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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Administrator's ReferenceThe Administrator's Essential Reference
By Dustin Hannifin Naomi J. Alpern Joey Alpern
SyngressCopyright © 2010 Elsevier, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIntroduction to Windows Server 2008 R2
The latest release of Microsoft's flagship server operating system, Windows Server 2008 R2, builds upon the core functionality of Windows Server 2008 (R1) providing the most powerful, reliable, and feature-enhanced Microsoft server operating system to date. Windows Server 2008 R2 is arguably as important to the enterprise server as Windows 7 is to the desktop. Whether you are an experienced Windows Administrator or new to the Microsoft server operating system, this book will help you become more versed in managing a Windows Server 2008 R2 server environment.
This chapter will introduce you to Windows Server 2008 R2. It will explain some of the new features, such as PowerShell and BranchCache offered in the operating system. It will also explain the differences between the editions available and help you determine when to deploy each one. This chapter will conclude with the guidance for planning and designing your Windows Server 2008 R2 deployment.
WHAT IS NEW IN WINDOWS SERVER 2008 R2
The R2 release of Windows Server 2008 introduces some new and exciting features. These include not only enhancements to traditional technologies, such as Active Directory and Internet Information Server (IIS), but also newer technologies, such as Hyper-V and PowerShell. In this section, you will be introduced to a few of these new features.
If you are an experienced server administrator, you are probably well aware that virtualization is one of the hottest topics in the IT industry. With more green initiatives, increasing power costs, and the demand for administrators to manage more servers, virtualization has gone from an option to a requirement in many organizations. With the release of Windows Server 2008 (R1), it became clear that Microsoft intends to not only compete, but also become a leader in the virtualization market.
With the first release of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft not only gave users a true hypervisor, but also chose to give it to them for free. Windows Server 2008 R2 builds upon Microsoft's virtualization strategy by bringing new features to Hyper-V such as Live Migration, enabling administrators to move virtual machines between two hosts with no downtime or service disruption. Windows Server 2008 R2 also introduces Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) for Hyper-V clusters. CSVs allow multiple Hyper-V hosts in a Failover Cluster configuration to simultaneously access the same disk volume. CSVs are at the core of the new Live Migration features in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. Hyper-V will be covered in detail in Chapter 7.
BranchCache is a new feature designed to provide a better experience for branch office users. BranchCache in Windows Server 2008 R2 allows servers in branch offices to store a "cached" copy of files and Web sites in the local office for quicker access in that office. BranchCache can be deployed in one of the two modes: hosted BranchCache or distributed BranchCache. Using the hosted method, a cache server is located in the BranchOffice. When a client requests read access to a file from a server across a Wide Area Network (WAN), the file is initially copied across the WAN and opened on the Requesting Client. A copy is also saved in the cache on the hosted cache server in the branch office. The next time someone requests to open the file, it is pulled from the hosted cache server in the branch office instead of the original source across the WAN.
BranchCache can also be deployed in distributed mode. Distributed mode works similar to hosted mode in that it uses a cache in the local office. However, in distributed mode, a server is not needed in the branch office. All cached copies of files are stored on Windows 7 client computers in that office. When a Windows 7 client requests a file, it stores a copy in its local cache. The next time a computer needs to open the file, it pulls it from the cache on one of the peer Windows 7 clients on the local branch office network. BranchCache requires both Windows Server 2008 R2 file servers and Windows 7 clients.
Active Directory has become the cornerstone of Windows Server domains. It is the core of many network environments supporting not only users and computers, but also applications like Microsoft Exchange Server. Active Directory was first introduced in Windows 2000 Server and has evolved with more reliability and features with each server operating system release. Windows Server 2008 R2 delivers a series of new Active Directory features such as:
* Recycle Bin—The Recycle Bin allows administrators to restore deleted objects to Active Directory. This feature is welcome to any administrator who has accidentally deleted a user account on a Friday afternoon.
