In a business environment where ‘cloud’ and ‘economic agility’ are becoming all-important words, Microsoft is readying to release Windows Server 8. This version is the most wide sweeping update since Windows 2000, being a cloud based operating system (OS) that can run standalone, on virtual machines on private data center clouds or public clouds hosted by partners.
At the same time, the software manufacturer is retracing its steps and going back to a GUI-less experience, similar to other popular and secure non-Windows systems we know. Jeffrey Snover,lead architect for the Windows Server division says, ‘We don’t want management GUIs to run on servers – that’s a bad thing.’ To achieve this, Windows Server 8 is being equipped with a UI-less Server Core while retaining the option for administrators to add or remove the GUI without reinstalling management software.
GUI-based management systems will also be available to administrators as they do have benefits but only on remote machines, not the main server platform. This is to avoid execution of desktop apps that could result in security vulnerabilities. Danish firm CSIS’ research shows that apps such as Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash are the hosts for almost 48% malware.
Windows Server 8 includes over 2,300 Powershell commands to execute various functions on the server locally or remotely. Powershell includes Intellisense for the less command line proficient, offering syntax suggestions while typing. Another important addition is the Hyper-V virtualization technology with support for virtual storage and networking. It also enables support for servers with huge storage banks and simplifies the management process.
Windows Server 8 offers a solution that applies to small business servers (low budget) to computing clusters (high budget, high performance). It has over 30 new features to assist businesses of all sizes. The platform will cut down effort, time and resources spent on managing IT infrastructure, updating and maintaining systems and software, and integration. It will be possible to manage multiple machines via a single console and implement workflows across many machines for better automation.
The OS also has disaster recovery and server duplication tools, redesigned storage tools that work with low-cost commodity hardware to create pooled and managed storage fabric, and dynamic access control tools for content protection.
Bill Laing, VP of the server and cloud division at Microsoft states that Windows Server 8 will arrive at a reasonable price point that small and mid-sized businesses will be able to afford. Apart from improved security, enterprises should experience easier management, lower installation footprint, effortless scaling, and greater efficiency.
Though Windows Server 8 has been distributed to developers in pre-Beta, it’s essentially for third parties to get their wares ready for the platform – drivers, anti-viruses, software, etc. Microsoft has been working on some Windows Server 8 features since five years and it shows. Industry experts believe the OS has the capability to handle future technology requirements of businesses for quite some years.
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