How much is Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter really cost?

Paul Thurrott Oct 06, Windows Server is the most substantial upgrade to the Windows Server product line since Windows , with a sweeping set of capabilities and a reengineered core that will usher in a new era of bit server computing. Like its Windows Vista stable mate, Windows Server was in development an achingly long time, and some of its many features were originally slated for its predecessors, Windows Server and Windows Server R2.

Unlike Vista, however, this lengthy schedule hasn't proven problematic. In fact, it's arguably worked to the product's advantage: This is a refined, mature, and stable operating system that will no doubt power server systems of all kinds for years to come. Though Windows Server utilizes an evolved version of the Active Directory AD infrastructure that first debuted in Windows , many of the features of this new OS are radical and revolutionary.

Key among these major advances are Server Core, which provides a lightweight version of the server aimed at specific workloads, and Hyper-V, Microsoft's hypervisor-based virtualization technology. This latter technology is currently available only in beta form; see below for details. As befits a major Windows Server upgrade, however, Windows Server also includes a slew of smaller functional advances as well as key gains in scalability, reliability, manageability, performance, and security.

Charting the changes: A look at new Windows Server functionality Windows Server is feature-rich upgrade with numerous functional advantages over its predecessors. Here are some the changes in this release that I feel will have the biggest customer impact. Componentization with a purpose Microsoft has completely rearchitected Windows Server to be functionally componentized, a major change that has wide-reaching ramifications. At a high level, componentization allows for a more easily serviceable system, both for Microsoft and its customers.

It also provides for a more secure and reliable system, because communication and dependencies between individual components is kept to a minimum. More specifically, componentization enables some of Windows Server 's most exciting new functionality, such as its image-based deployment facilities, roles-based management, and Server Core.

This is a true one-stop shop for daily management needs and is the only tool that many Windows administrators will need to use on a regular basis. What makes Server Manager even more useful is that each section of the console's UI gets its own dedicated home page, each of which includes information pertinent to the role or feature at hand, along with links to fix problems, get more information, and access other tools.

It's a thoughtful, well-designed application, both logical and useful. In this new installation mode, Microsoft has stripped out virtually all the GUI, so there's no shell Start Menu, taskbar, Explorer windows, etc. For the most part, the only user interface you'll see in Server Core is a single command line window floating over an empty blue backdrop.

It's the ultimate anti-demo. So what's the point? Server Core is designed to reduce the attack surface of the server to be as small as possible. As such, a Server Core install is also more limited than that of a standard Windows Server installation. Because Server Core is still Windows Server , all of the familiar GUI-based management tools will work just fine remotely against this server.

What won't work, in addition to the missing roles, is anything that requires a true GUI or the. NET Framework. Server Core's Web Server role is pretty much static only, supporting only older, non-. It's a product that should compete well with Linux-based solutions.

BitLocker Full-Drive Encryption BitLocker is a full-drive encryption solution that first debuted in Windows Vista as a way to protect data stored on easily lost and stolen executive notebook computers. It requires TPM 1. On the server, BitLocker is particularly valuable for machines stored in branch offices, because those servers are often less well physically protected than the machines back in the home office.

If a thief walks off with a BitLocker-protected server, they won't be able to access any of the data stored on the system's hard drives. BitLocker also works really well with some of the other technologies discussed here to create a truly secure and useful branch office solution. See the RODC section below for an example. Read-Only Domain Controller Read-Only Domain Controller RODC is new functionality that allows administrators to optionally configure the AD database as read-only, where only locally cached user passwords are stored on the machine and AD replication is unidirectional, rather than bidirectional.

So why would you want to do this? Today, many organizations are installing servers in branch offices and other remote locations, and these servers often connect back to the home office using slow or unreliable WAN links. That makes AD replication--and even authentication--an arduous and lengthy process.

With RODC, the server is typically set up and configured in the home office, shipped to the remote location, and then switched on. From then on, only the user names and passwords of users who hit the server locally--and not the administrator account--are cached locally on the server. That way, even hackers who gain physical control of the server can't take over your network. Only those users who logged on to that machine will need to change their passwords.

You won't have to institute an organization-wide emergency, because most users' accounts will not have been cached on that machine. RODC is somewhat limited in that it can only support a subset of the roles and functionality normally supported on Windows Server Like the server itself, IIS 7 is completely componentized so that only those components needed for the desired configuration are installed and, thus, need to be serviced.

