Deploying “on-premise” Server 2012 Essentials


Bryan Von Axelson 2010

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Are you looking at an alternative solution to Small Business Server Standard edition ?  Let me discuss a supported solution, that will scale beyond 25 users, while keeping value-add features of Windows Server 2012 Essentials, such as Remote Web Access!!!

Target Customer Needs:

  • Existing SBS 2003/2008 Standard wanting equivalent on-premises capabilities.
  • Support for hosting virtual machines and multiple server instances.
  • On-premises Exchange Server, and optionally SharePoint Foundation as download.

Solution Benefits:

  • Robust virtualization platform with two virtual instances. (one instance can be Windows Server 2012 Essentials to take advantage of its value-add features)

  • Affordable storage and continuous availability features.

  • Support for RDS and virtual desktop infrastructure. (requires add’l licensing)

  • Maximum control and LOB integration support with on-premises Exchange Server.


What to Sell:

  • Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition.
  • Windows Server CAL’s for each user.
  • Exchange Server 2013 Standard Edition.
  • Exchange Server CAL’s for each user.



The Host server will be Server 2012 Standard edition, which includes licensing for 2 virtual machines.

VM#1 – Use “Down-Version” rights to install Server Essentials 2012 as the DC, and get the Value Add features of Essentials.

VM#2 – Install Server 2012 Standard edition, then install Exchange Standard, or SQL, or LOB application, whatever your customer needs.



Growing beyond 25 users transition:

  • Ability to perform an in-place license transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard.

  • Most of the value-added features of Essentials will remain, but the locks and limits will be removed, e.g., gaining the ability to have Active Directory trust relationships. 

  • The value-added features of Essentials 2012 will not scale indefinitely, but for supportability purposes will be subject to a maximum of 75 users and 75 devices.  My personal recommendation would be to target 50 users.

  • Customers will need to purchase a full copy of Windows Server 2012 Standard and the appropriate number of CALs for their users/devices to be license compliant.

Key Resources:


Comments (4)

  1. charles says:

    One unfortunate flaw in this is that Server Essentials 2012 does not support Windows XP. I have clients that are migrating to Windows 7 as quickly as they can afford, however, still have a few XP machines that will not be upgraded for 6 months or so. While we can manually join the XP boxes to the Essentials domain we lose management and group policy items like folder redirection. While ditching XP support is beneficial to Microsoft it does mean that for at least a few clients I have to go back to a 2011 product to get proper XP support. The issue here is that small clients have a small budget. If they go with a 2011 product  on the server to have proper support of XP they will generally not upgrade the server again for another 3-5 years. We really need the soft limitation of not allowing folder redirection on the XP boxes removed. I can deal with the loss of the integrated management, remote anywhere support, etc.

  2. Charles, have you considered running Server Essentials in a Azure VM? Then it would be O/S agnostic.


    BI Goals

  3. Sahalu says:


    SBS  2011 Standard offers the exact configuration I need. But since it has been retired, is it possible to install on-premise Exchange and on-premise SharePoint Foundation on the same Windows Server 2012 Essentials box? And will the setup offer similar stability as SBS 2011 Standard?


  4. Anonymous says:

    The guide is only available to partners. Is there any way a non-partner can obtain a copy?

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