- Editor's Corner
- Windows Server 2012 is here!
- Tip of the Week
- Recommended for Learning
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- MSExchange.org Webinar: Exchange Migration Best Practices and Tips
- Register for Webcasts
- Download Windows Server 2012
- Windows Server 2012 TechNet Library
- Free ebook: Introducing Windows Server 2012 (RTM Edition)
- Windows Storage Server 2012 Evaluation Editions
- Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster and Companion References
- Windows PowerShell and MDT 2012
- Hybrid cloud: It's not as secure as you think
- Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V soothes VM import process
- Choosing a DaaS provider: Five questions to ask before committing
- Full-disk encryption can save IT grief from lost laptops
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- Free Hyper-V Backup for WServerNews subscribers
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Windows Server 2012 has arrived, and week's newsletter contains a few of my reflections concerning the new platform plus some links to must-have resources. But first, here's a riddle to get your brain working: what do TWITTER and SHAVING CREAM have in common?
Windows Server 2012 is here!
I've been working with pre-release versions of Windows Server 2012 since the early stages of the beta, and my overall impressions are that this is the best release of Windows Server yet from Microsoft. I have only a couple of caveats, which I'll share in a moment, but first here are nine reasons why I'm enthusiastic about the new platform.
The new Hyper-V capabilities are awesome. Increased scalability, improved virtual machine import, the new VHDX format, live migration without failover clustering, moving virtual machine storage while the virtual machine is running, connecting directly to Fibre Channel storage from within the guest, SR-IOV support, virtual NUMA, Hyper-V Replica. All I can say is, wow.
Failover clustering improvements
Cluster shared volumes (CSVs) are now easier to set up. Cluster-aware updating (CAU) lets you patch your cluster nodes while maintaining availability. Cluster scalability has now reached monster levels. You can now prioritize starting or placing virtual machines on nodes in a failover cluster of Hyper-V hosts. Plus lots of other awesome stuff.
DHCP is such a fundamental service for almost any kind of network that it's important to ensure the service is continuously available. The new DHCP failover capability lets two DHCP servers lease out addresses from the same scope to the same subnet. Plus it's really easy to set up!
Simplified domain controller deployment
Adprep is now integrated into the new domain controller promotion wizard, making it unnecessary in most cases to upgrade your schema before deploying Windows Server 2012 domain controllers in your environment. You can also quickly deploy replica virtual domain controllers by cloning your existing virtual domain controllers, and it's now safer to run domain controllers in a virtual environment.
Remote Group Policy update
Administrators have often desired a simple way of forcing remote client computers to initiate Group Policy processing so that newly configured policy settings can be immediately applied. While you can do this on existing platforms by using Psexec, one of the Windows Sysinternals utilities, being able to do this directly from within the Group Policy Management console is a really cool improvement!
The new Server Manager
I really like the new Server Manager interface because it makes remotely managing Windows servers a walk in the park. You can create groups of servers and perform some tasks simultaneously on multiple servers. The notifications flag and Dashboard page are helpful too. Integration of the File and Storage Services role and the Remote Desktop Services role into Server Manager also makes it a lot easier to deploy, configure and manage file servers, Remote Desktop Session Host servers, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments.
Storage Spaces now makes it easy to create large pools of commodity hard drives and use them for data storage for file servers or even Hyper-V hosts. You can create virtual disks that span multiple physical drives and provide either mirror or parity resiliency. You can then create volumes and provision shares, all from within Server Manager.
Server Core enhancements
Server Core is now the default installation option when you deploy Windows Server 2012. This might require some changed thinking on the part of administrators, but it's a really good idea because Server Core has a smaller attack surface and less servicing requirements than the Server with a GUI option. And you can now switch between Server Core, Server with a GUI, and Minimal Server Interface (in-between Core and GUI) at any time.
Windows PowerShell 3.0
Last but definitely not least is the new version of Windows PowerShell included in Windows Server 2012. Not only are there hundreds, maybe thousands, of new cmdlets for managing almost every role, feature or capability of the platform, there are also other enhancements like disconnected sessions, workflows, scheduled jobs, and even a simplified syntax that makes it easier to write scripts.
On the other hand...
There are a handful of things however that I think could have been done to make Windows Server 2012 even better:
- While the new Start screen may turn out to be terrific on client computers and especially tablets (I plan on purchasing a Windows 8 tablet when they become available) it really seems out of place on a server platform. On the other hand, if you automate most of your server management tasks using PowerShell then you might hardly ever need to visit the Start screen on a server.
