What exactly does this blog intend to do? The answer is several things, and it will serve several different audiences.

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMSB) make up the vast majority of companies across the world, and they employ a sizable number of people. Small businesses range from just one person working part time to dozens or more employees. Medium sized businesses can range to hundreds of workers and several hundred million dollars a year in sales.

SMBS have many of the same needs that much larger businesses do, but they often do not have the same resources available to allocate to those needs. This is especially true for information technology. Server products, both hardware and software, are often priced beyond the reach of a small business.

What are they to do?

Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server have recently been released by Microsoft. SBS is designed for businesses having up to 75 users and computing devices, while EBS is designed for businesses having up to 300 users and computing devices. These are licensing limits rather than fixed and hard rules.

SBS and EBS come with key Microsoft technologies that SMSB need: Windows 2008 Server, Exchange 2007 Server, SharePoint Services 3.0, SQL Server 2008, and more. Not only are these bundled at price points suitable for SMSB, the wizards and automated support built into SBS and EBS make them easier than ever to maintain.

The real question for SMSB though, is what they should be doing once the domain infrastructure is in place. How do they use these technologies with line of business applications? How do they use the Office and SharePoint, for example, to execute on their strategic plans and objectives?

Too often, we technologists get so excited about plugging in the wires we forget why we are doing it: to make the business run better and execute on its strategic plan. Too often small business owners get lost in the details of running their business to learn new ways of doing things. And seldom do they ever talk about their business with the geeks like us.

This blog intends to bring together SMSB owners and managers with their peers, with consultants and advisors, and hopefully with software and hardware vendors to share information and experiences, articulate needs and ways to satisfy them, and to have access to resources for business and technical needs. For consultants, IT professionals and vendors, this blog is intended to be a resource for technical issues but more importantly to highlight ways in which SMSB can get more for their IT and other technical investments.

Please feel free to participate as much as you wish. Expecting everyone to be mature and here to help or be helped, anyone is free to contribute. Please stay on topic and remain professional. Inappropriate language, comments and personal attacks will be deleted.

  1. Lourenzo says:


    Your post have been very helpful and shines some light for me on understanding SBS 2011 and Hyper-V.

    Unfortunately, I can’t seem to wrap my head around SBS 2011 virtualized. The concept that I’m puzzled with is – will SBS 2011 be one virtual machine when you load it as a child partition within hyper-v. Or does SBS break up into separate VM’s ie. Server 08, Exchange, SharePoint etc… So I suppose Server 2008 add-on would be the parent partition that enables Hyper-V (also have the option of running as another guest partition, 1+1), then SBS 2011 will brake up into several guest VM’s or will it only be one guest VM (SBS) and the package that is included with SBS will run off of that VM. Not sure if i’ making sense or I just confused you.

    Thanks for all your help!



  2. Try thinking about it like this. The basic unit for hyper-v virtualization is a disk, and a virtualized disk takes the form of a .vhd file. Now it is possible, even practical, to have multiple physical disks converted to a single .vhd file. If you run disk2vhd.exe on a physical SBS machine, you can combine all of the drive letters into a single .vhd. At the very mnimum, if you are converting drive C: only, you have to include the system reserved partition so the .vhd will boot when the VM starts.

    If your physical machine has Exchange, Sharepoint, etc. all on drive C:, then the .vhd will as well. Hope that makes sense. If so, continue. If not, well continue as well.

    Suppose you have separate volumes for Exchange and Sharepoint, saay E: and S:. You convert the system volume, C:, and now want to run it as a VM. You have serveral choices on what to do with E: and S: (and other volumes as well)>

    1. You can convert them individually to .vhd files and in the settings of the SBS VM, mount them as drives. Just make sure that when the SBS VM starts to check the drive letters to make sure they are correct.
    2. You can attach the volumes to the host or parent system, take them off line, and then mount them as passthrough drives to the VM. Again, check to make sure the drive letters are correct in the VM.
    3. I like to use iSCSI, which enables me to use the iSCSI initiator on the VM to mount a drive carried over from the physical machine, for example, Exchange data, SharePoint data, and shared files that were set up on different volumes.

    Think about it this way. Suppose you start with SBS being a virtual machine that you install from scratch. You would start with a new, empty .vhd that you would install the system on. That means everything is installed for drive C:. if you want to move data, sor Exchange let’s say, you will have to have another volume in the VM to do the move. That volume can be another .vhd that you create and attach in settings, a physical drive that is mounted on the parent OS, put offline, and then passed thru to the VM in settings. Or it can be an iSCSI target that is mounted through the iSCSI initator on the VM.

    If you have a USB drive that you want to use as a backup for SBS running as a VM, realize you cannot “see” it unless you start at the parent. In system manager,storage/diskmanagement, locate the USB drive(s) and make them offline. Then in hyper-v manager, with the VM turned off, go into settings, select SCSI controller and in the right pane you will see that you can add a hard drive. If there is a physical hard drive that is offline, it will be a choice for you. Then inside the VM when it is running, use server manager, storage/diskmanagement to assign that drive a letter and you are able to use it. Note that this works exactly the same way if you have any sort of disk, USB or not.

    I hope this helps you in your understanding. I am certain that it will become clear once you do it as it did for me.


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