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Can Windows Server 2008 R2 save you money?

Times are tough, but new features in R2 could have a positive impact on the bottom line.

During the dot-com bubble and ensuing expansionary years, cost savings weren't on the minds of many people. Sure, total cost of ownership (TCO) became a buzzword ,and lofty statistics were passed around to show that in 40 years a new piece of hardware or software could more than pay for itself, but it was a much different world than today.

In these current economic times, fingers are pointed at every expenditure as we're asked to do the impossible on a daily basis -- more with less. So how can software help? Is it possible? I think so, and Windows Server 2008 R2 may be able to help right away.

Other key features for Windows 2008 R2 include:

- Microsoft Hyper-V R2

- Remote Desktop Services

- DirectAccess

- VPN Reconnect

- AppLocker

For more information, check out our Windows 2008 R2 guide.

Now this is not only true with Windows, and I'm not saying that any new operating system (OS), hardware platform, or feature couldn't potentially save you money after a few years. But I'm also not saying that software savings can only come from this vague notion that better management interfaces reduce the cost of, for example, changing a password. (Anyone else remember that Gartner quote that it cost about $100 for a typical IT department to change a password?) Inflated, non-direct expenditures are difficult to quantify, but checks flowing out of your accounting department are easy to count-- and you'll certainly feel the impact.

There are three primary ways Windows Server 2008 R2 can reduce the amount of money spent to keep your systems and infrastructure running from day one -- an actual dollar-for-dollar savings.

  1. Server consolidation
    Hyper-V R2 is a powerful platform alongside products from VMware and Citrix that lets you combine multiple servers and consolidate their functions into virtual machines. Virtualization can be extremely cost-effective since fewer servers are needed, allowing you to decrease the number you already have. Consolidating these types of light-to-moderate workloads onto one Hyper-V host directly reduces capital expenditure.

    In addition, consider the slightly larger horizon of smaller data centers that have fewer -- but more powerful -- machines. Less machines means lower cooling requirements, which saves on energy costs. Furthermore, Hyper-V's performance is good enough that many light workloads can be moved onto a primary host consisting of hardware you already have – meaning you may not have to purchase a new machine.

  2. Power consumption
    Windows Server 2008 R2 manages power consumption better than Windows Server 2003. In testing, Microsoft installed Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on identical hardware with the same software configurations, and subjected both systems to equal loads. Without any special configuration, Windows Server 2008 R2 reduced power consumption by about 15% when compared to Windows Server 2003. That's a free savings (after the licensing cost) just from deploying the OS.
  3. WAN bandwidth use
    The BranchCache feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 can significantly reduce the amount of bandwidth needed between branch offices, which can help you save on telecom costs as well as storage expenses. With this feature, Windows 7 clients in branch offices can access cached data from the corporate network locally within their networks; they don't have to go over the WAN to get data for every request. Microsoft says one of its early deployment partners, Convergent Computing, has directly saved up to $40,000 in bandwidth costs per year. In this economy, that's nothing to sneeze at.

Of course, all these savings require an upfront purchase of software licenses -- either via a direct purchase or through a volume licensing agreement. In the case of BranchCache, Windows 7 also needs to be deployed, which eats up some of the savings in licensing costs. But many larger businesses have already accounted for licensing costs through their volume agreements, so the hit to your budget is known and your license fees are already being paid for.

In these cases, Windows Server 2008 R2 can certainly save you dollars -- money that goes straight to the bottom line.

Jonathan Hassell is an author, consultant and speaker residing in Charlotte, N.C. Jonathan's books include RADIUS, , Hardening Windows and most recently Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual.

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