i've been waiting with baited breath for the opportunity to talk about the Public Preview of SBS 2008, and it went live yesterday. The SBS Blog carried the announcement from Dean Paron, and you can sign up to download and evaluate the software at the Evaluation Center. If you are going to take a serious look at the software, and by serious, I mean that you are going to run the software through its paces and provide feedback to the development team, make sure that the system you will be testing on meets the minimum system requirements as identified by Microsoft. Running on anything less will not get you the proper experience for the software.
There are a number of changes in SBS 2008 from SBS 2003 and earlier versions. One of the most significant is the change from being able to use the SBS server as an "edge device" by running it with two NICs. SBS 2008 only supports a single NIC (and by single NIC, that means you cannot route private to public traffic through the SBS server - some testers have installed SBS 2008 with two NICs on private networks for physical separation of internal networks) and that's actually a change in the core Windows Server 2008 operating system, not a design decision by the SBS development team. All deployments of SBS 2008 will be of the "single NIC behind a hardware firewall" vaiety, where the "hardware firewall" could be any number of solutions, including a separate server running ISA. The SBS setup wizards will attempt to configure this external firewall if it's a hardware device that supports and has enabled UPnP, but the setup wizards will not configure an external ISA server, so ISA integration has been completely removed from this product.
Over the next few days and weeks, I'll be posting my thoughts and opinions about the product, the successes and failures that I've seen in the time I've been working with the product. These posts will be focused on significant differences in the product from previous versions so that those who are starting to become familiar with the product can see up front some of the implications of those changes and how that might impact the way you deploy SBS 2008 into an existing environment. While some of these changes may not sit well with the community, if you know about them in advance and can plan for them before implementing the system, you may save yourself some headaches down the road. I liken this to the people who were very familiar with SBS 2000 and made assumptions about SBS 2003 when selling it as a solution to customers without knowing some of the significant changes made at that transition. Specifically, consultants who sold SBS 2003 to b used as a Terminal Serve, like SBS 2000 could do, when Terminal Server support was removed from the product. in this case, you won't be selling SBS 2008 with ISA - there is no bundled ISA story with SBS 2008, so if you've been thinkig about selling SBS 2008 Premium and pitchin ISA as one of the benefits of that sale, you need to make alternate plans NOW.
Hopefully you'll find the information coming in the next series of posts useful as you begin to think about how SBS 2008 will fit into your product offerings to your customers. Don't be surprised if you find that, in some cases, SBS 2008 is no longer a fit for customers where SBS 2003 made sense. Times change and tehnology changes, and so has the SBS product. Please make sure that you are familiar with the product and its benefits and limitations before you start deploying it for your customers.