Though most Windows shops won't upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 for some time, IT pros can look forward to a slew of new administration tools that ship with the next-generation server.
The importance of Windows Server 2008 R2 to enterprise users is difficult to determine, "because [Windows] Server, in general, has a good reputation and each release has its improvements to entice an organization to upgrade," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.
Windows Server 2008 R2 does offer features Windows users are excited about, especially enhanced Active Directory features, Remote Desktop Services, and Live Migration in Hyper-V, according to the 2009 Windows Purchasing Intentions Survey conducted by SearchWindowsServer.com of over 800 IT pros.
Still, most IT shops are far from putting Windows Server 2008 R2 into production. According to the survey, the majority of respondents (77%) still use Windows Server 2003, while 53% said they use Windows Server 2008 in production and about 33% said they are still testing it.
When asked their plans for putting Windows Server 2008 R2 into production, 34% of the 342 respondents interested in doing so said they will have it in production by the end of this year, 22% in the first quarter of 2010, and 15% are shooting for Q2 of 2010.
About 17% said they don't know when they will put Windows Server 2008 R2 into production - probably because most IT pros are conservative about OS upgrades, as many factors need to be considered.
"Like most shops, we don't have a definitive migration plan," said Dave Reynolds, a systems manager with the Rhode Island Blood Center. "We do our research on the products and assess the additional functionality [and] capabilities. We then see how those additional capabilities mesh with our own core competencies."
The "hard" implementation costs of an upgrade – such as software license costs and the hardware to support the OS - as well as "soft costs" such as man hours to implement the new OS are also major considerations, Reynolds said.
"We try to stay clear of the cutting-edge toy upgrades. There needs to be a legitimate business process to warrant the switch," he said.
The only other mitigating factor in server OS upgrade decisions, Reynolds said, are when products are at the end of their lifecycles and support becomes less available, even through third-party companies like Systems Maintenance Services.
New features improve management, scalability
Windows Server 2008 R2 has a number of improvements that IT pros shouldn't overlook when considering the new OS, Cherry said. Some of the big ones are new administration features for Active Directory, power management and Windows PowerShell 2.0, which has more than 240 new cmdlets.
Other features in Windows Server 2008 R2 include Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.5 that supports .NET on Server Core installations and BitLocker to secure data. Microsoft also addressed the scalability and troubleshooting problems with Distributed File System (DFS) in Windows Server 2008 R2 and improved the Group Policy features in this iteration of Windows Server. Functionality has also been added to Terminal Services, now renamed Remote Desktop Services.
Windows Server 2008 R2 includes a number of other new capabilities and many of its features tie into Windows 7. Some of the new features that work with Windows 7 include DirectAccess and BrancheCache for remote workers and branch offices.
Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer