Today we conclude Chapter 1 from my SBS 2003 Best Practices book.
Have a great weekend!
Harry brelsford, www.smbnation.com
Defining the SBS Market:The Small Business Model
While I dwell on market definition in my SMB Consulting Best Practices book, let me share the following at-a-glance statistics for you about small businesses.
• There are 22 million “businesses” as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA at www.sba.gov).
• Under the SBA’s definition of “small business,” consider the following breakdown: There are 16,000 businesses with 500 employees or more. There are 100,000 businesses with over 100 employees. This would suggest the bulk of businesses (say 21.9 million) have fewer than 100 employees. And let’s assume that all of these firms with fewer than 100 employees don’t allocate a computer to each employee because of the nature of the firm’s work (e.g., construction). Thus many 100-employee firms might only have 25 to 50 computers, placing it well within SBS licensing limits. This is a huge SBS marketplace opportunity for you.
• Small businesses contribute 39% of the US Gross Domestic Product.
• Small businesses create two out of three new jobs.
• More than half of the technological innovations come from small businesses.
• An older IDC study (late 1990s) reported that 74% of small businesses have one or more PCs. This number should be adjusted upward now.
• The same study reported that 30% of small businesses are networked. Again, this number is out of date and should be adjust upward.
Microsoft’s SBS partner page (www.microsoft.com/partner/sbs) offers the following interesting statistics for consumption.
• 4.1 million small businesses in the United States have more than one personal computer with no network installed, providing a strong market opportunity for Small Business Server as first and primary server.
• Microsoft Small Business Server sales are rapidly growing over 30% per year.
• Nearly 1.65 million servers are expected to ship into the worldwide
small business market this year.
BEST PRACTICE: Just between you and me, you need to engage in a little expectation management here. Based on a collection of conversations around Microsoft, I believe that much of the growth in SBS is from overseas in international markets. The USA isn’t driving SBS; rather it’s hanging on to the tail and being wagged along. Hats off to the Aussies and others for banner years with the SBS product. Have a pint on me, mates!
SBS is essentially a trimmed-to-fit version of the Microsoft Servers family. SBS can be viewed as a complex circle, as shown in Figure 1-2.
SBS architecture presented from an easy-to-understand “circle” perspective.
Let’s discuss the SBS architecture model by starting with discussing a single domain (in a tree in an Active Directory forest, but more on that in a moment) and ending at the Windows Server 2003 operating system kernel. Note as you read the next few pages, it’s to your benefit to refer to Table 1-1, which not only lists the SBS components but makes a distinction between server-side and client-side components (Figure 1-1 might also help).
Root of Forest and a Single Domain
SBS must be the root of an Active Directory forest, which effectively prevents SBS from being another server (say a branch office server) in an enterprise-level Active Directory domain infrastructure. In other words, practically speaking, you would say that SBS operates in a single-domain environment. As mentioned earlier, the SBS architectural model does not provide for multiple domains or explicit NT-like trust relationships. An Active Directory forest is a grouping of domains. A domain is an administrative or logical grouping of computers that participate in a common security model. This domain model manages the user accounts and security. Such security includes providing logon authentication for valid user accounts.
A Single Server
Only one computer on an SBS network can act as the root domain controller (DC). Out of the box, the SBS architectural model is to have one server, with the SBS machine acting as a root DC, per network. It is possible to have additional servers on the SBS network acting as domain controllers or non-domain controllers (aka “member servers”).
Another DC on the SBS network will host a replica of the DC’s Active Directory database. Such a machine can verify a user’s logon credentials; however, in my experience, it is extremely rare to have another DC on an SBS network. That’s because additional DCs are typically placed on either a larger LAN or across slow WAN links on an enterprise-level network (two qualifications that typically aren’t met with SBS).
