Vol. 19, #21 - May 26, 2014 - Issue #981
A Look at Windows Server Essentials
- Editor's Corner
- Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials: The Perfect SMB Fit
- Osterman Research Short Survey
- Tip of the Week: Storage Spaces and Hardware RAID
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Asia Pacific
- Webcast Calendar
- MSExchange.org Webinar: How to Save Time and Cut Costs on Email Management
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Small Business IT
- Enterprise IT
- Windows PowerShell
- Windows Server News
- Stripping down enterprise IT to the naked cloud
- DaaS vs. VDI: Why the comparisons might not be fair
- There's still room for improvement during a live VM migration
- Five laptop finder products offer security after a device loss
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Ceremonial Guard Bloopers
- This Crow Is The Smartest Bird You Have Ever Seen
- Leosvel and Diosmani - 'The Mast' - The Worlds Greatest Cabaret
- Friendship Has No Boundaries
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Import Active Directory Objects with Hyena's new 'Active Task'
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about Windows Server Essentials, an easy-to-use server solution intended for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. We welcome Sharon Bennett, a Microsoft Small Business Specialist and Microsoft Certified Trainer with over 18 years of IT experience, who has contributed the guest editorial for this issue.
As the Rolling Stones said:
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
And what is it that small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) want? An IT solution that fits their needs. In this regard, Sharon will try to explain how the latest version of Windows Server Essentials may be the perfect fit for the IT needs of many SMBs.
So what is it that I myself need right now? I need a hug. Maybe Dilbert can help:
Or better yet, why not just kill me now...
On to this issue's guest editorial.
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials: The Perfect SMB Fit
As an SMB IT consultant, I have seen some very substandard networking configurations. From file and Line of Business applications being hosted on the receptionist XP system, to an ancient, unlicensed, and incorrectly configured 2003 Enterprise server; the stuff I see will make any IT consultant cringe. Usually the business owner (of a typical 10-20 user business) is unaware of what these systems do, or even worse, how a misconfigured system can leave them vulnerable to data loss, attacks, or just human error. In these cases, either deploying a server or replacing an outdated one can save the company not only money and frustration, but it also makes the infrastructure much safer. A server can provide secure access to their data and protect themselves from data loss. For these clients I always suggest Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. This is a great first server for the SMB who needs a cost-effective solution that is easy to manage, or has an old 2003 server that needs replacing.
Essentials was designed for the SMB market and is the perfect replacement for SBS server, which has been discontinued. Essentials can be tied to cloud services, such as Office 365 and Azure, allowing for single pane of glass management for both the server and cloud services. The benefits of this entry level server are numerous, but the most beneficial features for the SMB market are:
Unlike Standard, Data Center, or even SBS, CALs are not required. Essentials will allow up to 25 users or 50 devices to connect, which is great for the SMB who does not want or need to worry about Microsoft licensing. Please note that the 25 user limit includes both active and non-active accounts.
We know that in reality, even if we encourage regular client system backups, they probably won't get done unless it's automated. Essentials will back up all the client systems that are joined to the domain. By default, it backups the entire client system, so keep an eye on disk space to ensure you don't run low.
Many customers also don't regularly backup their servers, especially to an off-site location in case of fire, flood, theft, etc. Essentials provides an easy-to-setup-and-use server backup to removable devices. To ensure the clients' data is maintained off-site, we can easily integrate the backup with Azure backup to automatically and safely store the data offsite.
Remote Web Access
The way we do business is changing. We are no longer tethered to a desk, or even the office. We could be a road warrior, a remote worker for a cloud-based company, or even home with a sick child; we still need to conveniently access our corporate data and in some cases, our office desktops. Essentials server includes Anywhere Access, which allows the users to connect to the server via a familiar web interface.
Office 365 Integration
For an SMB who doesn't currently have Exchange, or if they do (maybe with their SBS system), Office 365 offers all the functionality of Exchange in a cloud offering. It's not only limited to email but can include SharePoint Online for collaboration and Lync for instant communication. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Office 365 for the SMB. We can provide the feature-rich tools to the small biz at a fraction of the cost, allowing SMBs to exploit these tools to help grow their businesses. Since Essentials was built for the cloud, it's designed to integrate with Office 365 with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Once connected, you can provision either local or email accounts from either Dashboard or the Office 365 portal. While creating an account on the server, there is the option to provision an Exchange account; and if adding the account via Office 365, you will prompted to provision a local server account. You can also manage Office 365 distribution groups via the Dashboard. This seamless integration allows for easy management of all accounts, whether on premise or cloud. And for those SMBs who prefer on premise or hosted Exchange, it's just as easy to integrate and manage.
