With the economy still shaky, it should come as no shock that IT budgets remain under stress. It's hard to justify buying new hardware and software licenses when we remain at risk for a double-dip recession. Plus, many companies are still happily running Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, with no desire to move to newer releases, because there are few compelling reasons to do so.
That leaves many small IT shops in a quandary. If their server hardware needs a refresh, it would make sense to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 at the same time, but the added expense may be prohibitive. And frankly, all they really need is file sharing, domain services, DNS, DHCP, and other fundaments of modern networked computing. They don't use half of what Windows Server 2008 R2 can offer, but they require more than Microsoft Small Business Server provides. Many just bite the bullet and upgrade, while many more grin and bear it, hoping the six-year-old DL360 G3 will keep on kicking for another year or so.
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Paul Venezia explains why network administration is so bleeping hard. | Read an instant classic from the Deep End: "Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin." | Then, if you dare, join the debate about rebooting Unix-based systems. ]
A non-Microsoft upgrade
But some are turning to other solutions that provide Microsoft networking essentials without Microsoft, from such companies as Resara. A number of other products have been built by roping together open source solutions like Samba, BIND, and ISC DHCPD into a Linux distribution and including an installer and basic Web-based management tools. Resara has packaged all this together with a slick, fat management application that runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac systems and sells for $499.
Resara also provides its own hardware, so you can buy a preconfigured server for as little as $799 with 250GB of RAID1 storage, up to $1,999 with 6TB of storage, including unlimited tech support for a year. That covers Active Directory domain services, DNS, DHCP, file and printer sharing, Web file access, login scripts, mapped drives -- the whole shebang. The only thing it can't do is run Microsoft applications; for that you'll need Microsoft Windows Server.