* Active Directory Administrative Center—Active Directory Administrative Center provides a new way for Windows administrators to perform common tasks within their Active Directory domains. It is a GUI built on top of PowerShell, giving administrators an intuitive and easy-to-use tool to complete daily tasks such as reset passwords, create new user accounts, and manage groups and organizational units.
* Active Directory PowerShell cmdlets—PowerShell, with the Active Directory cmdlets, provides a rich command line interface to script and automate common Active Directory tasks. Windows Server 2008 R2 contains over 75 cmdlets to perform actions, such as creating new users, resetting passwords, and managing group membership.
* Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer (BPA)—The Active Directory BPA is a tool to help ensure that your Active Directory deployment is healthy and properly configured. The Active Directory BPA scans your Active Directory deployment and looks for configuration issues or common problems. The Active Directory BPA will then provide a report and recommended remediation steps for the discovered issues. New administrators will find this tool especially helpful to locate misconfigurations or early warning signs within their Active Directory domains.
Internet Information Server 7.5
Windows Server 2008 R1 introduced a fresh, redesigned version of IIS. Windows Server 2008 R2 further enhanced IIS by adding new features like a BPA, a new version of FTP services, and enhanced auditing.
PowerShell is now preinstalled with Microsoft operating systems. PowerShell is a powerful administrative scripting shell written specifically for IT Professionals in charge of managing Windows systems. Windows Server 2008 R2 comes with PowerShell 2.0 as well as a host of cmdlets that can be used to manage various roles and features of the operating system including IIS, Active Directory, and Remote Desktop Services. PowerShell 2.0 now has the added advantage of the ability to send commands remotely instead of having to be logged on to the server to execute cmdlets and scripts.
DirectAccess is a new remote connectivity feature included as part of the Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 better together story. DirectAccess allows Windows 7 clients to connect to a Windows Server 2008 R2 network via a secure ipsec connection without the need for traditional VPN (virtual private network) access. This new technology not only allows Windows 7 clients to connect back to the corporate network, but also allows systems on the corporate network to initiate a connection back to the Windows 7 client. This provides a new mechanism for remote management of computers that are rarely physically connected to the company's local area network (LAN). Figure 1.1 depicts a remote client accessing corporate applications via DirectAccess.
File Classification Infrastructure
As part of Windows Server 2008 R2's file and security services, Microsoft has added the File Classification Infrastructure (FCI). FCI is a new service that allows administrators to automatically create classification metadata for files based upon the type or the location of the file stored. Retention policies can be created based upon this classification to ensure that actions, such as deletion, are taken on documents that are older than the defined retention period. The FCI provides many new benefits to organizations that have regulatory requirements for managing electronic documents and records. FCI will be covered in more detail in Chapter 10.
Remote Desktop Services
Windows Terminal Services has been renamed to Windows Remote Desktop Services with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2. Remote Desktop Services provides the same functionality as the traditional terminal services did with some new enhancements to provide greater security and a better end-user experience. We will explore Remote Desktop Services in detail in Chapter 8.
WINDOWS SERVER 2008 R2 EDITIONS
Windows Server 2008 R2 is available in six editions. It is important to understand the difference between these editions so that you can determine the edition that best meets your organization's needs. Table 1.1 outlines the key differences between Windows Server 2008 R2 editions.
Smaller organizations with few servers may only deploy one edition, while some medium or larger organizations may choose to deploy multiple versions to support specific functions. For example, you will need to purchase Windows Server 2008 Enterprise edition if you plan on setting up SQL Server 2008 Clusters. As the network administrator, you will need to evaluate the differences in each edition and know when to install a specific edition.
PLANNING A WINDOWS SERVER 2008 R2 DEPLOYMENT
Proper planning is one of the keys to any successful server infrastructure deployment. Without adequate planning, it is not a question of whether your servers are going to fail; rather, it is about when they will fail? Proper planning and design should address both the technological and business needs of your organization. Planning up front can save you days, weeks, or even months of wasted time when you are in the middle of a server deployment. The approach you take to plan your Windows Server 2008 R2 deployment will depend on many variables specific to your organization. There are, however, a few important steps you need to take to ensure success during your rollout.
