Last week ZDNet UK posted a thorough review of SBS Aurora. It's a pre-release version, so there aren't a whole lot of details. And apparently the entire cloud function was not available yet.
I took a look through anyway, to get an idea of what Aurora can show us so far. And how that will relate to my idea from before – whether or not using Aurora as a lightweight base for OCS works.
First thing I noted was that Aurora doesn't need brand-new hardware (ZDNet used a dual-core machine with 2GB of RAM). So the hardware needed to set up a basic OCS server won't drive up the bill here.
The snag, if one arises, will be in software support. The code base to support an OCS setup is mostly there – Aurora is based on Windows Server 2008 R2, as well as some code from Microsoft Home Server (for storage management). It includes IIS and SQL Server – both OCS requirements.
It does have its own version of Active Directory, though apparently some of its functions are hidden. Which, if you're setting up a server for a small workgroup, makes some sense. However, this is the snag…
Aurora cannot be added to an existing AD domain. It must create a new one. Microsoft intends Aurora for NEW businesses only. And this is how they make that clear.
Aurora's Management: OK for OCS?
Managing Aurora works through a task-based dashboard, into which you can login remotely through RDS. I don't know whether integrating OCS into this dashboard is feasible (yet), or whether you'd be better off managing OCS separately. This is a wait-and-see.
Another wait-and-see is,sadly,many of Aurora's cloud options. They weren't available to ZDNet for this review. They did report an add-in folder for applications, but nothing was available to test.
A couple likely applications to run cloud-based on Aurora would be email and collaboration (i.e. OCS?).
Small Business Communications: It'll Work
I'm sure there will be an OCS option within SBS Aurora when it's released. Whether that's a plugin to run it directly through the dashboard, or a cloud-based app to connect the two.
I'm also pretty convinced you can run OCS off an Aurora-based server without much extra configuration. Putting these two together essentially creates a one-stop main server and communications center for small businesses.
Have you had a chance to test SBS Aurora? Not sure this Aurora/OCS idea would work? Drop us a comment and let's chat.