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Microsoft: Excitement Rekindled
Posted by Philip Elder on 06 October 2014 10:36 AM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Microsoft: Excitement Rekindled

Back in the day, heh ;) , I was privileged to work with the SBS team both
prior and post MVP award.

Many of us in SBS Land can remember just how active the team was around SBS
2003 RTM/R2, SBS 2008 Standard/Premium, and finally SBS 2011 Standard.

By the latter product release much of the old guard had moved on but the new
team and us SBS MVPs had a strong business relationship.

The key here is in the relationships and communication levels we were
experiencing with the teams.

For must of us both within the MVP realms but also in the public that came to
a full-stop when development of the then Windows Server 2012 pre-release cycle
became better known.

We were all held in the dark. This situation continued with the 2012 R2
development cycle.

Silence. Dead Silence *insert sound of crickets here*

For those of us both within the MVP community and outside the MVP community
that are truly passionate about the clients we serve, the products we work with,
and just all-around geeking out about tech the silence was deafening and

Tie that into the seemingly endless “Death to the IT Pro” messages coming out
of Microsoft over the last number of years and there were a lot of flames
snuffed out these last two product release cycles.

Change for the Good

One thing is for certain: Something has changed at Microsoft.

While I most certainly cannot provide “insight” into Microsoft’s motivations
for the recent change I can most certainly say that the change is welcome. Big

We now have a public release of Windows vNext bits. We have forums to discuss
these bits.

For many of us MVPs we have, and I can’t say “unprecedented” given previous
experience, an amazing amount of information flowing from our product teams.

The conversations we’ve been having with the team(s) lately have been
refreshing. Yes, they’ve been listening to us.

And, I’ll make no bones about it, I feel very excited about this upcoming
product release like I had been with the then new versions of SBS Standard!

So, hat’s off to you in Microsoft whoever you are that allowed the floodgates
of communication, shared tech passion, and business relationships to happen

And thanks to the Microsoft Teams that have been sharing your product
excitement. It is refreshing and invigorating for us to experience and work

We both stand to benefit greatly from this “new” openness from Microsoft.

Oh, and Cluster is definitely key to our company’s future. ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster

Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small

Read more »


Original Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: MPECS Inc. Blog: Our SBS (Small Business Solution) Options with Standalone and Cluster Hardware Considerations

We’ve received a number of questions about the “How” we present our SBS to prospective and existing clients.

Our primary focus is on what we have provided with Small Business Server starting with SBS 2003 Standard.

  • Active Directory permissions based security

  • Remote Web Access (RWA/RWW) Portal
  • Remote Desktop access via RD Gateway (since SBS 2008 Standard)
  • RemoteApp access via RD Gateway for LoBs (since SBS 2008 Standard)
  • E-mail services access via Outlook, Outlook Anywhere, Exchange ActiveSync, and Outlook Web Access
  • Remote Folders and Files access
  • SharePoint based document management system
  • SQL backend for LoB, SharePoint, and other needs

We focus on the services the prospect would require while our existing clients are already used to them.

Once we have an understanding of the prospect’s needs, since we already know our client’s business really well, we move forward with a proposal that would be geared towards their business size and sensitivity to downtime.

On the services front where we are installing into a standalone host we would have two options:

  1. Base

    1. Requires two Windows Server OS Licenses

    2. DC, Exchange, RDS, and LoB (WSUS and LoBs)
  2. Premium Add-On
    1. Requires one Windows Server OS License

    2. SQL and SharePoint

Obviously the server and CALs would also be needed for the various components that will be installed into the guest OS.

If we are setting up a cluster then one needs to consider the number of VMs running on one or more of the nodes in the event of a node failure.

On the hardware side we would have a number of options:

  1. Entry-Level Single

    1. E3-1270v3, 32GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS
  2. Mid-Level Single
    1. Single Socket 1U R1208JP4OC, E5-2600 series, 128GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS
  3. High-Level Single
    1. Dual Socket 2U R2208GZ4GC, E5-2600 pair, 128GB-256GB ECC, Hardware RAID, 8x 2.5” 10K SAS or 16x 2.5” 10K SAS
  4. Entry-Level Asymmetric Cluster
    1. Pair of 1U R1208JP4OC or 2U R2208GZ4GC and an Intel JBOD2224S2DP
  5. Mid-Level Cluster
    1. Four 2U R2208GZ4GC and an Intel JBOD2224S2DP

      • Two Scale-Out File Server cluster nodes

      • Two Hyper-V cluster nodes
  6. High-End Cluster
    1. Six 2U R2208GZ4GC and three Intel JBOD2224S2DP units

      • Three Scale-Out File server cluster nodes

      • Three Intel JBODS with Two-Way or Three-Way Mirror and Enclosure Resilience
      • Three Hyper-V server cluster nodes

Within the above hardware configurations we would have a lot of flexibility that allows us to customize to the specific needs of the prospective client or our clients.

We work with a number of different firms that are prime candidates for at least an asymmetric cluster setup to minimize the possibility of downtime. The cost associated with these entry-level clusters versus a single larger server for the host platform makes them very attractive.

The basic VM configuration would involve fixed VHDX files unless the files are installed on dedicated partitions/LUNs. Note that we would use a shared set of partitions/LUNs if there are around 10 or more VMs as things get to be a bit of a bear to manage otherwise.

Our base VM configurations would be as follows:

  • DC: 4GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 1TB Data VHDX

  • Exchange: 8GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 250GB + 20GB/Mailbox Data VHDX
  • RDS: 4GB+, 95GB OS VHDX, and 100GB + 20GB/User Profile Disk
  • LoB: 8GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 1TB Data VHDX Minimum
  • SQL: 16GB, 95GB OS VHDX, and 250GB+ Data VHDX
  • SharePoint: 16GB, 95GB OS VHDX, 200GB Data VHDX

We have a set of PowerShell steps and scripts that we use to configure these environments. PowerShell helps to greatly reduce the amount of time required to set things up. It also gives us consistency across all of our client deployments which is vital to troubleshooting if the need arises.

Shameless Plug: We’ve spent some time on the above in our SMBKitchen ASP Author Chats. If you are looking for more information the Author Chat is one of the best ways to do so.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen ASP Project
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Read more »

One Post SBS Configuration
Posted by Philip Elder on 17 January 2014 02:52 PM

Original Posted Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: One Post SBS Configuration

We are doing the following and are quite successful with the setup:

  • 2x Windows Server STD
  • Windows CALs
  • Exchange STD
  • Exchange CALs
  • RDS CALs

With that we set up one host with Hyper-V (2012 R2 preferred).

  • VM 1: DC
  • VM 2: Exchange 2013 CU3
  • VM 3: RDS
  • VM 4: LoB, WSUS

We just finished migrating our last SBS 2003 out to this setup (though with two servers and a few extra licenses).

For larger firms we can set up two identical servers and have licensing in place to allow for the following:

  • Server 1 & 2: DC VM with DHCP Failover enabled (new 2012 R2 feature)
  • Server 1: LoB VM with Replica to Server 2
  • Server 1: Exchange
  • Server 1: RDS VM with Replica to Server 2

Because Exchange and SQL have their own built-in redundancy features we have the option to configure in-guest clustering to build out the required redundancy for them.

Or, we can go with two servers with dual SAS HBAs and a dual controller SAS direct attached storage (MD3220, VTrak E610sD, DS3524) and set up an actual Hyper-V Failover Cluster. This option works very well for the very downtime conscious client.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business

Read more »

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