Another .LOCAL post - SBS 2008, EBS 2008

Just to be clear - this is an unsolicited blog post on this .local discussion. For those of you who do not know me - I come from an Enterprise background and not from a small business background.  I opened my mouth on the .local discussion a while back and it's now the inside joke that I'm the anti-".local" guy (quiet Calvin!). I have in no way expressed an opinion on going one way or the other. :-)

SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 launch timeframes were announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month. A number of you have already been involved in trying them out with our public previews or private Beta Programs over the last while. You can still get the bits now and try them out yourself from

Mitch Garvis has been working in the SBS space and has been involved in both the EBS 2008 and SBS 2008 beta process. He sent me this post on .local and I thought it would be a nice thing to share with the broader community.

Do you think going .local vs. a sub domain makes a difference? My thoughts - do what's right for you and your clients. Mitch raises some interesting points in this post - well worth a discussion over pints sometime.

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Mitch Garvis (Toronto)

I get it, and I do not get it… but mostly I just don’t get it.

A little over two years ago Rick Claus (IT Pro Advisor at Microsoft Canada) and I had a discussion about .local domain naming in Small Business Server. Until that point I had used this default naming for all of my client’s domains (companyname.local) but Rick’s arguments convinced me that it was not a best practice, and since then I have recommended a different practice – such as It does not have the same limitations with regard to future growth. It was one of my early steps along the transition path from SBSer to IT Professional.

A few months ago when I installed an early beta of SBS 2008 (codenamed Cougar) I was pleased to see that although the .local option was still there, it was no longer ‘strongly recommended’ with pop-up warnings and such.

I have since installed later betas and had not given it much thought until a few days ago I was working on a test box and realized that my domain name was swmi.local. I know I had not opted for that, and decided to create a new virtual SBS box to see what that was about. Lo and behold the product team has decided to go the other way, and not even give you the option of choosing your own Internet routable domain name.

I get it: Windows Small Business Server is meant to be easy. Installation and management are supposed to be easy enough so that a non-IT Pro can do it. When I was first introduced to SBS in 2003 the example was of a dentist setting up his server for his small practice, and though dentists are generally intelligent, they are not IT Professionals.

Of course SBS (moreso SBS 2003 than 2008) is a more complicated environment than many would like to believe, and the focus seemed to shift quickly to the Small Business IT Consultant who (usually) know and understand the inner workings of SBS and who could be trusted to take care of the servers and networks of their clients.

Of course the argument has been made that because these Small Business IT Consultants were not (generally) MCSEs and MCSAs with an in-depth understanding of DNS, it should be made as simple for them as possible… and because of security concerns many (SBSers) have argued with me that the non-routable DNS naming was an advantage, and that most of their clients never ran into that issue; most had never installed a Transition Pack.

By removing the option, DNS naming in SBS is easier than ever to understand for the average Small Biz IT Guy.

…and I don’t get it: As a big proponent for Small Business Server I have also been an outspoken advocate of letting SBSers use SBS as a way to learn the enterprise technology and then they have the option of being a better informed IT Professional in the SBS space, but also should they choose to dabble in the enterprise space they have the basis on which to grow. Forcing the .local domain names is just one more way that the product group is molly-coddling the low-end guy and making it comfortable for him to coast where he is rather than possibly grow.

Microsoft makes a big deal of touting that the components in Small Business server are full and un-crippled versions of the enterprise products, allowing SMBs to afford the same technologies as their larger competitors and if not leveling the playing field then at least making it a fairer fight.

To be fair: It should be noted that the OOBE tool in SBS allows you to create an answer file, which can then be modified to get around this limitation. However that is just a long way around and an assurance that in three years the next SBSer who comes to look at your network will have one more thing he will not understand. ‘dot com? Nobody said anything about dot com! Where is my comfortable dot local?’

Ok, I exaggerate on that one but let’s be honest… who does it hurt to give us the option of using a TLD (Top Level Domain) if we choose to?

<Mitch lowers and shakes his head as he turns to step down off his soap box>