Hot off the press – Centro gets official

This press release just popped up as I was about to sign off the for the night, but I just had to get a quick mention out: "Integrated IT Designed for Midsized Businesses"

Microsoft have finally revealed some details about a new server bundle for "midsized" business called Windows Essential Business Server. This has been known as Centro in the invitation-only beta phase, which I had hoped to participate in, but was lacking three spare 64 bit servers to test on.

My previous understanding of Centro was that it would require three, 64 bit servers and would bundle several Microsoft server products into a unified, easy to manage, suite. It is effectively a step up from Small Business Server, which runs on a single server and is licensed up to 75 users.

The term "midsized" is relative, depending on the market, but in Microsoft’s terms this is up to 250 computers.

Windows Essentials Business Server will bundle the following products and will provide a single Client Access License (CAL) to cover use of all included products:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Exchange Server 2007
  • Forefront Security for Exchange
  • System Center Essentials
  • ISA Server (whatever the next version number is called – probably 2008)
  • SQL Server 2008

The press release doesn’t confirm whether three servers are still required or not, but looking at the components, you would want to run them on no less than three boxes. I’d imagine that the ISA server would act as the gateway box, running Forefront SMTP scanning and the Exchange Edge Transport role; then Systems Center Essentials and SQL Server 2008 would sit on another box, and the other Exchange roles would be on the third box. (All 64bit of course.)

Microsoft have also announced the usual list of partners that will be providing solutions specifically for Essential Business Server (EBS) such as HP, IBM, Intel on the hardware front, and Trend Micro, CA, and Citrix on the software front.

The private beta will be expanded into a more public beta in the new year, with a final release date set for the second half of 2008.

This is big news for NZ companies as I know of lots of companies that quickly grow out of an SBS solution but are still small enough to not be considered an Enterprise customer. Local Microsoft partners will be keen on this too, because if a customer is considering upgrading to Exchange 2007, then why not see if they would like the latest version of ISA to complement Exchange – and then you’re two thirds of the way to implementing EBS.

Still some questions that need to be answered…

  • How will the licensing work for customers that already have Server and Exchange CALs – will they be able to trade them in for EBS CALs?
  • How easily will EBS integrate into an existing environment? SBS needs to be its own root domain and can’t join into any existing domains, surely this wouldn’t be the case for EBS?
  • Will there be an upgrade path from SBS to EBS?
  • And will there be an upgrade path from EBS to the full version products if needed?

I’m looking forward to testing out the bits and pieces… anybody want to donate/lend me three 64bit servers??

Update with new links:

64 Bit Rant

I’ve been persevering with Vista 64 bit over the last few weeks, but I’m failing to see any benefit in sticking with it. Very few applications are native 64 bit and some applications just do not run at all.

Microsoft is probably the worst culprit – last year they released Exchange 2007 and forced all customers that wanted to use it to upgrade to 64 bit hardware and software. At about the same time as Exchange was released, Office 2007 and Vista were released too.

MS made a big deal about Vista 64 bit – just read the blurb on this page and you’ll think that 64 bit is the only way to go: But there was no 64 bit version of Office 2007 released. Sure Office 2007 runs fine on 64 bit, but why wasn’t there a 64 bit edition?

And today Microsoft is making a big deal about the new upgrades to the Live suite of products, including a new unified installer that lets you install a bunch of Live applications at once, like the Google Pack. BUT NO 64 BIT SUPPORT! None of the applications will install if you’re stupid enough to be running a 64 bit operating system, you’re just greeted with a lovely error.

No 64 bit support

So I’m running an operating system which Microsoft says, “… deliver premier performance, reliability, and security,providing you access to the next generation of PC innovations.” but I can’t install the latest updates to Microsoft’s own software. (end of rant)

Technical Architecture of Exchange 2007

For the Exchange 2007 architects out there, Microsoft have released a comprehensive (over 500 pages) document detailing the architectural changes from previous versions of Exchange. I’m looking forward to reading through this in a comfy chair, in front of the fireplace…

Download link: Technical Architecture of Exchange 2007

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 introduces several architectural changes from previous versions of Exchange Server. This document provides descriptions and overviews of server roles, topologies, and the transport architecture for Exchange 2007.

Thanks to Keith Combs for pointing this out.

ISA Server 2004 Service Pack 3 released

Last week Microsoft released Service Pack 3 for ISA Server 2004 which includes a couple of interesting new features such as a new troubleshooting node, and the ability to publish Exchange 2007 OWA.

This is the list of new features and functionality:

Service Pack 3 features

  • Improvements to the ISA Server Management console with the addition of a new Troubleshooting node
  • Enhanced log viewing functionality
  • Additional log filtering functionality
  • Diagnostic logging, including over 200 new diagnostic logging events
  • Integration with the Microsoft ISA Server Best Practices Analyzer Tool
  • Support for publishing Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 with ISA Server 2004

More information can be found here: ISA Server 2004 Service Pack 3

Download links:

Stick with the wizards

When configuring a Windows SBS 2003 box – remember one golden rule: Always stick with the wizards. Even if you’re a server/AD/ISA/Exchange guru, you should still stick to the wizards. SBS 2003 is a complex beast and a lot of under-the-cover configuration takes place when running each of the wizards.

For example, did you know that when you run the Backup Wizard, circular logging is turned off in Exchange? Seems unconnected but the reason is that if you’re not backing up your SBS 2003 box, then the Exchange logs won’t be getting flushed – hence the reason for circular logging being enabled by default (so the disks don’t fill up with logs.) But as soon as you’ve configured your backups to run, then the system knows that the Exchange logs will get flushed successfully.

As soon as you start making manual configurations to the system, the setup wizards start producing unpredictable results. Have faith in the product, and stick with the wizards…

Downloadable Guide Available for Exchange 2007

I’ll be up to date with my reading soon, but in the meantime here’s a whole bunch more to catch up on…

Downloadable Guide Available for Exchange 2007

You can now download the first couple of guides (word docs) for Exchange 2007.

Deploying a Standard Exchange Server 2007 Organization:

Deploying a Simple Exchange Server 2007 Organization:

Deploying a Large Exchange Server 2007 Organization:

Deploying a Complex Exchange Server 2007 Organization:

Additional guides will be released in the near future.

Source: Henrik Walther Blog » Blog Archive » Downloadable Guide Available for Exchange 2007

UPDATE: For more Exchange stuff, check out my Exchange tag!

Exchange server 2007: loads more resources

Thanks Eileen, for the nice summary of essential Exchange 2007 reading. I’ve got a bit to catch up on!

TechNet Articles

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Live Webcasts

Virtual Labs

Web Resources

Source: Eileen Brown’s WebLog : Exchange server 2007: loads more resources

Start planning for your Exchange 2007 deployments

I’ve just been reading a good blog post from the MS Exchange team (You had me at EHLO) detailing some recommendations for your Exchange 2007 hardware requirements. Here are the links: