Installing and Configuring Windows Essential Business Server

by Jabez Gan

Microsoft's EBS 2008 bundles full-blown messaging, database and security services in an easy-to-manage package you can leave in the hands of less savvy personnel, conserving precious budget and IT resources. Before they can use it, though, you'll need a Windows expert to set it up.

In a previous article, we learned about Microsoft's Windows Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008, a low-cost way to get a number of essential network services bundled in an easy-to-manage package. If you still remember what EBS does, great! Let's now assume that we are ready to deploy EBS, but how do we do it? That's where this article comes in.


EBS's system requirements include a 64-bit system, and more or less clock speed depending on whether you're running a single- or multi-core machine. If you are planning to virtualize all three servers into one single physical box, I suggest you equip it with a minimum of 8GB RAM.

Since EBS consists of multiple servers, it might not be an easy installation, especially if migrating from an existing environment. As I step through installation and setup, I will explain why a Windows deployment expert is needed throughout the process. Don't get me wrong: EBS can be œ by almost anybody with limited IT knowledge, but a specialist is still needed to set it up.

Now, let me start with the first step:

Preparing the Network Environment Configuration File

As setting up EBS could be a complicated process depending on the environment, a "preparation wizard" and "planning wizard" have been developed to scan the network to ensure EBS is compatible. If it is, you will need to determine the new network topology, IP addressing scheme and firewall placement. The end result is a PlanningWizardData.XML file you can store on a thumb drive for use during installation.

Figure 1: EBS Installation attempts to guide the user step by step
throughout the installation.

Installation of EBS

EBS consists of four DVDs, where the first DVD contains the preparation and logging wizard and the rest DVDs contain the management, security and messaging software. It's best to turn all three servers on throughout the installation as that allows each of the servers to communicate their status with the management server.

The first step is to install the management server. Do you remember of the PlanningWizardData.XML file you saved to a thumb drive? During the installation of the management server, this file is required for EBS to ensure that the network environment is compatible with EBS.

The other required information other than network configuration includes the domain name for Active Directory. This is one of the reasons why EBS needs to be installed by a Windows deployment expert.

Once the management server has been installed, fire up the installers for the security and messaging servers. Both the installers will ask the user for the domain administrator's credentials for them to be joined to the domain controller.

Figure 2: Joining Messaging Server to the domain.

The Hard Part -- Guided Configuration and Migration Tasks

Once all servers have been installed, get back to the management server and a To-Do list will be presented as part of the Guided Configuration and Migration Tasks. This is another reason why a deployment expert is needed to assist in setting up EBS.

Here is the list of tasks you will need to perform. Each of the links points to the respective Microsoft TechNet article:

  1. Configure Subnets to specify the additional subnets used in the environment. (This step is optional.)
  2. Configure Site-to-Site VPN to establish a secure connection to remote branch sites. (This step is optional.)
  3. Configure Firewall Rules to create the firewall rules for the network. (This step is required.)
  4. Configure SAN Storage to connect the EBS server to the SAN storage. (This step is optional.)
  5. Migrate DNS to move the DNS from an old server to EBS (This step is required.)
  6. Migrate DHCP to move the DHCP settings from an old server to EBS. (This step is required.)
  7. Configure Management Tools to configure System Center Essentials to create group policy objects for managing the network. (This step is required.)
  8. Activate the Servers to activate the licenses for EBS. (This step is required.)
  9. Configure DNS Sender ID to further secure the Exchange mail server. (This step is recommended.)
  10. Configure DNS for Remote Access to allow remote access to EBS from the Internet. (This step is optional.)
  11. Configure Certificate Settings for Remote Web Workplace to assign a certificate with Remote Web Workplace for SSL. (This step is recommended.)
  12. Migrate the Exchange Server Mailboxes to move mailboxes from an older Exchange Server. (This step is recommended.)
  13. Move the User Scripts and Profiles to move user profiles from previous Active Directory. (This step is recommended.)
  14. Discover Computers and Devices to discover and install System Center Essential management agents. (This step is recommended.)
  15. Configure Software Update Rules to configure System Center Essentials to download and push updates to clients. (This step is recommended.)
  16. Move Active Directory Roles to move the AD roles to the management server. Must be done within 30 days of installation. (This step is required.)
  17. Configure SharePoint Services to configure SharePoint for collaboration. (This step is optional.)
  18. Install Client Access Licenses to add purchased CALs. (This step is required.)
  19. Assign Client Access Licenses to assign CALs to users/devices. (This step is required.)
  20. Start the Administration Console to start the Administration Console to monitor server and network health. (This step is optional.)
  21. Verify the Configuration and the Migration to verify the configuration, functionality and connectivity of EBS. (This step is recommended.)

How Many of the Tasks Do You Need to Do?

Depending on the environment, some of the tasks must be done, for example, migrating DNS or DHCP. For the others, they can be safely ignored. For example, if a company is located in one physical location, you might only have one subnet, might not require Site-to-Site VPN. The list above serves as a rough guide, but it depends on the environment and the policies set by the organization.


EBS is engineered to be easy to use, but that does not include installation and setup. The checklist is more of a life saver for deployment experts, as it will allow them to skip the whitepapers to setup EBS systems.

Thanks to HP Malaysia for loaning Enterprise Networking Planet an HP ProLiant ML150 to test EBS.

This article was originally published on Thursday Jun 24th 2010