It sports a drastically improved management console, supports xcopy Web application deployment and delegated administration, and is backed by a new. NET-based configuration store, which replaces the previous, monolithic, configuration store.

The new TS RemoteApp functionality allows admins to remotely deploy individual applications to desktops, instead of entire PC environments, which can be confusing to users. These applications download and run on user desktops and, aside from the initial logon dialog box, function and look almost exactly as they would were they installed locally.

TS gets a few small but useful changes as well. These include TS Easy Print, which makes it easy to print to local printers from remote sessions, bit color support in TS sessions; and seamless copy and paste operations between the host OS and remote sessions. Network Access Protection Microsoft first planned to ship simple and easily configurable network quarantining functionality in Windows Server , but it's here at last with Network Access Protection NAP.

This feature allows you to setup security policies for your network: When a client system connects, NAP examines the device to make sure it meets the requirements of your security policies. Those that do are allowed online. Those that do not--typically machines that only connect infrequently to the network, such as those used by travelling employees--are pushed aside into a quarantined part of the network, where they can be updated.

How these updates happen depends on the configuration of your environment, but once that's complete, the system is given full access again and allowed back on the network. Windows Firewall For the first time, Windows Server ships with a firewall that is enabled by default.

The new Windows Firewall is bidirectional and works seamlessly with all of the roles and features you can configure in Windows Server In fact, the Firewall is part of the new roles-based management model: As you enable and disable various roles and features, Windows Firewall is automatically configured in the background so that only the required ports are opened.

This is a major change, and one that could hamper compatibility with third party products, so testing will be crucial. Command line and scripting goodness Those who prefer to automate their servers will rejoice at the new command line and scripting enhancements in Windows Server , though I'm a bit concerned by the haphazard and temporary nature of some of these changes. In this version of Windows Server, we're seeing the beginning of the transition from the old DOS-like command line to the new.

NET-based PowerShell environment. For now, however, you'll need to have a toe in both environments to best take advantage of the new capabilities. Server Core, for example, does not support PowerShell. One the command line side, we get two major additions: A Server Core management utility called oclist.

Both are designed with the same premise, providing ways to configure and manage the roles that are possible under each environment. PowerShell is a complex but technically impressive environment, with support for discoverable. NET-based objects, properties, and methods.

It provides all of the power of UNIX command line environments with none of the inconsistencies. The issue, of course, is whether Windows-based administers will quickly move to this new command line interface. Sadly, Windows Server doesn't help matters much: It doesn't ship with any PowerShell commandlets--fully contained scripts that can be executed from the command line--that can handle common management tasks.

Microsoft tells me it will ship Windows Server commandlets on its Web site over time, however, and it expects a healthy community to quickly evolve as well. Hyper-V One of the most important and future-looking technologies in Windows Server isn't even available in the initial shipping version of the product.

Instead, Microsoft is shipping a beta version of its Hyper-V virtualization platform with Windows Server and will update it automatically when the technology is finalized sometime after mid Hyper-V is a hypervisor-based virtualization platform that brings various performance advantages when compared to application-level virtualization platforms like Virtual Server. Compared to market leader VMWare, Microsoft's offering is immature and unproven, but its inclusion in Windows Server is sure to garner Microsoft some attention and market share.

And there are advantages to this bundling: From a management perspective, Hyper-V is installed and managed as a role under Windows , just like DHCP, file and print services, and other standard roles. That means it's easy to configure, manage, and service.

Hyper-V ships only with xbased versions of the product and relies on hardware virtualization features that are only available in the latest AMD and Intel chipsets. Hyper-V is compatible with virtual machines created for Microsoft's earlier virtualization products, like Virtual PC and Virtual Server. Availability and licensing As with Windows Vista, Windows Server is available in several different product editions.

These editions support different hardware platforms bit x86, bit x64, and Itanium , some of which include support for the Hyper-V virtualization technologies and some that do not.

Windows Web Server Availability: Separate bit x86 and bit x64 versions Pricing: It can, however, be configured as a domain member. This version does not include Hyper-V, but does support Server Core installs. Separate bit x86 , bit x64 , and bit x64 without Hyper-V versions Pricing: Includes one virtual instance per license. Includes four virtual instances per license.

Builds on Standard edition and adds Windows Clustering. Includes unlimited virtual instances per license.

How much is Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter really cost?

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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter

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