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Stay in the know with Windows Server 2012 updates

A lot has changed with Microsoft's Windows Server, and administrators need to study up. Windows Server 2012 R2 means server administration and licensing will never be the same.

You didn't expect Microsoft's Windows Server to stay the same forever, did you?

Microsoft is striving to fix bugs in Windows Server 2012 R2 and align with IT pros' needs. It's also increasing functionality and integrating new services. With new offerings comes expansion, and we're making sure you're caught up.

Does Windows Server Essentials belong in your organization?

Windows Server Essentials isn't just for small businesses anymore. Now, larger organizations can integrate the Essentials tool and reap the same benefit as small businesses -- simplicity.

Client backup, remote Web access and cloud integration are three features in the Essentials version.

However, it's not all fun and games if you install the Essentials role within your network on machines running Windows Server 2012 R2 -- a bug prevents you from deploying Office 365 integration elements of the Essentials role into an environment with more than one domain controller. Domain controllers are prevalent in larger organizations.

Admins, keep up with Windows Server PKI

With each Windows Server release come new security features, and administrators have to keep up.

Windows Server PKI improvements include increased PowerShell functionality and Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) role services. PowerShell comes with a variety of approaches that can be requested when deploying AD CS, a feature that is particularly useful when Windows admins need to save time by scripting implementation of any AD CS role or service.

Microsoft is integrating PKI into Windows Server domains more fervently. So don't get caught without knowing the advances and vulnerabilities in Windows Server 2012 infrastructure, because no one likes an admin who doesn't know it all.

Lift your Linux VMs with Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V

Linux VMs are demanding more respect from Windows shops, and with Microsoft's desire to be number one in the cloud, it's doing all it can to add Linux support.

Windows Server 2012 R2 now offers more support for Linux clients, as well as Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) running on Linux. Microsoft is enabling the hypervisor to support heterogeneous OSes.

To this end, new Integration Services permit a guest OS to collaborate with the hypervisor. Linux Integration Services adds support for Linux VMs, including Red Hat, Ubuntu and SUSE operating systems. And another improvement: Win Server supports live backup of Linux VMs, permitting organizations to back up a running Linux VM without disruption.

Four new and noteworthy additions to WSUS

Does Windows Server 2012 R2 add any new Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) features or capabilities?

Server Manager controls the WSUS Server role to include or eliminate the role as the administrator sees fit. It now comprises 12 PowerShell cmdlets that permit scripting and automation of WSUS jobs and supports hash-based authentication. Lastly, the update tool is available in WSUS -- a server version -- and Windows Update Agent -- a client version.

These features simplify how admins roll out OS updates. They offer IT admins a multipurpose platform to manage and automate updates and patches on Microsoft products.

Are you down with SCE?

Can you commit to a three-year relationship -- with your Microsoft server?

Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) reward users who adopt at least one Microsoft server or cloud technology by offering 15% off new license and Software Assurance purchases, 5% off Software Assurance renewals, management options for Azure with System Center and absolute support. But customers must also commit to at least one of four components offered by Microsoft. Choices include core infrastructure, application platform, developer platform and Windows Azure.

With its new SCE licensing model, Microsoft will discontinue component enrollments. Among the departed are Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP) and Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI). This move forces former EAP and ECI customers to consider migrating to SCE.

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Which improvement to Windows Server is the most relevant to your data center?