- The new Server Manager is cool but it still seems unfinished. A few roles and features are integrated into Server Manager, but for most role management tasks you still need to open a MMC console. I'm guessing that Microsoft's plan is to integrate the management of a lot more roles and features into the next version of Server Manager and to begin deprecating the whole MMC console approach shortly after that, but who knows? Windows Server has always seemed a bit like a work in progress, but then the same could be argued about Apple products, Cisco IOS, Google Apps, and so on. Maybe we live in the Age of Beta...
- Some other features seem like a work in progress as well. One that comes to mind is resource metering, which lets you track resource usage for virtual machines, for example for chargeback purposes. You have to use PowerShell cmdlets to do this, which makes it feel clunky. Another capability that seems unfinished is Dynamic Access Control (DAC), which seems awfully complicated to set up and use. A third feature that seems like a work in progress is the new Resilient File System (ReFS) which doesn't support a number of different NTFS features including named streams, object IDs, short names, compression, file level encryption (EFS), user data transactions, sparse, hard-links, extended attributes, and quotas. ReFS also doesn't support deduplication and can't be used for boot volumes or removable media.
- Storage Spaces seems really cool, but time and testing will tell how the performance and reliability of a storage pool will compare with other forms of storage including hardware RAID solutions and SANs.
- DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) support for the DNS Server role has been greatly improved, but it's still a bear to understand and set up DNSSEC for your environment.
There are a few other things I would have liked to see. For example, the last page of every wizard should have a button to export the PowerShell script that the wizard executes. But I suppose the tasks that some wizards performed aren't done using PowerShell. I'm sure I can think of a few more wish-list items, but that's all that comes to mind at the moment. Anyways, be sure to check out the Tech Briefing and Admin Tools sections of this issue for links to more information and downloads concerning many of the above Windows Server 2012 improvements. Also see the Recommended for Learning section as well.
Share your thoughts
What are your own impressions concerning Windows Server 2012? Have you tried it yet? What are your likes and don't likes? Send me your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip of the Week
Your system seems sluggish, so you open Task Manager, select the Processes tab, click Show Processes From All Users, and observe that one of the svchost.exe processes consumes a lot of CPU for long periods of time. What can you do? Here's a quick and dirty way of troubleshooting the problem which may be useful to try if your system isn't mission-critical to your business:
- Right-click on the problem svchost.exe process and select Go To Service(s). This will switch you to the Services tab and will highlight all of the services hosted within the svchost.exe process.
- Right-click on one of the identified services and select Stop to stop the service. Switch back to the Processes tab to see if the CPU usage has dropped to normal.
- If the CPU usage remains high, repeat the above two steps until you have identified which service is causing the problem.
- Open a command prompt and use the sc config command to isolate the problem service into its own svchost.exe instance. Now you can simply kill this svchost.exe instance should the problem ever occur again.
Of course, a much better way of approaching this kind of problem is to use Xperf to get a trace of what's happening on your system. Here's a post by Jeff Stokes that shows you how:
Got tips you'd like to share with other readers? Email me at email@example.com
Recommended for Learning
Get ready for Windows Server 2012 by pre-ordering the following upcoming titles from Microsoft Press. We'll start with the Training Guides, which are new and are designed to help you build hands-on expertise through a series of lessons, exercises, and suggested practices to help maximize your performance on the job:
Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 - This Training Guide focuses on deploying and managing core infrastructure services in Windows Server 2012. And it's written by Yours Truly!
Training Guide: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services - this Training Guide focuses on implementing, configuring, and managing advanced services in Windows Server 2012:
Training Guide: Administering Windows Server 2012 - This Training Guide focuses on deploying, configuring, managing, and maintaining core infrastructure services in Windows Server 2012:
Next, if you're thinking of getting certified for Windows Server 2012, you might consider getting the following:
Cert Prep Pack: MCSA Windows Server 2012 (Exam Ref 70-410, 70-411, 70-412) - Prepare for MCSA Exams 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412—and help demonstrate your real-world mastery of the tasks necessary to implement, configure, manage, and maintain a Windows Server 2012 infrastructure. Designed for experienced IT professionals ready to advance their status—these Exam Refs focus on the critical-thinking and decision-making acumen needed for success at the MCSA level.