A popular additional server on an SBS network is a member server. Member servers, often known as application servers, typically run one or two specific LOB applications that can’t run satisfactorily on the SBS root DC. Take the example of an animal service organization where I installed an SBS network. After installing the SBS server machine, I discovered that the fundraising software would run best on its own server. This software, known as Raisers Edge, has its own SQL engine separate from SBS-included Microsoft SQL Server. Raisers Edge’s SQL engine proved itself to be quite a resource hog, necessitating the need for a standalone application server on this SBS network.
Because the components included with SBS can’t be installed on separate member servers, it is critical that you purchase a machine with sufficient horsepower to optimally run SBS.
BEST PRACTICE: Be advised that any additional servers on an SBS network may not be installed with the SBS product. Only one SBS server is allowed per network. But when discussing additional servers, note that I’ve worked on SBS networks where a NetWare server acted as a file/printer/application server on an SBS network (and did fine running a large Computer Associates business accounting application). The wilderness advocacy organization I assisted kept the Sun UNIX-based servers as application servers so that the GIS specialists could continue using their high-end GIS/mapping software.
Assuming you have the full licensing allowed for SBS (75 CALs), you know by now that up to 75 user workstations can be attached and concurrently logged on to the SBS network at any time. SBS natively provides full support for six Microsoft operating systems: Windows XP Professional (not Home edition), Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows NT Workstation 4.0, Windows 98, and Windows 95. By native support I mean that the SBS client setup routine is fully supported.
SBS provides extremely limited support for other clients, including older versions (pre-4.0) of Windows NT Workstation, Windows For Workgroups, Windows 3.x, Macintosh, UNIX workstations, and LAN Manager Clients 2.2c. SBS does not offer support for OS/2 clients.
This area typically includes Microsoft Office, a suite of applications including Microsoft Word for word processing, Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets, and Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations. Other user applications include narrow vertical-market software, such as WESTMATE by Westlaw if you are an attorney, Timeslips if you’re a professional who bills for your time, or QuickBooks if you are the bookkeeper in small company. You get the picture.
SBS Client Components
This includes many of the things listed as client components in Table 1.1 like common applications, such as Microsoft Outlook 2003 (discussed in Chapter 6), but also SBS components, such as the Shared Fax Service (discussed in Chapter 9). For a fully compliant SBS network, all SBS client components should be installed on the user’s workstations.
Be advised that after the initial setup of SBS, the majority of your time will be spent dealing with users, client workstations, end-user applications, and the like. This isn’t much different than any small network, but clearly Figure 1-2 isn’t drawn to scale with respect to the time commitment you will ultimately make to end-user workstations, user applications, and SBS client components.
Server-Based Business Applications
Next in the SBS architecture in Figure 1-2 is server-based business applications, such as BenchTop and Great Plains Dynamics, two applications that use SBS’s SQL Server as their engine. To reiterate, it is this layer of the SBS architectural model that is so important. Powerful business applications, typically server-based, will drive the purchase decision to implement an SBS-based solution. Every industry has its own narrow vertical-market application that the small business seeks to implement. It is critical to assess that the SBS architecture will faithfully support such an application.
Server Management Console
The SBS Server Management console represents the server-based graphical user interface (GUI), from which the vast majority of your SBS management duties are performed. When a Server Management console option is selected,
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an easy-to-use wizard is typically launched. This wizard often completes complex tasks without the user’s knowledge. I discuss the SBS consoles in detail in Chapter 4.
Microsoft Servers Applications
SBS includes several traditional Microsoft Servers applications, such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, ISA Server 2000 (SBS premium edition), and SQL Server 2000 (SBS premium edition), which are listed in Table 1-1. As previously mentioned, some trimming, mainly licensing, has occurred when the SBS application suite is compared to the full Microsoft Servers products. Each of these applications is discussed in this book, often in a chapter dedicated specifically to that topic.
Windows Server 2003
As you might recall, Windows Server 2003 can be cleanly divided between user mode and kernel mode. Figure 1-2 reflects this division.
This is where services and applications run in protected memory (Ring 3) environmental space. To make a long story short, that means an individual application or service can not explicitly crash the operating system. Each application enjoys its own protected memory space.
