Questions to Consider for Small Business Server (SBS)

Office 365This article gives business users some background and some questions to consider if you are looking to replace your SBS server. Considering that SBS is no longer available from Microsoft, you need to look at your IT/business landscape to fully understand your options.

Microsoft wants all small businesses to move to Office 365 and are investing heavily in improvements and marketing.

According to ZDNet article from February 2014, Microsoft states that “over 15% of the Exchange installed base is now on Office 365”. According to the article, there are about 500 million Exchange mailboxes, with 40 million moving to Office 365 in 2013. One might think that Office 365 is inevitable. Maybe.

Not all business should automatically move to Office 365. Some should move to Exchange Server or a combination of  Office 365 and Exchange (aka Hybrid). This article outlines some questions to ask before you consider moving to Office 365. The next article gives some indicative scenarios for Office 365, Exchange or a mixture of both.

Firstly, what is equivalent to SBS?

In short, SBS packages multiple “server roles” into a bundle with an upper limit of 75 users.

SBS includes:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • SharePoint (Foundation)
  • Exchange
  • Some versions also included SQL

To replace exchange from SBS, you’d need at least 2 servers – Active Directory (AD) and Exchange. AD is needed for sign-on (authentication) and is used regardless of your choice of Exchange versus Office 365 (O365) Depending on your usage, size of your mailboxes and number of users, you may need two exchange servers.

Before getting to some sample scenarios (next article), here are the questions to ponder on:

  1. Is Office Licenses important or already in use?   Office Desktop (Std or Premium editions) include Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Outlook.
  2. How many Microsoft licenses do you own already?  If you already own Office Desktop or other Server licenses, it could be cheaper to add Exchange.
  3. Is your business growing staff over the next four years?   The larger you grow, the more cost effective an on-premise exchange solution can be.
  4. Are your employees all at one location, multiple offices or always on the move?   Do any of the offices store confidential or sensitive data?   Although Office 365 is “safe”, many prefer to keep sensitive/confidential data in country.
  5. How much data do you store in Exchange Mailboxes? This could impact how many servers you need for an on-premise option. It could also mean your mailbox size is too big for Office 365.
  6. Do you use SharePoint for Document Management or Intranet?
  7. Will you use Remote Desktop Services (aka Terminal Services)?
  8. Do you currently need Servers for one or more SQL based applications?
  9. Does your data need to be stored in-country? For Australia, Office 365 servers are in Singapore.
  10. Are your servers under warranty? Maximising your capital investment makes good business since.

Regardless of whether you move to Office 365, to Exchange Server or a mixture, there is a one-time labour charge of moving mailboxes and user profiles.

See next article on sample scenarios for Office 365, Exchange and Hybrid.


For more background on Office 365, see this article:  ZDNet article by Ed Bott on 21st February 2014, “Office 365: After one year, how’s Microsoft doing?