Windows 2008R2 Server has more functionalties than you might have expected

Windows 2008R2 Server has a lot of functionalities built in – So, if you are thinking to implement a new server (or) upgrade from earlier versions, you should have a look at the salient functionalities supported by the Windows 2008R2 Server.

Of course, only a partial list of services/ functionalities supported by Windows 2008R2 server are given here. For more complete information, you could visit the official Microsoft website.

Salient functionalities supported by Windows 2008R2 Server package:

  • Web Server (IIS)
  • Remote Desktop Services
  • Network Policy and Access Services
  • Print and Document Services
  • Hyper V and Virtualization Services
  • File Services
  • Fax Server
  • DNS Server
  • DHCP Server
  • Application Servers
  • Active Directory, etc.

There are five editions of Windows 2008R2 Server: Web, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Itanium, Foundation. The services/ functionalities & hardware configuration supported by each of them varies according to the specific edition. Some functionalities may require additional licenses.

Role based functionality: Seventeen possible roles and forty two different features are possible in Windows 2008R2 Server. A particular role supports certain functionalities, and only the files/ programs related to that role are installed and run on the server. This enables the administrators to reduce the overall attack surface of the server. New features and roles can be added/ activated whenever required (all the required files are included in the basic install itself).

Hardware support & Network Load-balancing: Windows 2008R2 Server supports up to 64 physical socket processors and upto 256 logical processor cores. This enables each server to handle more workload and reduces the total number of physical servers required. With NLB Clustering, multiple Servers can provide High Availability/ Redundancy for the Windows server set-up. Load-balancing between the work loads in different servers are also supported.

A Short note on some important functions supported by Windows 2008R2 Server:

  • Web Application Server (IIS Server) – The IIS Server is a web server and also supports FTP server with IPv6, SSL & Unicode Characters.
  • Virtualization – In addition to the Server Virtualization functionality, it supports Presentation Virtualization (Remote Desktop Services, Terminal services – earlier), Application Virtualization & Desktop Virtualization. For Server Virtualization, Live Migration is now supported along with Dynamic Disk Allocation and many more additional features. 
  • Direct Access – Direct Access is like VPN and it is supported on Windows 7 Clients accessing the Windows 2008R2 Server, without having to install any VPN Software. Its possible to enforce policies like the presence of security updates, patches, anti-malware software in the client PC before allowing it access to the server through Direct Access. Also these clients that connect via Direct Access can be remotely managed by IT staff.
  • Power Saving Mode – The required power for individual processors is reduced to the optimum level (power level required for a particular workload) (and) In a multiple processor/ multiple core CPU, the unused cores are automatically powered off when not being used and vice versa. These features save a lot of electrical power while running the server.
  • Active Directory – While the directory services have always been a part of Windows server, Graphical Active Directory Management tool called Active Directory Administrator Center (ADAC) is new to Windows 2008R2. There is even an Active Directory Recycle bin that enables administrators to recover accidentally deleted objects quickly.
  • File Services – Critical files & media can be encrypted selectively and backed up several times a day. It is possible to set permissions so that only authorized personnel can access and modify critical files.
  • Branch Cache – Caching, is a software technique in which a system copies the frequently requested data (from a remote location – WAN) in an alternate storage medium (In the Local Network – like branch computers in small branches or dedicated servers in the larger branches) so that they could be served faster, as they are being fetched from the LAN (vs WAN) and WAN bandwidth can be conserved.

This article is just to give a glimpse of some features and functionalities supported by Windows 2008R2 Server, and for a more exhaustive list of features – do refer to their website.

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