Alas Microsoft is in the process of ending the 2008R2 server and Exchange 2010 from regular support and updates (limited support until 2020 but only critical security patches). This means all those companies that have one of these awesome beasties will need an upgrade in 2017 or 2018 (or risk some serious problems).
So what’s the plan? The plan is head to 2016 and opening your wallet. There is no more cheap ride on SBS (it’s dead) so you need 2 servers and purchase a full Exchange. At this point the best in-house option is a powerful CPU & loads of memory and run the Exchange on a VM. It’ll cost about $4000 in software/licensing alone for 10 users including the base Server software.
If that makes you cringe you can host the Exchange with a partner of mine (HostedBizz) and get a Canada-only cloud at $10/month/user and I will still keep it running normally. Unlimited mailbox size and good old Exchange so your phone will be happy and no SSL for you to mess with (saves $100/year).
If you need a quote on the hardware for this I’ll get you something current but your looking at an i7 hex-core with 32GB RAM, 2x SSD and 2x 2TB HDD. Some extra cheap extra bits will help (like a network card for the VMs and some new 4TB USB backup drives). The server is ‘cheap’ it’s the software that’ll hurt this time. I have UNIX alternatives (like Zentyal) but the maintenance will eat your savings.
For the accountants out there the cloud services offer a better tax advantage @ $10/month/user the on-premises solution of Exchange 2016 with be $1500 & $150/user and about a 5 year lifespan making the ROI and easy calculation (remember software has a smaller/longer write off spread over time but is cheaper in real $).
Call/Email me if you have questions
Having put in two of these beasties I’ve got a fairly good idea how they work and where the problems are. So far, there are very few reasons NOT to upgrade from your 2003 or even your 2008 Small Business Server.
Basic setup take about 8 hours with updates, reboots and just the usual typing required to get the system working for the installation in question. Having to reconfigure Exchange 2011 to allow larger emails is the only ‘must do’ and the loss of the ‘global’ POP3 connector is annoying.
Once everything is in you’ll have a lengthy process as you migrate (or at least prepare to) from your previous server. You could migrate directly but honestly we all know that’s a road few travel happily. Better to backup and restore, it’s longer and annoying but never ends in heartbreak, frustration and possible data lose. Keeping your subnet the same as the old network IPs help in the even you have a few forgotten static devices (like phone systems, plotters or some storage device).
With each workstation you’ll want to run the migration wizard (locally save the files) and backup Outlook to a PST file. Since you’re keeping the same subnet joining is a simple as http://connect from your IE install. Copying data will take longer than anything else but it’s unavoidable.
For the time and dollars it’s a good upgrade, beats the heck out of SBS2008.
For those BlackBerry users out there the Express server will work in SBS2011 but it takes time and research. Just pretend you doing an SBS2008 install and then do an Exchange 2011 install as well and wait until the process reaches 450MB.. then it auto-magically works.
As you may remember the system requirement from XP to Vista meant you had to buy a new machine and be prepared for it to actually perform worse than your older XP computer. Luckily Windows 7 gained some performance back but with the 64bit version you can upgrade easily and efficiently for less than $400 (not including software).
Windows 7 likes more memory and 4GB will fit in most older machines also with the 64bit version the old memory limit disappears. Thanks to dropping prices, $100 will buy you 4GB of memory and if your motherboard can handle it 8GB is less than $200. For example: NCIX 4GB DDR2 Memory
The next big performance jump is an SSD (Solid State Drive). For about $250 you have a very fast 120GB drive (use as the OS Drive) and can use your old drive as the data drive (makes migration really easy). SSD read much faster than the older mechanical drives but write speeds are about the same, this makes booting and loading programs very quick. Here’s a few examples of SSD: NCIX Solid State Drives
Lastly you need the new operating system, Windows 7 Professional 64bit. If you are buying a drive I suggest you get the OEM version and save a good deal of money ($160 vs. $325 but you need a storage device purchase to qualify). The ‘Home’ version lacks the domain abilities, no point in getting 32bit and Ultimate is over priced. Some examples: NCIX Microsoft Operating Systems
The actual upgrade process is about 2 hours and you’ll have a dual-booting system (BIOS selectable) and be mildly stunned how much faster it is. Consider getting MS Office 2010 Home & Business if you’re still using a 2003 version of Office, it’s worth the upgrade and you get 2 license for about $300.
Microsoft released the first official service pack for Windows 7 today. This is an important update that includes previously released security, performance, and stability updates for Windows 7. SP1 also includes new improvements to features and services in Windows 7, such as improved reliability when connecting to HDMI audio devices, printing using the XPS Viewer, and restoring previous folders in Windows Explorer after restarting.
What will this update bring? No idea at this time as the realease information from Microsoft is at best sketchy. I’ll post an update later when the votes are in and the re-formats have begun (let’s hope not).