Windows Server 2012 R2 SupportWindows Server provides high-availability storage and networking features that support single or multi-tenant IT ecosystems of any size running a broad array of workloads on standards-based hardware. The platform includes automated management tools to streamline deployments and cut operational costs. Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on the successful architecture of Windows Server 2012 and incorporates significant enhancements in the areas of virtualization, availability, performance, economy, manageability, security, and remote access to line-of-business applications. For a discussion of the breakthrough feature set introduced by Windows Server 2012, which preceded the R2 release by a year, see Windows Server 2012 Consulting Services.

Because Windows Server is such a pivotal element to your information technology ecosystem, it is vital that you plan your deployment carefully to avoid costly and disruptive backtracking. Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants, Cisco-certified infrastructure engineers, and CISSP-certified cybersecurity specialists can provide expertise for every phase of your migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 and every aspect of your IT environment. Progent also offers Linux consulting and Apple technology integration to help you design and build a cohesive network that supports multiple operating systems. Progent can provide comprehensive project management services or as-needed consulting and troubleshooting to help ensure that Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers maximum business value to your organization.

Progent's consulting, support and training services for Windows Server 2012 R2 are available online and Progent also offers onsite consulting in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S.

Since the release of Windows Server 2008 R2, world-class virtualization has been the driving force behind Windows Server design. Windows Server 2012 R2 arguably advances from world-class to best of class, providing powerful integrated solutions for complex scenarios such as cloud-based or hybrid cloud/on-premises computing, multitenant datacenters, and concurrent support for Windows and Linux operating systems. Windows Server 2012 R2 incorporates massive improvements in scale and density over Windows Server 2008 R2, in some cases offering order-of-magnitude improvements.

Resource Windows 2008 R2 Windows 2012 R2
Logical processors on hardware 64 320
Physical memory 1 TB 4 TB
Virtual processors per host 512 2,048
Virtual processors per VM 4 64
Memory per VM 64 GB 1 TB
Virtual disk capacity 2 TB 64 TB
Active VMs 384 1,024
Nodes 16 64
Virtual Machines 1,000 8,000

Windows Server 2012 R2 Offers Dramatic Improvements in Scale and Density

Aside from being heavily outclassed in scale and density, Windows Server 2008 R2 has also reached the point in its product lifecycle where Microsoft has terminated mainstream support. As Windows Server 2008 R2 proceeds through its end-of-life phases, issues concerning security and compliance will become increasingly problematic. Generally, it is prudent for IT organizations that still rely on Windows Server 2008 R2, or any earlier version of Windows Server, to begin planning for a transition to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Hyper-V Virtualization Enhancements in Windows Server 2012 R2
The Hyper-V role allows you to build and control a virtualized computing ecosystem based on technology incorporated into Windows Server 2012 R2. Hyper-V virtualizes hardware to create virtual machines (VMs) that enable you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single physical machine. This saves money and improves productivity by allowing better hardware utilization, simplifying provisioning and other management tasks, and improving the availability of business-critical applications. Windows Server 2012 R2 introduces a variety of new and enhanced features for Hyper-V virtualization.

Windows Server 2012 Cloud Consulting

Support for a Tertiary Replica Site Enhances Availability and Resilience

One of the major enhancements to Hyper-V virtualization in Windows Server 2012 R2 is support for a Tertiary Replica Site. Windows Server 2012 included the ability to replicate a virtual machine to a second Hyper-V host server which could be located onsite, at a remote data center, or in the cloud. Windows Server 2012 R2 adds the ability to have an additional Hyper-V host server at a tertiary replica site, providing enhanced protection against site failure. Windows Server 2012 R2 also allows you to schedule how often changes on the running VM are replicated to the two backup sites. You can select intervals of 15 minutes, 5 minutes, or 30 seconds based on the requirements of your specific applications. Full recovery from a site failure takes only minutes, practically eliminating costly downtime. Because Hyper-V Replica can operate asynchronously over a conventional broadband Internet connection, you avoid the expense of a dedicated high-speed connection that is usually associated with enterprise-class disaster recovery solutions.

