Windows Server 2008 Support: Professional Services and Troubleshooting
Windows Server 2008 represents a major advance in making information networks more secure and fault tolerant, easier to virtualize and manage, higher performing, and able to provide a better environment for web hosting and development. Windows Server 2008 can scale both up and down more than any of its predecessors, and the different editions offered by Microsoft address the information technology needs of businesses of any size, from small companies to global enterprises. Windows Server 2008 makes it possible to create more cohesive, user friendly, productive, secure, and reliable networks for single-site companies, corporations with many branch offices, or companies that collaborate closely with partners but who need to maintain the integrity of their individual networks.
Progent can help your business benefit fully from the enhancements built into Windows Server 2008 by providing consulting, technical support, training, staffing, monitoring, and security engineering services.
Windows Server 2008 delivers a wealth of new or enhanced technologies, tools, and management utilities as well as security upgrades and architectural improvements. The latest operating system from Microsoft has also adopted important industry standards to facilitate the integration of multi-vendor environments. Key benefits of Windows Server 2008 include:
Windows Server 2008 has tightened its security architecture, adopted key standards for identity and access, and provided powerful tools for establishing and enforcing security policy, An array of configuration and management options allow businesses to achieve an unprecedented level of protection from external and internal security threats and insurance against natural and human-made disasters. Security enhancements in Windows Server 2008 impact all major server roles including server virtualization, failover clustering, Active Directory services, and network connectivity.
Security enhancements in Active Directory Certificate Services, Active Directory Federation Services, Active Directory Rights Management Services simplify and centralize security management, promote safer collaboration with partner organizations, and make it easier to monitor and troubleshoot Active Directive security services. Windows Server 2008 failover clustering uses Kerberos encryption and introduces a new security model that reduces administration overhead, protects communication between cluster nodes, and improves auditing. Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008's new virtualization technology, is built on Windows hypervisor, a thin layer of software whose minimal size and freedom from third-party code or drivers gives it a small attack surface and establishes a highly secure foundation for virtualization.
Other major security enhancements include:
The Network Access Protection (NAP) policy enforcement platform that checks the health of client computers before granting them access to the network and that can initiate on-the-fly remediation for clients found to have policy violations such as disabled firewalls, out-of-date anti-virus or anti-spyware software, or disabled Microsoft Update Services.
A Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) that hosts read-only partitions of the Active Directory Domain Services database and is designed for branch offices with few users, poor physical security, low network bandwidth, or personnel with little knowledge of information technology
A BitLocker Drive Encryption feature for encrypting all data stored on the Windows operating system volume and on configured data volumes so that sensitive information on branch office computers or laptops stays secure and so that it is easy and safe to decommission or reassign computers
Use of IPsec to protect traffic between domain controllers and domain member computers
More Fault Tolerant
Windows Server 2008 maximizes network availability by providing abundant features for minimizing single-point failures; allowing common maintenance procedures to be performed with minimal or no downtime; streamlining system and data recovery in case of a disaster; centralizing, simplifying, and automating configuration and management utilities to avoid self-inflicted network crashes; and improving auditing, monitoring, and diagnostic tools in order to detect potential problems before they bring down the network and to repair quickly any problems that disrupt service.
Improved high-availability technologies include failover clustering, Network Load Balancing, dynamic hardware partitioning, advanced storage alternatives, and a new architecture that supports automated machine checking.
The major area of improvement in fault tolerance that has been enhanced in Windows Server 2008 is in failover clustering. A cluster is a group of computers that run a common set of applications and are connected in such a way that if a node, or server, in a cluster fails or is taken offline for maintenance, another node automatically and instantly takes on the workload of the node that went down.
Failover clustering is the preferred solution for providing mission-critical applications with the highest level of fault tolerance, and Windows Server 2008 incorporates major improvements in Microsoft's approach for configuring and managing server clusters and in cluster architecture. Failover clustering enhancements available in the Enterprise and Datacenter Editions of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 include:
A new Validation Wizard that helps avoid common misconfiguration problems by performing tests on server nodes, cluster networks, and storage
Support for GPT Disks with GUID partition tables that allows partitions larger than two terabytes and offers built-in redundancy for storing partition information
A new Quorum Model that offers better immunity to disk failure and that can be combined with the older majority node model to prevent the quorum model from being a single point of failure
Enhanced support for geographically distributed networks that provides better protection against natural disaster such as earthquakes or hurricanes that impact a large area
Full integration with Volume Shadow Copy so that it is it easier, faster, and more reliable to backup and restore cluster configurations
Online Modification of Resource Dependencies so that additional disks can be made available without disrupting access to an application
Event Tracing for Windows for troubleshooting clusters so they can be brought back online faster than by slogging through cluster logs
Virtualization is a technique for abstracting physical computer resources to get more productivity out of available equipment and to make systems easier to manage. One example of virtualization introduced in Windows Server 2008 is Terminal Services (TS) RemoteApp, which allows an offsite worker to use a single click of the mouse to launch a program that appears to be local but that actually resides on a datacenter server. Through virtualization, TS RemoteApp makes it easier to support remote workers by centralizing and simplifying the configuration, management, updating, backup, restoration, reassignment, and decommissioning of offsite computers; increasing user friendliness by eliminating the need to establish a VPN connection; and enhancing security.
