Windows Server has reached another important milestone on it's road to the final release version. In this post we are going to highlight some of the key new features and where you can find resources for them.

With over 300 new features in Windows Server 2012, there is a large amount of information out there to take in. So hopefully this post will allow you to take in the key new ones, and allow you to start somewhere...

The following is a high level list of key new and enhanced features:

  • Administration and Management
    • Server Manager
      • This component has been completely redesigned for Windows Server 2012, to support remote, multi-server management, and help increase the number of servers a single administrator can manage.
      • It will assist IT professionals provision and manage both local and remote Windows-based servers from their desktops, without requiring either physical access to servers, or the need to enable Remote Desktop protocol (RDP) connections to individual server.
      • More information can be found here.
    • Windows PowerShell
      • PowerShell is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language, designed especially for system administration, enabling IT professionals and power users to control and automate the administration of the Windows operating system and applications that run on it.
        A core component to administration and automation of Microsoft products over the last few years, PowerShell has now been upgraded to version 3.0. More information can be found here.
      • PowerShell Web Access is a new Feature in Windows Server 2012, that enables IT Pros to run PowerShell commands and scripts from a Windows PowerShell console in a web browser, with no Windows PowerShell, remote management software, or browser plug-in installation necessary on the client device. More information can be found here.
      • PowerShell Workflow is another new feature that enables IT Pros and Developers to author sequences of multi-computer management activities, or single steps within a workflow—that are long-running, repeatable, frequent, parallelizable, interruptible, stoppable, and restartable—as workflows. More detailed information can be found here.
      • For the full list of PowerShell modules and links to the cmdlet references for each module, visit this page here.
      • There is a 5 part webcast series on TechNet that will allow novice PowerShell users to learn about the PowerShell command line and scripting environment here.
  • Hyper-V
    • New and changed functionality in Hyper-V 3.0 includes improvements in many areas:
      • Hyper-V Replica This feature enables administrators to replicate virtual machines between storage systems, clusters, and data centres in two sites to provide business continuity and disaster recovery. More information can be found here.
      • Client Hyper-V
        The Hyper-V technology is now available in a desktop operating system version of Windows, enabling the use of Hyper-V without installing a server operating system. More information can be found here.
      • PowerShell modules for Hyper-V
        The availability of built-in Hyper-V cmdlets makes it easier to automate various operations than was possible in previous versions of Hyper-V. More information can be found here.
      • Increased scale and improved resiliency
        These features help ensure that large, high-performance virtual machines can be configured to support workloads that might need to scale up significantly. More information can be found here.
      • Virtual Fibre Channel
        This new feature allows for the ability to connect directly to Fibre Channel storage, from within the guest operating system that runs in a virtual machine. More information can be found here.
      • Virtual Hard Disk format
        The new format has been introduced to meet evolving requirements and take advantage of innovations in storage hardware. The new format increases the maximum storage size per virtual hard disk, as well as improves the stability and efficiency of those disk. More information can be found here
      • Virtual Switch
        The architecture of the virtual switch has been updated to provide an open framework that allows third parties to add new functionality to the virtual switch. More information can be found here.
    • The full list of new and updated features for Hyper-V can be found here.
    • The latest Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster, can be downloaded here.
       
  • Remote Desktop Service (RDS)
    • In Windows Server 2012, Remote Desktop Services offers enhanced support for the following scenarios:
      • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
        Enhancing the VDI experience introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 offers new ways to configure and manage virtual desktops. More information can be found here.
      • Session Virtualization deployment
        In Windows Server 2012, a Session Virtualization deployment in Remote Desktop Services includes new ways to efficiently configure and manage session-based desktops, allowing for centralized management and installation.
      • More information can be found on the Remote Desktop Services Blog here. Read a concise overview of RDS on the Windows Server blog here.       
               
  • File and Storage Services
    • Dynamic Access Control (DAC)
      With the enormous growth in corporate data being stored and accessed, the key pillars for data compliance and leakage prevention are controlling who has access to information and having the ability to report who actually accessed specific information
      DAC allows Business and IT Administrators to have the ability to apply data governance across file servers to control who can access information and to audit who has accessed information.
      To get a deeper understanding of this new feature, visit the TechNet page here to run through some sample scenario's of it's use, also view the DAC demo here.
    • Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 
      Amongst other new features, the new version of SMB allows for Hyper-V over SMB and SQL Server over SMB. 
      • Hyper-V over SMB allows for the ability to store virtual machine files, e.g. configuration files, Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) files, and snapshots, in file shares over the SMB 3.0 protocol. This can be used for both stand-alone file servers and clustered file servers that use Hyper-V together with shared file storage for the cluster.
      • SQL Server over SMB allows for the storage of user database files on SMB file shares. Currently, this is supported with SQL Server 2008 R2 for stand-alone SQL servers. Upcoming versions of SQL Server will add support for clustered SQL servers and system databases

The above abbreviated list was to highlight some of the new and upgraded components of Windows Server 2012. For the full list of ‘What's New’ in Windows Server 2012, follow the URL here in the TechNet Library.

To ramp up on some of the new feature sets, the following can be used for a Jumpstart into Windows Server 2012:

  • The first step would obviously be acquiring the media, an evaluation version of Windows Server 2012 RC can be downloaded here -  Windows Server 2012 RC.
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) – A first look at Windows Server 2012 track here.
  • FREE Event - Windows Server 2012: Preparing for the Datacenter Evolution
    E
    vent capacity is limited.  To register use the URL here, for more information about the event visit the blog here.
  • A thorough read of the official Windows Server blog here
  • Free eBook from Microsoft Press here

 

Cheers, Morgan…
(@morganwza)