My Microsoft Small Business Server is Nearing End of Life – what are my options?

End of lifecycle (EoL) is looming for many essential IT products, Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) being just one of them. Companies who depend on this architecture will soon need to modernize or face problematic security and stability issues going forward as there will be no further updates or support available. Even with a solid disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place, there is no guarantee you will be able to recover should a problem arise. Planning your infrastructure transformation is a complex undertaking, but having it completed prior to EoL is as important to your business continuity as it is to the stability of your IT operations. Here are just some of the options you might consider:

1. Migrate to Microsoft Office 365 for Business

While the official replacement for SBS is Windows Server Essentials, this option does not include Exchange or SharePoint. In this scenario, you will, ultimately, be forced to purchase Exchange separately or integrate with Microsoft Office 365 and Lync Communications if you are committed to an on-premise server solution. For most small businesses, however, Microsoft Office 365 is clearly the best choice. Some of the advantages include:

  • Licensed and billed on a subscription basis provides predictable IT spend
  • Updates and bug fixes are automatically deployed, saving IT hours for higher-value tasks
  • Ongoing access to the complete line of Office Suite software
  • Anywhere access to your files enables your remote and mobile workforce
  • Centralized configuration for device management and deployment

2. Keep SBS as a virtual machine on new hardware

Virtualizing your SBS can be accomplished with VMWare or Hyper-V, essentially software that virtualizes your server either to a partition on another physical server or into the cloud. These solutions allow you to virtualize and consolidate your servers into a cloud or hybrid cloud environment, maximizing your server capacities and driving value through simplified IT operations. This also gives you anytime access to essential files and apps that you have stored on SBS. Some may feel that a complete virtualization is like putting all your eggs in one basket—and there are certainly pros and cons—but the benefits in terms of disaster recovery are compelling. Other advantages to virtualization include:

  • Reduced operating, energy, and IT costs
  • Automated processes for backup and recovery

On the downside, there may be higher up-front costs involved with virtualization, but most will agree that over the long-term it pays dividends.

3. Deploy a new server with Windows Server 2016

Deploying a new server may seem like the most logical move for some, but there are considerations. Server products have a limited lifespan and you will likely have to revisit this process in the future. There may also be compatibility issues with legacy applications, requiring an entirely new solution for such tools. On the plus side, since it is a Microsoft product, it may represent less of a learning curve for IT and other stakeholders. Ultimately, all of these solutions require a degree of thought into where this is all headed in the future. Consider your IT goals for the future carefully, and choose a route that will best support your needs in terms of cost, ease of management, security, and other features. For many businesses, a migration to Office 365 may be the best bet as a future-proof option.

Greenlight ITC is Melbourne and Sydney’s favourite IT consultancy

If you have any lingering questions about how to transition from your Microsoft SBS environment or would like to schedule a free consultation, call Greenlight today. Our technicians are well-versed in all issues related to upgrading your IT infrastructure and can help you decide which solution is right for your needs.

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