Server versus workstation (Advanced Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book excerpt)

Howdy folks – I am the publisher of the above title and I like to hold virtual book readings. Here ya’ go!


Server versus Workstation

First things first, though. In order to make life a little easier when it comes time to make important design decisions, let’s define the server and workstation environments. It’s important to draw a distinction here because your server will be built with certain needs in mind, in turn necessitating particular hardware configurations. Meanwhile, workstations (commonly referred to as clients) are tasked with different responsibilities than the server and are built accordingly. It’s safe to say that your server will be the most expensive piece of hardware you buy, and the workstations will cost substantially less.

Serving Up SBS

Your server will generally, in a small to medium business (SMB) environment, host SBS 2003 as a singular entity, unless you need an additional domain controller (DC) or application server. Your server needs sufficient horsepower to ensure that the operating system will run satisfactorily. This usually means investing in server-class hardware, although I’ve done work in smaller businesses where an Intel Pentium 4 client machine worked well enough as a dedicated server.


Regardless of the base platform you choose for building the server, consider a few imperatives. For example, the server is a mission-critical piece of your SBS puzzle. Every minute that it’s down, someone, somewhere, is losing money and is bound to be upset. Thus it goes without saying that your server must be reliable, from its processor and motherboard to its I/O subsystem and software. But accidents do happen, mechanical parts break, and unfortunately software does crash from time to time, which is why it’s also imperative to have a server backup strategy in place for keeping information current and for minimizing loss.

Fortunately you can take an active part in preventing unwanted server down time. Until the electric company can give you a written guarantee that the power will never go out, you will undoubtedly want to buy some sort of battery backup for the server. The extra 10 or 20 minutes afforded by battery power just might mean the difference between a graceful shutdown and a less favorable situation. You can take your power-delivery preparedness (or paranoia, depending how you want to look at it) a step further by banking on redundant power supplies.

CHAPTER Chaper 2 1 So Understanding You Want to Hardwre Be an in SMB the SBS Consultant?!?! Environment

In the unlikely but statistically inevitable event that one power supply fails, the second will ensure that operation persists without interruption.

Another topic that’s hot now and that will only get hotter in the future is the issue of security. When your server is the system that’s closest to the wild and wooly Internet, it’s hard to feel safe, even with two NICs (network interface cards), the RRAS basic firewall, and an external hardware firewall. Even with these precautions in place, you should perhaps devote a little more energy to security by looking within the confines of your establishment. To begin, think about your valuable data. If it’s backed up on tapes or discs that are on location, your backup data isn’t truly redundant. At least once a week, make complete backups and take them elsewhere, somewhere safe from theft or fire. Then there’s also the issue of employee access. Configuration of permissions is an important part of implementing SBS 2003 on the software side. However, it’s prudent to also think about measures to keep your server and backups physically safe from tampering. Keep these issues in mind as you draw up your battle plan for SBS deployment, because you’ll find that maximizing security is one of the best ways to gain your customer’s trust.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – did you know my Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is almost here? Yes!



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