Windows Server 2012 R2: All the news

Windows Server 2012 R2: All the news

Windows Server 2012 R2

If Windows 8.1 is essentially an ergonomic editing and media reset Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2 is surprisingly more ambitious. This is a truly new version of the system that has nothing to do with a "Service Pack" or "Feature Pack". With "2012 R2," Microsoft still anchor a little more its server platform in new business practices driven by cloud and mobility.  It is rather difficult to establish an exhaustive list of improvements as they are numerous. Most of them reinforce the vision "Cloud OS" Microsoft in which resources (hardware and software) are consumed primarily in the form of privately exposed services (private cloud) hosted or public, with ease Directors and positioning of the most flexible and unified services possible. Although the vision is far from being fully realized, it takes more body with this "R2". From shot, most of these developments are very visual. They influence in depth without changing the platform consoles and tools that had evolved with Windows Server 2012. While Windows Server 2012 R2 inherits ergonomic new in Windows 8.1. A Start button is back on the desktop and the server starts by default on it. But innovations are elsewhere. They focus on mobility management, storage management and network management. 

Join Workplace
The problem has become particularly evident with tablets Surface RT: their inability to join an NT domain has CIOs face this reality that even Windows machines should be able to access key business data safely without be integrated into the field. Beyond Windows RT is a typical problem of BYOD trend. The problem is true for tablets as Surface for iPad and others. Workplace Join the new feature is a practical answer to the question "How to integrate personal mobile devices in the corporate environment without connecting to the domain? "The idea is simple: the user (via a function ofWindows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, or through a web portal) activates itself Workplace Join. Thanks to a new service (named for DRS Device Registration Service), the mobile device is automatically referenced in the Active Directory and associated with the user. DRS provides a certificate to the device that is identifiable and identified. Therefore, the user benefits from features of "Single Sign-On" and no longer has to authenticate for each resource accessed. Administrators can easily define (especially via group policies) desaccès conditional based on the characteristics of the identified device. For now, Workplace Join is only compatible with Windows 8.1 devices / RT 8.1 and iOS. 

Work Folders 
Functionality directly related to the Workplace Join the Work Folders (a new role to install Windows Server 2012 R2) are a kind of Skydrive or Dropbox for the company. Files stored in the Work Folders are automatically synchronized between the datacenter and the mobile device to be accessed from anywhere. But these cases are managed by Group Policy, and the administrator can impose they are encrypted. Administrators retain control and professional data handled on mobiles.Les Work Folders devices are no different in the idea of Offline Files but not run on devices connected to the domain. They are also an alternative to SkyDrive Pro for those who opted for Office 365. For now, only Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 devices have access to Work Folders. However, Microsoft is working on their implementation on iOS.

An amplified Storage With Windows Server 2012, Microsoft introduced the concept of scalable storage in the heart of the system. The goal is to get the functionality of SAN with attached storage and cost. The Windows Storage Spaces already benefiting from advanced concepts such as disk aggregation into a single space, thin provisioning, resilience spaces, deduplication of files, etc. Windows Server 2012 R2 provides significant enhancements to Storage Spaces. The most important of which is the integration of the concept of tiering, ie the ability to dynamically move data between different classes of storage (SSD and HDD) according to their use. The "automatic tiering" is a feature present on all modern SAN arrays, but this is the first time it is implemented at the same level of the operating system. Windows Server loads automatically place the most frequently accessed data from a pool (including at least one at least one SSD and HDD) to the SSD and move on hard drives those less frequently accessed. The tiering is automatic, however the administrator can "pin" certain files and explicitly order that they remain in a given tier (either on the SSD if the file needs to access quickly, either on the hard disks if the file apas not need speed despite its access frequency). The only downside in the current version, it does not seem possible to mix tiering etThin Provisioning. In a similar vein, Windows Server 2012 R2 introduces the notion of 'Write Back Cache. " It is to reserve a portion of the SSD space to use as a write cache. A particularly pertinent function to automatically accélérerles treatment of a database on which many write functions are performed, for example. This cache can be applied to all Storage Spaces that we have or not chosen to use tiering options.

A more complete data deduplication
Windows Server 2012 introduced deduplication for file servers. A still very valuable option to curb the explosion of data volumetrics. Unfortunately, the feature was not applicable to the VHD files in use and therefore inapplicable in one of the scenarios where deduplication proves necessary: ​​the VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). With Windows Server 2012 R2, this limitation jumps. Now, when defining a Storage Space and the automatic deduplication is to be applied to him, the administrator must specify the usage scenario "File Server" or "VDI storage." It is important to note that Microsoft has specifically optimized deduplication VHD files "Live" for scenarios "VDI" (where space saving is often the order of 95%, allowing therefore operate SSD to house all images). It will not be as optimally used with arbitrary VHD files.

