Extra Extra — Windows Server 2008 Foundation

I was in the middle of writing of post about “Five Things About Exchange Server 2007…” when I decided to shift gears and write about something I didn’t think you could wait to hear about. Well, no, not the GM/Segway PUMA. That would be a bit too off-topic for this blog.

It’s an oh-so-recently released operating system which original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) bundle with server hardware and there are no client access licenses (CALs) for regular file & print functionality. Another strain of Linux? Um, no. The Snow Leopard version of Mac OS X Server? Not just yet.

Welcome: Yet Another Flavor of Windows Server 2008.

So you’ll just have to wait a bit longer for what I was going to post about Exchange Server 2007.

So just who is this new kid on the block?

Windows Server 2008 Foundation. The moniker “Foundation” actually includes much of the regular tried and true Windows Server 2008 Standard edition, but the licensing is different. That’s the big news.

1. You get the W2K8 Server FOUNDATION bundled with low-end server hardware from your computer vendor. Some people have likened it to “the NetBook of the server market” – low-end capacity, low-budget price point.

2. You can only have up to 15 user accounts on the server, but those could be in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) either as a stand-alone AD DS domain hosted by this Foundation server only, or with this Foundation server as an additional domain controller in a larger environment. The various possibilities of where these up to fifteen user accounts are is quite significant to understanding where W2K8 Server Foundation could be utilized in not just tiny businesses but branch offices too.

3. You can host services (think W2K8 Roles and Features) such as file & print, AD DS, Terminal Services, and other local applications which would normally run on a full-blown Windows Server 2008 system.

4. You don’t get any other applications such as Exchange Server or SQL Server bundled in the Foundation license deal like with W2K8 Small Business Server (SBS) or Essential Business Server (EBS).

5. Although Terminal Services CALs (TSCALs) are still needed for licensing access to terminal services, most other services, including file and print, do not require CALs. Remember the 15 user limit however.

6. The hardware + operating system total sale price is expected to be between US $500 and $1000. One of the W2K8 Server Foundation restrictions is a maximum of 8 GB RAM, however on a $500 server which can only host 15 users this shouldn’t really be considered as a hugely abnormal constraint.

Would you buy a server like this? For small business, it may be a question of cloud versus Linux versus Windows Server 2K8 Foundation in that price bracket (unless you’re thinking of Solaris or Mac OS X, et al). What you mid-size size business and enterprise people shouldn’t neglect is the question “Is there any benefit in having a tiny local server in a small office for file and print and applications for up to 15 users while having messaging and database applications accessed over the WAN to headquarters (or regional) offices?”

In other news, Windows Server 2008 R2 (Windows 7 Server by any other name) is expected to (really) be released this calendar year. That would be in 2009 along with Windows 7 (the client OS). Is it time to say “Hasta la vista Vista?” More on that later (well actually I’ve been blogging about that elsewhere already).

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