Making the business case for Windows Server 2008 R2
Large IT projects, especially network upgrades, rarely take place without business buyin. The single most challenging task of your network upgrade could possibly be getting business and financial backing. You will need to spend time putting together a business case to support your Windows Server 2008 R2 project. This business case will vary depending on your organization's culture and business needs; however, the following are some key features of Windows Server 2008 R2 that will provide a better experience for your end-users as well as save your company in IT costs.
It is no secret that power consumption has recently become a concern for most medium and large organizations. Not only is there an increased demand that corporations take steps to go green but also the increased cost of power consumption by servers has become a real concern for many IT departments. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes several technologies to help reduce power consumption. These include virtualization and a new Windows technology known as Core Parking. Core Parking attempts to channel processing requests into as few processor cores as possible and suspends the cores not being used for active processing. Figure 1.2 depicts a processing workload being moved from one core to another, freeing up an entire processor which can then be suspended to save power. Microsoft tests have shown new power management features in Windows Server 2008 R2 that can reduce power consumption of a single server by as much as 10 percent. This reduced power usage can result in saving significant dollars in larger IT organizations.
Server consolidation is not a new IT concept. Fewer servers mean lower hardware, software, and management costs. Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V allows you to run multiple virtual servers simultaneously on one physical server. Virtualization technology is definitely not a new concept and several companies now have hypervisors available; however, Microsoft provides Hyper-V free of charge as part of the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. If your organization has not yet implemented server virtualization, you should definitely consider making a business case to do so during your Windows Server 2008 R2 deployment. The money your organization can save from server virtualization could easily add up to thousands of dollars per year.
Improved remote access and branch office experience
Windows Server 2008 R2 includes several new features that help improve the overall end-user experience when using resources on your network. These features may not directly impact on the bottom line of your IT budget, but can make a big impact in the day-to-day tasks performed by your information workers. The DirectAccess feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 can help eliminate headaches of supporting and maintaining VPN remote access services. By implementing DirectAccess, users can make a secure connection to your network without the hassle and overhead of opening a VPN client and connecting back to the network. Additionally Network Access Protection, first introduced in Windows Server 2008 R1 (RTM), has been expanded to cover newer technologies such as DirectAccess. This ensures that as you rollout new remote connectivity features, they will comply with the NAP policies that may have been established using traditional remote access methods.
The BranchCache features can vastly improve the experience for users needing to open files and Web sites across your WAN from branch offices. This improved usability experience can not only make those remote end-users less frustrated by slow WAN links, but also improve their overall productivity. Happier and more productive users are always big pluses to mention when creating a business case for technology deployments.
Create a project plan
A good plan is critical to ensuring that your deployment is successful. If you are performing a simple deployment, this may be as simple as creating a step-by-step task list. Larger and more complex deployments may require more sophisticated project plans or even a dedicated project manager. In either situation, a project plan helps ensure that important steps are not left out and that timelines can be met. Spend some time ensuring that you have a good project plan prior to your rollout. Figure 1.3 depicts what the start of a small project plan might look like.
Document the existing network and server infrastructure
The more information you have about the existing infrastructure, the better. If you have designed your current network, you may already have some or most of this. If you are taking ownership of an existing network, or if you have previously dismissed the sometimes daunting task of creating good documentation, now is the time to do it right. Drawings of servers, switches, and routers help give you a clear high-level picture of your current network. Written documents and spreadsheets can be your best friends when you need to describe more detailed information about a particular system or network. There is no right or wrong tool to document your network. Just make sure that you do it in a way that is easy for you and other administrators to understand.
Excerpted from Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Administrator's Reference by Dustin Hannifin Naomi J. Alpern Joey Alpern Copyright © 2010 by Elsevier, Inc. . Excerpted by permission of Syngress. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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