Life After Microsoft SBS: What Are Your Options?

Microsoft SBS

Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) was an affordable, all-in-one operating system designed to manage business applications, email, and internet access. And as far as small business operating systems were concerned, no other could compare.

We’re referring to SBS in the past tense because, as with all Microsoft products, it has a retirement date that’s fast approaching. By January 2020, extended support for SBS products; which includes bug fixes and security updates, will no longer be provided. This means if your company has not retired it by then; any security or downtime issues you experience will be costly, because Microsoft will not help you recover.

While you may be thinking that you still have plenty of time to upgrade, sooner would be much better than later. After all, Microsoft is constantly improving their OS lineup with faster and more feature-rich versions, and it would be a grave mistake if you didn’t take advantage of them.

So if you’re still using SBS, consider the following options.

Upgrade to Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 is an entirely new OS that improves the efficiency and security of servers with features like containers and shielded virtual machines (VMs).

Containers allow you to share server resources with workstations that lack the specs to run high-octane applications. For example, if you want to run video editing software but your bare bones computer can’t support it; a container will make it look like it’s running on the local machine when it’s actually running on your server.

Meanwhile, shielded VMs provide several layers of protection for your servers; including comprehensive access restrictions and threat detections. Shielded VMs also have the ability to quarantine your other VMs, so if one is infected with malware, the infection will never spread.

Companies currently running SBS may find that transitioning to Windows Server 2016 is easier than migrating to a cloud platform, but there are some considerations.

For starters, some SBS applications may not be compatible with Windows Server 2016; which means you’ll need to reconfigure your apps. You’ll also need to deploy new servers to take advantage of the features and a dedicated IT team to manage them; and that costs money. And similar to SBS, Windows Server 2016 has a predetermined lifespan; so you will likely have to think about installing a new OS in 5-10 years.

Migrate to Office 365

If switching to Windows 2016 doesn’t seem ideal for your business, there’s another option to consider: Office 365.

Office 365 is a cloud-based platform that includes all the productivity apps a business could possibly need — Word, SharePoint, Exchange, Outlook, Skype, and more. And it’s hosted in the cloud; which means your employees don’t even need to be in the same office space to work together. As long as they have an internet connection, they can access files and apps remotely from any device.

What convinces most firms to move over to Office 365, however, is the affordability. Unlike Windows Server, where you have to pay for the licenses upfront; Office 365 licenses are billed per user, per month, allowing you to control your IT expenses if you’re not yet ready to splurge on the OS. For a small fee, you also get all the apps Microsoft has to offer plus an elite team managing your systems.

Security updates and bug fixes are installed automatically by Microsoft to protect you from malware and cloud-based attacks; and if you need more features, accounts, or storage, one call from a managed services provider is all it takes.

Which Office 365 plan should you choose?

If you’ve decided to take the Office 365 route; know that there are two service families you can choose from: Office 365 Business and Office 365 Enterprise. Each includes three unique plans at different price points, but if you’re looking for one that completely replaces SBS; we recommend either Business Premium or Enterprise E3.

On top of productivity apps like Word and PowerPoint, these plans offer Exchange email, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Skype for Business. But if you need more advanced enterprise capabilities like access restrictions, email encryption, and data loss prevention; shelling out a few extra dollars per month for Enterprise E3 plans is the way to go.

We understand how challenging it may be to get away from SBS; especially if you’ve used it for a long time; and how upgrading to Windows Server 2016 and Office 365 is not a feat you can easily do on your own.

That’s where Empower IT comes in. We’ve helped countless Australian businesses migrate to any Windows environment without any problems. Talk to us today to find the perfect IT setup for your business.