12 key advantages of Windows Server 2012

Article Ian Murphy Nov 16th 2012

From data deduplication to GUI-less installs, Ian Murphy picks out 12 of the best new features in Windows Server 2012

8. PowerShell 3.0

Over the last four years, PowerShell has been gaining credibility among administrators who want to script how repeatable tasks are carried out. With Windows Server 2012 Microsoft has released no fewer than 2300 new PowerShell cmdlets. It is now hard to see anything that cannot be managed by PowerShell and that means that busy administrators can reduce their workload.

To help onboard those Sysadmins who have never written script before, there is a new PowerShell console and IntelliSense. Writing PowerShell script just got a whole lot easier. Taking the next step is simple: head to http://aka.ms/mvprocks and http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com

9. GUI-less install options

Windows Core was introduced with Windows Server 2008 to provide a non-GUI interface that would free up resources for VMs and applications. In Windows Server 2012, this has been made a far easier. The SysAdmin has the choice on how to deploy the server, choice will depend on their experience and comfort with the command line.What has been built into Windows Server 2012 is to move between a GUIand GUI-less environment without having to rebuild.

So for example, you could deploy the server with the GUI for ease of setup and config, once you have configured the server, remove the GUI using a PowerShell command (the PowerShell script would be as follows: Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Restart).

10. Dynamic Access Control

Network security is becoming increasingly hard to maintain. Rather than spend time fixing a leaky sieve, the emphasis for smart administrators is on better ways of protecting the data. DAC has had some serious upgrades for Windows Server 2012.

Security is no longer at just the basic file and folder level, it is now possible to enforce access at the domain level and apply policies to users roles, departments or even to users connecting from a specific connection. With the increasing use of collaboration throughout organisations, this prevents the accidental posting of confidential information into public or less secure areas.

11. ReFS

NTFS has been around for almost 20 years and the last planned replacement, WinFS, didn't happen. ReFS (Resilient File System) takes Windows Server into the future. With some key capabilities such as support for large terabytes of data, vastly improved chkdsk and automated healing.

With full support for storage spaces, it is not possible to have a combined filename and path of greater than 255 characters. That might seem a lot but unless the filesystem is very flat, it is easily exceeded. ReFS uses metadata to store information about files and provides specific features for data verification and auto correction. It will also support much larger volumes of data which, with the rise of big data, is going to be important.

12. Server management

Windows Server 2012 not only supports GUI and non-GUI interfaces, it also comes with the tiled interface of Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Although some may not like it, the ease with which it is possible to use a tile as a dashboard widget, means that companies can build a very flexible, easy to use, management dashboard that reflects the real-time state of the data centre.

The new Server Manager enables Sysadmins to have a single view of the server health as well as give them the ability to deploy new roles to an immediate or remote server, manage VDI clients, DAC, Storage and Networking. For those of us who are not PowerShell experts the Server Manager is a really simple to use console providing all requirements for day to day admin.