Those that know me may be surprised that I’am eagerly awaiting the forthcoming release of Windows Server 2008, due February 28. See Problems with Windows Server 2000 and 2003 in a nutshell.
While I have yet to install the latest release candidate on my systems, the time is now ripe for IT professionals to take serious look at this next major release of Windows.
I will be particularly interested to see the new look IIS 7 web server. Gone are the days of configuring web farms by clicking on endless dialog boxes. The forthcoming version is configured using simple text based XML files. Microsoft won’t actually say this is similar to the way the Apache web server is configured, but to me the similarity is striking. In any event, the end result is that it should be as easy to setup a single web site as to set up a farm of multiple servers.
Likewise I’m also keen to experiment with the new Server Core configurations. This is an installation option that enables IT managers to build a Windows 2008 Server that does not have a graphical user interface. Instead, all the server configuration is done from a command line, either locally on the server’s console, or remotely via a network connection. Some applications can also be configured remotely using Microsoft’s Management Console (MMC). Again, Microsoft can’t say this is similar to the way many Linux servers are managed. Instead it says it has listened very carefully to customer feedback and has tried very hard to deliver what those customers have asked for. Crucially, according to Microsoft estimates, had this been an option for Windows Server 2003, such a server would have needed 70 percent less patching that a graphical version of that operating system. At this stage the range of applications that are supported by Server Core is rather small, but it does include the Hyper-V virtualization hypervisor, Active Directory replicas, DNS and DHCP servers, and static web sites hosted by IIS7.
There are many other truly significant developments in the forthcoming version. As I have yet to test them it seems fair to do little more than list them here. Depending on how much time you’ve spent with WS2008, the list could form a crib sheet of things to look at when you start evaluating the forthcoming release.
- Deployment: Windows Deployment Services replaces Remote Installation Services.
- Security: Network Access Protection covers firewall settings, anti virus criteria and patch management.
- PowerShell: Remote and extensible scripting engine.
- PHP: Improved PHP performance in IIS7.
- SMB2: Up to seven times faster file transfers over WAN links between wS2008 Servers and Vista desktops.
- Terminal Server: Per user license management tools; secure gateway removes the need for VPN to secure remote TS sessions.
- Clustering: New clustering wizard greatly simplifies deployment of clustered applications.