Monday, 19 March 2007

Need to familiarize yourself with SBS? Try This --->

Do you have a spare machine around with enough memory and processor speed to install a base OS and Virtual Server on top? If you do, the following assumes a little bit of experience with Virtual Server 2K5 R2 as that is what we run our virtual environments on.

You could run your SBS install stages; install some XP desktops, Vista desktops, and another server or servers if you like within the virtual environment.

You could run the entire project virtually, start to finish, without impacting your production environment. If need be, all operating systems can be Eval versions so as to not impact licensing issues.

Running things virtually requires nothing special in the way of hardware or software.

To get to RWW on the virtual SBS domain via your internal network do the following:

Virtual SBS: Create an internal network accessible only by the workstations and SBS NIC 1. Add a second NIC to the virtual SBS box that is attached to the machine's physical NIC so it can pull an IP from your internal DHCP server.

On your internal DHCP server, create a reservation for the MAC address of the virtual SBS NIC 2.

On your internal DNS server, add an (A) record to the IP address reserved for the virtual SBS server above: virtualsbs.mydomain.local (your domain setup) = IP (your IP subnet)

Run the SBS setup on your virtual server, complete stage 1, post stage 1 install and configure the base installation as you normally would and then continue on with stage 2 for the complete SBS install.

Internet Wizard URL: same as your internal DNS (A) record: virtualsbs.mydomain.local

You will be able to send e-mail from the virtual domain, only SMTP e-mail coming in will not happen if you already have an SBS server, or Exchange server on your internal network. POP3 Connector solution could be implemented here if you want full e-mail functionality on the virtual domain. RWW will be accessible via your Web browser internally: http://virtualsbs.mydomain.local/remote.

Install the workstation OSs. This can be done at the same time as the SBS stage 2 install.

Once you have the SBS install, Premium Tech (if needed), and the ToDo list finished, you can go ahead and create some virtual users and computers and then run through the Add Computer wizard for the XP and/or Vista workstations. This gives you the opportunity to install the SBS/Vista RipCurl! ;)

The above will give you a complete install, start to finish. Mess up? No worries, start again. You will be able to run Eval versions for about 6 months give or take from the install date. This is more than enough time to play with the virtual SBS environment to get comfortable with the look and feel of installing SBS.

You can get SBS 2K3 Premium SP1 Eval on eBay without a problem, and SBS 2K3 Premium R2 Eval by purchasing the R2 Eval pack which is little more than shipping and handling from Microsoft. XP Pro can be had via eBay, as can Office, and others. Vista trial can be had via any Vista RTM media obtained via TechNet, MSDN, or a DVD that came with a system.

This setup also gives you the opportunity to explore Group Policy settings without creating havoc on a production SBS environment. Create and destroy OU's and policies. Learn how to get very granular with the application of your policy settings. No risk of GP tattoos on your virtual desktops ... you can pause the virtual desktops to be hit with the GP before hand and copy the VHD. Save it for later when you want to reverse things. The same is true for the virtual SBS VHD.

Need to figure out how to install software to certain machines via GP? Then this is the place to do it! Office 2003, 2007, Windows Defender for XP, and more can be distributed via GP (Eval and OLP versions for Office).

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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