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An IT manager would have to be severely off the grid to have missed Microsoft’s plans to release the Windows 8 operating systems for end-user devices this fall. But he or she could be excused if the significance of Windows Server 2012, released late this summer, didn’t fully hit home.
IT analysts say organizations may be glossing over some of the groundbreaking elements in the first major upgrade of the server operating system (OS) in the last three years.
“Some may see this as just another evolutionary release of Windows Server, but there’s so much more to it than that,” says Greg Schulz, senior analyst for the Server and Storage I/O consulting firm. “At the heart of what’s new is how Windows Server has been extended in terms of feature functionality, scalability and performance — whether for traditional server environments or for private and hybrid clouds.”
Analysts say the biggest changes to Windows Server come in four key areas:
Cloud computing: IT managers have new options for quickly launching private clouds and connecting with public clouds for hybrid implementations.
Virtualization: Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization platform has been beefed up to run significantly meatier virtual machine workloads.
Server management: Administrators now can launch and maintain their environments using either a graphical or command-line interface.
Networking and storage management: Updates to the Windows file-sharing protocol and new storage management tools improve the reliability and availability of important resources.
Because of the breadth of new features, IT chiefs may evaluate the new release according to different criteria and unique challenges in their IT environments.
“There are more features for automating the common pain points in the typical data center, whether than means managing physical servers or virtual machines, or managing the infrastructure that supports these servers,” says Anil Desai, an independent IT consultant.
For more on Windows Server 2012, check out John Savill of Windows IT Pro's in-depth look at the top ten features of the latest version of Microsoft's server software.