Enhanced resilience
Between ReFS formatting and function "mirroring" or "parity" of Storage Spaces, Windows Server 2012 had made tremendous progress in data resiliency. Windows Server 2012 R2 goes even further to restore (from the parity information) data lost in the crash of a hard disk directly on the blank spaces of Storage Space. This not only restores the data even though the failed hard drive was not replaced, but especially this reconstruction is done in parallel on différents disques survivors. This results in a very fast recovery time. At the last Teched, Microsoft had engaged in a small demonstration where a remote disk 3 TB had been "reconstructed" in less than an hour. The parity resiliently system was also strengthened by a "dual parity" option to restore the information even if two disks in the pool are to die together! 

Hyper-V 2012 R2
The Windows Server 2012 R2 virtualization layer is enriched as well. Certainly the news is not as fundamental as the quantum leap represented by the pas- sage between Hyper-V and Hyper-V v2 v3. However, the improvements make the operation of the hypervisor to more flexible and efficient daily, although it will still go through the inevitable System Center VMM to implement a virtualization infrastructure taking full advantage of the potential of Hyper-V (which makes Hyper-V much less free than Microsoft claims it). Les « Réplicas », qui permettent de mettre en oeuvre très facilement des scénarios de « failover » et de PRA, étaient l'un des atouts phares d'Hyper-V 2012. Sous R2, le concept de « réplication étendue » fait son apparition : server "replica" can transfer the timing information to a third server to provide protection to the replica server when the primary server fails.

Another improvement, this third replication server (or Replica itself) may very well be a Windows Azure server (or a server hosted on another cloud). Moreover, fréquencedes replications is now freely configurable and can access the different recovery points to a period of 24 hours (against 15 hours in advance). Another major innovation, Hyper-V 2012 R2 introduces a "generation 2" VM. VM to the old format (with a virtualized BIOS) are always available and designated as the "Generation 1 VM." The "Generation 2" can only be used to host VM Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1 (64-bit). These use a UEFI firmware support Secure Boot (enabled by default) and can boot from the network (PXE Boot) or a SCSI virtual disk (the IDE support was removed on VM Generation 2). The main advantage of these VM "second generation", besides possible boot from a standard network interface is to ensure the integrity of the startup of the OS and drivers different VM. It's a real comfort in safety!

Among the "minor" improvements, but life changing everyday, note the automatic activation of the VM on Windows Server 2012 / R2 as long as they are hosted by an edition "Datacenter" Windows Server 2012 R2 without therefore manage key individual products in each VM. Linux support is now enriched the highly anticipated support Dynamic Memory as well as that backups of VM Linux (they appear in the list of available machines when backup a Hyper-V server). Boosted migrations under Hyper -VLe concept of Live Migration involves transferring a virtual machine from one physical server to another without service interruption. Windows Server 2012 VM migration using a single TCP / IP connection.

Windows Server 2012 R2 goes further by offering (and the default activation) prior compression to reduce the amount of data transferred between physical servers. This results in both a lower bandwidth consumption and reduce the time required to migrate the VM. Obviously the compression just consume extra CPU resources. To avoid saturation, Hyper-V 2012 R2 prior checks if the physical server's CPU resources are sufficient to avoid impacting the VM running.

If resources are saturated, Hyper-Vbascule automatically in uncompressed mode. The other improvement lighthouse is that it is now possible to use SMB 3.0 for Live Migration. SMB supports RDMA (what Microsoft calls Direct SMB), ie the VM memory is directly transmiseau target server via an SMB connection without use of CPU resources. Must still why the network cards of both servers (source and target) support RDMA (iWARP Intel cards NE020 or Chelsio T4, Mellanox ConnectX InfiniBand cards-2 / ConnectX-3 cards Mellanox RoCE). And since we are in the Live Migration include the possibility of the "cross-Version" to migrate directly - without interruption - VMs between Hyper-V Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012R2. 