The headline virtualization technology incorporated into Windows Server 2008 is Hyper-V, which provides the platform to build and manage an advanced virtualized server system. Server virtualization means simultaneously running two or more operating systems independently on the same physical server. Microsoft's Hyper-V allows you to consolidate servers and reduce management costs, host legacy environments that would otherwise require dedicated hardware, isolate sensitive applications or development environments, quickly provision and tear down test systems, and reduce the time it takes to recover from a disaster.
The new virtualization architecture introduced by Hyper-V can handle more memory, supports high-powered multi-core processors, and can be integrated with dynamic storage systems and the latest high-speed networking solutions.
Integration with existing server management tools such as System Center Operations Manager and new utilities such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) makes it easier to set up, replicate, and administer virtual environments. New or improved features of Hyper-V include:
64-bit support for memory-intensive applications
Concurrent 32-bit and 64-bit support for increased versatility
Multiprocessor support for virtualizing multithreaded applications
Fast virtual machine migration for maximizing availability
Virtual machine snapshots for quick recovery of a previous state
Microsoft Management Console 3.0 for easier administration
Up to four virtual processors and 64 GB of RAM per virtual machine for enhanced scalability
Server Clustering and Network Load Balancing support for fault tolerance and high performance
Minimal Server Core installation for improved security
Support for Multiple guest operating systems for multi-vendor environments
Hardware assisted virtualization support for Intel VT and AMD-V technology
Windows Server 2008 includes new and enhanced utilities and platforms to simplify the management of single or multiple servers and to make it easier to configure, administer, and monitor failover server clusters, virtual machines, Active Directory services, web hosts, and other components of a corporate network. Server Manager, an integrated Microsoft Management Console, provides a centralized platform for adding, configuring, and disabling roles and services of a single server. Server Manager also provides access to advanced administration and monitoring tools. A new command line shell and scripting language, PowerShell, makes it possible to automate management tasks for key server roles such as Active Directory and Internet Information Services (IIS).
The new Server Manager console offers a single, integrated tool for controlling a server's identity, roles, and features; checking server status; and finding configuration errors. Server Manager gives administrators access to practically all the tools and information related to server productivity and replaces an assortment of features and utilities included with Windows Server 2003 such as Manage Your Server, Configure Your Server, Add or Remove Windows Components, and the Security Configuration Wizard. By consolidating key server management functions in one expanded Microsoft Management Console (MMC), Server Manager cuts management overhead, reduces configuration and administration errors, and makes troubleshooting easier.
Additional new or expanded management technologies and tools included with Windows Server 2008 include:
Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor to help diagnose and troubleshoot problems with physical and virtual servers
Windows Deployment Services (WDS) for fast, network-based installation of Windows operating systems in branch offices or remote offices
Failover Cluster Administration Console for installing fault-tolerant server clusters
Enterprise PKI for managing Active Directory Certification Authority hierarchies
TS Gateway Manager snap-in console for defining authorization policies for local and remote users to access network resources
Windows Firewall and Advanced Security MMC snap-in for managing firewall and IPsec components
Windows Server 2008 enables spectacular levels of performance as the basis of Windows HPC Server 2008 for specialized applications that utilize many processors and require ultra-high throughput. Windows Server 2008 also features improved scalability and more efficient networking to enhance the performance of mainstream computing environments. Windows HPC Server 2008 supports massive parallelism to handle the heaviest workloads and includes features such as new high-speed networking, efficient and scalable cluster management tools, advanced failover capabilities, a service oriented architecture (SOA) job scheduler, and support for partnersí clustered file systems. A new Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) interface called NetDirect supports fast, low-latency networks including 10 Gigabit Ethernet and Myrinet. NetDirect's architecture bypasses operating system and TCP/IP overhead that otherwise prevent the efficient CPU utilization required for highly parallel processing environments to deliver top performance.
For more down-to-earth applications, the Enterprise and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2008 include support for 16-way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP). SQL Server applications powered by these versions of Windows Server 2008 can utilize SMP multiprocessor environments with up to 64 nodes and, with 64-bit architecture, up to 2 terabytes of memory. The high-end configurations of these systems are said by Microsoft to be capable of processing one billion business transactions per day.
