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Virtualizing Microsoft Small Business Server 2008

February 23, 2009

Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 appears to be a good option for “Microsoft shops” looking to consolidated Active Directory Domain Controller, Windows Update Services, Security and Virus Protection, SharePoint and Exchange functions on a single server. In practice, however, it takes a really “big” server to support this application – even for a very small office environment.

According to Microsoft’s system requirements page a target system will need a 2GHz core, 4GB of RAM and 60GB of disk space to be viable (minimum). As with past experiences with Microsoft’s products, this “minimum system specification” is offered as a “use this only if you want to under-perform horribly as to be unusable” configuration.

In reality, a single-user, clean installation with two 2.3GHz cores and 4GB of RAM committed to the installation, the server struggles with the minimum amount of memory. The “real” minimum should have been specified as 6GB instead of the optimistic 4GB. Where does the memory go?

It appears that Microsoft Exchange-related memory utilization weighs in at over 1.2GB (including 600MB for “store.exe”). Another 1.2GB is consumed by IIS, SharePoint and SQL. Forefront Client Security-related memory usage is around 1GB all by itself. That’s 3.4GB of “application space” drag in Windows Small Business Server 2008. Granted, the “killer app” for SBS is Exchange 2007 and some might argue SharePoint integration as well, so the use of the term “drag” may not be appropriate. However, let’s just agree that 4GB is a ridiculously low (optimistic) minimum.

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