Microsoft Windows Server 2012 New Features

Standard or Datacenter Editions Only:

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 core OS is now the same and the edition you can buy is either Standard or Datacenter depends on whether you want to run up to two virtual machines as guests or unlimited guest virtualization. Unlike its predecessor, there’s no Enterprise edition available.

Switchable Core and Full Installation:

The emphasis for Windows Server is changing from GUI to command line. When you first install the OS, the default selection is core installation, you have to select Full installation if you intend to use GUI interface. However once you install a core version of Windows Server 2012, you can flip on a GUI simply by installing the GUI role, and you can then opt to take it off without a full reinstall.

 

You can use the GUI mode to take care of the entire baseline configuration task. Once the servers are ready for production, you can flip the GUI off and deploy. This reduces the attack surface, resource load and energy requirements etc.

  

New Server Manager User Interface:

Server Manager has been redesigned with an emphasis on easing management of multiple servers. You can create a server group to manage a task among each server with common attributes such as server group with all servers running Hyper-V role, a server group with all servers running IIS and so on

Hyper-V Replication:

The Hyper-V Replica is a great feature for disaster recovery. Hyper-V Replica provides a way to replicate a Virtual Machine to another Hyper-V server in case the primary Hyper-V hosts fails. The best part about Hyper-V replica is that it doesn’t require shared storage; just two 2012 Servers running Hyper-V. The replica is designed to be used on commercially available broadband without impacting normal email or browsing activity.

Live Storage migration feature is also introduced to allow users to move virtual hard disks that are attached to a running virtual machine. Users can transfer virtual hard disks to a new location for upgrading or migrating storage, performing back-end storage maintenance, or redistributing the storage load.  In 2008 R2, A virtual machine’s storage could be moved only while the virtual machine is shut down state.

Matured DirectAccess:

With the new DirectAccess and Remote Access enhancements, you can easily provide more secure remote access connections for your users, faster than ever before. The new features in Windows Server 2012 support deployments in dispersed geographical locations. There is no management agent required on the client; through the improved scalability with high availability users have seamless connectivity to file shares, on-premises equipment and other resources just as if they were on the corporate campus.

Enhanced Active Directory:

Windows Server 2012 has a number of changes to Active Directory from the version shipped with Windows Server 2008 R2. The Active Directory Domain Services installation wizard has been replaced by a new section in Server Manager, and the Active Directory Administrative Center has been enhanced. A GUI has been added to the Active Directory Recycle Bin. Password policies can differ more easily within the same domain. Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 is now aware of any changes resulting from virtualization, and virtualized domain controllers can be safely cloned. Upgrades of the domain functional level to Windows Server 2012 are simplified; it can be performed entirely in Server Manager. Active Directory Federation Services is no longer required to be downloaded when installed as a role, and claims which can be used by the Active Directory Federation Services have been introduced into the Kerberos token

Dynamic Access Control (DAC):

Dynamic Access Control (DAC) feature that helps administrators create a more centralized security model for accessing files and folders. DAC is a key component of Active Directory 2012. Dynamic Access Control allows for a combination of manual and automated tagging, as well as application-based tagging of sensitive data because automating security helps to eliminate the human error factor that can lead to unexpected security breaches.

DAC is especially useful for managing data that’s distributed across many file servers and locations, a situation that is becoming increasingly common with the advent of cloud computing. With DAC, you can establish policies for controlling file access that are applied across the entire domain to all file servers. This is in addition to the traditional NTFS permissions and share permissions that we’ve used for years, with the centralized policies taking precedence. It adds one more layer of security for data

Resources:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/video/dynamic-access-control-demo-walkthrough.aspx

Resilient File System (ReFS):

Resilient File System (ReFS) is a new local file system. It maximizes data availability, despite errors that would historically cause data loss or downtime. Data integrity ensures that business critical data is protected from errors and available when needed. Its architecture is designed to provide scalability and performance in an era of constantly growing data set sizes and dynamic workloads.

The key features of ReFS are:

  • Integrity: ReFS      stores data so that it is protected from many of the common errors that      can cause data loss. File system metadata is always protected. Optionally,      user data can be protected on a per-volume, per-directory, or per-file      basis. If corruption occurs, ReFS can detect and, when configured with      Storage Spaces, automatically correct the corruption. In the event of a      system error, ReFS is designed to recover from that error rapidly, with no      loss of user data.
  • Availability: ReFS is      designed to prioritize the availability of data. With ReFS, if corruption      occurs, and it cannot be repaired automatically, the online salvage      process is localized to the area of corruption, requiring no volume      down-time. In short, if corruption occurs, ReFS will stay online.
  • Scalability: ReFS is      designed for the data set sizes of today and the data set sizes of      tomorrow; it’s optimized for high scalability.
  • App Compatibility: To      maximize AppCompat, ReFS supports a subset of NTFS features plus Win32      APIs that are widely adopted.
  • Proactive      Error Identification:      The integrity capabilities of ReFS are leveraged by a data integrity      scanner (a “scrubber”) that periodically scans the volume, attempts to      identify latent corruption, and then proactively triggers a repair of that      corrupt data.

Resources:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh848060(v=vs.85).aspx

IP Address Management (IPAM)

IPAM in Windows Server 2012 is a new built-in framework for discovering, monitoring, auditing, and managing the IP address space used on a corporate network. IPAM provides for administration and monitoring of servers running Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name Service (DNS). IPAM includes components for:

  • Automatic IP      address infrastructure discovery: IPAM discovers domain controllers, DHCP      servers, and DNS servers in the domains you choose. You can enable or      disable management of these servers by IPAM.
  • Custom IP      address space display, reporting, and management: The display of IP addresses      is highly customizable and detailed tracking and utilization data is      available. IPv4 and IPv6 address space is organized into IP address      blocks, IP address ranges, and individual IP addresses. IP addresses are      assigned built-in or user-defined fields that can be used to further      organize IP address space into hierarchical, logical groups.
  • Audit of      server configuration changes and tracking of IP address usage: Operational      events are displayed for the IPAM server and managed DHCP servers. IPAM      also enables IP address tracking using DHCP lease events and user logon      events collected from Network Policy Server (NPS), domain controllers, and      DHCP servers. Tracking is available by IP address, client ID, host name,      or user name.
  • Monitoring and management of DHCP and DNS      services: IPAM enables automated service availability monitoring for      Microsoft DHCP and DNS servers across the forest. DNS zone health is      displayed, and detailed DHCP server and scope management is available      using the IPAM console.

Resources:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831353.aspx

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About Jayachandran PK
My passion is for Microsoft technologies and how if properly implemented, they can provide actual value for an organization especially in the field of infrastructure, virtualization and system monitoring. I work for the biggest Microsoft partner in Kuwait, specialized in project consultation and implementation services for enterprise clients. When I'm not at work, I try to contribute back through a charitable organization dedicated to prompting cultural values of Kerala. In my free time, I dabble in gardening and am also an avid solar power aficionado.

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