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Windows Server 2016: Coming Soon...

Microsoft is working on releasing a newer version of Windows Server in 2016. Buy the latest version now with Software Assurance (SA) and you can upgrade to 2016 when it releases at no extra cost! Windows Server 2016 provides a wide range of new and enhanced features and capabilities spanning server virtualization, storage, software-defined networking, server management and automation, web and application platform, access and information protection, virtual desktop infrastructure, and more.


What are the Benefits of Software Assurance?

  • Latest Technologies - access to new product versions that are released during your term at no additional cost
  • E-learning – offers self-paced interactive online learning for end-users and IT professionals
  • Home Use Program – provides employees with the latest version of Microsoft Office for their home computer, via low-cost download (around $10)
  • 24x7 Problem Resolution Support – around the clock phone and web support
  • Extended Hotfix Support – provides specific product fixes on a per customer incident basis, beyond the standard product support
  • Backup for Disaster Recovery – for each licensed instance you run under qualifying licenses with SA and related CALs, you may run one instance of the software on a backup server for disaster recovery purposes

Windows Server has seen many advancements in the past 10 years, and today the current version is Windows Server 2012 R2. As many of you have heard, Windows Server 2003 is reaching its end of life. Here's a comparison between Windows Server 2003 and 2012 R2 as well as other information you should know if you're planing on making the migration to Windows Server 2012 R2.


Options for Windows Server 2012 R2:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 with on-premises hardware and hypervisor
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 with Microsoft Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 with Cloud OS Network IaaS 

Windows Server 2012 R2 offers storage benefits such as virtualization of storage with commodity storage disks and the tiering of that storage. It also includes the ability to apply hybrid cloud architectures to storage. While overall storage costs continuously increase, the majority of storage needs are for tier 2 or tier 3 lower-priority data, most of it infrequently accessed. This provides the opportunity to take advantage of a combination of enterprise on-premises and public cloud storage—to create a hybrid cloud storage solution. The hybrid cloud storage solution from Microsoft combines Microsoft Azure Storage services with the StorSimple cloud-integrated storage system, providing a blend of benefits that cross the boundaries of traditional storage capabilities.

Windows Server 2012 R2 has the following minimum hardware requirements:

  • Processor: 1.4 GHz 64-bit
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Disk space: 32 GB

Need to migrate your business to a new server? Give our Microsoft Certified Licensing Experts a call today!


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What Changes with Windows Server 2012?

With the Architectural changes in 32 bit to 64 bit technology – everything changes in Windows Server 2012. With the latest version (R2), there are storage benefits such as virtualization of storage with commodity storage disks and the tiering of that storage. It also includes the ability to apply hybrid cloud architectures to storage. While overall storage costs continuously increase, the majority of storage needs are for tier 2 or tier 3 lower-priority data, most of it infrequently accessed. This provides the opportunity to take advantage of a combination of enterprise on-premises and public cloud storage—to create a hybrid cloud storage solution. The hybrid cloud storage solution from Microsoft combines Microsoft Azure Storage services with the StorSimple cloud-integrated storage system, providing a blend of benefits that cross the boundaries of traditional storage capabilities. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 also helps reduce IT server management costs.

Here's an overall look at some of the benefits:

  • Consolidation of storage infrastructure sprawl through a simple combination of StorSimple systems on-premises and Microsoft Azure storage services
  • Storage TCO reduction of 60 to 80 percent (on average) 
  • Faster data protection and disaster recovery with automated cloud snapshots for data backup and disaster recovery via the pulling of data from the cloud only as needed, resulting in much faster than traditional data restore (hours vs. days/weeks) 

Enterprise-class scale and performance

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Scales to 64 logical processors and 1 terabyte of memory (x64 versions)
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Scales to 320 logical processors and 4 terabytes of physical memory (x64 versions)
  • Scales to 64 logical processors and 1 terabyte of memory on a virtual machine
  • Supports up to 64 nodes and 8,000 virtual machines in a cluster 

