Sunday, June 19, 2005 2:01 PM bart

Introducing Windows Server 2003 R2

Introduction

Let's start with clarifying cryptic names: the R2 in Windows Server 2003 R2 stands for "Release 2", nothing more, nothing less. So, what is it? Well, let's tell you a little story first. A couple of summers ago is was rolling out a brand new network with four Windows Server 2003 installations, which was just a great experience. However, I still remember the post-installation steps I had to take: download all the free add-ons for the Windows Server 2003 platform. You can find a complete list on http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/downloads/featurepacks/default.mspx.

The idea of R2 is to include a series of those add-ons plus some additional new features in a second release of the server operating system, which eliminates the need to go and search for a bunch of add-ons later on (as the matter in fact, I have a cd-r called "post W2K3 installation setups" that contains quite some downloads that I'm using regularly).

Installation steps

Okay, time to take a look at the installation procedure of the "Customer Preview Program Beta" which can be found on http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/r2/default.mspx. First of all, it's very important to know that you need to use an evaluation edition of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition (180 days trial) to install the preview software! I forgot this step initially (therefore using an RTM version of W2K3 Enterprise from MSDN), so R2 didn't want to install at all. So, the correct download steps are:

Next, installation time (it will take a couple of hours to receive the product keys and a link to the real download location):

  • (Optionally: use Virtual PC 2004 + SP1)
  • Install Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition + SP1 180 days trial.
  • Install R2 on top of it.

This reflects the overall idea of R2: it's just a collection of (very valuable) add-ons on top of the basic installation of the operating system with the latest Service Pack (SP1) installed. When you'll mess around in the Windows Components Setup you'll be asked to insert "Disc 2" of Windows Server 2003, which is in fact the R2 disc. So, when released, you'll buy a Windows Server 2003 with two discs: the basic installation and the additional "feature packs".

Features

Although I don't have the intention to present you an exhaustive list about all the R2 features, let's summarize the R2 information chm file over here:

  • Audit Collector Service (ACS Forwarder): forwards security events in order to have real-time analysis.
  • Hardware Management can be used to manage the hardware of servers (e.g. page files, installed services) as an alternative to WMI scripts which are sometimes nasty to write. In order to accomplish this goal, HM uses the SOAP-protocol and web services technology to establish a communication between the managed server and BMCs (Baseboard Management Controllers). The technology is based on the WS-Management specification and IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface). More information can be found on http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/pnppwr/wsm.mspx. To take a jumpstart with this technology, check out the Wsman.cmd and WECUtil.exe commands.
  • Microsoft Management Console 2.1 (MMC 2.1) is more task-driven than its predecessors using an action pane with various tasks in a well-structured format.
  • Active Directory Features:
    • Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM): a lightweight version of Active Directory that can run in a stand-alone fashion without infrastructure requirements; for more information take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/adam. The information includes some usage scenarios (e.g. storage of web-users' information in a directory service).
    • Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS): leverages single sign-on to authenticate users on related web applications in the context of one online session (formerly called "TrustBridge"). So, this technology allows to make bridges between companies in order to share and exchange use identities for a better end-user experience and tighter and more controlled integration (B2B) of infrastructures (concerning identity management). The ADFS story is rather complex, so I want to refer to a complete .NET Show about the topic (http://msdn.microsoft.com/theshow/episode.aspx?xml=theshow/en/Episode047/manifest.xml) and an overview document (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=8a4ccaf1-d55e-4129-8a5f-97093a48fd3d&DisplayLang=en) as well as the software itself of course. Check out MIIS (Identity Integration Server) and ADAM (see previous list item) as well.
  • Identity Management for UNIX: in fact the integration of SFU (Services For Unix) version 3.5 in R2, to allow Windows to integrate in a NIS domain (Network Information Service), which can also be used in Mac OSX-environments. This includes password synchronization between Windows-accounts and UNIX-accounts.
  • Disk and file management features including support for branch office scenarios to publish, replicate, manage files between "field sites" and the "central hub" of an organization. This includes DFS Namespaces (formerly just known as DFS) and DFS Replication (successor of the File Replication Service but with diff-over-the-wire technology, known as Remote Differential Compression, and scheduling and bandwidth throttling). Furthermore there's the new Print Management MMC that allows administrators to manage a printer infrastructure in a Windows Server 2003-based network (remote installation of printers, management of queues, capacity filtering, etc).
  • Common Log File System (CLFS) is a loadable driver to allow apps (both kernel-mode and application-mode) to use a robust logging system. CLFS is optimized for performance and durability fo persisted sequential data (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/WindowsServer2003R2Beta2/Library/CLFS/8876fac4-9ec6-435c-b393-ba0ce9a1d3a0.mspx).
  • Storage Resource Manager can be seen as a more flexible variant of NTFS Disk Quotas on the folder level (e.g. allow 100 MB of file storage in that folder for users, send a warning on the 85% level via e-mail, run a command when a threshold of 90% is reached, log events, etc) including file screening technology (e.g. prohibit storage of executables in this folder).
  • Other stuff such as MSNFS (formerly part of SFU), Storage Management for SANs, new SFU-related features such as Visual Studio debugging for POSIX apps and Windows SharePoint Services inclusion.

My conclusion: it's certainly worth the download to take a look at these features in action. I'll jump on the ADFS, MIIS, ADAM train later this summer and if I find the time, I'll keep you posted guys :-).

Del.icio.us | Digg It | Technorati | Blinklist | Furl | reddit | DotNetKicks

Filed under:

Comments

No Comments