Test Center review: Small Business Server 2008 gets "small" right
Microsoft's revamp of SBS takes the sting out of setup and admin for IT-challenged shops, without sacrificing the functionality that all businesses needFollow @infoworld
The Internet Setup Task requires basic knowledge of your domain and registrar information, though a wizard will connect you to a registrar and help walk you through the process if you don't already have a domain in place. In early release candidates, there was a single registrar shown; Microsoft says that they will have several options for domain registration in the final version.
One of the good things about the SBS setup is that it walks you through the process of creating a backup program. In a nod to higher-capacity storage systems and lower-cost USB hard drives, the assumption is that you'll attach one or more USB drives to the system for backup.
Users and licenses
Adding users is another Getting Started Task, and the wizard simplifies things considerably. Entering information once populates a variety of tables, including the Active Directory entry for the employee. After users are created, you can add computers to support the users – a Web-based enrollment checks the client machines to see whether they have the services and capabilities to be part of the SBS network. Assuming everything checks out, the machine is added to the AD roster, and you're ready for licensing. Adding the client machine to the AD roster does more than just enable network access, though; with SBS, malware protection and a variety of monitoring and reporting functions are extended to clients through the server operating system.
Microsoft SBS Client Access Licenses (CALs) can be assigned to users or machines, a nice option if you're running multiple shifts or have users with intermittent access requirements. CALs are available in 20-packs, 5-packs, or, in a hat-tip to the realities of small-business life, single-CAL packs. In addition, SBS comes with five "temporary CALs" that you can borrow against to get a new user up and running immediately. The idea is that you set up a new employee with a temporary CAL and then buy the regular license, returning the temporary CAL to the pool. This way, you don't have to wait until you've had a chance to buy a CAL before you can bring on a new user, and you don't have to buy more CALs than you need. In many ways, the new licensing scheme may be the most important change to the product.
Mobility and management
One of the other realities Microsoft has recognized is that small-business employees are far more mobile today than in the past. Remote Web Workplace is a standard SBS feature, and it's established through one of the basic wizards. Microsoft has also included services for supporting Windows Mobile devices as clients to SBS applications.
Of course, setting up SBS is one thing, and ongoing management is something else entirely. Management and administration of SBS follow the path established by setup, via Vista-like interfaces and functional tabs for working through the various admin stations. One of the points at which the two-tiered structure becomes evident is in the reports tab. There are a variety of reports available, with security status, client and system status (including license availability), backup status, and others pre-configured. You can set up different levels of detail in the reports and arrange to have them automatically e-mailed to various distribution lists.