Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials – Update

When we first started designing Windows SBS 2011 Essentials (formally SBS Code Name “Aurora”), one of our initial focuses was to provide effortless support for multiple internal and external hard drives. Drive Extender provided the ability to take the small hard drives many small businesses may have acquired, and pool them together in a simple volume. During our current testing period for our SBS products, we have received feedback from partners and customers about how they use storage today and how they plan to use it moving forward. Today large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced, and freely available. We are also seeing further expansion of hard drive sizes at a fast rate, where 2Tb drives and more are becoming easy accessible to small businesses.

When weighing up the future direction of storage in the SMB segment, data access support and application compatibility, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. Customers also told us that they wanted easier access to data stored on Drive Extender drives so they are able to view these files outside of Drive Extender. Therefore, moving forward we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” all of which are currently in beta.

While this removes the integrated ability for storage pooling of multiple hard drives and automated data duplication, we are continuing to work closely with our OEM partners to implement storage management and protection using industry standard RAID solutions. This will provide customers greater choice as well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs. Customers will also have access to the in-built storage solutions Windows Server 2008 R2 provides for data protection, including software RAID support. We are also still delivering core features such as automated Server and PC backup, easy sharing of folders and files, Remote Web Access and simplified management without any expected changes.

As SBS 2011 Essentials also shares the Drive Extender feature with both Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, we are working with OEM partners to also provide similar data protection solutions for all members of this product family. Target product availability is still H1 2011, and we expect to deliver a new beta without drive extender for both Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” early in the New Year.