The cat is out of the bag! Windows Essential Business Server (EBS) has been in alpha and beta for quite some time, and I've been running it in a parallel production environment for the last six months. What is EBS? EBS is a midsized (actually, a small/medium) business solution that includes the following components:
- Exchange 2007
- Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG)
- Forefront Security for Exchange
- System Center Essentials
- Advanced Installation Wizards
- Advanced Configuration Wizards
- Default Security Best Practices configuration
EBS requires that you have three physical servers. One for the Management Server, one for the Messaging Server (Exchange) and one for the security server (TMG firewall). The installation routine includes three DVDs, and you just insert one DVD in at a time and follow the on-screen instructions. The installer collects all the information about your environment and automatically installs and configures all the components of the solution. The EBS team really raised the bar when they developed the EBS installer! Best of all, you don't have to deal with any nightmarish PowerShell commands. Do what the wizards tell you, and it just works.
I'm very impressed with the EBS solution so far. While there are some performance and stability issues that continue to plague it through the beta and RC builds, I'm confident that the EBS team will work out these issues before the EBS collection goes RTM.
While the wizards are great and do most of the heavy lifting for you, there's still a lot you can do to optimize the environment. Any knowledge you have regarding TMG, Exchange 2007, Active Directory, Windows Networking Services, and System Center Essentials will help you get even more out of the EBS solution. In addition, at the RC stage, I don't think they've fully optimized the security of the solution, and hence, the reason for post to my security blog. In future blog posts and articles I'll point of some of my security configuration suggestions.
You can download and test EBS now! Just go to:
to download the DVDs. Make sure you pay attention to the System Requirements. You can run the EBS servers in virtual machines, but you'll need to do it in VMware or Hyper-V, since all the servers are 64-bit only.
Thomas W Shinder, M.D.
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MVP - Microsoft Firewalls (ISA)