Additional enhancements to Hyper-V available in Windows Server 2012 R2 include:

  • Virtual Machine Live Cloning: Prior to Windows Server 2012 R2, if an application running on a virtual machine developed an issue, cloning the workload for troubleshooting purposes required shutting down the VM. With Server 2012 R2, you can run a Live Clone while the VM at issue is running, exporting the relevant files to the new location for analysis and repair. A manager can also create a new VM from a specified snapshot, or checkpoint, without incurring downtime. This allows faster problem resolution associated with newly developed or untested software and simplifies application maintenance.
  • Virtual Receive-side Scaling (vRSS): This new feature of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V spreads the processing of network traffic across multiple cores on the host and multiple cores on the virtual machine. This addresses the common problem of VMs failing to achieve anywhere near nominal throughput on a 10 Gbps network because of excessive processing load on a single CPU core. By spreading the processing of network traffic across many cores on the virtual machine, vRSS can as much as double throughput on heavy workloads without requiring any new or upgraded network hardware.
  • Cross-Version Live Migration: Prior to Windows Server 2012 R2, upgrading to a new release of Windows Server required shutting down critical workloads in order to export and import VMs. Now you can move from Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V to the R2 release with no virtual machine downtime, preserving user productivity and conserving management time by allowing a more seamless upgrade. Cross-Version Live Migration supports upgrades between either standalone or clustered hosts, and you can automate the upgrade process with PowerShell.
  • Improved Failover Clustering: Hyper-V and Windows Failover Clustering can now detect network connectivity problems for VMs. If a VM's physical network fails from causes such as a broken switch port or network adapter or a disconnected cable, the Windows Failover Cluster automatically moves the VM to a healthy node in the cluster to reestablish connectivity.
  • Shared VHDX files: You can now share a virtual hard disk file (.vhdx) among virtual machines. This provides the shared storage needed for a guest failover cluster and allows you to share a virtual hard disk file with a VM without exposing your storage topology. Users can share critical resources such as SQL Server database files, file server services running within a virtual machine, and database files stored on shared disks.
  • Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA): This new feature allows admins to install VMs without the hassle of having to manage product keys individually for each VM or read stickers on the servers. AVMA binds the VM activation to the licensed server and activates the VM at startup. Admins can activate VMs in remote locations with or without an Internet connection and track VM usage and licenses from the virtualization server without requiring access rights on the VM. The VM can be activated and continues to work even when it is migrated across an array of virtualization servers.
  • Enhanced Linux support: Hyper-V now includes the synthetic 2D frame buffer driver to improve Linux graphics performance. In addition, dynamic memory support for Linux guests allows higher VM density per host. Hyper-V also now supports Live Virtual Machine Backup Support for Linux, improving availability and reducing management overhead.
Storage Enhancements in Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server 2012 R2 incorporates a variety of new or enhanced features that improve the availability, performance, and manageability of virtualized storage systems.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Consulting

Storage Spaces Tiering Optimizes Cost/Performance for Solid State Drives (SSD)

Windows Server 2012 R2 allows you to create virtual disks that are made up of two storage tiers. One tier is a solid state disk drive (SSD), which is very fast but is also very expensive and is therefore likely to have low capacity. The second tier consists of hard disk drives, which are very affordable, have enormous capacity, but are relatively slow. Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces automatically moves data from one tier to another, with the most frequently accessed data going to the SSD. For business-critical workloads, this provides close to solid-state performance at relatively low cost by leveraging SSDs, restricting them to handling only the busiest storage loads.

Additional enhancements to storage available with Windows Server 2012 R2 include:

  • Live migration with Compression: This speeds up the process of moving Virtual Machines during a live migration by compressing VM memory prior to sending it over the network.
  • Hyper-V Live Migration over SMB: You can now execute a live migration of VMs using Microsoft's Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol as a transport. This enables fast migrations and low processor overhead by utilizing SMB features like SMB Direct and SMB Multichannel.
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS): Storage QoS helps you control storage performance for virtual hard disks accessed by VMs by allowing you to specify maximum and minimum I/O loads for each virtual disk. The ability to configure storage QoS parameters for your virtual hard disk prevents one VHD from using up all the available bandwidth on its VM host.
  • Online Virtual Hard Disk Resize: The online VHDX resize feature allows administrators to expand or shrink the virtual disk of a VM without requiring downtime. Before Windows Server 2012 R2 it was necessary to shut down a VM in order to grow or shrink VHDX virtual hard disk files.
Improved Support for Mobile and Remote Workers
Windows Server 2012 R2 incorporates improved support for the new network paradigm of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), accommodating the latest generation of smart phones, tablets, and netbooks by providing convenient access to corporate data without compromising security.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Mobile Support

Work folders make files available on all of a mobile worker's devices

The new Work Folders feature enables information workers to access their files from any device, anywhere, with any connection, while still allowing administrators to manage risk and govern the use of corporate resources. With Work Folders, a user's work files can be stored on a variety of mobile devices and also on a corporate desktop computer. Administrators can place these work files on a sync share folder, where they can be centrally managed and accessed from anywhere. Mobile users can work offline and, when an Internet connection is available, synchronize with the central file server. Admins have the option of defining mobile device policies such as encryption and lock-screen passwords.

