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The BIG Question at SMB Nation 2007. "Microsoft, can I run Windows Home Server on my SBS Network?"

The BIG Question at SMB Nation 2007. "Microsoft, can I run Windows Home Server on my SBS Network?"

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Last week was an amazing week... We started off on September 27th and 28th with over 20 MS MVPs (mostly SBS MVPs aka the SBS Family) in town before SMB Nation 2007 for a set of Round Table / Deep Dive / NDA conversations with the Centro, Windows Home Server and SBS teams. The primary objective of these sessions is to drive product feedback from the MVPs to the product teams and also to keep the MVPs up to date on where we are with our development efforts. These sessions basically occur twice a year and are a huge source of information for both the product teams and MVPs who attend. Needless to say, that is all I can share about what goes on at these sessions.


 On Saturday, September 29th, the three day long SMB Nation 2007 Event kicked off. I dropped by for a number of sessions on Sunday, Jeff Middleton's party on Sunday night and a couple more sessions on Monday. The event was on campus in Redmond, WA, so it was pretty easy to drop in. I am glad I was able to attend. There were a number of great technical sessions that the MVPs presented. It was pretty cool to see them in their element. :)


The one thing that became abundantly clear to me while I was hanging out at all the sessions and Jeff’s party was that there was a huge amount of interest in Windows Home Server (WHS).  I cannot tell you how many times I was approached and asked about WHS. It was pretty cool to be able to talk to so many SBSers about WHS. I kind of knew that there was some interest in WHS, but never thought that there would be this much interest. If you don’t believe me that there is a lot of interest, just read Susan’s two blog posts. The buzz at SMBnation ..part two  and The buzz about "Stuff" Server... I mean "Home Server" at SMBnation.


 So, enough background. The BIG Question: "Can I install and run one of more Windows Home Server(s) on an SBS Network to backup my top 10 ( or more) client machines? Is this supported? "


Yes. * There is nothing in our the Windows Home Server Licensing terms of use that prohibit WHS from backing up Domain Joined Machines.  There is also nothing in the SBS Licensing terms of use that prohibit a Windows Home Server from participating in an SBS Network (Home Server does not join the domain, but can run within the network). As Susan stated in her later blog post, you could simply use “Pass through authentication”.


* The only disclaimer I will put in here is that we do not support backing up or running the Windows Home Server Connector software on an SBS Server. I know that Susan was able to install it and backup her server. Heck, Grey Lancaster, our first official WHS MVP did this in the first week that he had WHS installed. He backed up his production SBS server and then ran a restore and it worked. Still, it doesn’t mean that this is a supported scenario because we haven't fully tested it.


Personally, I love Home Server. I have been using it at home for over a year. I frankly cannot live without it. I do not run an SBS Server at home. I have never had a need to ( I bet you most of you could would argue I do), but I can say that I know that a lot of people have already used WHS to backup domain joined machines, both SBS domains as well as large corporate network joined machines. 


Here are the other things that I heard from the SBSers in the crowd at SMB Nation. I cannot argue that WHS would not be a good solution for any of these scenarios:


  • Besides My Documents backup, there is no really good solution from Microsoft to backup and restore full clients on an SBS network that is priced for the Small Business space.
    • Current third party NAS devices and other third party backup software is not as robust a solution as WHS.
      • They stated that the technologies in WHS with backup and DE are far superior to any device that is currently available on the market.
      • The ability to virtualize a backup and restore files on the fly was an amazing feature that any IT admin would die to have.
  • SBS Partners always need a way to provide additional services to their customers
    • They see WHS as being an option that they could provide to their existing SBS customer sites
    • With WHS, they can provide an additional service of backing up the business critical non server machines in an office. Just think of the CEO, whose machine goes crash and you don’t have a backup of it. How long will it take you to get the CEO back up and running?
  • They see WHS as a low cost solution to lower the cost in supporting existing SBS sites.
    • With every installation of SBS comes the added bonus of desktop support. A partner that has 10 SBS installations to support has on average 200 desktops to support as well.
    • With lower cost for supporting existing SBS sites, they can now go out and take on more SBS Customers.
  • WHS could seriously help them take care of the very predictable one off request by the CXO’s to come customize/support their home network. WHS is a turnkey solution that could get them back to billable hours supporting SBS.
  • They do not see WHS as a replacement to SBS.


I hope that you find this helpful.





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