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Posts Tagged ‘SBS’

SBS: We’ll Miss You, But it’s Time to Move on

SBS quietly left us on December 31st 2013. We will remember SBS as a hard-working, dedicated piece of technology in the small business environment.

As a Microsoft partner, I LOVED SBS. As with most partners, initially I wasn’t thrilled with losing SBS, but after working with the options offered with Windows Server 2012 R2, I have come to appreciate the opportunities that arose when the SBS “windows” closed.

As a recap, SBS provided Exchange for email, and SharePoint for document management. Typically everything was installed on one server. Now with Server 2012, Exchange and SharePoint are not included. Microsoft has provided other alternatives to the software, such as Office 365, Exchange On-Premise, or hosted Exchange.

All three are great solutions and it’s just a matter of finding the right solution for your small business or your small business client. Let’s look at each option here.

1. Office 365 – If you read my blog you know I am a big fan of Office 365. For a small business who is already using some type of hosted email, moving to Office 365 is a no-brainer. They get awesome email, plus Lync and SharePoint for a similar cost to what they are already paying. Essentials can be configured to connect to Office 365, and you can easily add both local and Office 365 email accounts, via a single pane of glass. To see how easy it is to connect the two services see article:

2. Exchange On-Premise – Some companies will insist on continuing to host email internally, and for these clients we can easily add an Exchange Server to the infrasture. Essentials will easily tie into this server and you will be able to manage both servers and accounts from a single pane of glass. I will do a post on how to connect these two options in the future. Personally, I’m not an Exchange expert and it would be a good experience for me to play with the new version of Exchange.

3. Hosted Exchange – If your client does not want to use Office 365, or manage an On-Premise Exchange server, a hosted Exchange service is also supported.

There is no stopping the steady progression to the cloud, and for the small business, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials can provide all the big business tools at an affordable cost. While SBS focused on keeping everything on-site, Essentials seamlessly allows the small business to take advantage of cloud technologies; if an On-Premise Exchange server is required, we can easily manage this server just as easily.

As we start the New Year, let’s make a resolution to embrace Server Essentials and not grieve SBS. SBS would have wanted us to move on and continue to serve our small business clients with the best of the technologies.

Nas vs Server – Part 2: The Server

Last month, I posted an article about how some small businesses I work with are opting not to replace their aging servers with a current piece of equipment. For details, read “Nas vs Server – Part 1”. As I sat and watched a Windows Server 2012 Essentials be installed, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand on the server side of “Nas vs Server”.

SBS Install

This post outlines some of the benefits of replacing an older server with a new one, or adding a server to your small business environment.

If your company uses Line of Business applications, or requires specific shares or configurations for your applications, a server may be the only option. However, if most of your workflow is cloud-based and minimal in-house file storage is required, a NAS may be the better solution. When I refer to a server, I am referring to a computer with server-rated hardware and a proper server operating system, such as Small Business Server, Server 2008, etc. I am not referring to a Windows XP/7 computer, that is being used to share files to other users.

Today’s small businesses servers are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and provide many benefits to the small business. Here’s a list of just a few advantages of adding a server to your environment: (For a full list, please see the Microsoft Server 2012 Essentials website.)

  1. Security – Allows you to control who has access to what data, and how they access it from both outside and inside the organization.
  2. Line of Business Applications – Store shared application data in one central location, such as Sage, PC Law, or other 3rd party
    applications.
  3. Remote Web Access – Users can securely access their data and desktops from outside the office (there goes snow days).
  4. Automatic Desktop Backups – Users no longer have to think about backing up their desktops. The server takes care of this for them, ensuring that their data is always backed up.
  5. Patches and Other Security Actions – The server will push updates to the users, and from an easy to read Dashboard you can see what systems are lacking current security measures.

There are many options for small businesses. If your workflow is mostly cloud-based, a server may not be necessary, and your resources could be better utilized in other aspects of your business. But if you need more control, flexibility, and growth a server may be your best solution. Talk to your qualified IT professional to see if a small business server would be a good and necessary addition to your IT environment.

How To Work In Your Jammies On Snow Days (Canadian, eh?)

I was sitting in my jammies earlier today, watching the snowstorm with my coffee, when a client called me. She was unable to go to her workplace because of the treacherous road conditions, but she didn’t want that to keep her from working. She told me, “Sharon, I want to be able to work from home. I know you set up that type of functionality a while ago on the new business server, could you help me get connected to it?” “Of course”, I replied, and five minutes later, she was connected to her office desktop through her home computer.

Last fall, I upgraded this client to Small Business Server 2011 Standard, as well as many other additional technical improvements. I love the SBS servers; and with their large variety of features, they’re a great solution for small businesses.

The feature this client called me about is Remote Web Access (or Anywhere Access, as it’s now referred to in Microsoft’s latest server operating system), and it allows users to securely access in-house resources using any web browser. This means you can seamlessly work from anywhere with an Internet connection the same way you would at your workplace.

Here’s a quick overview on what Remote Web Access looks like:

rwa-blanked

Your users can easily connect to your server by entering a designated web address into their web browser. They will then be presented with a very simple log-in screen, as seen above.

RWA Web - blanked

Once successfully authenticated, the user can connect to any of the resources he/she has permission to access; whether it’s shared folders on a server, desktop or (depending on the version of SBS installed) the internal SharePoint site.

Shared Folders - blanked

Users can upload and download files as necessary, depending on their access rights. In the picture above, the account is an administrative one, and has access to all folders and computers.

As a bonus, I can remotely support businesses using Remote Web Access and Remote Desktop; which allows me to address issues without having to physically be on-site, reducing the business’s downtime. Remote Web Access is just one solution to allow your team members to work remotely. Talk to your certified IT professional about what solution will best meet your team’s needs.

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