Shared nothing live migration with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA)

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Not available
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Enables migration of virtual machines among Hyper-V hosts on different clusters or servers with no storage sharing, using Ethernet connection only—with virtually no downtime
  • Offers faster live migration among Hyper-V hosts by establishing an efficient memory-to-memory transfer of data using RDMA 

Hyper-V Network Virtualization

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Not available
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Enables isolation of network traffic from different business units or customers on a shared infrastructure, with reduced need for virtual local area networks (VLANs)
  • Enables moving of virtual machines as needed within virtual infrastructure, while preserving virtual network assignments
  • Performs site-to-site (VPN), NAT, and forwarding functions with an in-the-box multitenant gateway
  • Makes full management of HNV gateway possible through System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager
  • Supports guest clustering for high availability

Low-cost, highly available file-based storage

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Not available
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Offers new SMB 3.0 protocol enhancements and low-cost, “commodity” hardware with new File Services for storing server application data such as SQL databases and VHDs for Hyper-V on file shares
  • Automatically rebalances Scale-Out File Server clients
  • Tracks SMB client connections per file share, and then redirect clients to the cluster node with the best access to the volume used by the file share
  • Enables leveraging of commodity storage into virtual storage pools, which can then be provisioned as Storage Spaces
  • Provides virtualized drives that can be formatted and accessed just like a physical drive, which can also be dynamically resized with the addition of more physical drives to the storage pool
  • Includes storage tiers, write-back cache, parity space support for failover clusters, dual parity, and the ability to automatically rebuild storage spaces from storage pool free space 

Backup and recovery

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • The backup utility (Backup) in Windows Server 2003 helps back up directories, selected files, and system state data, including Windows Server 2003 operating system registry information (very simple utility)
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Provides a set of wizards and other tools to perform basic backup and recovery tasks for the server it is installed on 
  • Ability to back up and restore individual virtual machines from a Hyper-V host server 
  • Improvements to managing backup versions and backup retention 
  • Ability to back up volumes greater than 2 terabytes and with 4-KB sector sizes 
  • Support for backup of Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs)
  • Ability to report system state components 
  • Hyper-V supports incremental backup (backing up only the differences) of virtual hard disks while the virtual machine is running 
  • Microsoft Azure Online Backup (cloud-based backup service) offers offsite protection against data loss from failure with a cloud-based backup solution, which allows files and folders to be backed up and recovered from the cloud 

Hybrid applications

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Requires virtual private networks (VPNs) or other form of point-to-point connectivity for communication among geographically separated parts of an application
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Protects existing investments in on-premises applications 
  • Unifies application management 
  • Provides flexibility to build and deploy hybrid applications on-premises and in the cloud 
  • Provides a common development environment for .NET developers to build cloud (Azure) and on-premises applications 

Windows PowerShell 4.0

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Provides more than 100 cmdlets 
Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Provides more than 3,000 cmdlets in over 100 modules and includes several significant features that enable easier and more comprehensive control and management of Windows-based environments 
  • Enables the deployment and management of configuration data for software services and the environment in which these services run through Desired State Configuration (DSC) 

Simplified, feature-rich Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Windows Server 2003 R2:
  • Not available 
Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Provides simplified wizard-based setup procedures for Remote Desktop Services deployment
  • Includes a unified management console for virtual desktops, session-based desktops, and applications
  • Simplifies the creation, assignment, and patch management of pooled and personal virtual desktops and provides a richer experience on different devices, in various locations, and over changing network conditions
  • Provides online storage deduplication and session shadowing

As you migrate your IT infrastructure to Windows Server 2012 you benefit from reduced cost of ownership through the improvement of management of resources, better security, high scalability, improved performance, Increased functionality, in-box virtualisation and cloud support, improved manageability and on-going product support. This cost-effective solution reduces the complexity of multi-product, multi-vendor solutions and meets a wide range of storage needs.


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