SME Server Platform: Is Server 2012 Essentials the Right Choice?

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In 2012, Microsoft launched the latest Windows Server operating system. It was lauded to be a sure win for the company. In fact, Gizmodo Australia's guest blogger, David Klemke, calls it the “most impressive Windows version” he has seen. Klemke also writes that there are a lot of advances as far as functionality is concerned, both for the operating system itself and its applications. It also comes with a lot of readymade services and applications that everybody from end users to system administrators would love.


Windows Server 2012

Maybe the best way to look at Windows Server 2012 is to think of it as the OS for servers. In fact, before it was launched, Windows Server 2012 had the codename "Windows 8 Server."

Windows Server 2012 can help you get the benefits of a private cloud in your organization. It provides businesses with a multitenant virtualization platform that is very easy to manage and administer. It also gives you a scalable environment that can ensure your server performs at optimal levels. In short, Windows Server 2012 has all the tools you need to take your onsite server to hosted environments without sacrificing your server's performance.


Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is a variant of Server 2012. As such, you could think of it as a "lite" version.

The "lite" version for Windows Server 2012 has been named as the Windows Small Business Server; so think of Windows Server 2012 Essentials as the latest edition of its Small Business Server product.

Small businesses typically do not want to pay for the full price of a Windows Server edition, because they typically use only a handful of network services. Some can even go without a server because of cloud services that are available now. But for those who do need some of the most basic functions of a server, they can get Windows Server 2012 Essentials.


Easier to install

Server Essentials 2012 is just perfect for small businesses. For one you don't need extra IT personnel to install it. Configuring the network and the server is a matter of following a wizard to guide you through the process step by step. It's simple to install while also retaining most of the features and functions that you can get from Windows Server 2012. Small businesses can gain collaboration tools, a way to store and transmit data securely, as well as access to Microsoft's different offerings in the cloud.

Server Essentials 2012 is so simple that even home users could use it for shared storage and multimedia streaming through Media Server.

Furthermore, if you have more than 25 users and connected devices, you can easily upgrade to the Standard edition that allows you to have 75 users and 75 connected devices. This upgrade option is not available on earlier versions of the Small Business Server.

On the downside, however, Essentials does not have Hyper-V, the virtualization hypervisor that runs Windows Server. But you could easily find a free Hyper-V version online and run it on Server Essentials. Moreover, you can't have an application server on Server Essentials neither.


Integration with cloud services

Microsoft provides a table for easy comparison between the different Microsoft Server 2012 editions:

So, in short, Microsoft Server Essentials 2012 is good for small businesses because of its simple interface and instant connectivity to cloud-based services even when it does not have native virtualization rights. The server license also gives you the right to provision it to 25 users or less for only $501.

On the other hand, it has full Windows Server functionality and you can run two virtual instances. Your license will be based on processor and CAL for only $882. Just right for bigger companies. A more expensive edition is geared towards datacenters and big multinationals with highly virtualized hybrid and private cloud systems. For only $4,809, you get unlimited virtual machines along with full server functionality.


Windows Server 2012 for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the key drivers of United States' economy. They too need some IT tools to successfully run their businesses. Although the Windows Server tool was primarily designed for big and multinational corporations, Microsoft saw the need and started introducing it to SMEs.


The Benefits and Advantages of Windows Server 2012 to SMEs

You can talk about the features of Microsoft Server 2012, but at the end of the day you always need to go back to the discussion of its value to the business. Imagine that you are the IT guy and you want your boss to migrate to Windows Server 2012. The thing is your company is an SME. How would you do it?

The top reasons why SMEs should get Windows Server 2012:



  1. Simplify your IT: Early on, Microsoft has taken pains to simplify Windows Server 2012. This leads to a simpler and easier to install, manage and administer final product. You get better management options, enhanced security for your data, and better compliance. You also get a complete platform for virtualization.

  3. Better compatibility: Windows Server 2012 supports open platforms. You will find that Microsoft has been working towards more openness.  Node.js is now supported, along with enhanced support for Linux in Hyper-V 3.0.

  5. Save on costs: SMEs will appreciate the fact that there are fewer licensing models for Server 2012 than for previous editions, which means that they can upgrade easily. Not to mention that the costs are no longer associated with features. Overall, Server 2012 will enable SMEs to leverage the storage functions and other features to cut on IT costs.

If you want to put numbers to the cost savings, Microsoft conducted research where they asked 70 companies around the world that deploying Server 2012 to evaluate the effects on their business. Believe it or not, Microsoft holds 73% of the server OS market share.

They found that deployments led to:



  • $220,000 annual savings on IT labor

  • 44% expected decrease in server hardware and associated costs

  • 41% faster workload deployment

  • 52% decrease in planned downtime

  • 23% decrease in unplanned downtime

Small and medium sized businesses would benefit from the ease with which they could implement, manage and administer Windows Server 2012, while allowing them to save money. But if you don't need to use Hyper-V, or if you are considering an upgrade to Server Standard 2012, then you could go for Server Essentials 2012. Either way, you have a product that is geared towards small businesses that may not have the IT personnel to run both.


Get started in a server admin role with Windows Server Training taught by energetic Microsoft MVP, Ed Liberman.

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Michael Gabriel Sumastre

Michael Gabriel Sumastre is a skilled technical blogger and writer with more than seven years of professional experience in Web content creation, SEO and research paper writing. He has written more than a thousand articles related to tech and gadgets, cloud computing, IT management, SEO, SEM and software solutions. He ghostwrites books / e-books and has a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. Michael is also an expert in webmastering and loves to ride his sportsbike. He maintains his portfolio and personal blog at