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Network World - Windows Server 2012 packs so many new features large and small that any Microsoft shop looking to gain advantages in cost and functionality will have to seriously consider upgrading this year.
What's more, the product is winning high marks for its flexibility and support of cloud architectures, leading Microsoft to crown it the Cloud OS. When introducing that concept this year, the company's server chief Satya Nadella defined Cloud OS as a blend of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure cloud service, each optimized to support large data center infrastructures that embrace a combination of traditional corporate-run data centers, private clouds and public clouds.
A LOOK AHEAD: Read through Network World's entire Outlook 2013 package
ADVICE: Quick Windows Server 2012 tips
|2013 IT outlook: Innovation trumps cost-cutting|
|Best IT resolutions of 2013|
|Growing confidence in cloud security|
|Outlook 2013: Gigabit Wi-Fi|
|The cloud will make BYOD a non-issue - eventually|
|Cisco products, more maturity for SDNs in 2013|
|OpenStack cloud backers hope 2013 is the year of user adoption|
|Outlook 2013 ... Even more interesting than 2012!|
The result, Nadella says, is a more flexible environment that will make it possible to add and remove capacity as needed and take advantage of the economy of public clouds. The change would be transparent to end users; resources become available as summoned regardless of where they actually reside. And because of the variety of options where resources might be housed, businesses can make decisions about which option is best for which type of data and application.
All other things being equal they can choose, for example, the best method based on price.
While Microsoft itself is using Windows Server 2012 in its Azure cloud, other cloud service providers are also climbing onboard. Rackspace and Amazon Web Services have fired up services that include as many as 31 different Windows Server 2012 virtual images for customers to choose from.
Windows Server 2012 offers service providers and enterprise buyers alike a host of major advances, including:
* PowerShell: Microsoft has expanded the number of PowerShell commands 10-fold, making it possible to control just about all aspects of the server from command lines rather than the graphical user interface. The latest version also enables scheduling when jobs run, making it possible to batch them ahead of time to run later.
* Dynamic Access Control: This sets policies at the server that could, for example, deny access to a confidential file that is being accessed via remote desktop or even from a corporate laptop if it's connecting from a home network. In the past, access would be denied with no explanation, prompting help-desk calls. With a Windows 8 client the user is told why access is being denied rather than just being denied access.
* Storage Spaces: This scheme allows amassing all types of storage into a single body that can be subdivided and allocated to separate tasks, resulting in more efficient use of total storage. The collections of storage media are called storage pools from which virtual disks can be carved out. These virtual disks are called storage spaces. Storage spaces can allocate more space than the actual capacity of the pool. This is accomplished via thin provisioning, in which blocks of storage are only claimed from available pools when actually being used by virtual machines. Data is kept from overflowing virtual disks by freeing up capacity whenever files are deleted or an application decides that such capacity is no longer needed. Anything stored in a space is mirrored on a separate physical disk. Pools can be clustered across more than one node, and pools can fail over to another physical node within the cluster.