Finally, the ever-popular Pocket Consultant series has a new title coming:
Windows Server 2012 Pocket Consultant - Portable and precise, this pocket-sized guide delivers ready answers for the day-to-day administration of Windows Server 2012. Zero in on core operations and daily tasks using quick-reference tables, instructions, and lists. You’ll get the focused information to solve problems and get the job done—whether at your desk or in the field:
Quote of the Week
"What we do in life echoes in eternity." --Russell Crowe as Maximus in Gladiator
"I live for myself, and I answer to nobody." --Steve McQueen
Which quote do you agree with the most?
Until next week.
Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
FREE Backup for Hyper-V – Download Today!
Download SolarWinds free NTFS Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory and get complete visibility into the effective permissions and access rights for a specific file folder or share drive.
Get updated functionality for managing Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows 7 by installing the Windows Management Framework 3.0, which includes Windows PowerShell 3.0, WMI and WinRM:
Use the new Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) to convert VMware-based virtual machines and disks to Hyper-V-based virtual machines and disks:
- Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC 2012) on Sept 24-26, 2012 in Orlando, USA
- Microsoft Build on Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2012 in Redmond, USA
- Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2012 on Nov 12-15, 2012 in Las Vegas, USA.
- VMworld 2012 on October 9-11, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain:
Add your event
Contact Michael Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.
MSExchange.org Webinar: Exchange Migration Best Practices and Tips
Many organizations make common, avoidable mistakes when planning and executing a messaging system migration. Part of the preparation process can now include learning important success factors from an expert in MS Exchange 2010 migrations, helping you identify and avoid those pitfalls.
Join J. Peter Bruzzese, Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and the cofounder and CIO of ClipTraining on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 1PM ET, 10AM PT to discover tips and recommendations you need to know before undertaking your Exchange migration.
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
Contact Michael Vella at email@example.com to get your webcast listed in our Webcasts Calendar.
Download Windows Server 2012
Register, then download and install full-featured software for a 180-day trial. You can download the evaluation in both ISO and VHD format but the VHD is only available in English:
Windows Server 2012 TechNet Library
Find out what's new in Windows Server 2012, explore different technical scenarios, and learn how to install and deploy the platform, manage roles and technologies, and more:
Free ebook: Introducing Windows Server 2012 (RTM Edition)
Yours Truly has updated his very popular free ebook on Windows Server 2012 based on the RTM version of the software:
Windows Storage Server 2012 Evaluation Editions
Windows Storage Server 2012 is an advanced storage and file serving solution for any size organization that offers new levels of performance and reliability on a proven and reliable server platform:
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster and Companion References
This poster provides a visual reference for understanding key Hyper-V technologies in Windows Server 2012 and focuses on Hyper-V Replica, networking, virtual machine mobility (live migration), storage, failover clustering, and scalability:
Windows PowerShell and MDT 2012
Andrew Barnes has some helpful tips on his blog Scriptimus Ex Machina for leveraging the capabilities of Windows PowerShell for Windows deployment using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDS) 2012, for example:
Hybrid cloud: It's not as secure as you think
While a hybrid cloud can allow you to enjoy the benefits of both the private and public cloud, it's not without its challenges. Find out five key security issues to consider before implementing this complex environment in your organization.
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V soothes VM import process
For many IT professionals, the VM import process for Hyper-V is usually a difficult and time-consuming task. Fortunately, thanks to the new improvements in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, importing VMs is now easier than ever before. Learn more inside this exclusive tip.
Choosing a DaaS provider: Five questions to ask before committing
Before choosing a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provider for your organization, there are a number of critical factors you must consider. Inside this resource, discover five key questions to ask before handing your virtual desktops over to anyone.
Full-disk encryption can save IT grief from lost laptops
While full-disk encryption can help you stay compliant by protecting the sensitive information on lost or stolen laptops, it can also negatively impact system performance. Access this insightful tip to learn whether or not the pros of this security tactic outweigh the cons.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
Software engineer Tom Gonzales spent 5 million dollars - including the aircraft-carrier elevator platform - to create one of the most expensive and incredible garages ever built.
Road Trip + LipDub = TripDub. Five weeks in the making, 5 provinces, 10 states, 1 territory and Greenland:
Watch galaxies evolve over 9 Billion years - in just one minute:
Beautiful low altitude canyon flying in a F-18 through Northern California and Oregon:
Even if you're a social media recluse, advanced software algorithms can glean a surprising amount of detail about your life:
A wind turbine that creates fresh water out of thin air:
Here is a handy tip for anyone who needs to separate eggs for cooking or baking.
WServerNews - Editors
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.