Review: Windows Essential Business Server 2008 Release Candidate 1

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E-mail transmission and receipt worked well. When I intentionally caused problems with the messaging server, the EBS Administration Console was quick to reflect that e-mail for the business was affected, and it was a relatively straightforward task to use SCE to determine what the problem was.

I had little reason to touch the security server, which in my test builds was running a pre-release build of Forefront Threat Management Gateway. I did try to publish some applications to users coming from the Internet using TS Gateway and TS RemoteApp, but I was unable to successfully configure a publishing rule from within TMG. I believe it's safe to assume that is a beta bug, as the TS functionality works in another environment similarly configured, but without TMG. Other than that, TMG comes configured to adequately protect the default deployment of EBS.


The suite approach has its ups and downs when it comes to pricing. If you were to purchase all of the components of the suite separately, not even including licenses, you'd be paying more than the list prices for EBS. However, the prices are still striking for a business with a simple, ad hoc IT budget:

  • EBS standard: $7,799 plus $112 per CAL at full list price; $5,472 plus $81 per CAL under an Open agreement
  • EBS premium: $10,213 plus $274 per CAL at full list price; $7,163 plus $195 per CAL under an Open agreement

Each initial EBS server suite license includes 5 CALs.

There is value in the integration and other components you receive with EBS, and these prices do reflect a discount as opposed to purchasing the products individually, but there is still some significant expense involved.

The last word

Overall, I like EBS a lot. I think it serves a definite market need and helps administrators who are overworked and completely reactive to problems to set up an environment where they can gain control and freedom to enhance their businesses rather than just being problem-solvers. With mail, management, security and (in the premium edition) database needs in one box, it's hard to argue with the value the suite approach brings to a midmarket business. It will be interesting to track this product to release, but at this point, it's looking good.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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