Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 (SBS 2011) was released in December 2010 and has been incredibly reliable since then. But all good things come to an end and in January 2020, key components of SBS 2011 will reach "End of Life".

SBS 2011 Support Status

SBS 2011 is based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and includes your email server - Exchange Server 2010. Mainstream support (ie enhancements) for both Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010 ended in January 2015 and extended support (i.e., security vulnerability updates) ended in January 2020. This means that not only are there no more enhancements, but no security updates - even critical ones - are being made.

SBS 2011 Email Migration Recommendation

NetCare recommends that organizations running their email system on SBS migrate to Microsoft 365 as a matter of urgency, given the security risk to your business data, financials and reputation. There are three factors to consider:

  • the security and compliance requirements of the business;
  • the age of the hardware platform on which SBS is running (your file server); and
  • your Microsoft Office licensing arrangements

Compliance Requirements

The most important consideration on when to migrate to Microsoft 365 concerns the compliance requirements of your industry. The anti-malware capabilities of Exchange 2010 are not being updated to account for the latest security threats, so your email server is increasingly vulnerable to emerging new cyber threats.

If you're in an industry that has compliance obligations - for example financial service providers and medical practises - then NetCare recommends you migrate to Microsoft tomorrow!

Age of the Hardware Platform

SBS 2011 was still being actively deployed as late as 2014, but that means as a best-case scenario that your server hardware is 6 years old. If it's still covered by an extended hardware warranty from a top tier manufacturer like HP, then that still buys you some extra time - we'd suggest moving to a new server before the current warranty extension expires.

Microsoft Office Licensing

The third factor to consider is the type of Microsoft Office licensing you have in place. This question arises because Office 2109 is not compatible with Exchange 2010. If you have purchased Office versions via the Open License program, then this is not a problem as you can use downgrade rights to install Office 2013 on your computers.

But, if you have the standard Office license that is linked to the computer you purchased it for, then this becomes a significant problem as you replace old computers with new ones. Because Office 2013 is no longer available, you won't have a new Office license to install that is compatible with Exchange 2010.

Put simply, if you intend to replace old computers and you also have old Office 2010 licenses, then you should first upgrade your email server to Microsoft 365.

Are You Running SQL on Your SBS 2011 Server?

SBS 2011 Premium includes a license for SQL Server 2008, and was a very cost-effective way to provide the database for ERP software applications like Jiwa, Exo, Arrow and Tencia.

However, mainstream support (ie enhancements) for SQL Server 2008 ended in July 2014 and extended support (i.e., security vulnerability updates) ended in July 2019. Running your accounting system on a non-supported database does not sound like good business practice and NetCare thus firmly recommend discussing migration plans with your application provider to a later version of SQL as soon as possible.

This will also involve a discussion with NetCare on the provision of new fileserver hardware and the Windows Server 2019 operating system.

A critical point here is that your current backup software cannot be guaranteed to successfully restore a database that is no longer officially supported by Microsoft. This means that if your accounting software is saving its data on a SQL Server 2006 database, then a requirement to restore it for any reason may well result in data loss issues!

It's Time to Start Planning Your Move from SBS 2011

SBS 2011 has been a rock-solid platform for many of our clients for many years, but its time to move on.

We recommend all our clients migrate from SBS 2011 to a new platform by December 31st 2019 at the VERY LATEST.

To start discussing your migration plans in greater detail, please Contact Us.