This awesome feature was added in 2012 R2. Once Essentials is connected to Office 365, you can easily sync files and/or folders from SharePoint Online to the local server using the SkyDrive Pro (I would think the name will probably change in the future to match the new OneDrive naming convention).
Intune is a mobile device management portal. It your IT professional to track, wipe, repair, and push policies to devices that are not domain-joined, such as tablets, phones, or personal (home) systems. We can create a company portal that allows the users to access or install specific applications; and if the employee leaves or the device is lost, we can remove the company data from it with a click of the mouse. If you haven't explored Intune yet, I would highly recommend it. Now with Essentials, we can integrate with Intune allowing us to manage devices via the Dashboard.
When Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 clients are joined to the domain, file history is enabled by default and the Desktop and Documents folder is backed up hourly to the server. This allows the clients to recover their own files without the assistance of the administrator. These settings can be adjusted to best meet the needs of the SMB.
With previous versions of Essentials, once the SMB reached the limit of 25 accounts, a Standard or Datacenter server had to be installed and everything had to be migrated. With R2, an in-place license transition to Standard or Datacenter is available, which maintains all the user settings and data. Specific functionality may be removed during the upgrade. For additional details, refer to this TechNet article:
Please note, Standard and Datacenter require CALs and the appropriate number will need to be purchased.
With R2, we can virtualize Essentials, which allows us to now easily backup the Virtual Machine, allowing us to spin it back up if necessary, and reducing downtime for the client.
This is one of those awesome features that provides SAN-like functionality without the cost of a SAN. Storage Spaces allows us to add low-cost commodity hard drives, and assign the storage to data volumes. You can create storage pool(s) from attached physical disks. Pools can be expanded by simply adding more drives and assigning the storage to the existing pool. This allows us to easily and quickly provision additional storage as needed.
As much as I love the Essentials server and the numerous features for the SMB, there are caveats when deploying this solution. These are the three things to keep in mind when implementing Essentials.
- The Essentials server must be the domain controller and hold all the FSMO roles.
- Can only be deployed into a single domain.
- The domain cannot include a read-only domain controller.
New in R2 is the ability to install the Essentials Experience Role on Standard and Datacenter. This allows the SMB to use all the Essentials features without being restricted to the 25 user limit. Standard licensing applies to this server, and each user or device requires a CAL.
Hands down, Essentials is my favorite server to deploy. For the SMB that needs a server but may be intimated by the complexity of Standard or Datacenter, this is a great fit. It's easy enough for the SMB to manage if they wish, but from my experience, the client will usually leave all administrative and management tasks to their IT Professional. For the SMBs that are looking to move from 2003, remember it will expire in July 2015; Essentials can the perfect replacement server and the first step to cloud services. For the SMB who is ready for their first server, file sharing, Line of Business apps, centralized management of users and data, Essentials with Office 365 can easily and quickly be deployed with very little downtime. As the SMB grows, Essentials will grow with them whether the SMB continues to use the Essentials Role for continued easy management, or move to Standard or Datacenter for additional functionality and control. Essentials is the perfect fit for both your SMB clients and for IT professionals.
About Sharon Bennett
Sharon Bennett brings over 18 years of IT experience from a variety of roles, including most recently running her own business as an IT Partner and Microsoft VAR. For the past 3 years, Sharon worked with small business customers and helped them implement technologies that enable them to work more efficiently while ensuring their company data is safe and available anytime from anywhere. She is a Microsoft Small Business Specialist, MCT and holds several Microsoft certifications. I'll also add that Sharon is an IT Blogger (Biz-Tech's Top 50 Must read IT Blogs), an Author, Teacher and active member of her local community.
Send us feedback
Got feedback on this issue's main topic? Let us know at [email protected]
Osterman Research Short Survey
We are conducting a short survey with Osterman Research on key systems deployed in organizations of all sizes. If you are involved in messaging and related issues for your organization, we invite you to participate in this survey.
Tip of the Week: Storage Spaces and Hardware RAID
The following tip is excerpted from my book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 from Microsoft Press:
Storage Spaces cannot be used in conjunction with hardware RAID. Choosing between hardware RAID and Storage Spaces depends on several factors:
- Choose Storage Spaces when you want to be able to virtualize and deploy shared storage of data using thin provisioning and save money by using low-cost, commodity hard drives, while ensuring a level of resiliency similar to what RAID can provide.
- Choose a hardware RAID solution for a server when you need to ensure data integrity, fault tolerance, and high performance—for example, a RAID 5 or RAID 6 solution implemented using a RAID controller card. You should also choose hardware RAID when you want to ensure data integrity and fault tolerance for a server's boot volume—for example, by configuring the boot volume as a RAID 1 or RAID 10 volume.
If a server has a RAID controller card and multiple hard drives and you want to use Storage Spaces to pool together these drives, you need to configure the RAID card to expose each drive separately to the operating system.
