Migration notes from Windows SBS 2011 Standard to Windows Server 2012 Essentials
As you probably have already found out, Microsoft’s successor for Windows Small Business Server 2011 is no other than Windows 2012 Essentials. Many people have consider this a let down as Windows 2012 Essentials loses a lot of the SBS 2011 premium features such as Microsoft Exchange. This obviously makes sense as many small business might find more value in hosted alternatives as Exchange Online but does make existing customers who have invested in an on premise solution looking puzzled as to what to do. You will also come to realize that Windows Server 2012 Essentials lacks many features from Windows Standard 2012 including Windows Update Services. What all this boils down to for an existing customer is the need to re-evaluate the on premise deployment and perhaps invest in a regular Windows Sever license. If that is the case, getting SA before the deadline might entitle you to a regular copy of Windows and Exchange, which is something you should definitively research if you are interested.
Getting back to the migration aspect, everything is straight forward as noted on Microsoft’s different TechNet guides on migrating from the different environments to Windows Server 2012 Essentials. However, there are a couple of issues I’ve encountered that if mentioned in those guides they are easily overlooked. Below is a list I hope that might help you during a migration:
- No matter what, do no decommission your old SBS 2011 server until you are 100% sure your environment doesn’t need it. And how do you know? Turn it off and see if anything breaks for a month at least I would say.
- Outlook clients might not connect to Exchange Server: In my case only new clients were unable to be setup, but I’ve read online other people have experienced their old clients going offline as well. The reason being as noted on this article that the Global Catalog is moved out of the SBS 2011 server causing Exchange server after a reboot to begin acting up.
- You can´t migrate to Exchange 2013! I was getting ahead of myself and decided I was ready to dump SBS 2011 and move to the greatest and latest Microsoft Servers…. until I couldn´t install Exchange. What happens is that for you to perform an install (let alone a migration) of Exchange 2013 you need your Exchange 2010 Servers to be running SP3. Sure, no problem, let´s go to Microsoft.com and download that service pack! You keep your computers all update anyway so your probably have it right? WRONG! Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 has not been released yet, and I read on forums ETA is Summer 2013! I wasted ours trying to install Exchange 2013 just for that. So now I´m simply installing Exchange 2010 on a different machine to have that host my email until SP3 is released but What A Pain Microsoft! I don’t want to migrate to Exchange 2010 to then Exchange 2013!
For now that is all I have. I hope this helps people out there migrating and deciding what to do with their existing infrastructure. I believe the Software Assurance option for SBS 2011 Standard poses a great value for companies looking for an upgrade. All the best!