For the conventional needs of small and midsize businesses, Windows Server 2008 provides significant performance improvements in the key areas of clustering scalability, load balancing, wide-area networking, and backup-and-recovery. Failover clusters supported by Windows Server 2008 can now have up to 16 nodes in a single x64 cluster and disk volumes of up to two terabytes. New load balancing technology maximizes performance in multi-server environments by spreading workloads intelligently among least utilized resources. Support for new TCP/IP standards included in Windows Server 2008 offer faster throughput and more efficient routing and can deliver, according to Microsoft, up to a three-times improvement in throughput between a datacenter and a remote office. Volume Shadow Copy Services permit data backups without taking applications offline and enable fast data recovery in the event of a disaster, thereby minimizing productivity loss.
Multiple tools and technologies are available in Windows Server 2008 to improve performance, including:
Receive Window Auto-Tuning to optimize receiver-side throughput
Compound TCP (CTCP) in the new TCP/IP stack to optimize sender-side throughput
Hyper-V to provide a new virtualized, low-overhead I/O architecture that enhances performance
Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) to reduce the time required to recover from a disaster
Improved Web Hosting and Development
Windows Server 2008 is a better web publishing platform thanks to a variety of new or enhanced tools that improve manageability, diagnostics, troubleshooting, monitoring, and application development. Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS 7.0), which is included in all editions of Windows Server 2008, offers more customization options, allows delegated administration, and provides better security.
IIS 7.0 includes a new core server application programming interface that allows feature modules to be developed in either native or managed code. Customizable configuration, scripting, event logging, and management tool feature sets give software developers a powerful platform for building web server extensions. IIS 7.0 allows distributed configuration of IIS settings so that administration can be delegated to developers based on site or application features. This makes it easier to modify and manage features as a web application moves from development to test to production.
IIS 7.0 introduces new administration tools including a GUI IIS Manager, a command-line tool, and a WMI provider for reading or changing settings in the configuration store. The new IIS Manager UI allows seamless local, remote, and cross-site administration and deployment without the need to open special administrative ports on the firewall.
The IIS 7.0 core web server features a server engine in which you can add or delete modules according to your goals. This can enhance security by drastically reducing the attack surface of the web server and also simplifies patch management. Security as well as stability are also improved by enhanced application pool isolation. Diagnostic and troubleshooting enhancements in IIS 7.0 provide real-time inspection of requests running on the server and make it possible to filter for and trap errors that are difficult to reproduce. Comprehensive tracing capabilities allow an in-depth understanding of request paths, error information, timing details, and other debugging clues to help developers troubleshoot and repair problems so that applications make it into production quicker and with fewer bugs.
To summarize some of the most significant improvements to Windows Server 2008 as a web hosting and development platform:
Modular architecture for eliminating extraneous features helps improve security and simplify patch management
IIS Manager for more efficient administration
Cross-site deployment for making it easy to copy web site settings across multiple web servers
Delegated administration of applications and sites for streamlining development projects
Application pool isolation for improved security and reliability
How Progent's Consultants Can Assist Your Business with Windows Server 2008
Progent can help your company derive maximum benefits from Windows Server 2008 by offering an array of consulting, technical support, training, and security engineering services. Progent's Microsoft-certified engineers can help you assess the costs and benefits of migrating to Windows Server 2008 so you can make an informed decision about upgrading your network. Progent can help you develop a technology road map that will allow your information network to evolve in step with your business needs and IT budget. Progent can help you set up and evaluate pilot systems, create and execute an upgrade strategy that minimizes business disruption, solidify your network infrastructure, fortify your security, and implement clustering and virtualization options that add business value to your information network.
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can make sure that critical applications such as Exchange, SQL Server, and management information software is properly integrated with Windows Server 2008. Progent's business application experts can verify that your line-of-business software operates with maximum availability, security, and performance.
Progent's CISA, CISM, GIAC, and CISSP certified security engineers can assist you in taking advantage of the many security enhancements incorporated into Windows Server 2008 and can help you create and document corporate-wide security policies, design and test disaster recovery procedures, assess the strength of your information security, and check compliance with regulatory requirements.
Progent's 64-bit migration experts can help you determine the potential costs and benefits upgrading to a 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and can assist you with planning, validating, and implementing a migration to 64-bit computing. Progent can also help you move up to 64-bit versions of other Microsoft server platforms such as Exchange Server, SQL Server, and System Center Operations Manager. For your client computers, Progent's Microsoft Gold-certified Windows 7 engineers and Windows 8 consultants can show you how to perform efficient and economical upgrades to the 64-bit edition of Microsoft Windows 7 or Windows 8.