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
This book is only available for in a Kindle edition but it looks like a good working guide to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials:
Using Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
Here's another Kindle book on the topic that might be useful to you:
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Installation Guide for Small Businesses
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Some announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
On-demand from MVA: "Building Blocks" for Developers
In the second course, Building Blocks: Construct() Great Apps with HTML5, CSS, & XAML our experts teach you how to create great apps, and they cover layout and style with HTML5, CSS, and XAML:
And watch Building Blocks: Extend() Cloud-Connected Mobile Apps to learn how to build a successful mobile app and smart device strategy:
Quote of the Week
"Where I come from, being a hard man is being able to take a good beating and then get back up again and carry on fighting." --Mickey Rourke
Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.
Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
Download Hyena v11.0. New features include updating and creating Active Directory objects from a delimited text file with the new 'Active Task' feature, plus improved Microsoft Exchange integration.
Easy & Fast - Altaro Hyper-V Backup for MS Hyper-V. Up and running in just 17 minutes. Free forever for WServerNews subscribers. Benefit & Download your free copy now.
ExFolders lets you perform tasks on public folders and mailboxes for Exchange 2007 and on 2010 SP1 and later:
ManageEngine lets you monitor Exchange Server 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013:
AmericasMicrosoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
Add your event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
MSExchange.org Webinar: How to Save Time and Cut Costs on Email Management
Join Microsoft MVP J. Peter Bruzesse and Michael Osterman, from Osterman Research on Thursday, May 29, at 2pm EDT, 11am PDT, 7PM BST for an informative discussion that will help you calculate the true cost of protecting your organization and build the business case to help simplify your email management!
During this live interactive MSExchange.org webinar you'll learn how to manage the hidden costs and complexity of your Exchange and email management systems, including:
- Calculating the hidden costs of managing MS Exchange Server and email
- How to avoid the complexity caused by disparate third party tools
- Strategies to reduce the need to move unnecessary data during a migration, and what that data might be costing you
- What to consider when selecting a single email management tool
- Plus, obtain the results of the most recent Osterman Research survey on issues and costs of email management
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
Small business IT
Transition from SBS2011 to Server 2012 the Essentials Route (InfraTalks)
SBS 2011 Give False RWA 404 with IE 11 (Third Tier)
SBS 2003 R2 Premium Migration to 2012 R2 Domain and Exchange 2013 (Third Tier)
Changing Quorum disk in Windows server 2012R2 No downtime (The Windows Server FCI Blog)
Import users into Active Directory with PowerShell (4sysops)
Product Review: Cayosoft Admin Assistant (WindowsNetworking.com)
Windows Compliance vs Security (WindowSecurity.com)
Using PowerShell to Back Up Group Policy Objects (Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog)
My outline for accelerated PowerShell training (PowerShell.org)
Managing Active Directory with PowerShell (WindowsNetworking.com)
Stripping down enterprise IT to the naked cloud
A 'naked cloud' – one that takes advantage of public cloud services that doesn't have all the bells and whistles – can offer significant advantages, but is it right for enterprises? Find out the benefits and tradeoffs of this minimalist approach to cloud inside this exclusive guide.
DaaS vs. VDI: Why the comparisons might not be fair
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) providers claim that DaaS is a simpler, cheaper way to implement virtual desktops, but these advantages are accompanied by drawbacks. Inside, learn who really comes out on top when DaaS and VDI go head to head, and learn how to evaluate your organization's options.
There's still room for improvement during a live VM migration
Live virtual machine (VM) migration plays an essential role in virtualization. As a result, it's critical to minimize common performance challenges that can occur when moving VMs from one server to another. Fortunately, this exclusive guide offers key tips and tricks for optimizing live VM migration.
Five laptop finder products offer security after a device loss
It is impossible for IT to prevent company laptops from being lost or stolen, but by utilizing advanced tracking devices, you can mitigate replacement costs and protect sensitive data. Inside this exclusive tip, explore five popular laptop locator products and review the key advantages they can deliver.
WServerNews FAVE Links
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Ceremonial Guard Bloopers
Guards are supposed to perform their duty precisely, ceremoniously and without showing any emotion, but once in a while something unexpected happens....
This Crow Is The Smartest Bird You Have Ever Seen
A crow solves a problem that requires eight separate stages that must be completed in a specific order.
Leosvel and Diosmani - 'The Mast' - The Worlds Greatest Cabaret
Two young performers from the Republic of Cuba with an amazing performance and a finale which is performed by nobody else in the world.
Friendship Has No Boundaries
Nothing warms the heart like animals that are supposed to fight each other abandoning their instincts and becoming best friends forever.
WServerNews - Editors