This contains the Windows Server 2003 executive, hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and third-party device drivers. More advanced discussion regarding user and kernel modes can be found in Microsoft’s TechNet library (www.microsoft.com/TechNet). Further discussion here is beyond the scope of this book.
Bringing It All Together
So a lot of great information about SBS 2003 has been presented here to kick off your SBS experience. Granted, if you are new to SBS, you have much to digest and perhaps a good night’s sleep is needed before jumping into Chapter 2 , where you meet the Springer Spaniels Limited methodology (the fictional company for which you will create an SBS network as you work through this book).
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But allow me one last opportunity to shed light and impart knowledge on the SBS experience. This viewpoint, while oriented more towards technology consultants who implement SBS solutions, speaks towards an underlying foundational issue about why SBS is here (and why we’re here using it). So here goes.
My clients (and perhaps yours too) are business people who first and foremost care about running their businesses profitably so that they can accumulate wealth in the long run. This is standard Economics 101 stuff from college. At the far upper left of Figure 1-3, the business person asks a simple enough question: “How can I run my business better?” This is a question that I encounter early and often with my SBS clients as I help them work through the decision to implement SBS. Such discussions usually lead to the business person understanding that more and better information is needed. Take the example of an accounting report he hasn’t been able to receive before. Granted, this need for better information may not manifest itself as a better account report. It might well be another type of business report he hasn’t been able to compile prior to the introduction of a network such as SBS or, equally likely, a report that can be compiled faster (the information was always available but took too long to obtain). Now let me throw a quick twist at you. In order to get the superior accounting information in my example, the business must upgrade its accounting package (e.g., Great Plains) to the latest version that runs best on Windows Server 2003, the underlying operating system in SBS 2003.
The business purposes of an SBS network: running the business better!
In the fictional example above, all the business person knows or cares about is (and perhaps you have a real world situation in your life that you can relate to this) that the report is obtained by running the accounting client-application on his or her workstation. That’s it. Anything between the workstation through the network wall jack in the wall to the machine running SBS and even out to the Internet are of little concern. This is where the SBSer technology consultant kicks in. We (you, me, and the other SBSers out there) know that the workstation has to be connected to the network via cabling, and cabling is typically connected to a hub in order to manage the network media. Also connected to the hub is the machine running SBS and the all-important accounting application (e.g., Great Plains). This last point is something that will perk up the business person’s attention as you mention accounting applications again.
Well, in order for Great Plains Dynamics to run in my example, it needs SQL Server 2000 as its database engine, which is provided as part of SBS 2003 (premium edition). And yes, once asked, the business person agrees that he needs internal and Internet e-mail capabilities, such as those provided by Exchange Server 2003 in SBS 2003. And heck, if we’re going to be connected to the Internet for e-mail, we better facilitate Web browsing (with Internet Explorer) and insure security with firewall protection (with ISA Server in the premium SBS 2003 edition). Oh yeah, and before I forget, the business person also sees value in other SBS features, such as the Shared Fax Service, the ability to work remotely via a secure VPN session (via RRAS), and the ability to work remotely (via Remote Web Workplace). Lastly, the business person responds favorably when you mention you can perform some of your network consulting duties remotely, using Terminal Services, and better yet, keep an eye on the server machine with the built-in Server Status Reports. Whew! That’s a long list of SBS success factors.
But understand what exactly has occurred here over the past few paragraphs. We’ve brought it ALL TOGETHER from the point a business person expressed a desire to run his business better down to the nitty gritty details of SBS 2003. So as you can see, SBS really can help someone run his or her business better!
No SBSer should blindly accept the awesome virtues of SBS 2003 without doing the necessary homework. By this I mean it’s a healthy exercise to look at what competes with SBS 2003. By observing the competition, you can, of course, affirm the decision you’ve made to purchase and install SBS 2003. You’ll eliminate any doubts you’ve had and answer any lingering questions. There are three primary competitors to SBS, near as I can tell:
• Microsoft and Windows 2000 Server/2003. Good old, bare-bones Windows 2000 Server and standalone Windows Server 2003 is a competitor for SBS 2003. This may be all you need, especially if you’re using a POP3 mail account for your e-mail needs. God bless you is this is the case. Understand that you’re missing out on so many other features of SBS by selecting this alternative.
