Windows Server 2003 reaches end of life on July 14 2015. We are suggesting all of our clients running Windows Server 2003 migrate to Windows Server 2012. This list includes some of the key features provided by Windows Server 2012.
IIS 8 brings Internet Information Services up to feature parity with the rest of the world, and surpasses it in places. IIS 8 sports script pre-compilation, granular process throttling, SNI support and centralized certificate management
PowerShell 3.0 is an evolution rather than a revolution. The 2012 line of products marks a revolution in Microsoft’s approach to server management.
Every element of the operating system and virtually every other companion server, such as SQL, Exchange or Lync, are completely manageable through PowerShell. This is so ingrained that the GUIs are just buttons that call PowerShell scripts underneath.
DirectAccess was a neat idea but it was poorly implemented in previous versions of Windows. Server 2012 makes it easier to use, with SSL as the default configuration and IPSec as an option. The rigid dependence on IPv6 has also been removed.
DirectAccess has evolved into a reasonable, reliable and easy-to-use replacement for virtual private networks.
Cluster Shared Volumes
With Server 2012 Cluster Shared Volumes are officially supported for use beyond hosting virtual hard disks for Hyper-V. You may now roll your own highly available multi-node replicated storage cluster and do so with a proper fistful of best-practice documentation.
For years now, storage demand has been growing faster than hard drive density. Meeting our voracious appetite for data storage has meant more and more spindles, and more controllers, chassis, power supplies, electricity and cooling to keep those spindles spinning.
Deduplication has moved from nice to have to absolute must in recent years and Microsoft has taken notice. Server 2012 supports deduplication on NTFS volumes – though tragically it does not work with CSV – and deeply integrates it with BranchCache to save on WAN bandwidth.
Server 2012 sees Hyper-V catch up with VMware’s mainstream. Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server – a free Windows Core version of Hyper-V – is feature complete. If you have a yen to dive into PowerShell then you can run a complete 64-node, 8,000 virtual machine Hyper-V cluster without paying Microsoft a dime.Microsoft is betting you will spend the money on System Center 2012 and it is probably right. System Center 2012 is amazing, even more so with the newly launched Service Pack 1.
Hyper-V Replica is a storage technology designed to continuously replicate your virtual machines across to a backup cluster. It ensures that snapshots no more than 15 minutes old of your critical virtual machines are available over any network link, including the internet.
It replicates the initial snapshot in full – after that it sends only change blocks – and it fully supports versioning of your virtual machines.
With Windows Storage Server 2008, Microsoft first made an iSCSI target available. It eventually became an optional download from Microsoft’s website for Server 2008 R2 and is now finally integrated into Server 2012 as a core component.
Microsoft’s NFS 4.1 server is good code. Designed from the ground up it is is fast, stable and reliable. It makes a great storage system for heterogenous environments and a wonderful network storage point for VMware servers.
SMB 3.0 is the crown jewel of Server 2012. It supports multiple simultaneous network interfaces – including the ability to hot-plug new interfaces on the fly to increase bandwidth for large or complex transfers – and supports MPIO, thin provisioning of volumes and deduplication (assuming the underlying storage is NTFS).
SMB 3.0 also supports SMB Direct and remote direct memory access, the ability for appropriately kitted systems to move SMB data directly from one system’s memory to the other, bypassing the SMB stack. This has enabled Microsoft to hit 16GBps transfer rates for SMB 3.0, a weighty gauntlet for any potential challenger to raise.