Servers, Small Business

Why recent changes to Microsoft SBS and Server 2012 could be bad for Small Business

Microsoft has released Server 2012 and there are some important changes for small business to be aware of.

The biggest change that affects small business is that Microsoft will be dropping Small Business Server (SBS). Microsoft believes that small businesses will moving to online services such as Microsoft’s Office 365 suite and rightly or wrongly is dropping SBS. Don’t panic yet though because we have until June 2013 before it is no longer available to purchase.

The impact to small business will depend on whether you are planning to host your own email or use an online service like Office 365. For organisations planning to host their own email the licensing costs will go up and the increase is even higher again for small businesses that require SQL databases. (see table for a example)

What is SBS?

Small Business Server, SBS is a server software bundle from Microsoft which includes Exchange (email), file and print, Active Directory (authentication), IIS (Web site), RDS (Terminal Services) and SQL database in the premium add-on. The maximum number of users that SBS 2011 supports is 75 users.

To replace SBS Microsoft has released Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Essentials is basically Windows Server 2012 but with a maximum of 25 users. Essentials doesn’t require CALs (Client Access Licenses) to be purchased. It has file/print, Active Directory, Remote Desktop Service and Web Hosting. For email your choices are either Office 365 or to purchase the full version of Exchange. Purchasing Exchange and Server 2012 Essentials will be more expensive than SBS 2011.  Likewise with SQL you will have to purchase the full version of SQL.

An OEM version of Server called Foundation is similar but only allows up to 15 users. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer and is only sold bundled with a server from a vendor such as DELL, HP and IBM. It is limited to a single CPU.

For companies with more than 25 staff (or likely to grow beyond that in 4 years time) there is the Standard version of Windows Server 2012. Each user requires a CAL (Client Access License) in addition to the server license.

Neither Foundations of Essentials supports server virtualisation.

Doing a price comparison between the two licensing models assuming 50 users shows that there is a sizeable price difference between the two.

File, Print, Email and Active Directory
    SBS 2011   Server 2012
File & Print SBS server with 5 CALS  $ 1,027  Server 2012 Standard  $ 950
Client Access Licenses (45)  $ 3,009 Client Access Licenses (50)  $ 1,620
Email  included  Exchange Server Std 2010  $ 1,145
 Exchange CALs Std  $ 5,500
Total (ex GST)    $ 4,036    $   9,215

If SQL database server is added then the pricing is,

With SQL added
    SBS 2011   Server 2012
File & Print SBS server with 5 CALS  $ 1,027  server 2012 Std  $ 950
CALS 5-pack  $ 3,009  50 x CALs  $ 1,620
Email  included  Exchange Server Std 2010  $ 1,145
 Exchange CALs Std  $ 5,500
Database  Premium add-on  $ 1,497  SQL Std Server  $ 1,451
CALS (PREM) 5 packs  $ 3,883  SQL std CALs  $ 16,900
Total (ex GST)    $  9,416    $ 27,566
  • All pricing is based upon Recommended Retail Pricing
  • Whereever possible OEM pricing was used.
  • All prices are ex GST and in Australian dollars
  • These tables are provided for comparison purposes and are not a quotation. Please contact CustomTec for current pricing to suit your requirements.


Microsoft is well aware that even small businesses are taking advantage of server virtualisation. The Standard version of Server 2012 will allow you to host two Windows OS instances per physical server. The server can have up to 2 x CPUs (cores are not counted). If you want to more to more than two VMs then you can either purchase additional copies of Server Standard or purchase Server 2012 Datacentre which allows unlimited VMs per physical host.

Disclaimer: While care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information in the article CustomTec does not take responsibility for any decisions made as a result of this information. Licensing rules can change and it is recommended that you speak to an authorised Microsoft license reseller before making any decision on which licenses are appropriate for your situation.

Are you looking to migrate from SBS 2003 to SBS 2011? Perhaps you are wondering if now is the time to move to Office 365. If you would like to find out more about what options are available then please contact us at CustomTec  or ring 02 9841 0841.

About customtec

CustomTec is an IT services company based in Sydney servicing Australia, NZ and South-East Asia. The areas of specialisation are servers, storage, Cloud computing, unified communications and managed IT services. Mark Elliott has been working in IT for over 13 years. Starting as network and security engineer Mark has worked for IT and Telecommunications companies in Sydney, Australia.


One thought on “Why recent changes to Microsoft SBS and Server 2012 could be bad for Small Business

  1. Great article.

    Posted by garcinia cambogia | August 4, 2013, 12:24 am

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