by billhilf on June 07, 2007 04:24pm

We recently announced the addition of IIS7 to the Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 (formerly known as Longhorn Server).  Server Core is an important evolution of our server product and will include a variety of roles, such as print server, media services, Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, and now IIS7 for Web serving.  All of these will be able to run in a lightweight, low footprint modes – a server core installation requires about 1GB of physical disk space to install and approximately 2 GB for operations post-install.  This means it’s Windows Server but with just the bits you need to run a specific type of server role – which means less disk, less memory, lower attack surface, less stuff to manage, patch, etc.  There are also a variety of optional features you can add to server core, such as the subsystem for Unix applications, Bitlocker drive encryption, failover cluster, and others.  Of course, Windows Server 2008 can still run as a full featured general purpose server operating system as well. Sam and Hank did an interview with Iain McDonald about Server Core last September, you can see that interview here

I’ve built and run many Web server farms over that past years and having the ability to roll out small footprint, role-based server configurations is something I found to be an important architectural advantage.  In the past, I used Apache on Linux/BSDs to build customized servers.  Certainly you can still do this today.  What I think is exciting about this announcement of IIS7 on Windows Server 2008 Server Core is that it shows the full spectrum of the Windows Server 2008 capabilities, from very modular, low footprint Web serving to the all-singing all-dancing full featured server.

Additionally, as you may have read here before, we’ve been working hard with the Zend on making PHP run great on Windows Server.  With the new FastCGI support (which is now integrated with IIS7 in beta 3), PHP runs extremely well on Server Core.  So if you need a tier of streamlined front-end PHP Web servers that require minimal system resources and just the needed bits for doing the job?  Now you will be able do this with Windows Server 2008.  And those systems can be managed, secured, updated, authenticated, etc. just like any other Windows server machine. 

I think this all brings more choice to developers and system administrators.  And you can expect this will be something we continue to evolve, adding more customization scenarios and support of other technologies, including .NET.  Check out Bill Staple’s blog on this as well – his team is doing all the IIS work.  You test drive Windows Server 2008 here or download the latest beta here.  The FastCGI Technology Preview can be found here.

Unrelated and Personal (non-work related) tidbit: 

Talking about server core and IIS7 reminded me of this quote: “The future you have tomorrow won’t be the same future you had yesterday” from Chuck Palahniuk’s latest book Rant.  I think it’s his best so far -I just finished this on my last trip.  If you like Chuck, watch this lecture – the ‘little software story’ advice at the end is priceless and motivational for aspiring writers.