The heart of the Windows enterprise ecosystem is not your desktop, your tablet, or even your smartphone. It's Windows Server, the old reliable one that sits in the data center and just keeps going, managing your files, relaying your emails and running your business. You might think that meant you'd never need an upgrade, but businesses and the technology they use change, which means Windows Server (which was released for production Aug. 1 and became available Sept. 4) needs a change, too.
One of the constants of technology and the IT industry is that data storage requirements and demands are growing exponentially. From bloated mailboxes to shared folders overflowing with documents, virtually every enterprise needs to improve efficiency. That's where the new data deduplication features in Windows Server 2012 come in handy.
There are many instances where you only want to install the absolute minimum files and resources needed to run Windows Server, and Windows Server 2012 now includes a default installation option to install the server core without a graphical interface. You can now also install Windows Server 2012 with a minimal user interface, which means you have even more ways than ever to install only the Windows Server files you need. This reduces disk space, saves administrative effort, and reduces the chance of attack from hackers and other digital intruders by limiting installed files to the absolute minimum.
Windows Server 2012 is loaded with new features, but perhaps the most radically improved feature is the Hyper-V virtualization feature set. Tired of playing catch-up with VMware on the feature front, Microsoft has loaded Hyper-V with an impressive list of improvements. Some of the highlights include support for up to 64 processors and 1 TB of RAM per virtual machine, and support for up to 320 logical hardware processors and 4 TB of RAM per host.
One of the biggest problems for many IT professionals is keeping track of the IP addresses used on their corporate networks. In an effort to do away with the time-honored practice of storing IP addresses in Excel spreadsheets, IPAM is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 that provides a new internal structure for finding and managing IP address spaces across networks.
Most IT departments have to contend with a dizzying array of storage hardware and media, from advanced SSDs and spinning disks to removable drives and outdated magnetic coils. Making effective use of all these disparate storage formats can sometimes be a challenge, especially when you consider the ever-increasing storage demands of today's IT workplaces. Microsoft hopes to help administrators solve this problem by introducing storage pools and spaces, two storage abstraction concepts that are being introduced in Windows Server 2012.
PowerShell has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years, and Microsoft has done everything possible to support PowerShell in Windows Server 2012. More than 2,000 PowerShell cmdlets are now included, and the newly enhanced command set allows IT professionals to automate and control more aspects of their Windows Server 2012 environment using the PowerShell command line than ever before. This latest PowerShell update also included improved web access, the ability to schedule tasks, support for disabled sessions, expanded and editable help files, and dozens of other new features. For more information on this latest PowerShell release, check out this interview with Jeffrey Snover, lead architect of Windows Server 2012.
Unless you're building a supercomputer or a website with millions of visits per day, Windows Server 2012 meets your needs in almost all cases. Clustering services with Windows have improved, but not enough for me to trust them in large-scale web hosting or SQL environments (mainly because of the free Linux/Unix pricing, at that scale the cost of a unix administrator is much less than licensing about 1,000 client server licenses or MS SQL.) But when it comes to standard enterprise or SMB servers, Windows 2012 has significant advantages and ends up being cheaper because of the number of available resources that can support the product at a reasonable or even fixed