The concept of "Shared VHDX"
VHDX is the new virtual disk format for VMs introduced by Hyper-V v3 on Windows Server 2012 (VHD is obviously supported). The improvements made by VHDX multiply. Windows Server 2012 R2 and introduces the concept of "Shared VHDX" that is sharable virtual disk by several simultaneously active machines. The file must be shared VHDX be placed on a network share in SMB 3.0, or stored on a cluster CSV (SAN iSCSI or Fiber Chanel). The usage scenarios type are accessing a database using SQL Server 2014 or the rapid creation of guest machine clusters. Another improvement made by VHDX Windows Server 2012 R2, it is now possible to resize (both to enlarge that to shrink) VHDX a disk attached to an active virtual machine (in 2012, the resizing a file necessary VHDX of previously shut down the VM to which it was attached). 

Quality of service on the storage 
Both feature of Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012 R2, it is now possible to control and limit the level of input / output of each VM by specifying the minimum and maximum IOPS. A quality management in the storage level is thus introduced. The idea is to better allocate the bandwidth of the storage according to the real needs of VM. This can avoid a excessivementvorace application I / O frustrates other VM run correctly while ensuring that it will benefit the vital minimum to meet the SLA attached to it. 

To secure hybrid networks
It's not only the concepts of Software Defined Storage (via Storage Spaces) that are gradually integrated into the same system of heart. Same goes Ilen network with concepts Software Defined Network pointing their nose at the heart of Windows. First, IP addressing plan management functions (IPAM) appeared in Windows Server 2012 are being enriched with managing both physical and virtual mappings and access management based on roles. Moreover, the virtual switch to Hyper-V is fully scalable and can accommodate extensions and services produced by members of the network (CISCO, etc.).

Multitenant VPN Gateway Continuing in its Cloud OS vision, Microsoft introduced in R2 a new mechanism to secure communications between networks "on-premises" and "Off-Premises" to build a hybrid network. The idea is to make virtual networks hosted in different Cloud a natural extension of the enterprise network via a single network gateway website providing different connections available.

Dynamic NIC Teaming
The network performance is also improved. Windows Server 2012 already allowed to carry out the "NIC Teaming" for link aggregation networks. But this aggregation was basic. It basically allowed failover and aggregation of bandwidth was not done at the TCP stream. If multiple streams, each stream was well assigned to a NIC to parallelize connections. But if a single TCP stream was present it was only on one NIC and enjoyed no acceleration. R2 adopts a dynamic aggregation "Dynamic NIC Teaming" based on the concept of "flowlets" TCP flow is cut according to the "breaks" detected and parallelized. On large transfers, the acceleration achieved is significant.  VRSS boosts virtual networks

The performance of virtualized networks are also increasing with the introduction of Virtual RSS, adaptation in the virtualized world of RSS function (Receive Side Scaling) that distributes network processing on the CPU cores. Under vRSS, the load is distributed among multiple vCPUs. With vRSS, a VM can benefit from the new 10 Gigabit interfaces. It is especially advisable to activate the VM on that host Web servers or NAS gateways for example. Virtualization, BYOD, storage and network ... It is on these three areas ondamentaux that Windows Server 2012 is changing the most in the "R2", three axes which are also the essential foundations to achieve LaVision "Cloud OS". If you hesitate to upgrade to R2, do not hesitate! The integration of BYOD solutions, flexibility and gains performancesapportés to Hyper-V and Storage Spaces are significant enough to be essential, particularly if you consider a modernization of your Windows infrastructure.

System Center 2012
There are no new Windows Server without new System Center. The essential result of the implementation of a dynamic data center and management of a private cloud is also available in either "R2". SCSM, Orchestrator and App Controler receive minor updates dedicated to the integration of Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 client servers. This is especially SCVMM changing most in this édition.Ce module increasingly essential in the management of infrastructure and Hyper-V clusters (so that some would prefer Microsoftl'intègre system) is enriched functionality to export or clone VM active! Windows Server 2012, export or cloning a VM required to extinguish it. This is no longer true with cloning where R2 and exports are carried live and in a few clicks of sourisavec SCVMM. System Center 2012 R2 further develops its founding goal for a private cloud to the accompaniment of the R2 Azure Pack. Azure Pack simply allows to benefit for its private cloud the same user experience as Windows Azure. It uses the same ultra-intuitive user interface and offers the same services "Web Sites", "Bus Service" and "Virtual Machine" Windows Azure.Il is also accompanied by a whole set of APIs to integrate its services with your infrastructure. For example, these APIs can you connect directly permettrede Excel spreadsheets and business intelligence to the administration portal of the private cloud provided by Azure Pack.
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