Additional new or improved features in Windows Server 2012 R2 that support mobile or remote workers include:

  • Remote Desktop app: Microsoft's Remote Desktop app provides simplified access to corporate desktop PCs and applications from Windows, Windows RT, Apple iOS, Apple OS X and Android devices.
  • VDI Data Deduplication: Windows Server 2012 R2 allows you to implement Data Deduplication on a scale-out file server to optimize live virtual hard disks for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) workloads. By utilizing Data Deduplication to optimize Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) for your VDI workloads, you can save as much as 95 percent on the capacity of your current storage subsystem. Space savings attainable from data deduplication make it economically practical to use solid-state drives for VDI to achieve desktop-like performance for your VDI environment.
  • Workplace Join: Users can register their personal devices to get single sign-on access to company resources and services. The Workplace Join feature installs a certificate on the registered device and creates a new device record in Active Directory. This device record creates an authenticating link between the end user and the device. This allows the mobile user to access corporate resources previously available only from a domain-joined PC.
  • Automatic VPN Connections: A VPN connection can now be initiated automatically when a remote user starts an application that requires access to corporate resources. The remote user may still be asked for credentials, but will not have to launch the VPN connection manually before running the application.
Enhancements to Windows Server 2012 R2 Management
Network management is far and away the biggest expense for most IT budgets, making the availability of efficient management tools crucial for driving down total cost of ownership. Windows Server 2012 R2 streamlines system-wide management via a combination of standards-based technology for controlling both Windows and non-Window devices, Windows PowerShell for comprehensive automation capabilities, and Server Manager for deploying and managing roles and features on local and remote, physical and virtual servers. New or improved management features available for Windows Server 2012 R2 include:
  • Enhanced Server Manager: Server Manager has a new Storage and File Server management interface that allows you to create and manage storage pools, add and share volumes using SMB and NFS, and create and manage iSCSI virtual disks and targets. Server Manager also now lets you provision servers and offline VHDs from your desktop without requiring physical system access or a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection to every server.
  • Desired State Configuration (DSC): Desired State Configuration is a new management system in Windows PowerShell 4.0 that allows you to deploy and manage configuration data for your Windows Server environment. You can use DCS to guarantee conformance when installing or removing server roles and features or when managing registry settings, files and directories, local groups and user accounts, and environment variables. This feature helps ensure that the elements of your data center are correctly configured and prevents 'configuration drift.'
  • PowerShell Enhancements: Windows PowerShell 4.0 includes more than 3,300 new cmdlets for managing server roles and automating administrative tasks. The new Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) allows you to debug Windows PowerShell Workflow and remote scripts. In Windows Server 2012 R2, you can manage authorization rules for Windows PowerShell Web Access remotely and you can now have multiple Windows PowerShell Web Access sessions in a single browser session.
  • Improvements to IP Address Management (IPAM): Virtual IP address space management (IPAM) automatically discovers your network's IP address infrastructure servers and allows you to manage them from a centralized console. In Windows Server 2012 R2, IPAM is enabled via the Integration of IPAM with System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Enhancements to IPAM include role-based access control for a variety of built-in IPAM groups (such as DNS Record Administrator or IPAM DHCP Admin) as well as unlimited custom IPAM role-based-access groups
  • Storage Spaces Enhancements: Storage Spaces is a Windows technology that lets you group physical disks into virtualized storage pools, and then create virtual disk storage spaces from the capacity available in the storage pools. In addition to the new storage spaces tiering feature discussed previously, Windows Server 2012 R2 also introduces a write-back cache to speed up SSD storage, parity space for failover clusters, dual parity to protect against simultaneous disk failures, and the use of storage pool free space to rebuild storage after a disk failure in order to reduce recovery time.
  • CHKDSK: The CHKDSK tool in Windows Server 2012 R2 has been enhanced to run in only seconds instead of minutes or hours. In addition, you can now scan volumes online to reduce the downtime required for hard disk maintenance and repair.
  • Virtual Machine Manager: Storage management for Windows Server 2012 R2 now offers enhanced support from System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). New storage management features provided by VMM 2012 include storage and file server discovery, capacity management, scale-out file server deployment, and storage spaces provisioning.
How Progent Can Help You with Windows Server 2012 R2
Progent offers a wide range of cost-effective consulting, project management, and troubleshooting services to help businesses of any size to realize maximum value from their Windows Server 2012 R2 installation. Progent can provide affordable part-time Chief Information Officer services to provide a strategic assessment of the business impact and risks related to deploying Windows Server 2012 R2, and Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you plan pilot systems to confirm the ability of Windows Server 2012 R2 to support your mission-critical applications now and in the foreseeable future. Progent's project management consultants can assist you to design and implement a migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 that avoids business disruption, and Progent's disaster recovery experts and business continuity planners can help you create, document, and validate a comprehensive DR/BC plan. For details about Progent's support services for migrating or upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2, refer to Windows Server 2012 R2 upgrade and migration support services.

