October 5, 2012 at 4:15 PM
This week I represented Codit at the Windows Server 2012 Launch event in Antwerpen. The Launch event had two separate tracks; a Windows Server track and an Azure track. Remarkable is that even on a Windows Server launch event, half of the sessions was about Azure.
In this post I will go over some nice features of Windows Server 2012 - in my personal point of view. This post is no attempt by any means to list all new features and changes in comparison with previous Windows Server versions.
The first thing you’ll notice is that even Windows Server 2012 uses the Metro ‘Start’ screen (or should we say Modern UI now?). Because Metro is primarily targeting touch-based devices, at first this feels a little odd for a server, but we will get used to it…
The new Server Manager screen is displayed automatically when you boot up your Windows Server 2012. The new Server Manager was a very pleasant surprise! The Server Manager has a dashboard screen with a ‘tile’ for each server role you added to your Windows Server machine:
Each tile gives an instantaneous overview about the state of that specific feature (IIS, DHCP, DNS, AD FS …). Errors are immediately visible because of the red tile. If you click the ‘events’ link displayed in a tile, you will get all events related to that Windows Server feature – very convenient.
That’s not it yet for the Server Manager, you can add other Windows Servers to this dashboard! This will give you a single screen overview of the state of your Windows Servers! Especially when you don’t have SCOM, this is a very useful feature.
Windows Servers can also be grouped in a Server Group. In this way you can perform operations on the group instead of on each server separately.
Some people expected to get Windows Server AppFabric out of the box with Windows Server 2012. Guess what, it’s not!
Instead Windows Server 2012 ships with IIS8. IIS8 offers a lot of new features and I was very surprised that there wasn’t a single session about IIS8 during the launch event. IIS8 offers a Central Certificate Store; a shared store to manage your certificates in one place instead of on every node of your server farm.
IIS8 also supports WebSockets. WebSockets provide a full-duplex communication channel between the browser and the Web Server over a TCP connection. WebSockets allow pushing content to web clients without an incoming request from that client first! What is very interesting that all this works over port 80 (the TCP channel starts as a HTTP handshake that is then upgraded). All this enables you to push content to your clients over a TCP connection without modifying firewall settings.
Out of the box, Windows Server 2012 ships with .NET Framework 4.5. When you need .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (e.g. for SQL Server 2012) you will have to install it separately. I advise you to do this up front, before installing SQL Server 2012. The SQL Server 2012 Installation Wizard fails when .NET framework 3.5 SP1 is not installed. It fails during installation not during the prerequisites check! This means you will need to go through the SQL Server 2012 Installation Wizard again…