• Windows XP Pro Peer-to-Peer. This is the “micro” solution recommended for two-person offices (up to 10 people). Give the devil his due: Windows XP peer-to-peer is a competitor of SBS.
BEST PRACTICE: Another take on this: When you are as large as Microsoft, you’re gonna compete with yourself. Remember this as you consider SBS as a consulting platform (for the consultant reading this book). Your biggest competitor is Microsoft!
• Novell Small Business Suite (NSBS). This is the closest bona fide competitor to SBS 2003 on the market. It darn near matches, feature for feature, the components in SBS 2003 (including consoles, wizards, and even remote management). However, NSBS doesn’t have a robust database solution (SBS 2003 premium edition has SQL Server 2000) and doesn’t provide robust health monitoring. The pricing is comparable. NSBS is shown in Figure 1-4.
Novell’s small business offering can be found at www.novell.com.
Oh, and did I mention that NSBS is based on the NetWare operating system, which, while robust, is considered more difficult to work with and, more important, doesn’t have the “mind share” or positive political support it once did in the business and technology communities (something to consider when looking at the investment you will make in a networking solution). The point I’m trying to make here is that business application developers, all things being equal, will typically develop their releases for a Windows Server 2003-based solution (SBS 2003) before a NetWare-based solution (NSBS).
SBS 2003 Product Launch
A very special moment in SBS history occurred when SBS 2003 was launched in New Orleans on October 9, 2003! It was at that moment that all the words in this book truly came to life. You could go forward, create the Springer Spaniels Limited sample network over a few weeks to a month, and call yourself a true SBSer! Photos from the SBS 2003 launch are included in the photo section of this book. Note I also include photos of the SMB Nation, a conference held just prior to the launch of SBS 2003 in late September 2003 in Indianapolis, Indiana, (hosted by yours truly).
The Future of SBS
There are two angles to this discussion. First is the SBS product itself. Microsoft, and more important, the marketplace, have given every indication that SBS is here to stay. SBS has crossed some significant financial thresholds inside Microsoft so that it positively contributes to the bottom line of the Mother ship.
SBS 2003 will undoubtedly be followed by future SBS upgrades, each one providing more functionality and stability. While we all hope SBS 2003 has a long life, it’s a fact of life that future upgrades will occur.
And because SBS 2003 is a full member of the Windows Server family, it’s here to stay! Past versions of SBS weren’t much more than a black sheep distant cousin to the full Windows Server family and didn’t enjoy overwhelming respect! That’s changed and SBS 2003 finally has a seat at the family dinner table.
The second dimension addresses what your future with SBS is. Ideally, if you have a growing business, SBS is merely a stepping stone to implementing the full Microsoft Servers products, and this path is certainly in alignment with Microsoft’s view. If you can use SBS as an incubator to help you expand your business, Microsoft will be more than happy to upgrade you to the full Microsoft Servers products at a future date!
This chapter fulfilled several roles and met some very important goals. The first part introduced you to SBS with a brief introduction of each component and described SBS’s capability to deliver a single-server comprehensive networking solution that is relatively simple for the small business to implement and maintain. A key tenet to SBS—business application support—was emphasized. The second part of the chapter defined the small business market for SBS and provided an in-depth look at SBS’s underlying architecture. The future of SBS was discussed in closing.
The chapter also provided you, in passing, with an overview of where this book is headed and how it is organized. Several topics were briefly described in Chapter 1 and cross-referenced to future chapters where the topic area or feature will be covered in more depth.
You are now ready to proceed to Chapter 2. And before you know it, a short time will have passed, and you will be a competent SBS professional. Or as we say in the trade, SBSer!