Windows Server 2008 – New Features – Part 1

After going to the Heroes Happen {here} event in Montreal, I thought I’d go through all the new features included in Windows Server 2008 to explain what they are and give my thoughts about them. I was pretty impressed with the feature set already, but seeing some of these in live presentations was the extra little push I needed to be convinced. The next step will be to see the OS operate in a real-world environment instead of Microsoft’s Utopian “Contoso” domain.

One of the biggest change that was brought in this version and that is not really a feature, is the fact that the emphasis is placed on “components”. What this means is that every role and every feature gets setup almost as a standalone portion. The components approach allows a very modular installation as I will discuss in the ServerCore feature and removes many dependencies to other components. Gone should be the days when you need to install 3 other components to get the one you want running.

Here is my list of new features and functionalities that I find are the most significant:

Server Manager

Until now, every little function that needed to be managed had its own tool or console to do so. The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) was a first step to try to bring all these tools together, but most admins just went for the one snap-in that they needed and there was no central tool to do it all. Server Manager aims to change all that and offers a single interface to manage your entire Server 2008 installation.

The Server Manager is still based on the MMC approach but gives you all the tools in on place instead of having to add the snap-ins yourself. On great new thing is that everything that can be configured through the Server Manager has a dedicated web page to give you up-to-the-minute information on the role your are configuring such as Active Directory Domain Services, Application Server, DHCP Server, DNS Server, File Services, Terminal Services, Web Server, and many others. It also includes diagnostics and troubleshooting tools as you would expect, just like in previous versions.

Server Core

One of my favorite features for Windows Server 2008 is called Server Core. This new installation mode allows you to install Windows Server 2008 for some specific roles and removes all the GUI and shell elements. What you end up with is a server that boots up very fast and only displays a boring blue background and a command prompt.. that’s it. Everyone who knows me is aware that I’m a command-line type of guy and Linux has always been appealing to me because of that. This time around, Windows Server 2008 offers the very same type of machine installation.

The purpose of removing the GUI and only running some specific services becomes very obvious if you have ever had to manage a server in your life. The attack surface is instantly diminished because only the services that you need are running and no useless software is installed just waiting to get hacked. There is no Windows Media Player, no Internet Explorer and no Windows Mail, for example, so this type of installation removes many of the wide-open doors that are on servers today. Also, because there is so much less software running on a Server Core installation, there should be a lot less patches to deploy. This makes your server maintenance that much easier.

Server Core is a Windows Server 2008 installation, but it does not have all the roles and services that the complete version does. It supports just nine roles, including AD, AD LDS, DHCP, DNS, File, Print, Virtualization (Hyper-V), Web Server, and WMS, compared to 18 roles in the full server. I can already see quite a few different scenarios where I could apply this type of server. Applications that require a full GUI or the .NET Framework, for example will not work on Server Core.

For the Command-Line impaired out there, fear not! Microsoft has made sure that the regular admin tools, like the new Server Manager, will work just fine to remotely manage Server Core installations. You will only need to use the command-line to setup the network connectivity and maybe join your domain, but you should be able to manage the rest remotely afterwards.

The Complete Article:
Windows Server 2008 – New Features – Part 1
Windows Server 2008 – New Features – Part 2
Windows Server 2008 – New Features – Part 3
Windows Server 2008 – New Features – Part 4

3 Thoughts on “Windows Server 2008 – New Features – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Windows Server 2008 - New Features - Part 2 | Tech for Lunch!

  2. Pingback: Windows Server 2008 - New Features - Part 3 | Tech for Lunch!

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