12 key advantages of Windows Server 2012

Article Ian Murphy Nov 16th 2012

From data deduplication to GUI-less installs, Ian Murphy picks out 12 of the best new features in Windows Server 2012

With Windows Server 2012, Microsoft has taken a significant step forward for all potential users and buyers. From the CIO through to system admins and even the end users, Windows Server 2012 is the biggest step forward since Windows Server 2000.

There is a long list of enhancements and top features, some of which might seem small but have a much greater impact than expected. As a result, selecting a top twelve is not easy and the features below have been selected to show key features that will impact different classes of users.

1. Fewer versions means easier licensing

For the CIO or server manager trying to decide which version of Windows Server he needs to install and license, Microsoft has made life easier. There are now just two versions: Standard and Datacenter. The key difference between the two is the number of virtual machines you can run.

For a medium-sized business with limited hardware and a few instances of key servers, Windows Server 2012 Standard is the right choice. Large, highly virtualised environments with a requirement to scale out servers quickly, will want Windows Server 2012 Datacenter.

That’s because if there’s a demand to run live migration with the organisation’s environment, then managing licensing with the Standard version is going to be too complex. Essentially, the more virtualisation there is, the greater the need for the Datacenter version.

For smaller companies with up to 25 employees, Microsoft Small Business Server and Microsoft Home Server have gone. Replacing them is Microsoft Server 2012 Essentials. For companies with fewer than 15 users, there is Windows Server 2012 Foundation: this will only be sold preinstalled on hardware and through OEMs such as Dell.

2. Data Deduplication

Nothing has grown so fast over the last decade as data. Storage is the number one item of expenditure in companies of all sizes and the storage market continues to grow at over 30 percent per year.

Previously available in Windows Storage Server, deduplication has been embedded into the core Windows Server OS. This has some real practical benefits for organisations. As an example, the London Borough of Newham has saved approximately 70 percent of disk space on its Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

Deduplication eliminates the duplicated space by as much as 90 percent across operating system installations. The result will be 100s of gigabytes, even terabytes, of space reclaimed.