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Author Topic: Wndows Home Server as a SOHO business server. Your thoughts?  (Read 2389 times)
40hz
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« on: October 08, 2009, 12:19:03 PM »

I'd like to bounce this one off the DoCo community.



I have a friend who asked whether or not it would a good idea to use Windows Home Server as the general office server for her small (3-person, <$400K annual revenue) company.

My initial reaction was to say "not really," and point her towards one of the regular MS server offerings. But now that I've done some research, I get the impression that all of the earlier reliability and showstopper issues have gotten sorted out and the current release is good to go.

I loaded up a test copy to play with it a bit. From what I can see, WHS appears to be very solid. It's extremely easy to administer. Some of the disk management features are actually quite innovative. (Or at least they are for Microsoft! tongue) The account security model is adequate enough for what she needs. And the overall feature set (especially the implementation of remote access) should be able to handle everything she wants to do.

Since money is an issue (when isn't it?) and a NIX/FOSS solution would be well outside of her technial comfort zone, WHS could be a nice simple way for her to go.

So here's my question: does anybody out there either (a) use WHS for their SOHO server; or, (b) have direct experience/involvement with someone who does?

Any feedback or relevant experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Thx! smiley

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2009, 02:10:27 PM »

"$400K annual revenue" and they're tight for cash?!?

While 3 people probable could be just fine on a WHS, I'd still go for a low buck SBS server. www.stikc.com is a great source for referb'ed (off lease) Dell servers. I've bought 3 from them so far & they have all been gems.

While I do like WHS, it just doesn't strike me as a good idea in a business environment...too many gotcha type restrictions that won't be readily appearent until it's too late.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2009, 03:54:12 PM »

Quote
"$400K annual revenue" and they're tight for cash?!?
Alas, annual revenue <> profit.
Even were it profit, when divided by three that doesn't go far these days.  Sad

And... thanks to both of you for this topic and the info it's likely to generate.
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Chris
40hz
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2009, 04:00:57 PM »

"$400K annual revenue" and they're tight for cash?!?


Thx for the feedback.

I'm not too inclined to go with SBS because they need to be mostly self supporting. I've done a lot of support for that product, and I'm firmly convinced it's more trouble than it's worth for 90% of the companies that buy into it. I'm much more partial to the doing plain vanilla servers since most small companies are only looking for centralized user account admin & backups, file & print sharing, and remote access. And if you actually do need SQL or Exchange, you're far better off contracting it out if you can't afford a full time IT person who knows what they're doing.

FWIW: add up salaries for 3 people + medical  & liability insurance + legal fees + business taxes + property taxes + vehicle expenses + cost of goods sold + fulfillment services + general business overhead expenses and $400K suddenly isn't that much money any more. Sure, if it were all going straight into their pockets it would be a goldmine. But it ain't. undecided

(Heck, if what I bill hourly was pure gravy and personal income, I could have retired ten years ago. Grin)


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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2009, 06:36:26 PM »

Ah! I see where you're going and I also like have your cake & eat it too solutions. When you install SBS stop after disk1 and you have what you're after. Outlook comes with SBS also as I recall.

The key with SBS is to skip the corny wizards & just do everything the normal server way. I manage 3 of them for clients (2 with Exchange and 1 without) & they're completely painless.

You can get a decent generation old server (with a 1 year warranty) from the company I mentioned earlier and most (not all) come with a valid SBS COA (no media, but that's not too hard to find) for $600-$800.
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40hz
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2009, 07:03:48 PM »

You can get a decent generation old server (with a 1 year warranty) from the company I mentioned earlier and most (not all) come with a valid SBS COA (no media, but that's not too hard to find) for $600-$800.

Yeah, definitely a good time for picking up decent hardware for a song. One fellow tech I know just scored a decent dual-CPU HP server (minus disk drives) but with manuals and driver CDs at a cost of exactly zero!

Somebody had apparently vacated an office suite, yanked the disks, and did an "abandon in place" decommission on the rest. My buddy was working for the people in the suite next door. The building manager let him have it (along with a beefy APC Smart-UPS and a box of miscellaneous goodies) in return for the effort needed to remove them from the building.

Not bad. About $1200-1500 worth of stuff, just for making three trips out to his car with a handtruck. Thmbsup


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Shades
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2009, 09:06:27 PM »

Here I have an old(!) Pentium II 350MHz 196MB RAM old 'clunker' PC that runs SBS and Exchange (windows 2000 based) in Google server style (as naked as you want it to be)...

That PC is one of the most stable and trouble free systems here. And it's performance totally exceeds my expectations.

So I totally agree with Stoic Joker, if you install only the parts of what you need from SBS it is stable and really does not require (much) hands on time.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2009, 10:19:11 PM »

Not bad. About $1200-1500 worth of stuff, just for making three trips out to his car with a handtruck.
Where the hell am I when this kind of thing happens  Sad lol

Oh I forgot to mention if you decide to try STI call them as their website is a bit of a work-in-progress and generally not up-to-date inventory wise. They'll happily customize anything you want.

@Shades - 196MB RAM for Exchange? Zoiks! ...You're a brave man.
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