Windows Server Longhorn Roadshow

by Karin Cornils
(Originally published June 12, 2007)
No, none of us own stock in Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean we’re not keeping our ear to the ground for what’s happening in Windows world. And we’re bringing you more news from the front from the Windows Server Longhorn Roadshow that came through Santa Clara in April.

The next Windows Server version “Longhorn”, currently in Beta, seems particularly interesting in its virtualization technology and modular Server Core deployment options as well as improved management and security enhancements. Following is a very brief overview of some of our favorite Longhorn highlights.

Server Management
Streamlined installation process: Can you believe an installation process that isn’t interrupted by configuration tasks requiring user intervention? Time for a coffee break?

Server Manager Console: The Console provides a single unified console for managing a server’s configuration, system info, roles, and displaying status, etc.

Windows PowerShell: By integrating command-line shell and scripting language, this reduces the complexity and time required to automate system admin tasks.

IIS7

Modular feature-based installation: IIS7 is made up of over 40 separate feature modules, only half of which are installed by default, allowing granularity in choosing the features needed, improving performance and security.

Improved diagnostics & troubleshooting: These allow developers or admins to see real-time diagnostic state info and detailed trace events through the entire request processing pipeline.

Security

This is another topic too wide to do justice to here, that we’ll just list a couple of highlights for:

NAP – Enforced client health: NAP allows admins to configure and enforce health and security requirements before allowing clients access to the network.

RODC: The Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) is back – for installation in remotes sites that may have lower levels of physical security.

Firewall enhancements: The Windows Firewall has been expanded for interception of both incoming and outgoing traffic. The integration of firewall and IPsec settings simplifies security settings and helps prevent policy overlap.

Server Core (aka first non-big-fat-Windows-OS)

This is a super cool version of Longhorn, allowing administrators to install minimal installations of Windows Server with specific functionality, without the overhead or security impacts of unneeded features. This results in reduced software maintenance, updates and patches, reduced attack surface, and reduced hardware and management needs. Below are the roles Server Core can be configured as:

Windows Server Virtualization

DHCP server

DNS server

File server

Active Directory Services

Windows Media Services

Print Management

And our number one favorite Longhorn trait….

Windows Server Virtualization (WSv)

WSv uses a low-overhead virtualization architecture based on a 64-bit Hypervisor. The use of Virtualization-aware hardware (Intel VT and AMD Pacifica) further increases guest op system performance. The following features make it feasible to virtualize formerly virtual-unfriendly workloads with I/O intensive, memory heavy applications like Exchange Server and SQL:

64-bit host and guest operating system support

Server Core support: WSv can use a Server Core Longhorn installation to minimalize the overhead and maximize server processing capability to running VMs.

Pass-through disk access: The old school virtualization used to require 2 hops from the guest virtual machines through the virtual machine manager and the OS to get to the hardware. Microsoft’s WSv now supports pass-through disk access allowing guest operating systems to directly access local or iSCSI SAN.

And of course there are tons of other extras which are beyond the scope of this brief overview, such as enhancements in the areas of failover clustering, network load balancing, windows backup, terminal services, etc – you might want to check out the following link for more details.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/highlights.mspx

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