Windows Server 2012 in production

As part of setting up the new office for my company I needed to set up a server to act as a RODC in what would effectively be a branch office until the rest of the company moved in sometime later.

This gave me the perfect opportunity to use Windows Server 2012 in a production environment and as such gain some real world experience with the new OS in preparation for sitting the 70-417 exam to gain my MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification.

I had previously downloaded a trial version of Server 2012 but after a failed attempt to install it as a VM on VmWare’s ESXi 4.1 I didn’t do much more with it lacking the resources and time. I have since found a method that would enable it, also for Windows 8 which could be useful for our developers who may need to be coding applications for Windows 8 and need test environments.

Installation on our new Dell R620 could have been easier, but this was not the fault of Windows at all. The server arrived sometime yesterday and without a disc so I’d assumed that the OS had come pre-installed. It had not, which caused a little panic. But once I actually received the Windows Server 2012 disc from our suppliers and then pre-configured the server for the OS (which was somewhat straightforward but didn’t work as it should in my opinion) it was very quick and straightforward to install Server 2012.

My experiences were pretty much as described here
http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/how-to-deploy-windows-server-2012-on-dell-uefi-nownotes-from-the-field/

Microsoft has been radically improving Windows Server with every release and Server 2012 is possibly the most radical of all. It is fast, efficient and has made server configuration and management a breeze. The new Server Manager has had a very welcome upgrade in functionality. From a single server I can now monitor and manage the critical production servers in my domain, being able to view server infrastructure via role as well as individual server is extremely useful.

Controversially it has the ‘Metro’ interface as it was developed in parallel with Windows 8. Unlike others here I don’t have an issue with it at all, I rarely have to see the dreaded Start Screen spending what time I’m connected via RDP into the server in the desktop environment and Server Manager. Going forward I can see that the new interface will be useful when I’m wanting to do minor server admin tasks via my smartphone or tablet.

I haven’t due to our environment been able to make full use of the native data deduplication that now comes with Server 2012 but it is again a brilliant new feature.

New and improved Hyper-V is a real contender against VMware’s ESXi now.

The only downside is that the RSAT tools to manage it remotely rely on having Windows 8.