Keith Combs' Blahg

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What should I run? SBS 2003 Premium SP1 or individual components?

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VzI’m fortunate enough to live in a place where I can get one of those kewl new fiber optic connections to the internet.  It’s called Verizon FIOS and has been steadily rolling out in North Texas and other parts of the USA.  This coming week I am converting my 15meg/2meg residential plan to a static ip address business plan (same speeds).  After the conversion takes place, I’ll have the opportunity to start hosting our email, web sites, etc. from the comfort of my home office network.  If you want information on the Verizon FIOS offering, click the image above for the residential packaging.  The business offerings are at http://biz.verizon.net/pands/fios/Default.asp

The question that comes to mind is what software I should use to run our websites and email?  Should I install SBS 2003 Premium SP1 or just run some standard editions of Windows Server 2003 SP1, Exchange Server 2003 SP1 and ISA Server 2004 SP1? 

Core Software Requirements

  • Secure – the server must be secured behind a firewall.  I’m planning on implementing ISA Server 2004 regardless.  ISA will allow us to publish the websites, give us acces to email, VPN if needed, etc.
  • Web hosting – the solution must be capable of hosting five public internet facing websites.  Each website is a different domain name.  The number of hits for each website is pretty small.  FrontPage extensions will naturally be used on IIS6.  SSL will be used on Outlook Web Access (OWA).
  • Email – we’ll be receiving email from the five domains mentioned.  For instance, my mailbox must be able to receive email from at least four domains.  For each domain, we would like a “catchall” mailbox rule so that any email sent to the domain is received.  The number of mailboxes will be very low.
  • DNS – all of the DNS records for the five domains will be hosted on our server.  Most likely we’ll have a completely different internal DNS namespace since it would be difficult which public DNS namespace to pick.
  • Xbox Live – we have a number of Xboxes so Xbox Live must work.  The real requirement here is to have a network that is not strict NAT so that our connections can host some of the games.  I know ISA 2004 and Xbox Live is not a supported config, but I am confident I can create the appropriate firewall policies, or set the Xboxes on their own perimeter network.

My Hardware

The server will be low volume so I am not too worried about performance.  If things grow, I’ll buy a dual proc machine later when needed.   For now, it’s a Pentium 4 2.66 GHz processor, 3gigRAM, dual SATA 300gig hard drives, builtin Intel Pro 100 VM adaptor, Intel Pro 1000 MT Dual Port Server adaptor and various other standard components.  I highlighted the dual port ethernet card because it’s a nice design for those of you that want multiple networks without using a bunch of slots.  Intel also makes some quad port cards. 

So back to the original question.  Would we run into any problems running SBS S003 Premium SP1 (when it ships), or would Windows Server 2003 SP1, Exchange Server 2003 SP1 and ISA Server 2004 SP1 be a more flexible approach?  I really like the integration of the components in SBS but I also like a more modular approach.

What do you think?

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  • Hi Keith,

    I also think SBS premium would be a better solution. My reasoning is a little bit different thaugh. SBS is a thing if it's own with it's own sets of problems which sometime are very differents from the separate packages. This would give you another sets of expertise than what you already have in a real production environement.

    My 2 cents. :)

    ../Bruno (Quebec City)

  • Done. Well, at least one of the solution scenarios is done. I am hosting three of the five domains, have secure access to email via SSL encrypted OWA, RPC over HTTP works, Xbox Live works, etc.

    It wasn't easy and I learned a few things. One of the "tricks" I used was related to DNS. Many of the domain registrars require two DNS servers for you to move from their DNS servers to your own. Since I only have one box, I cheated and created a VM with the secondary DNS server. Now I'm hosting my own DNS and I control my world. Which also means I am at liberty to screw things up. :)

    Anyway, now that the "prototype" has been completed, I need to do a couple more things like setup backups and get a UPS. I already tooks a snapshot with Ghost. Ghost rocks!!!