Windows Small Business Server has existed in some form since the 1990s, though it has undergone several name changes since then. The current version, Windows Small Business Server 2008, consists of Windows Server, Microsoft Exchange Server (for email), Internet Information Server (web server), and Windows SharePoint Services (for collaboration). The Premium Edition allows for running SQL Server (database server) on a separate server.
The main attraction of running Small Business Server in a small business network environment (up to 75 workstations) is that storage of files, email and database data is centralized. Access to data can be limited or granted for each user as fits the business. Instead of having multiple versions of files and folders scattered throughout the workstations on a network, they can all be stored in single place and permission to access them can be granted and changed on an as-needed basis.
Management of the server, network and workstations by someone onsite or by an outside consultant is centralized and monitoring capability is built-in.
Businesses that stand to gain the most from an investment in Windows Small Business Server have between 3 and 15 workstations and have a peer-to-peer network environment with no centralization (and often a fair amount of network chaos).
Several advantages of Small Business Server:
Remote access (from anywhere with Internet and a web browser) to the server, workstations and email is made possible through the Remote Web Workplace. Administrators have access to the entire network, while individual users are granted access to their workstations and email.
Centralized Email, Calendar Sharing and Contact Sharing
With Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook email clients, easy sharing of access to mailboxes, contacts and calendars is easily configured. This permits, among other arrangements, an assistant to access and update calendar and contact entries for his or her boss. Company contacts and calendars can be stored and shared separately from individual contact databases and calendars.
Centralized Backup (and faster, easier data restore)
With all valuable data stored in a single location, centralized backup is much easier to configure, run, and monitor, whether to an external drive onsite or by an offsite backup service or a combination of the two.
Ease of Management
As mentioned above, network administrators are able to monitor the health of the network, perform user administration and control the application of updates and patches to Windows on the server and workstations and to other applications from a single console on the server. All management can be performed remotely as easily as if someone were onsite.
All of the above features often lead to greatly improved productivity for managers and employees within a business and for the business as a whole.
Windows Small Business Server 2008 may deserve your consideration. Feel free to ask me about the experiences I have had with Small Business Server in different environments with companies from various industries.