If you intend to deploy a hybrid network model that integrates on-premises resources with public cloud services like those offered by Microsoft Azure, Progent can help you evaluate and configure a modern version of Windows Server that incorporates key elements of Azure technology and is optimized for supporting hybrid networks. See Progent's Windows Server 2019 migration consulting and Windows Server 2016 hybrid cloud solutions.

Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you configure Windows Server 2012 R2 for an on-premises, multi-site, cloud-based, or hybrid environment, design and deploy an optimal virtualization solution based on Hyper-V, integrate your telecommuters and mobile workers, train your IT staff on automated management techniques based on leading practices, and provide ongoing consulting and troubleshooting support either online or onsite. Progent can help you upgrade efficiently from legacy versions of Windows Server or set up an IT environment that supports multiple operating systems including Linux and Mac OS.

Progent's ProSight suite of remote network management packages includes ProSight WAN Watch remote server and network infrastructure monitoring services for 24x7x365 monitoring, automatic alerts and remediation, and comprehensive reporting on the health of your network and on trends in system performance. Progent's cloud computing experts can discuss the potential advantages of cloud-based IT solutions and can help you plan and deploy a private cloud, set up high-availability connections to a public cloud, or integrate your on-premises datacenter with appropriate cloud-based services. Progent's certified Windows 8.1 consultants can help you upgrade efficiently to Windows 8.1 clients to take better advantage of the synergies between Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1. Progent can also provide online or on-premises Windows 10 migration support and can help you integrate a broad range of Windows 10 client devices into your Windows Server 2012 R2 environment.

Progent's smartphone integration experts can assist you to incorporate iPhone and iPads, Android phones and tablets, and Windows Phones and Surface devices so you can create a secure BYOD ecosystem based on Windows Server 2012 R2. Progent can assist you to deploy and manage a solution that gives mobile device users transparent access to team resources, located both on-premises or in the cloud. Progent can solve synchronization and device management issues and can show you how to define and enforce policies based on leading practices. Progent's Intune consultants can help you utilize Microsoft Intune for cloud-based device and application management. Smartphone and wireless tablet integration services available from Progent include iPhone and iPad integration, Android phone integration and management consulting, and RIM BlackBerry expertise.

Progent team of Cisco CCIE-certified network engineers is one of the largest of any independent IT services firm in the U.S., and Progent can help your business to build a network infrastructure that fully supports the high-performance and high-availability features of Windows Server 2012 R2. Progent also offers the expertise of CISM, CISA, GIAC, and CISSP-certified network security consultants who can help you assess and validate the security and compliance of your IT ecosystem, strengthen your security posture based on industry best practices, and automate your security management.

Progent's Online Consulting and Troubleshooting Services
Progent is a pioneer in providing remote consulting and troubleshooting support and has provided online help to IT organizations in every state in the U.S. (Refer to Progent's Customer Testimonials.) Online consulting and support avoids the costs and delays associated with travel and is the most affordable and fastest way to solve most network problems. Progent can also provide onsite support in major metropolitan areas across the United States.

If you need immediate online support from a Microsoft-certified consultant, visit Progent's Online Support Services.

Contact Progent for Help with Windows Server 2012 R2
For more information about Progent's consulting and troubleshooting services for Windows Server 2012 R2, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.

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    Progent offers the expertise of Microsoft-certified consultants as well as experienced database application developers, DBAs, project managers, network infrastructure architects, disaster recovery specialists, and certified data security consultants to assist your business to evaluate the likely benefits of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 for your organization, set up pilot systems at your site or at Progent's lab, plan and execute out an efficient migration to SQL Server 2012 from earlier versions of SQL Server or from legacy RDBMS platforms, and define an efficient and secure network infrastructure that helps you realize the full business benefit of SQL Server 2012.

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    Progent's Palo Alto Networks firewall consultants can show you how to choose, deploy, and manage Palo Alto Networks firewalls to provide a modern cybersecurity solution that extends across your on-premises and cloud resources and protects any user anywhere with any device.

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