10 Coolest Features in Windows Server 2008
February 27, 2008
No need to call the homicide squad after you take a look at Windows Server 2008: You won't find any killer features in this release. But that's not to say there's nothing to get excited about. There's a great deal that's new, and depending on the set up of your organization, it's almost certain you'll find some or all of it extremely valuable.
Any ranking is bound to be subjective, and bearing that in mind, here are what we believe to be the 10 most interesting new features in Windows Server 2008.
Although some 75 percent of large businesses have started using virtualization, only an estimated 10 percent of servers out are running virtual machines. This means the market is still immature. For Windows shops, virtualization using Server 2008 will be a relatively low-cost and low-risk way to dip a toe in the water.
At the moment, Hyper-V lacks the virtualized infrastructure support virtualization market leader VMware can provide. Roy Illsley, senior research analyst at U.K.-based Butler Group, noted that Microsoft is not as far behind as many people seem to think, however. "Don't forget Microsoft's System Center, which is a fully integrated management suite and which includes VM Manager. Obviously it only works in a Wintel environment, but if you have Server 2008 and System Center, you have a pretty compelling proposition.
"What Microsoft is doing by embedding virtualization technology in Server 2008 is a bit like embedding Internet Explorer into Windows," said Illsley. "This is an obvious attempt to get a foothold into the virtualization market."
At launch, Microsoft is unlikely to have a similar product to VMware's highly popular VMotion (which enables administrators to move virtual machines from one physical server to another while they are running), but such a product is bound to available soon after.
2. Server Core
4. Role-based installation Role-based installation is a less extreme version of Server Core. Although it was included in 2003, it is far more comprehensive in this version. The concept is that rather than configuring a full server install for a particular role by uninstalling unnecessary components (and installing needed extras), you simply specify the role the server is to play, and Windows will install what's necessary nothing more. This makes it easy for anyone to provision a particular server without increasing the attack surface by including unwanted components that will not do anything except present a security risk.
5. Read Only Domain Controllers (RODC)
6. Enhanced terminal services
7. Network Access Protection
We've already mentioned various security features built into Server 2008, such as the ability to reduce attack surfaces by running minimal installations, and specific features like BitLocker and NAP. Numerous other little touches make Server 2008 more secure than its predecessors. An example is Address Space Load Randomization a feature also present in Vista which makes it more difficult for attackers to carry out buffer overflow attacks on a system by changing the location of various system services each time a system is run. Since many attacks rely on the ability to call particular services by jumping to particular locations, address space randomization can make these attacks much less likely to succeed.
It's clear that with Server 2008 Microsoft is treading the familiar path of adding features to the operating system that third parties have previously been providing as separate products. As far as the core server product is concerned, much is new. Just because some technologies have been available elsewhere doesn't mean they've actually been implemented. Having them as part of the operating system can be very convenient, indeed.
If you're running Server 2003 then, now is the time to start making plans to test Server 2008 you're almost bound to find something you like. Whether you decide to implement it, and when, is up to you.