-pack of the SBS 2011 Client Access License (CAL) Suite. This enables up to five users or devices to connect to the server and access its services. To support more than five users, you must purchase additional CALs. Unlike the CALs supplied with and sold for Windows Server 2008 R2, which provide clients with access only to the server, the Windows SBS CALs provide clients with access to all the applications included with the product. With Windows SBS, you do not need to purchase separate licenses for Microsoft Exchange Server clients; the SBS 2011 CAL Suite provides client access to Exchange Server 2010 as well as Windows Server 2008 R2.

Figure 2. Windows SBS Console.

2. Exchange Server 2010 Standard SP1

Email has become a staple of business communications, and Exchange Server 2010 is Microsoft’s flagship email messaging product. Exchange Server provides an organization with internal email messaging, plus incoming and outgoing Internet email access. The mail is stored on the server so that users can access their messages from different computers and with a variety of client interfaces, including Microsoft Office Outlook on the desktop; Outlook Web Access (OWA), a web-based interface that provides access from any computer, inside or outside the enterprise; and even mobile devices, such as smart phones. In addition to email, Exchange Server also provides storage for calendar data, contacts, journals, and to-do lists, all of which users can share over the network, creating a variety of collaborative business solutions.

Exchange Server is a complex product, with many features and settings. However, in Windows SBS 2011, the main product installation process includes Exchange 2010 along with the Service Pack 1 (SP1) release. In addition, the critical configuration settings for the Exchange Server application and access to parameters for individual users are integrated into the Windows SBS Console, simplifying the administration process considerably. As with Windows Server 2008 R2, though, more experienced administrators can use the standard tools supplied with Exchange Server, such as the Exchange Management Console.

3. SharePoint Foundation 2010

As part of its default setup procedure, Windows SBS 2011 installs Internet Information Services (IIS), the web server application included with Windows Server 2008 R2, on the primary server. Windows SBS uses IIS to host a number of websites for various administration purposes, such as client deployment and update distribution. Windows SBS also creates a default company website, as shown in Figure 3, using Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 and the Windows Internal Database feature of Windows Server 2008 R2. SharePoint Foundation is a free, web-based collaboration environment that enables users to create, share, and edit files; schedule calendar appointments; create task lists; and participate in forum-style group discussions.

Figure 3. A default company website created using SharePoint Foundation 2010.

SharePoint Foundation 2010 requires a SQL Server database to store user files, messages, and other information. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes a feature called Windows Internal Database, essentially a special-purpose implementation of SQL Server, which SharePoint Foundation uses by default. Do not confuse the SQL Server implementation in the Windows Internal Database with the full-featured one supplied with Windows SBS Premium Add-On. Windows SBS 2011 includes SharePoint Foundation 2010 and installs it on the primary server using Windows Internal Database. However, if you are running the Premium Add-On, it is possible to configure SharePoint Foundation to use the full SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard product on your secondary server to host the database.

4. Windows Server Update Services 3.0

Regular operating system updates are a fact of life for all Windows users and administrators. Microsoft releases security updates, bug fixes, and feature enhancements on a regular basis, and Windows SBS uses Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) 3.0 to automate the process of downloading new updates and distributing them to the computers on the network.

By using a central distribution point, you can conserve bandwidth on your Internet connection by downloading updates once instead of letting each computer download its own copy. WSUS also enables administrators to evaluate and test the updates and then decide whether to deploy them to the rest of the network.

5. SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard for Small Business

SQL Server 2008 R2 is a relational database manager application that you can use to deploy LOB applications designed to run within the environment that it provides. SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard for Small Business is included only with the Windows SBS 2011 Premium Add-On product, along with a second copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 to install on a second server.


Unlike Windows SBS 2008 Premium, the Windows SBS 2011 Premium Add-On includes only 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard because Windows Server 2008 R2 is available only for the 64-bit platform. Therefore, the secondary server on a Windows SBS 2011 network must be 64-bit.

The primary server in a Windows SBS 2011 deployment performs a large number of functions, including domain controller, Exchange Server, and web server. Adding SQL Server to the mix would likely overtax the server’s resources, so the Windows SBS Premium Add-On provides the software for a second computer running Windows Server 2008 R2, which runs SQL Server 2008 R2 and any applications that require its database services.

SQL Server is a database manager, which means it provides the services that applications need to store data and supply it to clients. Structured Query Language (SQL) is a language that applications use to send instructions to the database manager. The instructions enable the database manager to add information to a database stored on the server or retrieve specific information and supply it to another application.

A typical SQL Server implementation in a Windows SBS environment might consist of a web application running on the primary server along with a website that is accessible from the Internet. Users accessing the website supply information via a form, and the web server stores the information in a SQL Server database on the secondary server. Later, internal users access the information in the database using an intranet web interface or a dedicated client, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. A typical Windows SBS SQL Server deployment.

For clients on the Windows SBS network to access the SQL Server applications, they must have a special license called the CAL Suite for Premium Users/Devices. This license is more expensive than the standard CAL Suite, but only the clients that access the database require it. If, for example, some users need access to the SQL Server databases and some do not, you can purchase CAL Suite Premium only for those who need it and then use the less expensive, standard CAL Suite for those who do not.
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