Experts' top predictions for 2012: Windows Server 8, PowerShell, cloud

Windows Server 8 and an increased focus on security are all on the minds of IT pros heading into the next year.

What does 2012 have in store for IT and Windows Server? We asked contributors to share their predictions. These experts offered varying opinions on what Windows Server 8 will mean for IT in the year ahead, but agreed on PowerShell's increased role in the enterprise.

IT departments worldwide will continue to shrug off Windows 8. Is yet another server OS upgrade really relevant these days? Don't we have enough features in our existing OSes to get by for a while?

-Kevin Beaver

The year of Windows Server 8… maybe
Despite the fact that Windows Server 8 may not be available until 2013, there is certainly measured enthusiasm regarding the new version of the server OS.

"We will all be running around learning Windows 8," says Bruce Mackenzie-Low. "In particular, Failover Clusters will have major changes to include up to 63 servers in a cluster, and highly available file sharing (like VHD's in 2008 R2)."

Mackenzie-Low adds, "Admins will also be learning the new changes to network teaming where Microsoft has built NIC teaming into the operating system."

Contributor Kevin Beaver thinks Windows Server 8 won't have that great of an impact – at least not in the near term.

"IT departments worldwide will continue to shrug off Windows 8," he said. "Is yet another server OS upgrade really relevant these days? Don't we have enough features in our existing OSes to get by for a while?"

The push to the cloud
As in 2011, cloud computing will be a big buzzword in the coming year. Our experts offered varying opinions on how cloud technologies will impact IT administration.

Serdar Yegulalp says, "Admins are going to have to deal all the more directly with the consequences of moving more vital infrastructure out of the office and into the cloud -- both negative and positive. On the plus side, it means there's that much less local infrastructure to keep clean and it will consist more and more of end-user desktops or networking hardware.

"On the minus side," he adds, "it also means being forced to adapt to a third party's way of doing IT, which can be jarring. Admins who grew up on big iron in the back closet may find it increasingly weird that they can't just walk down the hall, but they might also find it a relief that they don't have to."

Contributor Bill Kleyman predicts that "2012 is going to be the year of the cloud. Windows environments will be pushed out to even more locations – some of which will be in a private cloud.

"Windows Server admins must understand how their environment behaves over the WAN and how their data center operates when a cloud is involved. Many seasoned Windows administrators will have to update their skill set to truly understand how their infrastructure is now being delivered over the cloud and back down to the end-user."

'The Year You Learned the Shell'
Don Jones says admins will learn to love PowerShell as much as Microsoft does – or else.  "Without core PowerShell skills, an administrator is pretty much asking to be left behind.

"True PowerShell expertise comes from education, whether from a book, a video, or a class," Jones said. "Yeah, you might prefer the GUI… but that's not where the product is headed. Make 2012 the Year You Learned the Shell."

Brien Posey agrees that PowerShell's role will increase in 2012. "Microsoft has already said that PowerShell will be the preferred administrative interface in Windows Server 8 and all of the latest Microsoft products have a full dependency on PowerShell," he says.

Without core PowerShell skills, an administrator is pretty much asking to be left behind.

-Don Jones

Importance of Security
"I think 2012 will be a defining year for IT and information security," predicts Kevin Beaver.

"An increasing number of IT managers will drop their third-party enterprise full-disk encryption solutions for Microsoft's 'free' BitLocker. This is the perfect example of the desire to save some money without thinking about the long-term ramifications of our choices."

Beaver also notes that security hasn't eliminated the easy stuff, "Those responsible for information security will realize the value in getting back to the basics. Reflecting back on the ridiculously simple exploits that dominated the headlines of 2011 shows our model is broken.

"How can we continue to spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars (often more) on fancy security technologies when we can't even get our low-hanging fruit under control?"

Let us know what you think will be the hot topic in IT in 2012, tweet @WindowsTT.

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