Many small businesses start life with a collection of computers patched together in what is known as a peer network. In this scenario there are typically no centralized resources and files are shared from a standard XP, Windows 2000 or Windows NT workstation. Each machine will typically be configured with a pop3 email account which checks the ISP server on the internet every 5 minutes and possibly some virus protection software that also regularly checks the internet for updates.

As most businesses will find this solution is not very scalable and once an organization starts to grow they start to search for a better solution as they start to suffer from a lack of performance, no centralized account management or backup strategy.

Microsoft's Windows 2003 Small Business Server gives small businesses a chance to go to the next level at extremely competitive pricing. The Windows 2003 Small Business Server comes bundled with a mail server (Exchange 2003), centralized user management (Active Directory) and an integrated backup solution.

On top of this a centralized virus protection can be installed on the server for example the Trend Micro Client Server Messaging, or Symantec End Point Protection which will mean that the server checks every hour for updates and then updates each of the clients with this update. This saves on performance issues as individual clients are no longer using internet bandwidth to check for updates.

Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) which is a free application from Microsoft included in the Small Business Server can be configured to be a centralized resource to update clients with the regular security patches and updates released by Microsoft. By using WSUS in combination with group policy (part of Active Directory) the administrator can control which updates are available to the clients on the network and also how they are installed.

The major server vendors such as HP and Dell package entry level servers with either the Standard or Premium edition of Windows Small Business Server 2003 for extremely competitive pricing.

It is possible to locate a Microsoft Small Business Specialist on Microsoft's Small Business portal. These specialists such as IT Smart Solutions based in Sydney, Australia have been certified by Microsoft in the implementation and support of products of relevance to the small business. By using a certified specialist you can be assured that the consultant will have the skill set to supply you with the right solution for your business.

(c) Copyright – Steve Ranson – IT Smart Solutions .

Acknowledgments. Microsoft, NT, Windows, Exchange 2003, Active Directory are registered trademarks of the Microsoft Corportation. All other trademark and registered trademarks are acknowledged.

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