Monday, July 16, 2007

Some interesting things about Cougar

Been over reading Sean Daniel's blog about the next version of SBS known as Cougar and the following points from the blogs struck us:

3. The SBS Backup solution is being completely re-vamped. However, we have made the full switch, and the backup solution will no longer support backing up to tape. Using snapshot technology, the backups will be extremely quick using incrementals that can be scheduled as often as every 30 minutes. A copy of NTBackup will be able to extract files from the old SBS 2003 format, but no new data can be added. If tape is super important to you, start sizing up 3rd party backup solutions.

So the next version of SBS will not only be 64 bit it will also not support tape drives. Backups appear to be moving to disk based snap shots. This is definitely the case with people like Symantec and Storagecraft developing excellent SBS offerings. No major surprise here but the interesting issue is how off site disaster recovery backups will be handled. One would guess that the most likely option when SBS Cougar becomes available is that off site backups will be done via the Internet. So you'll do an regular backup image and this image will then be transferred offsite automatically. There are people that will do that now but it looks like we need to start getting up to speed with these sort of solutions before Cougar ships.

5. Cougar will need to be installed behind some kind of firewall and the single-NIC model will be the only mode. You must use a firewall in front of the SBS box, this can be a hardware router type item, or a software firewall such as ISA.

Now here's something that we didn't really know. There have been plenty of rumours that Cougar will allow you to migrate some of the SBS applications (typically ISA) onto seperate hardware and this makes good sense, but according to what Sean says this is going to be mandatory. So it appears that SBS willl come with any in built firewall and that you will have to use an external appliance for SBS Cougar Standard and ISA on a seperate box for SBS Cougar Premium.

The first ramification here is that any SBS Cougar sale is going to have include the sale of a dedicated hardware firewall or a new server to install ISA on. In summary, additional cost. Secondly, it means that there should be more memory for the remaining applications on the SBS Cougar box which is a good thing. More and more these days we are moving towards an SBS solution with a single NIC, for standard and premium, since it provides greater flexibility and removes the need for ISA on the SBS Premium box (which is already getting overloaded with applications now).

Interesting stuff but still needs to be taken with a pince of salt because thing certainly can and will change between now and release of Cougar. However, our take away is no more tape backups out of the box - so how do we handle offsite disaster recovery and secondly no more firewall on the SBS box - this means additional cost for systems. Luckily, we are already moving down those path and this information certainly confirms that we need to place more emphasis on this as Cougar gets closer to release.