Is it time for a Windows Server 2012 migration in your enterprise?

As you consider migrating to Windows Server 2012, know every aspect of how the migration will affect your organization.

The arrival of Windows Server 2012 served as a key milestone in the evolution of the data center, but Microsoft quickly turned around and released its R2 version. This quicker release pace and the many well-received features packed into the operating system have built some momentum behind Windows Server 2012. Not to be overlooked in all of this is the company's decision to cease mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 at the beginning of 2015.

So is time to give serious consideration to a Windows Server 2012 migration? Let's look closely at what that might mean for your organization.

Virtualizing environments

If a large-scale virtualized environment is in your plans, you'll be pleased to hear that Windows Server 2012 has leveraged one of its premier roles and features -- Hyper-V and Failover Clusters -- to accomplish this.

Numerous enhancements have been made to Hyper-V, such as Replica, which provides business continuity with disaster recovery sites. Virtual Fibre Channel adapters allow guest virtual machines (VMs) to have direct access to SAN-based storage.

Both Hyper-V and Failover Clustering use the Server Message Block 3.0 protocol's performance and reliability enhancements, and Scale-Out File Servers allow clusters with up to 64 nodes to service up to 8,000 virtual machines.

Changes to Windows Server 2012 editions

Microsoft has revamped the editions you can choose from in Windows Server 2012 to include Datacenter, Standard, Essentials, Foundation and Storage Server.

If you go through a Windows Server 2012 migration, understand that the main difference between editions is primarily in each version's virtualization limit. The Datacenter edition supports an unlimited number of VMs, and the Standard Edition limits you to two VMs.

There is no more Enterprise edition; instead, all the same features and functionality exist in both the Datacenter and Standard edition. The Essentials edition replaces the old Small Business Server, giving you up to 25 user accounts, and the Foundation (OEM) edition is the entry-level option, providing 15 user accounts.

Hardware limits also differ among Windows Server 2012 editions. For example, the number of processor sockets is limited to 64 for the Datacenter and Standard editions, while the Essentials edition has only two sockets and the Foundation only one. The same is true for the maximum physical memory, with the Datacenter and Standard editions supporting up to 4 TB of RAM, while the Essentials and Foundation editions can only support 64 GB and 32 GB, respectively.

This is part one of two about making a Windows Server Migration. You can find part two here.

About the author:
Bruce Mackenzie-Low is a master consultant at Hewlett-Packard Co., providing third-level worldwide support on Microsoft Windows-based products, including clusters and crash-dump analysis. With more than 18 years of computing experience at Digital, Compaq and HP, he is a well-known resource for resolving highly complex problems involving clusters, SANs, networking and internals. He has taught extensively throughout his career, always leaving his audience energized with his enthusiasm for technology.

This was first published in March 2014

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