Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2012

The biggest news in Microsoft-based server software isn’t the release of upgrades to MS SQL Server back in April; it’s this month’s release of Windows Server 2012. Described as “an operating system for the cloud,” Windows Server 2012 offers a scalable solution for businesses trying to fit modern ways of computing into their work environments.

Windows Server 2012 offers expanded virtualization capabilities and works with Windows Azure, the software company’s cloud platform. It can deliver more than 200 public, private and hybrid cloud services. The goal seems to be to deliver any application on any cloud.

Rand Morimoto, president of Microsoft partner Convergent Computing, sees a number of major selling points for Windows Server 2012. For instance, its deduplication features can save a company 40 to 50 percent in storage space. Its automated IT management capabilities enable it to manage a large number of virtual machines. It can even synchronize identity, security and virtualization policies across public and private cloud systems, based on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure; that’s extremely useful in today’s world of mobile workers with lots of mobile devices.

Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s Servers and Tools Business, states that this may be the biggest release of the company’s server products history – bigger than NT, even. “I was here at Microsoft when we launched Windows NT, which  ushered in the era of client/server, and we believe that Windows Server 2012 users in the era of the cloud operating system,” he stated in a video introducing the new product.

Windows Server 2012 offers plenty of capability. It can support 320 logical processors and 4 TB of physical memory per server, with 64 virtual processors per virtual machine; each of these can scale up to 1 TB of virtual memory in Hyper-V for no extra cost. As to virtual disks, they can scale up to 64 TB apiece, which is far more than the company’s competitors can provide right now. The new offering can virtualize 99 percent of all SQL databases.

As Paul Thurrrott explains, “Server 2012 is arguably the first version of Microsoft’s flagship server OS that was informed and influenced by learnings from Windows Azure, Microsoft’s distributed public cloud computing platform. With Server 2012, customers can create their own private clouds, or access partners’ hosted clouds, and benefit from years of scalability work that first went into Azure.”

Windows Server 2012 comes in four versions. The Foundation version is designed for up to 15 users, and is OEM only. The Essentials version caters to small businesses; it can serve up to 25 users and 50 devices. The Standard version, according to Microsoft, “is designed for physical or minimally virtualized environments.” Finally, Windows Server 2012 Datacenter is meant to be used in highly virtualized private cloud environments. You can check Microsoft’s guide to Windows Server 2012 licensing and pricing to get a better handle on which version would be most suitable for your situation.

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