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Can additional domain controllers coexist with Windows Small Business Server or Windows Server Essentials?





This article discusses whether additional domain controllers can be present in a Windows Small Business Server or Windows Server Essentials domain


One of the requirements of all versions of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) is that the server running SBS must be a domain controller. This requirement is still present in Windows Server 2012 Essentials, the successor to the SBS line. A related requirement states that only one SBS or Essentials server may exist within a domain, with a temporary exception being made for migration scenarios, in which it is necessary for the source and destination server to run concurrently in the same domain while data is being migrated.

These two requirements have led to some longstanding confusion regarding whether it is possible to promote additional domain controllers in an SBS or Essentials domain. It is indeed possible to do so. There is no technical restriction preventing it and it doesn't violate the SBS/Essentials license agreement in any way. Additional domain controllers in an SBS/Essentials domain will function just like they would in any other Active Directory domain.

There are two other relevant requirements to be aware of:

  • The SBS/Essentials server must hold all of the Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) roles. While promoting additional domain controllers is permitted, transferring any of these roles to one of them is not.
  • There can be only one domain in the forest containing the SBS/Essentials server, as trusts between domains are not permitted. This includes parent-child trusts. Therefore, child domains cannot be created in an SBS/Essentials environment. In short, additional domain controllers are OK; additional domains are not.
Note: The global catalog is not a FSMO role. Additional domain controllers may be configured as global catalog servers.


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Article ID: SLN288459

Last Date Modified: 07/01/2015 09:21 AM


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