SBS 2008 Promises More but Delivers Less

I admit that I was more than just a little apprehensive moving a client to Small Business Server 2008.  I had minimal time to play  with it and learn its finer points.  Documentation is sketchy and sometimes incorrect since there were last minute changes to the final release.  Microsoft is rapidly addressing the issue.

I was pleased to learn that server migration had been greatly improved; disappointed to learn that there is no direct migration path from server 2000 to SBS 2008.   For more specific details on my migration see How to Migrate SBS 2008 from Server 2000. 

Once in the GUI, I began familiarizing myself with all the new menus and wizards.  I give Microsoft props on more wizard driven functions, but I despise their insistence in changing names and locations of certain features.  These are the same frustrations you’ve come to know going from XP to Vista.  Specifically networking and Exchange has some new terminology, sometimes for no apparent reason to this author.

Here’s where the less comes in:  

  1. There is no client installable Outlook 2007 included in the client apps folder.  I’ve heard the MS explanation but it doesn’t change the fact that your clients will have to pay for it and most are perfectly happy with their Microsoft Office 2003 suite with the 2007 compatibility pack installed.  I give Microsoft a big thumbs down on this move. 
  2. I defy any IT savvy person not affiliated with Microsoft to defend the built in backup solution for SBS 2008.  One word:  Sucks Royally! Ok, that’s two words but one wasn’t enough to describe the disappointment.  Simply put, it’s less customizable, has less features for backing up Exchange than expected, and  compatible with fewer backup solutions (eg. tapes)  Its more proprietary as well, making it harder to hookup to any old workstation to restore data to a temporary machine.  I would love to get a reply from someone that has gotten ntbackup to work on SBS 2008.
  3. The system requirements for SBS 2008 is much higher than SBS 2003 and Server 2008 standard.  Running only on a 64 bit platform, it is a major memory hog with 4GB being the minimum.  Equate 4GB in SBS 2008 to 256MB in XP.  I am running 8GB and it seems to work well, but I’m thinking of doubling that in the future.  Couple that with the CPU and storage requirements, and you better be prepared to lay some dollars down for good hardware.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it your bottom line will be higher.

Considering the above stripped out and dumbed down features, you might have noticed that the total cost of implementation is more expensive than with SBS 2003.  Factor in no Outlook licensing, the steep hardware requirements and the additional “familiarity” time, and you start scratching your head wondering if SBS 2008 is really worth the money.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Steve Balmer and Ashton Kutcher were going to bust into the server room and announce I had been punk’d.