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Review: Windows Small Business Server 2003

Lots of small offices run their networks as serverless LANs, or workgroups, in order to share basic office facilities including a high-speed Internet connection and high-speed or color printers. This kind of setup is generally quick and easy to establish, and though it lacks any kind of true coordination, it's generally adequate for very small networks.

But at some point, most offices find they want additional facilities in order to support their growth and the increasing complexity of having staff work together. These functions fall into the general categories of file backup, centralized e-mail, document sharing, and remote access to documents. At the same time, the ad-hoc setup of individual computers has become unmanageable because of the differences in each configuration.

Each of these problems can be addressed by a wide range of solutions, but Microsoft's Windows Small Business Server 2003 is a breath of fresh air because of its holistic approach to the problem. Small Business Server 2003, an update from SBS 2000, extends the original package and adds a set of very useful functions, combining the Windows Server 2003 operating system, Windows SharePoint Services for Web collaboration, Exchange Server 2003 technology for e-mail infrastructure, Outlook 2003 e-mail and calendaring client, Microsoft Shared Fax Service, and Routing and Remote Access Services (RRAS) firewall technology.

But the best part is that all the components of SBS 2003 can be installed and maintained by the kinds of support staff common to most small businesses.

Server Configuration Made Easy
A common issue with small organizations that decide to convert to a server-based network is the configuration of the server itself. Windows Server products are feature- and detail-rich environments, and while they can operate with a minimal configuration, doing so means missing out on many of the most valuable features.

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