Server 2012 has a lot of new features as compared to its predecessors. I have listed a few major features and upgrades which I personally feel are more important and worth mentioning.
Future is Cloud – Cloud technology is already proving to be a driving force as far as IT infrastructure models are concerned. Windows Server 2012 is the first Microsoft OS that has features and connectivity to cloud. With improved features like virtualization, networking, storage usability and much more, Microsoft is going stronger on its way towards cloud.
The UI makeover – MS got rid of the start button on the desktop with 2012, although it was bought back with R2. The look and feel of new OS is little different when matched to the older version. The “hot spot key to bring the vertical menu bar” or “the auto search capability, when you type a command “are just a few of them. The capability of moving from to UI version to server core version and back has been introduced with server 2012.
Active Directory (New features lined up) – With Server 2012 new abilities were added in the AD space. Some of them are Domain controller cloning, improvements in fine grained password policy and inclusion of recycle bin in the AD console. New functionalities are added in the ADRMS and ADCS service with server 2012.
Drastic improvements in PowerShell integration – Microsoft has made sure that most of the administrative tasks have the ‘automate it’ ability in server 2012. With windows server 2012, power shell administrators would be able to take the advantage of the various new features like history viewer, PS web access, CIM integration, auto load module function, schedule jobs and task scheduler integration, etc.
Virtualization – an end to under-utilized hardware – Windows virtualization technology – Hyper-V is updated with a lot of new enhancements like more power shell cmdlets for management, resource metering feature, single root IO virtualization feature, storage migration capability and many more. The VDI aspect of virtualization has also been improved with simple administration, stronger security and higher efficiency features. The ability for access to mobile devices using Hyper V and remote desktop services is also to VDI on datacenter editions.
Network changes – There’s a constant effort by MS to make networking faster and secure. These efforts bought a new protocol named as EAP TTLS (Extensible Authentication Protocol – Tunnel Transport Layer Security). DNS servers and clients have also gone through resolution improvements. Apart from these other major enhancements include introduction to IPAM (IP address management framework) and improvement in NIC teaming features.
File and Print sharing (New tricks –old services) – A fair amount of improvements are made in branch cache, including automatic client configuration using GPO and increase in performance and scalability by introducing MS ESE(extensible storage engine). SMB 3.0 has been reworked to handle slow networks better, handle encryption and increase through put on file transfers.
IIS enhancements – Knowing that companies live and breathe on internet in today’s world, MS had to make sure that they provide more robust and secure web services to its client. Server 2012 ships IIS 8 with a wealth of new features like app initialization, dynamic IP address restrictions, centralize SLL support , CPU throttling, Server name indication(SNI) and improved features in configuration and scalability.
Apart from these there are new and improved management tools that are added to the 2012 league. Some of them are server manager with multiple server management capability, Improved GPMC, enhanced file server resource manager, etc. There are a lot more changes which can be noted (can probably write a book on it), however I have tried my best to update all the noteworthy ones in this article. You are always welcome to let me know if you feel I have missed something. Till then happy reading!!