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Features of SBS 2008

Like its predecessors, SBS 2008 is built on the current Windows Server operating system (2008), and includes many of the components of its older siblings. The following sections detail the tools and technologies that SBS 2008 includes.

Communication

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest selling points in the history of SBS has been the inclusion of Exchange Server, and SBS 2008 is no different. Exchange Server 2007 SP1 not only gives SBS 2008 enterprise-quality e-mail and shared contacts and calendaring, but the built-in and pre-configured Office Outlook Web Access also gives remote users secure access to their mailbox on the server. SBS 2008 is pre-configured to support Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices.

Small businesses that have large amounts of mail data to store will welcome the larger storage capacities provided with Exchange Server 2007. With the ability to store mail on multiple mail stores and with a complete removal of store size restrictions, heavy e-mail users have only to worry about storage and backup capacity and not about artificial limits imposed for sales and licensing reasons.

The POP3 Connector for Exchange lives on in SBS 2008, giving businesses the opportunity to transition their hosted e-mail solution to SBS 2008 in a controlled manner. That said, the POP3 Connector for Exchange is still intended to be a transitional tool and not a permanent solution. With that goal in mind, SBS 2008 includes tools to make it easier to enable direct e-mail delivery to the server instead of pulling messages into Exchange from an externally-hosted POP3 server.

New connection tools make it easier to set up Internet connectivity for both incoming and outgoing connections. Businesses can now use these tools to easily register their own public domain names and manage public DNS records so the SBS server is easily accessible from across the Internet for e-mail delivery and remote access.

SBS 2008 also still includes the Shared Fax service. The service enables businesses to connect a fax modem to the SBS server and store incoming faxes in a folder on the server, in SharePoint, or in Exchange. Workstations can also connect to the shared fax printer and send faxes directly from applications on the workstation.

Collaboration

The inclusion of SharePoint Services 2.0 in SBS 2003 significantly increased the product's value as a true collaboration tool, and SBS 2008 continues that tradition. SBS 2008 includes SharePoint Services 3.0, along with the customized initial installation known as Companyweb. With the increased functionality in WSS 3.0, users running Office 2007 can access files in the SharePoint document libraries from within the Open and Save dialogs, as though the documents were stored on the local disk or on a network file share. But SharePoint includes many more features, including a number of new web parts that make it a solid foundation for shared workflow access for both internal and external users.

System administrators can still create and protect shared folders on the server, making use of the native Windows Server 2008 sharing and security tools. SBS 2008 creates a new Public shared folder, where administrators can place documents and make them available for all users of the network, local or remote.

A new design for the Remote Web Workplace also makes it easier for remote users, through a web browser, to access data on the server, including files stored on shares on the server. Administrators will appreciate the new restrictions that can be placed on users so that they can see only specific workstations to connect to through the Remote Web Workplace.

Protection

Security continues to be an issue that businesses of all sizes struggle to manage, but small businesses probably struggle more than their larger counterparts. SBS 2008 continues the move toward better security with a number of improved and new features.

Protecting user data remains a critical function, and SBS 2008 provides several avenues to protect workstation and user data. Through Group Policy, local folders on the workstation can be redirected and saved on the server. SBS 2003 was able to redirect the My Documents folder, and SBS 2008 is able to redirect the Desktop and Start Menu folders to the server as well.

Server backup in SBS 2008 differs from earlier versions, thanks to changes in Windows Server 2008. The native backup tools no longer support backing up to tape, and the ntbackup tool can only be used to restore from tape in SBS 2008. That said, the native tools now use imaging technology to aid in faster recovery of the server in case of a disaster. Still, it's likely that IT professionals will continue to use third-party backup solutions for the server, especially where backing up to tape is a business requirement.

SBS 2003 included a self-signed SSL certificate to help protect access to the web services at a time when purchasing third-party SSL certificates was still cost-prohibitive. SBS 2008 also provides a self-signed certificate, but it is initially generated as a root cert for a Certificate Authority that runs by default on SBS 2008. This enables administrators to create new self-signed certs for additional services without having to add those new certs to the trusted certificate list if the root certificate is already installed. But because there are instances where a self-signed certificate is just not sufficient, SBS 2008 provides a way to more easily manage the certificate request process; this makes it easier and more cost-effective to acquire and install a trusted certificate from third-party vendors. This allows Internet Explorer 7 to connect to the secured sites hosted on the SBS server without the confusing security warnings the browser displays when a self-signed certificate is used, even when the certificate has been installed correctly in the workstation's certificate store.

SBS 2008 now includes two malware protection tools to help guard the server and the mail system from unwanted problems. The Exchange server can be protected with the included one-year trial of Forefront Security for Exchange service that is pre-installed with SBS 2008. Because the Forefront subscription only provides protection for Exchange, an included one-year trial subscription for Windows Live OneCare for Server helps to protect the server file system. Both of these trials can be extended at the end of the initial trial period, or they can be removed and replaced with third-party solutions.

Expansion

As businesses attempt to expand by "thinking outside the box," SBS 2008 can help them by growing outside the box, literally. SBS 2008 Premium not only includes SQL 2008 Standard Edition, but it also includes a second copy of Windows Server 2008 to run on a second server. Although the idea behind the second server addresses giving SQL 2008 a separate box to run on for resource-heavy line-of-business applications based on SQL, the second server license can be used for any of a number of purposes. The second server could be a Terminal Server, a second domain controller, or even an edge server that could run ISA (when a version of ISA releases that will run on Windows Server 2008). The bottom line is that SBS 2008 Premium adds a second server license and effectively turns SBS 2008 Premium into a multi-server suite and not just a standalone server.

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