In versions of Windows Server prior to Windows Server 2008 R2, installation planning could be a complex task. You had to decide from the outset what edition of the operating system to install, whether to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version, and whether you should perform a Server Core installation or whether you should use the full GUI. All of these decisions affected the server hardware requirements and all of these decisions were irrevocable. To change the edition, the platform, or the interface, you had to reinstall the server from the beginning.
With Windows Server 2012, you have far fewer options to choose from and far fewer installation decisions to make. Since Windows Server 2008 R2, there has been no 32-bit version; only a 64-bit operating system is available, reflecting the fact that most major applications are now 64-bit and that modern server configurations are typically supported on hardware that requires 64 bits. There are only four Windows Server 2012 R2 editions from which to choose, two fewer than the six editions in Windows Server 2008 R2. The Server Core installation option and the full GUI installation option remain, along with a third option called the
Minimal Server Interface. However, it is now possible to switch between these options without reinstalling the operating system each time.
Selecting a Windows Server 2012 R2 edition
Microsoft releases all of its operating systems in multiple editions, which provides consumers with varying price points and feature sets. When planning a server deployment, the operating system edition you choose should be based on multiple factors, including the following:
– The roles you intend the servers to perform
– The virtualization strategy you intend to implement
– The licensing strategy you plan to use
Compared to Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has simplified the process of selecting a server edition by reducing the available products. As with Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 requires a 64-bit processor architecture. All of the 32-bit versions have been eliminated, and there is no build that supports Itanium processors. This leaves Windows Server 2012 R2 with the following core editions:
– Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter The Datacenter edition is designed for large and powerful servers with up to 64 processors and include fault-tolerance features such as hot-add processor support. As a result, this edition is available only through the Microsoft volume-licensing program and is bundled with a server from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
– Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard The Standard edition includes the full set of Windows Server 2012 R2 features and differs from the Datacenter edition only in the number of virtual machine (VM) instances permitted by the license.
– Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials The Essentials edition includes nearly all the features in the Standard and Datacenter editions; it does not include Server Core, Hyper-V, and Active Directory Federation Services. The Essentials edition is limited to one physical or virtual server instance and a maximum of 25 users.
– Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation The Foundation edition is a scaled-down version of the operating system; it is designed for small businesses that require only basic server features, such as file and print services and application support. The Foundation edition comes pre-installed with server hardware, includes no virtualization rights, and is limited to 15 users.
The price of each edition is commensurate with its respective capabilities. Obviously, the goal of administrators planning server deployments is to purchase the most cost-effective edition that meets their needs. The following sections examine the primary differences among the Windows Server 2012 R2 editions.
Supporting server roles
Windows Server 2012 R2 includes predefined combinations of services, called roles, which implement
common server functions. Computers running the Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system can perform a wide variety of tasks, using both the software included with the product and third-party applications. After you install the Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system, you can use Server Manager or Windows PowerShell to install one or more roles on that computer.
Some of the Windows Server 2012 R2 editions include all of the available roles, whereas others include only some of them. Selecting the appropriate edition of Windows Server has always been a matter of anticipating the roles that the computer must perform. At one time, this was a relatively simple process. You planned your server deployments by deciding which ones would be domain controllers, which ones would be certificate servers, which ones would use failover clustering, and so forth. Once you made these decisions, you were done because server roles were largely static.
With the increased focus on virtualization in Windows Server 2012 R2, however, more administrators are forced to consider not only what roles a server must perform at the time of the deployment but what roles a server might perform in the future.
By using virtualized servers, you can modify your network’s server strategy at will to accommodate changing workloads and business requirements or to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, the process of anticipating the roles a server will perform must account for the potential expansion of your business and possible emergency needs.
Supporting server virtualization
The Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition and the Standard edition each includes support for Hyper-V, but each edition varies in the number of VMs permitted by its license.
Each running instance of the Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system is classified as being in a physical operating system environment (POSE) or in a virtual operating system environment (VOSE). When you purchase a Windows Server 2012 R2 license, you can perform a POSE installation of the operating system, as always. After installing the Hyper-V role, you can then create VMs and perform VOSE installations on them. The number of VOSE installations permitted by your license depends on the edition you purchased, as shown in Table 1-1.
TABLE 1-1 Physical and virtual instances supported by Windows Server 2012 R2 editions
NOTE: LICENSE RESTRICTIONS ARE NOT SOFTWARE RESTRICTIONS
The limitations specified in Table 1-1 are those of the license, not the software. You can, for example, create more than two VMs on a copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, but you must purchase additional licenses to do so.
The 70-410 exam can contain questions about licensing in which you must figure out how many copies of Windows are needed for a particular number of virtual machines on a Hyper-V server and which version of Windows would best meet the requirements while minimizing the cost.
Microsoft provides several different sales channels for Windows Server 2012 R2 licenses, and not all of the editions are available through all of the channels. Licensing Windows Server 2012 R2 includes purchasing licenses for both servers and clients, and there are many options for each one.
If you are already involved in a licensing agreement with Microsoft, you should already be aware of the server editions that are available to you through that agreement. If you are not aware, however, you should investigate the licensing options available to you before you select a server edition.
Table 1-2 lists the sales channels through which you can purchase each of the Windows Server 2012 R2 editions.
TABLE 1-2 Windows Server sales channel availability by edition
If your computer does not meet the following hardware specifications, Windows Server 2012 R2 will not install correctly (or possibly at all):
– 1.4-GHz 64-bit processor
– 512 MB RAM
– 32 GB available disk space
– Super VGA (1024 x 768) or higher resolution monitor
– Keyboard and mouse (or other compatible pointing device)
– Internet access
32 GB of available disk space should be considered an absolute minimum. The system partition will need extra space if you install the system over a network or if your computer has more than 16 GB of RAM installed. The additional disk space is required for paging, hibernation, and dump files. In practice, you are unlikely to come across a computer with 32 GB of RAM and only 32 GB of disk space. If you do, free more disk space or invest in additional storage hardware.
As part of Microsoft’s increased emphasis on virtualization and cloud computing in its server products, it has significantly increased the maximum hardware configurations for Windows Server 2012 R2. These maximums are listed in Table 1-3.
TABLE 1-3 Maximum hardware configurations in Windows Server versions
This article is a part of 70-410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 Prep course, more articles in this course are :
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