Windows Server 2008, released a few months ago, is Microsoft’s latest server operating system. This entry is not meant to be an exhaustive thesis into all of the benefits that Server 2008 can provide, but to serve as a brief introduction to the enhancements over previous versions.

1. Server Core Installation
Server Core installations provide a minimal environment for specific roles. This simplifies management of the server, updating and patching, and there is a smaller attack surface as the machines footprint is smaller since the number of files to support it has been reduced. Core servers have no desktop or GUI so they are managed via a command prompt or using the remote administration tools of another server. Server Core supports, but is not limited to, the following roles:

Active Directory Domain Services
File and Print Server

2. Hyper-V
Microsoft loves talking about Hyper-V, the virtualization technology built into Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V provides a layer between the hardware and the operating system which allows virtual machines the ability to communicate directly with the hardware, bypassing the host operating system and increasing performance.

3. Terminal Services
With Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has 3 new Terminal Services components, RemoteApp, TS WebAccess, and TS Gateway. These concepts will be familiar to any Citrix administrator. In Citrix terms, RemoteApp is synonymous to Publishing Applications, TS WebAccess to the Web Interface Server, and TS Gateway to the Citrix Secure Gateway. These new features would give administrators the ability to grant users access to specific applications hosted in a TS environment over a secure web (HTTPS) connection.

4. Self Healing NTFS
With Server 2008, there is a worker thread which runs in the background that corrects the NTFS partition should any problems be found. I’m sure this is an oversimplification, but it’s pretty much a live, running version of chkdsk.

5. Support for Hot Swappable Components
Some new servers can be purchased with the capability to replace memory, processors, and PCI cards while the server is powered on. Windows Server 2008, while it is up and running, will acknowledge any hardware changes when hot swapping components.

6. Network Access Protection (NAP)
NAP keeps non-compliant computers off your network. NAP can monitor specific computer settings to enforce your workstation compliance standards.

7. Others
Windows Server 2008 includes IIS 7.0 which is a new build that is more capable of delivering streaming media, ASP, and PHP content and applications. It also has an updated management tool which allows you to manage multiple IIS servers from a single MMC.

There’s Read-only domain controllers for branch office deployments, SMB 2.0 which optimizes the file transfer rates between 2008 Servers, and over 800 Group Policies.

This list is but a small sample of the benefits of Windows Server 2008. I encourage you to research further and we’ll explore some of these features in further detail in upcoming posts, starting with Server Core.