/ BLOG / Vendor documentation scares me most of all

Today I noticed a page appear on technet detailing the use of Windows Home Server in a Small Business Server environment, to backup your desktops. This made me cringe.

In an environment where companies, who are or want to be total or near-total Microsoft setups, are trying to spend less money Microsoft’s documentation team are advising the use of a product which many very small customers are looking to as an alternative to SBS. After all why bother with SBS when you can use WHS and Google (or any number of other hosted service providers) for mail/calendaring/sharepoint/wiki services?

For some companies WHS and hosted services might well be a good thing. For the purposes of the rest of my post I’ll be ignoring this and assuming the company already has a SBS installation.

The thing that scares me most about this document is the fact that it exists. I really don’t see the point of using WHS in a SBS environment. I mean, obviously, you technically can. I just don’t see why you would want to. You should be educating your users to never store anything critical in an area that isn’t backed up. In combination with redirected folders and/or roaming profiles, and network drives you shouldn’t have a problem. By doing this early on you won’t need to re-educate your users as you grow. Even if you do have a special desktop that has some magic bit of software, then you should have a special procedure just for that desktop or you should consider replacing it with an alternative item of software/hardware and eliminate the single point of failure. But what about laptops, I hear you cry? That’s irrelevant as the laptops still need to be on-site or VPN'ed in to be covered by WHS.

The document strikes me as being aimed at someone who either doesn’t know what SBS is capable of underneath the pretty console (in which case should the functionality not be exposed, or explained more clearly?), or as a method of bringing in more revenue.

Perhaps I’m just cynical, but the answer seems to be one of managing documentation. SBS builds on other products and perhaps it could benefit from including or referencing these other product documentation libraries more frequently? Admitedly I don’t write documentation for living, but it does still seems logical to me…