By PowerBuy // 1 June 2014 // Related Categories: Tips

A “must read” for anyone running Small Business Server

If you are a small business and have a server chances are it is a Microsoft Small Business Server (“SBS”). SBS version 2003 was the first popular version, followed by 2008 and finally SBS 2011.

The SBS range has now been phased out and replaced with Windows Server 2012. Microsoft SBS 2008 and 2011 are now out-dated and if you are running 2003 then be aware that Microsoft will officially end support soon. No matter which version of SBS you run it’s time to think about upgrading.

Here are your options:

Option 1: Go “Cloud”

There is a lot of buzz around “Cloud” and many businesses are migrating to the cloud with Office 365. The benefit is you can use Outlook without worrying about the technology behind it. This solution also gives you access to Lync for business-grade video communication and instant messaging. With remote access features of Server 2012 R2 you will be able to gain access to your information from anywhere that you can connect to the Internet – providing of course you can maintain an Internet connection.

You no longer need to manage your Microsoft Exchange (mail) server or the continual feature improvements and upgrades. You also have the option to take up additional features like Lync and SharePoint Online. You can choose the subscription model for Office licensing to stay up-to-date and to shift your software licensing costs from capex to opex, improving cash flow and cost forecasting.

Option 2: Go “Cloud” PLUS get an off-site recovery server

The replication and backup features in Server 2012 R2 will let you replicate your server to a second office to give you fast “fail-over” in the event of a disaster in your primary office. This fortifies your data and gives you much faster recovery in the event of a systems failure caused by environment, malicious attack or hardware fault. It’s peace of mind for your business.

Option 3: Run a local server

If you are worried about the Cloud (e.g. Internet reliability, data sovereignty or privacy issues) then you may need to keep your own server on-site or in a shared data centre. Either way the remote access features of Server 2012 will allow you seamless access to your data from anywhere on the network or via secured internet connections.

This has the benefit of full control of your mail server and removes the subscription model if that does not suit your business.

Option 4: For those with poor Internet access

If you are unlucky enough to be in a regional area with poor access to the internet then your best option is to take advantage of server 2012 virtualisation capabilities. You can run a file server and a mail server on the one physical hardware box to keep costs of power and maintenance under control.

Real-life Situations

Here are some real life examples of how small businesses have moved away from SBS.

The Architects

An Architect with 1 office and 12 staff sharing a local Windows 2003 Small Business Server providing email and file server.

In the new world these architects run a local Windows 2012 Storage Server with Office 365 providing shared email in the cloud. They can now access their email on any internet-connected device and gain remote access to their files on the server via improved remote desktop services.

The Psychologists

Previously this business had central file storage and email on a Windows SBS they could only access when they were in the head office.

Today they use a centralised case file system in head office. The central server allows remote access to the database for bookings and case management also viewing and editing text based files. For privacy they use a central Exchange email server which they access via their mobile devices from each office or via the internet from home using the outlook client or the web portal via outlook web access. This ensures they meet all privacy and sovereignty requirements for their clients.   Backup is a replication from head office to their nearest regional site with regular snap shots saved locally and remotely.

What is your situation and what help do you need to get the right solution in place?

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